Where is Long Haul?
Please enjoy this excerpt from "Butts on the Bar Stool," a dialogue-driven novel written by our friend Ree Miller. To read more, go to https://www.amazon.com/Butts-Bar-Stool-Ree-Miller/dp/1540744299
“I haven’t seen Long Haul for a little while,” bar patron Joanna asks bartender Tara. “Is she okay?”
“Oh, there’s a story there,” Tara answers. “Wanna hear it?”
“For sure,” Joanna says. It’s 3pm on the Friday after Labor Day and she has taken the afternoon off from her executive recruiter job. She’s perched on a bar stool, contentedly helping Tara fold napkins for the night’s dinner service.
“You know Sandy Hill?” Tara asks, naming a country club a couple of blocks away.
“You know that Long Haul has a suspended license due to a DUI, right?”
“Of course,” Joanna answers as she makes sure the napkin’s seams are straight.
“Well, last Wednesday Long Haul left here around midnight, no drunker than usual, with Stan.” Stan is another regular who sometimes gives Long Haul a lift home. “Apparently she asked him to drop her off at Sandy Hill and he did.”
“That’s nutty,” Joanna says, a half-second before remembering that Stan is a nut so therefore it makes perfect sense.
“Yes, well,” Tara says. “He drops her off, she climbs the fence, and borrows a golf cart.”
“That’s how she described it to the police, who were alerted by neighbors the next morning that there was a golf cart, with a dead person inside, crashed into the front door of the Whistle Stop.” The Whistle Stop is a hole-in-the wall luncheonette about two miles from Sandy Hill.
“Clearly not dead, though,” Joanna says.
“Clearly. Sleeping or passed out, not dead.” Tara smiles her broad, sunny smile; it accentuates her strong bones and large hazel eyes.
“So she tells the cops she borrowed it? Like that’s supposed to make it okay?”
“You know Long Haul. Talks so much and in such circles she just wears you down. A reliable source told me she told the cops she borrowed the cart because her disabled sister had fallen down her basement steps and needed Long Haul to come over to help her.”
“I didn’t know she had a disabled sister,” Joanna says.
“She doesn’t. She has a sister, but she’s a pole dancer.”
“Long Haul admitted right up front that she has a suspended license. She said she has no access to a car, because her parents put hers up on blocks in their driveway until she gets her license back, and won’t lend her theirs,” Tara says.
“That much might be true.”
“Right. And Long Haul said a friend—that would be Stan—was driving her home when she got the call from her sister. She said they happened to be passing Sandy Hill at that moment and she just acted instinctively, out of love for her poor crippled sister.”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to say crippled anymore,” Joanna says. “It’s not politically correct.”
“I’m quoting Long Haul, so it’s okay.”
“You’re right. Proceed.”
“So she said she borrowed the golf cart, drove it or rode it or whatever to her sister’s townhouse, helped her, got back into the golf cart, and then unfortunately fell asleep and crashed into the Whistle Stop on her way back to Sandy Hill, where she intended to return it, safe and sound.”
“Hmm,” Joanna says. “And I guess by the time the neighbor called, she was no longer drunk.”
“Right. Seems like the cops decided to believe her story.”
“So she got away with it?”
“Hell no,” Tara says. “They put her in the county jail for theft, trespassing, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. She’s still in. That’s why you haven’t seen her.”
“Yes, that’s the upside of all of her jail stays.”
“She sure has a more interesting life than we do,” Joanna says. “I should say than I do.” Tara has three children ages 3 to 18 along with her full-time job at Stenny’s; her life is plenty interesting.
A thought occurs to Joanna. “Wait, what was she really doing with the golf cart?”
Tara laughs. “She’s Long Haul. Could be almost anything. Maybe she wanted to go on a cross-county adventure. Maybe Stan dared her. Maybe she wanted to come back here for one more beer. Who knows?”
“Indeed,” Joanna says, and turns her full attention to napkin-folding.