We were in the maintenance truck driving across town to our next job.
As usual, I was stuck in the backseat, squeezed between Juan and Slim. Slim was puffing on a cigarette, resting a hand on his massive stomach. I had to press against Juan to make room.
Juan looked over at me and grumbled, then squeezed closer to the door.
“Hey,” Slim said, elbowing me. As he talked, putrid smoke breath blew in my face. “I was thinking, I need to have you over to my house for a barbecue sometime.”
“Uh-huh.” I wrinkled my nose, trying to breathe only through my mouth.
“I want to have you and Crew Leader Carl over,” Slim said. “We could grill up some burgers, lounge in the backyard, and drink plenty of beer. Later on, I could even bust out my guitar and jam a little. Maybe my girlfriend could bake a couple of her famous apple pies. It’ll be a blast. What do you think?”
“Um,” I said, trying to sound as noncommittal as possible.
“C’mon, man,” Slim said, hacking on his cigarette. “It’ll just be you and me and Carl and a couple of other people I know. We won’t invite the rest of these dipsticks.”
“Hey.” Juan looked over and frowned. “I’m sitting right here, you know.”
“Good!” Slim said. “Then you’re fully aware that you’re not invited to my barbecue!”
“Poor you,” I said, looking at Juan.