Chapter 50

Crab racing at the saloon

Thu Aug 12, 2004 at 06:23:57 PM EST

Tuesday night after cursing and ranting about the spam problem and the corrupt legislators who let it happen by passing any legislation the multinationals want and refusing to pass anything that might actually be a benefit to citizenry, I opened the fridge and... damn. No beer. I hadn't wanted to go anywhere.




I went to the gas station and picked up a six pack. Yes, you folks in other parts of the world might find it hard to believe, but they sell beer in gas (petrol) stations here.
Speaking of here , and races, before we start the crab races, one last (maybe) word about the Illinois Senate race. For those of you not in Illinois, Star Trek Borg Seven of Nine's ex-husband, Jack Ryan, dropped out of the Senate race after being caught lying to senior Republican party hacks about wanting to watch his Borg wife have sex with other men in sex clubs, which is why she divorced him.
So the Republicans, not wanting a white man to lose the Senate race to a black man, have nominated a black man to lose, Alan Keyes. Keyes has never once stepped foot in Illinois and had bashed Hillary Clinton for running in New York. At least she'd visited there once...
Those Republicans. First they can't find Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, then they can't find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Now they can't even find a black man in Chicago!
They hadn't had any Rolling Rock stocked in the cooler, so I settled for a warm six pack. I stuck my beer in the passenger side floorboard of the old clunker, and decided to cruise downtown for a cold one. But where to go?
If Duffy hadn't shut his bar down I'd have gone there and watched the sunset. This is a great time of year for watching sunsets in Illinois. Dempsey's? I barely gave them a second thought. Rier raised the price of Rolling Rock and the place was usually pretty empty on Tuesday. Not even a pretty bartender, as most of Dempsey's bartenders are guys these days. Hell, half the reason I used to go there was the pretty bartenders.
The Firehouse has pretty bartenders, but they usually get them from that God damned Frankie's Bar, where they charge import prices for Rolling Rock. I was getting tired of arguing with new bartenders from Frankie's who wanted to charge me as much for a Rolling Rock as for a Heineken. I'm starting to think that the firemen who own the Firehouse are as bad to work for as Frankie's employees have told me he is. Otherwise, why so much turnover?
Boone's came to mind. There are always young pretty bartenders there. Well, maybe not supermodels but at least the bartenders are neither male nor butt-ugly. I was thinking I was a day early, as there have been posters up at Boone's saying that starting August 11 there was going to be crab races, and I was curious.
Linda was tending bar, and the place was doing a brisk business for a Tuesday night. Most nights except weekends the bars here are pretty empty. Boone, the owner, was at the other end of the bar. Hmmm... I said to Linda, I can't decide what kind of beer I want tonight.
Import drafts are two fifty tonight she said.
In that case, give me a Foster's.
Linda's a very attractive young lady. I was surprised to see her there, as last week I'd gone there for a pizza, and she'd told me she had a new job at a chiropractor's office. And now the poor girl was going through even more stress, as it seems she broke up with her boyfriend over the weekend. She was a little blue.
If I had the slightest hint you liked old guys I'd hit on you, I said. She grinned wryly.
She went to pour someone else's drink, and Boone strolled up. How ya doin? he asked.
Good, I said. I'm looking forward to your crab races tomorrow. How does that work, anyway?
He laughed. I'm not really sure, we're still working it out.
You should serve crab legs, I said. Hey, he replied, that's a good idea! I should!
I finished the second beer, left a tip for Linda, and went home.
Wednesday night I headed to Bread stretchers for dinner, noting how the weather here has been weirdly awesome since the weekend. Normally, Satan leaves hell and vacations in Illinois during the State Fair so she can warm up a bit. Not this year, it's like early April. The high yesterday was 72F, instead of the normal 99+F. As I left Bread Stretchers, the breeze gave me goose bumps. I decided to drive home for a flannel shirt.
It was about 8:15 when I left for Boone's. The races were to start at 8:30.
On the way, I spied something out of the corner of my eye I'd never seen before - an Irish Leprechaun. A real live honest to God Leprechaun, about three feet high wearing a green bowler hat and coat, bright red hair, long nose and smoking one of those long Irish pipes. He looked rather stoned. I always wondered what they were smoking...
I did a double take; those Leprechauns sure are tricky. When I looked straight at him, he turned himself into a fire hydrant.
When I got to Boone's the races had already started. I sat down at the bar and Boone came over and asked me if I was racing. sure, I said. He produced a few styrofoam bowls, each with a small crab inside, with a tiny piece of paper with a number written on it glued to the crab's back. How do I tell a good one? I asked. Hmm, he said, this guy was pretty active earlier.
Number thirty two was a monster among these crabs, with a shell nearly two and a half inches long. I gave him the one dollar racing registration fee.
Linda wasn't there, but there were two other pretty bartenders. One of them was new, I'd never seen her before. I couldn't decide if she was knockout beautiful or butt ugly. I got a beer and went over closer to the racing table, and caught half a race before a half dozen guys that looked like pro-wrestlers came in and made a wall between my table and the race. Cops? No, one guy was wearing a shirt advertising fire engines. Likely cops and firemen. Or maybe just skinhead punks, who knows?
Several races and a second beer and number thirty two hadn't been called yet. I went over and asked the announcer when 32 was up. He checked his clipboard. Why you're next. Last race of round one.
The races were an elimination, with the slowest crab being eliminated and put back in the terrarium. I walked over to the racing table.
The tabletop was white, with a red ring around the outside about four inches thick, and a red circle in the middle about a foot in diameter. Bright, big red letters said Boone's Saloon and Crab Racing . When not in use, the table top served as an advertisement. A bright, and rather warm, light hung from the ceiling about three feet above the center of the table. There was a circular plastic fence around the red circle, probably a used gallon ice cream container with the bottom cut out.
The race starts when the fence is removed, and ends when all but one crab is in the red ring around the outside of the table.
Two fat girls were putting their crabs in the fence. They were little crabs, less than half as big as mine. I put my crab in the fence, and it immediately went straight for one of the little crabs, who went quickly inside its shell. My crab was all over it. I think my crab's trying to eat your crab, I told the fat girl.
And they're off! the announcer announced, taking the fence away.
The two little crabs, thoroughly intimidated by my monster, sat there huddled together shivering, while mine took off straight toward the fat girl, who shrieked and started waving her hands wildly.
Hey, the announcer said, you can't do that, that's cheating!
But it was too late. My crab, almost to the red ring, had already turned around heading back toward the center of the table. He got halfway to the two little crabs, who freaked out and started running away from the big crab.
Straight to the finish line. My crab lost his first race.
Next week, I think I'll just be a spectator.


Chapter 49
Chapter 51

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