My Mind

My Mind
This is my mind

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Look at that bead

“Watch this,” he said picking up the Mason jar.  His hand sprang into action shaking the contents with great vigor.  After some heavy handed shakes he placed the jar on the table in front of Clyde and me.
“See that bead?” Our eyes riveted on the clear liquid inside the Mason jar, we watched thousands of tiny bubbles drift to the top. As they disappeared into the surface I looked up into the face of one of Clyde’s oldest drinking buddies.  He looked at me with a smile wrapped around whiskered jaws expecting a mirrored reflection on mine.  He was disappointed.
“Clyde, would you explain to this boy what that means?” he said sadness dropping over his face.
Clyde picked up the quart jar and shook it again.  The beads reflected the light from the bulb overhead as they drifted once again to the top surface.
“That, nef, is as fine a bead as you will ever get with good moon.”  He unscrewed the cap and poured a generous helping into his glass following it with a splash of grapefruit juice.  His friend reached for the jar before Clyde could replace the cap.
“Lemme show you this,” he said pouring a shallow pool into a saucer.  He took the lighter off his pack of Camels and struck a flame which he touched to the liquid he’d just freed from the jar.  A flame belched forth licking upward in a soft blue fringed with orange.
“That is the mark of an exceptional batch of moon,” he said with glassy eyed pride.  “My buddy back in the woods of Johns Island makes the best corn likker in this county.  Got me a gallon for eight dollars.  That’s a mighty fine price for one-hundred-eighty proof moon.”
“Can’t that stuff make you go blind?” I asked.
“Hell, nef, I’ve been drinking this over here for ages.  Go ahead take a snort.”  He slid the bottle across the table to me.  I looked at it for a minute or two.  It was Christmas.  What’s the harm in a drink with a friend at Christmas.
“Oh, what the hell.” I took the glass offered and slopped some of the clear liquid into it.
“Careful, Clyde’s nephew, that’s some of my finest you’re spilling on the table.  That veneer can only take so much before it buckles.” He cackled.
I raised the glass.
“Mud in yer eye,” I said mimicking my dad’s toast.
“Whoa!  Hold on, nef.”  Clyde grabbed my hand.  “Put some of this grapefruit juice in that glass.  I don’t want you to swallow fire.’
He splashed some of the juice into my glass.  I mixed it by swirling the glass.  When Clyde nodded I raised it to my lips, only hesitating for a second before pouring a healthy portion into my mouth.  The grapefruit juice masked the harsh taste of the high proof beverage.  The lining of my stomach reacted to the high octane fuel by bursting into flame followed by my mouth and throat.  My entire body warmed ten degrees as my eyes began to go wonky.  When I thought my skin would be consumed by the internal pyre the world became a different place.  The concern about blindness was lost in the fuzzy outlines my vision took on.  The school boy worries about grades and exams dissolved in an aura of rose tinted visions.  The uptight boy who had walked into this house disappeared in a flash of smoldering stomach lining.
“Wow!” came exuberantly from my lips.  I could swear smoke burst forth and in that smoky haze a smile, akin to Clyde’s buddy’s, crept across my peach fuzzed face.
“Smooth!” I said echoing the antics of comedians on TV.
Clyde and his friend were laughing with gusto and knee slaps.
“Go ahead.  Fillerup again, Clyde’s nephew.  It’ll put hair on your chest.”
I accepted the offered jar.  Grasping the glass surface emblazoned with Mason at a slant was not as easy this time but I managed while Clyde’s buddy looked on worriedly lest I drop it. 
“Whoa!  That’s almost four fingers in that glass, boy.  It being you first time maybe you should show some moderation.”
“No problem,” I mumbled.  “I can take it.”  I splashed some juice over the corn and swished it. 
“Bottoms up,” I said with a flourish and downed the entire glass.  My eyes became Niagra Falls as the bonfire in my stomach blossomed with the addition of more fuel.  The room took a definite tilt as the flames subsided.  My skin grew warm to the touch as the crimson shade crept over my entire body.  I saw Clyde looking at me as if concerned but I figured it was the new world I was looking at.  Everything took on a warm fuzzy aura.  I could feel the smile arching my cheeks.  The world was warm and cozy here.  Gone was the first impression of seedy surroundings.  Gone was the feeling of shabbiness that had met my eyes.  This guy’s house was a home of Christmas cheer.  He was a gentlemen who just happened to want to sit in his underwear.  So what!  Everything was wonderful.  And the wonder came from that beading, blue flaming liquid held inside that common Mason jar in front of me which I reached for.
“Slow down, cowboy,” said Clyde’s wonderful friend in striped underwear.  “I think Clyde’s got a few more places to go and each one will have Christmas drinks.”
“Oh.  OK,” I said with the grin of an idiot plastered across my face.  I began to lean on the table since the room was tilting more.
“OK.  When we goin’ to th’other houses?” I asked Clyde.
“Lemme finish my cigarette, nef.  We’ve got the rest of the afternoon.”
“Yeah. Afternoon. How ‘bout a cigarette, unk?”
He slid the pack to me. I clutched at it a second too late.  It fell to the floor.  As I reached for it my entire body decided to go with me.  The floor bounced when I hit it with a loud thump.
“I got ‘em!” I said holding up the pack of Marlboros.
Clyde offered his hand.  I grasped it and he yanked me to my feet.  Like a pool of water I oozed back into my chair.  I beat the pack against my hand to force one of the cigarettes out.  Three shot across the table.  My perception being slightly off I grabbed for them as they flew past me.  My hand closed on air.  I laughed hysterically because I was watching my hand close where the cigarette had been.
“Maybe he’s had enough…” 
“Could you slip one of those escapees over here?”    I giggled.
“Can’t take him home like that.”
I got the impression I was being talked about.
“Well, I don’t want him throwing up on my floor.”
“Not throwing up!” I yelled.  “I can hold my likker!”  My index finger rose in the air with those words.  My bottom slipped from the chair.  It was received by the floor with a resounding bam!  I giggled.
“I think it would be best if you took him for a long ride.  Might want to forget all your other stops.”
“Aaaah, he’ll be all right.”
“I don’t know.”
I was still sitting on the floor thinking what a remarkably lovely red striped table cloth covered his table.  It was a wonder I had not noticed it before.  Clyde’s shoes needed a shine.  I thought I should tell him.  Glancing at his friend’s feet I decided not to tell him his toe nails were butt ugly.  I giggled again.
“What’s going on down there?”  Two heads slowly appeared over the edge of the table above me.
“You have ants,” I said watching the life line moving rhythmically toward a scrap of bread in the corner.
“Yeah, yeah,” said the tosser of bread.
“You want to get back into your chair?” asked Clyde.
“It’s a long climb,” I said reaching for the chair’s seat. “And my legs seem to be made of rubber.”  I giggled.
“OK.  Guess it’s about time to hit the road,” said Clyde.
He stood and offered me his hand which I took.  He lugged me to my feet.
“That could hurt,” I mumbled.
“Huh?” asked Clyde with a hint of anger.
“Hitting the road. That could hurt.”
“Yeah, I think it’s time.  OK, nef.  Time to go to the car.”
“I forgot how I got in here,” came my answer.
  “I’ll point you in the direction.” He turned me and shoved.
“Thanks, buddy.  Maybe next time I can stay a bit longer.  Hope your Christmas is a Merry one.  Come on, nef.  Let’s go.”
I ambled toward the door which Clyde opened.  Outside the bright sunlight hit me.
“Help!  I’m blinded.  I told you!  I’m blinded!”
“For crying out loud, nef.  You aren’t blinded.  It’s just the brightness of the sun after being in a dark house.  Straighten up.  Can’t damn well take you anywhere.  Calm down.  Get in.”  He slammed the door as I settled into the seat.
That was the only stop that year.  We rode around in silence for a while.  I asked for a cigarette and lit it with the lighter that popped out the dash. 
It was a few hours before we arrived back at grandmother’s house.  The effects were beginning to wear off by then.  A gigantic headache slowly crept in replacing the euphoria with a sad painful pounding that went me to bed early that night.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Da Vinci proud

“Whatcha think?” I asked pointing at the brand new Ford Falcon.  “My dad just bought it last weekend.  First time I’ve been allowed to drive it.”
“It ain’t no T-bird,” G remarked.
“You’re right.  It ain’t.  But it’s a ride and I’ve got it.  I’m gonna call it the Bird.  Think I’m gonna paint that name on the front side fenders, too,” I said flipping him the bird.
“Your folks won’t let you mark up their new car.”
“Hmmm, you may be right.  Guess I better ask them first.”
G looked at me with a knowing smile. “Well, you gonna offer me a ride?”
“Well, hell yeah,” I said opening the door.  “Hop in.  We’ll head over to Folly.”
“Folly Beach.  No better place to be.” G hopped in.  I turned the key and four cylinders began their incessant rising and falling.  It was a good day.
We arrived at Folly and wandered around the pier until it was time to get home for supper.  I dropped G off at his place and headed home.  The carport welcomed its new vehicle, shading the shiny new green exterior.
“Hi, mom,” I said as the screen door slammed behind me.
“You know how your dad hates to hear that screen slam Like that.”  My mother was frowning while she spoke.
“I know.  I can’t help it.  It’s almost like a Southern tradition to hear a screen door slam behind you.  Like at grandmama’s in Georgia.  Rusty screened rickety door cracking into the door frame anytime we kids skedaddled outside.  In too much of a hurry to ease it closed.”
“Maybe but I prefer you not do it here knowing your dad gets frustrated with you.”
“OK, mom,” I answered.  On the table was the book of calligraphy from which I had been copying flourishes along with olde English lettering with squared pen nibs.  I was improving every day.
Seeing that reminded me, “Mom, do you think I could write The Bird on the fender in olde English cally graphy?”
“On a brand new car?  I don’t think so.  You can ask your dad but I’m thinking he will definitely say no.”
There it was.  Anything like this had to be OK’ed by my dad.  When it came to confronting dad with such a request I usually backed down.  For some reason it was different this time.  I’d been getting really good with the lettering.  It couldn’t be that hard I thought.  Picking up the Speedball Lettering book I walked into the TV room.  Dad was watching the news.  He was absorbed in the screen in front of him.  I sat down in the chair next to him placing the book on my knees.  When the commercial came on I spoke up.
“I’ve been practicing this cally graphy writing, dad.”  I showed him some examples of what I had done. “I think I’m getting pretty good.”
“Not bad,” he said glancing at it.
“I’d like to use this olde English lettering,” I said pointing to the page, “on a project.”
“Looks like you could do it,” was his answer.  The news had returned after the commercial.  It was always best to wait and talk during a commercial, so I waited.  When the next one came up I picked up where I had left off.
“I’d like to write something in olde English on the fenders of the Falcon.”
He looked at me like I had a mouth full of dangling worms.
“We just bought that car son.  It’s brand new.  Why would I let you paint something on it?”
“Well, lots of people have the names of their cars painted on them.”
“Yeah, but you’re talking about those old jalopies from the 40’s.  I’ve seen them.  But I’ve never seen a brand new car done up like that.”
“We could be the first.  You said I’ve done a fine job with these practice sets.  I think I could do it.”
He looked at me.  There must have been something in my look that got to him.  His next question cinched it for me.  I knew I was going to be painting on the fender.
“What is it you want to put there?”
“The Bird.”
“The Bird?  Why the Bird?” He said through the “hell no” look I normally got.
“It’s a Falcon Right?”
“That’s a bird right?”
He nodded.
“I thought it would be the closest we’d ever get to a T-bird and being another hunting bird it would be kinda neat.”  My voice began to weaken as I listened to my reasoning.  It was crap and I knew it.  This was difficult territory for me, attempting to sway my dad.
“Hmm,” was his response.  “Tell you what.  If you think you can do a good job with the lettering I’ll let you try it.  If it isn’t to my liking, though, off it comes.  Alright?”
It took me a moment to gather my thoughts.
“O…o…o..OK,” I stammered out.  “You won’t be sorry.  It’ll be like a professional did it.”
“Just do a good job.”  He smiled at me.
“I will.  I promise.”  I jumped up and ran to the kitchen.  “He said yes!” I shouted at mom.
She looked at me dancing around the kitchen.  I lost sight of her as she left walking to the TV room.  I heard her and dad in conversation through the walls.
When she returned she couldn’t have been more stunned if a tornado had taken her to munchkin land.
“Well, do your best,” she said.
“Oh I will.”
The following day I gathered supplies. Paint brushes, model car enamel paint, black, and a boatload of enthusiasm.  I labored over that project for most of that day.  First the driver’s side, I painted “the’ at a forty-five degree angle.  Then the “Bird” portion, perfectly level, I painted twice the size of “the.”  The driver’s side was finished.  After unkinking my body which had been in one position for several hours, I meandered to the passenger side and commenced reproducing my previous work.
It was getting close to dark by the time I finished both sides.  Dad had said he would wait until I was finished before he looked at it.  Mom had been checking at intervals to comment on the work in progress.  She smiled and told me it was very nice when she saw I was finished.  Then she went inside then to make a pot of tea.
I stood up very slowly.  Backing up I stopped and surveyed my work.  ‘Da Vinci couldn’t have done better,” I said out loud to myself.  I stood admiring my work for several minutes.  Time to fetch dad, I thought.  Placing all my tools and paints in a box I ran into the house.  Halfway down the hall I heard the screen door slam.  I winced at my forgetfulness but enthusiasm for my masterpiece carried me on.
“Must you slam the screen like that?” he said to me with a frown.
“I’m sorry, dad, but I finished.  I need you to come see!”
The frown lifted and a smile, an ever so infrequent smile, creased his face slightly.
“Alright, son.  Let’s have a look.”  He got up to follow me out.
I was outside staring with pride at my handiwork when the screen door slammed again.  “Dammit,” I mumbled to myself.
“I heard that,” said my dad.
I turned to him.  “I’m sorry.  I forgot.”
“Again,” he said.  “Alright, then, let’s see this masterpiece you’re so proud of.”
“Ta da!” I said moving to the side revealing perfect Olde English lettering of black enamel against a green background.
“The Bird!” I said.
“I see that.”  He smiled.  “What about the other side?”
“Ta da!” I responded as he rounded the corner of the fender.
“Not bad, son.  Good enough to leave, I believe.  A very nice job.”
My dad showed a touch of pride in something I had done.  And then…
“Don’t know how that will affect the trade-in but that won’t be any time soon.  Good job, son.”
He put his hand on my shoulder then turned to go inside.
I continued to admire my beautiful handiwork. 
“Yeah, da Vinci would have been proud, too.” I said to myself  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Mayta flinger

It was one of those notoriously dark and stormy nights.  Rain was pounding the windshield as Clyde and I pulled into the parking lot of a small dive in a shady side of town. 
“What the heck…   Are you nuts?”  I yelled over the pounding rain.
“No.  I just can’t drive in this downpour and saw the sign.  We’ll have a couple and wait for it to die down.”  He opened the door and slammed it shut racing to the door.  I sat there not believing his choice.  I followed quickly.
The inside was darker than out when the door closed behind me.  My eyes began to sting in the smoky interior.  I had to wait as my eyes adjusted. I heard Clyde whistle and followed the sound.  He was speaking to the waitress when I found him.  He’d claimed a back booth and I slid in across from him.
“And you, sir?  Care to order?” she asked.  I couldn’t get beyond the tight blouse barely containing those perfectly shaped globes.
“Uh…um..”  My usual eloquent self.
“Up here, shorty.  My eyes are up here.”  And indeed they were.
“And beautiful eyes they are,” I stammered.
“Are you drinking or what?” she said, rolling those beautiful eyes toward the ceiling.
“Whatever he’s having,” I returned as my eyes dropped again to the mounds of flesh straining the fabric of her blouse.
“Give it up, nef,” Clyde said thumping a cigarette from his pack.  The flame from his lighter looked blue in the haze all around.  The waitress walked away leaving rivulets of blue smoke curling behind her.
“Have you been here before?” I asked looking around.  There was quite a variety of patrons at this establishment.  And, yet, I saw no one I knew.  I was familiar with most of Clyde’s drinking buddies having spent many a drunken evening with them but there was no familiar face in the dimness surrounding us.
The waitress returned with our drinks.  I considered the top button of that pinioned pair thinking it might put someone’s eye out when it finely gave into the pressure which was mounting as she bent over to place our drinks on the table.  She smiled at Clyde, naturally.  I was ignored as always when in his company.  He slipped her a generous tip which she forced down her blouse.  I hid my eyes behind my arm thinking this was the moment.  But it must have been an elastic fabric because it took the extra cash with no problem.  I was relieved and disappointed at the same time.
She walked back to the bar.
I raised my glass.  “To…what day is this anyway?”
“Wednesday,” he said.
“Well, here’s to hump day.”
As soon as I said it the door flew open and lightning joined by a loud clap of thunder shook the table.  Silhouetted in the door frame was the tallest most massive man I ever laid eyes on.  The door slammed shut.  He stood in the dark looking all around the room.  After a moment he walked slowly and deliberately to the bar stopping behind a man on one of the stools.  The man sitting must have felt the enormity of the man behind him because he slowly turned seeing him said, “Can I do something for you?”
The chatter had stopped.  It was quiet like a tomb.
“Yeah, you can vacate my seat,” he said in a deep baritone.
The guy on the seat was big.  He had been sitting alone brooding over the glass on the counter.  No one had spoken to him the entire time we had been there.
He stood.  Beside the new guy he could have been a member of the Lollipop Guild.  His demeanor was belligerent until his eyes, rising on the form in front of him, stopped looking up at a forty-five degree angle.
“Uh, yeah,” he stammered.  “I’m sorry man.  I didn’t realize.  Here.  All yours.”
The mountain of flesh didn’t say a word but moved in toward the bar and sat.  Even sitting he was taller than any man near.
“Bourbon,” he said.  The bar tender poured it and slipped it in front of him.
“Clyde, did you see that?” I whispered in his direction.
“Yeah, we’ll just finish our drink and leave, rain or no rain.”
“Sounds good to me.”
We sat watching the brooding slab of humanity.  He sat slowly sipping his drink.
As we started to get up and head out we heard a loud SPLAT!
The man on the stool grabbed the side of his head.  He slowly moved his hand in front of his face.  An object was in it. 
He looked at it hard then the words came out like he was the giant from the beanstalk. 
“A mayta. A MAYTA!”  With those words he slowly stood up, looked around, squeezed the object in his hand until it was dripping onto the floor.
His words boomed across the room.  “Who fling that mayta?”
The dark smoky room was dead silent.
Receiving no response the man sat back down and told the barman to give him another drink.
We had sat back down not wanting to garner attention our way.  The time crawled by while everyone watched the angry behemoth drink his drink.
The chatter began again slowly until the room was once again close to rowdy.  The tension had eased.  He was once again brooding over his drink.
Clyde motioned for me to get up so we could leave.  As I started to slide out of the booth there was an even louder more forceful SPLAT!!
The same movement by the angry giant at the bar placing his hand on the side of his face bringing the object in front of his eyes.  He stood slowly and menacingly, eyes ablaze with fire and smoke.
“WHO FLING THAT MAYTA!” he roared into the darkness. Everyone ducked and covered cowering in the vibration of his wrath.
“I find out who fling that mata they gon’ be sorry they was ever born!”  The anger in his voice rolled across the room like God on the mountaintop.
Not a soul in the place stirred for fear he might think it was them.  I had slid back into my seat slowly so as not to attract attention.  Clyde followed suit.
He stood looking slowly in all directions.  Not a person spoke.  Then, finally, he sat.  The barman poured him another drink mumbling, “It’s on the house.”
He took it without a word.  The chatter began small and grew to its normal volume since the crisis had, once again been avoided.
The man on the stool motioned to his glass.  The barman poured another.  He lifted it slowly to his lips but it never made it.  A small round red projectile disintegrated into the side of his head jostling his drink and slamming him into the person sitting next to him.
He radiated heat from that bar stool.  The anger built as he wiped the remains of the over ripe tomato from his head.  There was an animal growl building in his chest as he slowly stood pronouncing each word with venomous hate.
“WHO…FLING…THAT…MAYTA?” His arms tightened showing the bulge of iron like flesh shredding his sleeves.
The quiet was disturbed in the darkest corner of the bar.  Slowly a hulking massively muscled man stood.  His mass moved the table in front of him.  As he rose taller and taller his shadow blocked the light from the wall behind him.  His head barely an inch from the ceiling and his arms tensed brushing the wall he spoke in a voice so deep and menacing all faces looked away.
“I…FLING…THAT…MAYTA.  WHAT…YOU…GOT…TO…SAY ‘BOUT…THAT?”  The grumble of it rattled the bottles behind the bar.
His target standing at his full height and width began to deflate before our eyes.  His face once burdened with anger and flames broke out into a sheepish grin.  His words rang across the bar.
“You show can fling a mayta.  Yes sir.  You show a mighty fine mayta flinger.”

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

For fun

Ay! Caramba!  Another day has passed and I have added nothing to my blog.
So write something.
Like what?
Which words?
Ones that make sense when lined up.
A dollar bill can be exchanged for cents that I could line up.
Now you are making fun.
I have found making it is different from having it.
Are you speaking of fun or cents?
The cents required for a dollar makes sense since I’m writing nonsense evoking scents because I’m sure anyone reading this thinks it stinks.
The akscent being on stinks methinks brinks on powerfully bad writing which usually ends up in buying drinks and purple flying minks.
I don’t know.  My mind wanders.
Everyone wonders what windows your eyes look through.
The glass for looking is smeared with silver beyond the pane.  In that shiny surface lives the reverse of your retina’s reception
We can never see how we be in the eyes of another.  In the glass our perception is an exception to reality.
Our brain may never recognize if our eyes saw through those lies that comprise what our eyes internalize reflection-wise.
Were you planning on making sense with your words?
Only cents with my dollar or ones from a five.
Money?  You want to talk of money?
No, economics makes no sense to me.  I only try to make sense when placing words one after another.
But, as you see, I only rents my words which should be obvious.  If I owned them they would make more cents. 
Confusion reigns here.
Ah, the rains of Spain’s fall mainly in the plains…
Wrong reign.
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue due to cents acquired from Isabella and Ferdinand and not I or you.
Wrong time.
What is time?
The laying of actions in a line though often they make no sense.
Nor cents. 
That too.
The ocean blue, a vast disconnect between continents and peoples.  A watery grave for many a hapless sailor.
So these words placed side by side make sense of a sort in sentence length allotments but as a whole…
Yes, a hole in the mind.  A well if you would made of wood or stone to be dipped into.
Well, well. Once again into the dark ness of the well.
It must be primed if you want to use the handle provided.
It is very deep for such shallow words made into shallow thoughts.
It’s the syllables of which you speak?
Ah, I see you spoke three.  One needs more to deepen the core of what is written.
Polysyllabic words do not a deep thought make.
But it can obfuscate.
Inundate the broad estate of mind clasped in the breech of thought entangled in the wind of words on a page can enrage.
It can also assuage.  Or place in a cage.
Escape is found in words renowned in documents so sound in legal fare entombments there.
Come again to the shore of simple wavelets alapping, slap, slap, slapping the shore to erode the core of ever more.   I am a boor.
Let’s stop this tour onto the floor of your store of simplistic words you’ve rented. 
Yes, there’s the door shut to amour slammed with a roar.
Yes so poor your lore before we implore no more.
Tis done this one.  T’was fun? Lose the gun hon… 

Monday, January 7, 2013

To Bee or not To Bee

  The ceremony was brief and now we were on our way to the dealership. Our buddy could barely contain his enthusiasm.
“Faster man.  I see it.  It’s parked over there.”  He pointed and we turned into the dealership.  We stopped in front of the brand new shiny car he had singled out.
“She’s a beauty, eh boys?”
    He was out of the door with a slam.  He was caressing the smooth finish as we lined up in front of the newest addition to the Dodge fleet.  His eyes were devoted to the sleek metal as he leaned on the driver’s side.
“Here she is.  My Super Bee.  What do you think, boys?”  He looked at us expecting an explosion of admiration.  This had been his topic of conversation since learning that he would be graduating with his second lieutenant bars to be provided at the graduation ceremony.  This car was his present to himself for becoming an officer in this man’s air force.  It was our duty to give him the adulation he so expected.
  “Wow!” I said.  “That’s a beaut.  How much is it going to set you back?”
  He frowned in my direction as words of honey dripped from everyone else. 
  “Got yourself a honey of a car there,” said one touching the super bee emblem on the side. 
  “What’ll she do?”  asked another.
  “Open the hood.”  Those were the words he had been waiting for.
  He reached under the dash and pulled a lever and with a sharp snap the hood jumped an inch.  One of the guys reached under the hood to release it.
  “Hey!  That’s my hood.  Step back.”  His newly gained authority given to him by the USAF exploded into the air as if we were standing at attention on the flight deck on base.  We all took a step back obeying without thought.
  He disengaged the lock under the hood lifting it lightly in his hand to reveal a huge V-8 gas guzzling engine.  He beamed, his hand waving in a flourish to exhibit the massive thing. 
  “Eat your heart out boys.” 
  “Whoa Nellie.  That’s a hell of an engine.  What’ll she do?”
“Zero to sixty in six point three seconds. And check the interior.  Bucket seats and four on the floor,” he said, the pride bursting from his face.  “She’s a dream and all mine.”  It was love, pure and simple.
  The salesman walked up with the key in hand.
  “Well, my boy, are you ready to drive this beauty home?”  He offered the keys.  “She’s all yours.”
  Our friend took the keys, his eyes almost disbelieving his fortune.  He looked at us as his right hand sprang to the brim of his hat in a precise salute.
  “I guess this is it boys.  Make yourselves proud.  Serve our country well.”  Our indoctrination was evident in his last words.  He settled into the driver’s side and cranked the car.  The roar that filled our hearts with envy.  The salesman looked on as he slammed it into first. 
  His final words slipped by us. “So long boys! Yee haw!” The engine roared.  The rear tires spewed rock and sand until he hit the highway with a squeal lasting 10 seconds leaving a layer of rubber on the road and a blue haze in the air.  We waved to the vanishing streak.
  “Time to go fellas.  We have to clear out of the barracks by 2.”
  Our journey back to the base was filled with talk of the future and our new assignments.  None of us were headed to Viet Nam which was the primary worry of us all.  We arrived in front of the barracks long before two.  After packing my gear and cinching up my duffle I headed into the hall and the wall phone. 
  “Croucher, you need a ride to the airport?”
  “Yes, I do but I have to call home first.”
  My dad answered.
  “Hey, dad.  I’m heading to the airport now.  Should get in around eight.”
  “How was the ceremony, son?  We would have liked to have been there.”
  “Yeah, I know but I told you it wasn’t worth the drive.  It only lasted about an hour and wasn’t anything special.  They presented us with our certificates and looie bars.  Then we tossed our hats in the air after which we spent half an hour trying to find the right hat.  It wasn’t anything special.  I’m sure looking forward to being home again.”  I had been in San Antonio since September and it was almost June.  Six weeks of basic and I earned a stripe.  Then I had been held over in what was called OT Hold.  I was saddled with a job while there until the class started in the new year.  It was a twelve week course that gave us a bronze bar to place on our collars.  Now, all that was all behind me.  My new status as a Weapons Controller, whatever that was, loomed ahead.  I pictured myself marching rifle in hand guarding some cache of weapons on base, but what did I know.
  “I have a surprise for you son.”
  “Is it that TR-3?”  I had worked the summer prior to entering service, saving all my salary which amounted to $300.  I’d left it with my dad to use as a down payment on a car.  I had had my eyes on a Triumph TR-3 and asked him to check into it while I was going through basic.  I’d had no idea I would be going to Officer’s Training School at the time.  That chance had come through my dad’s sending letters to L. Mendel Rivers over several months.
  That was something he had kept from me.  He had written letter after letter to our state’s representative who was the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. His letters must have given the Congressman pause because my career in the service was certainly altered by Congressman Rivers’ intervention.  I remember it distinctly brought to my attention while in basic training.
  “Airman Croucher at ease,” said my flight officer.  I had been summoned to his office and stood at ease in front of his desk.  “You have a very influential friend I see.”
  “Seems Congressman L. Mendel Rivers has taken quite an interest in you, son.”
  “I’m sorry sir but I don’t…”
  “Quiet.  I have a letter here that says you want to go to OTS?”
  “Yes sir.”
  “Do you have what it takes to complete the training to become an officer?”
  “Yes Sir.”
He looked at my paperwork in front of him.  “I see you are a naturalized citizen.”
  “Yes sir.”
  “You became naturalized last year.  Why did you wait so long?”
  “I never thought about it sir until I was told I could not go to OTS unless I was an American citizen.  That prompted my decision, sir.”
  “You seem to have a good record here in basic.  Since you have such good friends in Washington I’m going to recommend you be allowed into OTS.  The only problem is the next couple of classes are full.  We won’t be able to fit you in until next year sometime.  Are you willing to wait here on base until such time as there’s an opening?”  He looked me directly in the eye.
 “Yes sir.  I am.”
 ‘Since Congressman Rivers seems to think it’s a good idea that you be an officer in the Air Force who am I to say different.  You need to keep your nose clean and excel in basic and I’ll make the recommendation.  I expect you to make both the Congressman and me proud.  Do you understand me?”
  “Yes sir.  I understand fully.”
  “All right, then.  I don’t want to hear from you or the congressman again.  Is that understood?”
  “Completely, sir.’
  “Dismissed, Airman.”
  “Sir!’ I said coming to attention with a smart salute.  He waved a salute back at me.  I pivoted in an about face.  In my enthusiasm I circled around to face the captain again.   He looked at me, shaking his head, and dismissed me with his hand.  I attempted the movement again with success and marched out of his office.  I wanted to click my heels after I closed the door but controlled that desire until I left the building.
   It had been a long wait but all that was past and I was boarding a plane to Charleston.  I smoked my long cigar on the plane while looking out the window.  I was an officer and proudly wore my uniform of blue.  My second lieutenant bars shone on the collar of my form fitted blue blouse pleated front and back.  We had all gone to the uniform shop in San Antonio to buy our uniforms for after OTS.  Since we were all in the best shape we would ever be we spent an exorbitant amount on the tailored uniforms which fit our trim physiques to a tee.  I was a newly graduated officer proud to be wearing blue.  It was an honor I thought as I watched the Charleston airport grow larger outside my window.  The bump and squeal of tires was a wonderful feeling as I unbuckled my seat belt.  Home and Myra were the two most important thoughts in my head.
  My parents and my girl were there to meet me.  The reunion was filled with hugs, tears and smiles.  It was good to be home.
  “Do you have much luggage, son?”  dad asked. 
  “Only the one bag,” I pointed it out as it approached. 
  He grabbed it waving me off and we walked to the car.
  “I am so glad to be home,” I said taking my girl’s hand.  ‘So good to see you all.”
  The ride home was filled with talk about the last nine months.  I was so busy talking about myself and my experiences that I didn’t realize we were nearly at the house.
  “Close your eyes, son,” said dad.  “I told you I have a surprise for you.”
  “Oh yeah.  My TR-3,” I said with a smile.
  I closed my eyes as we turned onto our street keeping them closed until we stopped in the driveway.
  “You can open them now,” said dad.
  Before me in the driveway was a brand new MGB painted British Racing Green with a black convertible top.  My mouth dropped and my eyes sparkled.  I was speechless.
  “It isn’t a TR-3 but I thought it would do you.  Got a really good deal on it.  Had to use the money you left as a down payment and the  monthly payments aren’t too bad.  I think you will approve.”  He looked at me a big smile on his face which mirrored mine. 
  “Like it? I couldn’t be happier!  Thank you so much.”
  I looked at my girl and she looked at me. 
  “Want to go for a ride?”  I asked.  She said yes.  Dad tossed me the keys. 
“We won’t be long,” I said.  The car cranked easily.  I pushed in the clutch, shoved the gear into reverse and we drove off into long ago memory.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

It's a saint Looie, bud

"Another day," I said throwing my cap across the room. It was a large one, that room. Across one wooden panelled wall we had boards straddling concrete blocks. The bottom shelves harbored books but those waist high held our pride and joy. A stereo hi-fi with two inches of LP albums suspended above the turntable on the spindle. Our collection of platters was huge with pop music and jazz. The music played from the moment we arrived at the apartment until bedtime arrived in a drunken haze. "Yeah. The school just brought in the next batch of WC students. Got some doozies this time." Ed was an instructor at the Weapons Controller School on this Air Base in the Florida panhandle. Sun and surf awaited the off duty personell every day. His days usually lasted eight hours like any other job. Mine, as a graduate of those classes, was with an elite squadron and lasted as long as my mission. Each day I would check the mission schedule on the board as I walked to the community room and coffee. My name was usually beside one of them. "Hey, Croucher. See you got an early one." It was one of my fellow officers apprising me of my time behind the scope. "Yeah. Makes for a good day when they are early." He nodded while offering the coffee just made. "Where's your cup?" "On my peg. Thanks," I said as he poured some into my brown stained cup. "After it's over I'll be heading to the O club. I didn't see your name up so wanna join me for lunch." "I would but I hear the beach calling me. After I finish this I'm heading out. Maybe tomorrow." He raised his cup then drank it down. "Lucky stiff. Meetin' somebody?" The sand was always crowded with beach bunnies looking to hook up with an officer from the base. There was never a dearth of tanned bodies stuffed into tiny bikinis. It was always a pleasure to soak those lovelies into these peepers on sunny days. I especially loved the white bikinis which enhanced those trim tanned bodies. But I digress. "You could skip the O club and meet me out there. Your mission should be over by 10," said my fellow ogler. "Naah. Not today. Gotta pick up some stuff." It was my day to get groceries which was hardly a reason not to head for the sand. But we were low on Bud and that was more necessary. My mission was scheduled for eight so I wandered into the dark room and selected my scope. It was on the third the dais. Unaccustomed to the dark I tripped but caught myself. "Hey everyone! It's Clumsy Carp! How you doin' Croucher. You really gotta get used to walking in the dark." It was one of the captains enjoying his moment over a looey. "Yessir, Captain. I'll have to work on that." "I have you scheduled for a two on one tomorrow. You might need to brush up on your tactics. It's going to be graded." "Two on one? Are you sure, sir? I could use more practice with one on one I think." "Nonsense. You've shown marked improvement. I want to see how your quick wit handles the extra challenge." "Yes sir," I said thinking he was daft because I was nowhere near ready for that. I knew now I'd be up all night. Not only would I have to study but I'd need to lubricate my nerves with that Bud. I sat down and placed the earphones on. There was chatter on the line and I broke in to check with my pilot. The number one job in the Air Force is the pilot and his mission. The number two position? We were told it was the Weapons Controller. That was me, a new trainee, sitting in front of a round screen with a sweep of light making its way around the circle. Once every thirty seconds or so it completed its travel leaving behind blips of light which was evidence of a plane in the area my scope covered. "Stand by," came the command. "Your pilot is late... again." "Roger that. How's my voice?" "Coming in five by." "Roger." "OK. Your air jockey is climbing into his plane now." "Understood." After a few minutes my pilot checked in. "Read you five by five. Contact me when you reach angels five." I sat drumming my fingers against the desk as I waited. Ten minutes passed. Outside I could hear the roar of an engine passing over the building diminish as he climbed to altitude. "Angels five," came the scratchy voice. "Coming in three by. Switching to channel four." "Roger that. On four." "Coming in five square. Turn to a heading of ninety-eight and climb to angels seven. Bogey approaching angels five from two seven oh." "Looking." "Ten miles at two five oh." "No joy." "Eight miles. Two four oh." "I have joy. In pursuit." I guided him toward his target. "Locked. And away." "It's a hit. Return to base." "That's a roger." "Good hunting." I turned him over to ground control and lifted my earphones. Dropping them in front of the scope I left the dais. But not without tripping once more. "Clumsy Carp," I heard behind me. A chuckle followed. "OK you guys. I'm off. See you tomorrow." "Hey, Croucher, we need a fourth over here." "You know I don't play cards guys. If I did you'd regret it." "Tomorrow, buddy. I hear you got a two on one." "Yeah, not looking forward to that." "You'll do fine." "Uh huh," I mumbled heading out the door. The blue sky greeted me with warmth and the kiss of the sun. My MG was sitting where I left it. I took down the top which was a chore with that old machine but I didn't want to miss a chance to ride with the wind rushing through my brown locks. I stored the top in the trunk and jumped in. It cranked and I roared off. The beach sounded good, especially on a beautiful day like this one. Then, again, they were all beautiful days in this paradise. What a lucky duck to be assigned here right out of OTC. I couldn't have gotten a better assignment. I changed my mind about the beach and got out my list as I parked in front of the BX. "Good morning, Major," I said saluting the gold clover in passing. A lazy return fell from his cap as he mosied on by. It was a less strict protocol here than OTC in San Antonio for which I was glad. The BX was crowded as I walked in and grabbed a cart. I folded my cap into my belt and wheeled the cart to the beer section. I piled four cases into the cart. On the way to checkout I grabbed a few bags of chips. The girl smiled as I loaded the Budweiser onto the conveyer belt. "Party tonight?" she asked. "If you want it to be." I smiled and she grinned back. "Maybe another time?" "Always antoher time, honey." I paid and used the cart to take the beer to the car. I stacked the cases into the seat. I headed toward the apartment and away from the base and the beach. My spot was open below the apartment which was on the second floor. Picking up two cases I ran up the stairs then back down to grab the other two. With chips piled atop the beer I ran up the stairs a second time. I removed the cans from the cases and stacked them in the fridge behind the cold ones. When I finished I grabbed the church key and popped one of the cold ones open. "Care for one?" I asked my roomate. "Yeah, pop one for me. Gotta finish this wall." "Here, stack this one," I said tossing him my empty. I reached in for my second. He took the can and added glue to the bottom. The wall on the right as we entered the apartment was "wallpapered" with Budweiser cans. We'd started making this wall about three days before. It stood a quarter of the way to the ceiling. We were proud of our sculpture. "Most of them are St Looie Bud, too." My room mate was a connoiseur of Bud. His palette could distinguish one from another. There were four cities that had plants to produce this beer. He could tell which city produced the one we sipped from cans. His decision was that St Louis Bud was the primo brew. He always checked the can before buying to insure he had the best. I had forgotten to check that day. "You bought an inferior beer here, buddy. It is not St Looie." He had opened the fridge and inspected one of the warm cans. I checked the can in my hand. Since it was cold he had purchased it the day before and sure enough it was a St Looie. "Scheiss! I forgot to look. Your Bud taste buds are too refined for me. I hope one day to be just as discriminating but for now I will down one of these inferior beers and you can add this to the wall," I said tossing the empty his way. And so went the night until the wall of cans reached the ceiling. Well, actually it didn't reach the ceiling because the floor was uneven and the cans became top heavy leaning until they crashed onto the dining table. It was midnight when this happened and it brought a knocking on the door. "(hic) Yesth," I said swinging the door open. There were two fuzzy people standing before me. "Are you guys alright? Were heard a crash." "UH huh. Would you ladies care to enter our abode?" I stammered out. "No thanks, Rick. I was just worried someone was hurt. Maybe another day when you are sober." I squinted in her direction. "Mary? Is that you? Do you have a twin sister?" I was pawing the air in front of me. "Uh, no. I think you might have had a little too much to drink." "Never hap'n cap'n." "Well, I think so since I'm the only person standing here and you see two of me." "All the more beauty to behold, my dear," I said it with a flourish bending at the waist and promptly falling half out the door. She helped me up. "You should really go to bed, Rick." "Lead the way, my lovely lady." "I don't think so. Not tonight. Ed help him to his room." Ed was bent double laughing. Seeing his room mate on the floor half in and half out the door was entertainment for him. "And miss out on this?" "Don't you guys have to be at work in the morning?" "Yeah, we'll make it. Not to worry." He grabbed me and pushed me toward my room. "Go to bed, Croucher." With that I stumbled into my room listening to our neighbor telling Ed to turn the music down or off. Seems she and her roomies couldn't get to sleep either. Something about the vibrations in the wall from the hi-fi. I chuckled as I fell into the bed and into a near coma.

Friday, January 4, 2013

That's it?

Heckfire! I ran out of dogfood last night. As I tipped the 30 pound bag of dry kibble to allow thae last few pieces along with the crumble dust Robin was looking up at me with expectant eys and her tail wagging. I winced as the last dry morsel clinked into her bowl. It was only half the amount usually lining that bowl. Her bright expectant eyes brought on a wave of guilt because I was supposed to go to the store yesterday but just lay about since it was inclimate weather beyond the door. When I put her bowl on the floor she zoomed over and sniffed then looked at me. I detected a tinge of sadness in those deep brown eyes. Accusatory? No, she's too loving a dog to see me in a bad light. It may have been a simple trip within of the guilty kind since I was the lazy layabout. "You could stand to lose some weight, girl," I said while munching a cookie and loosening my belt another notch. The season just past added a few pounds to this breadbasket I toted around lately. She wagged her tail and bent over her bowl commencing the crunching of her supper offering. Nakita accepted her dish with a wary look. She sniffed it, turned away and lay across the room her eyes locked on that plate with what could be interpreted as disbelief. Each nght, no matter what is placed before her, brings on the look of concern in those small expressive eyes. If she were human I would swear she was considering the offering as worth her effort to eat compared to the pounds it may place upon her sizable frame. She will stare for a while. Then with what appears to be a shrug will haul herself up and lumber over to the dish and methodically take portions into her mouth and munch crunch with deliberation through the dry food bits. Meawhile Robin having finished her portion would begin her "I need to go out" dance. Round and round with expectant eyes latched onto mine she will bounce to the door and back nervously looking through the glass door then back at me. Her nervous energy thrums through the air until I open that door and she is gone, a puff of smoke where she had been standing. Her barks alert the world she is out and determined to add to the soil in the back yard. Nakita when she hears Robin's announcement to the outside world begins to fidget while munching. When I return to the back door to check if Robin wants back in Nakita is shoving me to the side, ears high and alert, to bolt through the opening. Robin usually comes right in and Nakita regally prances out into the grass surveying her domain. Normally a bark deep within emerges from her throat to ward off any unsuspecting trespassers. Standing solidly she will turn her head one hundred and eighty degrees. The deliberation of her movement could almost be a ceremony of announcement to an unwary world that she is here and had best not be interrupted. Satisfied that she is alone she then dispatches her business and prances back to the door. I always know she is there because she throws her body against it with a majestic slam heard in three counties. It's a ritual and I failed to provide the proper portion to give it meaning. No matter that both dishes have to be covered for the night due to half their portion remaining, I still harbour guilt due to the accusatory looks I imagine coming from their beautiful brown eyes.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Parties? We don't need no stinking parties!

I've been trying to think of a New Year's day that stands out. The morre I think the less I remember. I figure it's because I was drunk through so many of the High school and colege and military days that the memories were obliterated. I don't remember anything from the childhood years either, I guess, because nothing big was made of it by my folks. And after my son was born it was just another day for an early night because he was an early riser. Right after his first year on this planet I remember flying to Clinton, NJ, to spend a week with my sister-in-law. We were practically the only passengers aboard when the plane left Charleston International Airport---hahahahahahahaha.. sorry, that always cracks me up, an international airport that sends all planes going international to Atlanta or Charlotte as a stop point. I don't even remember the time we spent in NJ because most of that period has been blocked out as well, not from alcohol abuse but simply as a means of escaping time. So I have no cute memories of the New Year being rung in. I have no wild drunken parties to regale. New Year's was just another day with no distinguishing characteristics. It was always the countdown to my birthday 45 days beyond. I would love to have some memory of one but it's just giving me a headache to rummage through the wet acreage of my brain. So I'll just say, here's another entry meaningless as it may be.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Brightly plumed tweeters

Frying pan induced brightly feathered tweeters orbited my noggin. "So pretty," I said. "Next time don't drink so much," came a retort from the orbital beyond. As my eyes focussed I saw her standing above me arms crossed. In her right fist was the pan ready for seconds. "Get up off the floor or I'll give you a reason to be there." "Sounds like a threat," I said between tweets. "No. It's a fact. Next time you'll see stars." The time was right to rise and get ready for the day. "How long was I out?" "It's the scond of January. You do the math." Her look and tone sent me scurrying. The beginning of another year of blissful married life. Oh, what would it bring. It was the perennial question at this time of year. So many times I had asked myself that same thing. Each year the answer never brought surprise. Maybe this year would be better. Maybe it was time for a change. Always the same thoughts, year after year. Being married was never what I had imagined, but I had never had a very active imagination. Wonder how that fire can be stoked?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Over easy or scrambled?

"Happy New Year!" "Oh please. Not so loud." I was struggling to hold my cannon ball head up in both hands. Sitting in front of me was a glass of water effervescing my Alka-Seltzer into my hangover potion. "What's up? You party too much last night?" A chuckle followed. I shaded my eyes from the light trying to focus on a look of anger which went south into a grimace of pain as the back door slammed. "Dog needed in." Again a chuckle. "I know you think this head of mine is funny." Wincing at the refrigerator door's slam I went on. "Could you please not make so much noise?" "I'm trying to be as quiet as possible," came the answer accompanied by the cracking of eggs and sizzle of the pan as the contents of said eggs hit the grease. I clamped my hands over my ears and closed my eyes as a groan escaped my dry lips. "How about a cup of coffee?" "Thanks. It might help. Do we have any V-8? "Check the fridge. I think there might be some at the back of the top shelf." She was tilting the frying pan and whipping bubbling grease over the whiteing eggs. The crackle and sizzle accompanying the clack clack of spatula against fry pan. Again I winced as I stood to check on the V-8. Click, sounded the door. Clatter went the condiments in the door. Scrape went the milk bottles along the grating as I pushed them aside to find the juice. I reached in and pulled it forward sending the milk bottle from the back of my hand to the floor with a crash and splash that reverberated in my head. The pain generated was excruciating. My free hand gripped my head as I tried to squeeze that pain away. "You're going to have to clean up that mess right now." I heard the command through waves of blistering pain. "Any idea where the aspirin are?" I stumbled to the counter and ripped a handful of paper towels from the roll. The tearing of the paper bounced around in the swimming pain I used to call my head. "Watch out you don't cut yourself on the glass." She slipped the spatual under the eggs to remove them. The sliding metal against metal became fingernails on blackboard magnified a thousand times. I froze in my kneeling position to calm my frayed nerves. "Oh man. How much did I drink last night?" "I stopped counting but you drank the last of Clyde's booze." "I did what?" "Yeah, you mixed the last of his bottle in that dribble of grapefruit juice." "Is he mad?" "No. He looked at you like he was proud. Even said, 'That's my nef.'" That put a smile on my face. "So why am I up so early? How come I'm not sleeping it off?" "Sleep? You wanted to head out to party." "Huh?" "Yeah, we had to hide your keys." "Uh, thanks, I guess." "Oh, you're welcome. It was the least we could do since you totalled your car." "What?" "Yeah, it was a miracle that you don't have a scratch on you. Of course you did leave the scene of the accident." "Where was that?" "Neighbor's house. You can see it if you look out the window there. Just don't let the neighbor see you. He was NOT happy to say the least." I meandered to the door nursing my Alka-Seltzer. Furtively I glanced through the window. "I don't see it." "You idiot. you think we would let you drive? You could barely walk." "Why would you tell me such a thing?" "Only because you deserve it." "Why? Did I do something to tick you off?" "If you want to call pinching every girl's ass something. Yes!" "Oh." "You had a real problem keeping your hands to yourself." "Any repercussions?" "There is that shiner." I felt my way along the wall to the medicine cabinet in the loo. Staring back from the mirror was a face with eyes black and purple. It explained why my vision was a little cloudy as well. "I guess the girls weren't too happy about the pinched bottoms?" I said as I settled back into my chair. "No. They didn't mind at all. Matter a fact they were smiling and giggling at your little gropings." "The the husbands?" "Nope. This frying pan." She said Happy New Year. I watched her swing the pan. I heard the clunk and all went black.