An hour later, Johnny Hazzard has
drunk two pints of beer and nobody has uttered the dreaded
two letters – I and D. In fact, the barman came
to the table, collected the empty glasses, and Johnny
smiled, making eye contact for what felt like eternity
but was probably more like half a second. Without ever
delving into deep and emotional territory, he and Lydia
talk about matters familial. As ever, the beer gives
Johnny a woozy feeling in the head and a leaky feeling
in the bladder. On his third visit to the toilet this
evening, he is engaged in conversation by the man standing
next to him at the urinal. Johnny Hazzard isn’t
so good at peeing when somebody is standing right next
to him, not since seventh grade, in fact. But it’s
even harder when that somebody begins idle chit-chat.
“Bloody jukebox ate my money!” exclaims
the peeing man.
Johnny smiles, hands still on dick, pee still in bladder.
“What song did you want?”
“I have absolutely no idea.”
Johnny now laughs politely. Pee chat sucks, he thinks.
The peeing man finishes his business and goes to wash
“Be warned. That jukebox sucks eggs.”
And he’s off. Johnny Hazzard closes his eyes briefly,
thankful no one is around, ready to pee. Head woozy,
shoulders relaxed, pee on way from bladder to urinal,
so of course Sod’s Law dictates that a burly man
walks in and stands right next to him. Giving up hope,
Johnny dives into the cubicle. The light does not work,
and there is toilet paper all over the floor. Johnny
cannot see where he is peeing, but the noise does not
bode well. He flushes, washes his hands, checks his
clothes and face (fine, just fine) and returns to the
bar. Lydia is engaged in conversation.
“No way, that’s not describing me at all,”
she is saying. A small crowd has gathered around the
older sister. Two guys and two girls, obviously students,
appear animated and happy-faced. Johnny is feeling gently
merry. He doesn’t want any more beer, which is
just as well, as it would probably mean asking at the
bar. That’s a step into a great unknown, and Johnny
isn’t ready to make it a known unknown just yet.
“Ask my brother,” she says.
“Ask me what?” he says, returning to the
“Gung-ho,” says one of the student girls,
lanky and with jet black hair.
“She said gung-ho would be the best way of describing
Texans,” explains Lydia.
“That’s kinda true.”
The students cheer, smiling at Lydia, who can’t
believe her brother has been quite so disloyal.
“No, I mean listen,” starts Johnny, getting
into his stride. “Some Texans are assholes, but
we don’t all go round with guns, you know. Like,
we’re not Republicans. And we’re not cowboys,
before you ask.”
Lydia feels slightly prouder.
“Most of them are though, right?” says one
of the student boys (awkward posture, green T-shirt,
“Yeah, but it’s like he says. Not everyone’s
an asshole. Least not in Austin,” says Lydia.
“Back home, some people call our family commies,”
“How very tolerant,” says the lanky one
with jet black hair.
Lanky jet-black’s friend, equally lanky but with
a short blond bob, joins in:
“Well, I’m not dissing you, but Texas has
the highest death penalty rate in the States, right?
That’s a big deal. And racism….” She’s
“Yeah, but what’s that got to do with us?”
“Well, you’re Texans,” says equally
lanky with a short blonde bob.
“Yeah, we’re Texans. Y’all are English,
should we blame you for the shitty weather?” asks
Johnny, geared up for a fun-fight.
“That’s totally different. How old are you
anyway?” asks lanky jet-black.
“I hate the death penalty, by the way. And what
about the British in America? It was hardly a happy
time,” says Johnny.
The silent-one-until-now speaks up:
“The man is right.”
Johnny Hazzard likes him. He is very, very rarely a
“man” to anybody. The silent one continues
“He’s hardly responsible for all the problems
“I wasn’t blaming you guys, I was just saying,
America needs to take a look at itself. D’you
know what I mean?” says the equally lanky with
short blonde bob.
“I think so too. I’m telling y’all,
we agree on this,” says Lydia.
Johnny is relishing the interaction with people outside
of his family. He has never spoken to non-Americans
about their views on America. Even if this is not precisely
the sort of conversation he is used to having in Austin,
he’s enjoying being on the other side of the fence
“So how long you guys known each other?”
Johnny Hazzard asks his sister.
“I just met them,” she replies.
“Oh. Well, I guess us Texans are kinda friendly,
don’t you think?”
Nobody has an answer to that.
“Can I get you guys a drink?” asks the ill-at-ease
“No, I’m alright, thanks,” says Johnny.
Lydia asks for a cola.
The student group back off slightly. Lydia turns to
“This same shit happened last year. It gets so
“They were okay,” says Johnny, actually
very excited at having met some new faces.
“Yeah, they were okay but…I dunno. People
say things. Things they shouldn’t say.”
“What do you think? They got a problem with us.”