A Shoe For a Shoe

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
The Tiger in The Box

Across the restaurant, which is not a huge coincidence because like I'm so sure the Skee-Ball Museum is the center of a really thriving cultural oasis, Doug still has not eaten. He tries to order either the Tilapia Torpedos or the Meat-Lovers Moose Tracks ("entrée size, not the app") but Ignacio says he's still not allowed to eat. The intensely weird waitress speaks up, suddenly: "I tried the one where you only eat cotton balls soaked in gelatin. I lost six pounds but it killed the fetus. Coffee?" Ignacio orders his coffee white, Shane black; Shane laughs at him for it, begging for approval. Of all the dads on this show, Ignacio always looked the most like Judah.

Nancy still has bloody nose-blood on her face, so think about that as she beats nominally on Cesar and, having made sure there's no Shane in his trunk, trying to get Shane on the phone. Of course Cesar answers Shane's phone -- "What is up," he moans -- and when she demands it he throws it away across the floor. "That was bratty," she grumbles, and when her back is turned Cesar pulls out a quarter. Luckily Nance notices, otherwise she'd have a skee-ball upside the head. She drops the quarter into the machine and it lights up: "You are a champion!" It would be sort of ironic; skee-balls and croquet balls are essentially the same thing.

Nancy doesn't even have time to admire Cesar's ingenuity; she calls Esteban from his phone and her face lights up when he finally answers. It's pretty sad; he hangs up on her immediately, which is worse. "How did that go?" asks Cesar, loving every second. How did it go? Something died. Something broke, inside her, like a little machine or an apparatus that always knew where he was and what he was doing, even when the where and what were just "far south" and "missing me." He was like the cat in the box, neither alive nor dead, which is how she gets to keep them, both at once. And when he hung up that little thing cracked, inside her, like a phone slammed down, like a door slamming shut. That's how it fucking went, dude: I lost another husband.

Doug is eating his napkin, and doesn't even bother to lie convincingly about it. Ignacio offers him some artificial sweetener, but of course Doug's not having it: "It's rat cancer! It'll turn your bladder into a squishy pit and it'll slowly and painfully slide out your shit shaft!" Ignacio takes it away, and tells him he can go to the bathroom.

Ignacio swears Shane's death isn't really up to him; he calls him pequeño diablo, lovingly, and asks about the efficacy of a croquet mallet. As talk turns to one's first kill -- Ignacio's was stepdad Ramon, a miscommunication regarding cookies that ended with his pocketknife, his navaja -- Doug stands outside the restaurant, ready to get away, and then has some kind of stupid discussion with God about why and how he's still alive, and dejectedly comes back in, cramming rat cancer down his neck.

"You ever close your eyes and see her face staring back at you?" asks Ignacio, and remembers how much he's always loved the little devil: "Only when I jerk off."

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