I threw the can of creamed corn as hard as I could. So hard, in fact, that I think I tore something in my shoulder when I let it go. “C'mon, you damned corn,” was all I could think as I watched it speed away in a shallow arc.
To tell the story properly I suppose I should go back a few months to when I was sitting in the coffee shop of that truck stop on I-39. It was a nice morning, and I was just getting a quick cup of joe and doughnut – one of those custard-filled long john types with white icing and sprinkles – those really are my favorites, even though they probably are the most childish if you want my honest opinion. I figure if you're going to eat a doughnut anyway, you certainly shouldn't try to cloak the truth and make yourself feel like you're having granola or kashi or sprouted wheatberry cereal or something. Call a spade a spade and then damn those torpedoes and full speed ahead. Rock on with the long john.
Anyhow, I was sitting in that coffee shop when the biggest snake oil hustler in black denim and a mesh-backed baseball cap sporting the legend “Sissy's Steak House” slides right past me into the adjoining booth. He orders a cup of coffee and a plate of biscuits and gravy. The waitress tells him they don't have biscuits and gravy (hell, I figure to myself, we're so far north of the Mason-Dixon Line that the only gravy they see here is brown and poured over turkey). Mesh-backed baseball cap man curses a little bit, says something about the truck stop and asks for some eggs, toast and bacon instead. The waitress goes off to get his order and he turns to me.
“No f**kin' biscuits and gravy...can you f**kin' believe that?” he says to me, with a tone that was normally reserved for someone transferring stolen microfilm to a foreign agent.
“I don't think biscuits and gravy are too popular up here,” I reply.
“Shit...” he trails off, sounding less like a secret agent this time. “Where you from, boss?”
“Lots of places,” I say, not really wanting to strike up a conversation with this guy.
“Me too...maybe we went to different schools together.”
That was a saying that my father used to use, and I had not heard it for years – since well before my father's death. I was about to mention something like this to him when he slides across the booth, leans in close to me and continues.
“Just stay the f**k right there with your hands on your coffee cup and you ain't gonna' get hurt. You're my friend from back home, right? You say something and you're a dead man.” He's holding his hand in his jacket pocket, and I didn't need to find out if he had a gun in there along with said hand.
I won't trouble you with the rest of that morning's events – the police record has all of that. Suffice to say that I got out of questioning after a few hours, and later on they found my wallet (minus the credit cards and cash) along with those belonging to everyone else who was in the coffee shop. They found them all next to a dumpster outside an adult bookstore in the next town up I-39. It was a pain in the ass for a few days getting everything sorted out, but things were OK. No one got hurt.
So that brought me up to just this evening as I was working the canned-goods drive for the local food pantry – we were set up outside the Shop and Save Grocery Galaxy, and when I heard the scream and saw a man in black denim and a mesh-backed baseball cap sporting the legend “Sissy's Steak House” come sprinting out of the automatic doors, I figured my time on the mound in American Legion ball and that can of creamed corn were a perfect combination. My shoulder's gonna' be OK. I'm sorry he needed seventeen stitches. I wish I could have given him an even twenty.