Gnarly Bandit: For Better Or For Worse

LimeThe Gnarly Bandit sat hunched over the table, throbbing head in his hands. It was one of those mornings, the kind that drove one to carefully contemplate his relationship with Tequila. If someone were to knock his elbows out from under, he wondered if his head would stay put, or crash to the table leaving a forehead shaped dent in the hickory. He couldn’t imagine the latter would cause any more pain than was already present. A loud crash from the kitchen adjacent made him wince. It was followed by another, supplemented by a string of language that would certainly have not been welcome in church – and, frankly, not even in most tattoo parlors.

A much calmer voice, in closer proximity, engaged him in conversation. “So, my young friend, remind me. What number were you?”

Young? The Bandit was called many things, but that one was seldom in the mix anymore. With the same deliberation one might use to open a can of sardines by slowly turning the key on the lid, he opened his eyes and brought the gentleman across the table gradually into focus. Many years his senior, the old codger had earned the right to label GB as he did. The trail-worn, but clear-eyed man cocked his head, grinning in a bemused fashion as he awaited a response.

The clatter in the kitchen reached crescendo once again, the heated verbal accompaniment so intense it could boil potatoes in a pot – the Gnarly One could hear the word “Bandido!” in various forms sprinkled betwixt and between in creative combinations.

“I believe I was number five,” he mumbled.

“Ho, ho! Yes! I had indeed forgotten. So many… I lose count, you see!” At that, the older fellow leaned back in his chair and guffawed, pausing only briefly to tip his head to the side, deftly avoiding the coffee mug that came flying through the open kitchen door. It whistled harmlessly past his ear and shattered against the flower print wallpaper.

The Gnarly Bandit recalled their first meeting, so long ago, when he had sought the elder man’s blessing. The old sage had granted it, adding with a wink, ‘Just know this, young sir… I did not name her so because I am a man of drink, for I do not partake. No, I simply knew very early that she would be the bane of any man who took her lightly.’ The Gnarly One had missed that fair warning, as had many others before and since, learning too late that Tequila could… make one’s life extremely difficult. The relationship had been doomed, of course, the additive nature of mutual matrimonial orneriness soon reaching epic proportions.

True, maybe he shouldn’t have left her in that saloon in New Mexico, a note tacked to the bar while she was off emptying folks’ pockets at the poker table. A bit impersonal, perhaps. But when one quit Tequila, it was best to do it cold turkey, and a fair distance out of arms reach. So it was with a bit of hesitancy that the Grizzled One had arrived, hat-in-hands, at the doorstep of his ex-father-in-law. He had somehow allowed 11 contenders to make it through Zumbro still vertical, the most ever. There was a sense of urgency, and he needed someone with a talent for inflicting discomfort, few were Tequila’s equal. He pondered his adversaries, a gritty bunch to be certain:

Linda Britz
Todd Brown
Tony Cesario
Janet Hausken
Allan Holtz
Jeremy Knaus
Timothy Kruse
Jeffrey Lenard
Matt Patten
Adam Rood
Brian Woods

If he could somehow deflect even a fraction of Tequila’s animosity in their direction… take them off their game…

The Bandit suddenly realized a palpable silence had replaced the cacophony – in the kitchen doorway stood a woman whom the years had treated rather kindly. Always fetching she was, thought the Bandit, meeting her seductive gaze.

“OK, I will join you. I am certain we can work out, ahem… an equitable arrangement.” she said, her calmness as disquieting as her wrath had been previously. “I think,” she smiled, her eyes flashing momentarily, “…eleven is my lucky number.” Lucky? Not the word he would use. Always the oddly placed vocabulary in this family, but the Bandit decided to let it pass. Wasting no time, he rose and joined her in heading out the front door to where the horses were tied. They could work out terms and quid pro quos on the way to Kettle Moraine.

Tequila’s father sat, soaking in the splendid calm. He chuckled a bit, glancing down at the old hound that lay at his feet. The dog lifted his head slightly, as if to listen. “Ah, yes. I do remember now. Ten… Ten husbands she has had. How could I forget such a thing? I must be getting old,” he said, the corner of his mouth raising into a barely perceptible, but increasingly contented grin.

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