The friendly neighborhood Mariano’s was the closest thing to his favorite Georgia grocery store that Zeb Martin had found in Chicago. As the end of the autumn passed, the Watson Mill Kid had visited this store on a weekly basis. He’d committed himself to pack on some additional mass to his frame, so he always left with a cart filled to the brim with brown paper bags.
For the first couple of months, any weight was good weight. He could drink beer in the evening and binge on red meat, processed pork, and buttermilk biscuits throughout the day. So long as he continued to push the barbell harder and harder, his arms and chest expanded to keep up with the pudge that ultimately developed around his navel.
But with every bulk must come a cut. After coming home for the new year, Martin’s routine remained the same: head to the grocery store and load up the buggy. Only now the shopping was a little more calculated. Pasta and potatoes were replaced with celery and collard greens. Beef and ham traded for tilapia and tuna fish. Peanut butter and Vienna sausages exchanged for…oh. Those were still there.
“I didn’t think canned pig dicks were part of a well-balanced diet. Let me check the label for you, my lil’ Harley Davidson. My lil’ Johnny Ringo. My lil’ shrimp boat captain.”
The source of the criticism of Zeb’s shopping list was herself seated inside the shopping cart, wading in a pool of various food items. Those familiar with the voluptuous figure resting the center of her nylon-covered ass on a package of low-carb tortillas recognize the woman to be Muriel Puddings. Recently exonerated from charges of vehicular homicide at the Cook County Judicial Center, she had been bunking up with the pride of Comer since her release: whether he liked it or not.
Martin did not seem too disturbed by her presence. In fact, he had a smirk on his face as he watched her examine the cylindrical can for the ingredients. This reaction was not to be expected, especially since they had been at this same Mariano’s the day before.
Yesterday morning, Zeb’s facial expression was not as pleasant. Despite it being America’s most trusted brand, a pipe cover had burst inside his bed and he was unable to stop the leak before it eventually fell into the drainage ditch between Muriel’s legs. The self-proclaimed Insurance General did not seem too concerned with this turn of events. As a matter of fact, she retrieved one of Martin’s t-shirts in an attempt to plug the hole to ensure his seed stayed inside.
The next morning, Martin was up with the rooster. After begging and pleading with Puddings to rush to the pharmacy for the morning after pill, she finally took pity on the situation. Sort of. Muriel agreed to ensure that Zeb wouldn’t be a daddy so long as he did a few favors for her. Yes, those kinds of favors, a few of which were a little outside of the shy Southern boy’s comfort zone.
Needless to say, once the medicine had been swallowed, Martin had Muriel on his back pretending to be a motorcycle. They’d role played that he was a “fuck outlaw” ready to take over Dodge City from Muriel the Sheriff. The weirdest one was her insistence that he “Bubba Gump her tootsies.” But, he did it all in stride. Zeb had been privy to so many strange new experiences in less than a year that being this chubby blond lunatic’s boy toy was tame in comparison.
Heck, he may have even liked her a little bit. What other woman would whisper romances in his ear such as “can I ride in the shopping cart” and “if you let me ride in the shopping cart I will suck your dick behind the Ritz Crackers display”? While he certainly wasn’t going to take her up on the offer, Martin didn’t seem to mind Muriel sprawled out in the buggy, nor was he put off by all of the strange looks that people were giving them. Whether it was her riding in the cart or her crop top sweatshirt that depicted a cartoon penguin waterboarding a polar bear, the stares were irrelevant to him.
No one could ever accuse her of being uncomfortable in her own skin, that’s for sure. It’s likely what he found attractive about her. An idiot’s confidence was still confidence.
He just hoped she wasn’t silently farting all over those wraps.
“Yep, just as I thought,” she insisted, pointing at the tiny print below the Libby’s logo. “Processed swine genitalia. On the bright side, it has two percent of your recommended daily potassium intake. Know what else has two percent of your recommended daily potassium intake?”
“Naw,” Zeb responded. He knew exactly what she was about to say, because she’d been setting him up for it since they’d browsed the first aisle.
“My fricken’ poonanny, that’s what!” Puddings howled with laughter, once again viciously owning poor Martin as if she were competing in the DeNucci Cup. “Oh man, you are tooooooooo easy, bae. But that’s how I like ‘em. By the way, can I ask you a serious question?”
Zeb nodded and gave her a thumbs up from behind, as he was bent down in search of a bag of flaxseed meal. Muriel of course took this opportunity to suck on her index finger, lean over the cart and poke it down the back of his jeans. Martin was caught slightly off guard, but he remained polite despite the playful aggravation. “Yew shore can.”
“Who do you think is sexier? Tom Selleck or John Sektor?”
“Hm,” Zeb pondered. “Last season uh Blue Bloods weren’t too good. And John got him a better mustache. But reckon I gotta go with Magnum P.I. on that ‘un.”
“Good answer. Tom Selleck was a panty-melter in that one old movie, too. What was it called? Smokey and the Bandit?”
“That was Burt Rennilds, Mur’l,” Martin corrected.
“Whatever,” she shrugged. “He can ‘bert’ me anytime.”
“I think he dun passed away, darlin’.”
“Point still stands,” she proclaimed. “Who do you think would win in a fight? John Sektor or Tom Selleck?”
“I got a question fer yew instead. Who you thank wins in a fight ‘tween me and John Sektor?”
“Depends,” Muriel mulled in response. “Is Tom Selleck the referee?”
“Is Tom Selleck in anyone’s corner?”
“Nuh-huh,” Zeb answered. “Tom Selleck ain’t even in the buildin’, let’s say.”
Puddings twirled her locks with her index finger in thought. Yes, the same index finger that she’d just rammed down the Watson Mill Kid’s butt crack.
“The stats on the contest is very interesting from a scientific perspective,” she proclaimed. “On one hand, you have a wily ring veteran who still manages to keep up with the youth of the sport and consistently proves it week after week at the HOW Arena. On the other hand, you are cuter and have way better hair. The lack of Tom Selleck is really making this a hard call. I’ll say you.”
“Uh,” Zeb muttered, a bit confused. “I’d win jus’ cuz my hair’s better?”
“And no Tom Selleck. That’s the most important reason,” she clarified.
Zeb chuckled. “Well, let’s hope he don’t show up Saturdee.”
“Why? Is something going on Saturday?”