This excerpt 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…
Bob dropped his fork for dramatic effect, clanging it on the table. “Who the fuck orders a salad?” He glared across at Zabka. “No good story ever started with, ‘So, I was eating a salad…’ But here you are, like a dickhead, eating a fucking salad.”
The Steer’s waitress flashed some extra cleavage while handing out the rest of the table’s lunch orders and second round of drinks. She adjusted her cowboy hat, pulled down her red and black, checkered, flannel shirt, and asked, “Y’all need anything else, boys?”
Zabka looked up at her and replied, “Naw, Sugar-Tits. Unless ya got a twin sister?” The look on his face was one part self-amusement and two parts severe hangover.
Daggers shot out of her eyes. “I gotta name and it ain’t Sugar-Tits — it’s Wendy.”
“Whatever. Like the fast-food joint?”
She stared at his face, wanting to punch it, and was pleased to see that someone had already taken the liberty. She commented, “Nice shiner. You should really put some ice on that,” before moseying away in her cowboy boots and denim shorts.
The ring around Zabka’s left eye was swollen and dark purple. “Ice?” he mumbled. “I don’t need ice. Pussies need ice.” He stabbed his fork through lettuce and a cherry tomato, and his shaky hand brought it to his mouth. He had to concentrate to not drip any dressing on his cheap suit.
Magnum, their college housemate, echoed Bob’s previous statement, “Yeah, no good story ever started with, ‘So, I was eating a salad…’”
Zabka chewed, his face scrunched, pondering those words of wisdom. “Yeah, but what if I was tossin’ some chick’s salad?” He raised his eyebrows. “That’d be a good start to a story, right?”
“It sure would… except you’re not.” Bob threw his polyester tie over his shoulder. “Anyway, if we don’t have a blast today, it’s your goddamn fault.” He attacked his greasy cheeseburger, devouring half in one bite.
“Whatever.” Beads of sweat were on Zabka’s forehead, and his skull was pounding.
“You look like shit. Did you throw up in the bathroom?”
“No…” Zabka took a sip of his Bloody Mary. “But I wish I had.”
Magnum felt compelled to share, “Well, I feel great.”
Bob replied, “Yeah, Magnum. That’s cuz you’re a freak of nature.”
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 and taller, for his bushy mustache, naturally tan skin-tone, and likeness to the TV private investigator; and Bob, the jovial moniker for Robert. And although it was 1993, they looked like they forgot to leave the ’80s.
Bob said to Zabka, “Come on, you need more than a salad. We have a big day ahead of us.”
“I’ll eat what I wanna eat.” Zabka grabbed an olive from his drink and tossed it at Bob, hitting him between the eyes.
Bob wiped tomato juice off his face. “Asshole.”
“Listen, I couldn’t make it to the gym, so I’m eating light.” Zabka flexed his arm and made a muscle. “You don’t get a ripped body like mine without sacrificing every once in a while.” He looked at his friend. “And Bob, you could stand to lose a few pounds. So don’t give me any shit.”
Magnum asked Zabka, “Seriously, why bother? You know today’s gonna be a repeat of last night… you’re gonna drink a hundred beers again. What’s the use?” He was also wearing an off-the-sale-rack suit and popped a new roll of 35mm film in his Kodak compact camera.
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 large bull’s skull and horns that hung on the wall gave the place its western vibe. A country pop-song by Billy Ray Cyrus started playing in the bar.
Magnum commented, “I’m so sick of this song. It’s on the radio all-the-damn-time.”
“Achy-Fuckin’-Breaky Heart?” Bob was physically agitated. “This sucks donkey-balls.”
Zabka said nonchalantly, “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?”
“Cuz I make it look cool,” Zabka replied. “To be honest, I could get up and line-dance to this shit and make it look cool.”
“Oh god, please don’t.” 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 the previous school year. It was the end of spring semester their Junior Year and she was sunbathing in her backyard. 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 undoubtedly stirring the pot. “You two fucktards were ridiculous yesterday. Like, over the top.” He gulped down some beer and shoved a fist full 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.”
“Someone’s got the balls to try to throw me out?” Zabka scoffed. “Ha. That’s a good one.”
Bob commented, “Actually, I’m shocked Brewer didn’t toss you outta The Base last night. You were a walking-talking-stumbling shitshow.”
Zabka had a crooked smile. “They’d never — they love me. We own that bar.”
Magnum shook his head. “Everything… and I mean everything… was a fiasco yesterday.”
Bob added, “Fiasco isn’t quite the right word. It was a… clusterfuck.”
Magnum studied his scraped knuckles. “Yep, one giant clusterfuck.”
“I’m mentally scarred by several things I witnessed.” Bob shuddered. “Actually, can we please just talk about something else?”
“Sure. How about hangovers?” Magnum finished his beer and raised the bottle. “Thank god for 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 second preseason game is today.”
“Come on, I thought we were changing subjects.” Bob rubbed his temples. “The Bills are the NFL’s version of a hangover. They lost against Detroit last week. Fuckin’ Detroit!”
“Relax,” Zabka told him. “It’s preseason — means nothing. The team’s rusty and, most-likely, partying a fair amount. I’m sure things get a little wild down in Fredonia during training camp. No big deal.”
“To be frank, Buffalo is done,” Magnum stated. “They lost the last three Super Bowls. They’re done. It’s all about Miami this year. Go ’Phins!”
Zabka picked up his fork. “Fuck Miami, and fuck Marino.” He then speared a piece of chicken with his next helping of salad. “Shouldn’t you root for a Hawaiian team, Magnum? Oh shit, that’s right — there isn’t one!” As he gnawed on the meat like a piece of gum, his face slowly turned green. He spit the chicken on the floor and inspected its pink flesh. “What the fuck?!” He dry-heaved. “It’s fuckin’ raw!”
“Here less than twenty-four hours and already someone’s out to get Zabka.” Magnum shook his head. “Shocker.”
Their waitress heard the commotion and hustled over. “Is there a problem with your order?”
“A problem?!” Zabka’s adrenaline had spiked. “You’re goddamn right there’s a problem! The fuckin’ chicken ain’t cooked!”
“I’m so sorry. Let me take care of that and get you a new salad.”
“No! You will not do that! I’ll handle this myself.” Zabka stood up holding 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 the madman with a black-eye.
Zabka scanned for the most-likely culprit and landed on the man who’d been chopping lettuce. “Hey, chico! Did you do this?!” His experience growing up as the only white kid in a Latino high school had kicked in. “Did you put raw pollo in my salad?!”
The Panamanian food preparer replied, “No, sir. I just make the vegetables.” His nervous eyes implicated his coworker — the guy cooking on the grill.
“I see.” Zabka turned to the cook. “So, it was you… Señor Fuckface, eh?” He walked over and dumped his salad on the Mexican man’s head. “Why’d you do this?! Tell me right now, or I swear, I’ll strangle your fucking neck!”
The guy gulped, fully believing Zabka’s 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 where is this conniving little cunt? Keep talking and I might let you off the hook.”
“She was out at the bar.” He was shaking.
“Take me to her.” Zabka punched his palm. “Let’s go, motherfucker.”
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