Andrew Jackson pulled his half-ton up to the curb in front of the café, between the Ford F150 and the Dodge RAM 2500 and turned off the engine.
“Once more into the breach,” he said to Rose who was pulling her hat down over her ears and preparing to step out into the frigid January morning. “The coffee better be hot this morning.” A moment later they were inside, stomping snow from their boots and scanning the room for their friends, Grant and Karen, who they saw were waiting for them at the table by the window. They headed over.
“It’s insane,” Grant was saying as they seated themselves in the two empty chairs. “I mean they will fight about anything. They’ll kill each other over a chocolate bar, for Pete’s sake. It’s crazy.”
“Our kids were the same way when they were little,” said Rose, never afraid to join a conversation in the middle. “Always fighting about something. Although they never killed each other, thank God.”
There was a brief pause. “Who’s talking about kids?” said Grant.
“I thought you were,” said Rose.
Grant shook his head. “We were talking about those militia guys in Oregon.”
“Correction Grant,” said Karen. “YOU were talking about the militias in Oregon. I was waiting for Rose and Andrew to show up so we could PLEASE talk about something else.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said Andrew. “Those guys in Oregon are pretty interesting. It’s amazing how quickly they’ve managed to get everybody to hate them. Especially the ranchers they say they’re fighting to help.”
“Yeah,” said Grant. “Geez. How can you not realize that the one way to antagonize ranchers literally 100 per cent of the time is to tear down fences? That’s such a no-brainer.”
“I think no-brainer is generally the operative word when you’re talking about American militias,” said Andrew. “They seem to be entirely comprised of people with no brains.”
Karen looked at Rose. “Maybe we should get our own table,” she said.
“Yeah,” said Rose glaring pointedly at Andrew and Grant. “Speaking of no-brainers…”
“OK, OK,” said Andrew. “No more militia talk. Somebody change the subject.”
There was a moment of silence while the four of them tried to think of a different topic.
“It’s damn cold outside,” said Grant at length.
“True that,” said Andrew.
“I think we should go to Vegas for a week,” said Grant. “Who’s in?”
Rose’s hand was up first but Andrew and Karen weren’t far behind.
“I looked it up online this morning,” said Grant. “For 1,500 bucks per couple, we could hop on a plane tomorrow and spend a week sitting around a pool in the hot sun, drinking unlimited amounts of alcohol and enjoying as much all-you-can-eat American buffet food as you want.”
“I don’t think enjoying is the right word when you’re talking about all-you-can-eat buffet food,” said Rose, “but I get your point. Hot sun sounds awesome.”
“So why don’t we go?” said Grant.
“Because we don’t happen to have 1,500 bucks burning a hole in our pockets at the moment,” said Andrew.
Grant nodded. “I thought that might be the case,” he said, “so here’s the thing. My dad just sold a bunch of stock he owned in some pharmaceutical company and decided that rather than reinvest in something else he’d just dole out the cash to his kids for Christmas. He called it a pre-inheritance. So Karen and I figured maybe we’d use a couple of thousand dollars of that money to take you guys to Vegas for a week.”
There was another moment of silence.
“You’re kidding, right?” said Rose.
Grant shook his head. “Nope,” he said. “We’re dead serious. You only live once, right? Carpe diem and all that.”
Rose looked at Andrew. “This is an unexpected turn of events,” she said. “This kind of thing only happens in storybooks.”
“I’m trying to think if there’s any reason why we can’t go away for a week,” said Andrew. “So far I got nothing.”
“When would we leave?” asked Rose.
“Tomorrow?” said Grant. “Or the next day? As soon as there’s four seats available on the same flight.”
“So you’re saying the day after tomorrow, hot sun and mojitos by the pool?” said Rose. “That’s your final offer?”
“Final offer,” said Karen and Grant together.
“Done,” said Rose, taking her phone out of her purse. “I’m texting the kids now to let them know.”
“Can we do one thing before we go?” said Andrew.
“What’s that?” asked Grant.
“Have some breakfast?” said Andrew. “I’m starving.”
“One good meal before we hit the buffet?” said Karen.
“Amen,” said Andrew.