Bill lowers the empty glass to the table, and Bob nods with approval at the fact that this time he does not break it.
“Good stuff this, Bob”, Bob says fondly to his best friend.
Bob inclines his head gravely and drinks the health of his best friend, lowering his empty glass to the table with an air of finality.
The barman’s relief is palpable even from across the room, as is that of the bar maid whoâ€™s aching back reminds her of the beer, assorted spirits and broken glass she has mopped and swept up that night.
Bob and Bill slowly rise to their feet.
“Bill,” Bob says slowly.
“Is it just me or is the floor moving?”
Bill, after thoughtful consideration, gravely nods his head.
“You’re right there Bob. The floor is moving. Waiter!”
A waiter approaches warily.
“Why is your floor moving? I demand to see your manager!”
A few deliberations later Bob and Bill finally agree to depart. Grimly promising to report the establishment to the highest authorities in the land, they navigate their way to the nearest exits by alternately leaning heavily against the wall, other patrons, furniture and assorted potted plants.
Finally they are outside.
“Any particular reason why the lights are out?”
There is a lengthy but thoughtful silence in the dark.
“Probably because it’s dark,” Bill finally answers.
Bob nods silently.
“Indeed, indeed. Someone turned off the sun. It happens. Ah well. Let’s be on our way.”
In unison Bob and Bill lurch towards each other and collide heavily, finding themselves in an involuntary embrace.
“The car,” Bob’s voice is muffled. “Is parked that way.” Bob’s arm extends over Bill’s shoulder and points into the dark.
“On the contrary,” Bill’s equally muffled voice says, “The car is parked that way.” His arm extends over Bob’s shoulder and points in the diametrically opposite direction.
“All right,” Bob says pacifically. “You go your way and I’ll go mine.”
They stagger back to the entrance after five minutes.
“You were right,” they speak as one man. And each man lurches in the direction the other man has just come from.
And five minutes later they meet again.
“Bob, is the car blue?”
“Why yes, Bill, that it is.”
“Then I think we are standing right in front of it.”
“And so we are, so we are.” Bob fishes out the key and advances unsteadily upon the door.
Following are a series of scratches as Bob starts off on his interpretation of the Sistine Chapel art on the car door.
“Problem?” Bill asks after a minute.
“Yes. Damn keyhole keeps moving.”
“Here, give us a go.”
Bill takes over the keys and to make sure he does a thorough job grabs the key with both hands. After half a second the key slides into the lock accompanied by a grunt of triumph.
“Bill, I believe that is the fuel tank.”
Bill’s eyebrow rises as Bob steps forward, retrieves the key and attacks the front door again.
Finally both men are seated.
“Who’s driving?” Bob wants to know.
“You are,” Bill says conversationally.
“Don’t mean to be rude, my good man, but why me?”
“Well,” Bill chooses his words carefully. “For one thing, you are the one with the keys. And secondly, and most importantly, you are sitting behind the steering wheel.”
Bob regards the steering with the surprise Moses must have regarded the burning G.W.
“Well, if you insist. Where are the car keys?”
“In your hand, man, in your hand.”
After trying to start the ash tray and the choke, he finally manages to turn the key in the ignition. He then looks up with a start.
“What’s that noise?” Bill demands.
Bob listens, brow furrowing with the effort.
“The engine, I think.”
Bob engages gears smoothly, slips the clutch and gently but firmly presses on the accelerator.
“Bob,” Bill asks after a minute.
“Your technique with the vehicle is beyond comparison. The accelerator lays back at your slightest pressure. The gear box is tickled at your touch. You consult your rear view and side mirrors frequently. The car is poetry in motion to your control. In short — your driving is beyond reproach, save for one thing.”
Bob inclines his head modestly.
“And what’s that?”
“I believe we would make much better progress if the handbrake were down.”
Bob looks down at the handbrake with surprise.
After a few minutes silence Bob asks.
“Just to get it right, are you driving, or am I? I can’t seem to get it right.”
“You are, I believe. But then again whenever I pull the dashboard to the right we seem to turn right as well. Hmm. Good question.”
Both men ponder briefly.
“I think it’s me,” Bob says finally. “After all I’ve just changed gears.”
“And so have I.”
They ponder some more, Bill absently shifting gears with a crash.
“Well, if Iâ€™m not wrong this car is a two wheel drive so technically we’re both driving.” Bill says finally.
Bob nods his agreement.
“Any food?” Bill asks.
“Got some groundnuts deep in the back seat. And there’s some meat I bought last Friday that I don’t remember taking out of the car. And there should be some biscuits on the rear carpet.”
“I don’t mind saying I feel like need a bite.” And without further ado Bill attempts to reach into the back. Fails and starts to manoeuver himself, wriggling and twisting to fit into the space between the two front seats.
“Hey,” Bob unwraps a moccassined foot from around his ear.
“Sorry,” says a muffled voice from the back seat.
Bill returns after a few minutes.
“Yes thanks. The meat and vegetables were excellent.”
“Yes. The meat was covered with spinach.”
“That wasn’t spinach. Did I mention that stray cats like coming into the car?”
“And a fine car it is!” Bob says smoothly bringing it to a halt.
“Why are we stopping?” Bill asks.
“But there is nothing in the next lane!” Bill says pointing.
“You’re right,” Bob says with the air of a man who has no problem acknowledging he is wrong. He energetically spins the wheel and firmly nudges the accelerator.
“The lane is totally empty. I think I’ll drive directly between those two motorcycles whose headlights I see approaching. Do you think theyâ€™d mind?”
“Not at all, friend, not at all!”
PIC OF THE DAY
No guessing what that pipe is made of!