Now that I have introduced you to my Aunt Francis let me introduce you to Uncle Monroe. He was my daddy’s best friend growing up. He was a couple of years older and just as red headed as they come, hence his nickname Red. He passed away several years ago yet he still lives in all of our hearts.
Now when I say they were best friends I mean they were like peas and carrots, Forest and Bubba, Frick and Frack; you get the idea they were close. They lived out on a country lane and would get into all kinds of mischief like tipping over outhouses and putting flaming bags of cow manure on peoples front porches. They were rough and tumble boys. They would ride their bicycles up to the general store and filling station and count their pennies to get a soda and some candy. This is when they first encountered Alfred and Monroe. They were mesmerized, wonderized and generally enthralled with these two men. They watched them, mimicked them and laughed about them for the next 60 years.
It was a hot summer day and Red had blown out yet another inner tube on his bicycle. He was hot and sweaty but was diligently trying to put the patch on the over patched tube. “Hey Red, what cha up to” Bob asked as he squatted in the dirt next to his best bud. “Oh Heck this danged tube done blew out again. Geese Bob do you think we are ever gonna be able to save up enough to get new tubes? I mean this one’s got more patches on it than my Grandma’s bloomers” Red responded tossing the inner tube on the ground. Bob picked up the patched piece of rubber and said “hey hop on my bike and we’ll go down to the fillin station, maybe Homer can help us fix this better. Heck maybe he has a better one hanging in the bay”. Red hopped on the handle bars while Bob pumped the pedals the half a mile up the red dirt road.
The garage bay door was open and they could hear the radio playing in the background. The boys looked around back but did not see Homer, the station owner, anywhere. They wandered into the bay and yelled out but no answer. They walked around the front to where the store was located and spotted a rusted model T. The car looked much like Red’s bicycles inner tube, a little worse for wear with patches here and rusts there.
The boys found a cool place to sit and in a few minutes out came an older gentleman in a pair of worn overalls with a straw hat on his head. He carried a sack of flour on one shoulder and a sack of dried beans on the other. “Come on Alfred! I aint gonna wait fer you all damnlodged day” the man called into the store. He unloaded his purchases into the car then went back up on the general store’s porch and retrieved yet another sack this one containing potatoes. Once again he squinted in the direction of the store and hollered “Dadblasted! Alfred come on we’re burnin daylight here. Hey don’t forgit to get them nails for the roof. I ain’t sleepin through another storm with that tin a flappin.”
The boys stifled a giggle and dug into pockets counting out change until they had enough to purchase a single Orange Crush soda to be shared. They settled down on their used tire perch to watch the rest of the show.
“Monroe, did you get that bag of flour” came a bodiless voice from the general store. Alfred removed his hat, took out a blue bandana wiped his brow and yelled back “Hell, yes you danged old woman! I got the flour, the beans and the taters now get your ass in gear and let’s go. Bessie is gonna need milking and I got some likker to bottle.” He put his hat back on his head and stomped around the old car lookin at the tires. Then he stopped. He got a pinched look on his face lifted his leg and let out the longest loudest fart either of the boys had ever heard. That was it. It was all they could do. Red squirted Orange Crush out his nose and Bob fell off the tires. They were laughing and carrying on when finally the elusive and evidently more feminine of the two came out of the store. There in matching overalls with an identical hat was Monroe’s identical twin Alfred. He carried a bolt of flowered material, a bag full of ten penny nails and a tub of lard.
He walked down the steps and set his treasures into the car. He looked at Monroe, sniffed the air and said “Oh GOOD LARD Munrow! What the hell died?” Monroe sniffed and said “smells kinda like those Juevos Rancheros that Jose’ made fer breakfast.” Alfred stood glaring at his mirror reflection with hands on his hips “I ain’t riddin all the way back to the place iffin your gonna be letting loose like that. You can just walk home.” Monroe shook his head wiped his face and said “I’ll kick your ass.”
What transpired next was sort of like a game of chicken. Alfred would advance a few steps toward Monroe. Then Monroe would advance a few steps toward Alfred until finally they both gave up and finished loading up the car. Once the car was loaded and the two were ready to set off Monroe got behind the wheel. Alfred positioned himself in front of the car, crank in hand. Monroe hollered “Choke” Alfred confirmed “Choke”. Monroe yelled “Contact” then Alfred confirmed “contact”. Monroe hollered “ignition” and Alfred confirmed “ignition” then sat about cranking that flivver with all his might. There was a sputter and a spew of black smoke then a chug-a-lug then a boom followed by a pop and another plum of black smoke, then nothing. They repeated this process identically three times until finally the old engine took hold and chugged along methodically. Monroe slipped her into gear and started rolling down the drive with Alfred running madly along side. Finally he was able to heft himself into the shot-gun seat and off they went happily down the road.
Red looked at Bob and Bob back at Red. They wiped the orange crush from their faces with dirty hands and tried to control their giggles. The die was cast, the scene had been set they were and would forever be Alfred and Monroe.