They sat on the front patio of Charley John’s. They met there every day, discussing their backs and their wives and the minutiae of their lives. One old man had a poodle the color of wet cement. It sat on his lap. The old man who hated dogs sat on the other side of the table, lest this superficially passive beast foam at the mouth or show its jagged yellow teeth. There were stories; the old man who hated dogs heard them all the time. Anyway, he knew the cement colored dog didn’t like him, so the man wore sunglasses—so he wouldn’t have to make any sort of contact with it. His name was Edgar.
Seated next to Edgar was a man who always brought the subject of war into their conversations. His name was George. As far as George was concerned, a war parable was as good a lesson as he knew for life’s bigger questions. Your back hurts? He could tell you a good story about swimming to shore after a torpedo strike in the Korean war. George pulled an unconscious captain ashore, and his back never felt the same. He took hot showers—as hot as he could stand—every morning, which helped sometimes. The showers reminded him of a story his son-in-law told him about suicide showers in Vietnam. George had a theory about the Civil War, but Edgar and the man with the poodle were both sick of hearing it. Jim was his name (the man, not the poodle).
Seated next to George was Garrett. Garrett swore that the new president was going to take their guns. Soon. Jim didn’t have a gun, and he didn’t care. If Garrett told Jim that Obama was going to take his poodle Charlie away, then he might have been interested. Garrett promised the United States was on a path to socialism. The new president was crafting regulations that were going to make it illegal to believe in God. He heard about it on the radio.