“Eddy Tomplinson does have a certain flair,” Donnel Frisbuy said, “most of it odoriferous.” He looked into his mug of Montana Blue Ale and then took a chug of it.
The topic of conversation was the upcoming election, and whom the Last Lost County Country might send to the State Legislature. Donnel was a burned-in-hell Democrat, and he knew he probably should not have said anything, since most of the others in the bar were not Democrat, though their scars of damnation—even the wounds of the evangelical Libertarians—were probably just as seared as Donnel’s. But Donnel had never been one to let the convention of not speaking about religion and politics in polite society stop him. Besides he did not consider a bar to be polite society. And further-besides, Eddy was running unopposed—so any conversation about him was not politics. It was gossip.
“It isn’t flair I vote for, by damn” asserted Willie Osbroken. “It’s character and no taxes, and Eddy has those coming out the wazooo.” He slammed his empty can of Blue Light on the bar and indicated to Madeline Frozier he wanted a new one.
“You don’t work enough to pay any taxes anyway, Willie.” Madeline Frozier grinned when she slid him his poison. Willie hiccuped and slugged back half the can.
This has to be said about Madeline. She tended bar and waited tables because she had three kids whose father she had ditched as a waste of armchair space in the double-wide. She also read people’s character like magazines, and knew that as a woman and as the barkeep, she could, with her ample bosom and her smile, say pretty much anything to the male losers among her clientele and they would think she was joking or was otherwise not being serious. Some time after Eddy Tomplinson left Pruddy for thirty-something Darlene, Madeline had told him “Well, at least you had kids with Pruddy.” It was only after he sobered up that Eddy thought maybe Maddy had been referring to his eight years of barren marriage to Darlene as much as his youthful virility with Pruddy. But he could never be sure.
The only other person in the bar that afternoon was Selly Lassner. Selly is the person who had asked Donnel what he thought of Eddy Tomplinson. He asked mostly as a joke and partly to hear just how his friend, Donnel, would say he thought Tomplinson was an ass. Eddy Tomplinson being an ass was pretty much common knowledge.
“And just what you think of our flairing and odoriferous incumbent,” Selly said to Maddy.
“There may be a smell,” Maddy grinned, ” But flairing is not the right ‘f’ word.”
“A rose by any other name. . . .” Donnel said.
“Besides the flair I’m writing-in is Donnel,” Maddy said. She wasn’t smiling.
“We are doomed,” Donnel said.
“And damned,” Selly said. He raised his beer can in salute. Donnel touched it with his mug.