All bets are off

(from Suburban Misfits)


We drive down from Hamburg, New Jersey on a road nobodyís heard of except for Hank, Pauly bitching for me in the back seat from his usual soap box in the passenger seat, warning me not to distract Hank while heís driving or we might wind up in Oshkosh, wherever that might be.

Pauly says the last thing he needs is to have a giggling Hank driving in this remote place, and that if anything sets him off, heíll murder Hank to shut him up.

Pauly, as usual, is in a hurry, although today he might actually have a good reason, since he hopes to reach his sisterís house before she leaves for work.

Heís broke again and needs to borrow some money.

But Hank, who Paulyís once described as ďthe most careless careful driver in the world,Ē takes a route where he rarely as to exceed 25 milers per hour and seems particularly attracted to 20, pumping up Paulyís outrageous with each painful mile.

We all know that when we get to Paulyís sisterís place, sheíll be gone, and Pauly will be so pissed he wonít be able to speak the whole trip back.

We only pretend like we might get there until Pauly gets pissed thinking about it and yells for Hank to pull over, and when Hank does, Pauly gets out and starts to walk.

We have to beg him to get back in the car by which time, heís come up with a new scheme and tells Hank to give him $50.

This puts an abrupt halt to Hankís giggling.

He sees nothing funny when it comes to money, and demands to know why he should give Pauly anything.

Paulyís say Hank owes him $100 and Pauly being a kind soul is willing to settle accounts for half if Hank pays it right away.

Naturally, Hank asks how Pauly came up with such a debt, and frowns even more when Pauly mentions the bet the two of them made at 16 that suggested the sickly Hank wouldnít survive until age 25.

A relieve Hank giggles again, and points out that he isnít 25 yet, but 24.

At which point, Pauly says thatís why heís willing to settle. Pauly doesnít trust Hank to leave the $100 in his will when he does kick the bucket next year.

Things are about to get ugly between the two of them when I point out that we are lost.

Pauly blames me for distracting Hank, then orders Hank to pull into a gas station where he might get a map and make a phone call. He says heís got to have his sister check the news paperís obituaries to see if Hankís name is in them yet.


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