Last Monday things around here were sort of slow. That afternoon there were only a few regulars and old Doc Long to keep me amused. Doc Long isn’t really old but everyone has called him that since his son graduated medical school and joined his dad in the business. Old Doc Long semi-retired last year and usually comes in here a few afternoons each week.
There was also Charlie Miller, a new liquor distributor who has been trying to court our business. He wants to sell me our beer and spirits so he keeps bringing me gifts. That day he sat a box up on the bar and told me it was for me.
“You’ll never guess what’s in it”, he crowed.
I saw that the bottom was wet and figured whatever was inside must have broken, so I touched my finger to it and tasted it.
“Is it Champagne?” I guessed.
“No, not Champagne.”
“It’s not Vodka, is it?”
“No. I told you that you wouldn’t guess. It’s a puppy. You were saying last week that you needed a guard dog around here so I got you one.”
Well, that made old Doc Long break up laughing.
I drank a quick nip of whiskey and handed the puppy off to Marion, my bar maid. She said, “Aww, come on Vodka. I’ll take care of you.“
And that was how Vodka got his name.
Doc Long pushed his empty glass at me and said, “Another pint, if you would, please” and asked, “What’s in the big jar?”
Charlie said, “It’s pickled eggs. Want one?” He took off the lid and held out the jar.
“Pickled eggs make me fart really bad,” said Doc.
“Oh, sorry,” Charlie told him as he took back the jar.
“I wasn’t saying no,” the Doc grinned.
“Well, I’m saying it. No!” I told him as I put the lid back on.
When I lifted the pooch I felt a twinge of pain go up my arm. It’s been happening a lot lately so I asked the Doc to take a look.
“You’ll have to make an appointment and see me at the office. I quit giving out free medical advice.”
“Oh, why’s that, Doc?”
“It seems like everywhere I go people want to tell me about their aches and pains and it’s got to be so much trouble that I didn’t know what to do. I asked Bill Smalley, the lawyer, it and he told me he has the same problem so now when people ask him some legal question he sends them a bill for it.
From now on, if I give somebody medical advice I send them a bill the next day.”
I said, “That sounds fair enough. It was nice of old Bill Smalley to help you out.”
“Not really. Bastard sent me a bill the next day.”