Austin’s Barbecue, Open 24 Hours
We stopped at a phone booth outside Austin’s Barbecue. I thought about calling mom–I could pretty much reach her anywhere just by dialing her special number–Ma Bell was everywhere, don’t you know–yet I could almost hear her saying, “What the heck are you doing outta school?” Besides, I didn’t have a dime to my name.
Or in my pocket.
Joe tried whacking the phone upside the head, trying to get it to cough up some more coins. It rattled in protest.
After that Joe took the handset and flipped the receiver. He had to use an overturned apple crate to reach the receiver. Then he held the earpiece piece up so we could both listen, side by side, almost ear to ear. His breath smelled like peppermint.
“Yeah, could you give me Austin’s Barbecue? No, I ain’t got ten cents. Make it collect.” For some reason, the idiot at the other end of the line accepted the call.
“Hello?” said a gruff voice.
“Yeah,” Joe said. “I see that you guys got curb service. Well, I’m at the curb, and I want some service.” We hung up the phone, snickering at our genius.
A minute later, a burly guy in a dirty apron came charging out of the restaurant, waving something that looked like a dirty spatula.
We cut and ran.