Leece and I parked our bikes at the little fencepost out in front of The Holy Land Quickee's. We were hot and sweaty from a good ride out on 266 to Rocky Vegas and back.
DinkyDau Billy's Niota was solidly locked to the fencepost. Billy is not known for his high trust levels.
"I see Billy has not changed regarding trusting people," I commented to Leece as we went inside.
"I don't blame him. If I had a Niota I'd lock it every time I so much as turned my back on it," she replied.
Good point. I shuddered to think of a Niota meeting an untimely end in one of the Flores kids' chop shops.
DinkyDau Billy was sitting at one of the tables, snuffling some kind of Juan Diego dish and slurping a diet Dr. Pepper. It was not a pleasant sight, and we noticed that he had the table to himself, though the store was packed with the usual morning crowd.
"Hey hey!" he cheerfully acknowledged our presence, "howzit doon?"
"We're doon fine, Billy," Leece replied, equally cheerfully. "Give us a minute and we'll join you." That got some raised eyebrows from the rest of the crowd. Including me. Leece is quite fastidious and doesn't easily tolerate bad table manners. But Billy has this way of growing on one, and much can be forgiven in such cases.
We plunked our butts down across from Billy, out of range, and sipped our crappacinos. "So what are you up to, Billy?" Leece asked our stalwart.
"I'm checkin' out the terrist link to the aig sitcherashun," he told us, sotto voce.
"Terrorists? Eggs?" I queried.
"Yeah. Yeah. Think about it. Half a billion aigs. Jeez. Half a billion. It's gotta be terrists, destroyin' Ameriker's food production."
"Ameriker?" I asked.
"Scorry. I bin watching John Kennedy's ol' speeches. You know. 'Ameriker.' 'Cuber.' That Harvard thing."
"I see. Makes sense. I guess."
"But Billy ... half a billion eggs is a drop in the bucket," Leece protested, "it makes no sense to blame it on terrorists. I think it is what it is, dirty chicken feed and dirty birds and a crook in charge of it all."
"Kind of like Congress," said Tookie, sliding in next to 'Uncle' Billy, "though you can add 'chicken shi ...', uh, chicken crap, to that."
Everyone snickered. Even the eavesdroppers.
"Do you know what the country's egg production is?" Leece asked, "because a half billion eggs is less than two eggs per person. Think of how many eggs are snuffled daily, just in breakfasts and salads, let alone by commercial bakers and other egg product users. Half a billion eggs is a drop in the bucket."
"I have it on good authority," interjected Tookie, referencing her Blackberry, "that we produced over 82 billion eggs in 1999. That's from the 2000 Census data."
"The Census counts eggs?" Billy asked, somewhat incredulously.
"And chickens - after they are hatched, though that may have changed with the 2010 census," confided TootSweet, "it's the Chikaga Way, you see."
"So this is no big deal?" Billy asked, somewhat crestfallen to see his latest conspiracy theory shot down.
"It is if you're the one crapping your brains out," Leece suggested, "but in the overall scheme of things, no, I wouldn't say that it is. But it does kind of emphasize a growing interest in knowing from whence your food comes, don't you think?"
"You think we should be buying local aigs?" he asked.
"Well ... if you did, you'd know who to sue, wouldn't you?" Tookie pointed out.
"When Americans started shopping in supermarkets, which is really only in the last few decades, one of the selling points was the reliability of the big producers, opposed to the grubby little local farms and such," Leece explained, "and in that process, local little farms became ... yucky. You know. Meat isn't shrink-wrapped, veggies with blemishes, that sort of thing."
"Yeah. Yeah. But have you tried one a them bell peppers from Walmart lately? Them Messican greenhouse things? They don't even taste like peppers. They taste like water."
"Egg-zackly," agreed TootSweet, "and even worse, their termaters. More water than termater, and it ain't termater juice, either."
"Let's not forget the holes in the Italian bread, or the lack of roast chickens at 5 PM," pointed out Leece.
"Yeah. Yeah. Who needs terrists when we have corporate Ameriker bein' 'responsive' to the customer?" asked Billy.
"Egg-zackly," agreed Tookie, reaching over and spearing some of DinkyDau Billy's breakfast burrito with a plastic fork.
"That looks good," observed Leece. I took the hint, and got us some plastic forks.
DinkyDau Billy ordered another burrito.