“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.”–W. Shakespeare

Today, 05 SEP 2021 marks the Fifty-Year Anniversary of this tragic shit.

I made a promise fifty years ago.

“Ronnie, I will never allow your memory to die.”

I aim to keep that promise until

I DIE.

Only thing I will add today:

Assholes got his age wrong in the obit.

He was 20, not 30.

****

Harvey Ronald Piland

BIRTH    27 Apr 1951

Fresno, Fresno County, California, USA

DEATH  5 Sep 1971 (aged 20)

Fannin County, Texas, USA

BURIAL

Oakwood Cemetery

Honey Grove, Fannin County, Texas, USA

“The funeral of Harvey Ronald (Ronnie) Piland, 30, son of Mr. and Mrs. P. H. Piland here, one of two young men drowned Sunday Sep. 5, 1971 at Coffee Mill Lake, was arranged for 4 p.m. Tuesday at Cooper-Sorrells Funeral Home. The Rev. Paul Washburn was to officiate, burial being arranged in Oakwood Cemetery.

Piland’s companion who drowned also was Jimmy M. Pirtle, 21.

Son of Mr. and Mrs. P. H. Piland, Ronnie Piland was born in Fresno, Calif., April 27, 1951, but was reared here, graduating from Honey Grove High School, where he played football, and was currently a beauty college student. He belonged to the Baptist Church at Petty. Besides his parents here, survivors include three grandparents, A. A. Piland, Dallas, and Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Henderson, Paris, and these brothers and sisters: Jerry and James Harvey Piland of Honey Grove; Richard Piland of San Diego, Calif.; Mrs. Katie Ivy of San Angelo and Mrs. Brenda Burnett of Bartley Woods community.”

Author’s Note 27 June 2021:

I am not ‘Re-Writing’

Not ‘Re-Working’

Not vanity editing

Not Expanding

Not ‘Jazzing’ up

Not Elaborating

Not Ruining-with-superfluous shit

This Original Post

My Heart was ‘All-In’ when first I wrote it.

I refuse to taint those original emotions now.

I am just fulfilling a promise I made years and years ago:

“Ronnie, I will Never allow your memory to die.”

******

In 1971 when my step-sister Madelyn and I were fourteen and thirteen respectively, my parents would often go out of town on the weekends. My father and stepmother seemed to always have some magic convention or gathering to attend in Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, or any number of other venues.

My father knew all the local high school kids from his directing of the senior plays every year. Two of the former graduates, Ronnie and Doug, then about twenty years old, remained very good friends of my father and particularly Ronnie, (who was Peanut’s Uncle). My father decided that Madelyn and I needed a ‘baby-sitter’ while he and Gloria were off on their long weekends, so they paid Doug and Ronnie to look after us.

Now mind you, Madelyn and I were both pretty certain we were over-mature for our age and could easily fend for ourselves, but we loved having two “big brothers” to help us throw the greatest parties in the history of Honey Grove while under their tutelage. We used Marcom Manor as our venue of course and were always in a rush to get the house back into some semblance of order before the folks returned, usually on a Sunday, but occasionally on a Monday or Tuesday.

During Labor Day Weekend of 1971 my parents were off to a big convention in Houston and we had a great party planned for Sunday the Fifth of September. We were to have ‘The Mother of All Parties’ out at Lake Coffeemill, north of Honey Grove. (The party was going to serve double duty for me, as my fourteenth birthday was just five days away.)  Right up until the night before, I had no date lined up for this all-day Blow-Out, and I was in a panic.

Around about eleven, I saw and old ex-classmate of mine from the sixth and seventh grade who had moved away the year prior, slowly driving past (we were all on the town square, sitting on the car hoods, drinking beer and planning the next day’s activities). I figured she was in town to visit some of her family who lived between Honey Grove and Lake Coffeemill. I chased her down (literally), stopped the car and asked breathlessly if she would like to come out to the lake the next day for the party. Happily she said “Yes.” And that made my night. Her name was Chrissie.

Semi-Early the next morning Madelyn, Gina (Ronnie’s girlfriend) Ronnie and I (along with some other hanger’s on) were busy gathering all the items for the picnic/party and loading up ‘The Magic Bus’ which was what we called Ronnie’s 1957 Chevy Station Wagon. Some other folks arrived (mostly ‘twenty-something’ folks) with their cars and trucks. All the vehicles were loaded with beer, wine (Cheap Mogan David, Spanada, Boone’s Farm, etc.) hot dogs, buns, hamburger meat, condiments, and on and on. As I said, this was going to be the last big party of the summer and we were going to do it up right. Madelyn and I were to start High School the following Tuesday.

Ronnie loved The Beatles. He once told me, “The Second side of Abby Road is the best side on the best album, by the best band in the history of the world.” Even today, I cannot listen to any Beatles’ music without thinking of him and all those wonderful times we all spent together. He was a good kid, and always looked out for me. Gina was the same, and I have to admit I had a not-too-secret major crush on her. I had been dating her little sister off and on during the previous year, but she and I never could get our act together. She was my very first blonde girlfriend and to tell the truth, I’ve never had any luck with blondes ever since and have historically shied away from them.

Ronnie taught me how to smoke pot, be cool, and turned me on to all manner of wonderful music. He coached me all that summer in my soon-to-become burgeoning High School football career. Most important, by his example, he taught me to be compassionate and patient and tolerant and kind. In short, he taught me how not to be an asshole, which as an arrogant, wet-behind-the-years, knows everything about everything, little shit of a teenager, I was all too good at. Ronnie saved me from that.

He was an easy-going, good-looking kid with a toothy smile and a joie de vivre that made a room light up whenever he walked in. He had unlimited optimism about everything and everybody. Never once did I hear him say one unkind word about anyone, even though there were some in our circle who deserved an unkind word upon occasion (including yours truly). Ronnie saw nothing but good in all people. Absolutely everyone in Honey Grove loved him, old and young alike.

He didn’t even mind that every time we were all together I would invariably find ways to sit next to Gina and just fawn. He laughed that off like everything else. He knew Gina loved him dearly and nothing on Earth could ever separate those two. Gina had a soft spot for me as well, but more in a ‘Big Sis’ kind of way, but try explaining that to a thirteen-year-old with romantic ideas, puppy-dog eyes, and raging hormones.

Once we had all the vehicles loaded, we began our ‘convoy’ to The Lake with The Magic Bus leading the way. Ronnie driving, Gina riding shotgun in her ‘Lake-Party Uniform:’ cut-off jeans, halter top. Situated between them was a gallon of Mogan David, which, as we pulled out of town, Ronnie grabbed and thrust out the window, pumping it up and down for the rest of the parade to see. It was on!

I had the back seat to myself and was in my ‘uniform’ cut-off jeans and t-shirt, hippie sandals, and behind me a huge beer cooler, all the cookout stuff, and about a thousand eight-track tapes that Ronnie kept in the car always. Music was the defining force in all of our young lives and The Magic Bus had the best ‘rigged’ stereo in Northeast Texas and was as close to a mobile concert hall as I had ever seen.

Ronnie had installed some kind of colorful strobe light contraption on the dash over the glove compartment that pulsated with the beat of the music. The Magic Bus was indeed, Magical. There was no ignition switch, just a couple of wires hanging down underneath the steering column which had to be united to start the car. Anyone with a mind to could have stolen that car at any time, but of course no one was ever of a mind to.

Many times during road trips to Commerce to see Gina’s Hippie friends, or to The Lake, or Bonham to the drive-in one time to watch Woodstock, or once to Dallas to see Led Zeppelin, I would love the getting there more than the arriving there. I loved to ride in that car with the good company, the camaraderie, and all the great music and I felt so wonderfully alive. I always hated it when we did finally arrive to our destination of the day, because for me, the best was in the getting there; the riding in that car, grooving to the music and watching Texas roll by.

Lake Coffeemill lies about twenty miles north of Honey Grove and for once I was anxious to actually arrive at a destination. This would be the Best Party Ever. We stopped about ten miles from the lake to pick up Chrissie and she and I spent the last ten miles chatting and holding hands in the back seat.

Chrissie was always an elusive butterfly and I was so proud she was with me on that day. Of course I tried to show off by talking to Ronnie and Gina about ‘older things;’ things like some of the concerts we had been to, parties we had thrown, et cetera. Mostly I ended up looking and sounding like an idiot, but Chrissie didn’t seem to mind. I do think she genuinely was fond of me. She was a long and tall dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty and actually quite different from any other girl I had known up to that point in my life. We were a good match and seemed to have great potential as a couple, but we would never get to explore that potential.

We turned off the paved two-lane and onto the gravel lake road. There are actually two lakes in this area separated by Bois d’Arc Creek and a long gravel road. The other lake is Lake Crockett and is slightly smaller than Coffeemill. The entire area is very heavily wooded with pine, oak, and cedar; all part of what they call ‘The Caddo National Grasslands’ and one of the few national parks in Texas (Texas is unique in that she kept most of her public lands when she joined The Union in 1845 instead of giving them all away to the Federal Government like all the other western states).

The road to ‘Gate 10’ on Coffeemill was the last part of our journey. Now, I say ‘Road’ and I use the term loosely. More like a trail, barely wide enough to navigate the Magic Bus through the trees and certainly better suited for Four-Wheel Drive vehicles. The trail winds around through the woods for about two miles before actually ending on the lake. Gate 10 was our turf. No one ever went there except our crowd, and possibly the occasional hunter. Everyone knew this; even the tourists knew this. By spending so much time there coupled with the fact that most didn’t even know the place existed made it ours. We must have been quite a sight on that day: no less than twenty cars, trucks, vans, all slowly bumping along single file down to Gate 10.

Soon after we arrived and got all the vehicles parked in the only clearing (about 25 yards from the water) everyone got busy organizing all the myriad items we had brought along. Grills were set up, beer coolers strategically placed, plastic-ware and paper ‘wine’ cups and tablecloths and folding tables appeared and of course the big speakers inside the Magic Bus were brought out and positioned on top of the hood, blaring music. Picture a Mini-Woodstock, Texas Style. It was about one o’clock in the afternoon.

Everyone spent the next few hours drinking beer, munching on hot dogs, shooting the shit, swimming in the lake, and lighting up the occasional joint. Doug arrived around two o’clock and he had some unhappy words for Ronnie. Apparently Ronnie had promised him he would stop smoking dope. The two of them were occasional ‘Youth Ministers’ at one of the churches in Honey Grove and Doug was, shall we say, a bit more fervent in his religion than was Ronnie. The two of them were most assuredly best friends and it pained me to see them argue over this. Doug got so pissed off that he just left shortly after he had arrived and I don’t believe he even had one beer while he was there. This dampened my spirits a little, but was soon forgotten. I knew they would work it out later and all would be normal again.

The afternoon was going by and things calmed a little as people gathered in small groups to drink, smoke, and chat. I took Chrissie by the hand and grabbing a blanket off the hood of one of the cars, led her into the woods. She carried a bottle of wine. We spread the blanket under an oak and made love, or what passed for making love then for us. Mostly just heavy petting, kisses, and arms and bare legs wrapped around each other. We could faintly hear strains of Carole King singing ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ back at the party:

Is this a lasting treasure

Or just a moment’s pleasure

Can I believe the magic of your sighs

Will you still love me tomorrow…

We remained secluded there for some time, getting reacquainted, talking softly about nothing in particular. It is so easy to fall in love when you’re thirteen. My heart was in serious mortal danger. Falling hard for her. She was so sweet and so soft and so stunningly beautiful, with sloe gin eyes and all that implies… But I was prepared, eager in fact, to fall, to fall headlong, and all else be damned…But not yet: There was a party to be attended and tended to…

As it was growing late afternoon, we gathered up the blanket and the almost empty bottle of Spanada and headed back to join the others. I needed to pee so I headed to the lake and saw Ronnie, Jimmy Max, John David, Jackie, and several others climbing a dead tree about twenty yards off-shore. I swam out (after relieving myself in the water) to join them.

They all had towels fashioned about their necks and were acting out ‘Superman,’ climbing the tree and diving in: much rowdy laughter as they critiqued each other’s performance. We played at that for quite a while when my stomach reminded me that I had forgotten to eat anything all day.

Ronnie must have had the same stomach, because we exited the water at the same time and immediately headed over to the Magic Bus to see if there were any remnants of the ham that Gina had brought for us. Not much, but I grabbed a hunk of it, slapped it on some bread and starting wolfing it down. Ronnie and I were standing there, eating, while digging through the rest of the stuff looking for more food. We both obviously had the munchies.

“Jimmy Max is drowning!” someone was screaming.

Ronnie shot away from the car toward the bank and I stuffed the last bit of ham and bread into my mouth chewing and trying to swallow and almost choking as I ran after him. There was a large group of people standing there yelling and pointing out towards where I could just barely make out a figure bobbing up and down in the water. I estimated about fifty yards away. Everyone was yelling, “Ronnie! Save Him! He’s been down twice now! Save him! Save Him!”

Ronnie grabbed an inner tube while running to the shore, threw it into the water and jumping into it began paddling furiously, using his arms and hands like oars in a rowboat, turning his head to mark his course toward  Jimmy Max. He actually left a wake. I have never seen anyone move that fast before or since.

I jumped into the lake and tried to keep up with Ronnie. I was a decent swimmer, but he soon left me far behind. I saw Ronnie get to Jimmy Max and watched as he was pulled off the inner tube. Jimmy Max had about twenty pounds on Ronnie and of course he was now strong in a panic.

The inner tube was swept away instantly (it was very windy that day). I continued swimming as fast as I could to get to the two of them. I saw Jimmy Max go under and Ronnie pull him up, his arms flailing about. When I was about ten yards from them Jimmy Max went down again, but this time Ronnie apparently couldn’t pull him up.

Things suddenly got deathly quiet. I could no longer hear the people screaming on the shore. The wind actually seemed to stop. Honestly, I didn’t grasp the seriousness of the situation. Things had just happened too quickly. I stopped about ten feet from Ronnie, treading water, not sure what to do next.

Ronnie looked right into my eyes and almost inaudibly said, “Help.” It was the weakest voice I had ever heard. I immediately swam over to him and tried to grab him around the waist. He was limp. Ronnie, who had always been so strong, was now completely weak and helpless. I struggled with trying to hold onto him, but it was no use. I just didn’t have any strength left myself.

Our eyes met again, but he said nothing as he slipped from my arms and sank. I saw bubbles come up from beneath me after his head disappeared. Nausea washed over me like a rolling wave.

Not knowing what to do, I dove down (the water must have been twenty feet deep there), but could not find an arm or a leg or anything to grab onto. After what seemed like five hours, but in reality, probably only five minutes of this, I started making my way back to the shore. When I got to within about twenty feet, I got cramps and collapsed. John David waded out and half-dragged, half-carried me back to the land. I was too tired to utter a word. Everyone surrounded me, yelling and asking, “What happened? What happened?” My mind cleared enough for me to think, “What the hell do you think happened? Ronnie and Jimmy Max drowned while all of you stood here and did nothing. That is what happened,” but I did not say it out loud.

Gina came running up in tears screaming, “Lance, where’s Ronnie? Where is he?” She was obviously in shock and hysterical.

“He’s dead Gina.”

I tried to take her in my arms, but she flung me aside and starting running up and down the shore looking out at the lake. I was too exhausted still to follow her. I collapsed down on a beer cooler and wept.

Everyone was jabbering away. Someone said, “This is just another joke. Any minute now they’ll come walking out of the woods, laughing at us.” I wished it were true, but I knew better.

The authorities came about an hour later with boats and starting dragging the lake. Close to dusk they found Ronnie. It would be another twelve hours before they found Jimmy Max. I got into the Magic Bus with Calvin and he starting driving us back to town. The same eight-track tape had been playing over and over again since the drownings: Moody Blues, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.

We just left it in as we drove, not saying a word. After we had cleared the gravel road and were back on the highway, a car came speeding up to stop us, horn blowing. We pulled over and Chrissie came walking up, opened the back door and retrieved her purse. I couldn’t ever speak to her. To this day I do not know why, but I am sorry I didn’t because she probably thought I was evil for just sitting there with not a word for her. I never saw her again. And I never listened to that Moody Blues album again either.

I promised myself that day no one would ever drown in my arms again because of my inadequacies in the water. And some years later, I took action to ensure that I would always be able to keep that promise.

It goes without saying that Ronnie was the hero that day, but I am going to say it again. Why he was the only man out of the dozen or so equally capable just standing on the shore urging him on, to without hesitation risk his own life to save his friend, I still cannot comprehend. And yet when I try to, I just get pissed off all over again. Most of these men were my good friends, and I did remain friends with the most, but I no longer held any respect for a single one.

Even though this tragedy occurred over forty years ago, my memories are still all too much vivid. My great good friend and mentor heroically gave his life to save his friend. There is no greater testament to heroism. He died as he lived, with a passionate love for life and for everyone and for everything in his life. He will always be remembered. That’s another promise I made that day. It’s an easy one to keep. “Peace to You, My much missed Great Friend Ronnie; We remain here still, soldiering on. We hope you still smile at us and our folly.”

A Very Young Ronnie.
Only Photo I Have

***

We chaired you through the market-place;

Man and boy stood cheering by,

And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Today, the road all runners come,

Shoulder-high we bring you home,

And set you at your threshold down,

Townsman of a stiller town.

–A.E. Housman

I’m The Reason God Made Oklahoma

Bank Shot Rebound

Yeah, moldy oldie repost.

*****

When I was fourteen or fifteen and living in NE Texas, ‘Famine’ County to be more precise, I used to frequently cross the border. Not Mesico. No, Oklahoma. Yep. Go figger.

You see, back-in-the-day (Early Seventies), the drinking age got lowered to 18, mainly because it just was not fitting for a boy to go to Vietnam and not even be able to buy a beer ere he got there. Time enough for that once he got there, but you see, it became a matter of principle.

Well, my ‘group’ took advantage of that. You see, it was very difficult to tell a teenager’s age: I mean,

“How do you know he ain’t eighteen? He looks twelve, but hell! Ok, serve it up.”

And even better: In Oklahoma, well, they just did not give a shit. If you had money and could reach the bar, well, there you go.

OK, enough preamble and background. Early one morning (after about 0100hrs) my buddies and I, after having closed down the bars in Commerce (Texas), decided we were not drunk enough. So, natch, we drove to The Border, as I said: Oklahoma. Our mission: To hustle Pool and make the next day’s beer money.
Our favorite hang was a place just ‘cross da river. A place who’s name escapes me, but trust me: it was famous. There is a very long, very dark, very narrow bridge across the Red River. If one could successfully navigate that, being drunk… well, you needed a drink.

Now, do not mistake me, this establishment was always ‘closed’ by the time we usually arrived at thereabout 0200hrs, but I knew the guy behind the ‘Speak-Easy’ window and I knew the password: “Joe sent me.”

Good to go.

pool.jpg

They legally closed the bar at 0100hrs, but then remained open until first light. If one arrived around 0200hrs, one could shoot pool for four or five and then migrate to the back room where the crap tables were. I knew all the drills.

My gang and I sauntered in, bought some beers and Bob and I proceeded to ‘hustle’ pool. For beers. ONLY.

Shit!

We were already drunk; we did not need to hustle beers. We wanted money for the crap game. Bob and I spent the better part of two hours hustling beers, and had pretty much drained the joint, when this dude drops his quarter on the table. He was long and lankly and had his right hand missing. Yep. He was ‘handicapped” Errr… handless. I nudged Bob and said, “This chump cannot beat me. At pool.”

And, of course, I was right, but… damn! He was good. He used his ‘stub’ as a bridge and shot a mean Eight-Ball. I beat him outta bout a case of Coors. He got pissed and walked by me:

“You done stepped on my foot,” he said.

“No Sir, I did not, but if you think I did, well, I’m sorry…”

“YOU done STEPPED on my FOOT!”

“No Sir.”

Bob took me aside along with my other entourage; Peanut, Gene, and Jessie (a big black kid who had played star halfback for the Honey Grove Warriors back in the day—yes—he was older, and I did notice him putting razor blades between his fingers)

“Many-Feet” Peanut said, “That there one-armed man gonna beat you to some death with that nub.”

“Bullshit!” I said.

“No bullshit. Go ahead; hide an’ watch.”

To be continued….

Okay. Continued:

He beat me ’bout to death with that nub, just as Peanut foresaw.

Wish I had ‘foresaw’.

His paw.
Dem Okies…well.. they some tough sons ah bitches, all I gotta say.

END

My Mother The Car

Slightly ‘dated’ photo of Honey Grove above.

Sometime shortly after I mustered out of the U.S. Navy…
I found me suddenly in need of a car, a vehicle, a mode of transport, fuckin’ wheels.
Never really havin’ given two shits ‘bout such, I found myself in front of a pawn shop in Honey Grove Texas early one morning. Too early, in fact.

But, I skip ahead (as is my wont)

Let us go back in time (just a few hours; be patient)
I had fallen ‘in love’ with a woman (It happens)
Got drunk one late night; decided I needed counsel (from Peanut—My Yoda—problem was, I was in Commerce, Texas and Yoda was in Honey Grove, miles and miles and styles away)
What to do?
Drive to see him on Endor.
Jumped into my chariot and almost made it.
Alas! A bar ditch jumped up in front of me.
The car did not survive.
Happily, I did, but now I had a real problem:
Yoda was still miles away.
Walked the two miles to HG and spied a vehicle “For Sale”
Walked in to the pawn shop and inquired:
“Yall take credit cards?”
“No Son; we do not.”
“Damn shame,” I said. “’Cause I wanna buy that car y’all got for sale out yonder. Well see ya.”
“Wait! Wait! We can make an exception!”
“OK, gas her up and get her ready.”

And the rest, as they say, was History.

P.S. This post was inspired by a memory my good friend Mark, over at

http://markbialczak.com/

brought out in my mind. Thanks Mark. Peace On!

PPS: The ‘Car’ Had a half-life about as long as a bottle of Jim Beam in my house. 

Lance, You Lie (Chapter Two)

Chapter Two of Fiction

(Chapter One Here)

The apartment was a very busy place. I could not figure out who was actually living there and who was just hanging out. There were certainly a lot of people about all the time. Guys and gals would just come walking in at all hours as if they had been living there forever. The girls were all beautiful and of course all belonged to the sister sorority of Kappa Alpha. Naturally the guys were all KAs. I was the only ‘independent’ around, but they didn’t really seem to mind. (I think Kim  John told some of them that as soon as the fall semester began I was going to enroll in McNeese and pledge Kappa Alpha. He was shocked to find out a few weeks later that I had been telling all who asked me of this that No, I had no intention of pledging Kappa Alpha or any other fraternity, Not now, not ever.)

After I found a room which didn’t have too much of a lived-in look and got settled, I sought Kim Jim out and began asking him what was the scam. There had to be a scam because no way could he afford to live in such a place. Not the Kim guy I knew. Not the Kim  dude who hated hard work above all other things on Earth. No ma’am. There had to be a scam.

And there was, in spades.

Kim James and some of his roommates (I had finally figured out who actually lived in the apartment—two other guys full-time and some girls who drifted in and out, “short time”) were tending bar at the largest joint in town. A University hang-out of course. And of course they were skimming the till. One of the guys worked part-time during the day at a convenience store and whenever there was a need for groceries or booze, or gas, or toiletries, or whatever else they had in stock, Kim Bill and the Gang would just roll up, load up, and leave. Very convenient, this convenience store. They had embraced the promise of the ‘Cashless Society’ long before it would become popular years later. Call them ‘Pioneers’ in this regard.

That explained some of Kim’s Bubba’s new found opulence, but not all. The take from the bar couldn’t possibly cover the rent, free food, booze, and gasoline notwithstanding. I confronted Kim  James and told him that if I were going to remain in Lake Charles he must tell me everything that was going on. He had every intention of doing this and I knew it, but I also knew he wanted me to get a taste of the lifestyle for some days before he told me the whole deal. Kim Charles had never been difficult to figure out, at least for me, but then, I had known him since I first moved to Honey Grove years before. Backing up a little: Kim Sam and I had always flirted with, and engaged in, larceny during High School and had pulled many scams over the years. The practical jokes we played on Honey Grove ISD are legion (and legend) and still remembered to this day. There was the time late one night when we broke in and emptied all the books in all the lockers (almost 300 lockers) and piled them all in a long, narrow hallway running past the chemistry lab…took all the next day to sort them out. Classes cancelled… Kim  Bart and Lance heroes (everyone knew who did it, but no one had any evidence)

Anyway, Kim  Jim and I had always been bad boys. We planted marijuana all over my grandfather’s 100 acres in Winnsboro one spring, dreaming of a bountiful harvest making us, by my calculations, at least one-hundred thousand dollars. Our crop failed however and we had to figure out another way to make money. Since I have never been afraid of hard work, I took to hauling hay, a respectable profession, but hot and dusty and brutal work. I loved it. I worked on ranches year round after school as well. Kim  Buford would never have any part of hard, honest work, so he muddled about best he could, usually borrowing money from me whenever he was in need. But we were never ready to give up on the potential profits of the pot business. We just put it on hold for a few years.

Since Kim’s  Paul’s reputation in Honey Grove had become, shall we say ‘tarnished’, he decided to move to Lake Charles and begin anew. Lake Charles was perfect. Big enough for one to blend in (The necessity of which Kim  he never did fully understand, nor could he have, even if he did), yet small-town enough to feel like home. By the time I arrived he had established a thriving pot dealing business. He was making money. A lot of money. But he wanted more, and his suppliers were not able to keep up with his demand. He explained in great detail how his operation had come to be and where he wanted to take it. Kim  Gabe always sought my counsel because he knew I would keep him out of jail. I was the anchor: the guy who would force him to recognize folly, even though he generally traveled through life wearing blinders. He wanted me to remain in Lake Charles and help him grow his business. Having no good prospects at the time (I had been trying in vain to get an overseas gig in Sinai for almost a year) I told him I would stay and help him. My only requirement was that he took my counsel and when I told him something was ill conceived, poorly planned, or just too dangerous, he would listen and follow my instructions, and never “get stuck on stupid.” He anxiously agreed.

*************

There is too much more, if anyone would like to read.

Chapter Three

The Flat-Bed Truck and The Pastel Sun-Dress

Thou talks of Nothing.

ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!

PITY PARTY WARNING!

WARNING!

WARNING!

DANGER WILL ROBINSON!

DANGER!

“NO BARE FEET BEYOND THIS POINT!

(THIS MEANS YOU!)

And Here is a news flash for you Marcom:

Ronnie Died about fifty year ago. Get the fuck over it!

“Golly Gosh, My Lord. I am tryin’ to… but you see…I have been watching this “Game of Thrones” thing on the Television…”

“The what?”

“TV.”

“Never heard of such nonsense.”

“Yes, My Lord. Me neither.”

Whew!

Now my lawyers are sated.

**********

There was a semi-recent poll taken, right here on this Blog: TT&H, where the question was broached.

Nay! Asked:

“What should I write about?”

Well, after so many hanging chaffs and invalid voting boxes, and I do not know how many “Landslide Lyndons” we experienced, the tally was tallied:

Someone voted for a Peanut Story.

(Moron!)

Just so happens, I had one in my hip pocket. (I carry it about, you see? Just for occasions such as this)

I do believe the year was 1994, give or take. (10 years)

I was in a bad spot with my then-wife and my Girl-Friend who soon, someday soon, I hoped  to become my next-wife.

Nevermind her name; this is irrelevant. After a few… well.

I was in this bad spot, you see. And I needed a flat-bed truck (for whatever reason), you see?

Now, the only one in possession of same was Peanut.

You see? (Because Peanut was always the one who did not ask questions, you see?) And why was that? Because I was also the only one who never asked.

Being poor of money and poor’er of excuse, I told my bride: “Honey, we need to see this man about a truck. Then we can get on with our lives.”

“Okay,” she said.

Off we went, she in her pretty sun-dress and me,  looking for flatbed trucks in all them wrong places.

And then, after about eight miles of Bad Texas Road,  we came upon a tree across the road you see, and a madman with a shotgun,  you see; this madman was shooting at this young girl, you see, and this was embarrassing to me, you see, since the man wielding the shotgun could not hit shit, .. and his aim was lousy you see? And of course the girl was out of range, you see, and it did not matter to me, you see? 

BECAUSE My Brother, PEANUT would never shoot an innocent girl on the wing.

You see?

You See?

You must have seen that coming.

Oh, that ‘other’ guy?

That Guy shooting at that girl?

What did we do with him?

Well, turns out, that was Peanut.

I had to forgive him. The girl was not harmed and I missed my brother.

Thus it ended….

That’s Tejas!

*************

STOP!

I cannot write this.

Maybe later.

Sorry. It has become rare that I just throw up a rough draft, you see?

(Yes, I know: they are all rough drafts)

This one may have some promise, however, since, like all Things Peanut, it is true.

Caint you see?

Mercutio/Peanut?

“And being thus disquieted…”

Or something….

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Mab

Not unlike Pygmalion, as the years fly by, I create.

I cannot ‘create’ the woman I love. Not because she does not exist, but because, I do not want to embarrass her.

Yet, she is real and she loves me: since 1971.

She told me so.

Now…..five wives later….My wives.

(I should have never left her to fend.

oh no! I had to go to fuckn egypt for five fuckin years!)

“Torn-ment”

Is just a fucking word.

Hell! It is not even a word for a life lost.

“His only aspiration…. was getting back that girl he lost before.”

–Joni

But.. what to do with? As a dog chasing a train? What is he gonna do, if he catches it?

Love it?

These are the eternal questions.

–Lance

********

Nothing seems to keep you high.

Who knew?

Who could have?

Ever?

“I’ll try to be there for you….”

“When your spirits start to sink.”

“Is it all just books and words?”

Not The Waltons

For Madelyn

 

You will undoubtedly notice the absence of one “Lance A. Marcom” in the list of family members surviving one Ralph A. Marcom.  But I was after all, the “Black Sheep.” I have, since the publishing of this obit,

http://marcomthemountebank.com/marcomobit.htm

spoken to Bill Palmer, (Its author and actually a very good friend of mine now.) regarding this and he told me that it—ME—must have slipped his mind, as I was always thousands of miles away in some desert or similar out-of-touch, unreachable “shit hole.”

Thanks Bill.

Marcom Manor

MARCOM MANOR

When my father met my mother at ETSU (East Texas State University) he was studying French and Drama. That really couldn’t pay the bills, so he later (forced by his father) became a physician, but not before working as a Disc Jockey in almost every small-town hick radio station in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. He also did a stint on a late night TV show in Kansas City in the early Sixties, dressing up as Dracula or Satan, running horror movies and doing all the commercials (Think Elvira in reverse drag).

I lived with him and my first step-mother there in Kansas City for a brief spell (before my mother hired a private detective, tracked me down, and kidnapped me back—another story how/why all that had to happen) and don’t remember much of it, except hating my ‘evil’ stepmother (she forced liver down me, which I found disgusting then, but love now.). Years later I discovered she wasn’t all that ‘evil’ and that the only reason she forced me to eat liver was that it was ‘good for me.’ Okay, maybe she was evil.

Anyway…

Many years later, after doing that nickel (prison ‘vernacular’) in Fremont and a short stint with my maternal grandparents in East Texas, I moved  in with my father in Honey Grove and second stepmother (most decidedly more ‘evil’ than the first, and in more subtle and damaging ways, especially for a boy who was ‘coming of age’ and with all the teenage angst that that manifests.)

My father had purchased a three and a half story Victorian house (circa ‘Texas Victorian’ 1880) in HG and remodeled it beautifully.

The place resembled the mansion inhabited by The Addams Family. Literally. Daddy (Texans always call their fathers “Daddy” even when they are in their fifties–don’t ask me why because I don’t know) was by then a proper doctor, but his passion was magic (anything to keep performing, it would seem) and he was very good at it. His specialty was ‘close up’ and he did become a semi-famous person, at least in the Magic Community. He also performed at Scarborough Faire, a semi-famous annual Renaissance Festival held in Waxahachie (Texas of course).

Continue reading