Tuesday, August 28, 2018


You know how one project snowballs into another?  You know you start out by cleaning up a spot on the floor and the next thing you know you are completely reflooring the whole house?  No?  It’s just me?  Oh, come on now.  I know I can’t be the only one.  I know it happened to Nurse Meme and Trooper Bob and it just happened to Gladys and Kahuna. 
Gladys stood in the bathroom towel draped hair dripping wet.  She stood with her blow dryer in hand.  She looked for a plug outlet but couldn’t find one.  They hadn’t lived in the little cottage long, just a couple of days.  It was cozy and snug but had been built in a day and time where plug outlets were few and far between.  She sighed and went in search of a place in which she could activate the dryer and keep her hair from frizzing.  Not just frizzing, but kinking up like fine grade steel wool.   She searched high and low for an open outlet. 
Kahuna was stretched out in his Lazy-boy, being anything but lazy.  The keys on his computer clicked happily along, without turning “what are you looking for” he queried. 
“Oh, you know, an open plug.  One that doesn’t have two dozen things plugged into it” she replied while crawling on her hands and knees under the dining table.
“Well, I guess I could put one in the bathroom, on the wall with the light switch” he suggested.
“Can you?  Would you?”
And that is how it all began.  With the want of one outlet. 
That too is how it started years ago with Nurse Meme and Trooper Bob.  It started with a toilet flapper that wouldn’t seal.  You all know the irritation not to mention astronomical water bills that goes with a bad flapper.  Not the roaring 20s, bob haircut and fringe dress, bad flapper.  Have I ever told y’all my grandmother was one of those?  A flapper, not the one that goes in the toilet tank but she may have drank gin from a bathtub, but we will never know.  I digress.
Nurse Meme called Bob in from the shop where he was hiding, smoking cigars.  He was retired.  He could do that, or so he thought. 
The little intercom which stretched the 50 yards from the house to the shop crackled and squawked.  “Bobkmlknkj;  Hurry! Mmmmmph” TB carefully snuffed out his cigar so he could come back to it later.  It sounded like there was some sort of an emergency, but as he had learned in his many years as a state trooper, your emergency wasn’t necessarily my emergency.  He kicked off the grass from his boots and entered the kitchen.  He looked in all the usual places for Meme.  He looked in the kitchen, in the laundry, in the study and in every single one of the four bedrooms.  He didn’t call out for her because he knew she would be calling him, shortly.
 “GAWDDAMNIT BOB!  Where the hell are you?” inquired a pissed off Meme as she stomped out of the guest bathroom.
 “Don’t get your panties in a wad.  I’m right here.  What’s your problem?”
“You are my gawddamn problem, but right now it’s this sonofabeech toilet” she answered pointing at the toilet.
“Looks alright to me” he responded as he eased over to the commode and opened the lid.  “Sounds like the flapper is stuck.  Didja try jiggling the handle?”
“Yes, I jiggled the damn handle.  I ain’t an idiot.  It needs a new flapper” she insisted. 
TB opened the tank lid and jiggled the flapper, the water stopped running “there ya go.  I fixed it.”
Meme flushed the toilet and the flapper stuck open again “no you didn’t.  Now go get a new flapper and don’t do any of that duct tape and balin wire fixin.  I want it done right.”
TB replaced the lid and rolled his eyes “it’s fine.  Just put a sticky note on the wall tellin everybody to jiggle the handle.”
“You can go to hell too.  I ain’t tellin nobody to jiggle no damn handle.  Get the parts and fix it” she admonished and turned and walked out adding “and do it now.  I am trying to clean this damn house.”
Trooper Bob sighed and reluctantly headed to the hardware store mumbling the whole way “fixit right, I’ll fix it alright.  Aint nothing you can’t fix with a little JB Weld, Duct tape or balin wire or all three.  Why I glued a guy’s toe back on with JB Weld and duct tape.  Tellin me to fix it right.”  He continued his lament as he wandered through the aisles of P-traps and plumbing supplies.  He passed a couple of other men doing the same.  Talking to the spouse they left at home on a mission to complete their honey-do list.  He looked at all the different styles, settled on the cheapest fix and headed back home.
Not really wanting to fix the flapper on the toilet, he procrastinated.  He went back to the shop and re-lit his cigar, turned on Paul Harvey and hid a little while longer.  He was kicked back in his chair, almost asleep.
 “GAWDDAMNIT!  I asked you to fix the toilet!  What do you think you are doing out here smoking ceegars and sleeping?” 
“I think I’m smoking my ceegar and takin a nap is what I think I’m doin” he rebutted.
“Get in there and fix the damn toilet.  I need to finish cleaning” Meme declared and stormed out.
“That damn woman has one mood, pissed off” Trooper Bob mumbled.  He gathered his tools and the new flapper and drug into the house and set about replacing the flapper.  He was just about finished when he torqued a bit too hard on the nut and the whole tank shattered.  “Gawddamnitsonofabeechmotherforkerinrashnashin, Meme!!!! I NEED TOWELS!”  He yelled as her emergency had become his emergency.
Meme came running and at seeing the mess began pulling towels from the linen closet and throwing them his way.  “I’ll get the mop” she yelled as she ran down the hall
“I NEED A WRANCH!” as he furiously tried to turn off the corroded valve.  Water pouring and sloshing all along the wall and floor. 

Meme returned with a fresh batch of towels and a mop “you need to turn off the valve.  That water is going all over the place.”
“No shit Sherlock!  If I could turn it off I would.  I need a wranch” he shouted. 
Meme ran to the junk drawer extracted a pair of channel locks and ran back “will these do?”
“I reckon they’s gonna have to.  Get the hell out of my way” he barked as he lay down in the water and manhandled the valve which dissolved with the pressure of the channel locks.  “Well shit fire and save the damn matches, go turn off the valve to the house.”
Meme started to run then stopped.  “I don’t know where the valve is.”
Trooper Bob, now saturated and mad as a wet hen stomped down the hallway sloshing leaving a trail of toilet water in his wake. 
“You’re getting the carpet all wet” Meme yelled after him.
“Yeah well, too damn bad” and he stomped out the front door.
Once the water had been turned off and the mess had been cleaned up the two loaded up in the truck and drove to the hardware store to pick out a new toilet. 
“Oh, look at this one” she enthused “it’s tall and white.  I like this one.  It says it saves water too!  But since we got that old toilet out, we need to redo the floor.  Let’s go look at the flooring.  I always hated that linoleum.   I think we need to lay tile in that bathroom.  And look at these shower doors.  They are much prettier than the ones we have.  The old ones are so dingy looking”
“They aren’t dingy, they are frosted and the floor is fine.  Just needs to dry out a little” Bob responded, seeing more and more work piling up as they made their way through the store. 
“And that wall paper!  Atrocious.  I mean who wants wallpaper of old timey toilets all over their bathroom walls” she queried. 
“Evidently, you since you was the one put it there in the first place” he mumbled seeing yet another project.
“No, I didn’t.  It was there when we bought the house” she mumbled back as she picked out paint and paper, flooring and shower doors, new light fixtures, mirrors, cabinets with marble tops, new faucets and shower heads, towel racks and toilet paper dispensers and of course the new toilet.
That is how the repair of a three dollar toilet flapper ended up into a complete bathroom remodel. 
All Gladys wanted was an outlet to plug her blow dryer into.  That’s how her bathroom ended up with new drywall, paint, mirror cabinet, lights, molding and floor.  All she wanted was an outlet.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


It is sad, so many of the icons from my youth are gone.  They are no more.  In their place stand empty buildings or empty lots.  I remember one of my favorite past times as a kid was when my mom would take us downtown.  We would wander through the big old department stores.  In my hometown it was Thornton’s, Grissom’s and Minter’s and of course Montgomery Ward and Sears and Roebuck’s. 

They had an elevator with an operator who would announce the floors.  They had perfume counters and glove counters they even had a special section with a clerk just for hats.  We didn’t have a lot of money but sometime when my mother needed something special we got to visit the downtown department stores.  Today I read where Sears is closing more stores.  J.C. Penny had already announced more closings.  I guess Amazon and Walmart have taken most of their business away.  Heck whatever you need you can get online.  But you can’t get a ride up the escalator to the Housewares Department or visit with Faye, the elevator operator, she announced you have reached Third Floor, Ladies foundations, lingerie and perfumes.  

And another thing, did you ever wonder what happened to Roebuck?  Did old Richard Warren Sears kick him out of the company?  Is he buried under the loading dock of a Sears in Spring Valley, Minnesota?   Or was he just the victim of a down turn in the economy which squeezed him out into bankruptcy.  Was he, like Trooper Bob, kicked out of the Sears and Roebuck’s? 

Oh, and I find it odd that a store that started out as a catalogue store is going out of business because it can’t compete with on-line catalogue stores. 
I digress once again.  Here is one of my favorite department store stories, told to me by a co-worker of mine.  I have never entered a Sears and Roebuck’s that I didn’t think of this story.

Martin and his wife, Letty, held the hand of their sweet little boy, Alfonso as they walked through the aisles of the brand-new Sears and Roebuck’s downtown store.  The floors were polished terrazzo, the walls bright tile.  A large grinding escalator stood in the middle of the store lifting patrons from one floor to the next.
Alfonso squealed with delight.  He burst loose from his parents and ran to the toy department.  Red Ryder B.B. guns, little green army men, Lincoln logs and stuffed Teddy bears filled the racks and invited the tot to play.  Martin caught up with his five-year-old son, promising they would revisit the toys once Mommy and Daddy had gone to housewares.  A little disappointed he reluctantly let his dad lead him away from his panacea.  He waved goodbye to the giant Howdy Doodie puppet suspended above the toys
Up the escalator they floated, Alfonso jumping up and down watching over the side as the people down below got smaller and smaller.  They exited to the third floor where he exited hoping to find new wonders.  He lagged behind his mom and dad when he realized all that was here was furniture and refrigerators. 

Letty ran to the large pink Cold Spot chest freezer.  She fussed over it, expounding on the color and how it would match her all pink kitchen.  Martin appreciated it ample size, commenting that the thing he looked for in a freezer was how many bodies it would hold.  Letty slapped his arm and told the horrified salesman that he was just joshing, but behind her back Martin mouthed no I’m not. 

Not wanting to offend the ominous looking man in the black suit and his wife, the salesman expounded on the virtues of the new frostless freezer.  He told of all the time Letty would save on all that tedious defrosting.  Then he asked if the couple had any children.  That is the exact moment Martin and Letty realized little Alfonzo was missing. 

Panic rose in Letty’s throat and Martin began scanning the area for his little dark headed boy.  The rushed from aisle to aisle.  Sales Clerks from all over the store rushed to aid in the search of the tike.  Thelma from lingerie blocked the entrance and exit off the escalator on the second floor.  Marge in accessories took time off from selling Mrs. Thibodeaux the most stylish hat she had ever seen to look under racks and in dressing rooms for the young man.  The store was in an upheaval.
Martin rounded the corner to find a crowd gathered around a display, a bathroom display.  The crowd was in various stages of disgust, laughter and amazement.  He pushed his way to the front of the crowd to find little Alfonzo happily sitting on the display toilet with his pants around his ankles and a picture book in his hands.  Letty showed up about then and let out a scream, “Oh my baby boy!  What are you doin?” 
“Why momma, I’m going number two.  You told me it weren’t good to hold it in.  It made me have a bad attitude” the little innocent replied.
That’s the day that Martin, Letty and Alfonzo were kicked out of the Sears and Roebuck’s.  And Letty never did get her big pink frostless Cold Spot Freezer.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018


I am trying to write for at least an hour every day.  Some days all I can manage is a grocery list but like Stephen King said, “Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”  Believe me, most days I feel like I am following around an elephant.  Again, I digress.  I am writing with the encouragement of my quirky cousins to write then ship-it. (stops and waves to quirky cousins) So I am putting a stamp on this and shipping it.

Gladys climbed on the stationary bike cussing and huffing.  It was her third day at the Cardiac Rehab center.  She was feeling a little out of place, as she had not had a heart attack like the rest of these poor people, instead she had a rheumatic heart from childhood illness.  Her cardiologist wanted to get a baseline on her before she went off and killed herself exercising on her own.   Now if you have never been to a cardio rehab class let me give you a brief description of the events.   First thing you do when you get there is get your blood pressure, heart rate and blood oxygen levels.  This is done by waiting in line behind about fifty octogenarians and a dozen nonagenarians who all give you the stink eye wondering what your quinquagenarian self is doing here. It is not like Gladys is a spring chick but still those oldsters are just a little suspicious of those young whippersnapper baby boomers. Once you have your vitals you head over to stick electrodes all over your body with super glue stuck to toilet paper. 

Finally, you climb aboard one of the instruments of torture, otherwise known as the recumbent bicycle on which you are tortured for a minimum of fifteen minutes of pure agony.  Then you drag your limp and tired legs over to the next instrument of torture also known as the treadmill.  Once you have completed the Bataan death march they usher you to a machine on which you peddle up hills both ways with your hands.  Yes, it is a hand peddler.  Yes, I know, you are saying.  What the heck Gladys?  None of this is that bad.  But Gladys abhorred exercise.

The nice nurse came to her machine and dialed up a level three.  Let’s test your stamina she said.  This will be easy, she lied.  Gladys began to peddle and the more she peddled the harder it became.  The harder it became the harder she panted and puffed.  Her face turned beat red.  He hands gripped the handles as if they would save her from falling into the bowels of hell.  She began to sweat and her legs began to burn.  The faster she peddled the inertia caused her to slide down the seat causing her to have to pull herself off the floor and back up on the seat.

It was during one of these adjustments she noticed that someone had taken the seat next to her.  Not just anyone, but a small little elvish woman in a baby pink track suit with a shocking head of white hair.  She was the Betty White of cardio.  Gladys gulped air and huffed out a hello.  The little woman smiled and returned the greeting in a sweet soft voice, not at all inconvenienced by the weapon of mass destruction she was peddling.   By this time Gladys was convinced she is going to die right there with her feet in the stirrups.  She looked hopefully over at the nonagrian next to her for some commiseration only to find old Betty White wanna-be  knitting.  The woman is KNITTING while working out.  WHAT KIND OF VOODOO IS THIS?   She’s a witch!  Burn her! Burn her!  Gladys was sure this woman was not working at the same level as she.  She was probably on a level one, barely peddling so holding on tight to the handles she leaned as far over as she could without being thrown like a city slicker on a mechanical bull.  She stretched and squinted only to see that old Betty was three levels higher than she was at and was on a much harder program.  One that made her climb hills at a high incline.  Humph, Gladys thought.  She isn’t human, that has to be the explanation. 

Finally, her time on the recumbent torture machine was over and she drug her limp and lifeless body over to the treadmill where once again the not so nice lying nurse set the machine to the lowest level allowed.  The tread began to roll and Gladys stumbled and caught herself with the bar,  caught up to the cadence and began her huffing and puffing.  Just a moment or two later good old knitting Betty hopped up on the treadmill next to Gladys.  She smiled and set her machine once again to random hills at a high speed.  Then she did the unthinkable.  She reached down and grabbed her knitting and began to knit.  She began to knit while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  What in the love of GOD is this woman drinking?  Gladys gulped down some air and huffed and puffed praying to all things holy for the torture to end.  Betty White just knitted and smiled.  The clouds parted, the light came on and finally Gladys’ fifteen minutes were finally over.  She mustered up as much of a smile as possible, drank a half a bottle of water in one swallow and begged to go home.

The nurse lied again and told her just one more little machine.  No big deal.  Just peddle with your hands.  You will feel wonderful she lied, the time will fly by she said.  LIES they were all LIES.  Gladys climbed onto the seat and began hand peddling up K-2  huffing and puffing.  She peddled trying to keep her coordination going when she realized once again the knitting kitten is sitting next to her preparing to also do a little hand peddling.  Gladys couldn’t take it anymore.  She had, had enough.  She stopped and looked over at the sweet little old superhuman and said “if you start knitting with your feet while you are hand peddling, I AM DONE.”   Knitting Betty White smiled sweetly and said in her saccharine voice “oh honey, I’m good, but, even I am not THAT good.”  That is when Gladys fell off the machine…… laughing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


             It’s been awhile since I written a Trooper Bob story, in fact it’s been awhile since I’ve been here.   I could say I’ve been busy but that isn’t completely true.  I could tell you I’ve been depressed, kind of like Duane in Larry McMurtry’s Duane’s Depressed.  But I haven’t taken up walking everywhere.  I could tell you all kinds of things but the truth is, I don’t know why I haven’t been here. 

              I have been spending a lot of time with Trooper Bob lately and every now and then a story will fall out of his brain and I have been remiss in reporting them here.  I know that man has more stories than Carter has little liver pills.  If you don’t know who Carter is or what little liver pills are, well GOOGLE it! 

              I digress.  Let’s welcome back the Chronicles of Trooper Bob.

           They sat in the old stone building.  The one where John Wayne had slept, where George Patton had smoked his cigars and written in his journal.  They had gathered from all over the state.  The border was in a state of flux and there was an uprising on the horizon.  The Colonel had given the order and they had gathered with their riot gear driven hundreds of miles and now they were waiting for word.  A gaggle of men dressed in summer wool DPS uniforms in the South Texas heat, waiting.  Some played cards, some read Zane Grey novels bought at the five and dime in Brackettville but most napped.  They napped because it was smart to grab the sleep when you could.  Tomorrow was unknown.  Heck and hour from now was iffy.

           Trooper Deal and Trooper Bob sat talking old times and telling tales.  Waiting for others to nod off so they could play a prank or two on the unsuspecting victim.  Sometimes it was as simple as the shaving cream and feather trick which would cause the newly shaving cream covered victim to come alive spitting and cussing while the rest would scream in laughter. 
           The worst part of the detail was the waiting.  The waiting produced boredom and boredom gave them way too much time to come up with new ways in which to torment the other. 
            The shadows were getting long and another day had almost passed when the bell clanged and they shifted from leaned back chairs and legs draped over easy chair arms.  They had been waiting for something to happen and now it had.  Chow time.  Trooper Bob eased off his chair and picked up his gun belt.   Strapping it on he also stuffed something in his pocket.  He wandered close behind the others smirking just a little
            “Hey, Hutch” cried Deal “I’m so hungry I could eat the south end of a north bound cow.”
            “The way that hamburger tasted at lunch it might have been all asshole” Trooper Bob replied.
            “Well I guess you’d know what asshole tasted like, you bein one and all” Byron shot back.
            “I’ll remember you said that, I have a long memory” Bob answered.
They filed into the mess hall and pulled out the metal chairs lined along the makeshift tables.  Bob made his way around the table passed the Colonel’s chair at the head of the table pausing just a moment to notice a nice cushion placed on the chair.  Guess old lead bottom had a delicate derriere he mused.  Then he moved on. 
            Colonel Leadbottom stood at the end of the table cleared his throat and in his best imitation of George Patton he gave his speech.  How in difficult time brave men step forward to do their duty.  He droned on and the men shuffled feet and fidgeted in their seats.  Their greasy fried chicken and instant mashed potatoes grew cold on their plates the gravy congealing in puddles.  Finally, he finished up and lowered his incredibly ample ass onto the chair.   PLFFFFFTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT echoed through the stone walls. Someone in the back of the room yelled AMEN!   Leadbottom jumped to his feet huffing and puffing, he stormed around his chair.  Leaned over and with thumb and forefinger plucked a whoopee cushion from his chair.  The room erupted in laughter.   Leadbottom stormed out leaving his congealed gravy and soggy chicken.
Trooper Bob grinned knowing that the Ben Franklin sold more than just Zane Grey novels and Juicy Fruit.
            Night fell and the stars shone bright over the old fort.  Ghost of Pecos Bill and Skinny Jim Wainwright haunted the halls and watched over the troopers.  Snores echoed through walls and off of the wooden beams.  All quiet on the border. 

            The next morning the word came and the big yellow school buses started pulling up in front of the Officer’s Quarters.  The men roused from their beds cowlicks standing tall and sleep still in their eyes began their preparations.  The troopers shined their boots, cinched on their Sam Browns and pinned on their badges.  There were no jokes, no grab assing.  This was serious.  This was Poncho Villa serious.  There was a border war brewing and these men were the first line of defense.  They checked their cartridges and revolvers grabbed their shields, replaced their signature Stetson hats with helmets and moved out.  
            One by one they boarded the buses; the Colonel checked the names off his roster.  They were seated side by side, ready to do or die.  The Colonel cleared his throat and gave the instructions.  “On this auspicious occasion we must remember these are civilians, Mexican citizens.  Remember no violence unless necessary.  We are here to defend our citizens, never attack.  Keep your cool don’t let them goad you into a battle.  We are here as a show of force. I know you all have trained for riots but remember this is not training, men.  This is the real deal.  Now, does anyone one have any questions?”
            The men squirmed a bit not really sure what to expect.  The colonel made it sound so ominous.  Was there really going to be violence?  Was the joking around and hijinks over and now it was all business? 
            Deal raised his hand “Colonel, sir?”
            “Yes Deal?” the Colonel replied
            “Shouldn’t somebody stay back and defend the fort?” Deal asked with a straight face.
            “Shut up Deal and put on your helmet” The Colonel shouted over a bus full of laughter.
            Trooper Deal leaned over and whispered to Trooper Bob “John Wayne would have never left the fort undefended.”