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…
A waitress walked through the dinning area with a tray of orders balanced on her palm. She reached a table with three young men and handed them their lunch. In deadpan, she said, “Enjoy.”
Zabka stabbed his fork through some lettuce and a cherry tomato and brought it to his mouth. His hand was shaking, so he had to concentrate to not drip any dressing on his cheap suit.
Bob intentionally dropped his knife, clanging it on the table. “Who the fuck orders a salad?” He glared at his friend. “No good story ever started with, ‘So, I was eating a salad…’ But here you are, eating a fucking salad.”
Zabka chewed — his face scrunched, pondering Bob’s 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 be… 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.” There was sweat on Zabka’s forehead and his skull was pounding.
“You look like shit,” Bob commented. “Did you throw up in the bathroom?”
“No…” Zabka took a sip of his Bloody Mary. “But I wish I had.”
“Come on, you need more than a salad.”
“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, their college housemate, 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.
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 never left the ’80s.
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 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.”
“I’d Achy-Fuckin’-Breaky that guy’s nose if he was here.” Zabka laughed.
“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.”
“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 during junior year. It was the end of spring semester 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.”
Based on his friends’ unusual behavior the night before, Bob was undoubtedly stirring the pot. He 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.”
“Someone’s got the balls to try to throw me out?” Zabka chuckled. “That’s a good one.”
Bob commented, “Actually, I’m surprised Brewer didn’t toss you outta Third Base last night. You’re a walking-talking shitshow.”
“They’d never — they love me. Plus, it’s not like I started it.”
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 was mentally scarred by what I witnessed at our house, too.” 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. “The team was probably a little rusty from partying during training camp. I’m sure things can get a little wild down in Fredonia. 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 it was a piece of gum, his face turned green. “What the fuck?!” He spit the chicken onto the table, inspected its pink flesh, and dry-heaved. “It’s raw inside!”
Their waitress heard the commotion and hustled over. “Is there a problem with your order?”
Zabka’s adrenaline spiked. “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, chico! Did you do this?! Did you put raw chicken in my salad?!”
The Panamanian food preparer replied, “No, sir. I just make the vegetables.” His nervous eyes implicated his coworker — the Latin American guy that was 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 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 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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