ONE CLOWN SHORT, page-14

"Thanks for your time, Gramps. We're glad to be able to give you and your wife a little
change of pace."
"Wait till I tell her about your hair. Oooo-eeeee! Are we going to have a good laugh over
that!"
Butane Bob smiled and headed outside. The girls waved good- bye, and Gramps locked the
door behind them.
The next morning Violet and Mandy met for breakfast in the hotel lobby. They were still in
shock over yesterday's events.
"It can't be any worse today, can it?" Violet seemed worried about the day ahead.
"I doubt it, but then again there's not much that can surprise me anymore." Mandy was
secretly worried too but was trying not to show it.
Violet spotted Butane Bob's red clothes out of the corner of her eye.
"Here he comes."
"I'm starving. Where's the waiter?" he said as he pulled out a chair to join them.
"No waiter here. It's a buffet, self-service," said Violet.
He went to look over the display of food. "Hey! Where are the made-to-order omelets?"
"Oh, boy, here we go," Mandy said under her breath. "They don't have that here, Butane
Bob."
"Why not? How much am I paying for this breakfast?"
"Nothing. It's free, included with the room."
"I want the $15.95 breakfast buffet with lox and bagels and a waiter and made-to-order
omelets. I love to watch that beautiful blue gas flame curl around the omelet pan and see that
gorgeous yellow liquid boil and bubble into the perfect breakfast."
Other people, who had been enjoying a peaceful breakfast, were now beginning to stare.
Mandy got up and went over to him.
37"
"Butane Bob, you can't get that at this hotel. It's free. You serve yourself and the eggs come
already scrambled from a bag."
"From a bag!"
"Yes, they buy them already scrambled in a bag and just heat them up."
"Oh, what is the world coming to? I don't know if I can eat eggs that come in a bag. I won't
get sick, will I?"
"No, just add a little salt and pepper. You won't know the difference." Suddenly Mandy
spotted the waffles. Thinking it might take his mind off the eggs, she said, "Look, Butane Bob,
fresh waffles. See those cups? Pour one into the waffle maker and voila!—fresh waffles."
"Ooooo." He walked over to examine them more closely. "Can I have two?"
"You can have all you want."
"Wow, I'm beginning to like this." His eyes never left the waffle iron while the batter was
cooking.
When he came back to the table, his plate was heaped with waffles, eggs, fruit, and muffins.
He ate it all, as if it were his last meal. Violet sat watching in awe of this spectacle. She picked
up a bottle from the table and handed it to him
"Do you want any Tabasco for those eggs?"
"Mmmm, that's perfect," he mumbled with his mouth full. He grabbed the bottle from her
and poured it generously over everything on his plate. "How did you know I love Tabasco?"
"Just a hunch."
Arriving at their third store in Minneapolis, they found it dark, locked, and deserted. When
they peered through the window, the store looked completely empty. The shelves were
completely bare.
"Violet, how many on the payroll here?"
"Just one—the store manager, Roger Dilly."
"He must be somewhere sipping pina coladas while collecting a paycheck. Make sure we
fire him when we get back and close this place down for good. At least the last guy kept the
store open for a few hours a day. Let's go."
They arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare.
"Violet, aren't we going to Louisville? The boarding pass says St. Louis." Mandy was
examining her ticket.
"I don't know. Butane Bob, are our stores in Louisville or St. Louis?"
"You two are just too caught up in the details. Wherever it says we're going is where we're
going. You need to relax."
"OK, you're the boss."
The flight to St. Louis was uneventful. Again the women were herded into the back of the
plane while their fearless leader settled into his comfy first-class seat. Once they arrived, they
made their way to the rental car lot.
38"
"Now where are we headed?" Butane Bob deferred all map reading to whomever was sitting
in the front seat with him.
Violet shuffled her papers to find the address. "469 Exeter Avenue."
"Sir," he asked the attendant at the gate. "How do we get to 469 Exeter Avenue?"
"Exeter Avenue . . . " He squinted his eyes so he could think about it. "I don't think I've ever
heard of Exeter Avenue."
Violet shoved the paper past Butane Bob, out the window to the attendant. He looked it
over several times, and then it seemed as if a light bulb had turned on in his head.
"This says 469 Exeter Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky. You, my friends, are in St. Louis,
Missouri. Wrong city, wrong state."
Then came ranting from Mandy in the backseat:
"I told you we were going to the wrong place. No one wants to listen to me."
"You need to relax. Any stores here in St. Louis?"
"We didn't even know we had stores until last week. How would we know if there were any
in St. Louis?" Mandy was furious at Butane Bob's lack of concern
"Violet, call and find out." He no longer had the relaxed demeanor of a few minutes earlier.
"Hey, buddy, you're blocking the exit. Move out of here."
He stepped on the gas, forcefully throwing Violet and Mandy into the backs of their seats.
Violet reached for her cell phone. "Gary, quick, I need a favor. Are there any stores in St.
Louis?"
"We have stores?"
"Yes, we have stores," she said with an exasperated tone. "Are there any in St Louis?"
"Violet, where do you think I'm going to find that information? I didn't even know we had
stores until a few seconds ago. Where are you, and what are you doing?"
"Don't ask. Just find out and call me back. Hurry!"
They pulled up at the airport.
"Mandy, go see if there are any flights to Louisville. Quickly!"
He slammed on the brakes. She went flying out the car door, stumbling onto the curb. The
car sped off, almost running down a few pedestrians.
"Sorry, ma'am. There's only one flight to Louisville and it leaves at 7:15 in the morning. I'm
af raid you're out of luck until tomorrow.
There are only two seats available for tomorrow's flight. Do you want them?"
"There are three of us. Let me check. I'll be back in a minute." As Mandy ran out the door,
the car came speeding toward her.