A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 105: Going to a Party

Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran

That song kept running through my head as I dressed for the gathering. It was Cheap Trick’s poppy but hard rocking song, “California Man.” I always got the words wrong, but I didn’t care. It was all about mood. The song was upbeat and all about having fun and that’s what I wanted. It took me a stupidly long time to remember that I could just turn it on and jam to it, here in the camper, but I finally pulled my head out of my ass and played it. I played it loud.

Goin’ to a party, meet me on after school.
Well we’re goin to a place
where the jive is really cool.

And if the band stops a playin’
There’s a jukebox down the hall.
And with your blue dress on, your folks all gone.
You’re sure to give the guys a ball.

Get that real guitar boy shakin’,
I’m a California man,
Dance right on till the floors are breakin’
I’m a California man.

Well I rocked my mamma so bad
This a woman’s she’s a making me mad.
Well I don’t care if her legs start aching,
I’m a California man.

Oh my legs start to shiver
When I hear you call my name.
Well, my knees keep a knockin,
And my bow tie’s bustin’ out

When my feet start to fly,
An’ my jeans slung way down low.
You know I’m back on my heels and it’s making me feel
Like the king of rock n’ roll{br}

Get that real guitar boy shakin’, I’m a California man,
Dance right on till the floors are breakin’
I’m a California man.{br}

I was dancing around, half dressed, when Michelle joined me in the camper and we rocked out together. That woman could play a mean air guitar. We had a hell of a lot of fun for being sober and fully clothed.

Sadly, I had to stop the session there and get on with business. I could have happily spent the evening running through upbeat songs and acting silly, but I was grown up now and I had responsibilities. Once the music went off, Sonya joined us and we went over all of my talking points while I finished dressing. I was to wear all of my regalia tonight. My ‘Barbarian Chieftain Throne’ was being set up as we spoke. I had to wear the buckskin shirt with all the coup hashes as well. To make matters worse, Sonya had found my medals and ribbons from my jarhead days and attached them, also. I looked like the leader of some two-bit banana republic down in central America. So basically, I bitched the entire time and they simply ignored me; fair trade all in all.

I was led out to my chair. It was sitting smack dab in the middle of the palisade gate, with tiki torches of some sort on each side to provide light as the day waned. The poor dogs were already waiting for me and preparations for this event were almost complete. There was a fire going about fifteen feet in front of me and a bench that I was told that I would stand on, to address the crowed. Thank the heavens, there wasn’t a ‘party superstore’ around or the scene would have been even more absurd. I was instructed to sit in my chair and practice what I was going to say because everyone was on their way now.

To make matters worse, I was hungry. As in, really hungry and getting hungrier by the minute, as the smell of the foods started to reach me. The entire process was torture and a prime example of why ‘Zach E. Narrater’ was not interested in politics. The pomp and circumstance annoyed me and public attention made me cringe.

It was Matilda who turned up with my bottle and a beer. I was handed a mug of the good beer and a second with a measure of bourbon. The bourbon lasted about twenty seconds and was quickly followed by almost half of the beer.

Then I simply sat there and smiled as instructed, while the crowd formed.

My anxiety must have been apparent. I soon felt my left and then my right hands each taken in a silk soft and reassuring grip. Michelle was on my left, looking beautiful and young Mouse was on my right simply radiating. They were both dressed with outfits and makeup to the nines. Their soft caresses and occasional sweet words did soothe me. When the time came, I was ready to speak. Well, actually, I was ready to play my first card.

I stepped up onto the bench and looked out over the small crowd. Five dozen people is a lot when you are the one standing in front of them. I saw Patrick and Holder off to the left and got the thumbs up from Holder. So I started. I started by taking a healthy sip from my beer and holding it aloft.

“I bet you all wonder why I’m standing here drinking a beer and you are not. Well, folks, over to your right, you will see that we have a keg of beer and a cask of wine. Please fill your cups so we can toast each other.”

With that I stepped down and smiled at Michelle. She was flabbergasted. I had arranged this little side show quietly, all on my own. I had managed to keep both Sonya and her in the dark. I felt the thrill of a small victory. I simply wished it could have been better beer. I reflected that maybe St. Louis would offer better options.

Matilda refilled my cup from a pitcher which seemed to be full of our good beer. Someone had thought that through. There wouldn’t be a bunch of bottles lying around, stirring up questions. I took my beer, lit a cigarette, and thought about what would come next. Meanwhile, I watched people fill their cups.

Everyone brought their own cup and plate to a gathering like this. Nobody had a bunch of spares lying around, and paper plates simply didn’t exist. So every man, woman, and child brought their own to any gathering, often even when just going to a friend’s house for a shared meal.

As the line began to dwindle, I stepped back up on our impromptu dais. I could see Mouse over with the Pawnee to translate and Fabiola Timmons was ready to translate for the boatmen. All eyes were on me.

“A toast! A toast to all of us! For the hard work to make all of this happen. A toast to a village called Rulo!”

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