Big Billy – Put ‘em up

I know I told yis before, my buddy Murph got an awful temper, but the truth is he’s a lot tamer now than he used to be. The other day me and all the fellas are at Horton’s for our morning coffee – me and Murph and Cyril and Timmy and Tommy – and we’re all talkin’ about how the Leafs finally made the playoffs and who’s gonna step up and – THUMP – buddy at the next table knocks his coffee over with his elbow and a bunch of it spilled all over the leg of Murph’s pants.

All of us held our breath. If any of the girls behind the counter seen it, they probably started Big BIllyreachin’ for the phone to call an ambulance for the poor fella since everybody knows Murph’s reputation.

He was a short fella in an orange huntin’ cap. He said he was sorry. We all waited. But Murph just said – That’s all right, bud. Don’t worry about it.

The fella apologized again, and then went up to the counter to get himself another coffee.

Of course, I knew there’s no way that’d go by without somebody sayin’ somethin’. And for some reason, in our group of buddies, it’s always been Cyril that puts a big smirk on and starts ribbin’ Murph about it, which is like takin’ a hockey stick and whackin’ a bear in the face.

Ohhhh, Cyril says. I seen it all now! We must be gettin’ old, because young Murph woulda messed up the way that fella talks!

Who, me? Murph says. (Because, see, one of the funniest things about Murph’s terrible temper is he’ll deny up and down it exists, and the more ya ask him about it, the angrier it makes him.) That was an accident, that’s all. He never meant nothin’ by it.

Holy cripes! he says. Is this the same Murph that pucked a fella in the face at the pizza shop for droppin’ a slice of pepperoni? Not even a slice of pizza, but a slice of pepperoni!

Oh yeah! Timmy said. I forgot about that! What was it you said to the fella?

He says, Cyril said, ‘Throwin’ pizza, are ya? That coulda hit my shoe.’ And he pucked him in the mouth. Buddy’s slice of pepperoni rolls off his slice and lands a foot in front of Murph here – and BANG! G’night, buddy!

Yeah, Murph said. But he had this stupid grin, so he had it comin’.

Or, Cyril says, there was that time right after loonies came out when ya thought poor Jerry down the Legion gave the wrong change back. I gave you a ten! Murph yells at him, and before Jerry can remind him there’s no dollar bills anymore, Murph growls at him, maybe you’d find it easier to deal with a five, and drives five knuckles right into Jerry’s jaw.

Well, Murph said. If somebody’s gonna cheat me on my change, he got it comin’. But when I realized I had all my change, as soon as his lip stopped bleedin’ I bought him a rum and coke.

Fair enough, Cyril said, and everybody was laughin’ Or, remember the time you and Frankie what’s-his-name both ended up at the junkyard lookin’ for the same part at the same time?

Alternator for a ‘78 Mercury, Murph says.

And the two of them end up at the same car and go to take the part off, and Frankie says there’s no way he’s leavin’ without it. And Murph says to him – I’m tellin’ ya, walk away, or I’ll be on you like a wet blanket on a clothespin.

What does that even mean? Tommy says, and we’re all howlin’ we’re laughin’ so hard, but of course, all this talk about havin’ a temper is startin’ to get on Murph’s nerves a little. Ya can tell, because he bangs his fist on the table and says nobody ever had it comin’ more in his life than that guy.

Now look, Murph says, I’ll admit there was a time when we were all just young fellas I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder and I used to get in fights and that. Remember my catch-phrase? “If you’re tryin’ to start somethin’ I’ll finish it.” That was me, he says. I came up with that.

Nobody could help it, we all burst out laughin’, and Murph looked all confused.

I did! he yelled. I remember the first time I used it. It was outside a parish dance on a Friday night I beat up that Mikey fella from Sydney. That was the first time anybody said it, and then everybody copied it after that.

Ohhh! Cyril said. You invented that, eh? I meant to tell yis, I invented “How’s she goin’?” Yeah, that was me. Came up with that walkin’ down the street one day. And “See ya later” that one was me, too. I invented that the first time I went somewhere.

We were all laughin’ so hard – I knew it was just gonna make Murph madder and madder, but we couldn’t help it.

All right now, Murph said to Cyril. Ya made yer point. Now I’m only gonna warn ya once – lay off.

Cyril just laughed harder. Sounds like if I wanna start somethin’ you’ll –

Murph hauled off to puck him as hard as he could in the shoulder, but Cyril knew it was comin’ and leaned out of the way.

WHACK – The buddy with the huntin’ cap was comin’ back with his new coffee and Cyril’s fist hit him right in the crotch.

The poor fella dropped to the floor, grabbin’ himself and moanin’, swimmin’ in the puddle of hot coffee he just spilled all over himself.

Oh well, Cyril said and shrugged. Not like he didn’t have it comin’.

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