Terry stared at the barbecued chicken legs roasting on the grill, glistening with thick brown sauce, charred just so near the bones while the hot, tangy smoke surrounded him.
“So Terry, how are ya holding up at Schmidt’s?” Mike asked, interrupting his view by prodding at the chicken with a pair of long barbeque tongs.
“Oh, it’s good. Same old shit.” He took a long gulp from his sweaty bottle of beer.
“Yep, we got it good, don’t we?” Mike grinned as he looked down at the chicken. Mike had Terry by eight or nine years and eighty or ninety pounds. On couples night he always wore large Hawaiian shirts that draped over his round shoulders like a muumuu, with long, loose khaki bottoms that could hardly be described as shorts because they only exposed a few inches of ankle above the Velcro-bound sandals.
“Say I was talkin’ to Lloyd, and he’s starting up our bowling league in September, told him you might want in.” Mike continued to poke aimlessly at the chicken, sliding more and more sauce between the slats and into the fire. Terry monitored the sauce, smeared heavily onto each fat leg, with tiny globs collecting then dripping down.
“Hey, Terry? Come on, these guys know how to have a good time.” Mike leaned over slightly and lowered his voice, “These guys, instead of going to league, the last game of the month they head to Wet Ones, and it really turns into a shit show.”
Terry raised the corners of his mouth, “I’ll think about it.”
“What’s there to think about? I’ll tell him you’re coming. You need a beer? Stern’s buyin’!” Mike rested the tongs on a side table, walking away before Terry responded. He stood alone, surveying the group from Stern’s 6-foot-high deck.
Lisa stood with the circle of women in the middle of the back yard, laughing and telling the same stories from the last couples night, or at least updated versions of the same stories. Terry watched, imagining a group of school girls giggling about boys on the playground.
“Bang! BANG!” Something poked him in the thigh from behind. He turned to see Stern’s 4 year old daughter, her straight blonde hair snarled around her neck, pointing a red air gun at his crotch.
“That thing better not be loaded, little girl.” He couldn’t remember her name, but she knew she was Little Girl.
“You’re dead! I killed you!” Little Girl kept the gun aimed at Terry’s manhood. “You have to fall on the ground!”
“No, I don’t. Go play.” He took a long drink and polished off his third beer.
“I said ‘You’re dead!’ Get down on the ground!” She swatted at him with the gun, skimming the front of his jeans.
“Hey!” Terry knew if he hit Little Girl, she would make a scene and Lisa would take it personally in her state. Instead, he grabbed the red gun and tossed it over the fence, and in his most imposing voice said “You don’t do that, Little Girl!”
Little Girl stared at him, furiously scrunching her eyebrows together. “You- are- MEAN!” Little Girl swatted at him with both hands.
Terry caught her arms, picked her up at the wrists, and set her down in front of the back door. “That’s enough of you.”