"Mel's Eats" is the kind of place where the dishes have to be washed in the old horse trough out back because the grease blocks up the trap in the sink. Mel's Famous Salad Dressing alone requires six gallons of lard a week. And every time a customer picks up the bright red phone on the bar, Mel gets a ten percent kickback from Cleveland's leading cardiologist to whose office the hotline is directly wired.

It's a cold, snowy day, so the fireplace is roaring. Grease-smoke long ago clogged the flu so smoke pours out from beneath the stone mantle, clouding the air like an old city bus.

The door opens, admitting a white swirl of cold into the dark-gray smoke. Dick Francis swaggers in, his eyes darting back and forth aggressively, looking for someone. He's wearing his fatigue jacket and combat boots from Vietnam over his T-shirt and jeans, and he's breathing heavily on his knuckles to warm them for action. He spies Dennis Dubois in the corner with a group of friends and calls out to him.

DICK
Hey, Dennis! Where's that chickenshit brother of yours!?

The implicit threat in his voice makes the place go suddenly silent.
DENNIS
Well look who's back from Nam. The big War Hero. Howya doin', Dicky?

DICK
Where is he?

DENNIS
You got a problem with Virgil?

DICK
Don't get in my way, Dennis. This is between me and him.

DENNIS
Maybe I don't know where he is.

VIRGIL
You looking for me?
Dick looks up to see Virgil standing by the bathroom door.
DICK
You shit!
Like a cobra, Dick springs unexpectedly at Virgil, smashing him back against the door. The cheap pine doorframe gives way, sending the two young men crashing into the bathroom.

Dennis and his friends are close behind, hauling Dick off of Virgil, whose head has hit the toilet hard. Dick struggles against his human restraints, trying to get back in the fray, but he is no match for their numbers.

Virgil lifts his face to the door and blood pours from a gash in his lip. He winces in pain as he gingerly reaches into his mouth and pulls out a tooth.

VIRGIL
Shit, Dicky. What'd you do that for?

DICK
For my sister, you asshole.

But that's all he got to say as Deputy Douglas Jones -- who had been watching all this through the bottom of his beer mug -- staggered across the room to glue a .38 Special to Dick's temple and order him to "freeze" (Deputy Jones had been watching too much TV). Dennis moved to help his brother up but the duty-bound deputy called him off, warning him to cease and deshist (his diction was a bit beer-shlogged). To the great amusement of the assembled throng, though barely able to stand upright, the teetering lawman managed to place both Virgil and Dick under arrest for "ashault and dishorderly conduct".