The Boys saw him the first day and just ignored him like they do any other cruise ship tourist that isn’t wearing a skimpy bathing suit, and young enough to be their daughter. He sat quietly at the table next to the Boys as they chatted away, and listened as they solved the world’s problems, one bottle of Corona at a time. But when he returned again the next day, and took the very same table, the Boys decided, being the geniuses that they are, that he wasn’t a cruise ship passenger after all. This gave him instant credibility with the Boys, especially Ronnie, since this new stranger was wearing a Braves hat, a sure sign of a good ol’ boy with southern street cred, if ever he saw it.
“I take it you ain’t on the cruise ship, what, you being here two days in a row,” blurted Ronnie in his usual, not too subtle way. “Well, not unless they tossed you off the ship, and you don’t look like the ones that usually get the boot.”
“No, not on the ship. I just moved here a few days ago,” the new guy replied. “I saw the Americans sitting here yesterday, so I decided to pull up a chair and listen to what Americans do here for fun. I’m the kinda guy that finds the good watering hole first, then sticks with it. The beers were really cold here and the food was great. Worked for me. My name’s Woody. Woody Pedigrew.”
“Well welcome to Mahahual Woody Pedigrew,” Ronnie said politely. “Why don’t you and that Braves hat slide your chair over and join us,”
Woody slide his chair up to the Boy’s table and Ronnie did the introductions. “Woody, this is Rick. Pay no attention to his cologne, if you can anyway. The sneaky looking guy that looks like an ex-cop, which he is, or 70’s porn star, which he definitely wasn’t, is Ernie. And the little guy is Giles, my girlfriend. We’re gay.”
“If you’re gay Jethro, I’m getting a girlfriend, a ball cap and bottle of Rick’s really bad cologne, and I’m leavin’ the club,” laughed Giles.
“You sure spend a lot of time looking at the pretty young ladies walking up and down the malecon here for a gay guy,” Woody laughed. “You don’t really strike me as Giles type either, Ronnie.”
“Gracias,” laughed Giles.
“Yea, too macho for him I guess,” agreed Ronnie with a totally straight face. “So, what’s the Woody story, Senior New Guy?”
“Not much to tell actually. I’m a retired attorney from a town so small in Arkansas, you’ve never heard of it. Other side of Pig’s Knuckle you might say.”
“Oh, I know just the place, in Bum Fuck County, right,” laughed Rick. “I had a girlfriend there named Ellie Mae one time.”
“Yup,” replied Woody, “just the other side of Pig’s Knuckle, in Bum Fuck County. I’d say that’s about as close as you’ll know of where I come from.”
“So what kind of law would a guy practice,” asked Ronnie with a still straight face, ” if he worked the other side of Pig’s Knuckle, in Bum Fuck County Arkansas?”
“Criminal defense,” replied Woody with a big grin.
The Boys all broke into a loud laughter and finally Ronnie asked, “Is there a lot criminals there in Bum Fuck County?”
“No, folks around where I live are pretty nice and law abiding people.”
Suddenly Buster walked up to the table and said, “Hey Woody. Welcome back. Did you get all moved in okay?”
The Boys all looked at one another and finally Giles asked, “Woody, you know Buster?”
“Oh yea. I represented Buster once many years ago.”
“Oh, this ought to be good, ” laughed Giles, sitting up from his usual slouch. “What did you do Buster, get caught stealing chickens in Pig’s Knuckle?”
“You guys don’t know this, but this guy is one of the smartest lawyers I’ve ever met,” laughed Buster. “I know, he don’t look like much, but this is one of the smart ones.”
“Let me guess,” laughed Giles. “You know this because in addition to getting your chicken stealing ass out of jail, the streets of Pig’s Knuckle are rampant with criminals old Woody here got off. I mean, if he’s been doing this long enough to retire, imagine how many criminals there must be running loose up in them hills.”
“Okay Woody, you want to tell these guys why your the smartest lawyer in the world,” laughed Buster? Woody just grinned and nodded to his friend as if to say, “no you go ahead, you’re doing fine.”
Buster continued. “Old Woody here isn’t the greatest lawyer in the world because he got me out of trouble for not paying a speeding ticket I got a few years ago, back in Dallas. Nope. And I’m not sure, but I doubt he is the smartest when it comes to really understanding the law, when you get right down to it. Seems to know more about fly fishing and horses, than he does the law to me.”
“So what makes Senior Woody here such a great attorney,” asked Ernie. “You’ve peaked my interest.”
“What made him so good, was an interstate highway,” laughed Buster. “Right Woody.”
Woody laughed and said, “You know, I told you I live on the other side of Pig’s Knuckle, but what I didn’t tell you was that Pig’s Knuckle was also the largest town in Bum Fuck County, of which, I’m the only criminal defense attorney in the entire county. So what that means is that every time a state trooper arrests anyone from anywhere, even outside of the great state of Arkansas on an outstanding warrant, which happens a lot on an interstate highway, they are taken to our little Pig’s Knuckle courthouse/jail and bait shop, where again, I am the only criminal defense attorney in the county. So when they call their attorney back in whatever state they are from, we gets lots from Texas like Buster, that attorney, who is usually not licensed in Arkansas, checks a registry of attorneys in Arkansas counties, where, when they look at Pig’s Knuckle, guess who they call?”
“Damn, that’s like shooting fish in bucket,” laughed Ronnie. “This dude is good!”
“Yea, I just bill the clients attorney, who double charges the clients, and they pretty much tell me what to do, and what to tell the judges here. I don’t have an office, secretary, legal assistant, none of that overhead. Don’t need any of that. The clients attorney takes care of all that too. I just meet them in court, say what they want me to say, and wait for the check. And yea, I fish a lot and raise a few race horses when I’m not balancing the scales of justice for all, as I like to say.”
“So you see why I say he’s the smartest lawyer of all,” laughed Buster. “No attorney anywhere, works less and makes more money, than old Woody here. How often do you actually work Woody?”
“It depends. Some months I don’t bust a grape. Some months I’m billing out 6o hours a week at whatever the other guy is paying. I can usually get at least $250 an hour. The bass player in my rockabilly band back home, we’re called Blind Justice, is the local judge, so we work together pretty well. Process ’em in, process ’em out. County makes their money, I make mine, and the bad guy gets a big old Pig’s Knuckle fine. How’s that for justice. Like Ronnie said, it’s like shootin’ fish in a bucket.”
The Boys were all impressed with this new guy and how he could use the good old US judicial system to have a long and prosperous career as a criminal defense attorney, just the other side of Pig’s Knuckle, in Bum Fuck County Arkansas.
“Okay, well here is what you need to know if you’re going to hang with this bunch,” warned Buster to the new guy, “These guys don’t care one bit what your religious or your political beliefs are, or what you think about almost any political, social or economic issue … as long as it is the same as theirs. If not, well, you might be in trouble.”
“Well I’m kinda all over the place on that stuff, so my guess is our paths will cross enough,” smiled Woody very sheepishly.
“He’s a slick one, this Woody,” laughed Ronnie. “Them attorneys are like that with their words, but sooner or later Woody Pedigrew, Corona and El Compdre will have you telling how you really feel. Truth serum. It always does.” And with that he slid back into his seat.
Giles on the other hand smelled a southern redneck conservative, and just went right ahead with his interrogation. “Okay Slick Woody, tell me this. Good or bad thing. Trump pulled us out of the Paris Accord,” he asked bluntly.
“Why don’t you just ask me if I’m a Republican,” laughed Woody. “But before you do, let me say this then. I think Trump is a buffoon with his words. Probably has the morals of an alley cat. But that don’t mean everything he says is wrong. Sometimes its just the way his stupid ass says things that makes people mad.”
“Oh this ought to be good,” laughed Giles, knowing full well where this was going. “Republican!”.
Woody grinned at him and said, “Trump thinks you negotiate from a position of power. It’s that simple to him, and there is some truth to it, whether you like it or not. And yes, there are some agreements we made, some decades ago, that many think the US needs to be looked at again, because things are different these days, especially since we kinda need the money.”
“Yes, so he can give to his billionaire buddies,” smirked Giles.
“Tinkerbell, will you shut your pretty little mouth and let the brother talk,” said Ronnie with his big grin.
“For example,” Woody continued, “some security arrangements made a half century ago, in the height of the Cold War, that obligated the US to huge costs that made sense then, when those countries were poor and in strategic locations. But today, they are economically self sustaining countries, so why should we pay for their security now. Same for trade agreements that put the US today in huge trade deficits. When they were made, the agreements gave benefits to both sides, but today, things have changed, so maybe not. If you pull out, especially if you are a giant in the room, your negotiating leverage will go up.”
“So you just tell the whole world, screw you, we’re gonna pollute because its cheaper and tough if you don’t like it because we are giants,” Giles said, his voice beginning to raise just a bit.
“Yup,” said Woody, taking a sip from his beer. “But just because you say it, doesn’t mean your gonna do it. But if you’re negotiating, it helps if people think you will. The US is committed for 2 more years to the accord, which means, “The Negotiator in Chief” now has a couple years to cut his new deals. Just calm down, the US ain’t leavin’ no Paris Accord at the end.”
“So let me get this straight, you actually think we should make countries like South Korea, Japan and Israel pay for their own defense? Do you have any idea what that would cause,” asked Giles, as if his head was about to explode.
“I don’t, and since all those countries are pretty rich these days, I think we should find out. I think we owe the American tax payers that. You think we should be careful how we spend taxpayers money these days Giles? Of course you do and my guess is we could still provide a level of support for our allies, but at the same time, let them pay a bit more, now that they can. You disagree with that Giles?”
“Well, I guess looking at old arrangements might be okay, but not walking away.”
“No better way to look at them then from a position of power,” grinned Slick Woody. “Read the man’s book Giles.”
Giles sat back in his chair and stewed. Ronnie could see this might get fun, so he decided to throw a little gas on the fire, and really get Giles going. “Hard to trust someone in bed with Putin?” Giles looked up immediately and raised his eyebrows as if to say, ‘yea, what about Putin’.
“Oh yea, Russia, that’s a stinker alright,” agreed Woody calmly. “Like I said, Trump’s a total dip shit, but that don’t always make him wrong. He’s a money guy right? Nothing wrong with being a money guy. Not all are bad, but of course, you only hear of the ones that are. Kinda like Priests. Thousands can do nothing but good things, but let one get a little too much wine one night … and then they’re all a bunch of pedophiles. Billionaires are the same way. And as a billionaire, Trump knows the Western Capitalist world has been churning out money for, oh what, 60-70 years now at a really good rate. He knows, cause he made lots of it. He also knows, like any machine, it needs fuel to run on, and the western capitalism machine is beginning to run low on fuel, or capital. The problem is the world is low on capital and there ain’t many places to find it. Especially since the thing needed to feed capitalism is a prosperous middle class to feed the machine, so the rich folks don’t have to. Latin American got that? No. Africa? No. Perhaps Asia. Besides Japan and South Korea, which we have already milked dry, no. But there is one country that has a huge prosperous middle class and that is Russia. Trump saw that a long time ago, and that’s why he began to do business there himself. If he had just told the US that before all those rookies around him started piles of shit everywhere, a lot of people might understand why he and Putin are getting along so well.”
“Oh for the sake of Fox News, will you listen to this guy,” laughed Giles.
“Hey, it’s cheaper and healthier to hurl business contracts and money at each other than it is to hurl bombs,” Woody said, looking at Giles. “The old Trumpster figured that out years ago with the help of his money, vodka, beauty queens and prostitutes. What, you disagree with swapping money and contracts, for bombs?”
There was little Ronnie enjoyed more than watching Giles get steamed and as this conversation went, Giles’ temperature continued to rise. So naturally, Ronnie again stoked the fire. “So what about banning immigrants and building walls,” he piped in.
“He ain’t buildin’ no walls,” laughed Woody. “But it don’t hurt a thing for folks to think he is. Hell, he got a lot of votes on that one thing along, so what the hell. Some people will believe anything and have the memory of an ant.”
“Tell ’em what they want to hear, and put a chicken in every pot.” laughed Rick. “Sorry, continue, I’m enjoying this.”
Woody finished his beer, ordered another and then continued in his subdued and always grinning manner that made the boys not sure if this guy was the smartest conservative they had ever met, or some guy just pulling their legs. “Like I said, Trump is a buffoon with his words, especially that late night, drunken Twitter thing he does. But what he meant and what he should have said was ‘Look, I got nothing against cheap labor. How do you think I made all my money? But saying things like walls gets votes, which I need to get elected. Congress ain’t gonna give me the money to do that, and I know that. But at the end of the day, this is about banning Muslims, not Mexicans. Muslims blow up Americans. Mexicans don’t. So I’m TEMPORARILY banning immigrants from certain muslim nations, not because we don’t like Muslims, but to keep out the ones who blow shit up, you have to ban them all. Sorry, but many will have to suffer for the behavior of a few. Just the way it works. We want Mexicans Giles, because the don’t blow shit up, and guess what, they work cheaper than the guy who voted for me because I said I’d build a wall. Gotta love that! Sorry, but at the end of the day, this is a Muslim problem. I understand, a very, very small minority of Muslims are using the religion to do things like blow people up who don’t think like they do, and I feel real sorry for those people. I really do. But guess what Giles, we have fanatics in the US like that too. They blow up abortion clinics, and shoot the doctors that work in them, and you know what we do with those people Giles?”
Giles just glared at him, and said nothing.
“We lock them up, Giles. That is what we do with people who use religion to justify their violent movements. We can’t fix the few fanatics in these Muslim countries, and to be honest, its not our job. If we do, we are called anti-Muslim. But asking the Muslim countries to take care of their problem, and stop allowing their extremists to be the world’s problem, is not asking too much. And certainly not when you are talking about our security. Banning immigrants from those countries, until they make changes that deals with their problem is what Trump wanted to say, but couldn’t, and instead, had a bunch of amateur political hacks, and his drunken tweets define the policy, and it hasn’t gone well.”
“So its a Muslim problem, that Muslim nations need to fix, huh,” said Ronnie?
“Yup. Hey, if Muslim counties had a rash of right wing, Christian American nut jobs, blowing up McDonalds and KFC joints in the middle east and using those counties’ many freedoms their laws provide, to hide behind while they did it, I’d be fine with them banning all US citizens from the middle east until we got control of that. Only fair, wouldn’t you say Giles.”
“That is the biggest bunch of right wing hooey I’ve ever heard,” laughed Giles finally.
“Stop me when I’m wrong,” said Woody, laughing and still with that sheepish grin on his face.
“So you really are a Republican, aren’t you Woody,” asked Rick.
“I didn’t say that,” laughed Woody. “Why, do I sound like one? Now, I did say I was a criminal defense attorney. That means I get paid to defend bad people,… or good people who behave badly, … or good people who did something stupid. Doesn’t matter to me. You pay me enough money, and I can defend anyone, even a dip-shit like Trump. That’s what I do, criminal defense.”
Even Giles had to laugh at that. Whatever this guy was, attorney, Republican, Democrat, snake oil salesman, or crook, the guys liked him. He seemed like a character, which meant he fit in fine with the Boys, and besides that, they stuck him with the tab for the beers, and he didn’t seem to mind. And Woody really didn’t mind, because just like back in Bum Fuck County Arkansas, he knew the only local attorney gets all the work, and when these guys need legal advise, they’ll be buying the beer. It would be like shootin’ fish in bucket, as Ronnie said!
An so it goes, when you are Livin’ and Dyin’ in 3/4 Time.