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nips and tokes

Louis Bempton is a big unit. Brick shithouse solid from neck to knees. An oversized nugget with enough ink on his arms and neck to have you wondering why he switched from a Harley Davidson two-wheeler to a Kenworth T900 Prime Mover thirty-two wheeler.

He’s in the RSL tonight on an overnight stop on his way from Rockhampton to Adelaide, at the bar and eyeing the liquor rack. Lou has a fondness for whisky you see. He likes a nip or two before going onto beer. Then its dinner and back on the road.

Simon is bartending tonight. A good looking lad with too much wavy hair and not enough suntan, and like all bartenders he knows the rules as they apply to gents such as Lou. Who doesn’t.

Simon comes down the bar and smiles at Lou.

‘You right, mate?’

‘Not yet.’

Lou isn’t one for wasted words.

‘What will you have?’

Lou nods at the bottle of straight malt Glenfiddich on the top shelf.

‘Nip of that, straight, no ice.’

Simon shakes his head.

‘Sorry, sir, you’ll have to have something with it.’

‘Why’s that?’

‘It’s the law.’

‘Ok,’ says Lou, ‘ice.’

Another two customers come up to the bar and put their empty glasses on the counter.

‘No, I mean you’ll have to have a mixer with the whisky.’

‘Why?’

‘It’s the law.’

Lou has a habit that has always kept the ladies away: he scratches at an armpit when getting aroused, left side with his right hand, under the shirt. Not only does this make an unearthly noise, like nesting possums, it releases a stink best described as ‘Eau de B Double.’ Only a truck driver will have you reeling.

‘Ok,’ says Lou, ‘I’ll have a dash of Dry Ginger with it. No ice.’

Simon shakes his head. Another two men come up to the bar and place their empty glasses on the counter. Four now.

‘Sorry, sir,’ says Simon, ‘that won’t be enough.’

‘Enough what?’

‘Mixer, sir, you’ll have to have more than just a dash.’

‘Why?’

‘It’s the law.’

Another man approaches the bar for service. Now five men can hear possums in the roof.

‘Ok, I’ll have as much as much dry Ginger as there is whisky.’

Simon shakes his handsome head, oblivious to the look in Lou’s eye, the look that would tell any man worth his salt that Lou wants to rip Simon’s head off his shoulders and football it over to the corner where the pool table is lying idle.

‘Sorry, sir, that won’t be enough.’

‘Why?’

‘It’s the law.’

‘You’ll have to have twice as much mixer as there is in the nip.’

Later, when the staff had cleaned up the blood and Simon and his head had been taken to Emergency, Lou and I sat down to dinner.

‘You know that marijuana will be legalised in this state one day, don’t you?’

A muffled grunt from Lou.

‘Like in California and Nevada.’

Lou sluices down the fish pie with his beer. Burps.

‘So?’

‘Well, I’m thinking the dimwits who run liquor laws in this state are going to have a hard time with regulating weed.’

Lou doesn’t mind a joint, been on it since he was a kid as a matter of fact.

‘First, they have to categorise the green – chaff or buds – then grade the pick-up in the buds. Not every bag is good glue.’

Lou sits back, interested now.

‘Then, when they’ve got the quality control sorted, they have to put together a legal routine like the one we saw tonight.

~~

Simon comes down the bar and smiles at Lou.

‘You right, mate?’

‘Not yet.’

Lou isn’t one for wasted words.

‘What will you have?’

Lou nods at the jars of ready-made joints on the top shelf.

‘One of them, no filter.’

Simon shakes his head.

‘Sorry, sir, you’ll have to have something with it.’

‘Why’s that?’

‘It’s the law.’

‘Ok,’ says Lou, ‘one with a filter.’

Another two customers come up to the bar and put their roaches on the counter.

‘No, I mean you’ll have to have a downer with the weed.’

‘Why?’

‘It’s the law.’

Lou has a habit that has always kept the ladies away: he scratches at an armpit when getting aroused, left side with his right hand, under the shirt. Not only does this make an unearthly noise, like nesting possums, it releases a stink best described as ‘Eau de B Double.’

‘Ok,’ says Lou, ‘I’ll have a tab of Vicodin.’

Simon shakes his head. Another two men come up to the bar and place their roaches on the counter. Four now.

‘Sorry, sir,’ says Simon, ‘that won’t be enough.’

‘Enough what?’

‘Downer, sir, you’ll have to have more than just a tab.

‘Why?’

‘It’s the law.’

Another man approaches the bar for service. Now five men can hear possums in the roof.

‘Ok, I’ll have as much as much Vicodin weight as there is weed.’

Simon shakes his handsome head, oblivious to the look in Lou’s eye, the look that would tell any man worth his salt that Lou wants to rip Simon’s head off his shoulders and football it over to the corner where the pool table is lying idle.

‘Sorry, sir, that won’t be enough.’

‘Why?’

‘It’s the law.’

‘You’ll have to have twice as much opiate as there is in the joint.’

Lou smiles at Simon.

Thinking it’s Catch 22 all over again.

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