Uncle Sal woke up to see Giacomo sitting to his left and Alice to his right. He blinked a few times, then shook his head. The pain made him close his eyes tight and grimace with pain. He looked around the room, then looked at Alice. "Where am I?"
Alice put her hand to her mouth and cleared her throat. Giacomo, realizing that she was too uncomfortable to tell him, jumped in. "You're in The Purple Pheasant swingers club."
Uncle Sal perused the room another time. "That explains all the velvet."
Alice arched one eybrow and said, "What exactly were you doing here, Sal?"
He shook his head and again the base of his skull screamed with pain. "Yow! I think someone musta given me the Philip Marlowe treatment. My head is killing me."
Alice remained with her eyebrow raised and her arms crossed. After a couple blinks, Uncle Sal said, "Heck if I know. I didn't even know this place was here. And it ain't the kinda place I'd frequent. I ain't got enough satin in my wardrobe ta visit a place like this."
"I brought him in here," came a voice from the door.
All heads turned to look at the man who held a meerschaum pipe in his right hand. He was dressed in a mauve velvet smoking jacket and a pair of red polka-dot boxers. "Well, I just couldn't leave him...where he was. Not when he was...shall I say, incapacitated."
Uncle Sal squinted and said, "Fred Bourse, is that you? Holy haddock! You more or less disappeared after Ten shut down."
The man in the smoking jacket bowed.
"Uncle Sal, you know this guy?"
"Sure I do. He used to work at that topless bowling alley called Ten down in Alpharetta, Georgia. And lemme tell ya, that didn't just describe the number of pins. It also was the perfect description of a lotta the waitresses worked there." Sensing Alice's glare, he continued. "Matter of fact, it was his idea to make the place topless. He did all the research about what permits were needed and all that. Place coulda been there forever if they'd only listened to him. Only thing is, he got submarined, by this guy Zane Fiskie and his own brother." Uncle Sal removed his glasses and put them in the pocket of his Association of Blond Latvian Engineers. "See this guy, every idea he has is gold. His brother and Fiskie could see that, and they got a little jealous. This guy here, he always had the boss's ear while those other two yahoos spent a lot of time chasing their tails. Anywho, these guys get it inta their heads that they need to take Fred down so maybe their ideas can be heard. If they had any ideas, that is. And they know just the way to do it. They start spreadin' rumors that Fred is an alcoholic. Well, it wasn't long after that, Fred got fired."
Fred jumped in. "And that was when my drinking problem actually started. Well, after I had been out of work for a while. Here I was, an honest worker, and no one would hire me because they had heard I was an alcoholic. Not just in Alpharetta either. I went to Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and couldn't get hired anywhere. I was really upset by it. And frankly, I did disappear for a while. Because of my anger and my depression, I disappeared into a bottle, then I disappeared into rehab. I've been back on my feet ever since I opened this place. Best move I ever made. I'll tell you that for nothing."
"Say, Fred. Didn't that bowling alley go under shortly after they let you go?"
"It did. All the people in charge didn't care what I had accomplished there. They heard the rumors and they believed them all completely. Funny thing is, I guess it wasn't really funny...my brother left that place shortly after I did. Fiskie sold him out too. My brother and I ended up in rehab together. It was not exactly the proudest time for my family."
Alice nodded and glanced first at Fred, then at Sal. She said, "I see what you're saying. You're saying that this man's drinking problem started because no one would book a miffed Bourse in the south."
Giacomo narrowed his eyes. "I think what the real point of the story is that at first, the topless bowling alley sacked the wrong Bourse."
"No, no, no. That ain't what I'm trying to say at all. What I'm saying is that all of Fred's good ideas didn't matter because in the end, it was Fiskie for the Ten and beer for the Bourses."
This episode featured:
Ebel Flowe as Uncle Sal
Early Turize as Giacomo
Oksana Plaine as Alice
Hugh "Georgie" Mann as Fred Bourse
Jellybean Merengue as the meerschaum pipe.
Tune in next week when Uncle Sal says, "The man is obviously a psychotic."
NOTE: Thanks to loyal readers Jon Lee "Hooker" for suggesting the 3-for-1 special and Dave Moeggenberg for his suggestion about the setting of this landmark episode.