If they could be certain of one thing, it was that they were surrounded. The five Chinese gangsters encircled Bill and Hunter like sharks, gliding around them, taunting them in their over the top fake sounding Hong Kong accents, and occasionally glancing back towards the car where their leader stood as if awaiting the signal to attack.
Bill was enraged, not just at the concept of being beaten possibly to death by a swarm of Asian gang-bangers, but mostly because they were so close to their destination. The beer store was only two blocks away, and the thought of the cool, golden elixir not touching his lips after all they had been through so far was too much for him. He tensed up, balled up his huge mitts into meaty fists and got himself ready for what very well could be the final battle.
“There’s six of us man, so suck on my dick!”
Hunter’s vision narrowed as he coolly stared at what he assumed to be the Gang Leader for what seemed like an hour, but was in reality only about fifteen seconds. The Gang Leader seemed different from the others somehow, and not just because of the manner in which he dressed. While the five guys that were closing the circle on Bill and Hunter were dressed over the top, almost to the point of stereotypical absurdity in their leather pants patched out, brightly coloured leather jackets and rainbow hair, the Leader was dressed sharply in a suit and long coat by Armani, with brightly polished Italian loafers on his feet and his eyes covered in mirrored aviator specs. His hair was cut conservatively, but stylishly, and he was slowly, deliberately chewing on a toothpick. To Hunter not only did the Leader look for all the world like Chow Yun Fat in A Better Tomorrow, but there was something else very familiar about him, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on just yet…
The five gangsters circled ever closer, Bill and Hunter glanced at each other and nodded; It’s go time!
Everything happed at once, the five gangsters closed the circle, charging in, Hunter cocked back a fist and Bill had already bloodied the nose of Spiky Red Streaks. Hunter swung a clumsy fist that the Blond guy in the purple leather easily avoided.
“Ha! Round-eye gotta be faster than that!” He taunted in an accent so bad Hunter was sure it was fake.
Suddenly two guys had Hunter by the arms, he jerked his head around only to see Bill similarly vanquished, as Spiky Red Streaks menaced him with a butterfly knife.
“Wake up! Time to die!”
Really? Hunter thought, Now he’s quoting Blade Runner?
Instantly the gang-bangers stepped back, almost at attention. The knife disappeared and the two holding Hunter let him go and took a step back as the Leader stepped forward. He walked straight up to Hunter, took off his aviators and stared him in the face, squinting slightly. The revelation hit both men at the same time.
“Mike? Mike Lee?!”
Suddenly all the intensity, and madness of the situation evaporated as Mike and Hunter man-braced one another.
“Holy shit Mike, I haven’t seen you in years! How longs it been?”
“Gotta be at least five years,” Mike said “right before you left for school.”
Bill could feel his adrenalin melting away as Spiky Red Streaks, who Bill assumed to be the second in command, stepped forward and spoke to the Leader, who Hunter seemed to be on a first name basis with.
“What up Boss? We gonna roll these Round-eyes or what?”
“Boss” Lee seemed to have forgotten anyone else was there. He turned, looking at his man as if for the first time.
“What? No, Dave of course not! And you don’t have to keep speaking in that stupid accent, these guys aren’t tourists.”
“Okay, whatever you say Boss, thank you.” Dave said in regular, clean, Western Canadian, inflectionless tones that suggested to Bill that all of these so-called “Asian Gangsters” had lived in Canada their whole lives.
Hunter and Mike stepped away from the main group while the five other guys politely introduced themselves to Bill.
Dave wiped the blood from his nose with a tissue, and reached a hand towards Bill, “No hard feelings eh? I’m Dave by the way.”
“Bill,” he took Dave’s outstretched hand and shook it firmly, “and uh, no… no hard feelings at all, sorry bout the nose…”
“S’okay. So, yeah these are the Boys,” Dave motioned to the young man with the bleached out hair and purple leathers and said, “This is Jonny,” he motioned to the next one, a tall, skinny guy with blue tinted shades and shoulder length blue hair, “this is Max, uh the little guy with the Mohawk over here is Rick, and the big guy in yellow with the flaming orange hair is Ben.”
“Uh, hey… gentlemen.” Was all Bill could manage.
Over by the metallic blue ’92 Civic, Mike and Hunter had their heads under the carbon fibre hood and were in the middle of an intense conversation.
“So I’ve got Tokico RAK coilovers on all four corners, a Mugen turbo kit, as well as Mugen intake and exhaust. Along with all the other tweaks, it puts about 420hp to the pavement.” Mike said.
Hunter seemed to be looking for something, “You running laughing gas?”
Mike shook his head, “No not yet. That’s the next project.”
Hunter was impressed. For all the work he had put in to his Little Red Mazda, none of it came anywhere close to what Mike had done with his Honda. “Wow, man that rocks all kinds of roll. So what you been up to these last few years?”
Mike put the hood down and said, “Keeping busy, I graduated with an economics degree from U of C, then basically started working for my uncle.”
Hunter nodded, “Your uncle eh? Is that what this is all about?” He motioned to the five guys chatting with Bill.
Mike looked at his shoes, “I can’t really talk specifics, but yeah.”
“Ah, say no more.”
Mike stepped closer and put an hand on Hunter’s shoulder, “Ya know it is really good to see you again. We’ve been friends a long time and I don’t want to lose touch, so here,” He reached into his pocket and handed Hunter a business card, “Good friends are a rarity in this life, so if you ever need anything, and I mean anything at all, call me. We totally need to catch up soon so gimmie a call and we’ll hook up again-“
“Oh yes, very nice, isn’t this lovely. All caught up are we?” Bill was standing beside them, completely annoyed.
Hunter and Mike turned to Bill.
“Maybe you’ve forgotten, but we are in a bit of a time crunch here!” He tapped his watch-face, irritated.
“Oh, shit you’re right!” Hunter turned to Mike. “Sorry man, we gotta go!”
Boss Mike Lee waved a dismissive hand, “Yeah, yeah, have fun! Go do what you gotta do.”
Bill was marching toward the corner, pushing Hunter in front of him. Hunter turned, “Hey Mike! How about the Warehouse next week?”
Mike looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded, “Yeah, sure. It’ll be just like old times! They’ll never stop us!” Mike put his mirrored aviators back on and snapped his fingers. His men piled back into the Honda and they sped away, the rumbling engine fading quickly into the liquid night.
With two blocks to go, Hunter and Bill crossed the road, their destination looming before them, almost close enough to touch, perchance to drink.
“You know Hunter, that’s a good idea.”
“Hitting the Warehouse next week. Check out the ladies, try my luck. Been on a bit of a dry spell of late and need to get back in the saddle so to speak.”
Hunter screwed up his face in disbelief, “Come on, you’ve got girls all over you all the time!”
Bill chuckled, “Yeah right. Name one.”
“Well there was that chick from the Warehouse the other night, the one you brought back to the flat. Then there was the dark haired chick you met on the Night of the Magic Toque, the –“
“The puncher, yeah…”
“-and of course there’s that girl you work with that lives with Kelli; Rachel. She’s totally into you. I reckon you could easily tear yourself off a slice.”
Bill shook his head, lighting up a smoke, “Yeah, no I couldn’t, I wouldn’t feel right about it.”
“What the hell are you talking about? ‘You wouldn’t feel right?’”
“Come on, it should be obvious even to you that she’s an M.R.F.”
“An M.R.F? What does that even mean? Is it some sort of sex reference I’m not getting?”
Bill looked at Hunter out of the corner of his eyes, “Do I really have to spell it out for you?”
Hunter nodded, “Uh, yeah!”
“M.R.F means Mentally Retarded Female.”
“Retarded???? I mean she always seemed a little ditzy, but I thought that was because of all the weed she smoked!”
“She’s more than ‘a little ditzy’ she’s about two I.Q. points over the number they use to determine mental retardation. Did you think a girl that was a 'little ditzy' would wash her face with Mr. Clean?”
“She said she wanted a really deep cleanse…”
“Or that CFCs were fattening?”
“I thought she was taking the Mickey!”
“Or not being able to button up her coat outside just because she didn’t do it inside?”
“I thought she was superstitious!”
“Yeah no, she’s retarded, and that my friend is why I will not sleep with her. It would be taking advantage, and contrary to popular belief, I do have some scruples.”
Hunter wasn’t buying it, “Come on, how could you know what her I.Q. is?”
Bill dropped his cigarette butt and crushed it out under the heel of his boot. “She works with me. I snuck a peak at her employee records. Apparently the government gives certain incentives to companies who hire mentally disabled people by paying a portion of their wages, subsidizing their housing and such.”
“Wait, you mean that great apartment Kelli and Rachel live in with the pool, and the covered parking space is subsidized?”
“You’re not kidding me are you.”
“Not a word of a lie.”
Hunter blanched, “Oh crap…”
“Ah, man don’t tell me!”
Hunter said nothing and walked on ahead, entering the beer store parking lot.
Bill called out, “You fucked her didn’t you!”
“Oh yeah! That says it all! You totally fucked a retarded chick! I mean you’ve done some stupid things before, but this… this takes the proverbial cake!” Bill was laughing his tittery-bemused laugh.
“How the hell was I supposed to know! I told you I just thought she was a little bit dumb!”
“You are such an idiot Hunter! I always said you were the smartest guy I knew, but now I’m not so sure! Maybe we should do an I.Q. test on you!” Bill giggled some more.
The brightly lit sign shone like a beacon in the darkness; a lighthouse guiding a sailor and his ship safely home. The excitement between the boys was palpable as Bill reached a shaking hand towards the handle on the glass front door. He gave it a light tug. The door rattled, but didn’t open. Bill’s left eye gave an involuntary twitch.
Hunter looked up at him and chuckled nervously, trying the door himself, pulling hard. The door was locked tight. “Oh COME ON!!!!” He growled.
Bill was muttering like a madman, “This is not right… this is NOT RIGHT! Why must this be so difficult? All we wanted was some beer!” Bill’s eyes were wide as saucers, and Hunter thought he looked totally demented. “Why gods why must you delight in the suffering of men? He whirled on Hunter and grabbed him round the shoulders. "This is a simple exercise, or at least it would be if we lived in the States! Anywhere really, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Arizona! If we lived in Arizona we could just walk to the 7-11 or Safeway, or to a freaking gas station and walk out with beer 24 freaking hours a day! AND we could do it for PENNIES on the DOLLAR compared to what we pay here, but no! We have to live in the most backward, over taxed, third-world, nanny-state run arm pit of a country where you can’t even buy a can of beer after dark-“
Hunter was trying to get his attention. “IT’S OPEN!”
“What?” Bill didn’t understand.
Hunter’s arms were still being held tight in Bill’s iron, Burt Reynolds-like grip, so he motioned with his head, “The beer store. It’s open. Turn around.”
Bill’s grip relaxed and he turned around to see the night clerk standing, holding the door open.
“Sorry guys, I had to lock up for a minute to take a leak.”
“You mean,” said Bill, still in a state of shock and disbelief, “You’re open?”
“Of course we are! We’re open till twelve buddy, come on in it’s getting chilly eh!”
Bill looked over at Hunter, and something almost resembling a smile cracked his face. They stepped over the threshold into the overly bright fluorescent-lit store and headed straight to the bargain beer section of the row of coolers; their quest was nearly at an end. The anger, strife, and seemingly insurmountable roadblocks thrown in front of them during their journey forgotten now as they stood before the wall of fully stocked coolers jammed with every top-selling Canadian and American lager and ale one could imagine. This was not the place to come if you were looking for something unusual or unique, but if an ordinary Big Brewery lager or pilsner was what you wanted, (and the boys did) then this was the place for it.
“Okay now,” Bill clapped his hands together and rubbed them in anticipation, “what do you want?”
“I dunno, what do you reckon?” Making decisions, simple or complex had never been Hunter’s particular strong point. He once spent almost two hours in Video and Sound trying to decide on what laserdisc to rent, before leaving the store with nothing…
“Fine then,” said Bill with only a slight edge of irritation to his voice, “I’ll decide.” He pulled open the cooler door with his left hand, his eyes moving across and down the shelves until he spotted something he thought they would both enjoy. Something cheap and with a higher alcohol/volume content, maximum bang for the buck as it were. He reached in the cooler with his right hand, and made his pick.
Next month on an ALL NEW Lond Ho Adventures! The long forgotten origin of the Big Ass Leather Chair is finally revealed in a special Lond Ho One Shot!