It was late afternoon on the first day of October, and I was sitting on the back porch watching a hellacious thunderstorm build over the Atlantic. The storm was gonna be all over us in a few minutes and I was looking forward it―I do love a rainy night.
My old dog, Yella, was sleeping on the top step, and I was sitting in the rocking chair watching the thunderheads develop and sipping on a Dos Equis beer. There were a dozen or so more beers in the coolerator and Willie Nelson was cranking out “Pancho and Lefty” on the stereo―it was setting out to be one fine Friday night in the low country.
The phone was ringing when I went in the house for a refill, and I made the mistake of looking at the caller ID as I opened the refrigerator door. It was Roy’s cell number. A lot of my worst nightmares have gotten started with a phone call from Roy Dupree. I hadn’t heard from him in a while, so against my better judgment I picked up the phone. “This better be important, Roy―Miss Mississippi’s waiting for me on the back porch.”
“It does sound like you’re havin’ a party, podna, but you’re bull shittin’ about Miss Mississippi―she just happens to be lookin’ across the supper table at me as we speak. How you been doin’?”
When he calls me ‘podna’, I know he wants something. “I’ve had a long week, Roy―what’s the pinch? You didn’t call me up just to shoot the breeze.”
“Fact is, I do need a little help, Pete―some’a that special Pete Slidell brand of help, if you know what I mean.”
I did know what he meant. Roy’s business card identified him as a “Construction Arbitration Specialist. What it doesn’t say is that he’s kind of like a court of last resort for building contractors and homeowners who don’t agree about the way a job is going. When they give up up on getting any satisfaction from lawyers and the court system, they call Roy. He’ll work for either side, and he usually gets the job done. Sometimes he needs my kind of specialized help―I don’t have a business card, but I always get the job done.
“Hang on a minute, Roy.” I put the phone on the counter and opened my beer. Then I turned off the music, went outside and sat down in the rocking chair again. So much for my fine Friday night.
I put the phone to my ear again. “OK man, lay it out for me.”
I’ll tell you some more about this deal later on. Right now if you want to see Willie and Merle doing “Pancho and Lefty”, here’s a link.