Spiders, Spiders Everywhere and all the Girls Did Shriek! Spiders, Spiders Everywhere, Even in the Sink!”

Sadie.jpg

A New Take On An Old Story

While suffering my enforced exile in California I could often be found searching for jumping spiders. One day I captured a particularly stunning one with black and white markings, dark black-green eyes and luminescent aquamarine fangs behind the feathery appendages which covered them.

Absolutely Beautiful Spider!

I gently herded her into a mason jar which contained several wood chips of varying shapes and sizes. Jumping spiders do not build webs; they live in caves made by little boys employing wood chips. (This is what my spidery experience had taught me through the years.)

Once I had done my time we moved back to Texas, but not before I was forced to abandon my Most Beautiful Spider, along with all the others I had collected, my mother announcing quite emphatically,

“I am NOT riding in a car all-the-way-home-to-Texas seated next to five jars full of damn spiders!”

Once back in Texas, for several weeks I suffered from PTSL: Post Traumatic Spider Loss. I missed my spiders, especially the beautiful one I had named ‘Sadie’.

Not that Texas has a spider shortage, mind you; I just did not immediately know where to look: “Looking for Spiders in all the wrong places.”

One day, lo’ and behold, I found a jumping spider which looked so very much familiar to me, (or perhaps she found me)

“Sadie! Sadie! Did you follow me all the way from California?” I asked breathlessly.

“Of course,” she said. “Why wouldn’t I?”

I happily gathered her up and placed her into my newest mason jar, assuming she still wanted to be my pet.

About a month later, I proudly announced to my Grandparents:

“My spider is gonna have babies.”

“Lance Son,” my Grandmother informed me rather condescendingly, “There is no daddy spider in there. Your spider cannot possibly have baby spiders.”

Not ill-mannered enough to say it, I thought it: “Of course she can have baby spiders ‘without a ‘daddy.’ Spiders are like guppies: they store sperm until the time is ‘just right.’ But how could this old Tennessee-Baptist-Dyed-In-The-Wool-God-is-Great woman even wrap her mind around such things Darwin?”

Absolutely Incomprehensible To Her.

About two weeks later, I was up to my ass in baby spiders. I did not show grandmother these offspring. She would have told me it was yet one more miraculous example of God’s Work:

“The Immaculate Spider Conception.”

All the baby spiders slowly disappeared over time, crawling through the ice-pick holes in the lid of the Mason Jar two-by-two, or however. Fine. Neither Sadie nor I were interested in raising a passel of little spider crumb snatchers.

My Lady Spider was a huntress and she complained daily regarding my neglect of her need. She ached for something more than the flies I would daily cast into her mason jar. They were just food. No thrills to be had in the hunt, merely a harvest. She was growing morose.

“You’re killing my Spider Soul with all these damn flies Lance,” she said.

“OK Sadie! I will give you something to satiate your arachnid need,” I told her one morning.

Under the eaves of my Grandfather’s shed lived a few Black Widow Spiders. They had established some manner of ‘Black Widow Sisterhood,’ (Not unlike similar ‘Sisterhoods’ to be found on Social Media these days.) Even though I am most definitely a spider geek, Black Widows never intrigued me as potential pets, mainly because they needed more than a Mason Jar Ecosystem for lodging and accoutrements and also because of their lethargic laisser-faire approach to acquiring sustenance:

“Sit in their parlor-web all day; wait for something hapless to happen by.”

No hunt in them whatsoever.
Boring.

Slightly peeved with Sadie, I decided to capture one of The Sisters. I took her to Sadie’s Mason jar and dropped her in.

“Happy now damn you?” I said.

Sadie looked about at her new roommate. Then looked up at me through multiple dark green eyes and said,

“I never thought we would come to this.”

“Sorry, ol’ Gal,” I giggled. “This is the part where the cowboy rides away. Catch ya laters. Good luck.”

I was curious and in fact, had nothing but time on my hands so I watched to see how she would deal with her new jar-mate, never really fearful for her safety.

But Black Widow was wily. She taunted Sadie, waving her long, spindly legs about in semaphore fashion, as if to say, “Come hither Little Jumper, let me demonstrate the technique that has given my kind our terrible dark name.”

Sadie began deliberately circling around Black Widow, sizing her up, her little Sadie neurons firing on and off, then seizing what I’m certain she perceived as perfect opportunity, jumped at her full force.

And missed!

Her momentum caused her to tumble onto her back.

Black Widow capitalized and deftly captured Sadie and began wrapping her in web, presumably to eat at her leisure. 
But Black Widow made one fatal mistake:

She bound Sadie’s hind legs (all four of them) first, leaving her front legs (all four of THEM) free. As Black Widow was casually wrapping her up, Sadie grabbed her with unencumbered front legs and planted a big wet French Kiss into Black Widow’s thorax. They remained locked in this embrace for thirty minutes. (I know; I was there, timing it–for ‘science’)

Black Widow now hoisted with her own petard and quite dead, was dropped by Sadie, who watched her tumble down and land with an inaudible (to me) thud on the Mason Jar floor.

“Sadie,” I said. “Your indentured servitude has ended. Here, allow me help you out of that.”

Fishing some tweezers that I had stolen from my Grandmother’s “Lady-Bag” bag from my jean’s pocket I gently and meticulously pulled all the Black Widow silk from Sadie, a tedious time consuming effort which took at least half an hour. Then I gingerly laid the Mason Jar on its side hiding it in a pile of kindling away from the prying eyes of opportunistic birds and went on about my business.

Returning the next day, I discovered no Sadie: just a note written in Spider’ease which read:

“Dear Lance,”

“Thank you for allowing me to save myself. 
I will always love you, but I’ve had quite enough of Texas and Texan ways. If you ever make it back to California, look me up. Here is my email addy: (Redacted)
Spider On! Y’all!”

And that was how she ended it.

Took me three days to get the webs out of my brain and a week to find another spider, but she was not the same. She was not MY Sadie, just an inadequately inept substitute, but I suppose that’s how it goes with First Loves lost.

“I miss you Sadie,” I caught myself saying to no one in particular few days later.

 

I’m The Reason God Made Oklahoma

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

END

“Don’t Rain Rust on my Parade”*

“Petty Officer Marcom! Your fifty cals are rusty!”

I must admit; yes, they were. I tried so hard to keep ahead of the rust, but here I found myself between the second half of a six-month, round-the-whurl-WestPac deployment, and somewhere just off the coast of Somalia. Yes, rust was my enemy, and never my friend—the machine guns were always mounted while we (The USS Callaghan DDG 994, full cast and crew) were Haze-Gray and Underway. Yes, always mounted. And subject to rust. Rust Relentless. Relentless She Be: That Sea.

My professional life was to be found somewhere in those machine guns.

The Navy had a solution though. They provided canvas covers to cover those guns and make them safe from the rust. Alas, those canvas covers had seen better days, probably back when Pearl Harbor was just an ordinary Naval Base.

While scrubbing the Indian Ocean rust off’n the fifty-cals one morning I hatched a plan. Knowing full well we were soon to pull into Mombasa, Kenya, I saved my money. Once in Mombasa, I would smuggle one of the moth infected, jig saw, ‘holy’ canvas shards off the ship. I would rent a taxi and find a leather shop in Mombasa and commission new covers for my fifty caliber machine guns.

And This is exactly what I did, and to the amazement and astonishment of my Senior Chief Petty Officer and my Department Head (almost a Navy Commander… he kinda looked like JFK, now that I think on it—I did not like him, but he respected me—not sure why…)

The next time they inspected my Fifty Cals, they were pristine! (They did not take notice nor time to notice that the canvas covers were not exactly Haze-Gray Naval Gray–No, more like Third-World-Rustic.  And I was so desirous that they did NOT notice, but my Master Chief did notice, yet, never ever voicing his ‘inner thoughts’ in front of what he referred to as “Shit Birds” — ‘Officers’ — Never let on.

And I should have been cognizant of this, yet I was somewhat giddy after my .50 Cals had finally passed inspection, that I did not stop to think that anyone, not even Master Chief had seen through my ruse. I was drunk with my own cleverness and lying in my rack, congratulating me.

(Now, you must realize how the Military Mind works. I was my Ship’s Armor All–Armorer– IN Charge of All The Ship’s Small Arms! I was a Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class! Freshly rocked out of SEAL Training and trying to regain what little was left of my  pride.)

And I loved and Respected My Master Chief. Did not ever want to become an embarrassment to him, nor to my Fellow Gunner’s Mates who worked on the “Big Guns”.

And even more important, (anyone who has ever ‘Served’ will know this), the Military is Run on Fear: “Oh God, Please Don’t Let Me Fuck UP!”

That kind of fear.

Well, as I was lying in my rack just before Taps with my little blue ‘privacy’ curtain drawn, someone abruptly jerked back the curtain.

Yep.

Master Chief Anderson

“Son, tell me where you found those brand new gun covers.”

Trying to try to my side and find an elbow to lean to, I half-coughed out, “Master Chief, I had them made while we were in Mombasa.”

“I see”, was all he said, as he yanked my curtain back shut.

I did not sleep that night. For you see, I knew I had broken Naval Regs by doing something not-in-the Naval Seaman’s Bible–The Blue Book–The book I had been made to almost memorize while at Recruit Training Command, i.e. boot camp. I had broken the rules.

Sometime mid morning the next day, I was summoned to the berth/office of  The Department Head of my Division, Lt. Commander ‘Kennedy’. Shitting bricks is too trite.

I was nervous.

I gave a hearty rap on the bulkhead door as I was trained to do in bootcamp…

“Enter!”

“Petty Officer 3rd Class Marcom Sir!”

“I know who you are Lance; sit down.”

(What??? Lance??? Sit Down???)

Mouth agape I sad down, speechless

“Son, Master Chief Anderson tells me you went out on your own, commissioned and paid for, with your own money, those .50 Cal Gun Covers. Is this true?”

“Yes, uh, yessir,” I stammered.

“Well, that shows some fine initiative. How much did you pay Son?”

“Un Sir. Doesn’t matter…. I just, well, the .50 Cals cost ten-thousand dollars each, and I thought…rust….an…”

“How much did you pay?!”

“250 Dollars Sir.”

Without saying a word he opened a little three lock box (OK; I made that up. It was only a one-lock box) that he had in a drawer and handed me two-hundred and fifty bucks.

I sat there a moment too long, still in shock, looking the bills in my hand…

“Petty Officer Marcom! You’re dismissed!”

Jumping up, some tears welling in my eyes, “Yessir!” As I saluted him and abruptly left his quarters, knocking some books off a shelf as I tried to hustle out…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I may continue this story, (or not). My time in Kenya was rather interesting though.

(Those bits I remember anyhow)

 

The Happiest Year of My Life Remembered

The news of late from CNN foretells the fall of Anbar Province and of Baghdad. I spent one year working in Anbar Province. This was the happiest (on record) year of my life.

I am attaching a video and yes it is corny, and yes, the music is somewhat ‘gay’, and no, this was not a video that I made, or would have made.

It is a video made by the Filipinos who worked for/with me during this time. They made this vid as a ‘going away’ present for me when I decided to leave Anbar (Camp Wolfe) to work for an Iraqi company in Baghdad. Filipinos lean toward sentimental, hence their choice of music. To them it was fittin’. I loved them all.

I cherish this video and the sentiment behind it.

I do hope you will watch.

Cheers,

Lance

P.S. Hint: I am the guy in the black gimme cap and the black jacket. Bob The Mechanic is the guy with the beard, wearing the overalls.

080116 Wolf Looking Northeast 080116 Wolf Looking Northwest 080116 Wolf Looking Southeast LN LSA

 

I just had to attach this vid as it is so apropos:

Lenny on stage

 

Steinbeck

Edit That.

 As a “thinking” person, I do not believe in ‘Creation Science’. Nor do I believe in “God.”

But… I do believe in Magic!

That Magic which calls itself :”Jodi Foster.”

(Hahaha! I am sooo funny! And yep: I have seen the movie. Lighten up.)

And I love Science ‘Friction’

“Tired of being all alone here…late at night”

I am a Socialist!

“Socialist:” One who needs warm bodies akin… his skin.”

Tonight Tonight!

My Goal ‘Tonight’ is to catch up.

Yep

To catch up with my blogging friends.

I aim (good Texan verb, ‘aim’) to read and comment on one thousand! Posts! Shazam!! “Gall Eee Sargent Carter!”

Gomers found here

gomer-1-and-gomette-2

Amman Jordan, 2007 (I think) Me and Gommett

vid credit: Mark Ward

 

Now of course even y’all Yankees out there recognize that as hyperbole at best and bullshit at real.

Only people who use WP Reader can even ‘like’ a thousand posts a night with the simple-minded click of a simple-minded mouse. And Hell! It ain’t the mouse that is simple. It’s the mouse driver.

So, I just say: I will try (jes’ as soon as I post this here post) to get to readin’ ‘stead of writin’.

This is my goal and it is an honorable one. I may get to fifteen, but my likes and my comments are the real deal… so take that with some grain of… humble

And yes, I hope to prosper by my efforts (i.e.,  get more of y’all to read MY shit—tit for tat, eh? Yeah, that is what it is all about, ain’t it, Alfie?

Tits.

Yep

Tits and tats

Or, my personal favorite:

Tits and ass

It is always about tits yet, I am a ‘leg and ass man.’ Go figger her figure…

Cheers Y’all

And I will be seeing you in all the familiar places (That is a song! Get yer minds outta them gutters, fer fuck sake!)

Here Dear:

Vid credit:

warholsoup100

Cheers Again,

Lancers

Running in Soft Sand: Part Three

Ed. Note: 29 Aug:

It has been brought to my attention (by my anti-virus software, of which I do not squander money on—that one of these links is, well, poluted. So, please don’t follow  any links (the other shit is safe). I apologize for giving you Ebola (if I did)

Breaking NEWS! 2017  All the links are now safe! Surf ON!

Cheers,

Lance

***

Or…

Alternate Titles:

‘Lance’s Ramblings from his 115th Dream Stream’ (Sorry Bob)

“Call me if they die.”

‘Semi Conscientious Streams of Conscientiousness’

‘Raining upon My Hit Parade’

‘Nights in White Satin’ – that one makes no sense. That is why I put it in.

Or, last and least perhaps: “I have become my Grandfather, or How I became Andy Rooney in One Thousand Words or Less, an essay.”

Gentle Readers, it has not escaped my undying attention that I tend to lean heavily toward the overly-dramatic. The ‘trauma drama’ effect even. Call it a ‘crutch’ if you will.

Yep. Call it that.

This I do know. Therefore, I have (Through my magical powers derived from watching old re-runs of ‘Dragnet’—“Just the facts Ma’am. Just the facts.”—decided to ‘come on back down to Earth, Son’.

–Boz Scaggs: Lowdown)

My (solely appreciated) goal here is to present just ‘them’—just them facts.

I hope I am successful. For y’all’s sake.

When last we left our hero, he was leading his class to their first BUD/s workout. Well, you cannot really call it such: more like a medieval (‘I’m gonna get medieval on your ass’) torture session.

Whatever

Even at zero five (‘Zero Dark Thirty?), The Grinder was a hot, miserable place to be, especially NOT designed for yoga or even step-up aerobics, and / or certainly not Pilates. (Gay Pirates?) No. ‘Twas Wasn’t. There is a reason they (Navy) call it ‘The Grinder.” You go ahead and figure out the obvious.

But this day I do not wanna write about Those Lazy Crazy Hazy Days of Summer…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoLogdbVS3U

I want to write about this:

I think. I think I am. Therefore I am… I think.

–Moody Blues, With apologies to René Descartes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTHoKEd-Gjo

***

Now Y’all, much of that I wrote late last night. (Under Some Influence)

Didn’t publish. (Thank Baby Hey Zeus). But I woke up this morning

(Praise be to Allah—Ah Ha!) And you, yes you! (My Human Friends) were on my mind:

To MORE BAD News Stories. I shall list them below so that you may share in ‘The Misery’ That is OUR ‘New World’ (You may thank me later. Send cards and letters…)

  1. The Middle East is still throwing gasoline upon their (and our) raging fire
  2. There will probably never be closure nor justice for Michael Brown or his family
  3. Ebola is raging strong (But only in Africa: So, who cares, right? The WHO, that’s who)
  4. ISIS is our new (never heard of till yesterday) National Crisis & Clear and Present Danger (or new best friend for our Military Industrial Complex, off of which I tend to make MY living)—Much hand-wringing and soul searching over that one. NOT! Damn! Put me in Coach! I live for this shit!
  5. My dog has fleas… Fuckin’ fleas. Dogs!
  6. My British GF finds me… well, of late, she don’t (find me)
  7. I dreamt late last night about my favorite dead cat (Her name was Lucia and she was ‘The Cat From Hell’ and I miss her still—probably the only ‘real’ relationship I have ever had with ‘pussy.’)
  8. My blood pressure remains off the chart and I think I may have given myself diabetes: Type Duh
  9. I have been remiss in visiting and commenting on the blogs of my good friends
  10. Maybe I will just go and eat worms. Maybe I like to eat worms…

Now, Don’t let it bring you down, but that is how I woke up. (And I was happy to have woken up… for just-one-more-day…stay?)

And hey!

Don't stay here

Photo taken in Iraq (or Afghanistan) I honestly don’t remember…

There really is no point to this post. Let us just call it “Unconscious Stream of Consciousness”.

And I will most likely, delete it (and y’all know, I am quick on the mouse trigger when it comes to deletion: I see it as a form of… birth control. So read fast!)

So There.

Now to the ‘Meat of the Matter’:

I want to write about ‘The Age of Innocence’: The Seventies.

Yep. I tend to live in the glory that was Roaming… You may bail out here. Here, in fact here is your parachute. Be certain to locate the RIP Cord before you exit the plane: Just a word to some wise and hey!

Bon Voyage!

***

For those of y’all who still remain, I want to write about Karen Carpenter. Not ‘The’ Karen Carpenter, but the Karen Carpenter that symbolized how I felt about the Seventies. Yeah, that one. Her.

***

I woke up with Karen Carpenter on my mind (and yes: I have posted about her recently, but I wanted to try to explain why now)

I woke up with Karen and sadly not in my bed, but in my mind.

Why?

Because… of the ‘Age of Innocents.’ I call her one. The first casualty of the sickness that guides us: This American Dream of having to be some other person. A person, in the spotlight who is …. Drumroll: PERFECT!

No one is perfect and certainly not me (though I am pretty close). Yet, no one is perfection. We cannot be. There is no God and if you believe that there is, you are about as far removed from ‘Perfection’ as a Human…

I should delete that sentence, as it is not Germane, nor German, to my point. Let me think on it…

Back to The Seventies: The Age of Innocents (I was innocent; were you? Probab’ly not.)…

I am running on empty now/here.

“I don’t know where I’m runnin’ now; I’m just runnin’ on…

The Seventies.

I would like some thoughts on that/those. From you! And then, having received same, I will continue. Maybe.

Your choice.

Shalom

Salaam

Namaste

Hook ‘em Horns

Peace,

–Lancers

And P.S. I am sorry for stealing all the vid clips. I will (I promise) accolade y’all later–more later–but later)

And: to any readers I have left:

I am in some form of cryxis: I will be, as Shakespeare once wrote, “King Richard is himself again.” once be.

Stay tuned…
Or not: Yer choice.

Peach,

Lanced

Oh! And by the way… Jackson Browne was/is an asshole

Read it here

Bye now…

Running in Soft Sand: Part Two

The Below is Somewhat of a Rant Interlude (before I get to the rest of my story): Read at Your Own Annoyance.

*****

But before you do that, perhaps you may want to visit here, and watch the video while there, and maybe even read here.

***

I have a lot to say.

About Navy SEALs.

I have a lot of opinions.

About Navy SEALs.

And I am bona fide.

About Navy SEALs

****

I have a lot of regret over my experience with Navy SEALs.

I have a lot of love for Navy SEALs. Hell! I love the Nav!

(I scored ’99’ on my ASVAB–Unheard of!–The Army Tried to Recruit me! The Greenie Beanies! The Rangers! What a fucking joke!

(Now, do not mistake me: I think the Green Berets are just Jim Dandy, but they have parameters: i.e., there are things they just will not attempt. The Navy (SEALs) have no parameters: they will ‘attempt’ anything–more than once)

Video Credit:  Goldenman39z

I recall, while at BUD/s, how we used to taunt the USMC, there for their ‘little taste of amphib training.’

“Hey! Marine Corps! Bullet Sponge Marine Corps! (The few; the proud; the dead on the beach!”)**

Yeah, we got into trouble over that one…

And I did, one day, overhear a TDY Greenie Beanie instructor ask MY BUD/s instructor:

“Hey! How do you guys do it? I mean… how do you do it? You do all the same training! How do you do IT??”

My BUD/s instructor simply said, 

“We do it because this is how we do it.”

Would not trade my time spent at BUD/s for any other of my life’s experiences that I have experienced. (And that includes my time spent at SFM and in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even in Oklahoma and other war zones.)

I ‘earned’ it—my experience with SEALs.

All of it.

Every fuckin’ second.

They, (The SEAL Instructors) tried to kill me, but in a good way…They did kill one, in a manner of speaking, on ‘my watch’, but that is yet another story which time and virtual ink will not permit me to recount here–maybe later)

There are a lot of ‘frauds’ out there now. People who will tell you:

“I was a Navy SEAL.”

Idiots most! If you want to know if someone is / was a SEAL, you simply need to ask one simple question, “Which BUD/s class were you in?”

If that answer comes back as nonsense, then you will know…

(But, how will you know, being a non-com? If it was, indeed, nonsense.) I will tell you. There is only one place on Earth where BUD/s is taking place. That there, for starters, is a good clue. If some asshole tells you he went to BUD/s in Norfolk, VA, (As once happened to me in Basra, Iraq and once in Mombasa, Kenya) he is lying. If some asshole tells you he cannot remember: he is lying. If some asshole tells you it is ‘Classified,’ he is lying.

Walk away and find an interesting chick to speak with. You may get lucky. Buy her a gin and tonic or a wine cooler and tell her you were a Navy SEAL. She may buy into your bullshit. It usually never works in Southern California, but always works like a charm in Toledo.

And the crowd went wild
And The Crowd Went Wild!

Ever since Navy SEALs ‘took out’ OBL… well, and even before… The Navy has had a great PR Program, and a great recruiting machine. The Navy does recruiting better than any other service, (USMC is a very close second, though) But when I was about to enlist and told my recruiter I was ‘going in’ to be a SEAL, he did his due diligence and tried to talk me out of it!

Hahahah!

When I put in my chit (Navy vernacular) for SEALs, no one, and I mean no one, had ever heard of such an outfit, save for a few Nam Vets. I mean to say, data-based, ninety-nine of one hundred Americans could not even define a Navy SEAL.

“SEALs? Never heard of ‘em. Green Berets? Sure. Saw the fucking movie… John Wayne, right?”

Thinking to myself: “Yeah… The Duke, In Fucking Georgia: About as far removed from Viet Nam as is possible, you schmuck!”

Now today, I tune into CNN, FOX: even Aljazeera America, (You damn betcha! I read / watch ALL news), and I see so many ‘Former Navy SEALs’ paraded in front of me, talking to Megyn Kelly, or Bill O’Reilly, or Brook Baldwin, or Kim Kardashian. Jesus on a cracker! Is this what I missed by not becoming a Navy SEAL? I coulda been a ‘coin-tender!’ I coulda been somebody! I could have written a fucking book. Instead of being a bum.

Do a ‘search’ on Amazon dot com for Navy SEAL books. The SEALs I knew, did not ‘talk.’ Now everyone who ever even attempted ‘Hell Week’, is fucking Ernest Hemingway. Makes me nauseous.

Sheeit!

Don’t worry: I will get back to ‘My First Day at BUD/s’ soon enuff, but I am venting now. So please bear with me.

I am going to tell you what it really means to be a young, dumb, full of cum, Texas kid going through SEAL Training. Not the hoopla. Not the machismo. Not the ‘end game’ killing OBL.

No.

Just the story of four or five score scared shitless young kids, who had no idea what they had signed up for… And I was the oldest amongst them, but even, truth be told, the more scared. Because I knew better… Should have known better.

End of Rant.

Please stay tuned.

** And yeah! My own Father was a Korean-Era USMC: ‘Spit an’ Shine, Nickel and a Dime, United States Marine Corps!”

So what?

He weren’t no SEAL (Then again, neither was I)

Uniquely Random Memories from the Middle East Continued

“We made love in that birdhouse after sundown. And with the door open. And why not? We were young. (And we had all that ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ bullshit to boot)”

Thus ended my last ‘serious’ transmission regarding my recently orphaned series, bits of which may be found here  here  here  here…

WordPress is not Facebook and I would do well to remember this, yet if memory serves, the above is indeed how I did in fact, end my last sober transmission regarding this never-ending (Insha’Allah) story I still call without shame or sham, My Life.

Guess what Friends.  I am gonna end it now. Hang onto yer butts.

All true, but I have a tendency to grow bored with my own writing and this does not bode well, well…

I have just recently been returned from my Sabbatical, (kicking and screaming) which was spent in some dark happy place looking for answers. Finding none, save one, I have returned to these pages more or less now unobstructed and with fresh thoughts unobscured.

“Whatever does he mean, “Unobstructed”? “Hey Y’all! Come look he’ah! Lance done lost his mind!” (a-gin)

Means, Dear Readers that I am just gonna tell “THE TRUTH” from now on. Not that I have not ‘til now been telling same but, now I am gonna tell the Whole Truth, because by omission, I have been lying.

No Sugar, no mas.

This I gleaned from my Sabbatical. “So thanks Sabra. And thanks for the lobotomy, and gee! That shock therapy was da bomb!”

Stay tuned…

Oh! And to tie up that last loose end:

Janet and I spent a wonderful day or two at Sharm, then went back to SFM and carried on. Things kinda went to shit after that… for a spell.

But then we got married and it was all copacetic–For about two hours.

Yes it was on our honeymoon and we got into an argument and ended up after the ceremony un-ceremoniously sailing our newly purchased and vowed-upon wedding rings off the balcony of the Sheraton Hotel, (tenth floor) gleefully watching them bounce on the sand in front of the Mediterranean Sea, to wait there for some intrepid happy beach comber to later discover and claim ‘pirate treasure’ no doubt from Sodom and Gomorrah… (Yes, American tourists are stupid)

After we had ‘dissolved’ our new marriage in that ancient simple way,  we went back to drinking and fucking, and for some I suppose that is what one could call a decent marriage, at least in the early stages.

And honestly, I think that is all way too much information about my time spent with her and Moses in Sinai and in the ‘Rest-of-the-Holy-Land.’

But perhaps not.

(See? I am sharing “deep thoughts” here) with you thanks to my newly ended Sabbatical. Now don’t you feel ‘very unique’? (Ed. Note: I HATE that! There are no degrees of ‘unique’. You can look it up)

If ya wanna…

 Addendum:

I really don’t want to write about Janet but… damn it! She is such a wonderful, truly true, truly colorful, truly unique, one-hundred-and-one pounds of fun character, especially after we arrived in Nacogdoches Texas and began our ‘unique’ married life.

We are all, all of us, ‘very unique individuals’.

Ain’t we?

Or aren’t we all just deluding our own unique selves?

Probably will be continued when They let me out again for ‘Social Time’

mscientist 

And Finally I leave you with a good Sunday Morning Song. We used to sing this as we ran in formation to chow when I was in BUD/s Class 158. Can you imagine? Probably not.

Video Credit: 

 tnDianna

Now I sing this every morning… in the shower… with the hot water… so no one will ever hear…

Vid credit? I suppose Sheryl…

And the final finally, I leave Y’all with the most perfect’est Sunday Morning Song:

Video Credit: Public Domain (I hope)

 

Final Flair

This has been said before.

You do not come to my site for revelation.

You come here (I hope) looking for Texas-in-all-the-wrong-places.

Never mind that one.

I have an affinity for Willie, (as all Texans do)

Therefore, since we all have our ‘Sound-Tracks’, here is one from mine:

I hope you like it.

Cheers,

Lance

P.S. I have lived a reckless sort of life, but ya know what?

“There’s nothin’ I can do about it now.”

So… I rock on.

Do I have a choice?

Did I ever?

Pap, Huk, Peanut, Delirium tremens, and Lance

I post a lot of shit. I post a lot of off the wall shit. If you have read my ‘By Way of Introduction’ page you will know this. But, OK,  most of you have not (read that). Therefore, I will be brief here (“More matter and less art,” Yeah yeah yeah…) More matter below:

And here is some ref: Peanut, stuff, more stuff, and even more stuff.

I stole this from Sam Clemens. I hope you like it a lot. (I do)

I don’t know how long I was asleep, but all of a sudden there was an awful scream and I was up. There was pap looking wild, and skipping around every which way and yelling about snakes. He said they was crawling up his legs; and then he would give a jump and scream, and say one had bit him on the cheek–but I couldn’t see no snakes. He started and run round and round the cabin, hollering “Take him off! take him off! he’s biting me on the neck!” I never see a man look so wild in the eyes. Pretty soon he was all fagged out, and fell down panting; then he rolled over and over wonderful fast, kicking things every which way, and striking and grabbing at the air with his hands, and screaming and saying there was devils a-hold of him. He wore out by and by, and laid still a while, moaning. Then he laid stiller, and didn’t make a sound. I could hear the owls and the wolves away off in the woods, and it seemed terrible still. He was laying over by the corner. By and by he raised up part way and listened, with his head to one side. He says, very low:

“Tramp–tramp–tramp; that’s the dead; tramp–tramp–tramp; they’re coming after me; but I won’t go. Oh, they’re here! don’t touch me –don’t! hands off–they’re cold; let go. Oh, let a poor devil alone!”

Then he went down on all fours and crawled off, begging them to let him alone, and he rolled himself up in his blanket and wallowed in under the old pine table, still a-begging; and then he went to crying. I could hear him through the blanket.

By and by he rolled out and jumped up on his feet looking wild, and he see me and went for me. He chased me round and round the place with a clasp-knife, calling me the Angel of Death, and saying he would kill me, and then I couldn’t come for him no more. I begged, and told him I was only Huck; but he laughed SUCH a screechy laugh, and roared and cussed, and kept on chasing me up. Once when I turned short and dodged under his arm he made a grab and got me by the jacket between my shoulders, and I thought I was gone; but I slid out of the jacket quick as lightning, and saved myself. Pretty soon he was all tired out, and dropped down with his back against the door, and said he would rest a minute and then kill me. He put his knife under him, and said he would sleep and get strong, and then he would see who was who.

So he dozed off pretty soon. By and by I got the old split-bottom chair and clumb up as easy as I could, not to make any noise, and got down the gun. I slipped the ramrod down it to make sure it was loaded, then I laid it across the turnip barrel, pointing towards pap, and set down behind it to wait for him to stir. And how slow and still the time did drag along.

Shoot at me you son of a bitch!

“Lately I been thinkin’, I just might quit drinkin’… now I don’t know, all in all…”

It’s Thirst – Day

An’ stuff… and xSnuff

And “stuff” is who I am: This stuff that dreams are made of.

****

Suffering From Writer’s Block (and Laziness)

I have invented ‘Flash-Back Friday’
The below never got much play, so we are gonna ‘Play it again (sic) Sam.’
Here goes:

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).

He converted the basement into a ‘dungeon’ and rigged up all manner of dungeon devices for his and his guests’ amusement. There was a coffin standing upright in one corner with a mummified statue inside. He told everyone that the mummy was his first wife. As far as I knew, my “mum” was his first wife and still remained very much Un-mummified, but it would have been poor form to point this out to the credulous.

My new step-mother had her own magic act performing as Vampira http://marcomthemountebank.com/gloria.htm and family legend has it that she, Gloria, was offered the role of “Morticia” in the Sixties’ TV show Addams Family—which I seriously doubted then and now. The fatal attraction between my father and Gloria was a foregone conclusion, and since the two of them married on Halloween, naturally Halloween became The Holiday for us (remember Madelyn? She was there too—one year my senior).

Every Halloween, she and I would go out to the ‘farm,’ a forty-acre tract of land outside Ladonia that my father had inherited from his father, and chop down the ugliest, scraggliest, dead tree we could find and bring it back to Marcom Manor. This became our ‘Halloween Tree.” Little witches, ghosts, goblins, spiders, snakes and whatever else seemed appropriate were hung on this tree.

Gifts were placed underneath. It was great fun and I did love our special holiday. In celebration of this anniversary my father and step-mother would throw a huge, and I do mean huge, party every year on the Saturday closest to Halloween. Magicians and ‘civilians’ would come from all over Texas and also many from states as far removed from Texas as New York and California for the party, which actually would begin on Thursday night and not end until Monday morning. Many of the guests arrived in motor homes or stayed at the house if they arrived early enough, and the other out-of-towners stayed at whatever motel they could find in Paris, Texas twenty miles away.

The house was perfect for such a soiree too. Madelyn and I had the entire third floor to ourselves and would invite all our friends upstairs for our own party. Black light posters (and others) all of Dylan, Zeppelin, Moody Blues, and Beatles were in abundance as music, a different kind of magic, was our dominate theme.

The second floor was where my father had his study with a large round table (antique oak) where he would hold court and mystify all comers with his close-up magic. The ground floor had a dining room with another antique oak table (which would seat fourteen) and also contained one of the five fireplaces that were in the house. The kitchen itself was probably larger than a small apartment. On every floor there was at least one coffin and everywhere there was ‘Adams-Family-esque’ décor to the point of making the entire place almost a caricature of itself.

In my father’s study directly behind his chair was a complete skeleton he had ‘liberated’ from med school. He kept the top half of a human skull (which he told me once belonged to Hitler–Hell! I was credulous)  in front of him which he used as an ashtray for his King Edward cigars. A small balsa-wood box contained a genuine shrunken head from Bora-Bora, or Ecuador, or some such place. One wall displayed no less than 30 hand guns, all loaded. I once asked “Daddy, why do you keep all the guns loaded?” He replied, “Son, if I need a gun, I will most likely need one in a hurry, and there is nothing on Earth more useless than an unloaded gun.”

Over the gun display hung an airplane propeller, half of one anyway, splinters and jagged edges where once had been the rest of it—all that remained of my Father’s first two-seater plane. Apparently he was a self-taught pilot in his youth. And far too many other things like that to describe here…

To complete the ambiance, the outside of the house was patrolled by black cats—usually no less than thirteen (I swear, I am not making this up) and a goodly number of those did double duty as house cats as well. For a while we kept a “token” white cat, but, never really standing a chance, he disappeared a few months after we introduced it to The Family. There was an old black Lincoln in the carport, right out of The Godfather—hell it was probably used in the movie.

My father and I never did see eye-to-eye however (and I do, maybe somewhat unjustly, blame a lot of this on my step-mother), and as soon as I graduated high school at seventeen, I moved out and rarely returned at all for visits. After the Houston and Lake Charles period (almost a year, as I recall), I came home just long enough to announce (with some satisfaction) that I was leaving for the job in the Sinai Desert and would not be back for at least ten years. I did have a love for the overly dramatic back then. I had just turned twenty.

My father and I were dangerously alike and I have spent a lot of energy over the years trying to overcome some of the character flaws I inherited from him. I must admit I have also lost some of the good characteristics he possessed. When I think of an example of one of those, I will be sure to let you know…

My Father used this quote on me and more than once:

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is

To have a thankless child! Away! Away!

 

–Lance, The Black Sheep

Baaaa, Baaaa, Baaaa

My father died sometime late 2010.

I was not there.

I was in some shit-hole, half way around the world. 

As was always my wont.

I miss him.

He went to Paris

In his mind.

And so did I, but for real.

“Losing you left a pretty good cowboy.”

He Went to Paris: I can smell the Darkness

paris.jpg

And he went to England; played the piano, married an actress maimed “Kim:”…  She was a good wife… I loved her.

This is a continuation, albeit a flashback, to my story of Janet and Random Memories from The Middle East.

Months before the events inked here, here, here, and here, I found myself in Paris (actually two Paris’s—One Texan—One French). Confus’d yet? Stand by: it grows worse(r)

Let’s back up a mite (mites are hard to back up by the way, militarily that is: damn small and damn slippery, them mites… and they tend to mite-bite one, usually on one’s ass)

We call that “Green on Blue” and if you are following the recent news cycle, you will surely know that, that is inappropriate. But that is just how I roll. Screw Afghanistan and their pretended bullshit “We gonna take over security of our country…” Won’t happen. But after ten plus years there (and some several months there by me, after Iraq–got ‘liberated’–now there is yet another joke. I can speak to the idiocy that is ‘our’ foreign fallacy.

I was in Sinai, 1978 and I received a letter from my step-sis. This was not unusual back in those days, as we were still ‘speaking’. She sent me a rather long and boring letter regarding Honey Grove and all the ‘Happenings’ thereabouts. The letter was indeed ‘boring’ until I got to her ‘PS’. It read and I quote (loosely), “By the way, R is marrying J. Jesus-Beezus!”

This was, to me, devastation by way of bad.

Unspeakable news!

‘How could she?! She was MINE. Mine to mine and to have and to hold… just as soon as I finished with my wanderlust. How dare she?!” How DARE she?!

What to do?

Well, I had some R&R time ‘on the books’ so I hopped on a freighter (airplane), and flew back to Texas, ostensibly to break up the marriage, just like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Problem was, was that I screwed up the dates and the logistics, and arrived not in time to bust up the wedding, but just in time to see the happy couple speeding off fast to Waco and their honeymoon.

Shit!

Never having been more depressed at missing a rendezvous, what to do? Rebound Son! Rebound!

So, I sought out Janet. Let’s call it a ‘bank shot rebound.’ I knew she was working at the Hopkins Lamar (See? To this day, I never know which county I am in)  County Courthouse as a probation officer, so I timed (this time, my timing was spot on) my entrance during her lunch break: Intercepted her coming down the stairs of the courthouse.

“Hey Janet!”

“Lance?”

“C’est moi! How’s Trix?”

“You are supposed to be in Egypt,” she said.

“I escaped,” I said. “Wanna have lunch?”

“Uh… Sure. Why not?” (Why not indeed)

We went to lunch. Then she took the rest of the day. We went to her apartment and drank gin. Later that eve, after I had regaled her with fantastical tales of the Middle of the East, she took a drag from her Virginia Slim and asked, “So are you gonna f*#k me tonight, or what?”

I said, “No Ma’am; I am gonna make love to you—something I should have done five years ago.”

So we did—I did—make love to her.

The problem now became that I had a plane to catch to that other Paris: that one in France. The other part of the problem was that my plane was waiting in Houston. I was about five hours at seventy miles per hour away from my Air France plane at Houston Intercontinental. I had to go. Now.

I hit the road to Houston, not really wanting to go, but I had promised my buddy Bart, Black Bart, that I would meet him in Paris on such and such a day. Naturally, I ended up missing my flight and arrived Paree a day late. On the taxi ride from Charles de Gaulle airport we drove under a bridge and the taxi car lost its windshield to a lone rifle shot. (my theory) “Terrorist?” I asked the cabby? (en français).

“Merde!” Was all he said, as he dodged the flying glass. I did not care anyhow, but this rather happenstance occurrence did not bode well for my first day in Gay Paree.

“There’s my hotel!” I exclaimed as he had managed to (somehow) keep driving.

I paid him off, got out of his now mangled, windshield-less cab and made my way into the cheap hotel lobby. Went up to my room, dropped my shit; then went looking for my buddy. Found him at last sitting on his rack, rather sullen in mood. I checked out his room. It had a wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower.

“So Bart,” I asked finally, “What have you done here in The City of Light for twenty-four hours?”

“You see that tower there?” he asked, pointing to the window.

“Yep,” I said. “That would be the Eiffel Tower.”

“Well, since you didn’t show, I went out on my own… and hey! Ya know what, they don’t speak English here? I went out on my own. (You mentioned that) Walked over to that tower, looked up at it—kicked it—and said to myself, ‘Yep. That there Bartamus, that there is the Eiffel Tower. Then I came back here and took a nap. And would you please tell that France Maid that I do not want no f*#kin’ breakfast? She wakes me up in the f*#king morning with her biscuits (‘croissants’ Asshole) and lousy coffee.”

“Sure Bart,” I said. “I will post a note, en français on yer door.”

“You speak France?”

“Oui.”

“Well Hot Damn then! You be Bogey. I’ll be Bacall.” (of course)

“I weren’t able to bust up the wedding.”

“What?”

“The Wedding.”

“Oh you mean between R and J?”

“Yep. That one, you moron.”

“Yer better off,” he said.

“OK. Then why am I so depressed?”

“Dunno. Did you have any other adventures while you were back In-The-World?”

“Matter of fact, I did. I hooked up with Janet.”

“Bullshit.”

“Nope. No bullshit. Why I missed my flight, in fact.”

“Well, I was just about pissed off at you, but now I unnerstand.”

“Thanks for that,” I said.

“Hey!” he said. “Let’s smoke a bowl and you can tell me all about it while we go and kick this town in the ass.”

“Light her up,” I said. We smoked and drank and then off we went stoned and semi-drunk and in Paris (France) Just two more ugly Americans (Texans)

Now Y’all…

I hesitated while choosing the vid to represent this post. Then I swerved onto this one below. It is somewhat depressing, yeah. But, but… This is how I see my life ending up. I hope you will take the time to watch, listen, and comment.

Vid Credit: 

John1948SevenA

Cheers,

Lance

To Be Continued… Hopefully.

“Losing his hearing, but he don’t care what most people say.”

“Lately I been thinkin’ I just might quit drinkin’…

“I feel like Hank Williams tonight”

JJ Walker

tex flag

Throw-Back: A Raccoon’s Tale

I raised a raccoon once. His name was Leroy, Leroy Rastus. Raised him from a cub I did.

baby_coon

His eyes were recently newly opened and I fed him from a baby bottle. A local rancher in Honey Grove had killed his mama while Coon-Hunting one night and he brought all her cubs home. The next day he adopted them out to several local high school kids. Peanut adopted Leroy’s sister. Another kid adopted his brother. There may have been one or two more siblings, but I don’t recall. Leroy’s adoption experiences were somewhat more transitory. First he was taken by Kim. Kim got bored with him and gave him to my step-sister Madelyn. She thought he was just the coolest thing ever!

For about three days…

His coolness factor having for her it seems, a very short half-life, I made her an offer she couldn’t refuse for her coon: Cash Money. Money’s coolness factor has no half-life. She was only too happy to surrender Leroy to my care for the tidy sum of thirty-five bucks. Quite tidy indeed to an unemployed High School girl in 1974.

I kept Leroy in my bedroom on the third floor of my father’s house. He had an annoying habit of climbing onto my bed, tunneling under the covers and chewing on my toes. Baby raccoons have very sharp teeth. I tried locking him in my closet, but he would wail so loudly that I just could not leave him there. Needless to say my school work suffered due to lack of sleep during that first month or so with Leroy. And it’s also needless to say that what I just wrote above is bullshit. My school work suffered mostly from my laissez faire philosophy regarding high school, but it’s nice to have someone to blame other than myself.

My girlfriend during this time was a dark haired beauty with grey-green eyes and a wonderful disposition toward animals. In fact, I believe she came to love Leroy more than she did me. It was with her that Leroy learned the climbing skills he would need later in life. She and I would sit on the lawn and Leroy would climb his way up her waist-length hair, (Prince Leroy and his Rapunzel) and sit atop her head. Pretty sure no other girl in Honey Grove would have allowed herself to be used thus, but she loved it.

Leroy grew rapidly and by late spring he was just too big and too rowdy to keep in the house. My step-mother was apparently the first to come to this realization. “Lance, you’ve got to do something about that Goddamn coon. I don’t want him running all over the house anymore.” This from her, even though I had taken great pains to teach him to use the cats’ litter box. Actually, I didn’t ‘teach’ him per se; just showed it to him. He figured out its purpose all on his own. Raccoons are smart, yeah they are.

In addition to the three-story Victorian house (circa 1880), my father’s large corner lot had a two-story carriage house. I guess you would call it a garage, but it obviously was not designed for cars. However the rear of one side of it looked to be perfectly designed for raccoons. On the left half of the building at the very back, there was a section which was about three feet lower than the rest of the foundation. Let’s call it a ‘sunken’ living room for coons. The area was roughly six feet wide and maybe twelve feet long. The ceiling was very high, about ten feet. There were two doors: one to the yard and one to the other half of the building. There was no foundation, only hard-packed dirt. I don’t know what the original purpose of this little sunken room was, but it suited my purpose elegantly. I drove to the local hardware/feed/Gossip-Parlor-for-old-Farmers establishment downtown and picked up several bags of Ready-Mix concrete, five four-by-fours, some chicken wire, nails, and a bag of fencing staples.

First order of construction for my ‘Coon-Atorium’ was the swimming pool and the foundation. I excavated a circular area about four feet in diameter and two feet deep. Next I mixed the concrete in an old washtub and spread it over the entire area, working my way to the door that opened into the yard and finishing up with the pool. This was tedious work and I had to mix many tubs of concrete. Since there were doors on opposite sides of my construction area, it was impossible for me to ‘concrete myself into a corner’ without an egress point. If you had known me back then you would probably have said this was a good thing.

After a few days of letting the concrete dry and cure. I began construction of the penthouse. Every upwardly mobile raccoon requires one. Using an assortment of various pieces of old lumber piled up in the building, I created a penthouse any coon would have been proud to call home. It had a certain ramshackle charm, in the style of early Twentieth Century Dust Bowl Poverty. I mounted it to the ceiling in the right hand corner. Next I fashioned a porch using a couple of one-by-twelves each about six feet long. This made a nice little runway for Leroy to get to his penthouse. Just one problem: He could not climb the walls, (unlike Gloria after a few minutes conversation with me), nor could he jump ten feet in the air.

There was a decent sized oak tree in the Honey Grove High School parking lot which bordered my back yard. Using my chain saw, I amputated a ten-foot long limb and dragged it back to the garage. I was certain no one would mind and even if someone did, as I had performed this ‘limb-ectomy’ on a Sunday morning, there were no witnesses about to point any fingers later on down the road.

I mounted the ‘tree’ in the left corner, securing it to the wall behind the swimming pool. It reached all the way to the ceiling and had some nice smaller branches all along its length. It would provide easy access to Leroy’s extended porch/runway.

With the interior work completed, nothing left to do but wall up the front. I used the four-by-fours for the studs; stapled the chicken wire from floor to ceiling, filled the pool, Et voilà! One Coon-Atorium ready for immediate occupancy.

Leroy was well satisfied with his new digs and quickly settled in. The penthouse was made comfortable by the addition of a blanket and a small pillow appropriated from a window seat which Gloria used to store extra bedding for the occasional weekend visitors to Marcom Manor. The pillow was quite exquisite. It was emerald green with a couple of white kittens embroidered on one side and some frilly shit sewn all around the edges. ‘Leroy should love this,’ I recall thinking to myself as I smuggled it and the blanket to his penthouse.

Some months went by and Leroy was approaching adulthood. Every day we would play together in the back yard. There were several very tall old pecan trees which he loved to explore. Leroy was not very trainable, due in part to his intelligence and independent mind, but he would always come to me from tree tops when I would call him down. I’d stand underneath the tree and he would climb onto my shoulder and was generally content to remain there, as I think he enjoyed the view and riding on my shoulder was easier for him than walking about on his own.

We were occasionally allowed in the house for play time as well. (At this point, I do believe Leroy was the more welcome). He was certainly more entertaining than the cats that lived inside, and probably more pleasant to hang out with than I was, at least as far as Gloria was concerned. When I was feeling a bit mischievous, I would give him a sugar cube and laugh at the expression on his little masked face as it disappeared in the water dish he would wash it in.  He did eventually figure out that he shouldn’t wash sugar cubes as he did all other treats he was given.

Every Christmas Gloria would make her ‘World Famous Rum Balls.” (They really were very tasty, I must admit). Well one batch got stored away in a Tupperware box and forgotten for a year or two. Once found and opened, we had some seriously potent rum balls. Gloria was going to dump them, but I said that would be a waste and proceeded to eat a few to prove they were just fine. She was not amused. I gave one to Leroy and he went nuts over it, so I dumped the remainder into a plastic bag and kept them for me and Leroy.

By this time most folks in Honey Grove knew Leroy as I could often be seen walking about with him on my shoulder. He loved to go on walk-about with me; I think primarily because he liked the attention he received. He was becoming a bit of a ham—a semi-famous raccoon—and very entertaining to his fans.  I took him to the local vet when he was old enough for his shots, so I was never concerned about someone pissing him off and paying the price in blood. Since I had raised him very gently, never getting too rough during our play, he never exhibited any meanness or aggression (Except on one occasion when I attempted to take a rum ball from him when started showing signs of having had enough. I’ve known drunks who would react in similar fashion at any attempt to ‘cut them off’.)

One day Peanut and I decided the time had long since passed for a Raccoon Reunion. He brought his Missy (Leroy’s sister), over and we put her inside the Coon-Atorium. Leroy stuck his nose out of his penthouse and after a few moments climbed down the tree to welcome her. They romped about on the floor for a bit and then went for a swim. After that, Leroy led Missy up to his pad, (Just as I would have done in a similar situation).

“Guess now your Coon gonna be corruptin’ mine,” Peanut said.

“My coon’s a gentleman,” I said. “If any corruptin’ is goin’ on up there it’s your hussy being the corrupter and my Leroy being the ‘corruptee’.”

“Yeah, whatever. Let’s go on a beer run ta Ladonia and leave these here two lovebirds alone,” he said.

When we returned and went inside to check on our ‘kids’, neither one was visible. I called to Leroy and two pair of masked eyes peered down at me as if I had lost my mind. I kept calling to Leroy to come down, but he was not to be persuaded.

“See there, Peanut? That slut of yours has poisoned my coon’s mind against me.”

“Ah leave ‘em alone. You too much of an over domineerin’ parent. I’ll leave Missy here tonight. Maybe they’ll make us some baby coons.”

Now Dear Reader, I know what you’re thinking: ‘That’s incestuous!” Yeah I know, but we’re talking about raccoons here, not people in Arkansas.

After Leroy had been introduced to the mysteries of Raccoon Love, he was never quite the same. Many times he would refuse to come out of the pecan tree when I called him and this was usually at my family’s suppertime, so I would just go in the house and try again after a while. Eventually he would come down to me, but not until I had been calling him for twenty minutes or so.

Once, as we were eating supper the phone rang; Gloria got up and answered it, then said, “OK. OK. I’ll tell him. Goodbye.” Hung up and walking back to the supper table said to me, “That was Billy Jack Simmons. He said you need to get over to his house and capture your coon.”

“Well shit!” I said. “OK. Gotta go. Great supper Gloria.”

“But you haven’t finis…” She said.

“Hey! I set the table. You have to clear,” Madelyn interrupted as I was looking for my car keys.

“Later Sis. I owe you one,” I said, having found my keys and with one foot out the back door.

Billy Jack’s house was about a mile away. When I arrived there was a large crowd of kids and adults standing under a big walnut tree in the front yard. I sauntered over and announced to the crowd, “Y’all got my coon tree’d up ‘n there?” (I can speak ‘Texas Southern’ just as pretty as you please when the situation seems to warrant).

One little kid with a flashlight in his hand says, “Yeah. He way up yonner thar,” as he shown the light up toward the very top of the tree.

“Well, can’t really make his face out, but I do reckon that would be Leroy,” I said and then began calling to him to come down, not really knowing if he would or not in a timely fashion, especially since he might not have known the intent of the large number of folks standing around staring up at him. To my surprise (and relief) he began his descent immediately and within two minutes he was climbing onto my shoulder. Everyone in the crowd started clapping and as if on cue, Leroy took his paw and pulled my chin over so he could lick me on my lips. He had done this before and it was always a real crowd-pleaser.

“That there’s the damn’dst thing I ever seen,” Billy Jack said over the ‘ahhs’ of the rest of the crowd.

“Billy Jack, I do thank you kindly for calling. I’m sorry for the trouble.”

“Aw hell Boy! T’weren’t no trouble. No trouble a’tall.”

“OK; well thanks again,” I said as Leroy and I got into my station wagon.

After I graduated from high school and was making plans to move to Commerce and begin college, I had to decide what to do with Leroy. I could not keep him in the apartment I was going to rent. That was certain. He and I traveled to Winnsboro to visit with my maternal grandparents who lived on a hundred acre tract of East Texas piney woods a few miles outside of town.

My grandfather loved critters (to a point), and my plan was to ask him take care of Leroy. Since my granddaddy was a hard-headed old crusty curmudgeon, prone to immediately dismiss any idea sprung from my brain (“Boy! I lived through The Great Dee-pression! You don’t know th’ value of a dollar!” And on and on in similar fashion every time I opened my mouth to vocalize any idea or opinion I had) I would have to find just the right moment to broach the subject of his adopting Leroy for me.

As it turns out, Leroy saved me the trouble. One evening at dusk, I was trying to get him down out of the very large pecan tree which dominated the back yard. Leroy was not coming down. I kept trying every hour or so and finally gave up and went to bed.

Next morning he was gone and I would never see him again. This saddened me, but perhaps it was for the best.

In my mind I know he made it alright and had a good life. My heart will not allow me to think otherwise.

Video Credit: mac3079b

Happy

Silly Sunday

I am very happy happy happy today: Sunday!

Why? Don’t know exactly, just Happy. (Never look a gift of Happiness in the mouth!) Happiness is definitely NOT Lubbock in my rear-view mirror… But happiness is as happiness does. (Sorry Forrest)

Happy? Yeah. My English girlfriend just came home. Bearing gifts. Rib-eye steaks ($20—can you wrap some mind around that?—twenty quid for two steaks! Out-fucking-rageous!)

Ed. Note:  GF just corrected me: “Thirty dollars!” Ouch! (Gonna have ’em bronzed)

Back to the happy: I am happy because I am alive Just-one-more-day. (No drama there, just musing)

I am happy because I have folks who follow my blog. I am happy because some actually read my blog. I am happy because some actually comment on my blog.

Yep. I am happy.

Hoping you are too. At least for today. Run with it. I am.

Cheers, Beers, and Happiness to all Y ‘all!

-Lance, The Happy, Hippie, Erstwhile Sailor, Texan.

Video Credit:

John Richnow’s Channel

Threw Back Thursday: Kinky

Just some silly-ness from my immature Blogging Past. (I do hope I have ‘matured’ somewhat since April, but I doubt it)

Don’t try to judge me; take some grain of salt.

Just kids havin’ fun.

***

Now, for all y’all Texans out there in Radio Land, this Man needs no introduction: The Once and Future Guv of Texas, Kinky Friedman and his Texas Jewboys Band:

He’s just an asshole, but dammit! He’s our Asshole an’ we love him.

Fer the res’ of all y’all who were unlucky enuff to not be born’d in This-Great-Land, Way’ll, Please watch an’ enjoy.

An’ lemme say this by way of dis’claimering: Kinky ain’t no race-ist (Hell! He drives a pickup truck, not a Ferrari) agin’ Meskins. He is all over tongue-n-cheek an’ pokes fun at all o’ y’all Texicans. Most even at me.

Kinky Fer President in ‘16!

Feel Me?

I love all y’all (even all y’all Yankees)

Peace Out,

Y’all’s Lance-ikin

“Aren’t you scared the Lord will hit you with a light-en-ing bolt?”

“I figger if he did, He’d know what He was doin’. I’d just ride it wherever it took me.”

–Dave Gardner

(“Me no Alamo”)

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

“According to Texas legend, in 1836, when Sam Houston, master of the strategic retreat,

220px-Sam_Houston_by_Mathew_Brady

The Raven

and the Texan Army finally allowed Santa Anna and the Mexicans to catch up with them, the Texans waded into the sleeping Mexicans at San Jacinto, yelling, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” while filleting Mexicans left and right with their bayonets. The panicked Mexicans tried to scramble away, screaming, “Me no Alamo, me no Goliad!” It has come to mean, “Hey, don’t blame me. I didn’t do it.”

“All the stuff I report in this book happened. I didn’t make up any of it.”

“Me no Alamo.”

–Molly Ivins

From her wonderful book: “Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?”

Molly

Molly

Read it.

And Weep.

And laugh

Yer Ass Off

Call Me Crazy, But I Have Just Experienced a Brief Epiphany

(And yes, I know. All epiphanies are brief)

We all have our ‘About’ Pages. Who really ever reads them? (I do)

Here is mine, in case you may have missed it.

(And No! This is not some vain fantasy; just a clarification)

Cheers Y’all.

****

By Way of Introduction (UPDATED 11 July) Bugs Bunny

Hail Yes and Merrily Met!

My name is Lance Marcom and These Pages will be my Home for the foreseeable future. All are welcome here–welcome to compliment, deride, disparage, commiserate, cajole, rant, rave, fawn, frown–In short, all comments will be appreciated.

Marcom_Dubai

This Virgin  De-flowered Slut Blog O’ Mine will contain Tall Tales, Short Tales, Middlin’ Tales, Major Tales, Minor Tales…

Tales of Amusement, Tales of Adventure, Tales of Larceny, Tales of Woes, Tales of Foes, Tales of Loves Won & Lost, Tales of Fortunes Achieved & Squandered, and much more as becomes my wont… 

Tales From Texas, The Middle East, The Far East, The Near East, The Southeast, The South Coast, The South Pacific,The Left Coast, The Old World, and Perhaps Even Oklahoma…

But most importantly, I wish this to be a place for my guests to enjoy, for:

“No profit grows where is no pleasure ta’en.”

(That’s Shakespeare, Y’all.)

*****

Just For Fun Y’all, I am going to throw a new video (or quote, or some other surprise nonsense) up here everyday. Why? You may ask. 

Because I think an ‘About Page’ should be ever-changing and dynamic, just as the Person it is purported to be “About” is ever-changing and dynamic.

Therefore, I upload some of my favorite stuff here. Daily (usually)

So…  here goes for 11 July: Albuquerque (I had the opportunity to live there, once.) For, you see, my mom took a wrong turn at Moriarty… hence: young lives changed. For some forever.

Hope you enjoy.

And please do not forget to listen to what was my mantra while cooling my heels in Amman Jordan in late ’07

Baghdad!

The Best of the Hitchslap

tex flag

 

Bullshit Legal Stuff:

I Suppose it is Time (alas):

All This Shit Is Copyrighted.
Please Respect that, for:

“Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, Is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ’twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.”
–Shakespeare

Thanks,
-The Management

More ‘Shonnie’ tomorrow. Story at eleven.

Night, Night.

Addendum:

Someone once posited the idea that good posts always challenge the reader with a question (“This invites discourse”)

I cannot disagree, but by the time I finish my posts. I am all ‘discoursed out’.

That said, ’tis good advice. So, here is my million-dollar question:

“How many of y’all ever go to the ‘about’ page ‘ere you ‘follow’? I know I do. And for just one important reason: Sometimes we are misled and by being misled, we tend to ‘say’ things that are offensive to the blogger. Therefore, I like to get a ‘feel’ if you will, of the person’s blog I am about to comment all over. I do not aim for controversy, but I seem to land there more often than not.

Point is… know your audience and never purposely offend.

Peace,

Lance

In My Time Zone…

It remains Thursday.

Some bug in my head reminded me as September rapidly  approaches…

An anniversary 

As we celebrate freedom…

Well, Here is a video preamble:

And I aim to keep my promise.

(This one is personal, and no need to read. Just a thing I do as September crowds me, and bad dreams haunt me)

***

Here:

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.

Continue reading

Molly on H. Ross Perot: A Repost

Watch the vid.

Please

Nuff said

We love You Molly!

You Texan Bitch!

“There’ a lot to like there”

There’s a lot to NOT LIKE Here: (And I mean Falwell–Love Hitch)

Related: Kinky Friedman

Out On Some Limb… Clinging to a Branch-True Texan Style

0413_DixieChicks_TMPost1.jpg

Here is Lance: ON the Record. (and on a rant; a long overdue rant)

I do not give two warm cups of spit, ‘Bout the politics of the Dixie Chicks. But I love them. They are all… Texas. And, after-all, Home-Grown. Hey! Texas! Git over it! Texas was built upon the backs of strong wimmens… Jes sayin’. Y’all know this (Texas!)

I love everything which pukes itself from Texas. Even them Dixie Chicks. I stood by them then. I stand by them now.

Watch the vid,  then tell me there ain’t no Texan Talent There.

Dare ya! (‘Tis a fight I will join–try me!). But, bring the big guns. I will  debate you up, if ya don’t. I have some ducks all rowed up. 

And y’all know… well, ya know, I am just joking (’bout the guns) This is a fight, I will only join in the vestiges of parlay… and discourse. (Seems I have grown a… well, I still have some fight in me, for certain ‘issues’–this being one.)

Cheers!

Lance (true lover of Texas Women) Lord knows I have known many (Biblical sense and otherwise, sidewise sense), and they all, to a woman, scared the ever-loving shit outta me.

That is their nature (and how they roll)

“Don’t Mess With Texas” (Women)

Trust me on this one Y’all.

End of Rant

And it all leads into my Shonnie story…

(And, I really, like, commas, comma)

I love Texas!

I really do.

tex flag

“Contrash” this with Lenny

Just saying…

Shonnie The Biker’s Wife: Intermission

More Shonnie (and a half)

Parts One  Two  Three Four  Five  Six  Seven  Eight

***

Okay. I admit it: I copped out tonight and went with the “Thursday Blow-Back.” What to say? I am lazy. However, I swerved upon an idea (mostly because I really want y’all to ‘like’ Shonnie. She was special. And by that I mean, she was unique.)

Therefore, I had to post this to flavor the pot, as it were. This song sums up a lot , but not all. As most of you regular readers must know, I am a big fan of Joni M. Joni often says things I cannot… Well this below video best describes Shonnie, albeit in unflattering vernacular.

But! Hey! I did not paint ‘me’ too pretty either.

Shonnie, Part VIX Manana. Pax Romana? (I hope). ‘Cause it do grow worse after Vegas. And  with some heartache.

Please stay tuned; This is one story I aim to finish. And finally put to bed.

“You’re mean when you’re loaded. I was raised on robbery.”

 

Throwback Thursday: Shark Fishing

Confession: I lost a day somewhere, probably my clothes dryer ate it. (along with my sock) All day long I have been happily thinking it Wednesday. Just now realized, it’s Thursday… Well, I guess shit happens.

This little saga of a post should’ve been broken down into ‘chapters’. Alas, I never got to it. Oh well, if you have twenty or so minutes to invest, you might just like it. (And someday, I just may finish it.)

The original title was: “Not Like Going Down The Pond Chasing Blue Gills Or Tommy Cats”–Quint

A quote from the movie, Jaws

****

“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.”

― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

Galveston! Oh Galveston!

Many times during my life Galveston has been my ‘stomping grounds’ and remains to this day one of my most favored places on Earth, even though it has been “cleaned up” and my favorite sleazy bar now just an empty spot on the beach and a vacant void in my heart.

LH_1

My step-father took me to Galveston in late summer 1969 on a fishing trip, and I have loved Galveston ever since. Mike was a good stepfather who loved fishing and some of my happiest memories of him are the many times just the two of us would spend the day fishing in Santa Cruz, California or in this case, Galveston.

Leaving Houston, we rambled down Interstate 45 coming upon more and more water, (canals), as we approached Galveston. Seeing houses built over water without garages, but with little piers and small boats tied up in lieu of cars, I said to Mike, “That’s how I would like to live.”

Crossing the big bridge over to Galveston Island afforded a magnificent view. It was a beautiful bright clear day and I could see the fishing boats and sailboats in Galveston Bay. Over the bridge and driving through Galveston City we intersected Seawall Boulevard and the Gulf of Mexico appeared abruptly as if from nowhere and that overpowering first sight of it absolutely blew me away.

We went to the fishing pier which was connected to The Flagship Hotel and even though I caught nothing noteworthy, I had one of the best times of my young life. The smells of the sea, the fresh cut bait, the salt spray were all things familiar to me from so many trips to Santa Cruz. I love the sea, to be sure.

Many years later, after having read Peter Benchley’s Jaws and becoming obsessed with the idea of fishing for something that held the very real possibility of turning the tables and making me the “bait,” I decided Galveston was the place to explore the potential of this heady new-found avocation.

After high school graduation and a couple of semesters attending college in Commerce I moved to La Porte, which is about an hour from Galveston and there developed a plan for my first shark-fishing expedition. Since sharks, big sharks, the kind I was after, could not generally be found by fishing from the beach or even from the many fishing piers which run out from Seawall Boulevard, and since I had no boat, the South Jetty which runs almost two miles out into the Gulf from the eastern tip of Galveston Isle would be my causeway to deep water, no boat required. All it would take is a little forethought, some equipment, and some brass balls. I had all three available to me.

I spent the better part of my first paycheck (I was working for Gulf States Asphalt Company in Pasadena.) on a six-aught saltwater fishing reel and a very large study rod to mount it on. Now this rig was designed to be used from a fishing boat, i.e., could not ‘cast’ the bait with it. Therefore the biggest problem I faced was getting the bait out far enough away from the jetty to be clear of the huge blocks of granite of which the jetty was constructed (begun in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century) and closer to where I presumed the sharks would congregate. Not relishing the idea of swimming the bait out (I had also seen the movie Jaws) I decided a small inflatable boat would be the ideal and affordable and safe way for me to deliver the bait. I purchased a small orange ‘boat’ just large enough for one ‘sharker’ and his rig. I spent several hours one Friday night preparing all my gear for the initial test run.

Peanut was with me during this time and we both worked the same shift at the asphalt factory. He and I were living there in La Porte with the parents of three of our old high school buddies. The father had decided they move to La Porte after his children graduated as the job situation was quite a lot better in the Houston area than in Honey Grove. Go figure.

Peanut did not share my new-found passion for shark fishing and flatly vetoed my suggestion that he accompany me on my first foray into this brave new endeavor.

“I ain’t fixin’ to be studyin’ ‘bout no damn sharks.” I believe that to be an accurate quote.

No problem. Actually I was relieved, so that in the off-chance my plan failed and I remained ‘shark-less’ there would be no witnesses to any folly I might become the star of.

Part of the gear I had purchased was one very large hook. I’m talking large. Amazing to me now how stupid I was back then. (Still stupid today, but in different arenas) This hook was probably a good twelve inches long, made of steel over a quarter of an inch in diameter and the gap, the distance between the point and the shank, was five or six inches The damn thing probably weighed a pound and a half. As I believe was mentioned, I was after one big mo’ fo’ of a shark. I found out later that one does NOT use such a hook for shark fishing, much smaller actually. Anyway, I felt so proud of myself for even finding such a prize. (I’m quite certain the salesman at the bait store had a great deal of fun at my expense, telling all his co-workers of the stupid kid he had sold what was better suited as a gag gift, a ‘big-ass hook’ for the purpose of catching JAWS.)

On the question of what to use for bait, I was stumped. I needed something large enough to cover the entire hook, and juicy enough to attract my quarry. This much I knew instinctively. Now in Jaws, they used an unborn baby porpoise to lure the Great White from the depths. I had no way to procure such a treasure. Therefore I settled on a whole roaster chicken, (a rump roast probably would have been somewhat better, but I was on a budget) purchased from the local Winn-Dixie. I only bought one. I figured, one chicken, one shark: simple mathematics. I surmised that after fighting for hours one very large shark to the edge of the jetty I would be spent of energy and besides, one set of shark jaws, cut out right there on the jetty, and worn around my neck like Caesar returning from Gaul, would be all I needed to flaunt before my Doubting Thomas back home: Mr. Peanut Piland. He would be begging me to take him on the next sharking expedition.

Jetty Beginning

The Beginning of the Jetty from the beach, about one hundred yards before the granite part begins.

I arrived at the jetty mid-morning and set about my trek seaward (Ok, Gulf-ward) full of adrenalin and anticipation. After humping the boat, the rig, and all the other gear I could carry what seemed like ten miles (in reality, about one-half mile) over precariously slippery granite boulders which became more ‘un-navigate-able’ the further I got away from the beach. I picked my spot and started readying my rig. This I took great pains with: inflating the boat, rigging my line, sharpening the barb of the hook on the granite, and finally baiting her up, all with the calm, cool, steely-eyed, rock-steady demeanor of “The Serious Shark Hunter” I had become. Wedging the pole securely between two boulders, playing out the line, and placing the hook avec dead chicken ever so carefully inside the boat, I got in and shoved off. As I was paddling out I could just barely see the lighthouse that was at the end of the jetty. Looked miles away, but actually it lies about two miles out, about three hundred yards from the very end of the jetty. “Someday,” I said, “Someday.”

After I had paddled out about fifty or sixty yards, I slipped the package overboard and made my way back to the jetty. Once there, nothing to do but wait for Jaws to grab the bait and the surprise concealed inside.

And wait

And wait

And wait

About three hours later, and now sporting a pretty good sunburn, I grew weary and decided to check my line. Reeling it in, I noticed it felt rather light; no drag for what should have been a four–pound chicken, uneaten, at the end of it. The reason became quite evident when I brought in the end of the line and discovered, to my horror that nothing was left of my shark bait but the picked clean skeleton of my chicken. Shit! I sat there staring at this mockery, pondering where I had gone wrong. After surveying my surroundings and knitting my brow I decided that crabs had been the only thing interested in my fresh chicken. Obviously the sharks had been unstirred by my sumptuous offering.

To tell you I was embarrassed and feeling as the complete fool and idiot would be over-stating the obvious, but I was feeling that way and cursed myself roundly for my stupidity.

Since it was getting late in the afternoon and since I was fresh out of chickens, and since I felt so utterly defeated, I decided to head home, puzzle things out, and try to come up with a new plan. Just did not know what I was going to tell Peanut when I arrived sans shark jaws…

*********

“I don’t see no Jaws,” were the first words out of his mouth as soon as I got out of my orange Chevy Monza and began unloading my gear.

“He escaped,” was all I said and all I wanted to say.

“Escaped? Ha! You never did see no Jaws, did ya?”

“Peanut, fuck off and die.”

“C’mon man! What happened?”

“Gimme one of those beers and maybe I’ll tell you.”

I acquiesced and told him everything and naturally he burst out laughing—continuously and annoyingly.

“You one dumb sumbitch, ain’t ya?”

“Once again, Peanut, I invite you to fuck off. What’s for supper?”

“Crow. And humble pie for dessert.”

“You so damn smart.”

“Guess I might have to come with you next time and show you how to fish.”

“Listen Asshole, I have a plan for ‘next time’ if you care to join me.”

“And what’s your ‘lame-ass plan’?” he asked.

“You know that lighthouse at the end of the jetty?”

“Yep. Do.”

“Well, I’m gonna hike out there and spend the weekend. Deep water out there. Lots of sharks.”

“You go out there looking for shark; you prolly just gonna drown, or knowing you, get lost.”

I just glared at him.

“Must be two mile to that lighthouse,” he continued. “How you gonna get all your shit out there?”

“You’ll be with me.”

“Fuck you!”

“You will come… and you will help.”

Early the next Saturday morning Peanut and I were loading up the Monza with all the gear and bound for Galveston.

“Beer.”

“What?” I said.

“We need beer.”

“What for?” I asked.

“For bait.”

“Goddamn it Peanut, we got enough shit to tote out there. We can’t be carrying beers as well.”

“No beer. No Peanut.”

“Okay. We can grab some Coors on the way, but you have to carry it.”

“Since I am ‘much man’ no problem,” he said.

“Fine. Cans or bottles?”

“Coors in the botella” (Peanut had learned the important Spanish: ‘Cerveza pour some more’—‘Buenas crotches’, et cetera.)

Since Galveston was at least an hour from La Porte, Peanut and I had time enough to fight and argue along the way. This was always our wont while on road trips, however long or short. We could get into an argument over anything and everything, and naturally we would feel compelled to slap the shit out of each other to punctuate our disparate viewpoints. This trip was no exception. At least twice during our journey I had to remove my hands from the steering wheel to slap the shit out of him and he reciprocated. Traveling down Interstate 45 at seventy miles per hour is not a good venue to have a slap fight, but we did it. It was our custom, you see…

Arriving at Galveston somewhat unscathed, we set out toward the lighthouse, which, in fact, was no less than two miles away over precariously placed Texas granite—took us about two hours to arrive at our weekend home.

jetty

The South Jetty, with the Lighthouse near to the end.

We dropped our backpacks and the rods and reels and decided to explore the lighthouse before beginning our “sharkin’.” There was a rusty ladder to the first deck and yet another to the second. We ascended to the second deck. There was an old generator and some other derelict machinery. This deck is actually the platform upon which the lighthouse proper was constructed. There was a narrow bridge, for lack of a term, to a small building mounted on another platform next to the main lighthouse one. It looked as if it had been added some years after the first. We entered the first floor of the lighthouse and found more old machinery and not much else.

LH_4

The Lighthouse during more prosperous times.

Up one more floor were the living quarters of the ghosts of the men who actually lived in the lighthouse back in the Thirties and Forties, and I think maybe into the Fifties. There was one ‘stateroom’, a galley, and a head. In one corner there was a spot where a boxing speed bag had once hung. This is where we would bring our ‘comfort’ items, as this was also where we would sleep. Strewn about everywhere was trash, some of it quite old, some more recent. A small amount of graffiti adorned the walls, but nothing I would call poetic, or even original, so I took out the Marks-A-Lot I had brought along, having anticipated just such an opportunity, and added my own contribution:

Here lies the body of Mary McGee. Died at the age of a hundred and three. For fifteen years, she kept her virginity. Not a bad record for this here vicinity–Cap’n Quint of The Orca

“Kinda has that homey lived-in look about it, don’t it?” Peanut observed as he slowly walked around the place.

“Yeah, and I think the maid is off on vacation.” I responded.

Peanut flashed an old “Hustler” magazine he found in the shitter. He said, “Just in case the sharks don’t show…”

“Just great. If the sharks don’t show, I can fall asleep listening to you jerk off. Perfect.”

Moving up to the third floor, we discovered two more bedrooms similar to the other one below. We couldn’t easily discern what the fourth story was for, but there was a very cool spiral stairway to the fifth (and last) level. This was where we found the raison d’être for all that was below us: The Light. We wondered aloud how long it had been since it had been lit up.

“Probably been about fifty year,” Peanut ventured.

galvestonlens_2007

Fresnel Lens from Galveston Jetty Lighthouse
Galveston County Historical Museum

“Naw, I think maybe only fifteen or twenty,” I said.

We must have been at least one hundred feet over the Gulf. The view was absolutely fantastic! We could see (just barely) the Monza parked on the beach and all the ships navigating the Ship Channel.

“Damn waste is what it is,” Peanut said after a few moments.

“Waste of what?”

“Damn waste of this here beautiful sight, as I should be sharin’ it with some luscious cowgirl and not your smelly ass.”

“Aw shucks, Peanut,” I said in my best faux hurt voice, “Why ya wanna go an’ hurt my feelin’s that-a-way?”

“Many-Feet, if’n you got any feelin’s worth hurtin’, I sure ain’t never seen ‘em.”

“Ya got me there, ‘Nut,” I said, slapping him on the back, “Ya sure got me there.”

Having finished our tour, it was time to ‘git on wid it’ to use the Peanut vernacular. We returned to the foundation, sorted out our stuff and schlepped the food, some of the beer, and some other sundry items to the second floor of the lighthouse. After consuming a few of the “Coors-in-the-botella”, we proceeded to ‘git on wid it’ in earnest.

We had brought some light rigs (Zebco 33 reels and light rods) for the purpose of catching “trash fish” croakers and the like, for bait. They were easy to catch using the freshly dead bait shrimp we had picked up at a bait shop just before arriving at the jetty. We caught a few and put them on a stringer. After that I inflated the orange dingy; rigged everything up and proceeded to bait my hook, instructing Peanut on how this was all going to work. (According to my new plan.)

“I’ll get in the boat and you play out the line as I make my way out clear of the rocks. Once I get far enough out, I’ll signal you to brake the reel, and I’ll pull myself back in to the jetty along the line. All you gotta do is hang on to the rod.”

Simple.

Should have been.

Wasn’t.

I got into the little boat and cast off. I did not realize that the tide was going out strong along the ship channel and was immediately caught up in it. Didn’t take long to discover I was in deep shit (and deep water). The lighthouse is about three hundred yards from the end of the jetty where the real Gulf of Mexico begins. As I was approaching same, I signaled Peanut to “throw on the brakes” so I could begin pulling myself back to the lighthouse. Tried this. Didn’t work. I actually broke the 110 pound test line and was now adrift, heading out to sea. The sky was blue and cloudless. The waves were knocking me seriously about. Life was a gift and precious. I did not want to die. Not one prone to panic, I quickly explored my options. (There weren’t many) I could see the end of the jetty. A wave hurled me out of my little rubber boat and took her away.

Serious situation now.

The tip of the jetty was now in my rear-view “mirror” and I had horrible thoughts of being swept out into the gulf, never being seen nor heard from again. Trying to tread water and all the while keeping my eyes on the jetty, I tried to swim. The swells and the waves were thrashing me roundly. I decided that if I didn’t do something in earnest, I would drown.

So I did something in earnest:

I swam. For my life.

Like I had never swum before—hit a troop of jellyfish—strung repeatedly and badly, fighting through them and the waves and tide and swells, I managed to finally make the end of the jetty and started navigating, staggering, (and somewhat swaggering) back toward the lighthouse and my best friend, Peanut Piland.

Exhausted, I found him there packing up (mostly the beers) and seemingly nonchalant.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“Well, sheeeit! I figgered you for drown’d. So, I was gonna go home and to Gilley’s this eve’n.”

“You son-of-a-bitch!”

“Well, weren’t nothin’ I could do for ya anyhow.”

“I lost the boat.”

“Yeah, I can see you ain’t got no boat. ‘less it’s in your pocket.”

“We’ll continue this expedition without that boat. Gimme a beer. I’m parched.”

“How the fuck we gonna do that? You lost the damn boat.”

“Swim.”

“What?”

“Swim the bait out.”

“Swim it out where?”

“Away from the jetty.”

“Swim the bloody bait out? To shark-land? Where the bull sharks live?”

“Yep. To ‘shark-land’”

“You one crazy sumbitch.”

“Yep.”

“Who gonna swim it out there?”

“Me.”

“Yeah. Goddamn right ‘you’.”

“Unpack your shit. I need to rig up some more line for this rig.”

New Plan: I would swim the ‘package’ out to the sharks, drop it and swim like hell back to the lighthouse. “Trepidation” is just a scare word, invented by the brave to intimidate the not-brave.

Who cares? I was a bona fide “sharker” now. Wasn’t I?

Fortunately, I had only lost about twenty feet of my 110 pound test line from the break. The bad news was I had lost my 10 feet of steel leader-line and one of my hooks. (I was no longer using the gag-gift big-ass hook from my initial foray into sharkin’, having learned that sharks will not approach such a ludicrous offering—I now had “proper shark hooks” much smaller, but more lethal) An old fisherman had told me that the steel leader needed to be longer than the shark because once hooked, a shark will thrash about and inevitably cut the monofilament line with its rough hide. Now I didn’t expect to hook a ten-footer, but one never knows when fishing in the ocean. The magic of this kind of fishing is that you never know what you may hook into and how large it might be. Fishing for bass, or crappie, or bluegill (called “brim” or “goggle-eye” in Texas) you could pretty much bet anything you hooked would not be 10 feet long: eight or ten inches was usually more the case.

Dealing with the ‘re-rigging’ of my rig proved to be tedious and time-consuming, (I was impatient to get a line back in the water), but dealing with Peanut proved to be irritating and infuriating.

“Man! What the hell happened out there?”

“You saw it. I got caught in the outgoing tide. I didn’t figure on that. The damn boat was a bad idea. It just sits on top of the water and it’s like you’re on a white-water river.”

“Yeah, you didn’t figure on a lotta things. I’m done with this business. I wanna go honky-tonkin’ at Gilley’s.”

“’Nut, all you ever wanna do is go honky-tonkin’.”

“Yeah, so what?” All you ever wanna do is fill my head with shark-fishin’ or some other lame-ass shit.”

“Listen, we made a deal, remember?”

“Nope, I don’t.”

“We agreed that every other weekend we would come here and chase sharks and every other weekend we would go and honky-tonk and chase women. Ring any bells?”

“Uh, maybe.”

“Good. Now go in that tackle box; I need a new hook. I ‘bout got this new leader on. Oh, and hand me a couple of those two-ounce weights. And shut up about Gilley’s. As I recall, last time we were there we got thrown out ‘cause of your getting into a fight with some dude. Over what? ‘He was tryin’ to steal my woman’…Let me dial you in Peanut: she weren’t your woman and in fact, as I remember, she wouldn’t even dance with you. At least out here there is no one to fight with ‘cept me, and we can’t get thrown out of here unless we get caught by the Coast Guard which, if we’re stealthy, is unlikely.”

“What do you mean, ‘Coast Guard’?”

“Sorry. Forgot to tell you. The Coast Guard patrols the jetty at night looking for boats or ships run into it or for idiots stupid enough to ‘trespass’ here. Didn’t you see the sign nailed up on the second deck?  The one that says ‘Government Property—Condemned—Stay Out’.”

“Didn’t see it.”

“Well, if we get caught, we’re gonna have a bad day.”

“Why do you s’pose it’s condemned?”

“Look up. You see that big-ass fuel tank up there, the one bigger than a whale looks like it could fall on us with any wind blown its way? The one hanging at a forty-five and only one remaining metal hoop to hold it?”

“Jeezus! Didn’t notice,” he said as he moved over and out from underneath it.

“Peanut, you miss a lot.”

“Oh yeah? Well I didn’t miss the fact that you fucked up and almost drown, and the fact that we’re out here two mile offshore, all beat up and bleedin’ from navigatin’ and totin’ all this shit over all that granite, and we ain’t got nothin’ to show for our troubles ‘cept some dead croakers, warm beer, and some Spam and Vi-enner sausages. Oh and one lost boat. I could be drunk and dancin’ at Gilley’s in a few hours wearin’ my new boots, my new shirt, my new Stetson, and talkin’ to the cowgirls. That, I noticed.”

“We’re stayin’ the weekend. We gonna continue this fight physically, or are you gonna help me?”

“Here,” he said, handing me the hook and the weights. “What did you mean by ‘stealthy’?”

“When night falls, we just hide all our gear, don’t light no cigs where they can see the light, and move up into the second floor of the lighthouse and wait ‘em out.”

“How do you know they patrol the lighthouse?”

“Just know.”

“You don’t know shit from tuna fish and I ain’t studyin’ ‘bout no Coast Guard.”

I finished my rigging and was preparing to swim the bait out. Peanut gave me his ‘Peanut stare,’ which was similar to looking into a black kettle of black-eyed peas: lots of eyes all staring at you, while they swirled around.

“You really fixin’ to swim that bloody bait out from the jetty?”

“Yep. That’s exactly what I’m gonna do.”

“I saw some jelly fish floating around out there. Lots of ‘em.”

“Yeah, we’ve met already.”

“Well, you might think about how you gonna navigate through them. Oh, and maybe there’s a bull shark out there what hasn’t had lunch yet. Ever think ‘bout that?”

“I’m countin’ on it. You just hold the rig and as soon as I drop the bait, you set the brake and I will swim back. I’m only going out about 50 yards. Don’t worry.”

“Sheeit! I ain’t worried. You go right on ahead with yer bad self. I’ll wait for you right here.”

I lowered myself into the water and holding the dead and bleeding croakers over my head (I had strung up two on my hook) and swimming with the other arm I proceeded to backstroke away from the lighthouse. The waves weren’t bad and I discovered that since I was actually ‘in’ the water and not ‘on top’ of it, the tide was not really a factor anymore. I was making good progress when I felt a sharp sting on my leg. It hurt. Then another and another and it hurt some more. Must be the damn jelly fish Peanut had warned me of. Sure enough I was caught up in a herd of them. Again. They were the softball-size ones, with that pulsating propulsion method of travel. Well, I had swerved into a whole cattle trail of them. They were just minding their own business, I’m sure, and I was in their way. They stung me mercilessly. The only thing to do was swim out of them. I was now about thirty yards from the light house, not far enough out to clear the base of the jetty which I estimated was about forty yards from its dry apex.

I swam on.

Finally I got shed of the jelly fish herd and at about 50 yards out, dropped the bait. I felt something rough and unseen brush against my leg. Could have been a bull shark. Could have been driftwood. Could have been a mermaid. Could have been my imagination. I don’t know, but it did unnerve me. A little.

I swam like hell back to the lighthouse, feeling right proud of myself for at least getting the package out to where the sharks must roam. I was concerned about swimming through the jelly fish again, but they (thankfully) had drifted on by…

Once I got back ‘on board’ the lighthouse and drawn a warm Coors from one of the back packs, I sat down with my rig and waited for…for a while.

Peanut was getting bored.

I said, “’Nut, why don’t you grab that Zebco and try to catch us up some more croakers?”

“I ain’t studyin’ ‘bout no croakers.”

“You ain’t ‘studyin’ ‘bout much today, are ya? Why don’t you explore some more of the lighthouse; it will be dark soon and we need to know if there be any demons here tonight. Find us a spot we can sleep out of view of the Coast Guard, but be able to keep an eye on ‘em. How much beer we got left?”

“Ok. I’ll do that, and we got ‘bout a six or eight.”

“Any pot?”

“Didn’t bring no pot.”

“You insisted on totin’ pounds of beer and didn’t bring no ounce of pot?”

“Didn’t have none.”

“Just as well.”

Peanut proceeded to mount the ladders into the lighthouse and finally I had some peace. I sat there, watching some of the small boats bobbing up and down in the ship channel for their weekend outing, and waited for my line to go taut with some leviathan on the other end, wagging its tail.

After about an hour or so of this wonderful solitude Peanut came bounding down the ladders and was about to say something I’m sure would have been piercingly eloquent when the line started flying off my reel. With a six-aught salt-water rig, you set the ‘clicker’ on to alert you of line being taken out. My ‘clicker’ had suddenly come alive! And vociferously.

“Peanut! I got one!” I yelled.

“No shit! Let it feed out then slam it!”

“I know! I know!”

I let it take about thirty feet of line and then I set the brake and slammed into it, setting the hook. There was a slight hesitation and then I had the rod nearly jerked out of my hands.

“Whoa! We got us something here now!” I yelled over my shoulder to Peanut.

I had set the ‘drag’ on the reel to ‘medium’ not wanting to have my line broken. This fish or whatever it was, was not impressed. It continued on taking line as if I had never set the brake at all.

“’Nut! This one big sumbitch!”

“Fight it!” he yelled.

“What the hell do you think I’m doin’!?”

I fought it for about five minutes when suddenly it stopped. Stopped? I tried to retrieve some line. No luck. Wouldn’t budge. At first I thought the line had been snagged on some jetty rock. But then I felt some slight movement, ever so slowly it took more line out to sea, and then it stopped again.

Frustrated, I sat there like a spring wound too tight and about to violently uncoil when a small boat of weekend fishermen noticed me holding earnestly and fervently onto my rig.

They brought their small boat close to the lighthouse and an old gray geezer yelled at me:

“Hey Boy! You got sumthin’ on that line?”

“Yessir. I believe I do, but it’s stalled.”

“You need to get over the top of it.”

“How am I’m gonna do that?” I asked.

“We’ll come in close as we can and you swim out here with your rig and we’ll get on over it.”

Since my fish was obviously taking a break and not making  one, I agreed.

“Peanut, I’m gonna get in this boat and get over this thing and bring her in.”

“Go ahead on ‘Feet. I’ll hold down this fort.”

I waited for them to get their boat within about twenty feet of the light house and then I slid into the water and managed to swim one-handed over to them while holding onto my rig. They pulled me on-board and we proceeded to the spot where my fish was certainly underneath. The fish woke up and began swimming in circles, pulling the small boat with it as it did so.

Then it stopped.

“Manta.” One guy on the boat said.

“Manta?” I asked.

“You got yerself hooked into a manta ray—they common here. This one probably a ten or twelve-footer.”

“What do I do?”

“Nothin’ you can do; they use them wings they got and suck to the bottom and won’t budge. If they move, you can wear ‘m out and haul ‘em in. But the only way to get ‘em to move is to attach a blue crab to the line and snake it on down to ‘em. That’ll make him move. We got no blue crabs here at this moment.”

“So, I’m screwed?”

“Yep. You have to gig ‘em up with a crab. Otherwise, forget it. This fish weighs ‘bout six hundred pounds. You cain’t horse ‘im up. Impossible. Ya got to get him swimmin’ Might as well cut your line and give up Son.”

“Nope. I’ll force him up.”

And then I proceeded to try. I gigged, I swerved, I pulled, I cajoled… Nothing seemed to work. Finally after all the gigging, swerving, pulling, and cajoling, I broke my line and in so doing fell backward into their Styrofoam beer cooler, shattering it and scattering their beer and ice all over the deck.

“Sorry ‘bout that,” I said.

“No worries Son; ain’t ever’day one hooks a big manta.”

They took me back to the vicinity of the lighthouse; I slid over the side and swam back.

“What was it?” Peanut asked, now deadpan, since the excitement was over.

“Manta.”

“What?”

“A manta ray.”

“Oh. No shark?”

“Nope.”

“Lost another leader and some more line…”

“Seems to be a pattern here ‘Feet.”

“Shut up and hand me the tackle box.”

“What for?”

“’Cause I’m going again.”

“What for?”

“For sharks, for fuck’s sake, you asshole.”

“Oh yeah, guess I dun forgot what the fuck we be doin’ out here.”

The sun was setting as were my hopes for a shark that day. Little did I realize, sharks are mainly nocturnal. I would soon discover this fact. I was not anxious to swim into the gulf after dark, so I hurried along, rigging up a new line. I took the biggest croaker off our stringer, and this time, drawing on my bass fishing experience, hooked him up through the lips—like a big minnow—“See what that does,” I muttered under my breath.

With Peanut’s assistance, I lowered myself into the water and got smacked around by the swells before I got shed of the jetty. Once away from the rocks, I calmed a bit. But I must say, swimming bait, any kind of bait, out into the gulf, made me apprehensive at best and damn scared at worst.

I swam on into the pre-dusk Gulf of Mexico.

Happily, there were no jelly-fish to contend with. I swam about fifty yards out and dropped the croaker. Swimming back using an improvised side-stoke, I thought about my folly and wondered too much what possessed me to be doing this. It would have been pleasant to be warm and dry at Gilley’s, sippin’ a cold one and Cowgirl-Watchin’. Maybe Peanut was right. Maybe, (Oh horror!) I was wrong! Maybe, there was more to life than sharkin’. Jaws was just a movie, after all, or was it?

No matter. I approached the lighthouse.

“Many-Feet, I might-ah have said this before, but you one crazy son of a bitch.”

“’Nut, you need some new material,” I said, as I accepted his help, helping me out of the water.

To get out of the wind and salt spray, Peanut and I retired to the living quarters in the lighthouse. Sipping on Coors and munching on Vienna sausages, I kept my ear tuned to below decks for the sound of my reel’s clicker. There was nothing much for us to do now but wait.

“Kinda remote out here, ain’t it?” Peanut said.

“Yep. Kinda,” I said back.

“Listen to that wind,” he said. “Spooky.”

“Kinda,” I agreed.

“Wonder who’s playin’ at Gilley’s tonight?”

“’Nut, I don’t care who’s playin’ at Gilley’s tonight,” I said, digging another sausage out of the can.

“Well, next week, gonna be Ronnie Milsap, and we goin’. Milsap draws the women, ya know?”

“Yep. He sure does. Too bad he can’t see ‘em.”

“’Feet,” he said, “Don’t be talkin’ no shit ‘bout Milsap. The man is a fuckin’ legend.”

“Sorry ‘Nut. I suppose you’re right. A ‘Legend’.”

Even though it was summertime, there was a bit of a wet chill in the air. Peanut and I were both exhausted and were soon curled up on the deck fast asleep.

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

I awoke with a start, and sensed something was amiss. I had not meant to fall asleep, and still in that groggy just awake state, I heard something which didn’t seem to go with the endemic noise of the environment.

Then I realized what I was hearing.

“Peanut! Wake up!” I yelled at him as I shot to my feet.

“Whaaa?”

“Somethin’s on the line! Listen!”

I could hear the six-aught reel clicking its ass off down below and I dashed down the stairs and the two ladders to the main deck.

I had laid the rig down pointing straight out to sea, and had tied the butt end of the rod to one of the stanchions for insurance. The reel was singing. I picked up the rig and slammed into whatever was out there stealing my line. It was as if I had set the hook into an oak: solid–a slight pause–then the thing violently lurched forward almost pulling my arms out of their sockets.

“Goddamn it Peanut! Get down here!” I yelled.

I heard Peanut’s boots clanging down the ladders, but did not look around. I was certain I had a bull shark by the horns this time, no manta ray this. He was taking line fast and I became afraid he would just run it all out and snap it once he emptied my reel. I had to wear him down somehow.

I grabbed the star shaped drag and tightened it a half-turn. The fish lurched again and kept taking line. I wanted to get closer to the edge of the deck but the rod was still tied to the stanchion, not allowing me to maneuver.  Not wanting to risk taking one hand off the rod to untie it, I yelled over my shoulder,

“’Nut! Cut that rope!”

“What rope?!” he yelled back.

“The one tied to this rod!”

He cut it and I carefully made my way to the edge of the lighthouse foundation. The concrete was slick and I didn’t want to have myself pulled down, (or in) but felt I needed to be closer to the edge and away from the cables that crisscrossed between the stanchions.

With more room now to work the rod, I began trying to regain some of my line. The fish did seem to be slowing. I heaved back, pulling hard and managed to horse in about three feet, lowering the rod as I reeled in.

‘This just might work’, I remember thinking at the time.

Although it was now about ten o’clock, there was enough light from a half-moon and the lights from Galveston to see some of what was going on. I could make out where my line entered the water and I could plainly see the swells around the rocks of the jetty. We had not brought along a lantern, but we had a flashlight—somewhere.

Peanut was yelling at me, “You gotta get back some of your line! He’s takin’ too much!”

“I know!” I yelled back, as I tried to horse in another three feet.

I pulled back on the rod, managed to regain a few more feet of line, then the fish took off again in earnest.

Peanut was beside me now, yelling in my ear over the complaining sound of the reel as more line spun off. “You ain’t got much line left! Tighten that drag some more! He gonna break the line anyway! GO FOR IT!”

He was right. I had been too cautious and had squandered too much line that the fish didn’t earn. I tightened the drag some more and heaved back on the rod, expecting the line to go limp with a snap somewhere along the length of it.

It did go limp, but not like I’d expected. It wasn’t the sudden, quick limp one gets when the line snaps, but more of a ‘slow limp’ if that makes any sense. Greedily I began recovering lost line, still unsure if I had lost the fish or not.

“You lost him!” Peanut yelled in my ear.

“Dunno yet…wait a sec… He’s still there! I can feel him. He musta changed direction.”

“Maybe he just gonna surrender and come in all peace-able an’ shit.” Peanut mocked.

“I think he’s swimming this way,” I said as I struggled to take up the slack that was still coming to me.

The fish did appear to have ‘surrendered’ but appearances and assumptions have always been problematical for me. If he were spent, and I was certain he was not. And if, by some miracle I got him to the edge of the lighthouse, the dangerous task would become getting him on-board. I had read somewhere that the best thing to do with a shark in these situations was to throw a noose around his tail (Tiger Shark by the tail?) and hang on until he drowns. Since I had no real experience at any of this, I had relied upon literature to guide me and had brought along a broom handle with a wire noose attached…just in case. Well this just in: I think my case was next on the docket.

“’Nut! I think he’s comin’ in! Grab that noose I rigged up!”

“What?!”

“I told you about it yesterday! Go get it! Now!”

“Oh, you mean that broom handl’ with the bailin’ wire?”

“Yeah! That! Get it!”

Looking down at my reel, I estimated I had recovered most of the line, meaning the shark (at least I hoped it was a shark) must be very close now. I studied the point where my line entered the water, but couldn’t discern any clue. While watching, it began to trail left and right and I saw the shark break the surface.

“Peanut!! Get over here with that noose!” I yelled.

He came scurrying over, ‘noose’ in hand.

“Look there!” I screamed and pointed. “He’s just about ten feet out!”

“I don’t see nothin’.”

“Just wait!”

And the shark was suddenly within spitting distance.

“Holy Shit!” Peanut yelled.

I couldn’t tell, but the thing (now definitely a bull shark) looked to be about six foot at least. Realizing it was no longer freely in the depths; it came alive with new found determination and was not going to be easily subdued. Holding the rod with every bit of strength and courage I could muster, I attempted to wear it down to the point where Peanut could attempt to slip the ‘noose’ over that tail. I do believe it would have been easier to pin the tail on the donkey at this point—a real, really pissed off donkey.

To Be Continued…

This Really Does Deserve Another Look: Lyndon Johnson, Just Another Guy Lookin’ Out for His Nuts

Yes. A Repost. If you do nothing else, please scroll down and listen to the clip. It is hysterical (and real) Even better.

Cheers Y’all and Happy Saturday    Oops! Sunday (is it?)  

*** 

Lyndon Baines Johnson

Texan, Father, School Teacher, Rancher, & Much Maligned 36th President of The United States of America.

I love LBJ, or as Brother Dave Gardner (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4E_Nrm0j8k) once called him: ‘Daddy Bird’. Johnson was a divisive entity during his one and a half terms as president—primarily due of course to the Vietnam War—which he inherited. Yes, I realize I am gonna get some push back. Favorably mention ‘LBJ’ even today and you best stand by for some unhappy and contentious words.

Young Daddy Bird

Young Daddy Bird

The problem I have, in general, when talking to folks about Johnson is that most are ignorant of the man, his history, his upbringing; his good works: Rural electrification for Texas. Medicare, Civil Rights, The Great Society (never really came to fruition, due to Vietnam) and so on.

Once he became ‘The Accidental President’ he took JFK’s dreams and made them reality. Johnson could do that. Why? Because he was the consummate politician—far more effective than Jack Kennedy. JFK’s dreams were hollow pipes. Johnson made them happen. This is historical fact: For those of you who would care to search it out. For those who don’t really care to do that: Just-Trust-Me on this one, ‘cause I am a Texan, and Texans don’t lie (overmuch).

I have read all of Robert Caro’s books (http://www.robertcaro.com/) on LBJ and I have done my own research, and I have my own memories.

During the Sixty-Four election, my Mom, the original Hippy Chick informed me she was voting for Goldwater.

“Goldwater! Mom! Are you serious?”

“Yes Son. He is right for America.”
“‘Right?!’ Right don’t even come close: just to the right of Attila the Hun.” (Even at that tender age of seven, I was politically astute. Honestly.)

Our country does not produce colorful leaders like LBJ anymore. Much of the blame must be placed on the information revolution and the manifestation of the instant sound bite. I am not bemoaning the Information Age. I would not be able to throw my thoughts so carelessly about to the entire world if it were not for this Internet Thing we all embrace. All I am saying is one must ponder how many potential great leaders are out there, but refuse to step up to the plate simply because they do not wish to have every word they have ever uttered tweeted or twerked or posted or face-booked for all to see. Some things should still be classified as TMI. That is just good manners.

What if JFK had had the internet to deal with? We would all have known of his affair with MM. WWBS? What would Bill ‘Oh Really’ Say? We would have been ass-deep in the Cuban Missile Crisis, but Fox and CNN and even MSNBC would have burned more video on JFK’s infidelity. Castro would have loved it. Just sayin’…

My Step-sister worked for Oliver Stone on the film JFK. She was one of the on-set-dressers. We got into a heated argument over the whole conspiracy thing. She was convinced that LBJ was behind it all. I know quite a lot about LBJ as I have mentioned. I have done my research and I love Texas history.

Anyway I asked her upon what she based her unwavering belief.

She said, “That photograph of Johnson taking the oath of office on Air Force One in Dallas.”

Smug Ladybird?

Smug? Ladybird? (Just behind his right hand, in case y’all don’t recognize her) Of course, that is Jackie on the other side.

“You’re shitting me,” I said.

“Look at that photo and see how smug Ladybird looks in it. You just know then and there, she knew the whole thing.”

“I think I need a drink,” was all I could muster by way of response.

(Oh! And my step-mother worked for Jack Ruby: I know some shit about it)

Just sayin’…

I am not writing here as an apologist for LBJ. My focus is on the wonderful Texan caricature character he was. His humor, his down-to-earth’ed-ness, his vibrant lust for life, his convictions, and his larger-than-worldly-life persona: His ‘Texan-ness’.

Therein lies the rub for me. Johnson could be a buffoon. He could be portrayed as an idiot. He could be rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. He would be chastised and eventually ostracized.

But he got shit done!

He was a great, moral, honorable man.

No one will ever convince me otherwise (but you are certainly welcome to try)

Watch and listen to the Video Clip. It proves my point (and it is hysterical). These tapes were released a few years back. I have them all.

(http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/archives.hom/dictabelt.hom/content.asp)

Priceless they are (His Family Jewels)

Comments would be appreciated here, no matter which direction you lean.

***

I just throw this in, ’cause it is my blog and I like it.

Peace!

The Real Story of Diego Garcia, Part Three

Part One Here

Part Two Here

The Eighties Kinda Sucked For Me. Not horribly but slightly. Now I will digress and tell you why.

During the Eighties, I came home from Egypt and SFM. I had spent the last three years of the Seventies in the Sinai Desert and these were glorious years for me. 

During the (very early) Eighties, actually very late Seventies, I got married.

At the beginning of the Eighties, Ronald Reagan was president and I was twenty-two years old: could not deny me or tell me anything! I had ‘seen’ the World!

Ronnie

During the Early Eighties, the Prime Lending Rate went from nine percent to twenty percent, thus making it real difficult for me to sustain a Small Business loan for my Tropical Fish Store.

I overcame all of this. By sheer guts and asshole-ness. (and by writing a seriously hot check, for three thousand dollars! I gave a shit not.)

But, I embraced it:

And somewhat thrived. Trickle Down, as they say, but not to mention, my bride and I slept on Army Cots for two years… We slept with the fishes.

And ate baked potatoes, cooked in a microwave which we had stolen borrowed. With pressed ham.

And the occasional onion… on Saturdays. And bacon on Sundays. And sometimes sour cream on Mondays.

We eventually left that place (after four years) Yep, we escaped Nacogdoches, Texas, which for us had been what we could imagine living in The Movie ‘Deliverance’ would have been like.

We escaped to Plano, Texas, which for many (but not us), was like living in the TV Show ‘Dallas’.

We discovered that we were more poor there than anywhere. In Nacogdoches we were ‘business owners’. In Plano we were just scum: no furniture, no fixtures, no nada: SCUM. We got thrown out of our first apartment because “Y’all don’t have no furniture and y’all are sleeping on the floor. This violates y’all’s lease agreement. Goodbye.”

We soldiered on…

We did sell, at a garage sale, damn near everything we owned, to include my prized Celestron Telescope and my wife’s Mikasa China from her first marriage.

Just to eat.

(Food was a prerequisite back then)

Finally….

We made a stance.

My Long-time Bride and my Soul-Mate, and a veteran of the “hard days” tole me one day,

She said, “Lance’, this is no way to live! Do something! Any thing!”

So, I did.  I told her I was gonna join the U.S. Navy. And send her all her allotment and everything else. And meant it.

She initially balked at this  (and she was former U.S. Army Reserve) at that time.

She said to me, and I quote:

“Lance, you are gonna do this thing, right? Then, I ask of you one thing: I wanna be a house-wife for just one year… can you give me that?”

“Yes! I said.”

So I got another job and worked my ass…

And I gave her her one year.

Then I joined the Navy.

And I did not see her again for ten years.

And sometimes after all these years, I still miss our poverty days, because we were so happy being poor.

And I did serve my country, just as I had promised her I would (We, The Both, were Patriots, by an’ by…)

Navy!

tex flag

 

What does any of this have to do with Diego Garcia?

Stay tuned…

Early Thursday TB: ‘TA’ Does Not Always Mean ‘Tits an’ Ass’

Arrived Tel Aviv one afternoon Late ‘78. Soon to be Stoned, Dazed and Confused and somewhat abused. One of my fellow SFM drivers, Perry, a good bud of mine, had convoyed with me into TA. Each of us driving deuce and a’halfs and at dangerous speeds.

We checked into the Pal Hotel which SFM had retired to after the New Sheraton had made it plain they no longer desired nor needed the patronage of Sinai Field Mission types, specifically the Texan ones. I preferred the Pal Hotel anyway.

“Screw you Sheraton New Hotel!”

Of course for both of you Lenny Fans out there in ‘Radio Land’  I just had to drop this audio bit in. It really is not germane (nor certainly not German) to the point, but it do expand on the title somewhat.

It occurred to me that when using the term ‘Tits an’ Ass” some would not know the etymology. Lenny first coined the phrase. (Bless his heart).  He did some jail time too… for his transgressions.

So…when I first arrived to SFM and folks would talk of TA, imagine my confusion.

Lenny Bruce audio below ‘Tits and Ass’

Worth a listen

After settling in, Perry called me from his room, “Hey Lance. Got anything goin’ tonight?”

“Nope,” I replied. “Not a damn thing. You know Gladys done dumped me for that Venzu-walon dude.”

“Come on up to my room. We’ll smoke a bowl.”

“On my way,” I said and hung up. We smoked a few bowls of hash, drank some Amstels, and decided to head over to Dizengoff Street to check out the action. And sate some munchies. Just yet another night in TA.

dizengoff-cafe

Dizengoff Cafe

We stepped out onto Hayarkon Street just after sundown and proceeded to float on toward Dizengoff, a few short blocks away. We were stoned beyond repair. As we tried to navigate across the busy Hayarkon four lane, we noticed more than the average number of folk on foot. As soon as we had arrived on the leeward shore of Hayarkon, a teenage girl came running up to us and smacked us both on the top of our heads with a little plastic mallet. Then said something unintelligible in Hebrew and ran giggling away.

“What the fuck was that?!” I asked Perry.

“Dude, I gots no idea, but look yonder!” he said pointing up the street. Sure as shit, there were people everywhere; all armed with similar plastic mallets, just wailing the shit outta each other’s heads.

“Dude! We gotta sort this out. This is just too weird. Must be some kinda religious ritual.” This is what my hashish soaked brain was telling me anyway. We made our way to Dizengoff, after having our heads bonked repeatedly by overzealous religious fanatics. I spied a street vendor displaying the plastic mallets with aplomb.

“Perry, we gots to git one ah them for self-defense.” We purchased one each and went to whackin’ pretty Sabras about the head. (Great way to meet women, I must confess—Kinda Neanderthal—but what the hell?) Later I was told we had experienced some joyful Israeli Halloween-Like festival. Mardi Gras, it weren’t but dammit! I had fun. (But I didn’t get any beads)

To this day, I do not know the holiday, or festival. Are there any out there who would care to enlighten me? Tis one-of-those-unknown-things that still haunt me today. Perhaps if I had not been stoned…

banner_purim_sm[1]

Purim

My Jewish Friends: Was it Purim I had experienced? My enquirin’ mind really do wanna know.

Repost: Sarah is visited by Jesus Christ

Lenny sends his regrets, but he had a conflict and couldn’t make it.

Happily, Sarah was available and graciously agreed to stand in.

Anyway, Here is your ‘Daily Lenny’, with the lovely and irreverently wonderful Sarah Silverman.

May be offensive to some, so watch at your own annoyance.

https://www.youtube.com/user/JashNetwork

Thank you for your visit, and comments are encouraged, welcomed, and desired.

More Sarah and Lenny Here:

https://texantales.com/category/sarah/

 

Ode’ to Facebook…

My Beautiful Sister, Ann Marie Vancas,

Ann Marie

wrote this and posted it on Facebook.

So naturally I had no qualms about stealing it. (I did ask her permission however) 

Seeing and reading into pieces of people’s lives….the musicians..the actors…artists…housewives…doctors…famous and the not so famous…
The memes…the themes…the lives and the lies..
People crying..and people dying…
Beach trips…road trips..acid trips…
I have met many people and lost them on this site…
The fights… the flights…the makeups and the breakups…
A reality show with thousands of channels…
Windows into people’s lives…sometimes what is really there and sometimes…only what they want you to see..
The Liberals…the Conservatives..the Middle of the Roaders…
The comfort and the chastisements from strangers and friends alike..
The all over the place posters…and the take it to the private messagers…
The celebrations..and the tears….
But before all of this…
The beach trips..the road trips…
Long talks under and over …
the bridges of the bayous…
Late nite cigarettes on the trunk of my old chevy…
Long talks that never…ever got heavy…
The loves and the heartbreaks…
the blood sisters and the pinky shakes…
Sun tans on the roof…
And always…
always…
feeling Bullet Proof…
My best friend…who always knew…
I was never much good….
At saying Good-Bye…

An Oldie: “A Queendom! A Queendom! My Horse For A Queendom!”

This is an ancient post, one that most probably have not seen.

I am a mite lazy today and trying to find some inspiration somewhere to post something new…but for now: Please Stay Tuned.

***

When I was a young teen, freshly discovering the Joys of Puberty, I had an Ant Farm.

(Early Puberty does strange things to Not quite still Boys, but not quite Yet Men.)

Not one of those green and clear plastic toy ant farms. Oh, Hell No. This was hand-crafted and from fine pine two-by-fours. Two panes of 3/8” plate glass measuring thirty by twenty-four inches seated in the painstakingly mitered channels of the wood sandwiched the heavy Plaster of Paris block inside, in which I had meticulously carved all the ant-sized tunnels and oval shaped ‘ante-rooms’ for the ants to place the larvae and store the rations for a winter that would never come.

For these were domesticated ants—house ants, if you will—I had willed them such. These tunnels and carved out spaces were painstakingly coated with clean sand using a strong, but non-toxic well-cured epoxy.

It seems I had always been fascinated by ‘every creeping thing… and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds…’ And ants were always at the top of my ‘Creepeth Hit Parade.’ Once I had my initial stock, I spent many a happy hour studying their daily perambulations. I loved them dearly.

“Yes Elizabeth, ‘tis a strange one, this boy…”

The problem was my ants were too much mortal, and always died off too soon. Woefully I would watch as the living carried the fallen up to the surface and piled them in one corner of the farm, taking the time to respectfully, it seemed to me,  place them just so, re-stacking the funeral pyre if through my neglect I did not remove the excess bodies in a timely fashion, causing an ant-sized dry deluge of the departed.

After some research, I discovered that the worker ants died after a shorter predetermined length of time than I had previously believed.  I had managed during my ant-excavations to capture nubile winged Princesses and the large-headed and virile winged Princes. Problem was, they could not fly high enough in my little ant utopia to consummate their nuptials.

What to do?

queen ant

Discover and enslave a Queen. And of course I knew all along it must sooner or later come to this. I had hoped for later, but alas. I could not in good conscience, keep restocking my sterile ego of a closed system with workers who in reality had no firm purpose and no real meaningful existence, other than to daily heed the call to “Bring out yer dead! Bring out yer dead!” I was forcing them to live a Sisyphean Sorrow, and I did harbor remorse for that.

ant farm

I spent the better part of two summers searching for a queen for my ant farm. (Surely there must be some manner of metaphor or even allegory to be found therein.)

I would scout out the biggest, meanest ant mounds and methodically excavate them with a hoe, carving, peeling, madman like, layer by layer, like an onion so as to not overlook Her Majesty: Desperately hoping to find My Queen. I got stung, bitten, ravished, and generally harried and harassed by the noble and fearless workers. (Which are all female, by the way; Now run tell that!) I scraped down…down…down…  All in a vain searching attempt to find the queen who would make my farm whole and self-sustaining.

I never found her. She was too deep, too elusive, too protected, too well hidden from me. Perhaps she did not really exist at all?  And never did. Who knows? I have never in all my anting days, seen Ant Matriarchal Royalty. Perhaps the eggs are exuded from some ant fungus in the summer-warmed earth? Perhaps from some mutually beneficial agreement signed eons ago, betwixt Bacteria and ‘Antdom’ provided the means for both species to survive?

And thrive.

These are the ponderous questions that eventually came to plague my dreams like so many Harpies. And so I gave up Mythical Queens shortly thereafter and put my mind and my bodily efforts toward the pursuit of the real-life warm, touchable, see-able, lovable flesh and Heart-Felt fulfillment to be had from the interactions with Cheerleaders and Majorettes.

The ants had expedited my metamorphosis from a some-time boy into a full-time young man.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

–Corinthians 13

And p.s. gentile (pun) reader: Please do not mistake my quoting of King James Version, as testament of Christianity, ‘fore I can quote Edith Hamilton just as easily.

Thanks to all who read.

“Goin’ To The Chapel…”

“And We’re Gonna Get Married”

My first wife and I got married in Jaffa Israel, an ancient Phoenician Seaport just south of Tel Aviv. The ceremony was performed by a Baptist Minister from Oklahoma in a Presbyterian Church which was maintained by Catholic Missionaries from Sweden.

(Now that right there shoulda told us we were testing Providence)

There were but two witnesses. (Co-workers of ours from Sinai Field Mission who just happened to be in town)

Twenty minutes before the ceremony, my soon to-be-bride and I were hitting all the jewelry stores on Dizengoff Street shopping for wedding rings. Could not find any that suited us or fit.

The clerks always had the same response:

“No problem; I can have it resized and you may pick it up tomorrow.”

We anxiously explained, “But we are getting married in just a few minutes.”

Jewish weddings are a great big hairy deal; so naturally, we were met with gasps of shocked amazement when we announced our time constraint. We tried to explain we weren’t Jewish, but that took just too much time, so we ran from shop to shop.

We finally, and at the very last minute, settled on two plain gold bands (which did not fit), purchased from the jewelry shop in the hotel where we were to rendezvous with the rest of the ‘Wedding Party’.

We all proceeded to Jaffa. My bride was wearing a black dress and I was in blue jeans. My woman and I tied the knot, (loosely, as it turned out). I gave the Okie preacher fifty bucks and we split.

The marriage didn’t stick, but we remain friends to this day.

My next wedding took place in Las Vegas.

My Bride and I got hitched in a venue called ‘The Chapel of Love’.

An Elvis impersonator performed the rites for two hundred bucks. (My woman was an Elvis fan, so what the hell). For fifty bucks more, he would sing ‘Love Me Tender’ A cappella. My girl, ever so frugal, suggested we pass on that.

If she had known that within just a few short hours I would be tossing black chips onto a craps table, she might have seriously considered his offer of serenade.

Next wedding was performed by a Justice of the Peace, who showed up two hours late due to some inescapable last-minute JP business which could not wait. By the time she arrived the Wedding Party (and I do mean ‘Party’) were all hopelessly drunk on Champagne. We did the deed and then all got hopelessly drunker. Several expensive champagne flûtes bit the dust that night, if memory serves… Was a great wedding, as those things go.

Last wedding took place in Arkansas and was just lovely.

None of these weddings took firm hold, I am sorry to say.

Apparently marriage to me is not much more binding than a hand-shake.

Now… Y’all. I am of course not making light of marriage. I do believe in its sanctity. (For other people) It just doesn’t appear to be right for This Cowboy.

Video Credit: patricia du prée

Thanks for your visit and thanks to Mark for putting this post in my head, sorta like an ear worm.

Cheers to you Mark! My Friend.

“Put Your Money On The Table And Drive It Off The Lot”

Uh…

Just to kick this off, Please listen to this bit to get y’all in the mood:

Here is a ‘novel’ approach (Well not really for me)

However maybe for Y’all:

This is a ‘work-in-progress’. Most writers polish, polish, polish, then anguish, anguish, anguish, and then… finally… publish. I subscribe to a slightly different philosophy tenet philosophy: “Just throw it out there and fix it later.” Probably not wise, but what the hell?

Anyway. Yup. This is a ‘work in progress’ (process?) and yes, I do have (buried somewhere in the dank, dark, dank, deep, nether depths of my addled mind) a purpose for this post. And yes, I hope to coax  lure hoist it up to the surface and board  beach land it, still flopping about, right here on this page.

Might be entertaining (or not) to watch the process. And in this vain vein, I am going to keep all the edits here, just as an experiment. A way to look into the my writing/editing process. (“Now damnit, I do hope I can come up with a valid subject to go along with this ‘wonderful’ prose.”)

To (obviously) be continued…Please don’t change touch that dial!

(And, as usual: nothing works if you don’t click the video/sound bite below)

***

Yes.

Moody Blues?

Dare I say?

Genius?

Naw!

Just kids havin’ fun

(We are entitled to fun, eh?)

“Who put those idea’s  ideas in your head?”

And…

“The Pursuit of Happiness”

(I read that somewhere)

“Come on back down to Earth Son!”

P.S. Yes my mind is a terrible thing. And if you have not clicked all the audio, you will lose Karma. Just sayin’…

Here was my mantra during those six months I spent languishing away in Amman Jordan between Iraq gigs:

 

Jury Duty, Texas Style: Sentence

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

***

All left to do: pronounce sentence.

As it was so late in the afternoon (and we really wanted to score just one more pizza the following day), we retired for the afternoon, to return the next morning. Now, of course I thought we could make quick work of this business and not get any more pizza.

I was mistaken.

First of all, we had to sit in that musty courtroom for an hour or so, listening to the prosecutor drone on about how we needed (our civic duty) to throw the book at this kid whom we had unanimously recently convicted (Hardly unanimous, but hey! Who’s counting?)

Then we had to listen to The Defense chastise us roundly for convicting an innocent (innocent?) man.

Well, the Defense pissed me off. (Yes. My failing, but more on that later. Not something I am proud of today)

After a couple of hours of this, we retired to our ‘chambers’.

The air was not quite as contentious (almost) as it was the previous day, yet…

The minimum sentence we could pronounce was fifteen years.

Straight-away I had a more roundish number in my head: ‘Twenty’.

Hell! He would be out in seven, given good behavior and prison overcrowding.

Once again, Blue-Haired Lady was having none of this. And I did respect her emotion. Yet, damnit! That defense attorney done pissed me off (Shades of Peanut). How dare he say these words he said:

“Well, Ladies and Gentlemen of the ‘jury’ (Yes. Sarcasm was dripping, like something out of a drunken sailor’s mouth) since you have already made one ‘mistake’… do not make yet another, and give this man anything more than the minimum.”

With his sarcasm bouncing around in my head, I was bound and determined ‘he’, he being in my mind, the attorney (what an ignorant fool was I to think in any way that this ‘Council’ gave two shits about his ‘Client’) was going up for twenty and I fiercely lobbied for twenty.

Looking back now, I regret this.

Sincerely regret this.

Fifteen would have sufficed, but I stood firm and played upon the emotions and the exasperation of my fellows and got my wish.

As I said, I regret this now.

We gave him twenty.

Sorry Johnson, wherever you may be.

I am so sorry for tacking on five years for my ego, and only my ego, nothing more.

END

P.S. Writing this has taken much out of me. I had buried it long ago somewhere never to be felt again.

I hope you enjoyed it.

I did not.

tex flag

Jury Duty, Texas Style: Chapter Four

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

****

Putting aside our displeasure with the judge over the denied smoke break, we continued our assessment of the veracity of Mr. Rogers’ testimony.

‘Crew Cut’ said, “I believe the boy. He comes across as honest. And actually, I don’t think he’s smart enough to be deceiving.”

This brought a few groans from around the table.

Crew Cut quickly added, “I don’t mean any disrespect Y’all; I’m just sayin’ he doesn’t seem to have any reason to lie.”

“He do seem kinda ‘simple’ that boy”, Gimmie Cap said. (The irony of his statement did not escape me)
“But what about the girl? Obviously if you believe him, she must be lying about being asleep on the couch,” the mild-mannered elderly gentleman from the far end of the table said.

“I do think she’s lying about that,” I agreed. “But I really don’t think we should invest too much concern on it. I mean, we can speculate as to whether or not she was stepping out on her fiancé, but I still contend that is irrelevant. Look, she is young and probably terrified about her fiancé finding out about that aspect of this mess. I’m of a mind to believe the bulk of her story.”

Kathy (the wife of my old Honey Grove friend from the Seventies) said, “Lance, do you honestly believe she wouldn’t lie about everything to keep from getting caught cheating on her boyfriend? I mean, I’m a woman and you’re not. (Some giggles from the rest). Oh! I didn’t mean it like that. (Kathy was always extremely polite as I did recall). What I mean to say is that yes, she is probably in a panic and probably didn’t want this to go to court and that Rogers may have pushed her into this because he wants his gun back and he has issues with Johnson. That’s all I’m saying.”

Blue Haired Lady (seated next to Kathy) spoke up, “I agree. Not sure I trust Miss Shelton. She tries to come across as a completely innocent victim, but when I look at the young boy, I’m just not sure he is that bad.”

Crew Cut said, “Well, he ain’t THAT young, and his attorney cleaned him up for this trial. Do you suppose he had short hair and wore a suit in his ‘real’ life? What about those tattoos?”

“We’re supposed to forget we saw the tattoos Sir,” I reminded.

“Well, we saw ‘em. And I ain’t forgetting ‘em, and what about his drug abuse?” he shot back.

Blue Haired Lady said, “I just don’t know about that. He may have made some mistakes. He is young. I don’t think drugs have anything to do with this.”

Gimme-Cap says rather agitated, “I think drugs got ever’thang to do with this. Why he needin’ a shotgun in the mid’el of th’ night, huh? Maybe he gonna go rob som’un else? Ever think ah that?”

Another Juror, let’s call him ‘Business Man’, since he was the only one wearing a suit said, “I think we should discuss Johnson’s testimony and get off Mr. Rogers and Miss Shelton for a while.”

“Thank you Sir,” I said. “I agree. Any objections Y’all?” None were forthcoming. “Ok then. Johnson claims he had permission to take the gun, but I’m still bothered by the fact that he did not wait until Rogers was home to come for it. This really bothers me.”

Business Man said, “Yes. That makes no sense. Why would he show up late at night to borrow a gun? Doubtful he was going bird hunting at ten o’clock at night.”

“Maybe he was goin’ coon huntin’,” a forty-something man to my right said.

(Some laughter over that)

“We need to stick to the testimony here folks,” I replied, slightly exasperated. “We will be here for weeks if we start speculating on what his motives were other than what he said they were. So please, let’s just review what we know we heard.”

There was continuing, often heated discussion on Johnson’s testimony when there was a knock on the door. I got up, opened it, and in strode the bailiff carrying an armload of Domino’s Pizza boxes. This was a pleasant surprise.

“Y’all ready for some lunch?” He more announced than asked.

“Hell yeah!” Gimmie Cap exclaimed.

So we dove into the pizza (There was way too much for twelve people—later I found out that the bailiff lived for long jury sessions that required lunch for the jurors, as he loved pizza, and always ordered too much for the jury, and then took what was left home with him.)

As we were eating our pizza and drinking the sodas which were also provided, the talk stayed away from the trial. Folks were just making small talk with some occasional laughter, thus lightening the mood somewhat. I was grateful for this, as there had been a building tension in the air until the pizza showed up.

Pizza dispatched now.

“I really could use a smoke,” Gimme Cap said.

“Me too,” several others agreed in unison.

“Lance,” Kathy said, “Could you send out another message-in-a-bottle to ‘His Honor’?” Her sarcasm made me laugh.

“Yes. I certainly can.”

So I wrote up another note: ‘Smoke Break Respectfully REQUESTED’.

“We’ll see how this flies,” I said after summoning the Bailiff and handing our request to him.

Five minutes later, he appeared at our door directing us to follow him outside, “But don’t talk to nobody ‘long the way,” he instructed with what I can only describe as a ‘Barney Fife Authority-Voice’.

After our return, and with everyone pretty much sated with pizza, coke a cola, and nicotine, we were back to work and pretty certain we all wanted to wrap this up and not spend yet another day. It was about one o’clock in the afternoon.

“Let’s take another poll,” I suggested.

Everyone scratched their votes on little post-it notes and passed them up to me. I read them off as Crew Cut marked down the tally.

The vote had slid toward ‘Guilty’: Ten Guilty, Two Not Guilty.

I suppose that was some progress, but if we were going to wrap this up, obviously there was more work to do.

“I say we take another poll, this time verbal, so we can direct our discussion on the points of disagreement,” Crew Cut announced.

This seemed reasonable to me, so I said to the group, “Does anyone have a problem with this?” I noticed that Blue Haired Lady and Elderly Mild-Mannered Gentleman looked down at their notes, hiding their eyes, but said nothing. “Okay then, since there are not objections, we will go around the table and Y’all can state your vote.”

As I already knew, Blue Haired Lady and Elderly Gentleman had voted ‘Not Guilty’.

Blue Haired Lady’s voice cracked when she verbalized her not guilty vote, so I began with Elderly Gent:

“Sir, please tell us your concerns,” I said.

“Well,” he began. “I had a son. He got involved with drugs while in high school. I tried to help him. Did everything I could. He wasn’t a bad boy, ya know? He was a good kid, but those damn drugs… those damn drugs. Well-Sir, they got into him, into his mind, into his soul. We got him into rehab. He was fine for a spell, then, few weeks after he done with that, he got into some trouble. Not big trouble… he was a good boy, but those drugs… you see…” (At this point he had started to cry). We all listened in respectful silence as he struggled to regain his voice. “You see,” he continued. “Drugs killed my son. I look at that kid out there and I ask myself, if we send him to prison, how will he get any help?”

He broke down after that. Kathy put her arm around him. I just looked over at Crew Cut; our eyes met, and we both shrugged our eyes at each other.

“Let’s take five,” I said. “Have some coffee; stretch our legs.”

So, some got some coffee; a few suggested we request another smoke break (which I vetoed) some just got up and looked out the window.

After we settled back into our seats, I directed my attention to Blue Haired Lady. “Ma’am, would you kindly share your concerns with us?”

“I have a grandson. That boy out there reminds me of him. He is also a good boy. Young, headstrong, but a good boy. I look at Johnson, and wonder if I can take away his prime years. You know prisons in Texas will ruin an otherwise good boy. I think, even if he did this, he deserves a second chance. I mean… he did not harm the girl, did he?”

Gimme Cap, in a sudden burst of philosophy said, “He tortured her in her mental.”

“He has a point,” I said. “That girl is guiltless in this. She has suffered too. She deserves to feel safe. Who is to say, that if we do not punish this young man… Who is to say, how that will affect her? She doesn’t strike me of leaving this area. If we let him slide, she is going to be tormented by the memory of this and trust me: she will suffer anxiety. Does she deserve that? This Johnson, yes he is young, but he has done evil before. We all know this. Do you want to read about him going further at some future date, possible killing someone?”

There were similar sentiments expressed by the other jurors for the next thirty minutes or so. Once everyone had said their piece, I called for another vote. This time all were in agreement except Blue Haired Lady.

We took another short break. I watched as Kathy took her aside in the corner. The others backed away to allow them some privacy. Kathy put her arm around her and was speaking into her eyes. The woman said something and then fell into Kathy’s arms, weeping.

We all looked away respectfully and pretended to be fascinated by something outside the window.

Presently Kathy spoke to the room, “Let’s take another vote Y’all. This time secret ballot.”

Quietly we all sat down and without a word, we wrote our votes on the sticky notes. Once collected, I read them off as Crew Cut recorded the tally: Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty….times twelve. As I read the last vote I looked up at Blue Haired Lady: she had put her head down on the table and was weeping. Kathy was stoking her hair and speaking softly into her ear.

***

“I am going to summon the Bailiff,” I announced.

The Bailiff came in and handed me a form. I filled it out and returned it to him. Ten minutes later we were summoned into the court room. Taking our seats the Judge asked,

“Mister Foreman, have you reached a verdict?”

“Yes we have, your Honor.”

“Please hand it to the bailiff.”

The bailiff delivered our verdict to the judge. “Will the Defendant please stand.” And he read it off after listing the charges: “Guilty.”

Johnson’s shoulders slumped briefly, then he stood erect and glared coldly and directly at me. I looked directly back into his eyes. He did not blink, and I knew we had reached the right verdict.

*******

The Jury’s Sentence

(Yes: There was some contentious debate)

And Thank You for Reading

This Never Got Any Play: The Snapping Turtles Part Probably Killed It…

And Probably ‘Cause it’s Eight Miles High

(And almost as long as the video)

So skip the vid; pour yourself a breakfast beer and please read the story.

(You will rack up mega-karma if you do)

Camping with Gene, Peanut, and the Signifying Monkey. Running the Trotline. And of the Sisters I Brought to the Soirée

Continuation of The Bow Fishing post…

One Saturday afternoon much later that spring, Peanut and Gene flushed me out of the old Pool Hall which was located on Sixth Street in a rundown building just off the square in Honey Grove.pool-hall

“We’re goin’ camping out to The Lake,” Peanut announced. “You gonna come, or what?”

“Kinda short notice,” I said. “I don’t know. It’s Saturday afternoon, and soon it’ll be Saturday Night, and I was gonna get dressed up and go ‘Dear’ Hunting.”

“Okay, fine then,” Peanut said gruffly. “You go chasin’ tail, but I doubt you’ll catch any. If you change your mind, we’ll be at the old boat ramp. Just don’t show up empty-handed. Me and Gene got all the gear and food an’ shit, but you gotta bring something if you wanna join us. Them what works, and brings, eats.”

A word about Gene here: He was also a sophomore, like Peanut, but to look at him, you’d think him more a junior, or maybe even a senior on a rough day. He stood about six-three and weighed probably two-ten; a big guy. He had slightly long (in the style of The Seventies) red hair and a rugged looking, yet somewhat boyish face, rolled into one. His speech was slow and deliberate. And rare. But he was not ‘slow.’ He had an intelligence and a manner I found most admirable. Not really what one would call a ‘gentle giant,’ but close. He was never boastful, as Peanut and I were often wont to be. I never saw anyone cross Gene, save for a few idiots from out of town, and much to their misfortune.

“Okay, fair enough,” I said and went back in to my game of Nine-Ball.

The Pool Hall (Euphemistically, it was “The Honey Grove Gaming Center”) was not an establishment that most parents allowed their kids to frequent. It was seedy & sleazy and much gambling went on there. Of course I loved it. I didn’t consider hustling pool as gambling per se. To me it was just a way to supplement my other sources of income: working for a local rancher, building fences, or hauling hay. A vocation, if you will, but also a very pleasing avocation as well.

The building was a ramshackle place, and that is kind. Upon entering one’s eyes had to take a minute to adjust. The majority of the light came from the fixtures which hung closely over the four pool tables, giving the place an almost cave-like ambiance, or perhaps, more accurately, an opium den. The tables were antique: Not the coin operated kid’s toy tables one usually finds in bars these days. These were regulation-size, with three-quarter inch slate: good solid tables, level and with good, reliable banks for those who could make a decent bank or rail shot.

Cigarette smoke would hang in the air, swirled about slightly by a couple of lethargic ceiling fans. There was a juke box; seems like most of the time it was on the fritz. Just as well, for on a Saturday night when the joint was hopping, no one could have heard the music anyway. The place would get rowdy and much (usually) good-natured shit would be talked and wolf-tickets sold and bought and bartered without pause.

There were two pinball machines in a little cubical-like area just to the left side of the entrance, but of course these weren’t the main attraction and rarely got any play. There was a counter of sorts where one could ‘settle up’ for the cost of playing pool (Ninety-nine percent of the activity was nine-ball, a ‘money game.’) Rarely did anyone play eight-ball—took too long to finish and too long for money to change hands. The charge for a game of Nine-Ball was ten cents. In Nine-Ball, the nine and the five are the ‘money’ balls and one must pocket all the balls in rotation, or if opportunity presented, the skillful player could make a combination shot of, for example, striking the next ball in numbered succession into the money ball, pocketing it and winning the money. The usual bet was one dollar on the five and two or three on the nine. If I were able to clear ten or fifteen dollars on a Saturday night, I was happy and sated. Rarely did I lose, but the competition was brutal (there were many very adept pool players in HG back then), and more than once I lost more money than I wish to recount here.

The owner/proprietor of the joint was a one-armed man who was not ‘from’ Honey Grove. No one seemed to know exactly where he came from, and I really don’t recall anyone else ever running the pool hall, but certainly it had been there for some years. This gentleman was a true hustler and a true gambler. (He would bet on which of two cockroaches crossing the floor would make it out of sight first, or on anything else which had an outcome not clearly discernible. And the SOB always won.) But his passion was not hustling pool, betting on roaches, nor even running his pool hall:

He could play golf.

Hard to believe I know, but this guy, using his one arm, could beat the socks off most two-armed golfers, as so many discovered to their amazement and to the lightening of their wallets.

This particular Saturday afternoon, the hall was mostly empty and I was, in fact, just killing time. I started thinking about the camping trip and considered joining Gene and Peanut right then, but changed my mind. Saturday nights in HG back then, were often laden with opportunity for fun, mischief, girls, and Sin. At the risk of sounding somewhat prejudicial, I will state that my town had the best looking girls in Fannin County. The main venue for activity was Main Street, cruising up and down (American Graffiti? Not exactly, but a similar, if slightly scaled down, low-budget version…) or parking on the town square, drinking beer. (And such)

Having grown bored with the inactivity, read ‘lack of action’ in the pool hall; I got into my ’68 Plymouth station wagon and drove the half-mile to my house. I suppose it was about five in the afternoon. As usual, I was almost late for supper. My step-mother was standing over a skillet stirring something that smelled almost good enough to eat, as she alternately took drags off a Benson & Hedges and swigs from a can of Coors. Daddy was sitting at our little dinette table half-watching TV and half-reading a book.

Madelyn appeared and said, “You set and I’ll clear.”

So I set the table and presently we all sat down for our Norman Rockwell.

Happy to have done the setting duties, freeing me to leave as soon as the meal was over, I ate quickly, then showered, dressed and bounded down the stairs from the third floor. But just before I left, I told Gloria not to expect me home that night, as I was going camping out at The Lake. (There are several lakes in Fannin County, Texas, but if you have been kind enough to read my Post ‘Bow Fishing,’ you will no doubt know that My Crowd only considered Lake Coffeemill worth ‘dipping a toe in’, metaphorically, of course.)

“You don’t look dressed for camping,” she said. “You look more like dressed for carousing.”

“Gonna camp at the ‘Proper’ Camping Grounds: High Class Crowd there.” I smart-assed as I hit the back door and split before she could say anything else.

(And I wonder now why she and I never got along…)

Happy and proud of myself for having escaped so blithely, I quickly reviewed what little plans I had for the evening. First of all, I needed to procure some beverage. The legal drinking age had been lowered in Texas from twenty-one to eighteen. (Mainly, I think, because of Viet Nam and the draft age). I wasn’t eighteen, but I had a fake ID that said I was. It was a pretty good fake too. Good enough to get me into the bars in Commerce, and more important for this particular night, good enough to allow me to purchase some beverage from a package store in Ladonia. As wonderful as HG could be on any given Saturday Night, beverage or herb (or both) was always required. (I was hoping Gene & Peanut at least had some herb. The beverage at least, I could provide).

I headed south.

The Mission to Ladonia and back took about thirty-five minutes. I purchased a bottle of Jim Beam, a case and a half of Coors (“In the Bottle”), four bags of ice, and several packs of Marlboros for Peanut. (He loved his ‘Cowboy Killers’ but never seemed to have the foresight to fetch enough along to sustain him. As I recall, Gene loved them too. I didn’t smoke—cigarettes—back then.)

At this point, I wasn’t entirely certain I was actually going to meet them at the Lake, but in case I did decide to, I didn’t want to show up not bearing ‘gifts.’ Besides, the ‘gifts’ would keep for later, if I chose not to go.

I arrived back in HG and things did seem promising: Lots of folks on the square, and a reasonable amount of traffic up and down Main Street.

I parked on The Square.

There were some of the usual suspects parked there already. Across the street, The Grove Theater (The Last Picture Show…) seemed to be popular as well. I opened a beer and turned up KLIF on the car radio. Chicago was singing Colour My World. I always hated that song, so I switched the station, and got Crimson & Clover. Gag! So I just turned the damn thing off.

hayhook

I saw ‘Nubbin Kileen’ the world-famous hay-hauler, pull up in his Forties’ era flat-bed hay-truck. He climbed out, wearin’ chaps, Holy blue jeans, a beat up old straw hat and holding a hay hook in his right hand, as if it were an extension of his arm, permanently affixed. He looked about spent (or drunk)—or both. He also sported long, filthy hair (still bits of hay stuck in it); he reminded me of perhaps a cheap imitation of Bob Dylan in later years. I sauntered over to talk to him, as he was a legend, and I was hoping to haul hay with him as soon as school was out in a few weeks.

hay truck

“Hey Nubbin, how’s it going?” I asked cheerfully.

“Mainly just goin’. How yew?”

“Good enough, I guess. You gonna need a good hay-hand in a few weeks?” I asked expectantly.

“Might. One I got now ain’t worth a cup of spit, to tell you the truth.”

“Just so happens I’m available.”

“Yeah Kid, you done told me before. You a good hay hand?” He didn’t seem too enthusiastic.

“Yeah, I am.”

“Ok. Come find me when yer school’s out. We’ll see.”

Well Hot Damn! At least he didn’t say ‘no.’

I wandered about the various cars parked on the square and shot-the-shit with the local color. There was Calvin, Crabby, Jackie, Donna, Gina, (all older, but ‘old’ friends of mine). There were of course, several high school representatives there as well. I think Kim, Byron, Sheila, Bob, and quite a few others for certain, but memories fade and there were much comings and goings and ‘doings’.

Some were drinking; some were smoking; some were ‘doing’.

Just your typical Saturday Night, HG, Texas.

After spending some time on The Square and catching up on the Counter Culture, I fired up my chariot and made a few circuits up and down Main, which meant east to the DQ, then back west to the ‘Two-Mile Turn.’

Rinse & Repeat.

During one leg of my journey, I saw a couple of cars parked at Jack Self’s service station (It was no longer Jack’s at that time, but it somehow managed to retain the name.)

I pulled in to discover Beverly and Linda in one car talking through rolled down windows to a couple of guys from out of town in the other. (Bonham, I judged from the smell.) Beverly was about my age, Linda, a bit younger. Beverly was a slightly slim and petite red-head who was working on a faint moustache. Linda was, shall we say, slightly ‘chunky’ but very cute. She was a brunette with dark eyes and a permanent pouty look. Peanut was a sometime interest of Bev’s and the feeling was mutual.

Sometimes.

Linda… well, as I said, she was cute, although she never said much. Beverly often said too much. Hard to believe these two were sisters, but there you go. Maybe they had different daddies, or different mothers, or maybe they were adopted from different orphanages. I really didn’t know much about them, other than they went to school at Fannindel High in Ladonia even though I believe they lived closer to Honey Grove. They could not usually be found hanging out with the crowd I usually hung out with, but they were known about town and I liked them both. Honey Grove did not necessarily have classes, or castes, but there definitely was some prejudice, which boiled up in our little melting pot from time to time. I’d like to say I was guiltless of this myself, but that would be an untruth, although generally I was more immune to the tendency than a lot of folks.

I got out of my car and walked over to the girls.

“Hey Y’all! I said in a mustered up authoritative voice, “Daddy told me to come find y’all and fetch you on home. He says you’d better get your butts back right now, or he’s coming to town to find you hisself.” Then I added ominously, “An’ he been drinkin’ a little bit.”

The two Bonham-ites took that as their cue to exit stage left and promptly did just that.

“Hiya Lance! You’re a funny guy.” Bev laughed after Bonham sped off in a cloud of dust and gravel, heading west.

“What’re y’all up to this evening?” I asked, in my ‘normal’ voice, ever so cool.

“Aw Hell! Ya know ain’t nothin’ to be up to in this town,” Bev answered for them both.

“Yeah, not much to do in this one horse, one-traffic-light town, eh?”

“You said it.” Bev concurred.

“Listen Y’all; there’s a party out at Lake Coffeemill. (Medium white lie—there would be a party once we got there) I am heading there now. Wanna come along?”

Now, I know most good girls in HG would beg off, protesting they could not stay out all night, but I knew for a fact that these two could (and would), if the idea were presented in the right manner.

Bev said, “Uh, I don’t know… Who’s gonna be there?”

“Well, so far just us… and a few other folks, but there should be a good many more by the time we get there. I’ve been riding around town all evening letting everyone know about it. (Yes, another lie) Nothing fancy mind you; just camping out and stuff like that.”

She looked skeptical. “Who is ‘some other’ folks and what kinda stuff?” she asked.

“Well, Peanut and Gene, and I think Bob and some others… You know. Just stuff. Kid-Stuff,” I said, rather over-proud of my ‘eloquence.’

“Peanut is there?”

Suddenly I had her interest.

“Uh yeah, most definitely. He and Gene went out this afternoon to get everything ready.”

“You got anything to drink?”

“Bev, who do you think you’re talking to?”

“Ok,” she said to me. Then to Linda, “Get your stuff and lock up the car; we’re goin’ camping.”

Linda, quiet up to this point (as I intimated: the girl was shy) said, “Ya sure Bev?”

“Hell yes, I’m sure. Come on now.”

The three of us piled into the front seat of my station wagon, Linda seated next to me, and we pulled out of the gas station. I always had the back seat of my station wagon folded down and kept an 84-quart red & white Igloo cooler directly behind the front seat, thus limiting my passenger capacity to two. Bev reached back and opened the Pandora’s Box (I didn’t mind her not asking; they were both my guests after all). She perused the contents, saw the whiskey and the beer, then frowned.

“Hey! Didn’t you get no coke to mix with this Jim Beam?”

“Hell Bev!” I said. “That would never have occurred to me.”

“No good. Get to the DQ before they close so we can get some cokes to mix with this.”

texdq

“Yes Ma’am,” As I turned the car around and headed in the opposite direction we needed to be heading.

Got to keep the Ladies satisfied.

While at the DQ, I bought a big bag-full of tacos and burgers along with the cokes (Just in case Peanut and Gene had forgotten to fetch along any meat in the likely event they didn’t manage to catch any fish or shoot any squirrels for supper.)

Prudently, I had decided to take the easy route to Coffeemill this time, so after the DQ we headed back west to the Two-Mile Turn and took FM 1396 north past Allen Chapel & then FM 2029 towards Telephone. This meant we wouldn’t have to cross the Bois d’Arc Bridge in darkness. A bridge who’s benevolence (or lack thereof) I was never anxious to tempt, day or night.

We rode along in the night listening to WLS Chicago on the radio, a station one could usually only pick up late at night. They played pretty decent music then. Not much Bee Gees or similar crap, at least not late at night anyway. Mostly Led Zeppelin, CCR, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, some of the ‘good’ Chicago—mostly stuff that didn’t make me nauseous. Bev played bartender and poured up a couple of bourbon and cokes for her and Linda. I stuck with Coors. The night was pitch-black and I didn’t want to screw up and miss any of the several turns we would have to make. There is nothing darker than a country road in Texas on a moonless night and my navigation skills were never worth a damn. I successfully found the road leading toward Coffeemill. Late at night, it is an eerie drive. The road is narrow with solid trees on both sides, some hanging over the road. It was as if we were entering a tunnel or a cave even. We bounced along this road and eventually came to the turn-off down to The Lake, where I expected to find Gene and Peanut decently and properly camped. As the trees thinned and we neared the boat ramp, I could make out their camp fire. I pulled up and parked beside Peanut’s ‘Jalopy du Jour.’ There was an empty boat trailer hitched to it. Occasionally, Peanut could talk his daddy out of permission to take the old Jon Boat out to the lake.

I saw the glow of two faces in the campfire and could make out two small pup tents in the shadows behind them. They had lit up a Coleman lantern and on the other side of the fire it was hanging from the skinny limb of a small tree—precariously—but adequately illuminating the rest of the ‘camp.’ There were cooking utensils piled up by the tree: pots and pans, a cutting board and some knives on top of a beer cooler, a couple of plastic buckets, some rods and reels, another beer cooler (this one Styrofoam), an axe protruding from another small tree nearby, a rifle (probably a .22), a shotgun, and various and other sundry items strewn about.

“Welcome to ‘Camp Grenada’,” I said to the girls as we piled out of the car.

Peanut and Gene got up to greet us.

“Hey Many-Feet! You done made it after all!” Peanut shouted.

“Who’s that you got with ya?” Gene added.

“Well, y’all told me to bring something, so I brought along these two; figured you boys done had supper, so here I am with dessert.”

Beverly snapped, “That ain’t funny Lance!”

“Hey! That’s Bev and looks like that there’s Linda! Hiya Ladies!” Peanut said with an earnest exuberance as he walked over toward us.

Gene ambled on over as well. “Ya fetch along anything else?”

“Of course,” I said as I pitched the bag of Marlboros to Peanut. “Grab my igloo outta the car there. Oh and grab that DQ bag while you’re at it, would ya?”

It generally took two men to get my cooler out of the car when full of ice and beer, but I knew Gene didn’t need any help, so Peanut, the girls, and I walked over to the campfire and sat down around it. The nights still had some chill in them and the fire was welcoming. Presently Gene stumbled on over with my giant igloo and the DQ bag with the tacos and burgers clinched between his teeth. He set the cooler down with a loud ‘thump!’ and I could hear the beer and ice sloshing around inside accompanied by that tinkling sound bottles make when colliding into each other.

“Hey! Easy there Big Fella; don’t want you bruisin’ the booze,” I said.

He set the bag of food on the ground and said, “Damn ‘Feet, what all ya got in there?”

“Just your basic Beam & Beer,” I said, as he opened the cooler, peering inside.

“Well, I guess now we can stay ‘til Monday, if we’re a-mind to; we’re stocked up real good,” he said in his usual deadpan.

Gene had an appetite that was famous. I have personally witnessed him go through two DQ Dudes, a half-dozen tacos, two orders of fries, and wash it all down with two chocolate milkshakes at the Dairy Queen and then ask me if I were going to finish the onion rings I had left neglected on my plate. I also knew that he was permanently banned from the ‘Wednesday All-You-Can-Eat Catfish Nights’ at the other local greasy-spoon in Honey Grove.

His eyes lit up as he opened the DQ bag.

We passed around the tacos and burgers and beers, laughing and joking as we ate and drank. At that moment, sitting around that fire, there was no place on Earth I’d have rather been.

Immediately after the food was finished, four cigarettes were simultaneously (spontaneously?) ignited around me.

“Hey, am I the only one here who cares about his health?”

Beverly reached into her jacket and handed me a joint.

“Here Darlin’. This won’t hurt ya none.”

I lit the joint, took a drag and passed it to Linda, and watched as it made its way around to the rest of my ‘two-fisted smoker’ friends.

Growing mellow, yet still energetic, we laughed and joked some more around the campfire.

“So tell me Guys,” I broached. “What’ve you done all day, besides set up this camp and drink beer?” (Peanut had provided what beer they had, but they were desperately ‘low’ when I arrived with the Girls, in the nick of time, so to speak; not unlike the cavalry, or more accurately, and properly, The Texas Rangers)

Gene chimed in, “We set a good trotline, ‘bout a hundred foot. We been catching some brim and used them for bait. Probably should run that line tonight, but I suppose it’ll keep ‘til morning, if it has to.”

Gene gravitated toward ‘serious’ when it came to campin’, fishin’, and huntin’. Not that Peanut and I didn’t; we were just a bit more ‘lazy-faire’ and casual in the execution of same.

“Still got any of those brim left?” I asked. “You know, for re-baiting the trot line tomorrow.” Trying to show Gene I could occasionally be somewhat serious when ‘talkin’ ‘bout fishin’ and such.

“Yeah, we got some in a brim basket, tied to the boat over yonder,” he answered, pointing into the darkness in the general direction of the boat ramp.

“We used the basket instead of a stringer.” Peanut elaborated. “Don’t want no moccasins eatin’ up our bait.”

“Yeah, lots O’ moccasin ‘round here,” I said. And Peanut and I laughed, sharing our private ‘Moccasin Memories.’

snake

Linda and Bev said almost in unison, “I don’t like snakes!”

Gene, Peanut, and I laughed, also in unison.

I put my arm around Linda, who had actually become somewhat glued to me since we first got into my car, and said, “Don’t worry Honey, Peanut will protect you; he ain’t scared of snakes.”

More laughter from Peanut.

Gene rolled his eyes.

I had noticed a VW van parked a ways down when the Girls and I had driven in, but had forgotten to ask about it.

“Boys,” I said, “Anybody else camping here right now?”

“Two guys and two gals, probably college preppies,” Peanut spat. “They tried to set up close to us here, but we ‘discouraged’ ‘em off. Now they are down the end of the camp grounds over yonder,” as he pointed into the night, in the opposite direction Gene had pointed to about the brim basket.

We smoked another joint and drank a few more beers and we were all getting sleepy.

So I said, “We’re turning in. ‘G’night, Y’all.”

I wasn’t really sure about the other sleeping arrangements, and I really didn’t want to be the one sorting that out, so I just took Linda by the hand and led her to my station wagon. With the back seat down and the Igloo cooler removed, there was plenty of room in the back for us to sleep out of the chill. I always kept a quilt rolled up in my car for just such an occasion. We situated ourselves in the back of my car. I assumed Bev and Peanut would crash in one tent, and Gene, well, looked like he was gonna be ‘Odd Man Out’ in the other tent.

Sorry ‘bout that Gene…

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

I was awakened by the sound of an ax repeatedly and incessantly striking hard wood: “Thunk! Thunk! Twap!”

Bleary-eyed, I gazed out of the car. There was Gene, vigorously going at it. Beside me Linda stirred, moaned, opened her eyes slightly, and then pulled the quilt over her head. I crawled out of the car and stood barefoot beside it, shivering in the early morning air. The sun was up, but not by much. I judged it to be about six o’clock.

Damn! But it was a fine morning! The air was clean and fresh with not a cloud in the sky. I searched about and found my socks and boots. I saw Peanut’s head poke out from inside his tent and I’m pretty certain he looked worse than I felt. But youth quickly mends bleary-eyed, hung over young souls.  He squinted in my general direction and disappeared back into the tent.

Gene continued his travail and I walked over to what was left of the previous night’s campfire, squatted down and poked about absent-mindedly in the remaining embers with a small stick. Gene walked over and dumped on some wood, scattering ash and creating a small cloud of ‘fire flies’ attacking my face, saying nothing.

I stood up, walked over to the Igloo and fished out a bottle of Coors. The icy cold water shocked my hands. I sat down on the cooler, opened the beer (The hair of some dog), and began trying to wash the cotton out of my mouth. I looked over and saw Peanut standing one-legged in front of his tent, now struggling with his boots. He fell backwards on his ass and cussed under his breath. He continued with his boots whilst seated there ignominiously.  There was no sign of his ‘Pocahontas’.

After successfully donning his footwear, he ambled over to the now smoldering fire.

“Move your butt; I lost somethin’ in that cooler last night,” he said as I stood up, opened the cooler and handed him a beer.

“This what you’re looking for?” I asked.

“Yup. Gracias,” he said and sat down on the other cooler by the fire.

We continued sipping our beer while watching Gene chop still more firewood. He brought several arm loads over, dropping them beside us, and with each load, glared at us more intently.

“Guess we need to feed that boy, ‘fore he gets testy,” Peanut said as he tossed aside his now empty beer bottle.

Peanut was what one might call a ‘Gourmet Camp Cook.’ He proceeded to busy himself with a frying pan, bacon, some potatoes, and finally some eggs. The bacon and potatoes, he skillfully cooked together, then poured the mixture onto a plate and made quick work of scrambling three or four eggs in the grease which remained. He added these to the plate and yelled to Gene who had gone off to check (I suppose) on the brim they had left in the basket the day before.

“Yo, Gene! Come… an’… get it!” Peanut yelled over his shoulder, somewhat mockingly.

Gene appeared, and after handing the plate to him, he returned to his cooking duties, but slightly less hurried and slightly less harrowed now.

As he was cooking up more breakfasts, I went to rouse the girls. Linda was still out of it, but I managed to get her out of the car. Sleepy-eyed, she joined Peanut in the ‘kitchen’ as I went to check on Bev. Beverly was stirring, but still not fully conscious, but eventually she came to join us, sitting down by the fire and lighting a cigarette.

After we all had a bit of breakfast, Peanut served up some coffee he had been boiling on the edge of the fire. We laced it with bourbon and sugar and it wasn’t half-bad. In fact it was, as Gran’ma used to say, ‘Larapin.’

Gene announced with some authority that it was time to run the trotline.

We all walked toward where the Jon Boat was ‘moored’ on the bank, half in, and half out of the water. Peanut grabbed the .22 rifle, Gene grabbed one of the buckets, and I grabbed a beer.

Trotlines in Texas are for catching catfish—nothing else. This is their purpose; however they also and with too much regularity, catch snapping turtles, water moccasins, and fishing boat outboard motors.

trotline

Peanut boarded first and sat down astern; Beverly followed and sat beside him. I got in next and sat down amidships. Gene shoved us off and jumped into the bow as the boat slid into the lake.

Linda said, “No thanks. I can’t swim,” and walked back toward our camp.

Just as well, the boat was probably overloaded enough as it was.

Gene got us turned around using the paddle and we eased out toward a dead tree about fifteen yards offshore where the trotline was tied.  He snagged it and we began running the line. Clorox bottles were attached and floated at intervals ending at another dead tree about thirty yards from the first. It would not be necessary to paddle anymore, since we could just pull the boat along the line, checking and re-baiting (and hopefully unhooking… fish) as we went along toward the other tree.

“Feel anything tugging on the line?” Peanut asked Gene.

“Yeah.”

He pulled up a decent sized catfish on the first hook in the series and so it looked to be a promising run from the start.

Gene de-hooked the catfish, carefully avoiding the needle sharp pectoral spines which can cause much misery to the neophyte or careless trotline runner. Peanut reached over the side into the brim basket retrieving one of the palm-sized still wiggling fish. He pitched it to me.

“Cut that in half so Gene can re-bait the hook,” he said.

“Be happy to; hand me the knife,” I replied.

“You didn’t bring no knife?”

“No,” I said. “I thought you, being ‘James Bowie’ ‘an all, always kept a knife on ya.”

“Well shit!” He shot back. “Do I have ta do ever’thang? Gene, you got a knife on ya?”

“Nope, got no knife neither,” Gene said in monotone.

“Well I’ll be Goddamn-go-to-hell!” Peanut said. “Now we gotta paddle all the way back to camp and get a God-damn knife.”

“No need,” I said, and proceeded to bite the head off the brim and hand the headless thing, still wiggling in its dying throes, to Gene. “There ya go Podner, cut bait or fish; your choice.”

I thought Beverly was going to lose her breakfast and Gene and Peanut were going to laugh themselves overboard.

“Many-Feet,” Peanut managed to choke out between his laughter, “You are-one-crazy-son-of-a-bitch!”

Historically, when the three of us got together, whether it be in a honkytonk ‘Cross the River’ in Oklahoma, or in a bar in Commerce, or camping here at Coffeemill, things always tended to turn a little bit ‘crazed and demented’.

Anti-social, unacceptable behavior that we would not exhibit individually became de rigueur when we three were together. We had recently been ‘perma-banned’ from two bars in Commerce for some of our antics, but as Commerce had many bars (no less than a baker’s dozen at any given time), we really didn’t care much. Bars came and went with regularity in Commerce during The Seventies, with only a few (The Showdown, Bar G, Electric Circus, The Mug, and The Icehouse) ever sustaining any longevity. The two we were thrown out of actually didn’t last long after we could no longer frequent them. Looking back, I’d have to say these bars may have made it, if they hadn’t banished some of their best customers.

We continued running the trotline and I continued to ‘cut’ bait. The run was going along swimmingly and we had about ten pounds of channel cat on our stringer when Gene said,

“Uh, I think this line’s snagged.” Then added quickly, “Nope. It’s movin’ now; somethin’ big an’ heavy.”

“Well, pull it up then!” Peanut yelled.

Cowboy-Snapping-turtle

Gene stood up, tipping the boat dangerously to starboard, and put his back into it. The business end of the biggest snapping turtle I had ever seen broke the surface and Gene, full of adrenalin and obviously not thinking, hoisted it into our little boat.

This turtle was pissed off.

Severely.

It started thrashing about and managed to unhook itself.

Now we had a situation.

I don’t know if there are many animals more dangerous to have on-board a small Jon Boat than a pissed off snapper; possibly perhaps a cotton mouth, or a bull-shark, or a Tasmanian Devil, but none else come immediately to mind.

Peanut grabbed the rifle and was about to shoot the damn thing when Gene and I both yelled,

“Don’t shoot it!” (Neither I nor Gene trusted his aim in the rocking & rolling Whirling Dervish the boat had suddenly become).

Beverly stood up and started screaming. I kept my eyes on the turtle since he was facing me, snapping at my ankles. I kicked him with the heel of my boot, but that just pissed him off more. I grabbed the paddle and tried to push him away. He locked onto it with a crunch. I pulled back but as snapping turtles are prone to do, he held it fast. I succeeded only in pulling his head out a ways from his shell, exposing his neck.

“Why doncha just bite his head off Many-Feet?” Peanut snapped from behind me.

snapper

“Very funny asshole!” I shot back, earnestly preoccupied with my tug-of-war with the turtle.

At least he was now engrossed with the paddle and not my leg. It was a bit of a Mexican Standoff.

“Gene, grab this thing and throw him back!” I yelled.

“Don’t think so.” he said.

“C’mon! Do it before he figures out this paddle ain’t what he wants for lunch.”

Gene stood back up, grabbed the rear part of the shell and heaved the turtle over the side, almost capsizing the boat, and all of us with it. The paddle sailed off with the turtle and both quickly disappeared.

“Sheeit!” Gene said, sitting back down. “That’s the biggest damn snapper I ever seen.”

Bev had stopped her shrieking and we all just sat there a second, catching our breath.

Presently Peanut said, “Well, that’s the only paddle I brought. Gonna be fun trying to get back to shore.”

“Tell ya what ‘Nut,” I said, “you jump in and tow us. You’re a good swimmer ain’t ya?”

“That paddle cost me ten bucks,” he lamented, only about half-serious.

“Might as well finish up running this line while we’re out here,” Gene offered.

We did indeed finish running and re-baiting the trotline and claimed a few more channel cats and a couple of mud cats (which we threw back—for the turtles). That sorted out, Gene pulled us back along the line toward the shore. Once we got to the tree and the ‘end of the line’, Peanut slid over the side without preamble and while holding the bowline with one hand and backstroking with the other managed to get us the rest of the way to the shore.

We beached the Jon Boat and unloaded ourselves and a few of the larger catfish, which Gene took over to a picnic table and began to gut and clean. Probably that would have been frowned upon by the park service…

Peanut and I headed for the cooler and some refreshment. Beverly went to find her sister and did–fast asleep in one of the tents. She hustled her out and led her over to me and Peanut, yammering on all the while about the damn ‘turtle encounter’ and how we all could have drown or worse.

“Hey Bev!” Peanut said. “Don’t tell her ‘bout how Many-Feet here bit the heads off’n them brim. She won’t never kiss him agin.”

“What’s a ‘brim’? Linda asked me, as they sat down next to the now dead campfire.

“Never mind Honey,” I said, glaring at Peanut.

I busied myself with building another fire while Peanut poked about, gathering what he would need to cook us all a fine channel-cat dinner. Gene came over with one of the plastic buckets full of catfish fillets, still somewhat bloody. He took them down to the shore and rinsed them off. When he returned he set the bucket down in front of Peanut, grabbed a beer, and announced that he was done ‘a-workin’ and that he was hungry:  Starvin’ like Marvin, in fact.

Now, this was a rather large surprise.

cookingoveracampfireonthemiddleforkofthefeatherriver

Peanut had accumulated all his camp-fire-catfish-cooking necessities and staged same next to the ‘not-yet-ready fire’.

“Need to let her burn down a bit,” He said.

Seated there around the fire with a little time to kill, Bev fished another joint out of her pocket, lit it, passed it around as we all sat there developing a major case of the munchies. Gene grabbed the Jim Beam and some left-over coke-a-cola out of the cooler. Chivalrously he prepared two drinks for the girls. He sat down and took a swig from the bottle; then handed it to Peanut, who after taking a swig, passed it to me.

“Ya know,” Peanut reflected, “We shoulda kept that turtle. Coulda sold it for about ten bucks, or at least gotten our names in the paper for catching a world record snapper.”

“’Nut,” Gene said, “You’re crazier than Many-Feet. Why don’t you go on back out there and capture it? Maybe you can get your paddle back while you’re at it. No way was we keeping that thing.”

“Jes sayin’” Was all he said as we all stared into the fire.

With the fire now burned sufficiently down into some cooking coals, Peanut began working his magic. He assembled all the items for the meal on top of the beer coolers and began cooking. We were to feast upon fried potatoes, skillet-baked biscuits, some re-heated pinto beans he had brought along, (with Jap-a-lean-O’s, naturally), some apples baked in foil, and of course, fried fresh catfish coated with yellow cornmeal, too much Lowery’s seasoned salt and not a little black pepper.

We left him to it.

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

Jimmy ‘Peanut’ Piland was a character like none other: Possessing a smallish frame, medium blond hair always askew and asunder, Paul Newman blue eyes, a perpetual boyish ‘possum’ grin, and a wiry build replete with a hard-wired energy. Yet looks can be somewhat deceiving: he was tough as nails and feared nothing, or no one. There was no Brahma bull he wouldn’t attempt to ride, no man he wouldn’t attempt to fight (if provoked—him usually doing the ‘provokin’—“That sonuvabitch done pissed me off…”), no tractor, truck, nor heavy machinery he wouldn’t attempt to operate, instructed or not. Good that he never had access to an airplane, for he would have, no doubt, tried to fly it.

And actually, he did fly, by and by.

He flew through life in a manner most men would never, could never, understand.

Everything about Jimmy was over the top. He embraced life with a lustful, youthful exuberance. If there were a ‘Webster’s God of Definition,’ you would find under ‘Joie de vivre’ a photo of Peanut and the definition would read simply,

“Nuff Said.”

Or maybe,

“Now Run tell that!”

From the early Seventies until the late Nineties, I called Peanut my ‘Best Friend’ even though there were many years during those years when our paths did not cross, and sometimes when they did, ‘colliding’ would be a better-served word.

I fell slave to my wanderlust and left Honey Grove for many far-off places and adventures. Peanut never once to my knowledge, left HG, save for those three summer months we lived together in La Porte Texas working together in an asphalt factory.

He was the original at ‘Home-Boy’. He loved living in Honey Grove, or in later years, at the end of about eight miles of bad Texas road, safely (for the residents) outside of the town.

Every time I found myself back in HG I felt compelled to look him up. Sometimes he was doing well, sometimes not. We had a talent (mostly thanks to him) of finding adventure in even the most mundane of circumstance. Just the simple act of driving to Ladonia for beer one day in ’93 turned into adventure, as we had to take the back roads because, he simply said, “The laws are out for me.” We crossed many ‘Bois d’Arc’ bridges during that trip and got stuck in the mud more than once, and actually got shot at as well, well…another story…

One Saturday night in The Seventies, I was parked at Jack Self’s service station, talking to some high-school friends when we saw a cop car slowly driving past, lights flashing, and hard following,  there was Peanut in one of his ‘La Bomba’ vehicles, with another cop car bringing up the rear, lights also flashing—quite a ‘parade’.

As he slowly passed by, doing about ten miles per hour, Peanut yelled out the window to the assembled group,

“They’re fixin’ to hang my ass!”

Apparently he had some minors with him and some beers and…

That was classic ‘Peanut’. He did not say that with any malice, nor did he say it with any sorrow. He announced the fact just as it was: “They’re fixin’ to hang my ass…”

That was how he lived his life:

“You pay your money and you take your chances, an’ if you don’t, well then, forget you!”

Peanut could ‘talk shit’ with the skill a thespian who after years of training might bring to Hamlet, if lucky. With Peanut, luck had nothing to do with it; he was natural. There was no better ‘shit-talker’ in the world. He could reduce you to laughing jelly with one phrase or even just a goofy look.  In our small-town world, talking shit was one of our primary forms of entertainment, and perhaps could even be considered an art. Though most would discount the art form.

Not I. Most of my best ‘shit-talking’ I have stolen from him.

Peanut could be incredibly childish at times. Once during high school, the two of us drove to Houston to attend the FTA (Future Teachers of America) convention. We were members—believe it or not—but only for the chick opportunities…

Since he had never been to Galveston (or Houston for that matter), I decided that I needed to show him around my once and future stomping grounds. We arrived in Galveston the night before the convention in Houston was to begin and I took him down to the beach in front of Seawall Boulevard. Peanut had never seen the ocean (Not even The Gulf—hell—no salt water at all). It was winter-time and not much going on. We got out of my station wagon and started walking down the beach, combing. We came upon some jelly-fish washed upon the shore. Peanut pulled out a knife and proceeded to repeatedly stab the dead creatures, exclaiming as he did, “Da! Da! Da! There ya go! Now what?!”

He was greatly amused.

I wasn’t.

But then, that was ‘Peanut’.

Other times, he showed a great deal of maturity and worldly wisdom.

Some years later and after a particularly rough night of us drinking and cussing and fighting each other (And me, getting into a bona-fide fist fight with one of his kin), he said to me,

“Many-Feet, you need to get that poison outta your system. Not sure I can help you. Sometimes the old bulls, they just cain’t run in the same pasture no more…”

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

Peanut proudly served up the catfish dinner, and let me bear witness: it was the best. We sat around the campfire over our hard-won repast and complimented our chef (in our ‘way’) between mouthfuls.

Bev said, “Damn it, Peanut! Where’s the turtle soup?”

“Hey Bev!” he said, “I got something I been meanin’ to give you..” as he stood up, reached deep into his jean’s pocket, and pulled out with grand flourish,  his middle finger, aiming it squarely at her nose.

Beverly, not to be outdone, turned her back to Peanut and, over her shoulder, announced, “Hey, ‘Nut! I have somethin’ I been savin’ for you too, Darlin’” And then deftly dropped her pants and mooned him, and a full moon it was…shining there in the daytime.

We carried on in this fashion for about an hour or so, finished our feast, lit some Marlboros and joints, and drank some more beer and whiskey. Along about four o’clock, we decided it was time to think about going home. ‘Home’ to our respective hearths. Back to ‘Civilization’. Back to our Main Mundane. The very thought of it depressed us all, though we did not verbalize that depression. Clearly, we had, the five of us, been born too late. Being well-suited to ‘Lake Life’ as we had become, we had somehow developed intro kindred spirits during our brief adventure, even given the fact that, as adventures rate, this one was about average on ‘The Peanut Meter.’ Yet… we’d had a great time; had ourselves a little adventure, but mainly had gotten somewhat far away from the madding crowd, if just for a night and a day. One must take one’s adventure whenever, wherever, and in whatever quantity one finds it.

Peanut, Gene, and I decided…since camping is a ‘man’s game’, to do up the fire-burned dishes and pots and pans, while the Girls were tasked with loading up the cars. (Getting the boat on the trailer was not yet on our event horizon…but by and by, we’d get around to it…)

We gathered up all the dirty pots, pans, skillets, plates, greasy knives, forks, spoons, and whatever else looked like needed ‘warshin’, and schlepped them to the shore.

We sat there in ankle-deep water, our chores stacked up around us, and not unlike what I can only imagine the black slaves did in the early 1800’s, commenced to sing while we washed and worked.

(Having no proper soap, we were seated in the water, using lake sand to scrub clean the dishes et al)

Peanut began with his famous rendition of…well, guess it wasn’t so famous, as I cannot remember it now.

I tried something approaching Brother Dave Gardner.

The duo beside me was not impressed.

Gene however, was somewhat semi-famous for having ably memorized, and more ‘significant’, become competently competent in reciting ‘The Signifying Monkey’.

monkey

Peanut and I begged for a command performance.

Gene gave us an ‘aw shucks’ look, said ‘Okay’ and thus he began:

Way down in the jungle deep

The lion stepped on the monkey’s feet

Ever’ evenin’ ‘fore the sun go down

The lion kicked the little monkey’s ass

lion

All through the jungle town.

One day, the little monkey gathered his wits;

Said ‘I’m tired of this ole ass-kickin’ shit.’

 

(Note: From The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism by Henry Louis Gates Jr. 1988. The origins of this sometimes toast, sometimes poem, I do not know; probably no one does, although some scholars suggest from Yorùbá Mythology.)

And on and on…Gene had it goin’ on.

Peanut and I (sophomorically) loved to hear Gene recite that. Where he learned it, I don’t know, and it never occurred to me or to Peanut ever to ask. Some things one just don’t ask (or tell). Nonetheless, it was uncharacteristic of Gene to ‘perform’ for anyone, so when he could be persuaded to recite ‘Signifyin’ Monkey’ for us, it was just one more example of that kind of signifyin’, significant, and appreciated bond the three of us had.

We finished our chores and met up with the girls as they just finished theirs. Two last things to sort: bring in the trotline and trailer the boat.

Of course bringing in the trotline also meant running it again, and we still had the problem of having no paddle. Gene solved this quite elegantly: Using brute strength, he liberated a plank from one of the picnic tables, and then using the axe, shaped it quickly into something that would pass for a crude paddle.

Back to sea…

We ran the trotline without major incident; harvested another ten pounds of channel cat, and thusly satisfied, headed back to camp. We got the boat trailered and were ready to head back to HG. Peanut and I had no interest in the catfish, so we bequeathed our share to Gene, who had a momma ‘could cook catfish like nobody’s business.’

“Sure Gene; ‘vite us on over when they done…”

The Girls and I loaded ourselves back into my Chariot. Gene and Peanut boarded theirs. We passed by the lame-ass camp of the college campers. I do believe I heard one of the women remark, “Thank God!”

“Yeah, ‘Thank God’. Thank Your God we didn’t have time nor inclination to steal your store-bought camp food.” I thought to myself as we drove past them. Maybe next time…

Drove the girls back to their car and deposited them there. I kissed Linda goodbye and could tell she was not happy.

“What’s the matter, Darlin’?” I asked.

“Nuttin’” she answered.

“Must be something.” I said.

“Nope. Nuttin’.”

“Okay. See ya around.”

I went on home. Late for supper again. Gloria said something about my appearance, but I wasn’t listening. I went up to the third floor, took a shower, went to bed and slept.

Devoid of Dreams.

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

Thought I’d Repost This: Hell! It’s Thursday Somewhere.

When I was working in Basra, my gig allowed two weeks R&R every two months or so. Sounds like a deal, eh? Well, yes it was. Be aware however, we worked seven days a week, ten hours a day. NO days off. So do the math; we earned it. And of course we were getting shelled and rocketed and mortared regularly.

Anyhow, I had a stateside girlfriend back then. Actually more friend than girl. Rather platonic relationship, but we were ‘Buds’ and I loved her dearly. (Still do) And we went way back.

It was agreed by us both, that once I went to Iraq, we would spend our (my) R&R’s together. I flew her to Barcelona, Athens, Italy, and finally London. (She made all the arrangements. All I had to do was show up) Too easy for me.

Mid 2006 we met in London. I was ‘cacked out’ (Lenny Bruce vernacular). Worn out. Plumb tuckered. Tired. Damn tired. Spent.

R&R London
Click Me: This Was My London

She was, of course not. Now mind you, this woman had been all over Europe already. London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Athens… well, she was rich. Catch my drift? I had seen quite a lot of Europe my own damn self. Did not hold much magic for me.

All I really wanted was some ‘down time.’

Bless her heart (and this speaks volumes of our great friendship), she let me do what I wanted; which basically meant I could sit in the flat she had arranged for us in downtown London and drink Beefeater while watching movies and smoking Marlboro’s and ranting at the current state of affairs in Iraq.

After a few days, she did manage to get me out of the flat for a walk-about. We went to Buckingham Palace (one day shot there)

We went to the British Museum; saw the Rosetta stone. Another day gone.

“Lance that’s the Rosetta Stone.”

“Yep, that’s cool.”

Had some fish ‘n’ chips (I preferred Long John Silvers, but that is just what an asshole I am)

Rode the Tube. (I prefer Le Metro in Paris, but what the hell)

And various other exhausting  exhilarating  excursions.

“About three days before we were to part: me back to The Sandbox; she back to Texas, she asked me, “Lance, isn’t there any place in London you would like to see?”

“Yeah, as a matter of fact, there is. I wanna go down to Marble Arch Station.”

“Whaaat?” she said.

“Yeah. Marble Arch Station.”

West End of London, England, United Kingdom

“That is a Tube Station.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Why on Earth…”

“Because it belongs to Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker. And Texas.”

She acquiesced and off we went. Got there and I had a salutary beer to J.J. Walker and Gary P. Nunn. Then I was happy and pronounced my R&R a successful bit of Rest and Relaxation.

Best Video From “Lost Gonzo Band (with Gary P. Nunn)”

(Y’all guys need to watch this: a woman gets nekkid at the end…just sayin’)

–Austin, ’74

“Well I decided that

I’d get my cowboy hat

And go down to Marble Arch Station…”

Went back to the flat and had a few gin and tonics and lived happily ever after.

“R&R” means that: Rest and Relax and do whatever the hell you want. London could wait… until I came back the next time.

Good God!

I MISS Texas!

Jury Duty, Texas Style

Several years ago (before I went to Iraq) I was called for Jury Selection.

jury-summons

My first thought was, “Damn it! I cannot afford this; I live paycheck to paycheck.” I was living in Commerce, Texas and though I had a decent and secure job, the pay did not support my lavish lifestyle: Beer, Cigarettes, a three DVD per week habit, computer games… Not to mention dog food, cat food and Lance food. Gasoline was not an issue: I had no car.

On the appointed day I dutifully showed up at the Hunt County Courthouse (in a borrowed car) along with about one hundred twenty thusly cursed potential selectees. They assembled us into a large room and passed out the questionnaires. It was quite noisy and seemed disorganized. I don’t recall any of the questions, save one:

“What is your religious affiliation”?

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Still In Recycle Mode: Sometimes There Just Aren’t Enuff Crud Eaters

Trying to clean up my blog.

Some may not have seen this.

Hope you read it.

Have added a few photos.

 

After having accumulated a little money during my three years’ working in the Sinai Desert (Sinai Field Mission), I decided to come home to Texas. My wife (the first one) and I settled in Nacogdoches resolved to open a tropical fish store. A dream I’d had since I was a kid. I had never been to Nacogdoches, but according to U.S. News & World Report, it was one of “The Ten Best Places to Live in the United States” and the city fathers had even erected a billboard on the main road into town proclaiming this quote from the magazine, just in case some folks missed reading that issue. Nacogdoches, for any non-Texans who may be reading this, is Ass-Deep in the heart of the Deep East Texas Piney Woods—gorgeous country, simply breathtaking. ‘Paradise On Texas’.

We leased a small building on South Street, which was the southern part of the main drag through town, just off the square. Wanting everything to be perfect, I spent the entire summer of 1980 fitting out the inside of my shop. I built all the fixtures, assembled all the equipment, and even built the office desk my wife would be using to cook the books. I built floor-to-ceiling rustic cabinets to display the sixty aquariums which would hold our retail stock. All that could be seen were the fronts of the tanks; no filters, hoses, wires or anything to wreck the ambiance.

The overhead lights were dimmed, keeping the atmosphere what one would expect in a fine Public Aquarium, most of the light coming only from the aquariums themselves. At the very back of the store, I built a nine-foot by three-foot display tank, roughly 600 gallons—it was built into the wall, again so as not to ruin the effect. This was my dream aquarium, showcasing all the skills I had honed over a lifetime of fish-keeping. It was decorated with huge driftwood, rocky multi-leveled terraces, and no less than two dozen different varieties of live plants. The effect was that of looking into a cross section of the Amazon River. Beautiful Blue Discus, shoals of Cardinal Tetras, various South American catfish, and many other exotic South American species were all stocked in this display. It was the perfect closed ecosystem.

display

Not MY Original Display Tank
Just A Reasonable Facsimile

The retail stock tanks were also painstakingly decorated to provide examples of how fish should be kept in a home aquarium. No burping clams, no rotating ship’s wheels, no deep sea divers with bubbles coming out of their butt, no ‘Creatures from the Black Lagoon’, no ‘No Fishin’ signs—none of this dime-store shit in MY Shoppe. Oh Hell No. Every display reflected my fundamental conviction that tropical fish deserved to be represented in natural surroundings. Period.

Our store was beautiful. I set up five large display tanks in the entrance area, so that the first thing our customers would see were aquariums as they should be: All Natural: Live plants, Real Driftwood, wonderfully terraced natural gravel substrate, and of course exotic tropical fish. No goldfish, no guppies, no ‘trash fish’—for those they could go to Wal*Mart or Ben Franklin’s.

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Not The Waltons

Suffering From Writer’s Block (and Laziness)
I have invented ‘Flash-Back Friday’
The below never got much play, so we are gonna ‘Play it again (sic) Sam.’
Here goes:

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).

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Throw-Back: Peanut and Bowfishin’

OK.

Throwback.

I love this post (not because I wrote it, but because I love the man who inspired it)

It is real long and that is probably why not many read it.

I post it here again (and yes, it is still real long)

Please dive into it (when you have the time)

Thank You,

Lance

Below is the original (with photos)

Ed. Note: Most of the photos made the trip; no need to go to the original.
But if you dare…

http://wp.me/p2Yfgl-17

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

The downpour finally stopped. It had been raining heavily for most of the morning—buckets of rain—‘A tall cow pissin’ on a flat rock.’—‘Rainin’ cats and frogs’, a real ‘chunk-floater’.

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The Raven

The Greatest Texan 

Sam Houston

Who was a Tennessean (Virginian by birth) through no fault of his own

“The secession leaders tell us if war comes that the superior courage of our people with their experience of the use of firearms will enable us to triumph in battle over ten times our number of Northern forces. Never was a more false or absurd statement ever made by designing demagogues. I declare that Civil War is inevitable and near at hand.

Raven

The Raven

When it comes the descendants of the heroes of Lexington and Bunker Hill will be found equal in patriotism, courage, and heroic endurance with the descendents of Cowpens and Yorktown … When the tug of war comes, it will be Greek meeting Greek. Then, oh my fellow countrymen, the fearful conflict will fill our fair land with untold suffering, misfortune, and disaster.”
— Sam Houston with some prescient words on the eve of the Civil War in February, 1861

 

https://www.facebook.com/TracesofTexas?fref=nf

 

Daily Lenny (belated): “Psychopathia Sexualis”

Lundi Lenny

bruce

 

Seems apropos for Texan Tales & HGlph: The Reference to ‘Dallas’… Y’all.

Or, because of the ‘Beat Poet’ aspect.

 

You decide which is the more relevant.

Comments?

Here ya go:

 

 

Thanks Again for Visiting & Listening.

Cheers,

Lance

More Lenny to be discovered here:

https://texantales.com/category/lenny-bruce/

“Now Run Tell That!” –Peanut, semi-famous person.

(Here is the ‘Peanut’ link if ya wanna find the quote.)

My girlfriend is a poker-player. A real good poker-player.

She reads ‘tells’ like I read comic books, i.e. real good.

I am NOT real good at poker. (Craps, Blackjack? Yeah. I shine there)

Anyway…

Here is a transcribed recent conversation, recently transcribed:

“Lance, you’ve been drinking.”

“No I haven’t”

“Yes you have.”

“How can you tell?”

“Because of your tells.”

“My what?”

“Your ‘tells’.”

“Oh you mean William?”

“No! I mean your ‘tells’.”

“Huh?”

“You telegraph your state.”

“Texas?”

“No. Idiot. You telegraph.”

“I don’t speak Morse Code.”

*exasperated looks*

“Lance, I can ‘tell’ when you’ve been drinking from your ‘tells’”

“Tell me my ‘tells’ so that I may amend them.”

“No fucking way I am telling you your ‘tells’”

“Ah! Why not?”

“You just don’t get it do ya?”

“Do tell…”

“Fuck you!”

“Okay.”

P.S. The dog can ‘tell’ too. But he just don’t give-a-shit.

“Bring me a fuckin’ soup bone.”

 

I threw this video in just because I love it.

(Adds absolutely nothing germane to the story)

“Ahso Meta-Mook!”

Is this a word? ‘Meta-Mook’?

(I guess that line forms on the right.)

My Mother The Car

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. 

Sinai Field Mission. Or The Story of How Lance Lost His Mind and Later Found it Ferreted Away in His Pocket

This Post is a Continuation of a Promise I made to Me (And to Y’all, Gentle Readers) to write about Sinai Field Mission. For brevity’s sake (The Soul of Wit), I am breaking it down into snippets. To catch the back story, actually the forward story, please go here: No Bare Feet Beyond This Point.

And Here: TA

And Also Here: My Mine Field

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Daily Lenny: Guest Speaker Sarah Silverman

Lenny sends his regrets, but he had a conflict and couldn’t make it.

Happily, Sarah was available and graciously agreed to stand in.

Anyway, Here is your ‘Daily Lenny’, with the lovely and irreverently wonderful Sarah Silverman.

May be offensive to some, so watch at your own annoyance.

https://www.youtube.com/user/JashNetwork

 

Thank you for your visit, and comments are encouraged, welcomed, and desired.

 

“I fake it so real… I am beyond fake.”

How many of us cast out false perceptions to the web?

To get  willfully caught in the net and hauled on board–to the unsuspecting good-hearted Greek Fisherman?

You know: old photos, no date, no skinny clothes, make up, tanning lotion?

Personally yep. Mea culpa. Yep. I am culpable.

Of just that. (Ok, probably sans makeup)

And only that.

But… how many go further?

"Let me poison your ear, Othello."

“Let me poison your ear, Othello.”

Too much further?

How many actually deceive?

How many try to capitalize?

How many actually hurt people with lies, deception?

No one reading these words here tonight, right?

I do hope not.

Just pause though, and think on it.

That is all I ask.

And yes, this is me: LANCE MARCOM (Lance Marcom.com) asking.

Falstaff

And No! I don’t look like Falstaff At least not yet.

I am real.

Are you?

 

 

 

 

 

Do you fake it so real you go beyond fake?

I Would Like to Give LBJ…

A pass

And, in fact: I do.

He was a Great Texan.

He, even according to Molly Ivins, was a great president.

But…

He was sleazy.

Sleazy, like the rest of us.

This is what makes a leader for America.

You be the judge, and comment.

(Believe it or not, these taped conversations are real)

 

We love Lyndon.

(Well, the thinking among us do)

Thanks if you approach this with some open mind.

And if not, Thanks Even More.

(But tell us why)

(Is this a mini rant?)

Maybe.

Cheers Y’all

 

Even London Bridge Has Fallen Down; Now I Know Why

When I was working in Basra my gig allowed two weeks R&R every two months or so. Sounds like a deal, eh? Well yes it was. Be aware however, we worked seven days a week, ten hours a day. NO days off. So do the math; we earned it. And of course we were getting shelled and rocketed and mortared regularly.

I had a stateside girlfriend back then. Actually more friend than girl. Rather platonic relationship, but we were ‘Buds’ and I loved her dearly. (Still do) And we went way back.

It was agreed by us both that once I went to Iraq we would spend our (my) R&R’s together. I flew her to Barcelona, Athens, Italy, and finally London. (She made all the arrangements. All I had to do was show up) Too easy for me.

Mid 2006 we met in London. I was ‘cacked out’ (Lenny Bruce vernacular). Worn out. Plumb tuckered. Tired. Damn tired. Spent.

R&R London
Click Me: This Was My London

She was of course not. Now mind you, this woman had been all over Europe already. London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Athens… well, she was rich. Catch my drift? I had seen quite a lot of Europe my own damn self. Did not hold much magic for me.

All I really wanted was some ‘down time.’

Bless her heart (and this speaks volumes of our great friendship), she let me do what I wanted, which basically meant I could sit in the flat she had arranged for us in downtown London and drink Beefeater while watching movies and smoking Marlboro’s and ranting at the current state of affairs in Iraq.

After a few days she did manage to get me out of the flat for a walk-about. We went to Buckingham Palace (one day shot there)

We went to the British Museum; saw the Rosetta stone. Another day gone.

“Lance that’s the Rosetta Stone.”

“Yep, that’s cool. What’s it say?”

“It says, ‘Shut up Lance'”

Had some fish ‘n’ chips (I preferred Long John Silvers, but that is just what an asshole I am)

Rode the Tube. (I prefer Le Metro in Paris, but what the hell)

And various other exhausting  exhilarating  excursions.

“About three days before we were to part: me back to The Sandbox; she back to Texas, she asked me, “Lance, isn’t there any place in London you would like to see?”

“Yeah, as a matter of fact, there is. I wanna go down to Marble Arch Station.”

“Whaaat?” she said.

“Yeah. Marble Arch Station.”

West End of London, England, United Kingdom

“That is a Tube Station.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Why on Earth…”

“Because it belongs to Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker. And Texas.”

(Best Original Audio from ¡Viva Terlingua!)

London Homesick Blues

She acquiesced and off we went. Got there and I had a salutary beer to J.J. Walker and Gary P. Nunn. Then I was happy and pronounced my R&R a successful bit of Rest and Relaxation.

Best Video From “Lost Gonzo Band (with Gary P. Nunn)”

–Austin, ’74

“Well I decided that

I’d get my cowboy hat

And go down to Marble Arch Station…”

Went back to the flat and had a few gin and tonics and lived happily ever after.

“R&R” means that: Rest and Relax and do whatever the hell you want. London could wait… until I came back the next time.

Good God!

I MISS Texas!

Our Life’s Soundtrack

This has been said before.

You do not come to my site for revelation.

You come here (I hope) looking for Texas-in-all-the-wrong-places.

Never mind that one.

I have an affinity for Willie, (as all Texans do)

Therefore, since we all have our ‘Sound-Tracks’, here is one from mine:

I hope you like it.

Cheers,

Lance

P.S. I have lived a reckless sort of life, but ya know what?

“There’s nothin’ I can do about it now.”

So… I rock on.

Do I have a choice?

Did I ever?