This is the beginning of Dave Lundy’s new novel (still in development) called, “Zero F*cks Given”, a prequel to the best-selling comedy “Squish the Fish: A Tale of Dating and Debauchery”.
Zabka stabs his fork through a cherry tomato and some lettuce. Careful not to drip any dressing on his sale-rack suit, he brings it to his mouth. His friends, Bob and Lighthouse, throw their polyester ties over their shoulders before digging into lunch.
While chewing on a bite of his greasy cheeseburger, Bob glares at Zabka and asks, “Who the fuck orders a salad? You know no good story ever started with a salad — unless we’re talkin’ ’bout salad-tossing, of course. Anyway, it’s your fault if we don’t have an awesome time at Earl’s wedding.”
“Whatever.” Zabka’s hand shakes a tiny bit as he sips his Bloody Mary. “I couldn’t make it to the gym today, so I’m eating something light. You don’t get a ripped body like mine without sacrificing every once in a while.”
“Seriously, why bother?” Lighthouse asks. “You’re gonna drink a hundred beers at the reception. What’s the use?”
As college friends do, they call each other by their nicknames — Zabka, because his doppelgänger is William Zabka, the blond actor whose character in The Karate Kid is an arrogant prick; Lighthouse, for his bright-red hair, tall stature, and penchant for walking on his tiptoes with his head spinning on the lookout for trouble; and Bob, the jovial moniker for Robert.
The Steer, the restaurant-bar they’re dining in, is busy on this muggy summer day. Located near the University at Buffalo’s city campus, it’s mostly frequented by students from Long Island. The dark wood interior and the bull’s skull and horns hanging on the wall give the place a western vibe.
Bob says, “Zabka, why’d you make us come here? I hate this fucking place.” He watches a group of girls in matching sorority shirts and with matching nose jobs, chat up the bartender. “Oh, that’s right… because you’re sniffing around for Tracy Cohenstein.”
Lighthouse’s eyes grow wide as he thinks about the last time he saw Tracy. It was junior year, at the end of spring semester. She was sunbathing in her backyard, and he was perched in a tree with binoculars.
Zabka puts his fork down. “Screw you, Bob — stop trying to stir the pot.”
“Who, me?” Bob puts his hand over his heart. “I would never.”
Zabka shakes his head. “Yeah, never.”
Bob was indeed stirring the pot, knowing that both of his friends have a thing for Tracy. Zabka’s yearning is on the healthy, red-blooded male side of the spectrum, while Lighthouse’s pursuits lean more toward an unbalanced obsession.
Bob gulps down some beer and shoves a handful of fries into his mouth. “Hey, remember the last time we came here? The bouncer launched some douchebag off the steps outside and into the street.”
“Oh yeah, that was hilarious,” Lighthouse responds. “No offense, Zabka, but I’m shocked that’s never happened to you.”
Zabka throws his arms up and leans in. “Who’s got the balls to try to throw ME out?!” He looks around. “Show me! I dare someone!”
Bob pays no attention to Zabka’s outburst. “Actually, I’m surprised they didn’t toss you outta Third Base last night. What a shitshow.”
“Please,” Zabka scoffs. “They’d never. Plus most of that had nothing to do with me.”
Lighthouse shakes his head. “Yesterday was a fiasco.”
“Fiasco isn’t quite the right word… It was a clusterfuck.” Bob studies his scraped knuckles. “One huge clusterfuck.”
Lighthouse asks, “Can we talk about something else?”
“Sure. How about hangovers?” Bob finishes his beer and raises the bottle. “Hair of the dog.”
“More like shit of the dog. Dog shit — that’s what I feel like. So no, I don’t want to talk about hangovers.”
“Okay, then how about the Bills? You guys know if they started training camp yet?”
“I think so.” Zabka picks up his fork and spears a piece of chicken along with his next helping of salad. “But I don’t know how they get motivated. After losing three Super Bowls in a row, it’s gotta be tough.” He starts to gnaw on the meat and his face turns green. He spits the chicken out onto the table. “What the fuck?!” He inspects the flesh. “It’s pink inside!”
Their waitress hears the commotion and hustles over. “Is there a problem with your order?”
“A problem?! You’re damn right there’s a problem! The chicken is under-fucking-cooked!”
“I’m so sorry. Let me take care of that and get you a new salad.”
“No. I’ll handle this myself.” Zabka stands and picks up his plate. He marches toward the kitchen and slams through the aluminum swinging-door. “Who the fuck made my salad?!”
The kitchen staff freezes, alarmed by their uninvited guest.
Zabka scans for the most-likely culprit and eyes a nervous Mexican who’s stopped chopping lettuce. “Hombre! Did you do this?! Did you put raw chicken in my salad?!”
“No, señor. I just make the vegetables.” The food preparer’s eyes implicate his coworker at the grill.
“I see.” Zabka walks over and dumps the salad on the griller’s head. “Why the fuck did you do this? Tell me right now, or I swear I’ll strangle your neck.”
The man gulps, fully believing the threat. “Okay, okay. Some girl paid me fifty bucks to do it. Please don’t tell my boss. I beg you.”
“Some girl?!” Zabka looks around. “So, a conniving cunt is in our midst, eh? Where is she? Keep talking and I might let you off the hook.”
“She’s out at the bar.”
“Good. Take me to her.” Zabka punches his palm. “Let’s go, motherfucker.”
Part 1 | Part 2