Around the Fire

campfire

Under six hundred year old trees as thick as a car

sitting on the grounds where the Chumash lived for

thousands of years

Cool night air cleansed by the salt water waves

sounds of nocturnal night beasts

City voices silence and die a city death

wild nature soothes the smoky soul

the sun is down and heading for Asia

thoughts are born – thoughts that never lived before

ancient stories come calling – myths begin to chant

and dance

voices from the netherworld

disconnected from evil electricity and opinions

you take notice – things are different

a refreshing waterfall of peace trickles

in a tired blood stream

visions of old wars and journeys burn

in the flames

knowledge prances in the night air

inviting you to engage

put another log on and wait just a

few more minutes

two lane black tops back in the 1950’s

Kerouac – California

Steinbeck upstairs typing away

Kennedy giving speeches and Castro smoking cigars

Eisenhower and Mamie

two tone shoes and Bill Haley and The Comets

Buddy Holly and the crash of the Iowa plane

Polio sugar cubes and flat top haircuts

Cheap gas and high grade V8s

Chrome ideas and hula hoops

the fire dies low and tree frogs croak

bed time

The Car Wreck #5

Pollock4

Butch Teeterman’s life had become a high wire balancing act. Between his growing business that dealt with daily emergencies and his secret trysts that required its own stream of income, he depended on Edith Clancy, his secretary, to make it happen. Edith had been with him since she graduated high school and was a perfect fit for Teeterman Plumbing. She dealt with the whole enchilada: billing, payroll, banking, scheduling, hiring and firing. Edith also handled all of Butch’s personal affairs, so to speak. To maintain his balancing act, he never went anywhere without telling Edith where he was. Edith liked Butch and was well compensated for her various tasks. She sympathized with his philandering and didn’t like Mrs. Teeterman.

The morning Butch hurried into the Holiday Inn, trouble was brewing. Not anything large, just an ordinary problem, the kinds he handled every day. But there was a combination of other factors. Butch had postponed the last two sex appointments with the school teacher, and it took a ton of begging to get her to agree to this one. The teacher had told the school she had a doctor’s appointment and had to return after lunch. She had already checked into the room as Edith had prepaid the charges the evening before and had a key waiting. Butch breezed past the desk and down the hall full of lust and sexual anticipation. He gently knocked on the door and waited. The teacher cracked it open and glanced at Butch. She opened it wider and allowed him enough space to enter. It didn’t take them long to engage in a passionate make out session and be naked. They stripped the covers off the bed and were getting into position when the phone rang.

Butch froze.

“Don’t you dare answer it.” She muttered.

It kept ringing.

“I have to. It must be Edith.”

Butch stood nude and answered the phone. It was a problem, a big one.

Teeterman Plumbing had installed all the plumbing for Donna Jean Ramsey’s new house. The foundation (which had nothing to do with Butch) was not cured properly and cracked and shifted regularly, causing severe plumbing issues. Butch was going insane with her demands for repairs at no charge. Donna Jean threatened lawsuits and disconnection of Teeterman’s phones, all of them.

Butch, listened to Edith describe what was going on.

The house had another leak and was being flooded.  In the past, Butch would  oversee the repairs, so when another leak would occur, she would always call and threaten him personally, never the concrete company. Butch was going insane with her demands and threatening lawsuits. This morning was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Edith recounted how Mrs. Teeterman’s phone was disconnected and had walked to the pay phone at the drug store and called, very upset. Donna Jean had called even more upset. She had received a call from her neighbor, Old Man Taylor, who was watering his begonia’s, when he heard a pop, and the unmistakable sound of water. A pipe, in the wall of her house had cracked open and a river of water flowed inside her living room and soon cascaded under her front door, across her yard, and into the street. Six inches of water flooded the street. Her newly purchased Italian couches were soaked and ruined along with the exotic rugs they sat upon. Old Man Taylor relayed this to her and was cut off before he told her he had called the city to shut off the water and they were enroute. Her first thought was how she had neglected to call her insurance agent to report the new items getting ruined. Donna had the Teeterman’s home phone disconnected and then called Edith to inform her the lawsuit was on. Before Edith could find the number where Butch was meeting his lover, Mrs. Teeterman called from the drugstore’s pay phone to complain of her lack of service. As Donna Jean Ramsey was burning rubber out of the phone company’s lot, Butch was listening to how many problems he had at the moment. Curses rained down from the woman in the bed as Edith told him to hurry over the Ramsey home.

Butch wore only pants as he ran out of the Holiday Inn barefoot. All the frustration of his life bubbled inside him as he started up the Ford work truck. Donna Jean was doing eighty miles per hour ten minutes later when they met downtown by the Barber Shop. They crashed into each other in a mess of metal and glass,the kind most horrified onlookers had never witnessed, including Uncle Jimmy.

Later on, well into adulthood, Virgil Cherry pondered what could be learned from Butch and Donna?

 

The Car Wreck #4

Pollock4

Virgil Cherry only got the highlights about Butch Teeterman and his escapades the day Uncle Jimmy was unraveling this story. Later on he learned about the details of the Teeterman’s unhappiness and what led to that fateful day. It was about the time he also heard more about Donna Jean Ramsey.

Donna Jean Ramsey was a model hometown girl. She made C’s in school, never questioned authority, made the cheerleading squad, and married the first guy who asked her. She loved the town and defended it when a relative or someone passing through let their thoughts be known, calling it a “shit town” or “the capital of bum fuck Egypt”. Donna went to work for the telephone company and made good money. However, sometime life doesn’t love you back.

She found out why she wasn’t getting pregnant very soon. It was her. She was barren and there was nothing could be done. Her husband changed over night when he got the news. A month later, when Donna Jean got off work, he was gone. He had packed half the household goods into his pickup and left her a note, saying he was California bound never coming back. The house was in her name, because she had the necessary down payment and credit, so that was that. For the first time in her life she began to question things.

She sought promotions at the phone company and excelled within its structure. Donna Jean built a new house and started driving the latest Cadillacs. She took up golf and joined the local country club. She was the epitome of success, especially for a female in this era. But material things only go so deep, they can’t love you back. She dated a few men but since she out earned them, they were insecure and boorish. One Saturday, she was having brunch alone at the country club, when Allison Porter, one of golf instructors, asked to join her. They talked golf and how Donna Jean wanted so much to improve. Allison invited her to join a golf group of business women who played every Sunday. Donna not only got better at her game, but made fast friends with the other players, especially Allison. She and Allison started a habit of staying after the game and having wine in the clubhouse or catching a late movie.

After a few weeks, Allison made a pass at her.

Donna Jean Ramsey forsook all her small town rules and blossomed into a closeted lesbian. Discretion became mandatory for this relationship to have a chance. Motels in neighboring towns were used for trysts, and big city trips were frequent. The pair dreamed of living out in the open, but knew the cost of their jobs and all things essential to life in a small town. They both resigned themselves to a quiet life of occasional sex and dinners together.

The day that Butch Teeterman walked into the Holiday Inn to meet his lover, the school teacher, Donna Jean Ramsey was busy at her desk at the telephone office.

The conclusion will post on Friday, August 24.

The Car Wreck #3

Pollock4

Teeterman Plumbing by then consisted of seven trucks, an office, and twenty three employees. Butch had several commercial construction jobs going at the same time as well as being the one to call when something leaked, burst or wouldn’t drain.

Butch’s success didn’t include his marriage. On the surface it did. He married a gorgeous red head whose father was in the diamond business and traded stocks. Her family was dismayed this low life plumber seduced and charmed their lovely daughter, and never missed a chance to mention the fact. They were red faced embarrassed that her husband’s money came from unstopping toilets, and his knees knelt on piss stained floors. When Butch became the area’s leading plumbing contractor and he built a three story home on sixty acres, her family shrugged it off as they praised the bankers and lawyers in their circle. Butch Teeterman would never get their respect even with a law degree and bank ownership. His wife eventually succumbed to her family and lost all interest in her husband.

Butch began to drink. He would think of how his life was forced on him by a bitch aunt that, when she remarried, she left town with out a word of gratitude. He turned lemons into lemonade. Septic tanks full! Butch gradually lost interest in his business and began to chase women. He stayed out late and bought dozens of rounds at local watering holes. Many times he ended up screwing in the back seat of his car and not remembering who she was, or what she looked like. Butch Teeterman’s wife took notice and inspite of her coldness toward him, became angry about the cheating. People started talking.

Mrs. Butch had loved him at first, but the attraction subsided in the current of her family’s hatred of him. She thought her feelings would triumph; she could bend the family’s will into respecting her dirty, blue collar lover. She found out how strong the ties of blood can be. She went through phases where she began to just ignore Butch and thought that would please her mother and father. All that accomplished was to hurt her husband’s already bruised feelings and esteem. She rejected him sexually for months. In return, Butch stayed out late and came home with smells of beer and perfume that wasn’t hers. Mrs. Butch became lost in this swamp of life and only felt anger. All the time.

Mrs. Teeterman followed her husband to late night trysts in bars and cheap motels. Her anger grew into seeking revenge. Butch Teeterman was deep in affair with his wife’s childhood friend, an elementary school teacher.

The day of the car wreck, Butch was walking into the Holiday Inn to meet the school teacher for an afternoon of illicit fun. Mr. Accuff called it sin later.

The next installment will be on Wednesday, August 22.

Thanks to all of you readers! I thank all of you but especially want to thank those from India, as your numbers are over the top. Thank you India!

Unknown

The Car Wreck #2

Pollock4

“It was an explosion like I had never heard. The glass panes in the Barber Shop crashed all over the floor and some little bits got in my hair. Mr. Acuff cut a hunk out of my haircut that took nearly a month to grow out right. The whole shop stayed real still for maybe two or three seconds and then stampeded for the door to see what happened. Mr. Accuff told me to be still and stay there but I ran right behind him and the others. I was so afraid at what would we see out there on the street, but something like a magnet kept pulling me out there, down the sidewalk and out into the street. There was smoke everywhere. I remember some of the  men waving it away to see what had happened. It was clear it was a car wreck, and a bad one.

“One car was upside down and it looked like it was a convertible or had the top sheared off. The other one was sitting upright but was a mangled mess of steel, glass and blood. I remember there was blood everywhere. It was all over the cars and some had pooled in the street. The other thing that I will never forget was the sounds people made as they discovered what had happened. There were moans and groans of horror. There were prayers going up from men who never went to church and a few just shook their heads after getting a front row seat into eternity and how short life can be.

“Inside the upside down car was a dead woman. I didn’t try to get any closer but I could see her twisted bloody legs half sticking up over the seat. A man I didn’t know went over and took off his shirt and laid it over her. A man sat at the wheel of the other car like he was asleep, except he wasn’t. His face was covered in blood and his hair was messed up. His head hung at an angle like a broken puppet. Two men went over to him and tried to talk to him. It was no use. He was dead as well.

“What happened next I will never forget. Mr. Acuff was talking to a few of the men who recognized the deceased. When he heard, Mr. Acuff jerked his head up to the sky and quoted the Bible. He said out loud ‘the wages of sin is death’. I knew he was a deacon at the Baptist church but I never heard him quote the Bible before. I did learn some dirty jokes from him that when I told them, I got into some real trouble.

“Later on when I found out the whole story of the man and woman, I didn’t believe it was a judgement from God Almighty like some did, just a weird coincidence.”

Racine W “Butch” Teeterman Jr. became a plumber by accident. The Teeterman’s are a big family and most stick together, or they used to. While Butch was in High School, one  of his uncles died suddenly of a heart attack. He left his widow with six children and quite a pile of debt. His plumbing business was mediocre but it kept the lights on. She needed the monthly income that her dead husband could no longer produce. She pleaded and hounded the other Teeterman men until it was decided Racine W “Butch” Teeterman Jr., would leave the eleventh grade and take over the dead uncle’s trade. Most of his work would go to support his aunt and his cousins. Since Butch knew nothing about how to plumb anything, it was decided that Monroe Curtis, the uncle’s helper, who also needed his weekly paycheck to go on, would teach Butch everything he knew. Butch’s opinion or feelings were never considered as his family sentenced him to a life of crawling under nasty floors and unstopping tons of human shit. He learned to solder copper joints when they sprung leaks and to tear open walls while the home’s occupant bawled him out. Butch stuck it out.

He bought books on the subject and worked harder that the other plumbers in the town. By the time he was thirty-five, he held the title of best plumber in three counties.

On Friday, August 17, part three will post.

The Car Wreck

Barber shop

When Virgil Cherry was a child, he loved going to the monthly family gathering at his grandparent’s house for a Sunday meal. The small, tidy home bulged with aunts, uncles, cousins, and miscellaneous folk, who showed up, bowed their heads and filled their plates. His grandma, as if by magic, found enough seats for the grownups to eat around her long maple table, but the kids were expected to fin for themselves. The couches, foot stools, and parts of the floor were inhabited by little children, some barely old enough to manage a spoon or fork. On occasion, and when the weather was nice, motorists who drove by saw a dozen of so small relatives eating on the porch and making conversation. Virgil said that many times there were several standing up and eating.

Folks would bring dishes to make the pot luck, but grandma cooked all day Saturday to make the big spread. Ham, chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, cantaloupe, and corn on the cob could be counted on year round. Roast beef made an appearance depending on prices and other factors. Virgil was unlike his siblings and cousins who abhorred the adult gatherings and moved as far away from the main group, to share dirty jokes and tall tales. Virgil Cherry like to hear the old folks’ stories and conversations, and stationed himself as close to the maple table as possible. The men usually bandied around familiar topics such as the local high school football team, town government, weather, and occasional gossip. Grandpa Cherry wouldn’t tolerate some subjects, mainly because Grandma Cherry’s moral standards, and served as a host and moderator for the monthly discussions.

Virgil remembered his Uncle Jimmy being the silent one at most gatherings and never made comments or led a topic. He might mutter “pass the pickles” or “the gravy was real good this time”, but that was all. For years. He was single and ran a small gas station that seemed to eek out a profit. The relatives had given up on fixing him up with a woman as he, oddly enough, functioned happily as a solitary man.

Virgil said he was thirteen when the story of the car wreck was told.

About this age, he began to lose interest in family things and his mother had to goad him into those Sunday gatherings. It was when Uncle Jimmy turned sixty and they were celebrating with a sheet cake and tons of candles. After the obligatory song and the candles had served their purpose and everyone was deep in cake, Virgil said Uncle Jimmy laid down his fork and looked at him. For some reason, there was space at the maple table and Virgil was planted between his grandpa and Uncle Jimmy.

“I was about your age when I went to Acuff’s Barber Shop for my birthday haircut. Momma made us get a fresh cut around our birthday back then. I was old enough to go by myself and had already started pumping gas for Mr. Cartwright on the weekends. I waited my turn as the older men talked and gave their opinions about how high gas was. One of them, who knew me, kind of blamed me for being part of the conspiracy he had to pay twenty one cents now for a gallon of the stuff. They tried hard to have fun with me and talk about girls and make me blush. Finally, they did when it was my turn to hop in the chair. Back then, there was a certain group who just hung out at Acuff’s and read the newspaper and talked to Mr. Acuff. I never understood how they made a living or what they did? Just as I sat down and he put the apron tight around my neck, it happened, Bang!”

Come back Wednesday for more…

Melvin and the Wallet #5

Cash-in-Wallet

Melvin felt in a daze as he looked into his wife’s eyes. They carried a wild look like a tigress that stood before a dead prey and had a hungry litter.

“One question, Melvin, just one. Did you do this?”

“Do what honey?”

“The money, the wallets.”

“Of course not. How could I?”

Joanna paced the room and nodded. “I didn’t think you could. How could you get this much money and make up such a story?”

“Hey, what’s going on?” Melvin inquired.

Joanna went to her lunch box that she had put on the dresser along with her purse. She handed it to Melvin. “Open it.”

Melvin undid the latches on her metal lunch box with plaid squares painted on the sides, expecting to see her leftovers. Instead he beheld the familiar wallet stuffed with cash. He gaped at it for a full minute and then looked up at his wife.

“You kept it.” He reasoned.

“NO. I told you how they mocked me and made fun of me for turning it in. I went to the lunch room with Shirley and Mona like usual. We sit over at the side near the window where the big flower bed was. I sat down and we all said the blessing. I opened my lunch box and under my sandwich was that there wallet. I nearly  went to the bathroom in my pants. I shut it fast after I pulled my sandwich out. I could barely eat.”

“Did you count it?” Melvin asked.

“In the rest room. Seven hundred and eighty.”

He sat on the bed in silence as she continued to pace the room.

“I thought all afternoon about this Melvin. I could barely wait to get home.”

“What are we going to do honey?”

“Ruth 2:16.”

“Huh?” Melvin was throughly confused.

“It’s in the Old Testament. ‘and let fall also some the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not’. You see Melvin, this was God all along, you were right baby. Ruth worked for Boaz as a field worker, kind of like you and me. Most owners were mean and cruel. Not Boaz. He took pity of Ruth and let her eat and drink with his maidens. He tells his field bosses to leave some grain on the ground for her, some “handfuls of purpose”. Melvin, this here wallet is a gift from God.”

Melvin sat in shock at his smiling wife. “You think?”

She sat beside him and kissed him warmly. “Let’s go downstairs and eat those beans and cornbread. After supper let’s go to Goldbricks and get ice cream. Then we’ll go to Freeze’s and buy a load of groceries, I’ll get their man to deliver so we don’t have to carry it. Honey, get plenty of Bull Dirham and even a quart of Macon’s Beer, heck get two, one for me too. I already too the day off tomorrow and told the school the kids had to be absent. After we go down to the bank in the morning, I thought we could ride the bus over to Dalton and visit the amusement park.”

Melvin sat in dumbfounded and began to cry. Joanna wiped his tears and tilted his chin up to her eyes. “Promise me you will start going to church with me.”
“Sure, but the beer?”

“Melvin, I love the Lord but I think he wants us to enjoy life sometimes.”

The next day, they did go to the bank and catch up their mortgage and visit Dalton and ride the roller coaster. But, that’s not all. Melvin found the same wallet and money in different places for the next six days. At the end of thirty days, the police dutifully called them to claim to other wallets. Melvin went to church for the next six months. His leg got better and he went back to work. He was hired to work more hours and stopped going to church. Joanna stopped going when they moved to Dalton and Melvin got a job as the assistant manager of a lumber yard. He never found any more wallets, but he remained a believer that the Lord wanted all of us to enjoy life. He employed an act he always called “handfuls on purpose” by being nice to people who never expected anything good to happen.

The End