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Sweet Revenge

Sweet Revenge  

 

My horse was plodding slowly along the creek making his way through the low sage brush.  Becky, my newly found girlfriend, was right beside me on her horse.  Our stirrups would touch sometimes and at other times, we would reach out to touch hands.  I could just barely make out Becky’s features in the twilight as we dropped off the creek bank into a little clearing.  I’d been there earlier in the day to drag a couple of logs to just the right place.  It was near the creek so you could hear the running water but the trees and brush were open enough to be able to see the mountains to the east.  I’d found the place a week or so ago when I was chasing some stray calves.  It had been late and the moon came up over the mountains in a spectacular fashion.  I knew that I had to get Becky there.  We arrived at the spot and I climbed down from my horse.  I went to help Becky down and she slipped her arms around my neck.  One quick kiss and I had to let her go to grab the blanket I had tied behind the saddle.  I spread it out next to the logs and we sat down.  It was a beautiful evening and Becky snuggled so naturally under my arm as we leaned against the logs.  I pointed out the area to the east where the moon would be coming up and we talked quietly as we waited.  The edge of the moon appeared and was creeping higher in the sky.  Becky was making appropriate noises about how beautiful and romantic it was.  She turned her face toward me and I knew it was the perfect time for a passionate kiss.

 

The shriek of the mortally wounded animal shocked me out of my dream and rolled me to the floor beside the bed.  I crashed to the floor with the sheet and cover wrapped around my legs.  I was trying to kick loose and get to my feet when the second shriek came.  I was awake enough to know it had come from the bathroom Tim and I shared in the bunkhouse where we stayed.  I could hear the dogs barking like crazy outside.  I finally got the bedding kicked away from my legs and I grabbed the only weapon close at hand.  I grabbed one of my boots by the top and ran for the bathroom in my underwear with the boot top gripped tightly in my hand.  I guess I was thinking I could club the danger with the heel of the boot.  No, I wasn’t thinking at all, I was just reacting.

 

Half way across the room, my big toe found one of Tim’s boots.  It felt like I had broken my toe but the moans now coming out of the bathroom drove me to continue hopping on one foot toward the door with the boot raised high in my right hand.  My eyes were so full of tears, I had a hard time even seeing the door.

 

I crashed through the open door looking for the danger.  Tim, my cousin, stood in front of the mirror in just his underwear.  He was staring in the mirror.  I had been expecting some sort of reaction yesterday but I didn’t think it would be anything like this.  I looked in the mirror and saw the reason for the shrieks.  Tim had a tattoo on his chest.  I knew he was supposed to have one but nothing like this.  Tim moaned loudly and I almost dropped my boot.  He had flexed the muscles on his stomach and the tattoo moved.  No, I don’t mean the tattoo moved around on his chest but the hips of the tattoo moved in a most suggestive way.  You see, that tattoo was a naked voluptuous woman in a very provocative pose.  The body was done in detail but the face was just an outline and the name Marie was written above it.  When Tim flexed his stomach muscles, Marie moved her hips.  I stared in fascination.  Tim finally focused on me being there and his mouth moved but he didn’t say anything.

 

I asked, “Where did that come from?  When did you have it done?  Who’s Marie?”

 

Tim’s mouth continued to move without any sound.  This looked like a lot of trouble to me.  Tim’s girlfriend, almost fiancé, was Susan.  Susan was my girlfriend’s best friend and roommate.  They had been going together for three years and Susan was looking for an engagement ring any time now.  This tattoo was really going to complicate things.  I reached out to touch it and Tim slapped my hand away.

 

He said, “Marty, what am I going to do?  Susan will kill me when she sees this.  How can I hide it?”

 

“When did you get this?”

 

“I don’t know.  It wasn’t here day before yesterday.  I didn’t look yesterday because I didn’t wake up until Dad yelled at us to go get those calves that got out.  I was still dressed so I just got up and put my boots on.  I worked all afternoon with those calves and fixing the fence.  I was so dog tired that I just collapsed on my bed last night.  I do remember getting up and undressing to get under the covers but…”

 

Well, I knew a little about a tattoo but not that one.  Let me back up and tell the whole story.  Tim and I were cousins and had spent three summers at our grandparents just before and when we were in junior high.  We had become fast friends but Tim had to spend the rest of his summers on his parents’ ranch in Montana.  I had stayed in Missouri with my parents and worked summers for a farmer just down the road from us.  I helped milk his cows.  I started college but wound up enlisting in the Air Force.  Tim and I had kept in contact though the years and when I got out of the Air Force, he invited me to spend the summer on his parents’ ranch.  I jumped at the chance and had barely gotten on the ground at Great Falls when Tim and his friend, Jase, had me involved in a wild cow milking contest at Geraldine.  After I had been run over by a thousand head of wild cows and all the bucking bulls in the rodeo –well, maybe it was just the cow that we milked but it did feel like a thousand wild cows had run over me.  Anyway, they hauled me back to town and came up with the idea that rubbing tequila on my body would help with the injuries.  It did not!  Then they decided it would work better from the inside out.  It did not!  When Tim and Jase were first planning this wild cow milking excursion, Susan had brought her roommate Becky to the bar where we were.  I normally was tongue tied around beautiful women but I got along with Becky really great.  Becky, Susan and Gwen, Jase’s wife, accompanied us to the rodeo and wild cow milking.  They were in the bar later when Tim and Jase were getting me drunk.  They had me all worked up and I almost proposed to Becky.  Now I like Becky and I might propose to her one of these days but you don’t propose when you’ve only known the woman for a week.  I like Tim’s time schedule of about three years but I’m getting off the subject.

 

Tim and I wound up in Becky and Susan’s house where Becky sat up most of the night holding my hand and trying to ease my suffering.  When I woke up, I could see the look in her eyes that said we were an item and she expected an engagement ring very shortly.  Tim and Jase made a big joke of it and wouldn’t let me forget.  They were teasing all the time about going to the jewelers to get a ring or some foolishness such as that.  I vowed to get REVENGE.  I just never dreamed it would get so out of hand like this.

 

The summer wore on and I must admit I liked being around Becky.  She thought I was great and she was so easy to talk to but I had a few more places I’d like to see.  Every time I mentioned one of these places, Tim or Jase would ask if Becky wanted to see them and then the two fools would laugh their heads off.  I was getting tired of being the joke so I was looking for a chance to get even.  One week it all came together.  Becky, Susan and Gwen were supposed to go to a woman’s party of some sort at Jase’s house.  You know the kind where they have jewelry or home decorations or something.  We three were left to our own devices that night and Jase had to get out of the house.  I hadn’t thought of a way to get even with both of them but that night an opportunity arose to get Jase.  Jase was raised in Chicago and didn’t know a bull from a giraffe when he came to Montana.  Tim had been trying to educate him but in some ways Jase was a coconut.  You know, brown hair but blonde on the inside.  He was pretty green about a lot of things.  That night Tim started talking about going bird hunting.  An idea popped in my head.  I’d been in the grocery store earlier in the day and I’d spotted some Cornish game hens.  I knew Tim knew about snipe hunting and maybe even Jase had but had either of them ever hunted Arkansan hillbilly chicken?

 

When Tim started talking about the pheasants, huns and sharptail grouse, I asked, “Tim, I didn’t know you had Arkansan hillbilly chicken.  I saw some tracks out south of the barn the other day and I went out day before yesterday and I caught one.  Them little buggers are really hard to catch by yourself.”

 

Now both of the others looked at me suspiciously.  Tim said, “I’ve never heard of an Arkansan hillbilly chicken.  What are they?”

 

“I don’t know for sure.  I’ve heard they’re actually some kind of plover but down home, we just call them hillbilly chicken.”

 

“How did you come to look for these tracks?”

 

“I heard one.  It really surprised me, so I answered it and followed the sound.  I never did see it that day but I did manage to catch one later.”

 

“When have you had time during the day to catch anything?  What does this bird sound like?”

 

The entire time this conversation was going on, Jase sat like a big owl looking from one to the other when we spoke.  He didn’t say a word but I could see an idea or question was forming.

 

I answered, “It sounds something like this:  peep, tweet, tweet, cheep.  Cheep, tweet, tweet, peep.”

 

I worked hard at the sound and saw the light come on in Jase’s eyes.  He tried the sound and I told him it had to be a little higher.  Tim was really staring at me with that suspicious look.  Jase got the sound down and was tweeting cheeping away.  I closed my eyes for effect and leaned back like I was really listening.

 

“Jase, I didn’t know you had hillbilly chicken where you came from.  When I close my eyes and listen, I can’t tell you from the real thing.  Maybe I could get you to record that.  I’ll bet I’d do a lot better catching some of those fool birds.”

 

“I don’t ever remember seeing anything like this bird you’re describing.  When did you catch it?” Tim said looking at me through narrowed eyes.  He definitely had a suspicious mind.

 

“They are really tough to see.  I remember seeing a flock of them on the ground and then they disappeared.  I stood still and studied the ground for a good half hour before I finally spotted a couple of them.  They can hide behind a leaf or three sprigs of grass and if you didn’t see them disappear and really study the area, you’d never see them.  I’ve never seen one in flight that I know of.  I always see them on the ground.  I tried sluicing them on the ground but the two I got were so full of shot and so torn up, I gave up on that.  I usually catch them in a bag at night.  I wonder if they are mostly a nocturnal bird.”

 

“Ha, now it comes out.  Are they related to a snipe?”

 

“Tim, do you think I would take you two sophisticated hunters on a snipe hunt?”

 

“Yes, if you thought you could get away with it.”

 

“Well, excuse me.  I was trying to be serious and now you’re putting me down.  I’ll tell you what.  If Becky will let me use her grill Friday, I’ll cook up my hillbilly chicken and you can taste it.  Have you ever tasted snipe?”

 

Tim looked a little crest fallen and admitted, “No, I’ve never heard of anyone catching a snipe.  How big did you say these birds are?”

 

I made a little circle with my hands and then changed the subject to fishing.  I had the bait in front of my two suckers so now I just needed to set the hook.  Gwen called Jase to tell him the party was over, so I called Becky to see if I could use her grill.  She thought it sounded like a great idea and started planning on turning it into a party for the six of us.

 

I bought one of the smallest Cornish game hens I could find that Friday and took it to Becky’s early in the afternoon.  I put it in a slow cooker for three hours before we were supposed to eat.  Just before hand, I took it out of the slow cooker and rubbed it with smoke flavoring and some barbeque sauce.  I wrapped it in foil and took it outside to the grill to cook for the next twenty minutes.  The bird was so small I had grabbed some burgers to grill as well.  When everyone started arriving, I took the bird off and moved it to a plate.  My Mom had showed me how to do this with tough old chickens.  They would come out so tender and juicy they would almost melt in your mouth.  Now it was time to set the hook.

 

Everyone grabbed their burgers and salads and chips.  We sat down to eat and I opened the bird.  Tim and Jase were eyeing me with a lot of suspicion again but the women all tried a small piece.  When they started raving, the guys had to try it too.  You know, it didn’t take long for that bird to be cleaned clear to the bone.  Everyone was licking their fingers and remarking how good it was.  I set the hook.

 

“Becky, what are you doing next Saturday night?”

 

“I’m going to have a party like Gwen did.  Why?”

 

“Oh, I was going to take you out to see if we could catch some more of these hillbilly chickens.  Jase is going to record their call and I though we could do a lot better with it.”

 

Jase blurted out, “Now wait a minute.  I didn’t say that I would record that call for you.  If you’re going to go catch more with my call, I want to be there.”

 

Tim joined right in, “Me, too.”

 

Gwen said, “That sounds like a good idea.  You guys go hunting while we girls have a party.  Maybe we can meet later at the Pink Flamingo and go dancing.”

 

“It might be late when we get back.”

 

“Well, you guys just go and have fun,” Gwen said.

 

We made our plans for the next Saturday.  Saturday came and that evening about dusk we met at Tim’s barn to go Arkansan hillbilly chicken hunting.  Shortly after that was when things started to go down hill.  We drove out south of the house about a mile and I took Jase out to the head of a coulee and sat him down on a bucket.  He was surrounded by brush and blended right in with the landscape.  I gave him a burlap sack that I’d found in the barn.  I had one and had given one to Tim.  I instructed him to sit very still for five minutes and then to start doing the bird imitation.  I told him to only do it for a few seconds and then be quiet for two or three minutes before he repeated the pattern.  There was some sort of animal path that came up the coulee through the brush and I told him to have his sack ready to catch the birds.  I told him he would hear them working their way through the grass and brush.  I turned and walked back toward Tim.  Jase couldn’t wait and started doing the bird imitation.  I hadn’t told him but his imitation really sounded like a distressed chick.  He was really good at it, too.

 

Tim was waiting about two hundred yards away and I was trying to be real quiet so it took awhile to get to him.  He was staring at where Jase was sitting.  He very quietly said, “I thought I saw something move over there behind Jase.”

 

“What was it?”

 

“I don’t know.  You know, I think I’ve heard that bird before.  It sure sounds familiar.”

 

I turned to see if I could spot any movement but I didn’t really see anything.  I was about to move Tim a little ways over when the night erupted.  Jase was screaming, “I got it.  I got it.  Look out something’s attacking me!”

 

I definitely saw something hit his back and then almost turn itself inside out trying to reverse direction.  It streaked across the field and we both could see it was a coyote.  We saw him lurch forward and I thought he had fallen to the ground but he quickly leaped up.  By this time, Tim and I both were starting to laugh.  Jase started running towards our laughter screaming, “I got it!  I got it!  Arghhh, it stinks!  I can’t stand it!”

 

Since the breeze was blowing in our direction.  even from where I stood, I could tell that he had a skunk in that bag.  Jase was waving that bag and continuing to scream, “I’ve got it!  It stinks something terrible!  Arghhh!”  I didn’t wait.  I turned and ran for the pickup.  I didn’t want Jase pounding on me for setting him up to catch a skunk.  Tim saw me turn and run.  He didn’t know what I was running from but he wasn’t going to face it alone.  He was right on my heels.  Jase saw both of us taking off and he thought that whatever had attacked earlier was coming again.  He sprinted even faster after us, yelling, “Wait for me.  I’ve got it.”

 

I raced for the passenger door of the pickup and had just barely jumped in when Tim jumped in the driver’s seat.  As soon as he slammed the door, I hit the button to lock the door.  Tim was trying to get the engine started and I was yelling for him to get out of there.  Jase heard the engine start and took a big running jump.  He landed in the back of the pickup with a thud, still holding that bag with the skunk.  He sat up and was holding the bag as far from him as he could but he had this crazy grin on his face.  About that time, Tim got the pickup started and took off.  He spun the tires in the dirt and knocked Jase back down in the pickup bed.  Jase was rolling around trying to keep that bag away from himself.

 

I rolled the window down a little and was yelling, “Throw the bag away.  Throw the bag away.”

 

Tim started yelling, “What’s after us?  Are we safe yet?”

 

I kept yelling at Jase and finally he reluctantly flipped the bag over the side of the pickup.  He needed both hands to hold on.  Tim was flying across the uneven ground and Jase was bouncing around the back like a bb in a barrel.  Tim finally had to slow down for a gate.  He stopped in front of it and Jase slowly climbed out of the back and opened it.  Tim pulled through and Jase walked up to the passenger door.  I didn’t unlock it and I could see Jase getting irritated.

 

Tim said, “Marty, let him in.  I’m hungry.  I want to go to town to get something to eat.”

 

“No way.”

 

“What?  What’s the matter with him?”

 

I rolled the window down a crack and the odor of the skunk floated into the truck.  Tim yelled, “Roll that window up.  He’s not getting in my pickup smelling like that.”

 

Jase asked, “How do I smell?  It’s just the smell from that bird.”

 

Tim had to roll his window down to let some of the stench out so he yelled, “That wasn’t a bird.  That was a skunk and you smell terrible.  Get in the back and after you air out some, we’ll let you in the front.”

 

Jase was mumbling but he climbed into the back.  He didn’t want to walk back to town.  Tim took off for town and we could see the lightning in the west.  I said, “We may have to let him in.  It looks like we’re going to run into a good rain storm before we get to town.”

 

“He’ll have to wait until the rain hits before I let him in my pickup.  Whew!  That skunk must have really been mad in that sack.  I’ll bet that whole area where that sack hit will be unusable for six months.”

 

We drove towards Great Falls and the storm moved closer.  I was quiet because I was trying to figure out how to keep Jase from pounding me into the dirt.  I was afraid that he would be really mad when he found out he was the butt of a practical joke.  When the big drops of rain started hitting the windshield, Tim knew he had to stop.  When the pickup stopped, Jase climbed out of the rear and came to the passenger door.  He climbed into the back seat of the pickup.  Tim and I both rolled our windows down but the stench was overpowering.

 

Jase asked, “Marty, what happened back there?  Why did you tell me to get rid of that bag?”

 

I thought for a second and then said, “You had a skunk in that bag.  You were better with that bird call than I thought.  Did you feel something jump on your back?”

 

“Yeah, I turned to look and I think it was a dog.  What in the world was a dog doing way out there?”

 

“That was no dog.  That was a coyote.  They love those hillbilly chickens.  When it heard you, it was coming for supper.  The skunk must like them, too.  Didn’t you hear something coming at you?”

 

“Yeah, Marty, it was just like you said.  I could hear something moving in the grass and brush.  I was all ready when that coyote jumped on my back.  It was digging and clawing back there and I dropped forward on my knees.  I thought those birds were right close, so I scooped with the sack.  I felt something go in and then I smelled that terrible smell.  I saw you guys running away and I was afraid that dog was coming back to attack again.  I thought maybe it wanted what I had in the sack.  It should have been able to smell it a long ways off.”

 

The rain hit and we had to roll up our windows.  Before long, a strange thing happened.  I couldn’t smell the skunk smell any longer.  Tim said, “We thought the skunk was after you so we were trying to keep from getting sprayed.  I figured he wanted the birds you’d captured.  That skunk smell stays with you a long time and is almost impossible to get off.”

 

We rehashed the story several more times on the way in and soon all of us were laughing about what happened.  Jase and Tim were convinced that Jase was the world’s greatest bird caller.  They were thinking how they could record him doing the call and then sell it to sportsmen all over the country.  I kept my mouth shut and just thanked the lucky stars that these two had no clue they had been set up.

 

When we got to town, Tim went to one of the all-night places that had food and also sold beer.  I should have left then but I didn’t want them to get suspicious.  We ran through the light rain and went in to find a table to sit at.  They both had two beers waiting on the food and another with the food.  I don’t drink alcohol, so I drank soda.  I told them I would be the designated driver.  We noticed something funny.  The waitress didn’t come around to check on us.  She only came when we waved her over.  Something else strange happened right after we walked in as well.  Everyone sitting around us got up and moved away.  People who came in would head for the empty tables around us and then veer away to the tables farthest from us.  We didn’t think much about it and the two of them decided they wanted to go to the Pink Flamingo.  We paid for the meal and headed out to the pickup.  We climbed in and suddenly we knew why the waitress didn’t want to wait on us and the people moved.  The skunk smell was really ripe again.  The rain had brought it back to life.  We looked at each other and had a good laugh.  Then we went to the Pink Flamingo.

 

We walked in and Jase spotted someone he played softball with.  He said, “Watch this.  I wonder how long I can keep him right beside me.”

 

He walked up and greeted his friend and proceeded to put his arm around the guy’s shoulder.  The guy got a whiff of the skunk and tried to edge away.  Jase just gripped him tighter.  Tim and I were standing there laughing.  The guy’s discomfort was obvious and funny.  Jase finally let him go and we found a table.  We were laughing so hard we had to sit down.  Tim and Jase started ordering and consuming beers.  I wouldn’t drink anything they ordered for me unless I could open the can for myself.  I wasn’t taking any more chances.  If they ordered anything for me, I pushed it in front of one of them.  They drank it and didn’t even know I hadn’t.  I would probably have considered us even if they hadn’t started ribbing me about the last time they got me drunk and almost married.  I let them go on for awhile and watched them get drunker and drunker.

 

I don’t know how the subject came up but we started talking about tattoos.  Jase said there was a place just down the street that was open late at night and we should all get a tattoo of that hillbilly chicken.  After a couple more beers, the two of them convinced themselves they had to do it.  Jase kept emphasizing his point by thumping Tim on the chest with his finger.  Tim kept pushing his finger away and told him to quit but Jase persisted.  I thought about stopping them and then I thought about the ribbing.  An idea came to mind.  We got up to head for the tattoo place.  Jase made it to the back of the pickup and passed out.  Tim and I somehow got him loaded in the pickup bed and Tim insisted he was going to get the tattoo.  He said Jase would come around and he could get one, too.  They both assumed I would join them but I had other ideas.  When we got to the tattoo parlor, Jase was still out cold so we left him.  I had to help Tim in the door and he loudly proclaimed he wanted a tattoo.  The guy behind the counter must have been used to drunks showing up wanting a tattoo because he didn’t say much.  He just directed Tim to a room in the back with a chair.  Tim sat down and immediately went to sleep.  Now was the perfect time.  I asked the guy if he could do a heart with Shirley written on it.  I told him it should be a small one in the middle of Tim’s chest.  The guy had a strange look on his face and said it would be a $100.  I paid and the guy said it would take an hour or so.  I told him I had another passenger to take home and I would be back.  The guy had an evil sneer as he said that would be just fine.  I didn’t think anything of it at the time.  I just took Tim’s cowboy hat off and put it on the table.  I opened his shirt and the guy got his stuff out.  I pointed at a heart on the wall and the guy said he would take care of it.  I went back to the pickup to take Jase home.

 

Getting him home didn’t take long — it was getting him awake enough to get him out of the pickup.  I couldn’t lift him so he had to move under his own power.  I finally had to get some cold water from the hose to pour on his head to wake him up.  He was spitting and sputtering but he was moving.  I had already been gone for over an hour so I was a little worried and I tried to get Jase moving a little faster.  There was no way.  He headed for the back door and I helped him through the yard to the back door.  Gwen met us at the door.  When she caught a whiff of Jase, she told him to wait right there.  She was glaring at me, so I did what any good cowboy would do — I retreated and left Jase to face her wrath.  He was wobbly but stood his ground.  I tried the screen door but it was locked so I left.

 

I hurried back to the pickup and rushed back to the tattoo parlor.  The guy was just finishing up as I came in.  He had a big grin on his face and closed Tim’s shirt up.  I grabbed Tim’s hat and he helped me get Tim into the pickup.  The guy made some comment about cowboys really stinking but I ignored him.  I wanted to look at the tattoo but I knew that I needed to get Tim home.

 

Tim and I had taken over the old bunkhouse so we had some privacy for ourselves.  When we got back to the ranch, I got Tim moving and when we were inside I just let him drop across the bed.  I did pull his boots off and then I got ready for bed.  I saw that it was almost 4:00.  I went to sleep and slept like a log until about noon when Tim’s Dad yelled that he needed some help.  A bunch of calves were out and would be getting on the road.  I jumped up to get dressed and Tim sort of oozed out of the bed to find his boots.  We spent the afternoon rounding up those stupid calves and then the next three hours finding the break in the fence and fixing it.  Tim looked like death warmed over and he wasn’t any too talkative.  I drove and he was almost asleep by the time we got back to the bunkhouse.  He didn’t even want anything to eat.  He just went in and lay across the bed.

 

The shrieks that woke me happened the next morning.  I asked Tim, “Didn’t you feel anything yesterday?”

 

“I felt a little sore but I remembered Jase kept poking me there with his finger.  I thought his pokes just made me a little tender.  I didn’t look at my chest so this was the first time I had seen this.  What will Susan think?  I know she’s going to kill me.”

 

“I know you and Jase were talking about getting a hillbilly chicken tattoo but I didn’t think you would do something like this.”

 

“Oh, I’m dead meat.  I wonder if they can take it off.  Where did we go to get it?”

 

I told him and we decided we would go back into town right after work to see what they could do.  The day seemed to drag on forever.  Neither of us felt much like work.  I never intended for anything like this to happen.  I wanted a little heart with Shirley on it.  I figured the tattoo place could rework that into Susan and it would be a great joke.  How would they cover something like this up?  We finished working and we went back to the bunkhouse.  I took a shower and then Tim did.  He kept staring in the mirror at that tattoo and trying not to flex his stomach.  The harder he tried the more he seemed to do it.  He would groan and mutter every time.  He finally finished and started getting dressed.  He put on two tee shirts and a long sleeved shirt.  I told him it was awfully warm to be dressed that heavily but he said he didn’t care.  He wanted everything securely covered in case he ran into Susan.  We loaded up and headed to the tattoo parlor.

 

I didn’t recognize the guy or the girl behind the counter.  Tim explained we had been in two nights ago and had a tattoo done.  He asked if the guy had done it.

 

The guy said, “No, I didn’t work then.  It was my day off.  I’ll bet it was Dave.  What did he look like?”

 

Tim didn’t remember so I gave a vague description and the guy said, “Yep, that’s him.  He left for Los Angeles yesterday.  Said some cowboy came in for a tattoo.  He was convinced that it was the one that stole his girlfriend, Shirley.  He said he fixed them both and just quit.”

 

I remembered the evil leer when I said I wanted a heart with Shirley.  Now was a good time to keep my mouth shut.  Tim asked, “Can you take this off?”

 

“Let me see.”

 

Tim wouldn’t uncover with the woman there, so the guy had us go into the back room where Tim had gotten the tattoo.  He slowly unsnapped his shirt and pulled the first tee shirt up.  Then he worked the other one up.  The guy’s eyes almost popped out of his head and he started laughing.  He called for the woman and Tim dropped his tee shirt back over his chest.

 

The woman came into the room and the guy said, “You might as well let her see it.  She will be the one that has to fix it.  Mary, this is the cowboy.  Look what Dave did.”

 

Tim turned bright red but he slowly pulled up his tee shirt.  The woman immediately put her hand over her mouth and laughed until the tears were coming.  I felt bad for Tim’s embarrassment but I did really did think he deserved the payback.

 

The woman said, “We just need to finish it.  What face would you like on it?”

 

Tim’s stomach tightened up at that question and the tattoo’s hips moved in that provocative way.  The woman and the guy burst out in laughter again.

 

They finally explained that it would be very expensive and painful to remove the tattoo.  The lady said she could put a mask on the tattoo and change the name to Susan.  She could tattoo a swim suit or other clothes on it.  That would be the best she could do.  She said since a guy from their shop had messed him up, she would only charge $300 to do that.  Tim didn’t know whether to be relieved or mad.  The lady told him it would be a couple of weeks before she would be able to do the additional tattooing.  Tim was mortified.  What was he going to do in the mean time?  What if Susan found out?  The lady told him that honesty was always the best policy.  Tim snorted and said she didn’t know Susan.  Tim did set up a time to come back to get the tattoo fixed and as he was getting ready to pull his shirt down, the woman asked him to move the tattoo again.  That embarrassed Tim and he tightened his stomach muscles.  Marie, the tattoo moved her hips.  The man and woman both laughed again.  Tim pulled his shirts down and buttoned up his outer one.  We left the tattoo parlor.

 

Jase called Tim’s cell phone as we were leaving.  He needed to meet him.  He suggested a local bar but Tim would have none of it.  He was swearing off drinking.  Look what it had gotten him into.  They agreed to meet at a café not too far from Jase’s place.

 

We drove over and walked in.  I thought the place felt really warm but I sat down and tried not to be noticed by anyone.  Tim and Jase started talking and the longer they talked, the more Tim started sweating.  With all those shirts, he had to be roasting.

 

Jase needed our advice and Tim needed Jase’s advice.  Jace went first, “How do you get rid of that skunk smell?  Gwen is so mad at me, I’m afraid she might shoot me.  It still smells in the house.  Marty, she said you dropped me off and she was mad at you for awhile.  She made me stripped down bare naked right there in the back yard.  No one can see into our yard but it was still pretty embarrassing.  Then she threw some liquid soap and shampoo at me before she turned the hose on me.  That water was freezing and I told her so.  She said she didn’t care.  She wasn’t having a drunk coming into her house smelling like a skunk.  After I soaped up three times, she finally let me come in the house.  She made me take another shower and I had to leave my clothes outside.  You must have left the gate open because now the neighbor is mad at me, too.  Their dog came over and rolled in my clothes and they had a whole pickup load of stuff to get rid of the smell.  Gwen made me throw those clothes into the garbage.  Marty, Tim, do you have any idea how to get rid of the smell?”

 

I suggested, “Get lots of scented candles and burn them day and night for a few days.  They help get rid of the smell.  Go to Costco or the grocery store and buy a bunch of roses for Gwen.  She might forgive you after you give them to her.”

 

“How many do you think I should get?”

 

“Four or five dozen if you can get them.  She’s pretty mad, isn’t she?”

 

“Maybe I’d better make it six dozen.”

 

Tim had been sitting there waiting for his turn.  He asked, “Jase, this skunk thing is pretty bad and Gwen is really mad at you, isn’t she?”

 

“Yeah, why?”

 

“Do you think she will forgive you?”

 

“I sure hope so.  What’s the matter?  Did you do something bad after Marty dropped me off?  How come you’re sweating like that?”

 

“I must have done it after Marty took you home.  Do you have a new tattoo?”

 

“No, that would have really made Gwen shoot me.”

 

Tim groaned and held his head in his hands while saying, “I’m dead, I tell you dead.”

 

“Tim, what did you do?  Tell me and maybe I can help.”

 

Just then, the door opened and in walked Susan and Becky.  They were driving by and spotted Tim’s pickup.  Tim didn’t see them because he had his back to the door and he had his head in his hands.  Jase and I both saw them at the same time.

 

Before we could say anything, they were right behind Tim as he said, “I wound up with a tattoo.  The jerk at the tattoo parlor thought I had stolen his girlfriend and put this horrible tattoo on me with the name Marie written above it.  I didn’t steal his girl friend, I just want Susan.”

 

She said, “That’s good because I want you, too.  What does this tattoo look like?”

 

I thought Tim was going to pass out right there.  All he could do was make little strangling noises.  Susan saw that he was sweating and reached out to touch his forehead.

 

“Tim, you’re burning up.  What happened, were the tattoo needles dirty?  Did you get an infection?”

 

I almost choked and got myself in trouble when she said that.  Susan was getting Tim to his feet, saying she was going to take him to her house to check him out.  Becky was looking at me strangely and I think she thought I had something to do with it.  I paid the tab while Jase played the proper cowboy and ran, like the coward he was, while he could.  He went directly to the store and bought all the roses they had and as many scented candles as he could carry.  I followed Becky, Susan and Tim to the pickup.  Susan told Becky to ride with me because Tim was riding with her.  She needed to keep him quiet until she could find out what his problem was.

 

Becky tried to make small talk but I was too worried about Tim.  I didn’t want to be the one responsible for him and Susan breaking up.  I was trying to find the words to tell her what had happened.  I knew I would only get one chance and I wanted to make sure she understood that Tim had been drunk and wasn’t responsible.  Everything I tried seemed like a wild story and I was starting to sweat bullets.

 

When we got to the house, Susan and Tim went right into the house before Becky and I could even get parked.  Oh, no, I thought.  She knows and wants to look at it.  I hurried up the steps into the house and Becky had to trot to keep up.  We walked through the door as Tim was pulling his tee shirts up for Susan to inspect his tattoo.  Becky stopped dead in her tracks at the sight.  Tim looked up and saw her there and his stomach tensed.  Marie’s hips swayed provocatively and Becky gasped in surprise.  Tim exhaled and tensed again.  Marie’s hips did their thing.  Tim turned bright red and seemed frozen except for moving his stomach.  Susan and Becky both saw how embarrassed he was and how he was trying not to move his stomach.  But the more he tried, the more it moved.  Soon both of them got tickled and started laughing.  They both walked to the couch and collapsed on it, rocking back and forth in laughter.  Tim let his shirts drop and I had to join the women’s laughter.  Tim looked really disgusted that his friend would let him down like this.

 

When the women finally stopped laughing, Susan said Tim confessed on the way to the house.  She wasn’t sure she believed him until he became so embarrassed with Becky seeing the tattoo.  She had to tell the story of how Tim got it because Tim refused to say anything and I wasn’t volunteering anything.  Susan did forgive Tim and he got the tattoo fixed so it wasn’t xxx rated.  The tattoo artist changed the name from Marie to Susan but the figure would still move the hips provocatively when Tim tensed his stomach.  Somehow it wasn’t as bad as when the tattoo was naked.  Jase’s offering of roses and scented candles did appease Gwen but both women warned Tim and Jase about the consequences if either of them ever got that drunk again.  They both swore off drinking and said they wouldn’t even touch alcohol if the women weren’t there.  I kept my mouth shut, knowing that I had gotten my sweet revenge but I would never be able to tell anyone.  This was one secret I would take with me to the grave.

 

 

 

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