We crossed the bridge and stepped onto the wobbling walkway that lead to Royalty’s Fishing Camp. Splinters and renegade spikes plagued each step.
“They should call this Tetanus Way,” I said.
“Actually, they call it Durham Row. For years, it’s been occupied by members of the Durham family. Old Man Durham, his son and then their sons and some uncles and cousins. I swear there were so many Durhams that you couldn’t swing your dick around without hitting one.”
“I’ve seen your dick. There must have been a bunch.” I flicked the crotch of his shorts for emphasis.
“Are any of them still here?”
“Yeah, I think Bobby Gene is.”
As if on cue, a voice with a tenor twang cut through the warm June air, “Well, bless my soul and call me Etta James, is that Frank Rose?”
The question came from a man sitting on the front of a small houseboat with white wicker patio furniture and a rainbow flag waving in the breeze. Tied next to it was a deck with an array of terracotta pots in all sizes and shapes sprouting with herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Bobby Gene was a tall man of about sixty with a hawkish nose and close-cropped, gray goatee. His blue eyes sparkled with welcome and wisdom, but most of all mischief. He wore swim trunks and a matching polo shirt, both the color of lemon curd.
“I’ll be damned.” He stood, put his hands on his hips, and took a longer look. “It sure is Frank ‘Flaming Ankles’ Rose.”
Frank stuck out one foot to show off a ring of yellow-orange flames that shot up from his calves. “Hell, yeah, dude. I’m back.”
“Get your ass over here.”
Frank took off across the walkway. His dog, Rufus ambled after.
“Let’s go say ‘hello,’ baby,” he called back over his shoulder.
“Come on, Grizzle, let’s go.” I reached down expecting Doc to be at my side. He was what some referred to as a Velcro pet and never strayed more than two or three feet from me. “Doc…Doc Grizzly…Doc Grizzly?”
I looked back. He was flattened out halfway across the bridge like a giant, fur starfish.
“Doc, come. Come on, Grizzly, you can do it.” I tried to sound calm and comforting.
He whined and inched forward, then pancaked out again.
In the end, the only way to get him to proceed was by getting down on my hands and knees and crawling with him along the pier.
Bobby Gene and Frank took turns seeing who could laugh louder.
When we finally arrived at Bobby Gene’s floating abode, Frank was reclining on a chaise lounge and Rufus was pacing the edge of the slip, barking at the water in anticipation of a swim. Bobby Gene had moved to his garden and was fussing with a tomato plant.
“Man,” Frank said, looking around. “Everything has changed since I was here last.”
“Everything but the people. Same old queers.”
“So, Don and Darryl are still here?”
“Yeah, they’ll never leave.”
“Who exactly are this Don and Darryl?” I asked, and perched on an Igloo cooler.
“They’re a couple. They’ve been together since the seventies and have had a boat here since the early eighties. I think they might have met at The Bar back when it was Johnny Angels,” Frank explained. “They’re not your typical homosexuals. They both love Nascar and bass fishing—“
“And, Bonanza reruns,” Bobby Gene jumped in.
“So, does Michael still have that boat?” Frank asked, gesturing to an impeccably kept white Stardust Cruiser with orange trim and ornate tapestry curtains visible through the front sliding glass doors. As an aside to me, he added, “He’s gay, too. He used to date my friend Jamie.”
“Really? He’s gay, too?”
“Gayer than a Key West tea party.” Bobby Gene moved to a pot of cilantro and began picking off the stems that had already begun to flower. “The seeds produce coriander. It’s a wonderful spice. I use it in a lot of my Indian and Thai dishes.”
“Who else is down here, now?” Frank inquired.
“The two boats next to Michael are owned by these really, pleasant lesbian couples.”
“Cool. This dock needed some skillet lickers.”
“Skillet lickers?” Bobby Gene asked, obviously unfamiliar with the term.
I leapt into the conversation. “Why would you refer to a vagina as a skillet? It makes no sense. Plus, it’s just downright offensive.”
“Honey, have you met Frank? His middle name is offensive.” Bobby Gene waltzed over to a container overflowing with dill.
He pulled a sprig and held it beneath his nose giving him the appearance of having a bushy, green mustache. He breathed in deeply, savoring the scent. “Mmmmmm…”
He handed it to me. I rubbed it between my hands so it would release its oils. The fragrance of freshness wafted up.
“Dill is the secret ingredient in my deviled eggs. It’s also heavenly in fried potatoes. Have you ever tried it?” Bobby Gene asked, then added, “It is damn tasty.”
I took on my most lascivious voice and pumped my eyebrows. “Tasty enough to make you want to lick the skillet?”
“Honey,” he said with a snap, “ain’t nothing that tasty.”
the bourbonistA, Promoting Debauchery and stamping out political-correctness one blog at a time.