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A Wink's As Good As A Nod...

"Don't take a step closer, or I'll jump!" I slurred; pointing at my long time friends Titus Fielding and Bob Lousy. The fire chief and sheriff looked at one another, then back at me standing on the two foot high brick planter wall.

"Rough week for the Rams, Doug?" Lousy smiled at me, then motioned for his two deputies to get the small crowd of neighborhood dwellers to back up; half of whom had their cell phones out to commemorate the event on YouTube. Three kids off to the side began to chant: "Jump, Jump!" I was a little hurt when Titus and Bob joined in.

"Funny..." I stepped off my little ledge, "Where's my couch, dammit!" A cheer went up, and my neighbors began making plans for a barbecue. Bob ran to block my path to the front door. Titus issued orders for his five firemen to go to the store for hotdogs and buns, as well as grabbing a couple of fire extinguishers.

"You don't want to set fire to more furniture, Doug. I mean, what will that solve?" Bob said, a slight plea for reason in his voice. "It's only the first game of the season... So what if the Rams looked a little rough, right? As I recall, bunch of good teams got beat this past weekend?" He was referring to the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots getting whipped by terrible teams - Buffalo and Miami.

I gave his observation a dismissive wave of my hand. "Those were at least close game..." I took the round bottle of Blanton's from under my arm, which I'd been carrying like a football. I pulled the ornate top from the bottle, offering it to Bob, who smiled and shook his head.

"I'm on duty..." He said in an overly loud voice so the small crowd could hear, then he silently mouthed "Later...", and winked at me.

My head wobbled a nod back as I tried to return an understanding wink. My face contorted slightly as winked, causing a few of the people watching to wonder if I was having some kind of stroke? Titus waved off the two paramedics standing near by, who must have thought the same thing. My phone began to make it's chirpy, ringing sound. I dug it out of my pocket as I held up a finger to my friends, "I'll just be a second..." Studying the caller I.D., by moving it alternately closer and away from my face, I smiled at who was calling from the St. Louis area code. I answered it: "Bernie's Brazillian Wax While You Sleep", press #1 to hear our no pictures taken guarantee, or visit our website: "That Ain't No Jungle" .com." I heard a scream, then a "That's sick!" before the line went dead.

Titus and Bob looked at me, then began to laugh. "Don't worry, she'll call back in a minute or two..." I took a swig from the bottle. I spun around when I felt something bumping the back of my leg. It was my neighbor, Mrs. Flannery, and I found out later she'd been kicking me in the calf and shouting for a minute or so before I noticed. "Quit it, you old Bat!"

"...Acting like a damn fool. And look at you!" She wrinkled her already wrinkled nose even more than usual as she point at my Rams t-shirt. "You're covered in orange dust, and there's a piece of chicken stuck in your hair?"

I reached up and searched for the chicken piece. It turned out to be a part of a Buffalo wing. Suddenly hungry, I began to nibble on it. Mrs. Flannery screamed, and began to slow motion run back to her porch. I figured she'd get there sometime before night fall, even though it was only 40 feet away. "Nice as always to see you! You pre-Columbian battle axe!" I pointed the bottle of Blanton's at her, "Don't you ever change, you ice-age sex pot..."

"Burrr-apa!  Burrr-apa!" My friends and I went silent. They studied me for a second, backing away from the fart-esk sound. I made a dismissive wave of my hand, "That's just a ring tone... No, really!" They continued to back up anyway. I answered my phone just as it farted again. "Welcome to the Church of Small Genitalia auto-sign up. Thank you for joining. Just know that guys with little dicks like yours are people too! We'll try to help by signing you up for every Viagra site in the universe! If you've reached this number by error, or are from the Washington D.C. area - work for Lowes - and are in denial, and would like to un-sign up, please press #1..." My phone started beeping furiously, and I could hear a generous smattering of swear words in-between the beeps. The line went dead.

I looked at my friends, then sniffed my phone, "Does anyone else smell egg salad?" They took another step back as they chuckled.

Titus looked at Bob, then down the road at one of his fire trucks - lights and siren going - as it returned from the store. His guys piled off the truck, arms filled with bags filled with hotdogs, buns, chips, and what looked like cases of beer and soda pop. There had been a line of cars behind the fire engine, and they all began to park up and down the block.

Titus smiled, "So why has your little Rams tizzy taken so long to manifest itself this week? I had my guys on stand-by on Sunday afternoon..."

I frowned, then looked down at the ground. "It's with a heavy heart that I announce a great American, Twitter poet, and defensive end - Chris Long - has been grievously injured on the field of battle. I know the entire nation joins me in praying for Chris' speedy recovery..." I glanced around to see if anyone else was joining me in a moment of silence. They were silent, but they were staring at me? "What! Long hasn't missed a game, dammit! 95 straight NFL games, only to be felled by a dastardly assassin bent on destroying the very nature of humanity, inner peace, free market economies, democracy, and my couch!" I moved toward my front door again, but Bob blocked my way for a moment, sighed, then stepped aside.

Titus nodded, then shouted at his firefighters to stop eating all the potato chips, and go inside to retrieve my couch. He told them to put it on the spot in my front yard, that had almost regrown grass after the last couch conflagration. Bob told his deputies to head into my garage, and retrieve the stacks of folding chairs I kept for these - not all that rare - occasions. A furniture store truck pulled up, and as my less-than-a-year old couch cleared the doorway, the delivery guys entered and placed a new couch in my living-room...

As a mix of classic rock, Mariachi music, and Rap filled the night air - along with a diminishing cloud of smoke as my couch burn down - I stood swaying next to my friends. Now out of uniform, Bob, Titus and I passed the bottle of Blanton's back and forth. The slight burnt scent of hotdogs tinged the night, and my neighbors began to drift back to their homes. I nodded at the fire for a second or two, then winked at it. This ritual, or whatever you want to call it without being too mean, had calmed me. I glanced at my two friends alternately, then smiled.

"What's the over-under on the number of couch-burnings this season?" I asked, not really wanting to hear the answer.

Bob looked at Titus, then grinned, "I've got 10 in the pool at the station!"

Titus shook his head, "I'm betting 8... The Rams will sort things out, and surprise a few teams this year."

I glared at Bob for a moment, "Due to your negative attitude," I slurred, "I may refuse to run your re-election campaign!"

Bob smiled, "Did I say 10? I meant 12... no, 14..." Then he asked, "How many more couches do you think will meet an early end this season?"

I shook my head, patted each of my friends on the back, then turned toward my wide open front door. Without saying a word - in a wavering line - I walked into my house, and closed the door...