© Wanderer -- all rights reserved
" ... so I told him, 'If you think for one moment that I would bite your daughter, you must not think much of the food here.'"
I grinned silently as Jack almost collapsed in laughter.
\"Wanderer\", he said, "You've got to be kiddin'. No way anyone with half a brain'd walk into a setup like that."
I smiled and shook my head. "So I once believed, O mellifluous mule. But some days ... "
I broke off. Ahead of us, directly between us and the Blind Pig, was a man with a clipboard at his side, walking purposefully for the door.
"Jack ... "
"Wanderer, you ... hm?"
"Jack, go in and tell Donnie there's a man from the Health Department out here. And tell him now."
"But ... "
"Now, Jack." With that, I bounded forward, intercepting the man deftly. He looked up, somewhat surprised at my appearance.
"Ah, there you are", I said, my British accent growing thicker as I "entered stage left". "I assume you're here for the periodic inspection?"
"Er, yes", he said, a bit uneasily. "And you are ... ?"
"I go by the name of Wanderer", I said as I shook his hand. "The proprietor keeps me on hand to entertain, mostly, but he felt you should be properly welcomed."
"Ah. All right then. Where shall we start?"
"I was thinking we might begin with the refuse area. If you would please follow me ... "
With that, I led him around to the rear of the bar, just as I noticed Jack entering the bar.
Moments later, we were standing in front of the dumpster. The health inspector made several notes on his clipboard as I stood smilingly by (lips closed, of course. Some people you're extra careful around).
"I trust that everything is satisfactory?"
"Hm? Oh, yes. Just fine." He turned to go.
"I was wondering", I interjected, "if we'd put the unit at the right distance from the surrounding structures. Do you think it should be farther out? Or is it correct as it stands?"
He glanced over the huge metal box as I heard a few cars start up out front. "No problems that I can see", he said. "Have you been getting any complaints?"
"No, no. Merely wanted to know if we could expect any. One hates to be caught unawares in that sort of situation." As the last car to start up moved away, I moved back toward the entrance to the street. "Well, shall we go inside?"
Inside, Donnie was just wiping down the bar. He looked up as we came in, and made a rapid series of signs. "I'm sorry", the inspector said, "I'm afraid I don't know sign language."
Next, Donnie picked up his pen and pad, and quickly scribbled a message:
How may I help you?
"Yes, if you'd just show me around the bar, I'll be finished.", the inspector said with a quick look around. I wasn't surprised to see a complete lack of reaction to the patrons. Health inspectors seldom notice them at all.
"Well, I shall leave you in Donnie's capable hands, then. If you will excuse me?"
With a short bow, I left him, advancing on the piano, where Jack was sitting with a confused look on his face. "Hay, Wanderer, why ... ?"
"Not now, Jack."
"But ... "
"Not. Now. Jack.", I growled with a pronounced bite in the words. Relaxing myself slightly, I went on. "In the meantime, if you could just give me the theme from 'Blazing Saddles'?"
With an odd look at me, he started in. A moment later, once the intro was done, I started in:
"He wore a blazing saddle ... "
I cut off. "Wait! I erred. I think I've spent too much time around Posti lately. Could we try that again?"
Jack s-nickered, then started over.
"He rode a bla-zing saddle, He wore a shi-ning star, His job, to of-fer battle, To bad men near and far."
Jack went on for almost three more bars before he noticed my silence. "Why the cutoff?"
"Well", I said with a duck of my head, "Um ... that's all I know of it."
Jack held his head in his hands and laughed, his elbows causing a discord on the keyboard. Just then, I saw the health inspector leave, Donnie seeing him to the door. I turned to face the bovine barkeep.
"All well, O illustrious innkeeper?"
He nodded, then sketched a brief salute.
"So, Wanderer", Jack cut in. "What was all that running around about, anyway?"
"Why? What happened?"
"First thing I told him, Donnie starts writing out notes to Bob, Brian, Fox ... just about everyone who came in a car. Then they start packing up the ice cream and hidin' the menus. What gives?"
I breathed a sigh of relief. "Jack, you know how I used to work in a theatre concession stand?"
"Yeah ... "
"Do you remember why I stopped working in a theatre concession stand?"
"Yeah, they fired you. So?"
I sighed again, this time in frustration. "Jack, it's the health code. By law, people who have chronic diseases aren't allowed to sell or handle commercial foods. If he'd caught Donnie selling the stuff he's been putting out lately ... "
"Oh, gotcha. But how'd you know he was a health inspector?"
I grinned. "A norm holding a clipboard starts walking toward the Blind Pig, Jack. What're the chances he's here for a drink?"
And our laughter filled the room.
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