It was another lazy afternoon at The Scruffy Dog with a few of us regulars shooting the breeze at our unofficial table off in the corner, masochistically waiting for refills on what the Scruffy Dog’s owner generously calls coffee on his menu.

Our favorite server Toni was over at the beverage station next to the kitchen pass-through window drawing a couple of cups of coffee.

The bell hanging above the door tinkled and a ringing baritone voice boomed, “Guud efter-nuun.”

“Oh lord,” groaned Toni.

Chef Judy was setting a couple of hot orders from the kitchen onto the pass-through shelf. “What’s up?” she asked Toni.

“It’s just that gent from California who thinks he can speak good English.

“Oh, right, have fun!”

“Hi Tunni,” the newcomer said. “Whuch side is yurs tuday?

“Over here,” Toni motioned to her side of the room as she brought over a menu. “Is Bill joining you today?

“Uh, yes, he will be in shurtly. Whut’s the speshull today?”

“Roadkill from up on State Route 20. It looks like possum.”

“Uck. Yuck. Eeyou. Whut’s it spiced wuth?

“Spiced? Oh, two parts asphalt, one part tire rubber, I expect. Want to try it today?

“Wull. Hm-m. Wull, lut me think about ut.”

The doorbell tinkled again and Little Joe pushed his way in.

“Hey Toni, got some of your special lemonade?” Little Joe asked, on his way to our table.

“Yep but it’s not so special today. Ran out of Jack Daniel’s last night. Oops, you didn’t hear that.

The gent from California interrupted by asking, “Tunni, if you put some JD in that special, do yuu think it wud help kill the taste?

“Sure would but we don’t serve liquor here <cough>, “said Toni.

Just then Scruffy Jim Carley marched in from the back of the inn. “What’s this about serving liquor here? Holy crow, we just got busted for letting good folks smoke in here and we can’t afford to have the place busted for serving alcohol.”

Toni coughed again a few times as she slipped over to the pass-through to pick up an order. “What liquor were you talking about, Boss?”

“I heard someone mention Jack Daniel’s as I was coming in through the back.”

“Oh, Jack Daniels. He’s that slick real estate agent who drops in from time to time. He’s real smooth. Lives in a cabin made out of oak planks. He’s supposed to be over 50 and I think he’s aged real well.”

“Do tell,” snickered Scruffy Jim. “That’s the best line I’ve heard in a long time.”

“Speaking uv lines, cud you take my ordur?” queried the gent from California.

The doorbell tinkled twice as Gentleman Bill stepped in, shaking out his hat. “Oh, hi, Cal,” he nodded toward the gent from California. “Have you ordered yet?”

“No. I’m huving trubble getting Toni’s uttenshun so I cun place un ordur.”

“Alright, alright, hold your horses, young man. You’re next in line now that Bill has arrived. He always gets put at the head of the line and that goes for his guests as well. What’ll you have, Bill?

“How about that Manhattan Sandwich.”

“With coffee?”

“Yep.”

“And you, Mister Cal?”

“I’ll take a Sluppy Joe with extra unyuns”

“Who’s calling me sluppy?” Little Joe practically shouted from our table on the other side of the room. “I can’t be sluppy since I can’t get the special lemonade today.”

“Oh, hush your pie hole,” admonished Scruffy Jim Carley. “There’s no such thing as “special” lemonade. If there ever was, there ain’t no more.”

“Sloppy Joe with extra onions. Coffee or Diet?”

“Die-ut” tuday, thanks. It’s pretty warm in here tuday. Must be buicuz Pandora and his gang of ne’er-do-wulls are flapping thur jaws too much.”

“You got it. Be right back,” Toni said.

As she gave the order to Judy, Judy asked how it was going out there in the dining room.

“It was a bit dicy for a couple of minutes but things have calmed down. Here’s an order. ‘Sluppy Joe’ indeed. We gotta get Little Joe a lemonade special.”

“Okay, one special coming right up. Just don’t let Scruffy Jim smell or taste it.”

After Toni delivered the drinks, she sat down next to Scruffy Jim for a moment and let out an audible sigh to distract him from the lemonade special. Then she jumped up again seconds later when Judy called, “Order up.”

* * * * *

And so goes another day at the Scruffy Dog.