I had a long guys night out this past Saturday. I started out with Josh, Dylan and Sloppy Joe at Buca. That was act one scene 1. Act one scene 2 was at the cigar shop on Green, and act two was at the Volcano, where Keaton kept a fight from happening by decking a pair of dudes who kept calling my baseball pupil’s brother Carter a racist.
Act three was gonna take place at the IHOP.
Y’all probably won’t be too surprised to find out that I was hungry again, and Keaton was down for the IHOP too. So we headed over there, Alicia put us at our usual table, and we ordered our usual chicken fried steak, eggs and pancakes. (If I was that hungry, maybe I should have had that extra meatball at dinner lol.)
Me and Keaton are hardly the only people in Pasadena who head to the IHOP after the bars close – it’s that, the taco trucks or Duparr’s, and I like the IHOP’s pancakes better than theirs. The IHOP is as close as you’re gonna get to a Waffle House in California. We usually don’t make it to the restaurant until after 3. Keaton and the crew don’t have to do the heavy cleaning, but they still have to straighten things up so the real cleaning people can come in later on and do their work. The drunkass jerkoffs who leave the bars when they close at 2 are usually gone by the time we get to the IHOP.
We were earlier than usual this time, so there were still some drunkass people in the place. It’s nicer when we practically have the place to ourselves, but it’s not like me and Keaton own the restaurant. I’m cool with people who are drunk, unless they’re total assholes. These people were pretty much from the asshole group. There were 6 of them sitting in the other part of the restaurant – and we could hear them from our table by the windows. And I mean hear them. Loud. Like they made it hard for us to hear each other.
Alicia and one dude in the kitchen are the only people working at that hour, so it’s not like they have anyone working security. She came over to us and said she was sorry about the jerkoffs, who were getting louder by the minute. She said she gave them their check ten minutes ago and hoped they would leave soon.
Finally Keaton got up. Alicia said something in Spanish that probably meant don’t start anything, but I know Keaton, and he wasn’t going over there to start something. He was going over to finish it. I was just a little afraid he was gonna get rough, since, let’s be honest, he doesn’t exactly mind getting rough. I thought he might take a couple of the guys outside and take care of them there or something…but he just went over to their table, crossed his arms over his chest and looked down at them.
One dude at the table saw him and looked up. “Who the fuck are you, man?”
“I’m someone telling y’all to chill the fuck out. Any questions?”
They quieted down like magic. Like I told y’all: the scary bouncer at the Volcano is Keaton, not Miguel. Yeah, Miguel looks like every white boy’s chulo nightmare, but it’s Keaton who can look at you and scare you shitless. If you met him on the street or something, you’d probably reckon he’s a cool, normal, tall Texan who probably played football in high school. That’s basically what he is. Until he’s out to intimidate (or, if that doesn’t work, beat) the fuck outta you.
“How do you do that, man?,” I asked Keaton when he got back to the table.
“Scare the shit outta a bunch of people just by looking at them.”
“You’re too pretty to understand. It’d never work if you tried it.”
He got a two word answer to that. Although maybe he has a point. Besides, he’s taller than I am, and even taller in cowboy boots. That makes a difference. You can look down at more people from almost 6’3” than from my 5’11”. So, ok, fine, I’m not as badass as Keaton is. I can take of myself pretty dang well, but I never bodyguarded Dutch drug dealers. Maybe that’s when Keaton learned his intimidation tactics.
Alicia said “gracias” to Keaton when she brought our food. With extra pancakes for both of us. I tore into mine even faster than Keaton tore into his.
“I have no idea why I’m so fuckin starving,” I said between mouthfuls. “I had a huge dinner at Buca.”
“What did you say…no 8 oz. meatball is safe with you around?”
“Exactly. Me and Sloppy Joe almost got into a meatball eating contest. But Josh stopped us.”
“You were gonna challenge Sloppy Joe to an eating contest? The fuck?? I’ve seen you eat, bubba, but, fuck, the dude’s got 100 pounds on you. You don’t get to be his size unless you can really pack it in. You wanna beat him at something, challenge him to running the bases. Fuck…challenge him to running to first.”
Sloppy Joe’s can catch practically anything at 1st and is the softball equivalent of a bigass power hitter. Since all he can do is strike out or go long, he never actually needs to run, which is a good thing, since he can’t. I was never Cody Bellinger fast, but I’ve won plenty of races in my time. So I’d be sure to win that contest.
I’d rather beat him at eating ice cream however lol.
“Any news on Travis?,” Keaton asked.
“They don’t know when he’s getting out.”
“Shit. He needs out of that fuckin place. You reckon he’s gonna be ok?”
“I hope so,” I said, shrugging with a mouth full of pancakes. “But it’ll take time. And some listening. I reckon he’s probably gonna need to talk about it some more.”
“I think we can handle that,” said Keaton, washing down the last of his pancakes with a gulp of coffee. “Do you realize it’s getting on 4?”
“Shit,” I said. I had to work the next day. I tried to get Alicia’s attention so we could get the check. She saw me and came over to the table.
“No check tonight,” she said. “You earned your food by helping with those…people. It could have gotten out of hand if you hadn’t helped. Gracias.”
Y’all guessed it: Keaton growled.
Then we headed out to the truck and Keaton got me home. After two cigars my shirt really smelled like smoke, and I learned from Dylan’s story not to put it with the rest of the dirty clothes. I put it by the open window so maybe it would air out. Then I showered the smoke out of my hair and got into bed. It was nearly 5, and I wasn’t looking forward to getting up and get dressed for work at 11, but it had been a fun – if long – night. Well worth the Starbucks runs I was gonna have to make the next day.