The Babe Martin Lounge was in the Babe Martin Lodge on the south slope of Old Whitecap about five miles north of the county line.
Babe opened it after the doctor told him he couldn’t drink but one beer a day for his health. He figured that if he couldn’t drink he might as well open a bar because nothing made him want to drink less than being around a bunch of drunks. Had he once been like that? It would never happen again, he vowed—except maybe on his birthday.
It helped to have Aloe around, too. She was his first known born by his first real wife, Henrietta. “With her name she’ll always be soothing,” Henrietta had reasoned when naming her. Of course things turned out just the opposite. Aloe was a rough corncob of a girl who smoked like a chimney and did anything she wanted. And she didn’t give a ding-dang-flang what anybody thought. Which was why she was so much fun to be around and had more friends than she knew what to do with. Babe had plumb given up trying to tell her boyfriends apart. They were just “the boyfriend” now. At least until they became the “ex-boyfriend.” He could tell that hangdog look from a mile away. Aloe probably had too much of her old man’s cussedness in her to ever get along with anybody for very long.
A good waitress, though.
Babe’s impersonation of Miss Liberty for the League of Unconcerned Voters (LUV) Fourth of July float was the hit of Nedville’s Independence Day parade. What especially impressed the crowd was Miss Liberty’s penchant for chain smoking Camels before grinding out their butts on the forehead of an ashtray that looked an awful lot like that Osama fella.
Afterwards Babe had planned a special fireworks extravaganza down at the lodge. Too bad he didn’t tell the Fire Department first. He got all his old Viet Nam buddies up there on the roof where he’d assembled a half dozen mortars. As soon as it got dark enough they began lobbing fireworks shells up slope towards the cone of Old Whitecap. Of course they got nowhere near the peak but they did set off a shed of gasoline jelly that Babe had been saving for the Millennium.
The explosion knocked several of the boys off the roof and scorched about half the parking lot. The paint bubbled on one SUV like pork rinds at a beef barbecue. It also set the dumpster on fire. Who would have thought grease could burn like that? A thick meaty smoke enveloped the visitors with a stench that would never wash out of their clothes and caused some of them to shave their heads.
Aloe called the fire department but by the time they got there the fire had burned itself out leaving a pall as thick as anything written by Dickens or Poe.
The insurance company didn’t like it one bit and Babe and his descendants would be in litigation for centuries (an unintended consequence of the repeal of the Death Tax) to get it all cleared up but, dag-nab-it, it was one heck of a Fourth of July!