Billy Bob Barnett sat hunched at the other end of the counter scoffing fish fry, ‘tatoes and pickle slop and glancing sideways down at me as though his best attempt at masticating toothlessly was a covert operation. He had already called to me across the vast spread of seafoam-green laminex that his name was Billy-Bob (or Billy Boy, or even Beelzebub) in a hokey accent unattributable to any of the known States of America. When he saw that I had got the peach pie it satisfied some obscure point in his mind and so he said, “You’re a nice, big girl.” He had one of those faces with blow-out cheeks that look like they are made of rubber and little sucked-in eyes like raisins withered on the stalk. Dialogue as follows.
Miss Shitsville: Why do you say that?
Billy Bob: Just a beautiful big girl, ain’t yer. You play basketball?
MS: I don’t play basketball. In fact I loathe sports. Why do you think I play basketball?
BB: Well I don’t know. You’re a nice tall girl, thought you might play basketball. Ha ha ha he HAW.
MS: Well you’re a hideous short man, are you a jockey?
Barbra is going back and forth behind the counter to clear up.
Barbra: Oh, that there’s Billy Bob. He’s an ol’ friend o’ mine.
MS [incredulous]: Everybody’s friends in Texas.
Billy Bob: Naw we’re good friends too ain’t we?
He moved his plate down the counter and sat on the stool next to me.
BB: You not from around here?
BB: Me either. Just passing through. That’s my truck out there, the red one. I gotta be in Dallas in a day or two. But I always gotta stop here for a piece a that prize a winning pie. Don’t I, sweetie? [to Barb: she ignores him.] Oh boy. Boy Howdy. Yessir.
A minute passes. Then three minutes more. A blow fly the size of a sultana, drunk or insane, buzzes into my plate & lies dying in the melted ice-cream.
Billy Bob: Ever been in Amarillo before?
BB: Gonna stick around for a while?
BB: Me either. Where you heading?
MS: Oh– South.
BB: You got a car?
BB: Oh? You come by train?
BB: How’d you get here?
Barbra: What d’you think of the pie?
Barbra, smiling like the sunshine: What’d I tell you? Six ribbons at the county fair!
Another minute passes while Bob Wills, the king of Western swing, sings —
Drop us off at Bob's place driver D7 G We can drown our sorrows there A7 Drop us off at Bob's place driver D7 G That's where we can lose our care
BB: You like pie?
MS: Somewhat, Billy Bob. But I can’t honestly say I came to Amarillo knowing it was famed for pie. Do you like pie?
BB: Well I don’t know…
MS: Apple, cherry or peach?
BB: Well I don’t… Apple I guess. Always like apple pie.
MS: You mean you don’t like apricot?
BB: Well I don’t know… Where you from little lady? Not from around here…
MS: That’s for sure.
BB: Pretty girl like you…
MS: Your sycophancy does not endear you to me, Billy Bob.
[Continued next post: Awfully Lonesome and Blue.]
C G Now Bob's is the place where all the silk and lace A7 D7 Mix with those who haven't got a dime G A7 Just drop us off at Bob's place driver D7 G Where we can have a grand ol' time
Photo credits: Library of Congress