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  #51  
Old 02-16-2017, 11:53 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Head Shot 2

Well, I left Tom John lay all day, and then late that night I took my shovel up the hill and loaded it in his old truck and put Tom in there with it. I drove all the way down to Weller's bridge and crossed the river and up into the heavy woods beyond town. By the light of the moon, I buried him deep in a good spot among the trees and smoothed it over good, so you couldn't tell. You couldn't tell there had been a hole dug at all, let alone a hole with Tom John in it.

That old F-150 looked like hell, but it ran like a clock, and I really hated to go off and leave it. As good a vehicle as my Dodge, for sure, but that's life, I guess. It had to go. I drove five or six miles along the old river road and hid the Ford behind an abandoned wood building; an old church. Even by the moon I could see the faded sign – Special Deliverance Baptist Church.

I stripped down and waded across the river, holding a garbage bag with my clothes and my boots up out of the water, carried the shovel on my shoulder and hiked through the woods back to my place. It was nearly noon by the time I got home. I have to say I really didn't feel anything for Tom, but I was some kind of weary from looking after his dead ass. We do what we have to do, don't we? Well, don't we?

About three weeks later, or not more than a month, and one day an old Toyota Corolla shows up at my house, pulling a two-wheel U Haul trailer, and it ain't nobody but Lily Rose John and all her shit. Me and Lily Rose been knowing one another for a good while – actually we know one another very well. Truth be told, Lily Rose was about eighty-eight percent responsible for the hole in Tom John's head.

Lily Rose is good. I got to give her that. Not world class, or anywhere near it, but a good old country girl, by any reckoning. I was glad to see her, but you need to understand me about all this; no way would I ever kill a man over a woman. But Tom John would. He was in Cutman to kill me, no doubt about that. So it was obviously a kind of self defense, wasn't it? One might say I had hit him back first.

So, I said, “Baby, ain't you pushin' it a little? Tom John has only been gone a month. I hope you don't think you're fooling anybody.”

“Well, Deakin, the rent was past due, and the days of grace was running out, and I didn't have the two hunnert fifty, so I drug up. I didn't do it to fool nobody. It was a economic maneuver.” I helped her unload the little trailer and directly she went into the kitchen and started fixing supper. We never said much about Tom, but I could tell she was pretty sure he was history. Women just know, and Lily Rose didn't grieve all that much that I could see. Don't ask, don't tell. I was her bird in the hand, that's all.

Like night follows day, in less than a week them two deputies in that green and white cruiser came back to see me, and there was another man with them this time. He wasn't in uniform, and he had on a white shirt with a little string tie, held by a Indian medallion of some kind. He had him on a big Stetson hat and cowboy boots with pointed toes. There wasn't any doubt he was there to do the talking, but it took him a while to get around to it. He shook my hand and strolled around a little, looking first at my truck and then at Lily Rose's Toyota. Then he came back to where I was, and he went to rearranging the gravel in my drive with the toe of one boot. It looked like he might by trying to make a star.

Finally, he looked at me and said, “Mr. Deakin, we are still looking for Tom John.”

So I said, “Well, I guess that means you ain't found him yet.”

“No, we aint found him, but we will, if he's anywhere around here. Has he been back to see you?”

“Nope, just that once, like I told the deputies.”

“Do you know where he was going when you last seen him?”

“I believe he lives over around Bonham. Did you look in Bonham?”

“They still ain't seen him over there. Do you know if he has a family in Bonham?”

“Just a wife, far as I know.”

“Well, long as we're on the subject, do you know where Mrs. John is, Mr. Deakin?”

I stretched my neck to see past the corner of the house. “I believe she is in the back yard, right now.” If you remember, I said me and Tom had a couple of common interests. The firewood was one, and Lily Rose was the other.

So, then Deputy Dude made his eyes real big, as if he had just spotted Tom John's ghost. “And what is she doing in your back yard, Mr. Deakin?” He knew where she was at, or he wouldn't be there.

“I think she's plucking a chicken.”

“It ain't been but a few weeks. This don't look real good, does it?”

“Well, I don't mind, and Lily Rose don't mind. You might be the only one that's upset about it.”

He went back to moving the gravel around with his toe, and he can't seem to think of anything to say, so I tried to help him.

“Mr. Deputy, sir, let me explain something to you. In a situation like this one, every day that goes by is an act of love – actually, one or more acts of love per day – that is gone forever. You can't go back to it, and you can't send for it. It's gone. So, me and Lily Rose, we're trying to keep such days to a minimum, and that's it.”

“And what will she do when Tom John comes back? Or is she pretty sure he ain't coming back?”

“You could ask her. Matter of fact, she's got two chickens to pluck. Maybe you could help her with that. Can you pluck a chicken, Mr. Deputy?”

“You better hope to hell I can't, Mr. Deakin.” Me and him was about nose-to-nose by that time. He had that miserable, frustrated look about him like somebody who thinks he knows something, but he don't know it for sure. I can remember my first wife looking that way, now and then.

He wagged his head once or twice and headed back toward the green and white. The two soldiers in uniform hitched up their gun belts and followed him. They got in the front seat, and he got in the back, and they cranked up the car and went to turn in the road, but then I seen the brake lights come on. Deputy Dude opened his door and got out and walked back to me.

“It just may be, Mr. Deakin, that the sheriff will want to speak to you about this matter his own self.”

“Fine, sir, send him out. I will be happy to help him, if I can.” He looked like he might want to say something else, but he didn't. I don't know if he even seen that I hadn't told him no lies. If he was any smarter than the other two, it wasn't by much. "If the sheriff will let me know when he's coming, I will cook up something to eat. Lily Rose ain't so hot around the kitchen, but I can cook."

It's maybe four or five months, now, and the sheriff hasn't come yet. He's smarter than all three of them. That's prolly why he's the sheriff. You think?
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  #52  
Old 02-18-2017, 12:40 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Head Shot 3

I would see them two deputies pass on the state road now and then, when it was their turn to have the squad car, but they never come to my place again. With Tom John gone, I drove over to Bonham one day and made a deal with a man named Pepper for the same down timber that Tom had contracted for. He looked at me kind of funny, as if he might know what had happened to Tom, but he needn't have worried. He was in no danger of losing his wife, who was maybe a hundred pounds bigger than me. And I still had Lily Rose at my place.

Speaking of Lily Rose, now that she had her rent problem worked out she had got pretty independent, and was vexing me right smart. We was still cohabiting on a pretty regular basis, if that word means what I think it does. There wasn't no alfalfa growing under our butts, I can promise you that, but her enthusiasm wasn't near what it used to be. She hadn't never been too big into cooking, and not doing a whole lot of it, and she didn't want to get a job, so Lily Rose really only had one thing going for her.

One hot day when we had had worked up a healthy sweat, and I was getting into a pretty good nap, Lily Rose rolled out and put on her skivvies and cracked her a beer.

“Deakin,” said Lily Rose, “don't you ever get enough?”

“Yes, indeed I do,” I told her without opening my eyes, “I get enough every time.” I didn't hear no reply to that, so I opened my eyes and turned my head to see her. She had her mouth full of Dixie beer and her lower lip stuck out and her eyebrows way up and holding there. It's not a good sign when the lady in your house looks at you that way, but I was still sleepy and off I went. I didn't get to sleep very long.

“You know, Ol' Tom John was not such a bad guy. Maybe I didn't appreciate him when I had him. He wasn't as hard to please as you are.”

“Well, Tom John is gone, so it may be that you didn't please him all that good. I don't guess you ever thought about that, did you?”

Things like we had tend to peter out after a while, so to speak, and after I've had my little nooky it sort of alters my personality for the rest of the day. She had picked a bad time to brace me. “Maybe you'll get lucky,” I told her. “Maybe your husband will stagger into town one day and tell us he had the amnesia, and you and him can go back to Bonham.”

“Yeah, he really might show up again. You never did tell me what happened to him. You're the only one who knows.”

“Well, you never ast me, and it didn't matter, because I couldn't have told you, anyway. The law seems to think I was prolly the last one to see him, but I don't know why. I don't think they even know which day he disappeared. For all they know, they could have been forty-six more people to see him after me.” I could see that it was about time for me to get used to telling lies – not only to Lily Rose, but to anyone else, too.

“You did him in for no good reason, Deakin, and you and I both know it.” I was just before telling her she was right about me having no good reason. She was it. She was the reason Tom John had set up behind my place with his rifle and waited for me to come out of the house. I would not have cracked his coconut just for stealing a few trees off my land.

“And you didn't waste much time packin' up your little shit and comin' to my door with that raggedy Toyota and that little trailer. Well, now you have done wore out your welcome. Here's ten dollars. Go rent that little U Haul buggy again and pack it up and go. I don't need all this grief. Let them deputies follow you a while and leave me alone.” I could fade them sandwiches again if I needed to. I was eating sandwiches before she showed up.

“You're a cold sumbitch, Deakin, to put me out like I wasn't nothing.” So Lily Rose went to cryin', and she said. “Where am I gonna go, Deakin? Where can I go?”

“How about Italy?”

“Italy?! You buyin' my ticket?”

“No, I'm not, but I'll show you which way to go. You go through Halley and then through Pellegrin and then just keep goin' east. That's the way to Italy.” Since my nap was busted, what I really wanted right about then was to go down to the store and have a beer or two, but not with her packin' up. “Don't take nothing that don't belong to you.”

“Well baby boy, I reckon you're thinking this is the end of it – that you can take me in and put me out when it suits you. Well, you cain't. We'll just see.”

“You should have thought some about it before you started runnin' your mouth. Wherever Tom John went he should have brought you with him. And I didn't take you in – I let you in.”

“And it's not 'brought' when you are going away. It's 'took'. He should of took me with him. You're not as smart as you think.”

I had the red ass pretty good by then, and Lily Rose was out, to go wherever. Maybe I was just looking for a reason. I was looking forward to a bit of down time, and maybe going' up the river for a few days to catch some catfish. You don't have to get up in the dark to catch catfish. But it was not to be. The very next day, a big black Buick comes up my road, and I could see a decal on the side. It had to be the high sheriff. The guy driving didn't get out right away; I could see him in there, surveying the terrain through the window and lookin' like he might want to buy the place.

Directly he opened the door and got out, putting on his Stetson hat as he came. He was a right portly guy, no spring chicken, and he moved pretty slow. He had pointed cowboy boots, but they was a lot older than the ones his top deputy had been wearing when he was here. He wore a badge, but as far as I could see he wasn't carrying, which is to say he didn't have no gun on him. There's a bit of a grade from my little road up to my porch, and he was breathin' heavy by the time he made the trip.

“You must be Mr. Deakin,” he began, and I owned up to that by nodding my head just a little bit. “My name is Elray Pfister, and I'm the sheriff of Bignoot County.” I stood my ground and didn't say nothing, and he got tired of waiting on me. “Guess who appeared at my office yesterday afternoon.”

“Maybe you better tell me, so I don't make a bad guess, Sheriff Pfister.”

“It was Lily Rose John, widow of Tom John, from over in Bonham. You know Mrs. John?”

“Sure do. She was living' here with me until yesterday. You called her Tom's widow, so I guess you have found his dead body. Where was it at?”

“No sir, Mr. Deakin, we ain't found him, but we will. I figure he's not far from his truck, and we found that a few days ago. Miz John tells me you done something to Tom John, and that's how come I drove out here today. How about a comment on that, Mr. Deakin?”

“I'm not surprised. When we was fussin' yesterday she accused me of killing ol' Tom, and after all this time, she never said anything about it before. I had just give her her travelin' orders, and I knowed she had a corncob in her ass. I'm not surprised that she showed up at your place, wantin' you to come out here and give me some grief, but I am surprised that you saw fit to do it. So here we are, standing in my yard.”

“Well, a woman scorned and all that, I s'pose, but you and me should have got together about it before now, to be honest. How about if you go ahead and lock up your door and ride down to my office with me?”

“Sheriff, I'm standin' here trying to decide whether to go with you or not. I don't feel no obligation, to be honest. Is Bonham in Bignoot County?”

“Yes it is, so I'm the sheriff over there, too.”

“Well, I'll go if it will help you, but you will have to bring me back home after.”

“Don't start tellin' me what I have to do, Mr. Deakin. Don't be a smartass.”

We stood there for maybe ten seconds, like a couple of dogs getting' ready to go to fist city. I was just before telling this pot-bellied public servant to go piss up a rope, but I held my tongue. “I think I'll take me a ride into town,” I told him. “I'll swing by your office if I have the time, and if you are there, maybe we can have a little talk and get all this worked out.” And I went and locked my door and got in my old truck and cranked it up.

I left the sheriff standing in my yard, and I never looked at him as I went past him and the big car and swung onto the state road. I figured I was winning, so far.
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  #53  
Old 02-19-2017, 12:45 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Head Shot 4

I didn't want to be in a rush to see the sheriff, I wanted to act a little more independent than that. Better he should wait a bit for me to show up than me to wait on him. There is a little store where Prosperity Road hits the highway, and I could see Tig Gentile and another guy sitting on the edge of the porch drinking a beer, so I pulled into the lot and joined them. The porch of the store is just high enough that you can sit on the edge of it and your feet will reach the ground. It's the same porch where Heavy Torres sat drinking beer with some guys about two years ago. Jerry Pine's youngest boy crawled under the porch and screamed and grabbed Heavy by his ankle, causing Heavy to moisten his dungarees so bad he had to go home and change. Since then, we always check under the porch before we sit down.

It was a few minutes until the sheriff's big car went by, and I pretended not to notice, but I wondered why he was so far behind me. Did he hang around my place for some reason after I was gone? I finished my beer and went on into town and stopped by his office. He was in the front waiting for me, and I followed him on back to his office.

“Do you know why you're here, Mr. Deakin?”

“Yep, it's because of something Lily Rose told you yesterday, far as I know.”

“She said you had told her that Tom John was missing because you done him something.”

“Well, Lily Rose and me have been doing him something for a while, sheriff, but that ain't why he's missing. Lily Rose is pissed at me and she lied to you about that. She's been at my place for a few months and not a word ain't been said about Tom John until yesterday. I would never tell her anything such as that. You know that. You don't tell secrets to a woman, and 'specially not to a woman like Lily Rose. The short answer is that I ain't told her nothing about him at all.”

“But you could if you wanted to, couldn't you?”

“Hell no. You and her think you know something about me, but you don't know nothing, either of you, and I'm tired of hearing about it. You sent two yoyos out to ask me about it, and then you sent the two yoyos and a cowboy, and you finally came your own self, all with the same question. Where's Tom John? Well, I'm telling you what I told them. I can't help you and I prolly wouldn't help you if I could. If I had shot him and left him in the road, it might take your crew a week to find him.”

“The more you talk about it, the more I believe you're lying to me about it.”

“Okay.”

“You're pissing me off, Mr. Deakin.”

“Yeah, well that gives you and Lily Rose something else in common. She left my place looking for a place to live, and then come straight to you, trying to stir up something bad for me. You called me in here for nothing because you ain't got nothing. I'm going home.” And that's what I did. What the hell was he expecting?

Well, things went along for a while after I seen the sheriff. I caught some fish and picked up a couple small jobs for my little dozer and twice I took it over to Bonham to do some stuff around my property and to check on the new guy cutting firewood on halves. Maybe you think it must be pretty lonesome around my little place without Lily Rose, but it's not that way at all. My house was gettin' to feel smaller and smaller with the two of us in there, and I never did like to be crowded. My sunny disposition is just now coming back.

I don't know where Lily Rose landed, but it wasn't too far, because she would turn up in Cutman now and then. I won't say I don't care what happened to her, because I do, but I'm glad she's gone. I liked her better when she was living over in Bonham with Tom John and sneaking out to see me once or twice a week. That was what you might call recreational sex, and that's the kind I'm best at. I still miss her for a hour or so, maybe every other day, but I'm glad she's gone. When I spot her little red Toyota in town I make sure to go the other way. No doubt she has located another house and another man. She needs to make her a good connection before she gets much older. She needs to remember that her goods are perishable.
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  #54  
Old 02-20-2017, 01:01 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Head Shot 5

This was all Lily Rose's fault. When me and her was slipping around now and then and shucking our snuggies, I have no doubt that some people knew about it, and likely Tom John was one of 'em. There ain't many secrets in little towns like Bonham and Cutman. I musta figured that if he knew he didn't care. A man can generally find an excuse for what he is doing, but the truth was something else. Looking back, I figure ol' Tom wasn't willing to face me and have a showdown, but that didn't mean he was ignoring me. And when I found that he was doing the same thing to my timber that I was doing to his wife, I had the balls to get mad and cuss him out about it. That part was my fault.

When I seen him cruising my place for no good reason, it came to me that this guy was in town to do me something bad, and I was wise to set the trap for him. I shot him while he was all set up to shoot me. After a few days Lily Rose had reported him missing, but she never asked me if I knew anything about that. He was just gone, and it wasn't until he had been gone so long everybody figured he was dead that my name come up – but only as somebody to look at because I was good friends with his wife.

All that changed when Lily Rose turned up at my place with all her stuff in a little trailer and I let her move in. I should have known better than that. Right away the high sheriff figured that I was his man, but I was just thinking that I had fell into a UHaul full of free sex. At the worst, by that time he should have suspected us jointly. There's a good word.

Now she's gone and the sheriff is on me like white on rice and I'm beginning to wonder if I have done everything I could. I had buried Tom John pretty deep, and even if they found him some day they couldn't prove anything by that. So I took a perfectly good rifle forty miles up the Interstate and threw it into a big river. That made me feel better, until I thought of Tom's old truck. It might have my fingerprints, and I hadn't never thought of that. I had drove it to the old church where I left it, and I tried to remember if there was some kind of cover on the steering wheel or not. The sheriff said they had found it, so it must be in his lot, behind his office. I wondered if I could buy it from the county, or at least get a chance to touch it and sit behind the wheel before anybody could check it out.

So I went down to the lot to have a look, but Tom's old white Ford 150 was nowhere to be seen. The guy in charge of the lot was a deputy about a hundred years old, and I asked him about it and told him I might want to buy it. He said it was already gone, but I could see that. It wasn't that big a lot. He said it had been taken for junk or either the State Police had come and took it. How many reasons could the State Police want it? I could only think of one, and it chilled me pretty good.

I can't do nothing but wait, and that's what I'm doing, but my phone rang just now. You'll never guess who it was. She wants to come and visit for a hour or so. Well, I'm up for that, in a manner of speaking, but she better be traveling light. You know what I mean?


The End
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  #55  
Old 02-21-2017, 02:16 AM
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Default Endings

Yesterday I posted the last of five entries for my short story, Head Shot. I don't know how many readers hung in there for the whole thing, but there were several, at least. It was a typical story, in that the ending was a problem. The action is over – you can't extend it forever – and it is time to put the tale to bed. If you can concoct a finale with good results for your characters, something really satisfying, and a surprise, or maybe even a moral, then your short story might have been a success. If, on the other hand, you want to claim that it's literature, then I think you just stop writing.

When your protagonist (hero) has committed a serious sin, or a crime, then you have to decide whether to let him get away with it or have him caught and punished. In Head Shot, I wimped out and wrote a sort of vanilla ending. Deakin is left worrying and wondering if there will be consequences. I would never let him be punished, or even inconvenienced, for what he was doing with Lily Rose. If they jail folks for that, how many of us would be left to support our local pool rooms, you see what I mean? But bushwhacking the hapless Tom John is another matter. If Deakin is to be held responsible for that, then Sheriff Elray Pfister would be the winner, and I couldn't write that down. So I typed up a cornflakes and milk final entry and went to bed feeling ashamed. Couldn't be helped.

I'm working on another one, which will be called Heist. I think I will start a separate journal for it instead of posting it under the Unpaid Bill heading. It will be longer, and will show up in a few days. Again, my main guy will be a sinner – a thief – and again I will paint myself into a corner, trying to decide what to do about it. This time there will be a real ending of some kind, but I will keep writing without knowing where it is taking me. That's pressure, man, like Christopher Columbus. My world might really be flat, after all. As Jeff Sparks says, you're never lost if you don't know where you're going. That's what makes it fun.
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  #56  
Old 02-21-2017, 09:53 PM
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Default The Twelve Days of Mary Agnes Wallis

Tincup Wallis is the proprietor of Tincup Billiards, but he is other things as well. For one thing he is the husband of Rose of Sharon Wallis, and has been for quite a long time. Even so, Rose of Sharon doesn’t know as much about Tincup as she thinks she does, which is probably just as well, to be honest. He is also the father of Mary Agnes Wallis, who attends Daigleville Junior High and is the star of the school chorus, having a sweet, strong soprano voice. Or at least she used to be the star. Outside of pool, she was Tincup’s favorite topic, but it was usually pretty difficult to start a conversation about the junior high chorus in the poolroom. None of the players knew diddley about it, and cared less.

Mary Agnes had just turned fourteen when the last fall term began. She wasn’t much to look at, but you could say that about a lot of girls in junior high school. You could also say that a lot of the girls in Daigleville Junior High School didn’t care much about Mary Agnes, but that didn’t bother her, as she didn’t care much for them either. Her mother, Rose of Sharon Wallis, had trained her to sort of look down her nose at the other kids because of her Talent, and of course she was not allowed to visit Tincup Billiards. Mary Agnes could sing, and no mistake about that. She could carry a tune and had a fine, strong soprano voice that might rate pretty high on a scale of one to ten. Because of this Talent, she got all the solos whenever the school chorus performed for the public, which was several times every school year. Rita Mae Bonvillain was the next-best singer at the school, and some people rated the two of them a dead heat, but Mary Agnes got all the solos and Rita Mae had to sing in the chorus. Rose of Sharon Wallis chalked it up to the Talent, but some folks suspected it might be because Tincup was sneaking around and holding hands with Terri Babin, the music teacher. This would have come as a shock to Rose of Sharon, who thought her husband spent every evening at Tincup Billiards. Maybe some of you have noticed similar situations in your own neighborhoods.

Anyway, Tincup and Rose of Sharon didn’t think much of one another, if you want to know the truth, but they both liked to talk it up about Mary Agnes. They were sure she would be offered a singing scholarship to one of the state universities. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a singing scholarship, but they had no doubt about it.

Now, as we have all seen, stuff occasionally happens, and it happened last fall between Tincup and Terri Babin. Whatever it was, Terri not only refused to let him hold her hand any more, but threatened to drop a dime on him if he even came near her, which is to say she would call up Rose of Sharon. Tincup took that pretty seriously, as he figured it was a mortal cinch that Rose of Sharon would take a dim view of the whole thing and might even bust a cap or two on him. Just to make it worse, Rita Mae Bonvillain was picked to sing all the solos in the Christmas program at Daigleville Junior High School, and Mary Agnes Wallis was relegated to the chorus. This was a bitter pill to swallow, as there are some fine solo parts to be had in the Twelve Days of Christmas and Rita Mae got them all.

Rose of Sharon took it mighty hard and pushed on Tincup to take the matter before the Principal to remind him of the Talent and all, but Tincup was able to talk her out of it, saying it would be good experience for Mary Agnes to do a hitch in the trenches, so to speak. Tincup was not born yesterday and this was not the right time to make any waves with Ms. Babin.

So Mary Agnes had to stand in the chorus with the troops, but she didn’t go quietly - you can believe that. She didn’t speak to the others unless it was necessary, and pretty soon they noticed that during the rehearsals Mary Agnes was sort of improvising her own lyrics and not singing the songs exactly as they appeared in the song books. You might say it was her little rebellion against having to stand back there with the kids while Rita Mae stood up front in the lights and sang the solos. And that’s how it came about that the rest of the chorus hatched a little plot without letting Mary Agnes know. If you are going to be a snot, it is likely that the others will eventually plot against you, and you might as well look for it. And that's what they did.

Everybody who’s anybody in Daigleville turns out for the Christmas program every year and they packed the auditorium at the Junior High School. Tincup and Rose of Sharon were in front row center, as usual, and Tincup had on his suit, but Mary Agnes was not in her usual spot at the front of the stage. She was back in the shadows with the chorus and behaving herself pretty good, relatively speaking, until the third number, which was the Twelve Days of Christmas. And when Rita Mae sang out ‘Five Golden Rings’ and it was time for the chorus to come in, the other singers all clammed up and let Mary Agnes have her little solo. ‘Four Crawling Turds’ wailed Mary Agnes in her clear, sweet soprano voice that you could hear all the way to Podnuh’s Barbecue and maybe farther. And then the others came back in with the French hens and the turtle doves and the rest of the song.

Well, there was maybe five seconds when Mary Agnes didn’t know what had happened, and then there was about ten seconds when she wasn’t for sure that anything at all had happened, and then there was nearly a month when Mary Agnes and Rose of Sharon knew exactly what had happened but couldn’t do anything about it.

Terri Babin was up at the front of the stage, directing the music, so she had her back to the crowd and it was hard to see her face, but you could see her shoulders shaking and some said there was tears running down her cheeks. A lot of folks said she was crying and a lot of others said she wasn’t, so you can make of that whatever you like. Tincup’s chin dropped down on to his chest and his eyes rolled back in his head and Rose of Sharon began to slide down in her seat until there wasn’t anything to see but her beehive hairdo. She and Mary Agnes didn’t even come back after the intermission, so the chorus was a voice short for the rest of the program. A fine, strong soprano voice.

I would like to tell you that it all worked out for the best, but that would be a blatant lie. Here we are in the last part of January, and Rose of Sharon still hasn’t returned from her mother’s house in Dry Prong. Nobody knows if she’s coming back at all. Mary Agnes seems to be doing okay, and I’ve heard she is even a little bit proud of what she did. I guess she got her solo after all, didn’t she? It will be a long time before they forget Mary Agnes in Daigleville. Rita Mae Bonvillain is now the star of the music program and Terri Babin is reported holding hands with the manager of the paint department at Home Depot. She is not one to abstain very long when it comes to getting her hand held.

Tincup doesn’t talk about anything but pool these days, when he talks at all. Mostly he is in a terrible mood and he stomps around the joint giving dirty looks to anybody who wants one. He needs to get his butt kicked to maybe improve his disposition, but he’s a pretty big guy, and so far there haven’t been any volunteers.

Night before last the place was pretty quiet, with only a couple of tables of young couples playing eight-ball near the front door. This is not to say there was nobody else in there, just that nothing was going on. Tincup was at the back table, practicing long straight-ins by himself. Belly Gautreaux was doing a little rabble-rousing among the customary rabble at the golf table, and finally he offered to bet $5 that nobody had the cojones to stroll back there where Tincup was and whistle the tune from the Twelve Days of Christmas. Whitney Dugas, who should have known better, was finishing up his third or fourth beer and he took the bet. He put on his best stupid grin for the boys and hitched up his pants and walked to the back of the room and stopped by Tincup’s table, but he couldn’t get his whistle going right away, as no one can grin and whistle at the same time. You can try for yourself if you doubt what I am saying. So he stood there for a few seconds, trying to get his instrument primed, and Tincup stopped a shot, right at the end of the backstroke, and stood up and stared down at Whitney without saying a word. You might have thought he was reading Whitney’s mind.

Misty said later that Whitney’s grin froze solid and all the color sort of drained out of his face and down his neck, as if he might have sprung a leak down around his patella or someplace. It didn’t take Tincup long to stare him down and Whitney stumbled past the table and into the men’s room, and none too soon, either. Just when Belly began to worry about whether he should go and find him, Whitney finally came out of the bathroom and walked past Tincup without looking at him and reported back to the golf table and gave Belly a fin from his wallet.

Belly is not really such a bad guy, and he tried to give back the money, but Whitney wouldn’t take it. He said it was the best five dollars he had spent since Christmas, and I’m pretty sure it was.
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  #57  
Old 02-22-2017, 08:26 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Do you know this lady?

Well, I'm so glad I caught you, Elvira, because I know you go to yoga on Tuesdays, but I didn't know what time you get back, and I have something exciting to tell you. I was going to get the oil changed in my car today and I always like to go to the How About a Quickie on Stanford instead of the one on Purcell, because on Stanford there's a really nice man who will check everything on your car. He doesn't mind checking the water and the brakes and the radiator and the tires and everything, and nobody does that any more, now that we all pump our own gas and pay with a card and just go on down the street.

I felt like such a doofus when I went down Fryer and saw that the street was still blocked off and you have to back up and go all the way around by August Street to get to Stanford. It was all torn up the last time I went to get my oil changed, too, and that was a hundred years ago. Aren't they ever going to fix it? It doesn't look like they have touched it since then. I'm glad I don't live on Fryer – don't the Gaudets live in there, somewhere? If they do, I bet Marilee has plenty to say about that mess, and she's not one to bite her tongue for anybody.

Anyway, after I had my Quickie on Stanford – oh boy, how did that sound – I'm not going to ask you if you ever had a quickie, because I'm not going to tell you if I ever had one. If I ever did, it was when Moby Dick was a guppy, and you can imagine about what year that would be. Or even a noonie, you know? But I was determined to go to the big plant sale at the Super Walmart on Cheyenne, and from Stanford you have to make a big loop around the new high school, and it's like maybe a hundred miles. Don't ask me why I still call it the new high school, because Quentin went to high school there and he's grown up now with four kids of his own, and I heard that he may have a grandchild this summer, and everybody wonders who the father is, but nobody wants to ask. A lot of people might say it's the Sprague boy, but I hope it's not. He looks like malnutrition on the hoof. Anyway, there's been two more high schools built since that one, but I can't seem to break the habit. I guess it will always be the new high school to me.

I wanted to pick up some ground cover plants and some other fresh things to do a little bit of landscaping in the side yard and around the bathroom window. When that new development went in last year, on the Garcon property, they put in a new road that goes right by that side of the house. I finally got Clyde to have his old Cutlass Supreme hauled away – he was never going to do anything with it anyway – and the weeds around it had grown up as high as your patootie, and there was also those horrible old banana plants. I was embarrassed to have all those Section 8 people see my side yard in such a mess. I should have gone to the Walmart first and then to have my oil changed, because the good plants were all picked over like you wouldn't believe, and they were marking them down as I got there, but there wasn't anything I wanted. Long trip for nothing.

But here's what I wanted to tell you! From Walmart I drove across Cheyenne to that new little shopping center. I've been wanting to stroll around in that little boutique – I can't seem to rest when there's another boutique to see – but I never even got inside the place! Next door is a donut shop, and right in the window who do you think is sitting at a table and drinking coffee and eating donuts? You'll never guess in a million years, but I knew you would never forgive me if I saw him and didn't tell you, because everybody knows you're his biggest fan in the world. Garth Brooks is sitting right there in the window with two other men, drinking coffee and eating donuts. I recognized him right away. He had on jeans and a western shirt and cowboy boots, but he didn't have the big hat, he was wearing a cap. Elvira, that's only like five minutes from your house, and if you shake your booty over there you might still see him. He's not going to sit there all day waiting for you, though.

Don't thank me, Elvira. It's just one of those things that might come along once in a lifetime, and you don't want to miss it. I won't keep you – you go, girl!
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  #58  
Old 02-28-2017, 12:20 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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I've been away from this journal for several days, fiddling with my short story, Heist. Can't do either, really, when I'm trying to do both. My version of multitasking is eating lunch while reading a novel. I've got one of those wire frames that support the book, leaving both hands to put in my plate. Heist is sort of a frantic thing right now. It's a writing project that I started several years ago, and put on the shelf for lack of an ending. I must be out of my mind to break it out now, still with no ending. Bloop! In the water, pal, sink or swim. One way or another, this will be the end of it.

I hope all of you saw youngstownkid's recent journal post, with the picture of the putting green in his back yard. Man, that's impressive! If he ever decides to sell the place, that green will be worthy thirty large. Imagine such an item behind your maison! That's a French word for house.

I'm enjoying androd's journal, too. It's a running account of his pool adventures, fashioned about the same as mine, in that it's a series of posts under a single journal title, but he has been a more reliable poster than I have in recent days. Not only that, he has started adding a bit of local color and human interest in his entries. Nothing is as ridiculous and fascinating as people, and rod has a good eye and ear. (That's a definite plus when your other parts are not in good order. Trust me.)

YouTube is a great place to spend forty minutes or an evening, or whatever you have to spare. It offers almost anything you can think of, and lots of it. Beyond the thousands of pool matches, one can research or just enjoy his favorite interest. I have spent many hours looking at tiny houses, log cabins, wilderness abodes and emergency shelters – Robinson Crusoe, I believe, was a distant relative of my father's. Or not. Several years ago, I bought a small house in two acres of woods just below Natchez. Big frontage on a fifty-acre pond, too. I let my Medicare supplement insuror bully me into coming back to town. To be honest, I was already too old to live in the woods alone by that time. But it was a nice outing for a couple of years.

I have also watched a thousand rats die in recent weeks. The current air rifles are deadly, and there are a lot of gunners killing rats and photographing the events. They go to farm venues, mostly at night, and with all manner of equipment one can watch the big rats going about their nasty habits and dying from pellets. They reside in those places in unbelievable numbers. Their eyes shine big and white in the green light, and you can see the sight picture on the weapon, and perhaps watch the flight of the pellet. With six rodent corpses already on the ground, they keep coming, and the gunners keep shooting them. Those air rifles are capable of harvesting rabbits and bigger animals, too. Yesterday I saw a feral hog succumb to a good hit in the head. Fantastic. I wasn't kidding about a thousand rats, either.

Also, and often in the UK, they have similar sport with dogs of all kinds. On a farm or in a barnyard of wet mud, they turn out the rats and the dogs, quick as cats, run them down and kill them with a violent shake that breaks their necks. There are breeds of terriers, such as the Plummers, that live to kill rats and are mighty good at it. The most amazing thing, to me, was to see men with shovels in an open field, digging into a mass of earth and decaying grain or hay or feed, and flushing multiple huge rats with a single turn of their shovels. Maybe as many as four or five at a time. One wonders how many of the filthy varmints must live under ground in those places. Some of them are too big for a cat to engage, I'm sure.

Anyway, I hate rats, and if I had such an unlimited source of 'em nearby, I would have one of them varmint guns. YouTube, man, there's nothing like it.
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  #59  
Old 03-04-2017, 05:43 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default People who need people

In the newest upscale shopping center in this town, there's a Whole Foods market. I can't think of it as a grocery store like Walmart – at least not for people in my pay grade – but I go in once in a while for a sandwich, and it is a choice destination for that. Lunch for me is generally the middle of the afternoon, due to the hour of my breakfast, and I customarily find lunch places in a bit of a lull, so to speak.

This week, the guy who made my sandwich was a big guy, tall and heavy, well-groomed and pleasant and professional. During the time I stood at the counter, several people passed and gave him a hello. He had regular customers. We talked as he worked, and he gave me a bit of insight into the world of sandwiches. For example, when he asked if I wanted my sandwich cut in half, he noted that not everyone wanted theirs cut in half. In certain areas of the country, patrons might be greatly offended if you cut their sandwiches in half without asking, he said.

My point is that this is a sandwich guy. This is his trade and he is good at it. Obviously he had practiced it in more than one town and for a considerable period of time. I don't believe he is looking for a better job, unless maybe it might be a better sandwich-making job. He has a good shop in which to work, all the best tools and materials are at hand, and he is in the midst of upscale people to serve and talk with. He has a good job and he likes it.

In case you have not noticed, I sometimes write about the bowling business, and my time as a pinboy during the 1940s. I mentioned not long ago that this also had been a career for some guys in that period; setting pins back in the pits. Not upscale, to be certain, but in its fashion a good way to get along, and a coveted indoor job in the wintertime in those areas where it was cold as hell outdoors. In such bowling establishments, the pinboys had their own area behind the lanes, where they hung out together when they were idle. There would be magazines there, and a radio and a table big enough to play cards, and restroom facilities of some kind. Often there would be one among them who presided there and enforced behavior and housekeeping. It was their private place and they were a kind of fraternity.

By circa 1960, when I became involved in business at the front of the lanes, the pinboys were gone. Automatic pinspotters put them out of business, and one trained pinspotter mechanic could handle all the calls on a great number of lanes. My own experience with those guys was that, as soon as I left the building, they were up front with the customers, and had to be summoned when needed at their jobs. They hated the solitude. And, having financed a three week training period in Shelby, Ohio for them, I couldn't very well run them off and hire another off the street. I sometimes wondered who was running the joint.

Conversely, where I grew up in south Louisiana there are a great many bayous and a great many bridges. As you might expect, there were a lot of bridge tenders; men or women whose task it was to stop road traffic and open the bridges for the various kinds of boats that wanted to pass. Cars and trucks are more easily stopped and started than boats, and the rules were made accordingly. When you have a tugboat and you're pushing eight loaded barges, you really would rather not have to stop and then begin again. The bridge tenders worked in tiny booths, and pressed buttons to lower the traffic barriers and operate the bridge. I could see them in there, when there was nothing to do. If the weather was nice they might leave the booth and stand at the railing and look down into the water. Believe it or not, there are things to see in the bayou and along the banks. Sometimes there would be a fishing line hanging over the edge of the bridge.

One of the older bridges in my neighborhood did not elevate to make room for boats. It was on a pivot, and it swung round to clear the bayou. The bridge tender had to come out of his kiosk and descend almost to water level and push the bridge by hand, trudging along on a curved sort of boardwalk. Then back again when the boat had passed. He might have to do this several times each day, in all kinds of weather. This was not a footbridge, either. Vehicles by the dozens crossed the bayou on it. Bridge tending was a solitary employment, but many people continued in it for years – perhaps for a lifetime. It suited them better than working on a crew of any sort.

There were other occupations with similar work places, and other workers who manned those jobs. When I had met the public, and smiled at it sometimes if I had to, in the bowling business, for as long as I could stand it, I learned to be a sign painter, quite late in life. Technology has done away with sign painters now, and that's sad. The masters of that craft were true artists, and much of their work was solitary. I wish I could have been one of the masters. People who need people, crooned Barbra Streisand, are the luckiest people in the world. I have never been one of those, so I can't say. I like dogs and goats, and private space. In some ways, however, I have been lucky, too.
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Last edited by vapros; 03-05-2017 at 03:16 AM.
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  #60  
Old 03-10-2017, 01:33 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default It's the internet

Hard rain today, and there's water standing in the driveway, so I can't get to my mailbox. No matter, probably about like the stuff already on hand this week. I've got a certificate for $850, to be used only if I buy hearing aids. Silence is better, send me an e mail.

I am promised a warm and fuzzy feeling if I will go 'round to the local Honda dealer. Sounds a little like the beginning of an anesthetic. Masked guys with knives; clerks with calculators. If I would like to buy a new pickup truck, this is the month for it. They will forgive me the first $13,000 of the selling price. I paid less than that for the last pickup truck I bought. Nearly new.

The people at the bank will kick in $200 if I start a new savings account. Sounds like a gift, but I never am very comfortable around the people in banks. No warm and fuzzy feelings in banks. I'm on the mailing list – isn't everybody – from one of the finance companies. On Monday they sent a copy of a check for $1,372.25, with my name on it. Wonder how they came up with that amount. Included in the envelope was their repayment schedule. Credit references permitting, one can borrow a thousand dollars for a year, and repay just $133 each month for twelve months. That's just four cents less than $1600, and we're talking sixty percent! How would you like to have a hundred gee on the street at that rate?

Got a notice from Humana that they were denying a claim for $108 from the optical store at the Ochsner clinic. A couple of days later, my bill from Ochsner advised that someone had paid $78 of that amount, and all they needed from me was the other $30. That's nice. I can do that without calling on the finance company.

For an additional $10 a month I can get a lot more channels on my cable TV. The dish TV folks will give me a free Visa card for $100 if I switch.

Why is all my mail about money? That's a silly question, of course, because everything seems to be about money. Actually, not everything is about money; it just seems that way sometimes. There's the Muslim thing, the black/white thing, the liberal/conservative thing, the mover/shooter thing and the Cubs/Cardinals thing. Those things are about people, and not about money. So, where does that take us?

Well, money plus people equals news, and lies, and that takes us to the internet. Maybe I have found the key to everything. It's the internet, that's the answer. I believe I think better when it's raining. Or not. Mark me, Charlie, I'm going upstairs.
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