“Benny!” sang a chorus of baritones who were perched along the counter like birds on a telephone wire.
“Norm!” sang an off-key tenor.
“Well, speak of the devil,” said Dolly from the far end of the counter.
“Somebody has seen behind my façade of childlike innocence,” protested Benny.
Dolly, not her real name, wiggled a seasoned hourglass shape over to her new customer. She handed him a menu and planted her palms on her hips, a gesture designed to exhibit ten long audaciously-red fingernails. He handed the menu right back to her and winked.
“Make it a barrel of oats, three bushels of corn, a sack of potatoes, a small truckload of your best quality sorghum, and a bale of hay. And to wash it all down, a six-pack of Bud Light.”
“Benny’s on a diet,” observed a chorus member.
“For dessert,” Benny went on, “let’s have an apple pie to go and a world-class waitress to enjoy it with when she gets off work. And when does she get off work? I’m glad you asked that question. She gets off work in half an hour. Has she had dessert tonight? No, she hasn’t yet run across a world-class customer to enjoy it with.”
Dolly shook her audaciously-red head and shrugged helplessly. “Sorry, Benny. My old man picks me up in forty-five minutes.”
“What? Married? Is this true?” Benny looked around at his former comrades for confirmation.
The chorus nodded sadly.
Benny turned to Dolly. “How long has it been, what’s his name, how old is he, what’s his social security number, how much can he bench press, and why wasn’t I consulted? That’s six questions. Start from the top. Think each question over carefully before you answer. You have one minute. Ready? You may begin.”
“It’s been three months, Juan, he’s seventeen, he’s an illegal, and he bench presses me.”
“He could even bench press you, Benny,” warned a far stool.
“Sorry, young lady, your time is up,” said Benny.
“Let’s hear why she didn’t consult him,” sang the tenor.
Dolly reminded the jury of her constitutional right to remain silent. Then she turned to Benny, exhaled a pink bubble, tapped her pencil on her pad, and asked him what it would be.