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”.
Saturday, many years ago…
Zabka stabbed his fork through a cherry tomato and some lettuce. He brought it carefully to his mouth so as not to drip any dressing on his sale-rack suit. His friends, Bob and Lighthouse, threw their polyester ties over their shoulders and dug into lunch.
While he chewed on a bite of a greasy cheeseburger, Bob glared at Zabka and asked, “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 shook as he sipped 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 asked. “You’re gonna drink a hundred beers at the reception. What’s the use?”
As college friends do, they called 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 were dining in, was busy on that muggy summer day. Located near the University at Buffalo’s city campus, it was mostly frequented by students from Long Island. Its dark wood interior and the bull’s skull and horns that hung on the wall gave the place a western vibe. A country song by Billy Ray Cyrus was playing in the bar.
Bob said, “Good lord this song sucks. Achy-fuckin’-Breaky Heart? What is this bullshit? Why’d you make us come to this hellhole, Zabka? I hate this fucking place.” He watched 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 grew wide as he thought about the last time he saw Tracy during junior year, at the end of spring semester. She was sunbathing in her backyard, and he was perched in a tree with binoculars.
Zabka put down his fork. “Screw you, Bob. Stop trying to stir the pot.”
“Who, me?” Bob placed his hand over his heart. “I would never.”
Zabka shook his head. “Yeah, never.”
Bob was indeed stirring the pot, knowing that both of his friends had a thing for Tracy. Zabka’s yearning was on the healthy, red-blooded male side of the spectrum, while Lighthouse’s pursuits leaned more toward an unbalanced obsession.
Bob gulped down some beer and shoved 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 responded. “No offense, Zabka, but I’m shocked that’s never happened to you.”
Zabka threw his arms up and leaned in. “Who’s got the balls to try to throw ME out?!” He looked around. “Show me! I dare someone!”
Bob paid 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 scoffed. “They’d never. Plus most of that had nothing to do with me.”
Lighthouse shook his head. “Yesterday was a fiasco.”
“Fiasco isn’t quite the right word… It was a clusterfuck.” Bob studied his scraped knuckles. “One huge clusterfuck.”
Lighthouse asked, “Can we talk about something else?”
“Sure. How about hangovers?” Bob finished his beer and raised 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 it’s preseason yet?”
“Yeah, I think the first game is tomorrow.” Zabka picked up his fork and speared 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.” As he gnawed on the meat, his face turned green. He spit the chicken out onto the table and inspected the flesh. “What the fuck?! It’s pink inside!”
Their waitress heard the commotion and hustled 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 stood with his plate, marched toward the kitchen, and slammed through the aluminum swinging-door. “Who the fuck made my salad?!”
The kitchen staff froze, alarmed by their uninvited guest.
Zabka scanned for the most-likely culprit and landed on the man who’d been chopping lettuce. “Hey, fuckface! Did you do this?! Did you put raw chicken in my salad?!”
“No, sir. I just make the vegetables.” The food preparer’s nervous eyes implicated the man at the grill.
“I see.” Zabka walked over and dumped his salad on the cook’s head. “Why the hell did you do this? Tell me right now, or I swear I’ll strangle your neck.”
The man gulped, 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 looked 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 punched his palm. “Let’s go, motherfucker.”
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