“Dude, all I’m saying is that you gotta consider Bluto’s point of view. Every time he thinks he’s about to get somewhere with this chick he thinks is the shit, he gets cock-blocked by this stupid, deformed-forearmed sailor with a speech impediment.” Stig turned up a palm, the universal sign for “Am I right?”
“I don’t know man,” Bastian, Stig’s best friend in the whole world, answered. “Bluto’s always so violent and mean. I think he’s an asshole.”
“But he wouldn’t be if Popeye would just mind his own fucking business for one goddamn day. All Bluto’s ever wanted is to make some time with Olive Oyl. It’s been years and it’s never happened. Can you imagine waiting that long for something that never happens? You’d go apeshit too. Steam coming out of your ears. Punch somebody.”
“I suppose, dude,” Bastian nodded. “Speaking of waiting, how much longer we gonna hang out here?”
“I don’t know. Just a bit longer.”
They sat on plastic, molded Adirondack chairs on the balcony of their second-floor apartment. From there they overlooked the public parking lot used by the surfers who accessed the beach right across the street. Since mid-morning they had sat, ice chest full of beer between them. They watched the comings and goings of the surfers, sometimes exchanging pleasantries,
“Hey!” they might shout.
“Hey!” the surfer might shout back.
A couple of times, as surfers returned to the parking lot, Stig or Bastian shouted, “Hey bro, tasty tubes?”
As often as not today, the answer had been, “Hell yeah. Tasty as fuck, man! You should get out there.”
Then there were the surfer chicks. Watching a toned surfer chick peel off a wetsuit was something else. Stig and Bastian thought of themselves as pretty progressive dudes, not creepers, but goddamn it was hard not to peek. They tried not to look, or at least not get caught. As often as not, they betrayed themselves. One would punch the other in the arm, the other would punch back and say, “Dude! I see, I see, be cool.”
Stig and Bastian spent many days in this general way. On this particular day, they had assumed their places as the Sun rose above the building behind them. They stayed put as it journeyed overhead, until now as it began to contemplate dropping itself into the Pacific Ocean.
“I could sure use another beer. Any left?” Bastian asked.
“Maybe. I think so. Pretty sure there’s an IPA in there. Or a PBR.”
“Oh, I hope it’s a PBR!” Bastian said, opening the cooler and fishing around in the ice with one hand. “Got it! No, wait. It’s an IPA.”
Stig took a turn fishing around. “Here you go, Brother.” His hand emerged with the tall PBR can, which he offered to his friend.
“Are you sure?” Bastian took the PBR, Stig took the IPA. “You don’t mind the IPA? I mean, it’s kinda hot out here, I just thought the PBR sounded better, you know, a nice crisp American lager is great for hot days. But I don’t want to be selfish.”
“No worries, dude.” Stig used the opener on his key chain to pop the top on the IPA. “So much the better. So much the better.” Bastian popped open the PBR can. They clinked can to bottle and both took long drinks and made “Ah” sounds. Stig continued, “Make this one last though. That’s the last of it.”
They sat and drank their beers. The sun continued to drop closer and closer to the water.
“What are we waiting for again?” asked Bastian.
“You know, Whiskey,” answered Stig.
“Dude, we’ve been drinking beer all day long.” Bastian pointed at the beers currently in hand.
“Not the drink, man. The person.”
“Oh, yeah. Right.” Bastian nodded, waited a beat, then, “Whiskey who?”
Stig sighed a bit, as he usually did when he had to explain things to Bastian. He loved Bastian, he really did. Like a brother. But sometimes, most-times, Bastian wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. Anyone who knew them knew that Stig was the brains among the pair. Stig was handsome and smart. Bastian was charming and goofy. Whenever they were at a bar, the women would initially be attracted to Stig, but would almost invariably end up switching their attention to Bastian. Of course, Stig found this very frustrating, but always returned to the grounding truth that he could be above it, mainly because he was the smart one.
So now, Stig sighed and said, “Whiskey Leavins. The person. The writer. The guy that’s writing us?” Then, “He was supposed to write us into a real story. That’s what we’re waiting for.”
“We’re not in a real story?” Bastian asked, crestfallen.
“Sorry dude, we most certainly are not.”
A moment passed. A surfer dude they knew shouted up, “Hey!”
They both shouted back down, “Hey!”
After another moment Bastian said, “But we have a setting, we got some banter, that’s dialog right? Isn’t that enough?”
“Nah, man. At best we’re a “slice of life” or a “vignette.”
Bastian became animated, “I love a vignette! Olive oil, especially with a killer balsamic, dude, that’s the shit!”
Stig sighed again. “Bastian, dude. That’s a vinaigrette. It’s a salad dressing.” Bastian looked chastened. Stig continued, “A most awesome salad dressing, for sure. Or, some restaurants, the fancy ones, they give you a nice vinaigrette to just dip your fucking bread in. Vinaigrette’s the best, dude. No, but yeah, a vignette is a different thing, man. It’s like a little chunk of a story.”
Bastian lifted his chin from his chest. He blinked twice, then said, “Well, then what do we need to be a real story?”
“That’s complicated, see? Some people say you need three different elements: a beginning, a middle and an end. Some say you need five or seven different elements. Some say we need things like exposition and climax. But I guess, most of all, we need some kind of conflict.”
“Oh,” Said Bastian. Then, “Oh, goddamit!”
“What?” Stig shouted, alarmed.
“Look!” Bastian pointed at his foot. “I blew out my flip-flop!”
Indeed, Stig could easily see that Bastian’s flip-flop had come apart – the foot strap untethered from the foot bed. “Aw, sorry dude. That is most non-triumphant. We’ll go downtown and get you a new pair tomorrow. Or sometime. After Whiskey comes. Or maybe before. You probably need both flip-flops to be in a real story. I don’t know.”
They both settled back down. The bottom of their beers were now in sight. A couple of good swigs each at best. The end of the day loomed. Stig said, “Well, I guess it’s not going to be today. Probably tomorrow though. For sure. We’ll lay in some more beer and come back out here tomorrow.”
About a minute after that, Bastian sat bolt-upright, “I have an idea.” His voice trembled with excitement.
Stig sat down his beer bottle and turned his full attention to his friend. Even sat forward a bit. Bastian never had ideas. Well, hardly ever. Stig wasn’t exactly sure what was about to happen, but it would be something.
Suddenly, Bastian threw his broken flip-flop at Stig, hitting him in the cheek. The flip-flop bounced over the balcony railing and into the parking lot. Stig was stunned, put a hand up to feel his cheek. He started to say something but all he got out was, “Dude!”
Before he could say anything else, Bastian leapt out of his chair, balled up his right fist and threw a punch right at Stig’s nose. Being untrained and inexperienced in the art of punching, and a bit uncoordinated to boot, Bastian’s blow did not land as intended. Stig’s nose went unscathed, but the punch did glance off the side of his head, just an inch or so above and past his right eye-socket. Now Stig took evasive action, tumbling out of and behind his Adirondack chair, bracing for defensive action. That proved unnecessary, though. Bastian had sat back down in his chair, holding his right hand with his left. He rocked back and forth, shouting, “Ow! Ow! Ow-ow-ow-ow! Fuck! Ow!”
Stig popped up, “What the fuck was that all about, dude?”
Bastian, still rocking back and forth, still holding his hand, “Conflict. I was trying to help. Ow.”
Stig gave the sigh again. “A conflict is an obstacle we have to overcome. It doesn’t necessarily mean a fist fight.”
“But it could, right?”
“I suppose so. Yeah, but no. I mean in the context of a story it wouldn’t make sense for us to just start swinging at each other. We’d have no motivation. I mean, we’re bros, bro.” Stig opened the cooler and fished out a couple of pieces of ice. “Here, hold this on your hand.” He held the other piece of ice to his own face.
“Are we ever going to be in a story?” Bastian asked.
“Yeah, sure. I bet it’s tomorrow.” Stig put out a hand, offering to help Bastian to his feet. “But for now, let’s just go inside and see what’s on the tube. Maybe a Law and Order marathon. Or maybe Criminal Minds.”
Bastian perked up. “You know, some crimes are especially” he paused, “heinous.”
They both busted up, laughing. They exchanged a big ol’ bro-hug, and went inside. They would wait for Whiskey another time.