Big Danny was sort of a leader when it came to The Café. He always reminded me of a mafia don, slumped forward at the bar with his fat head and neck. Everybody knew Big Danny. He was always there. He always seemed cool. He was affable. He was friendly but never silly. But, when people got out of line, it usually went through Big Danny, who wasn’t even the owner, whether a guy ought to be welcomed back or not.
Anybody coming in always acknowledged Big Danny. And if he wasn’t in, it was common practice to ask where he was at.
It was NFL Sunday. The bar always cooked and served free food on NFL Sunday. All they asked was for a person to be drinking and drop a little bit in the money jar for next week if they were gonna eat.
That Sunday they were frying pork chops. Nearly everybody in the bar got themselves at least one pork chop.
Big Danny was in the bar that Sunday. He told everybody to save their pork chop bones for his dog.
So word went around to everybody in there and to anybody that came in later, “Save the bones for Big Danny’s dog.”
Everybody knew Big Danny had a dog named Little Dudley.
Everybody put their bones on a plate for Little Dudley.
It was late when I left. The game had ended a while ago. Big Danny had just slid all those bones off the plate and into a big plastic sack. Big Danny had left just before me.
I saw Big Danny’s car. I saw Big Danny slumped over in the seat. He was too occupied to notice me getting in my car. He didn’t see me sitting in my car watching for a while. He didn’t see me seeing him sit up in his seat sucking on those pork chop bones.
I waited for Big Danny to finish and pull out of the lot. I didn’t want him to know I’d been there watching. I drove home thinking that was strange, knowing there were still a few pork chops swimming in gravy in the warmer before we left.
Then I understood how going home to Little Dudley might not have been enough for Big Danny.