[Clean up at Table 36! Need to know how we got here? Part i, part ii, part iii, part iv, part v]
* * *
“Why are you insisting on putting yourself in the middle of this, Beverli Lee?” I ask, attempting to dial back any trace of edge to the question.
“Yay, you didn’t,” Avrum tells me. “Not in the least.”
“You dragged me there!” she bellows, pumping the volume back up, re-attracting attention to our table from other patrons and quite possibly some restaurant manager type. Dad has returned to his meal as if he’s not part of what’s currently happening, like he’s sitting at another table, at another dining establishment perhaps.
A list of grievances follows, some legitimate, some absurd, some with a grain of truth to them, others outrageous in their fabulism.
The last doozy,
“You told your father that you saw pictures of me at that convoy thing in Ottawa last year!!”
I most certainly did not, shaking my head in denial. Denial? Doesn’t that sound like you’ve done the thing you claim you didn’t do?
Avrum shakes his head ‘no’ when I look across the table at him, Did you? It wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility of something Lianne might get up to but she’s a little busy right now to be engaging in such tactical psyops, and she probably would’ve told us about it if she had.
“TELL THEM, GENE!” Beverli Lee yells at dad. “TELL THEM WHAT THEY TOLD YOU ABOUT ME BEING AT THAT CONVOY THING!!”
This definitely stirs some Keg crisis management into motion.
“Why are you shouting at me, Beverli Lee?” dad inquires, sitting away from his plate on the table, chewing, wiping his mouth with a napkin. As if he hadn’t heard the conversation leading up to her question.
“THAT THEY SAID THEY SAW A PICTURE OF—”
“Hey, folks,” the manager, Dustin, almost whispers as he arrives at our table. “I’m just wondering if we could try and keep the decibel lev—”
“TELL THEM, GENE!” Beverli Lee continues as if Dustin wasn’t even there.
“Tell them what, dear?”
Either my dad was losing his mind or he was up to something, something diabolical that I couldn’t even begin to fathom, diabolical being state of mind I would never associate with him. Placid was more his usual vibe.
“FINE!” Beverli Lee snaps, lurching up from her seat, gathering her belongings including the unfinished bottle of wine. “Excuse me,” she reads Dustin’s name tag, “Dustin,” as she pushes past him.
“You can’t take that open bottle with—”
Dad touches Dustin’s forearm, avuncular in intent, and offers a word of advice.
“I wouldn’t try and stop her, is my recommendation, Dustin. Things could really get messy.”
“AND MY APOLOGIES, EVERYONE!” Beverli Lee yells as she makes her way to the entrance, bumping furniture and other diners as she goes. “I GUESS THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TRY FINE DINING WITH A GROUP OF ASSHOLES!” Everyone in her general directions clears a passage for Beverli Lee’s grand exit. Pushing open the first set of doors, she turns back to the entranced crowd. “AND FOR THE RECORD, I WAS NOWHERE NEAR OTTAWA THEN! BUT I DO SUPPORT SOME OF THEIR GOALS!”
With that, Beverli Lee disappeared into the night. The crowd inside the Keg continued to murmur and look back, some with hopeful anticipation, toward us. Another act to the farce?
“Somebody should call 9-1-1,” my dad says to Dustin, nonchalantly as if he’s asking about the weather. “She is in no condition to be driving right now. Even if it is a Tesla.”
Dustin backs away from the table, a little uncertain of the protocol, it looks like. Has the real troublemaker really left the building?
“You boys up for some dessert?” dad asks us.
We were a little too stunned and rattled to respond. Once more, the onlookers returned to their meals and conversations, assuming the show to be over. Avrum and I weren’t too sure about that yet.
“Do you think she’ll really drive home, dad?” Avrum asked, not unconcerned.
“Maybe we should try—” I offer only to have dad wave me off.
“Beverli Lee’s going to do what Beverli Lee’s going to do, and there’s nothing even a couple strapping young me like you two can do about it.”
Strapping you men? What was he even talk—Never mind. That was the least of the questions needing to be answered at the moment.
“I feel like a nice piece of cheesecake,” dad says, for the first time seeming like his old, normal self tonight. “I bet this place makes a good cheesecake, don’t you think?”