Beer Bash

To the victor goes the swill.

Buck keeps throwing bottles, sniping at the intruders, who repeatedly dart toward the alley, then dart back into the parking lot, cowering beneath the hail of glass. Shithead keeps handing swill to Lars, and Lars keeps stashing it. Two, maybe three minutes later, Bear suddenly snaps at Buck in a slurred voice, "Stop that shit. Work on that other one, bro."

Buck hops out of the dumpster he's in and into the one next to it. Shithead makes a last sift through the first dumpster and then follows suit. While they're mining for swill, Bear steps toward the edge of the alley and crosses his arms like a doorman defying entry. The three men in the parking lot slink forward, their body language acknowledging Bear's alpha-male status.

"Come on, man, we're not looking for a fight; we're looking for a party," says one, coming up close to Bear. He babbles about sharing the wealth and how if he had a bottle he'd share it, and on and on, failing to notice Bear subtly, slowly, shifting his weight, assuming a fighting stance. And then Bear pulls back his right arm and hits the man in front of him in the sternum with a huge open palm that makes a hollow thwap sound, like a steak hurled against a concrete wall. The receiver of the blow appears to leave his feet and fly backward for a step, then he lands, his arms wheeling like a cartoon character struggling for balance, skitters backward about ten feet and collapses. One of his buddies rushes to his aid while the other stands stock still, staring at Bear -- a bad move, because a second later Bear pivots and clocks him with a left cross to the temple that drops victim number two.

Sam Turner

Suddenly feeling gregarious, or simply ready to get his drink on, Bear says to Shithead and Buck, "Fuck it. Let 'em have the rest," and stalks back to the loading dock, tossing "Bring the swill" over his shoulder to Lars.

For all their trouble, Lars, Buck and Shithead get about a quarter-gallon of swill apiece, which they quickly pound. Bear guzzles a full gallon. They are victorious. It is a small and sad victory, perhaps, but in a small and sad way, they have beaten the system: They're getting drunk for free.

The next morning, the roar of fighter jets flying at low altitude in a Fourth of July display jolts Lars and Buck from their slumber. Bear and Shithead are nowhere to be seen. Lars gathers all the swill cups and drains the dregs from each into an empty beer bottle, making a little hair of the dog.

"Here's to you, and here's to me, and here's to America," he toasts, then chokes it down.

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