In this installment, Morris Crimpanfortis addresses some rather provocative and sensitive issues involving Belinda Bessemer, co-anchor for the local Silt Ridge Midnight News. We are treated to a rather vague and unsettling description of the Grilled Canary Gentlemen’s Club, where Belinda performs nightly, apparently to the howling adoration of a good portion of the local male population. Like everyone else in this crumbling coal region, Belinda supplements her income in order to pursue her on-camera dreams. Morris goes way overboard in proving to the world – and in particular his gazillionaire father, Morris Crimpanfortis IV – that he doesn’t have a clue what a gentlemen’s club is, much less having ever frequented one. Later, Morris is hounded by Jonas Cider at the Five-Points Highway Diner to name him co-host of Anthracite Tonite. Feeling the heat, Morris is ready to grant Jonas his wish, when none other than Hadley Codfaldt, world famous radio personality extraordinaire, enters the room to great fanfare . . .

Peach Pie and Patchouli Oil

Are You Still Here?

I finish my meatloaf. Tony asks if I want dessert. They don’t have any peach pie tonight. I remember I still have Verona Kendermants’ homemade soap in my suit pocket. I pull out the bar and hold it to my nostrils, taking a deep whiff.  Now that’s dessert!

Jonas Cider makes a face as he glances across the table at me. “What gives, Hoss?” He gestures to the cube of iridescent soap. “Have you started huffing now? Is the stress that bad? I can make it better you know, just let me be your co-host.”

I jolt from my reverie and pocket the scented soap. “Aren’t you playing your rockabilly tunes at the Grilled Canary tonight?” I refer to the local gentlemen’s club.

Not that I know the first thing about what goes on in such an establishment. Let’s be clear on that from the get-go. I KNOW NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT WHAT GOES ON IN A GENTLEMEN’S CLUB!

I have heard through the grapevine that women are a part of the tableau. If you say so, I am in no position to refute it. Thank goodness. If my father, Morris Crimpanfortis, IV, ever catches wind that I’m even thinking about patronizing such a purportedly unscrupulous enterprise, he’ll hit the roof. No thanks, I’ll never hear the end of it. AND CERTAINLY NOT IF IT INVOLVES ONE OF OUR ON-CAMERA PERSONALITIES!

Leering Hooligans Need to Get a Life

I’m teetering on the brink as it is because my co-anchor for the Silt Ridge Midnight News is supposedly a topliner at the Grilled Canary. I realize that people need other jobs in order to make ends meet, but I wish Belinda Bessemer would stop bragging about doing what she does in front of a bunch of leering hooligans!

“Morris, I thought I’d find you back here.” The unmistakable deep-throated voice of Hadley Codfaldt catches my ear. Hadley does afternoon drive on the local AM radio station. He specializes in political commentary, but doesn’t take sides one way or another. Neither too far right nor too far left, he basically opposes all politicians.

“Hi Hadley,” I say. “Pull up a chair.”

“I’m not disturbing anything?” He looks at Jonas then at me.

“I was just leaving.” Jonas drains the last of the water in his smeared glass. Standing up, he flexes the elbows of his scarred leather jacket. “Don’t forget what I said about Sasquatch. That project will make you forget about everything else.” He looks Hadley straight in the eye, nodding respectfully. “Hadley,” he says quietly, stepping around the radio personality.

“Have a good night, Jonas.” Hadley slides into s nearby chair and orders a sweet ice tea, extra lemon. “And let’s see if we can find a clean glass, Tony,” he calls after the aged waiter. Then he turns to me with a twinkle in his eye. “I’ve finally figured out a theory that’s been driving me up the wall,” he chortles.

“What’s that?” I ask.

Hadley’s Wild Take on Fixing Pro Football

“One day, wild animals are going to be playing in the pro football league,” he says. “It can’t go any other way. The market share is just too viable for the league to ignore. I’ve always wondered how they’ll pull it off, and then it came to me this afternoon during a Sildenafil spot. Are you ready for this? Each team declares one starting position to be filled by a wild animal. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bear or a leopard. Take your best shot.”

“Bloody good. VERY bloody well played.” I nod at my old friend, wishing I could reach for the bar of handmade soap and take a deep, satisfying whiff. “Will they be required to wear a helmet and pads?”