Here’s the deal, man, said Timmy Kelly.
Gino looked up from lacing his black high top Converse sneakers, having trouble reaching the laces over the bulging expanse of his belly that heaved from the minor exertion.
You sound like Joe Biden, he said.
Timmy Kelly did a jaunty Irish jig.
Exactly, he said.
Gino grinned his big fat grin that got him all the girls in high school when he weighed 100 pounds less and his face didn’t look like a doughy deep-fried Italian pizza fritta.
For whatever reason, maybe because each man thought he might get interviewed on national television, each morning since Election Day Timmy Kelly picked up his buddy Gino Maraschino and the two men drove the half-hour from their Minooka section of Scranton neighborhood through limited city traffic, singing along to their favorite best of Bon Jovi CD to walk for 15 minutes at the Green Ridge Little League field where Joe Biden played baseball as a kid.
News reporters had been flocking to the field for months to do flat color pieces about Biden’s flat childhood. Since the election, national and even international media competed to interview anybody from dull college students to creepy retired priests. Even guys stooping to pick up dog shit got interviewed on CNN.
Timmy and Gino knew each other since childhood sledding days but weren’t close. They played varsity football together at Scranton High School and got along well enough over beers and subsequent decades to be willing to share five minutes of fame if they got lucky and stumbled across a television crew from Sweden.
Timmy Kelly looked Gino in the eye.
Scranton voted for Biden because we want something, he said, a return on our investment. Little things, like private White House tours, selfies with Joe in the Oval office and low-level government jobs for worthless kids.
What do you want, Timmy?
I want Biden to endorse my candidacy for mayor.
Go on, he won’t do that.
He’ll have to, Kelly said.
Simple, I’m from Scranton.
So is your opponent, Gino said.
Yeah, but she married into the city. She’s from Oregon. Waving around that Harvard business degree and rubbing our noses in her poison ivy league education like she’s Caroline Kennedy.
She’s also the incumbent mayor, Timmy.
What’s incumbent mean?
For now she is, Kelly said.
You got a campaign slogan yet?
Timmy Kelly got so excited he stammered.
I… I… I sound like Joe Biden, he said.
Tell me, Gino said.
Scranton Lives Matter!
Now Timmy Kelly rose to full height.
You know what else I got?
Don’t tell me, Gino said.
I’m a Joe Biden impersonator.
You’re shitting me.
My first appearance is online Sunday. I’m Zooming a stand-up show as a fundraiser for the inauguration.
The Biden transition team hasn’t announced details about the inauguration, Gino said.
You know me, Timmy said. One step ahead of everybody.
The leader of the band, Gino said.
I got front row VIP swearing-in tickets to give away, too.
Where’d you get tickets?
I designed them on the computer last night.
How many you make?
I heard on the news that even though Joe and Kamala will be sworn into office on the steps of the Capitol, the inauguration planners want Americans to stay home, Gino said.
Tell that to the Green Ridge moochers.
You don’t even look like Joe Biden, Gino said.
Timmy pulled a pair of aviator shades from his pocket and slid the frames over his ears.
I been putting the whitener on my teeth so they’re bright as headlights. I bought a gray wig at my sister’s beauty parlor that flips up in the back like Joe Biden’s hair. I’ll keep repeating here’s the deal and look, man. I’ll repeat some of his dumbest quotes, like the one about not being able to go into a convenience store for coffee unless you got an Indian accent. I’ll say it in an Indian accent, too, like them call center scammers from Bangladesh who call you at the house.
Gino seemed concerned.
What if people drive all the way down to Washington for the swearing in and can’t get in?
I’ll tell them Joe called me personally and asked me to apologize for him. I’ll blame the Secret Service. Say they haven’t been right since Trump gave them the COVID. Then I’ll drop the bomb.
I’ll tell them Joe’s coming back to town for an invitation-only post-inaugural ball at the Cultural Center.
You got invitations for that, too?
Soon as I get the printer working again, I will.
You’ll be as famous as them Elvis impersonators in Vegas, Gino said.
Remember what Joe told Barack when Obamacare passed?
Gino drew a blank.
This is a big fucking deal, Timmy said.