This is from Dave Lundy’s new novel “Zero F*cks Given” (still in development) — the prequel to the bestselling comedy “Squish the Fish: A Tale of Dating and Debauchery”.
Once upon a time in Buffalo, NY…
Zabka stabbed his fork through a cherry tomato and lettuce and brought it to his mouth. His shaky hand made it a challenge not to drip dressing on his cheap suit.
Bob dropped his knife dramatically, clanging it on the table. “Who the fuck orders a salad?” He glared at his friend. “No good story ever started with a salad — unless we’re talkin’ ’bout salad-tossing, of course.”
Zabka’s face scrunched. He pondered Bob’s insightful commentary while he chewed.
“Anyway, it’s your fault if we don’t have a blast at Carson’s wedding.” Bob threw his polyester tie over his shoulder and attacked his greasy cheeseburger, devouring close to half of it in one bite.
“Whatever.” Zabka’s head was pounding 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.”
Magnum, their college housemate, was wearing a sale-rack suit like his friends. He asked, “Seriously, why bother? You’re gonna drink a hundred beers at the reception — just like you did last night. What’s the use?”
As buddies do, they called each other by their nicknames — Zabka, because his doppelgänger was William Zabka, the blond actor in The Karate Kid whose character is an arrogant prick; Magnum, although younger, taller, and skinnier, for his bushy mustache and likeness to the Hawaii private investigator on TV; and Bob, the jovial moniker for Robert.
It was a muggy summer day, and they were having lunch in a restaurant-bar called The Steer. Located near the University at Buffalo’s city campus, it was popular with 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.
“Good lord, this song sucks donkey-balls.” Bob was physically agitated. “Achy-Fuckin’-Breaky Heart? What is this bullshit?”
Zabka laughed. “I’d Achy-Fuckin’-Breaky that guy’s nose if he was here.”
“Why? I figured that tard was your idol. Why else would you have the same stupid mullet?” Bob closed his eyes and shook his head. “But seriously, Zabka, why’d you make us come to this hellhole? 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.”
Magnum’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 his fork down. “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 Magnum’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,” Magnum responded. “No offense, Zabka, but I’m shocked that’s never happened to you.”
Zabka threw his arms up and leaned in. “Someone’s got the balls to try to throw ME out?!” He looked around. “Who?! I dare ’em!”
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.”
“Pfff,” Zabka scoffed. “They’d never. They love me there. Plus most of that had nothing to do with me.”
Magnum shook his head. “Yesterday, everything was a fiasco.”
“Fiasco isn’t quite the right word. It was a… clusterfuck.” Bob studied his scraped knuckles. “One giant clusterfuck.”
“I’m still scarred by what I saw at our house,” Magnum said. “Can we please talk about something else?”
“Sure. How about hangovers?” Bob finished his beer and raised the bottle. “And 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?” Zabka asked. “Their first preseason game is tomorrow.”
“Come on, I thought we were changing subjects.” Bob rubbed his temples. “The Bills are good, but they’re the NFL’s version of a hangover.”
“Buffalo is done,” Magnum said. “They lost three Super Bowls in a row. It’s all about Miami this year. Go Dolphins!”
Zabka picked up his fork. “Fuck Miami.” He then speared a piece of chicken along with his next helping of salad. “And fuck Marino.” As he gnawed on the meat like it was a piece of gum, his face turned green. He spit the chicken onto the table, inspected its pink flesh, and dry-heaved. “What the fuck?! It’s raw inside!”
Their waitress heard the commotion and hustled over. “Is there a problem with your order?”
“A problem?! You’re goddamn 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.”
Scene 1 | Scene 2