Backtracker

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Authors: Robert T. Jeschonek
later, " Dave assured him. " It ' s really no problem. I ' ll just head over to the library for a while. "
    " Get in here, " smirked Billy, pulling Dave by the shoulder. " I told you, it ' s okay. It ' s just somebody from work, man. "
    " Well, if you ' re sure it ' s okay, " Dave said hesitantly.
    " Just come on, " laughed Billy, yanking Dave through the doorway.
    Awkwardly, Dave stumbled into the warm trailer. As Billy shut the door, Dave quickly scanned the place, only to be surprised by the familiar face in Billy ' s kitchen.
    Seated at the kitchen table, a beer can in his hand, Larry Smith smiled back at him.
    " Hey ! " called Larry. " Dave! How ' re you doing? "
    " Not bad, " Dave answered with a smile, feeling a bit off - balance. Though he was happy to see the new co - worker, Larry was the last person he would have expected to meet in Billy ' s trailer. Larry had only been working at the steakhouse since the day before, so it was strange to see him already in the lair of the Wild West gang ' s inner circle.
    " So, Davey - boy, " said Billy, ambling into the kitchen space. " Larry was telling me how you guys beat that big rush yesterday. "
    " Right, " said Dave. " It sure was a killer. "
    " Aw, it wasn ' t bad, " chuckled Larry. " We could ' ve handled it with both hands tied behind our backs. We ' re professionals. "
    " Dave? A professional ? " winced Billy. " Are you sure you ' re talking about this Dave? "
    " None other, " nodded Larry, raising his beer as if in a toast. " He ' s a trooper, all right. He did most of the work. "
    " No no, " Dave corrected modestly. " You did most of the work. "
    " Now that I can believe, " ribbed Billy, smirking as he opened the refrigerator.
    " Up yours, pal, " cracked Dave, accepting the beer that Billy offered over the refrigerator door. " You ' ve never done a hard day ' s work in your life. "
    " Oh yes, I have, " grinned Billy. " Every time I work with you , I ' ve gotta ' work ten times harder to make up for your slackin ' ! "
    " Ten times harder ? " flagged Dave, dropping his knapsack onto a kitchen chair. " Big deal. Ten times zero is still zero. "
    " If you think I work zero, " zapped Billy, " then you must be in the negative numbers! "
    " Well, " interrupted Larry. " From what I ' ve seen so far, I ' d say both you guys do a hell of a job. Seems like you two work harder than anyone in the place. "
    " I ' ll go along with that, " laughed Billy, throwing himself onto one of the chairs. " You know, you ' re pretty smart there, Larry. "
    " I just call ' em like I see ' em, " said Larry, scratching his sandy goatee. " I tell it like it is. "
    " Man, that ' s a switch, " chuckled Billy. " Most people tell it like it isn ' t. "
    " Not me, " stated Larry, wagging his head. " I always lay it on the line. I don ' t play head games. "
    " So, did you guys come right over after work ? " asked Dave, cracking open his beer.
    " No, " Billy clucked sardonically. " We always hang around in our steakhouse uniforms. "
    " Aw, you know what I meant, " said Dave.
    " Yeah, " nodded Larry. " Billy invited me over after we punched out. The steakhouse was dead, so Tom let us both go at seven - thirty. "
    " We just got here a couple minutes before you, " added Billy.
    " That ' s something, huh ? " said Dave. " One night, the place is a madhouse, and the next night it ' s dead. Naturally, I got the busiest night. "
    " It must ' ve been you, " quipped Billy. " All those people showed up just because they knew you were working last night. "
    " I wouldn ' t be surprised, " said Dave. " They probably all got together and decided to make my life miserable. Then when I ' m not there, everybody stays away. "
    " Well, they probably knew I was cooking tonight, " grinned Billy. " They knew their steaks would be like shoe leather. "
    " I wouldn ' t say shoe leather, " Dave said thoughtfully. " More like, uh...tar paper. Either tar paper or emery board. "
    " Tree bark, " Billy said decisively. " More like tree

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