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hey cocker.

hey jack.

what can i get you?

pastrami, hoagie roll, provolone.

what kind of soup you want with that?

no soup today, but thank you.

hell with you! go to the back of the line. (then to the decrepitly old lawyer standing behind me) what can i get you young man?

this is how the lion-share of my transactions began at two cents plain, governed by saint louis' very own soup natzi. when i worked downtown, i ate there a minimum of once a week. this dark and quaint eatery is the last surviving business from saint louis' legendary gas light district which today is one of the most desiccated regions of an already blight-ridden landscape.

a few years into going to jack, seeing my insatiability for his product, he said he could sell me the pastrami and i could make it at home. when i declined saying nothing tastes as good at home, he told me the secret of preparing it, asserting that i wouldn't know the difference. he was deadly right, except missing was an old pissy guy lording over your dinner table berating you and yours while you ate.

bookguy enjoyed the pastrami, he is in fact who introduced me to it, but stopped going because jack was too sour even for him. if you've as much as brushed against bookguy on a crowded sidewalk you'd know just how irascible a human would have to be to make him loose an appetite. just last week a co-worker, guy with intentionally mussed hair, and his girlfriend, girl who dates guy with intentionally mussed hair, and i had lunch. i absorbed a record jack-beating for over-ordering during the lunch rush. back at work i overheard mussed-hair guy telling a co-worker about the verbal slaying, "it was the first time i'd ever seen troy speechless. i didn't think it was possible." it's clear he wasn't around for this conversation.

the point of this quasi-homage is to announce jack's retirement. he's something like 87, looking every year of it, and has decided to unplug the deli slicer for good. for those who know two cents, get there before november first. for those who live within striking distance but haven't been, go there to experience the best pastrami sandwich your palate will ever assess, outside of NYC at least.

for all of his spit and piss, i, like all of his regulars, will surely miss jack carl for he is a symbol of a day many of us only read about. and knowing him as i do, there's part of me that believes when jack goes home he is a kindly old man who dotes on his wife and gardens to relax. but there's the other part of me which is convinced he dissects stray dogs in his basement.

see you jack. i'll miss the high-dollar beat-downs.

OCT2005

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