The first nine chapters of The Regular Guys are free. Enjoy.
Ramada Inn Lounge
A Medium Sized Town In the Midwest
At the Ramada Inn lounge, depressingly named Impressions or Reflections or some such nonsense, Lenny and Larry took the stage, separately, as scheduled. Neither could remember the name of whatever it was they were appearing at, but that was all right. They had been paid their agreed-upon fee at the appointed time, their rooms were ready, if not completely resplendent, when they arrived, the crowd was pretty good and they were pleased.
After the evening’s labors were completed Ann joined them at the bar. Both Lenny and Larry’s sets were done and the show was over. Nearby members of The Precision Broomstick Brigade were signing autographs.
Ann, no longer in uniform, was wearing a sheer black blouse that had enough flower patterns so that plenty was left to the imagination. She also wore jeans and clogs, not that Lenny noticed – because he didn’t because he was using his imagination while staring at Ann’s rack.
“Hey, you two,” Ann Shelton said. “Thanks for the ticket; you’re both pretty funny. You should be behind bars, so nice to see you when you’re not breaking the law.”
Lenny and Larry both laughed and greeted Ann in the manner prescribed by Anglo-Saxon custom.
“You know,” Ann said. “You two should really perform together. You’d make a nice team.”
Lenny and Larry looked at Officer Ann Shelton as if she had suggested Lenny and Larry enjoy sexual congress with a yak. To really show his surprise, Lenny raised one eyebrow up, which annoyed Larry because he couldn’t do it.
The idea, evidently, had not occurred to them.
“I mean, not that you’re not doing well on your own. Your shtick in the car was really funny though.”
Lenny and Larry again looked at each other. Larry was intrigued by the idea; Lenny was not.
“You gotta be kidding. Work together?” Lenny said.
“Why not?” Larry said.
“Because it’s a stupid idea, that’s why. Nobody wants to see two comedians at the same time.”
“Well, it’s not as if the old Ramada Inn here isn’t great,” Ann said. “We all know it is, but, you know, it isn’t going to be confused with the Improv.”
Lenny nodded, as if she was stating the obvious, and surveyed the room around him; typical small-town stuff.
“Stick with me baby, and someday all this will be yours,” he said, trying, and succeeding to some degree, to sound like Humphrey Bogart.
“Well, heck, even if you don’t, you’re still comedians hitting the road, right out there on the edge, especially at 92 miles per hour.”
“Actually, we’re not really edgy people,” Lenny said.
“No,” Larry confirmed. “We’re just regular guys.”
Ann laughed, held her arms out to her side and looked at them expectantly, as if she was expecting a light bulb to go off.
It never did.
“Are you guys dense? There’s your name!”
“What name?” Lenny asked.
“Your stage name, silly: The Regular Guys.”
Lenny and Larry were driving home after their gig. Larry had brought up Ann Shelton’s idea about working together.
“It’ll never work,” Lenny said.
“Why not?” Larry asked.
“Come on, how many comedy teams are there nowadays?”
“I dunno. Why does that matter?”
“Because,” Lenny said, as if that settled it.
“Oh, well, I guess that’s it then.”
Neither man said anything for a minute or so.
“Look, it doesn’t really make sense,” Lenny said.
“Lenny, we’re on the same bill as the Precision Broom Squadron.”
“Brigade. They’re the Precision Broom Brigade.”
“Oh sorry,” Larry said out of the habit all who are raised Lutheran have of apologizing incessantly. Then he realized what he apologized for.
“Blow me. My point is, we’re both working regularly, but gee whiz, when you follow the Precision Broom Platoon….”
“Brigade; they’re a brigade! And I am following them. When I’m opening for them, then I’ve got problems.”
Larry chuckled and never did finish the sentence he had started.
Lenny had to acknowledge the basic truth of that unfinished statement, however. Though he did work clubs in big cities from time to time, there were enough county fairs and small-town gigs sprinkled in to remind him The Tonight Show wasn’t on the horizon. Lenny was beginning to recognize a career that wasn’t going anywhere when he saw one.
He sighed audibly.
“You think we’d be good together?”
Larry shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. I think we should try it out, just for funsies.”
“Just for funsies? You’d make a major career decision just for funsies?”
“Sure,” Larry said dismissively. “What the hell. You’ve gotta roll the dice sometimes.”
“What the hell!!!??? We’re talking about working together based on ‘what the hell’? No! We’re not talking about it; you’re talking about it. I’m ignoring it! In fact, I’m creating a force field to block out this nonsense.”
Lenny started singing the chorus from Achy Breaky Heart. Larry covered his head in his hands as if he were being assaulted by pepper spray, which aurally speaking, he was. This continued on for a few seconds, after which Lenny shut down his force field. A little later he pulled off the highway to get some gas. Larry joined him in line in the mini-mart.
“Lenny, lighten up,” Larry said at the cash register. “It’s only our careers. If it doesn’t work you can always hook up with the Precision Broom Corps.”
“For the last time,” Lenny said, doing a really good job of pretending to be angry. “They are a brigade. A brigade.”
Larry laughed. As they walked back to the car he was thinking they’d be pretty funny together. Lenny, in a revelation on par with the conversion of St. Paul, was starting to think so too.
“Well, give it some thought,” Larry said as they started the car back up and continued home. “We don’t have to decide anything right now.”
The two drove in silence for a while.
“On the other hand,” Lenny said. “Nothing else I’ve tried so far has worked. What do we have to lose?”
“That’s the spirit!” Larry said. “A positive attitude is half the battle.”
“You’ve actually thought about this before?”
“Not until Ann mentioned it. It seems pretty logical though.”
“What if I was a safe driver and we never met Ann?”
“It would’ve come to one of us eventually, probably when you started opening for the Precision Broom Outfit…”
“Dammit, they’re a brigade! A brigade!” Lenny said smiling.
“…instead of following them. Then you’d be at rock bottom and ready to give anything a try.”
“Well, this ain’t rock bottom. I don’t think I’ve actually been there, but I hardly think this is it.”
“We could try it once or twice. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Who knows where it will take us?”