The Last Man Standing

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The only point of contention between the Wolf and the Shepard is which one of them will get to eat the Lamb.


As I limped into the Blarney Saloon, the noise level dropped with everyone craning their necks to look at me. Then turning away, putting their heads together, whispering. While sneaking uncertain glances in my direction.

I’d be guessing my reputation kinda took a big jump three nights ago when Little Joe Worster and his posse of goons came after me and in all, I’d won that fight.

Stepping up to the bar as the guys standing there moved out of my way. I dropped a five down and ordered a Michelob Porter.

Since I’d be the only one still standing. Still conscious and still able to form coherent sentences when the Sheriff’s Deputies arrived. My story about that fight is the only one out there……So far.

The silly things people believe about my black-belt in Karate sure came in handy this time. Hooray for bad movies!

The bartender put the bottle down in front of me and pushed back the bill. I grabbed the bottle, twisted off the top, leaving the Lincoln as a tip. The cold bottle feels damn good in my swollen hands.

With a groan of pain from my bruised ribs I then turned towards the row of small tables under the front windows. Taking a swallow. Uh-huh! Cold and bitter, just the way I like it. For a second I held the sweating-ice cold bottle against the cut across my bottom lip.

Slowed down by the end-of-the-day traffic while driving my pickup down Main Street. As I was passing the Blarney, I thought I’d seen a couple of redheads in the windows and happily I was right.

‘Cause as beat up as I am, it’d been too damn many months since I’d last gotten myself laid. I’m as horny as a traveling salesman! Getting an overdose of testosterone and adrenaline Saturday night, sure as hell ain’t cooling me down none.

The Mayo twin sisters, Maureen and Bernadette, were sitting together at one of the small tables under the windows. They were two, well-rounded colleens with the bright red hair, the innumerable freckles, that pug-nosed Celtic farmwife look that gets my libido too boiling.

As I walked over to them, their spectacled sea-green eyes got round and their expression was two of sympathetic surprise.

“Good afternoon Miss Bernadette, Miss Maureen.”

Pulling over an empty chair from another table, I straddled it with my arms on the back, facing them. Blatantly looking them over as I took another swallow.

Together they politely replied “Good Day to you, Mister Larry. Or, should One be wishing you ‘Good Health’?”

As I chuckled, both Maureen and Bernadette had matching expressions of dismay at the damage visible across my face and the back of my hands. All the bruising and butterflies holding the cuts together.

“If the two of yah think whatall yah can see is lookin’ bad? Mah ribs be one giant bruise. Lucky no broken bones or hits to mah kidneys. Or to mah pride and mah joys!”

I laughed, then grimaced in pain. I was very happy to have smartly taken the precaution of wearing my old football protective cup when those goon’s boots were targeting between my legs.

Oh, I got my share of kicks back at several of them. I could feel the squishiness whenever I got a good kick or hit to their groins with my heavy, steel-toed work boots. None of them had been smart enough to suit up for this fight. They’ll be walking funny for a while! Whenever the fucktards can get vertical out of their hospital beds.

The Twins just rolled their eyes at my bad joke and shook those bright locks of red about their freckled faces. Then looked down at their hands fidgeting with almost empty glasses.

Carefully turning the punching bag I’m currently using for a head, I gestured for a waitress. Still got a ringing in my right ear from where one or more of the goons managed to get in a good punch or kick or both. I don’t even remember feeling it at the time.

Janey rushed over and I told her “Jan Sweetie, please to brangh us all ah refill.” She nodded and gave me a brave smile “Shure thang, Lahrry.”

By the way that’s me, Larry Miller, the walking, talking bruise. Thug extraordinaire in shiny armour to rescue fair maidens and a not-so-fair brother.

Looking at the Twins she asked “Drahft Harpers for yah gahls, rahhht?”

Nodding agreement, both murmured “Glad to see you back to work, Janey.”

We could see from her strained face that the last few weeks have been tough on her cause of that little prick Worster. She shrugged replying “Donnah know what hit meh worsed. That thar dahmn fluahnzah or mah nerfes?!”

Janey was the the ex-wife of my Uncle Sam’s step-son Bradley. Who’d dumped her for Maggie O’Hannon. Then Janey was dating my second cousin Hank for almost a year. Being a fucking idiot, he bugged out of town when she became pregnant. Shortly afterwards she had a miscarriage and lost the baby.

Janey is now the girlfriend of Aztec Thomley-Miller, who owns this bar plus several other of the businesses along Forrest bursa escort Road and Main Street. Making the two of them the latest targets for Worster’s vicious intrigue and malicious tongue.

Aztec was a four year old Mexican-Indian orphan adopted by my Great Aunt Olive Miller and her life partner Auntie Francine Thomley. We pretty much grew up together, I’m maybe a month older. We’ve always celebrated our birthdays with the same party.

Aztec and I’ve always considered each other brothers. Since all the relations we have near our age is my sister Louise and a couple of female cousins, Melanie and Rachel. All our male cousins are more then five years younger or older than the two of us.

Janey brought us our drinks and cleared the empties. When I reached for my moneyclip, she placed her hand on my arm and shook her head in direction of the bar “Ahztek’s gotcha cohvered, Shugar.”

I looked around and saw his dark red face now behind the bar and I saluted him with the fresh bottle. He scowled back in response.

I know everybody got that stupid idea that Injuns perfected the pokerface but I’ve known. Hell! Lived with Aztec more’n twenty years now. Even from where I’m sitting, I could tell he was pissed that I’d deliberately kept him out of this particular fight.

Frankly, as this town’s token colored, the cops would have been all over his redskin ass if he’d gotten involved. Even worst, he probably woulda beaten that little turd Joe Worster to death for threatening Janey.

In this state, a Mexican or an Injun or hell any Colored, killing a White man? Over a White woman? Aztec woulda done a Danny Deever for that, no matter how deserved or how provoked.

If somehow he’d of survived being arrested. Which, realistically, doesn’t happen very often in these parts. Amazing how many melanin-endowed fellows wind up hanging themselves in our local jails……Considering how inconvenienced they were with all those perfervidly applied police bullet holes in them.

With Aztec, my blood-brother behind me, watching my back. I could relax and pay full attention to the two lovely colleens I was sitting with.

Like stereo, the two women waved at our gracious host “Thank you, Mister Aztec!” They actually got an nod and a smile returned from him. Then he gave me another scowl. Yehhp. He is VERY pissed at me! I tried not to laugh at him, it hurts too much.

Now the one on my right, I think she’d be Maureen. Is wearing a bright green, calf-length dress with puffy short sleeves. A paired row of large mother-of-pearl buttons from neck to calves in front.

While the woman to my left, I think she be Bernadette. Is wearing a saffron colored, silky blouse with lacy frills from the collar to the hem of the blouse. A large black patent leather belt with a big brass clasp engraved with a lyre. Over a below-the-knees, Jaeger Green wool kilt.

Dressed like this, they must have come right from work. They own and manage Mayo Office Leasing with a range of administrative services such as Public Notaries plus freelance bookkeeping and tax preparation.

I raised my bottle of MP and the Ladies their glasses of Harpers as we uttered “Sla’inte!”

They twitted me with “Tis a pity you can’t be entered in the Ugliest Dog competition, Larry”

It’s amazing how they manage to talk simultaneously. For a second I wondered if there was some way to test that phenomena with them separated from line of sight?

Expressing my brilliant wit, I responded with “Woof!”

” Oh Larry! One hasn’t seen you this beat up since that last game against County Seat High School.”

Huh, they don’t even use individual pronouns? Drained my beer and with a wince shrugged my shoulders.

“Hey-yep! It’d be we’dall won the Division Title. Ah just do whatever’n the hell it takes to win! Somethin’ that punk idiot Joe Worster shouldah remembered.”

They tittered at that and replied, again in unison. How on earth do they do that? Even their lips seem to move at the same time….? I must’a look’d like a mechanical toy, my eyes back and forth watching their lips move.

“Well, Little Joe”

“is just a piss-poor”

” imitation of his Daddy.”

“Junior’s ego”

“and his mouth”

“have always been bigger”

“then his abilities.”

“If you’d ever heard”

“his girlfriends gossiping,”

“there are good reasons”

“he wound up with”

“the nickname ‘Little’!”

That set ’em both off giggling.

I nodded, pretending to look thoughtful. Trying not to laugh out loud at the nasty insinuation. Can’t say as I’d ever remember from the team showers how big or little Joe was.

Guess not making an impression at all, tells all?

Janey came by and took my empty bottle. With a quirk of her head she asked if I wanted another. I just gave her a brief shake of my head for no.

Shouldn’ta done that!

Now it’s a race between my neck and my aching head as to which hurts more with the negative gesture.

The two redheads looked at one another for a moment, I wonder what they were communicating? They simultaneously adjusted their horn-rimmed eyeglasses. With hopeful lust, I asked.

“Ah’ve gotta get some food into meh. ‘Fore the beer and the painkillers and the antihistamines knock meh all out. Would you ladies please favor to join meh for dinner at the Hot Potatoe Diner?”

They actually looked happy to go with me and nodded their dual agreement. I stuck a ten under one of the girl’s glass for Janey. We got up from the table. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. As we went out the swinging doors I gave a rude salute to Aztec. I could hear him chuckle at that.

Most people just weren’t sure if it was safe yet to congratulate me for clobbering the asshole and his gang. Not obvious yet that I was the winner. Typical crowd behavior.

Better safe then sorry. Keeping their heads down till they definitely hear whether or not four generations of Worster muscle is still to be feared.

A shiver ran down my back as I thought darkly ‘One thing was an abso-fuckin’-lutely certain thang….If’n his Daddy, Big Joe Worster were still around? No way would I’d of ever walked away alive from that fight! No matter how tricky I’d been plotting.

Or, has the specter of Big Joe Worster finally been put to rest? Buried in that fancy coffin with his embalmed body. Took eight big pallbearers to hoist and bear his barge to the afterlife!





Funny how I keep having this daydream of driving out to Big Joe’s gravesite. With a sledgehammer and a long, sharp wooden stake like those used for circus tents.

Then, in my best roustabout manner, drive that stake through the grave mound and casket top. Right into the previous Mr. Worster’s Ice Cream Linen suit, drilling his heart. Continuing through the bottom of the casket and deep into the ground below. Just to make fucking certain he was a permanent fixture!





The two women flanked me and each took an arm as we walked along the sidewalk to the corner of Main and Forrest Road. We were standing there waiting for the light to change, so we could cross. The two of them telling me about how adorable their little niece looked in her communion dress last Sunday.

A dark blue Jap copy of a Jeep with its canvas top down, full of High School boys, slowly rolled past in the far lane. Suddenly, the driver started honking and his passengers started a whooping ‘n hollering at us from across the street.

The Twins tensed up and stepped back. I grabbed them both around their waists and just nodded at the boys. “No problemo, ladies. Just some boisterous lads expressing their hero worship of yours truly!”

Simultaneous elbows into my sore ribs. How do they do that?

“And of course, their appreciatin’ seein’ two beah–utifull Ginger Angels mercifully proppin’ meh up and keepin’ meh from doing a heroic face plant into this here pavement from exhaustion.”

Fortunately the light changed to allow us to cross before the Twins could figure out if I was serious or not.

More than they need to know, I’d be hopen. If you ain’t taken a serious beating on your life, yah’d haven’t nooo idea what all I’ve been through!

We strolled. Okay, the ladies strolled…..Gracefully.

I however was hobbling along like a flat tire!

Pass the original Smith & Allen grocers, now a hobbyist and crafts store. We entered the Hot Potatoe Diner and started looking around the busy hole-in-the-wall to see if a table were free.

Sandra came bustling up to us and with a way too cheerful a greeting “Damn, Larry. You never were the prettiest boy around. But damn! This ain’t no improvements.”

I joked back “Yah’all shoulda seen the damage Ah done to the grillwork of that there Peterbilt. Hittin’ it repeatedly with mah face, ‘Till in all it’d hada given up!”

The Twins were giggling at our joking around. Sandra made this ridiculous snorting sound she does when she laughs out loud. Shaking her head with mirth, she turned and waved us to follow as she led us to an empty table.

When she offered the menu, I just asked her “Darlin’, are yahall serving up the Stewpot tonight?”

She replied “This is your lucky day, boy wonder. Beautiful Irish women in tandem with an Irish Stew of tender mutton and farm-fresh veggies.”

It tickles me how redheads can blush so brightly through those cute freckles. They lobbed back “Yes Ma’m! We brought the Presbyterian wolf to sup with the Catholic lambs.” All three women were laughing at the comical face I was making.

Man, I love smart-mouth women. I was trying to watch both of them talk. Together, in perfect synchronization? Gonna drive me crazy figuring that out.

Sandra waited expectedly for us to order. I looked at each of my dinner companions and they nodded back at me understanding.

“Sandra, mah loven. Please to bring us a kettle of that fine stew with a big plate of your scrumptious cornpone. And uh, I’d be ah havin’ an iced tea. What görükle escort bayan about you ladies?”

Maureen also wanted an ice tea. To my surprise, Bernadette asked for a large glass of whole milk. At least I think that’s their correct names. I know that sometimes they will amuse themselves confusing people as to who is whom?

It’s true they are considered Identical Twins but when I look closely, I can see a few minor differences. Actually the freckles don’t help. There are so many, in similar pattern, I lose track trying to figure the difference.

It’s remembering which quirk is which woman, which is the trick. Witchery? That ain’t as easy as it’d sound if you be dumb enough to say it out loud.

I’d seen ’em playing around with fake beauty marks and wigs and other stage tricks when we were in High School. To deliberately fake out guys who gotten all ego macho on them, insisting ‘they’ could always tell the two girls apart.

I wouldn’t put it past this pair of Queens, to go back to the diner restroom and swap outfits. If they thought for a moment I’d be dumb enough to take ’em for granted.

I’m now suspecting that they must have had some sort of trouble with Little Joe and his posse. That’s why they are so willing to be seen publicly with me. New Alpha in town! All hail the Champ!





Now I’d be guessing I’d better enjoy being a celebrity while I can. Cause I’m figuring, once Little Joe comes outta the drugs in his hospital bed. He’s gonna have a whole lotta mending time to be brooding on how to revenge the humili–hating beat down I’d arranged for him and his bully boys.

First thing that comes to my mind? Is him thinking to hiring some out of town muscle to take care of me and probably Aztec also.

After all, that’s exactly how I’d done it.

Whaaat? You’re actually gullible enough to believe in all that there hollybollyhonglywood martial arts movie crap is for real?’

Jeez, grow up! Those are professional stuntmen and special effects. Don’t try that there shit at home, you moron!





Sandra came by with our drinks and a trivet. She gave us each a small plate with our silverware before bringing a wooden platter covered with a flat disk of cornpone, sliced into wedges and wrapped in a linen towel. Piping hot from the ashes of a wood-fire oven. Then a pitcher of hot peach syrup and for each of us, a small crock of butter.

While our trio was scarfing down thin crunchy wedges of that delicious, old-fashioned cornpone, slathered with butter and fruit syrup. Sandra returned to set down chargers in front of each of us and large ceramic bowls on those.

Finally she lugged out a cast-iron kettle full of Irish Stew. With an ‘Oof!’ of effort, setting it on the trivet. She pulled off the heavy lid and stuck a ladle in for us to serve ourselves.

Warning us it was boiling hot, Sandra told the Twins “Don’tcha go letting this damn fool rooster stick his head in there to find out how hot that is!”

They snickered at that while I pretended to be hurt. What the heck, I am hurt! “Shouldn’t all yah people be nicer to meh?” The gals just laughed harder at my pitiful attempt at boyish charm.

Bernadette did the honors, carefully ladling generous helpings of stew into the three bowls. Taking care not to splash the hot broth.

Maureen saw me wince when I picked up my empty bowl. Reaching over, she took it from me and held it out for her sister to fill.

Cautiously placing it back down, half full, in front of me. I pretended to grumble at being babied. They snarked at me. “If you had the good sense to admit you’re not Superman. Hell, you’d barely qualify as Batman!”

I kinda froze for a moment, my soup spoon slopping broth as I suddenly stopped it half away to my open mouth. They both looked at me with mutual looks of concern. I was desperately trying to figure how they’d found me out.

Then I got my brain in gear and realized they were just funning me with a common trope.

Yep, Little Joe and his gang were doing a swell job of working me over. Okay, I did knock a couple of the goon squad down before the rest could pile on and pull me into the scrum. Planning ahead, I had been expecting to be ambushed and had deliberately put myself out there as bait.

I was doing my best to keep Worster and his boys preoccupied with every dirty trick I knew. So they weren’t paying no attention when the parking lot lights suddenly went out. Until a half-dozen black faces came looming out of the unexpected darkness. With baseball bats.

My boyhood chumps most likely never even knew for sure what’d hit’em.





With barely a nervous rap of the metal spoon against my teeth as I slurped at the rich, creamed broth, I tried to relax. Forcing a fake smile at my puzzled dinner companions. While saying complimentary things about Mrs Callahan’s cooking when Sandra came by to check up if we wanted anything else.

Wait a damn second! I thought Maureen had gotten the glass of ice tea and Bernadette the glass of milk? Now Maureen is drinking from the glass of milk?

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