She came back with the bowls and was smiling all the way. Just before she had come back one of the militia boys had looked around the corner and given us a thumbs up.
"Here you go honey" She set the bowls down and brightly asked "Will there be anything else?"
"How about some utensils and something to drink?"
"Oh my" She covered her mouth with her hand, laughed, and said "I'm so sorry. Ice tea or water?" Zane and I both said "Ice tea." When she left he semi-whispered "Shes not real smart is she?"
I shrugged and told him "Give Woof his bowl. He doesn't need any utensils." He set the bowl down and we both watched Woof sniff it and pass. Zane looked at me. I looked at him. He said "It can't be that bad."
"Naw. Woofs probably still full from his Mexican food. Grab it and we can split it." I noticed he didn't hesitate to reach down for it either. The waitress came back with the rest of our stuff, apologized a couple more times, and finally left. We dug in. It was bad but edible. No meat. Just beans and a tomato sauce. I'm a fast eater but Zane was faster. I pushed the other bowl over to him and said "That's yours. I'm getting full." He nodded and swapped the bowls out like a pro. He was almost done with the second bowl when it started. "Nice timing" I thought.Woof had stood up and was in his warning stance.
Five beats later the bartender was towed around the corner by one big, ugly, scared brown pit bull. Behind the bartender trailed the militia members and everyone else in the place. Woof was bigger by 70 lbs was my guess. He was growling from deep down inside and I felt it inside my gut where it was making the crappy chili vibrate. The pit bull didn't make a sound. He just looked at Woof and sneered. He had taken some hits, the missing ear said that, as did the bite marks and scars. He didn't look bothered because my guess was he had never lost. The scratched up one inch wide steel collar he was wearing helped that winning streak I'm sure.
I got up from the table and stood at an angle in front of Woof. "What you got there?" I asked them casually.
Bartender told me proudly "This here is the mascot of the Indiana Militia! Never been beat. No sir. Just like us."
"No shit." I nodded gravely. "Nice dog. It have a name?"
Bartender and everyone else grinned. He told me "Yes indeed. We call him...Vick."
I laughed. So did everyone else. We were all becoming such buddies.
"So why you showing me your dog?
He looked around at his buddies. The grins had changed. They weren't the lets laugh kind of grins. They were slimy and more than a little maggoty.
"Well, we figure you being a rich Zoner" he really stepped on the word Zoner too, "that you might want to bet. You know...your dog against ours."
"If I don't?"
The grins got mean and he told me "I guess you don't got much of a choice."
I smiled at them, drew, and pumped two .357 rounds into Vick. As the sound died away I recocked and told them "I always got choices."