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Hearth of Pictdom
Nero the Pict and Cutie Homesteader invited Mister Grey and I for dinner as we wended our way out of the armpit of the leased coast to Pittsburgh. They live in a semi-pleasant area of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It is so nice to be invited to dine by a mated pair of humans who both enjoy your company together.
Nero is quite the cook, having started in the restaurant and bar business when he was a teenager a decade and a half ago. On the dining room table was a note in magic marker on cardboard addressed to Stevedore Jackson. What made me chuckle.
[Editor, please include picture.]
Nero then told me, “I’m kicking your ass out of ketosis, been cooking all day, so don’t even think about saying no. This is your send off into the insanity of the rest of this fucked up year.”
Black eyed peas, the best I ever had, were on the kitchen table.
German potato salad made with tiny new potatoes—actual midgets of their kind—excellent was bowled up on the kitchen table.
Homemade cornbread—oh, hells yeah that shit was good!—waited winking and blowing carbonic kisses at me on the crowded kitchen table. I might have ate half the pan but can’t recall as events will explain.
Smoked baby back ribs—eaten blasphemously with a fork by this woke devil—again, the best I ever had, waited on the kitchen counter.
Pulled pork—the best I ever had—was heaped on a skillet on the stove.
What a feast, two plates and I gained five pounds with some help from Cutie’s peach cobbler. Seriously, I weighed 178 when I left Baltimore and 184 when I hit Mister Grey’s bunker 30 hours later. Look, 2 + 4 = 5, alright.
Speaking of cute, she smiled above a dress of dark flowers below a head of sunshine hair…I behaved myself and didn’t notice a single curve—quite well my friend has done for his hoodrat self up in those green hills of Pensy.
We dined in the backyard under Jupiter and the moon.
There was beer—drank that—light beer of course, until that ran out and I drank the other stuff with some help from Mister Grey.
Fine scotch was brought out and we each had a shot and Nero wisely put that stuff away.
Yes, there was a bottle—a handle without a handle—of half-drunk Puerto Rican rum on the table which I recall reaching for while hopefully not retailing a tale of misadventure that Cutie had already heard…
Cutie warned that the sun was near to rising, that pale devil kind should not await such an hour, 4:30 in the dark it was, and Nero ushered me to the spare room as Mister Grey lay on the couch.
The next morning—well, it was 11:55 the same morning—I wokeded up without a hangover, thanks to Stevedore’s magic powers I assume, and checked to see if there were any messages on my phone.
What phone, negro!
My Obama flip-phone, the black one, of course!
I crept downstairs where Mister Grey was astir on the couch and to the kitchen. There, peering out the back window I could see the phone, among a collection of empty beer cans and an empty half gallon of rum.
Soon Nero, King of Pennsylvania Pictdom, stood over my shoulder and said, “Is everything alright?”
I said, “Yeah, it’s just I feel bad for leaving your rum out there. Looks like some Puerto Rican jumped the fence and drank it all up.”
“Indeed,” intoned the voice of the disposed monarch, “however, note that he left that piece-of-shit phone alone!”
“Dude,” as I failed to recall a couple hours last night, “I didn’t get out of line or anything last night,” I asked the bartender of yore.
“Bro,” he said, “you were who you are and we had a great time.”
Thanks, Nero and Cutie, when we got to Pittsburgh, two days later, Rick, shredded in his wife beater, a parrot named Ripley on his shoulder, patted my just-won gut and snickered, “Don’t worry man—we can fix that.” 
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Don QuotaysNov 9, 2020

There's nothing like real food, cooked fresh by one who knows how.
responds:Nov 9, 2020

That was literally the best meal I ever had.
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