"Who was that on the phone?" Sheryl asks her husband while he chews on a toothpick and looks irritated.
"My dumbass drug-dealing cousin Tony," Frank says and grunts. "He wants to get that dumbass techno-blues band I was dumb enough to play bass for back together. He's fixing up some sketchy half-douche with a prosthetic robot arm and programming the arm to play keyboards. Fucking Emerson, Douche, and Palmer is hitting the fucking big time."
"Mondays," Sheryl says and laughs bitterly to herself.
"You know the only good thing about Monday nights?" Frank asks his wife. "They're not Monday mornings."
He grunts again and stares at his knuckle. It's red and he doesn't know why, though it's been red since 1987.
"You want to fuck?" he asks his wife.
"No," she says.
"Good," he says back. The phone rings again and he throws his toothpick at the wall. It lands on the couch. He leaves it there.
"Hello," he barks. "Make it worth my while."
"Hi Frank," his aunt says reticently. "It's Marnie. Your uncle has some really bad ideas. I want you to come over here and talk him out of them."
"Shit on my balls," Frank says and groans for an incredibly long time. "You're worried rich uncle Gene is going to squander a few of your million doll-hairs and you want poor working man Frank to come over and put the kibosh on it. Nutsack!"
"Awww Frank," Marnie says. "Come on. Frank. Come on. Awww. Frank. Come on. Come on. Come on. Aww. Come on, Frank."
"Fuck you and fuck John Wayne."
"You don't mean it, Frank. I'll make you some strawberry rhubarb pie and give you all the gin you can drink and you and Gene can have a nice talk about his incredibly stupid ideas and how bad they are and then you guys can play a little ping pong. Wadda ya say?"
"It beats not fucking my wife. I'll be over when I feel like it. Goodbye and piss on it!" Frank slams the phone down and bites a loose piece of skin on his right thumb.
"Gonna go over and keep them in gold-plated televisions for another month?" Sheryl says, laughing. "Have fun." She picks up their cat, Rufus, and walks back to the bedroom. Frank hears the radio go on and he puts his boots on, swearing.
"Frank!" his uncle greets him warmly and hands him a bottle of gin. "Your aunt has the idea that I'm not onto something. Bullshit! Let me turn you on to more of my ever-illuminating brilliance! The ideas flow like wine, Frankie, when you open the tap and let them flow. People have heart attacks from not expressing their ideas, Frank! Real live heart attacks!"
"I have no idea what the fuck you're talking about," Frank says.
"I've got some beverage ideas, and also some television ideas that I think could make some money."
"One word, Frankie. Race."
"Race, man. Marketers are looking at this world as one big multicultural awareness-raising melting pot. But you have to market to race, man. Niche marketing."
"Not sure where you're going with this one, but I'm already leaning toward Aunt Marnie's side."
"Hear me out, Frank. Check out my beverage ideas. First up, ReJEWvenation: The Sports Drink Too Intense for Goys! What do you think?"
"Uh. I'm going to have more of this gin while you keep talking," Frank says.
"Okay. Also, Halal-cohol: The Non-Alcoholic Beer for Muslims. All the party, none of the guilt. Eh? Eh?"
"What else you got?" Frank says.
"Oh, I got. I got. Check this one out. African-American History Month: The Soft Drink. It's an orange drink, not unlike Sunkist."
"How will you make a profit off a drink only available in February, Uncle Gene?"
"Ever heard of pumpkins, man? Ever buy one of those shits in June?"
Gene snorts disgustedly at Frank's lack of response.
"I can see I'm wasting my breath on the beverage ideas, but let me tell you about my television show. The CW and Bravo are interested. I talked to my buddy Dave at the CW last night, as a matter of fact."
"OK," Frank says, warming to Gene's tone. After all, Gene made most of his money producing Crustville's top-rated sit-com, Whoops, I Fucked Your Niece from 1997 to 2002. "Let's hear what you got."
"Okay?" Gene says. "You know how everybody loves Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? Spin-off time. I got a little variation on that. Black Eye for the White Guy. Heh? Does it smell like a blockbuster hit in here, or am I just inhaling past glories?"
"I don't know," Frank says. "Does anybody still watch that show?"
"Of course they do," Gene says. "But hear me out. What we have are three teams. On each team is a black man and a white man. The white man's ancestors were slaveholders. The black man's ancestors were once slaves for their very partner's ancestors. Get me?"
"Awww fuck," Frank says. "You're a moron."
"This is just the beginning. The black man on the team, once a bell rings, punches the white teammate repeatedly in the face. The first team in which the black guy pummels the white guy until he gets a black eye wins. The black guy will get forty acres and a mule and the white guy wins a trip to Hawaii. Spike Lee is already attached to direct the pilot. This is a winner, Frank."
Frank walks into the kitchen and grabs a slice of rhubarb pie. He eats it and leaves without saying goodbye to his aunt and uncle. He gets in the car and drives past The Place Where No One Is Happy But No One Gets Cut Off. He turns around and drives past it again, slowly. Bertie Hogan, Ass Disagreement's drummer, is sitting on a stool at the center of the bar. Frank parks and sits in his car, the keys in his hand. It wouldn't hurt to jam with them just once, would it?