Monday, February 27, 2006
Several years later, I received one of those 'Joke-a-Day' spam e-mails. Out of curiosity, I opened it up, and there was this post, with nary a mention of little old me. I banged off an e-mail suggesting that it was bad policy to send plagiarized material to the author of that material. Never got a response back.
Folks, I write to make people smile. That being the case I certainly don't mind if you forward my scribbles to your friends and family (or even your enemies, if that kind of thing floats your boat) - heck, I encourage it - but kindly mention LawDog from The Firing Line or LawDog from The High Road when you do. Or even this blog, I guess.
And please, if you catch someone claiming my stuff as his, kick him in the butt for me.
You just might be a rural Peace Officer ...
If your hat, belt and boots cost more than your sidearm.If you know what a 'court gun' is.
If you have a 'court gun'.
If directions to a location involve livestock, property descriptions, or the words: "When you get off the pavement."
If the winner of the last three bar room brawls was last years Homecoming Queen.
If dressing up for court involves pressed Wranglers and a Brushpopper shirt.
If anyone on the Department is named 'Bubba'.
If you don't know Bubba's real name.
If Bubba is his real name.
If you've ever gotten a confession from a critter by threatening him with either his Mama or God.
If your interview for the job involved the question: "Can you take a whuppin'?"
If you have more weapons and ammunition in your cruiser than most small nations have in their armies.
If you've ever had an 'Officer Involved Shooting' where the victim was a feral hog or other four-pawed critter with an appetite.
If the calibre of your sidearm is regarded as an artillery round in Europe.
You've ever had to mediate a dispute concerning the paternity of a litter of puppies.
If you have the impression that the Feds regard your department as being marginally more civilized than the Viking Hordes.
If you think all back-up is 30 miles away and asleep in bed.
If you've ever gone to an emergency wearing only your hat, pajamas, gun and boots.
If spurs are a department-issued item.
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
I've not told her as yet.
Chalk it up to moral cowardice on my part, but I'm terrified of what the news will do to her. More, I don't want to be the one to pitch her off into mental, physical or emotional decay.
Her mind is still good. Yes, she's foggy on some stuff, but she's also 98, so a little fogginess comes with the territory.
Granted, there was the episode involving an un-opened 2 1/2 pound can of beef stew placed into the oven, with the dial cranked to 500 degrees, followed by Gran wandering off. Bet you didn't know that 2 1/2 pounds of Dinty Moore beef stew exploding sounds a lot like a grenade, did you?
But, that sort of thing is going to happen, and who am I to get wound up over random explosions? And she remembers people, and lesson plans, and the various and sundry stuff that has happened during the last 98 years on this planet.
I don't want to take that away from her.
After Grandad died, we weren't positive that Gran wasn't far behind. She spent a lot of time leaning on her baby brother, and gradually rallied, but it was touch-and-go there for a while.
Now, baby brother is gone, and Gran is all that's left of what was a big, close-knit family.
The services are Thursday, so she's going to have to be told fairly quickly.
Sometimes life really sucks.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
We had been badgering Mom and Dad regarding the space program for some weeks, until finally Mom ground and mixed some sulphur, sugar, charcoal, saltpetre and water into a paste, poured it into the end of a piece of bamboo and left it to dry on the back porch for about three days.
After the three days were up, Dad propped the bamboo against a stump in the front yard, stuffed two matches up into the end with the dried gunk, lit the wood end of the matches, and Voila! -- the bamboo pinwheeled down the street with a really neat blue jet coming out one end. ("Ah," said Dad, "Russian design.")
This may not have been our mothers' best idea.
Under the somewhat ... absent-minded ... guidance of Dear Old Dad, my brother and I spent the next couple of weeks on Nigeria's first (and only) Space Program. By depleting a nearby cane-brake of bamboo, and with the aid of several Noble Volunteers from the house lizard population (and generous use of gaffer tape to keep said Noble Volunteers from un-volunteering), my brother and I set out to perfect a launch platform.
Through trial-and-error (much error), we discovered the penultimate lizard-launcher: If you tied one end of a three-foot cord to the hind leg of your astro-lizard, and the other end of the cord to your bamboo, you achieved stability and guidance, since the drag provided by the cord (and lizard) kept the nose of the rocket pointed up.
(Of course, being firmly taped to the nose of a bamboo rocket tends to lead to guidance-wrecking struggles when a Hero of the Swampland succumbs to his baser instincts. Much better for the Hero to be sitting on the ground, wondering: "Okay, what have those little bastards come up with -- what's burning -- WHOAAA-aaaaaa-aaaa!")
Anyhoo, one evening we're watching a semi-successful launch and Dad mentions just kind of off-paw, "Interesting stuff, black powder."
Up perk our ears.
"Of course, the charcoal around here is awful, so your mom is using sugar to boost the fuel value of the carbon, but basically it's the same thing that the Chinese came up with."
Chris and I looked at each other. A new day was born in the fledgling Nigerian Space Program.
Having been fed a diet of H. Rider Haggard, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and R. E. Howard we knew what black powder was -- we were just a bit puzzled why ours was going "ffsshhtt" instead of "boom".
The obvious answer was that ours was a solid cake instead of a powder, and after some trial runs we were delighted to discover that this was, indeed, the case.
We had arbitrarily decided that ten bamboo rockets would be a suitable deterrent arsenal, so we mixed up about a bucket-full of black powder and placed it in the garden shed to bake.
I'm not exactly sure what happened, because everyone I've spoken to confidently tells me that solid black powder does not have the consistency of year-old high-grade concrete.
So, there we were, sitting on the driveway, having spent 20 minutes thumping an upside-down bucket on the drive slab (oh, the sparks) and being rewarded with a perfect mould of the inside of a ten-gallon bucket cast in charcoal-grey high-test dam-building material. Not a crumb to be seen.
Not to be defeated, my brother and I fetched our (steel) rock hammers, and with a mighty effort from our scrawny, sub-teenage muscles managed to reduce our war materiel to a large pile of walnut-sized chunks. Totally unsuitable for our purposes, and at a considerable expenditure in sweat (and sparks, I should add - steel hammers and a concrete driveway).
Anyhoo, somewhere along in our ruminations, we remembered The Coffee Grinder.
One of Mom's friends had purchased for her a coffee grinder in Italy, and it was a doozy. 220 volt, gleaming stainless steel, two -- count 'em, two -- glass bean hoppers, each of which held about two bricks' worth of beans, hand-fitted grinding blades -- State of the Art in Coffee-Making Technology.
Mom doesn't drink coffee. She loathes the stuff.
So, there it sat, clamped on the end of the kitchen table, bean hoppers filled with some love-in-a-canoe coffee beans, plugged into the wall, and completely and totally unused.
Chris and I forthwith requisitioned this technology for the War Effort.
In between the two hoppers was an open chute directly into the feed screw, to allow the addition of various and sundry stuff to your coffee mixture, so we promptly dropped one of our smaller chunks of black powder into the chute.
Much coughing and grinding, and Voila! Finely-ground black powder -- and no sweat. Perfect.
We promptly snatched one hopper, tossed the beans contained therein into the yard, filled it full of chunks, re-attached it to the grinder and began to process our powder.
We were about ten or so minutes into the task (now, pay attention here, 'cause this is kind of important), and being slightly impatient, were hand-feeding chunks into the open chute to speed up the process some, when we began noticing that the grinder was making a funny noise.
Not a grinding sound, not even the squeal of blades designed for comparatively soft coffee beans masticating chunks the consistency of granite, but a weird kind of "ffsst...fsstttt...ffsstttsstt" noise.
And there was an odd glow. Kind of a pinkly-orange glow, a bit like an old mercury-vapour lamp in shade, but more flickery.
And smoke. Did I mention the smoke?
Chris and I, not being altogether gormless, had just come to the conclusion that Bad Things were About To Happen, when Dad chose that moment to walk through the swinging doors into the kitchen.
"Hey, boys. Staying our of tr ... what the hell?"
Now, Dad was absent-minded. And Dad would frequently fail to observe minor details while his mind was else-where. Like pythons and wives. Waist-deep water in his office. Rioting natives. With machetes. You know -- the small things.
I'm here to tell you, though, given the proper motivation Dad could flat move.
Next thing I knew, Dad had each of us under one arm, pivoted, hit the door, button-hooked the end of the dining room, swept Mom off the couch, and hit the deck behind The Chest.
"I say, old boy, really," commented Dad's friend Tom.
"Um, I'm sorry, are we interrupting something?" inquired Tom's girlfriend, Whazzername.
"Dear," hissed Mom, in that peculiar tone women get sometimes.
"FOOMF," declared the kitchen. Tom dropped his drink.
Trans-sonic coffee beans everywhere. Ceiling. Walls. Dining room walls. Living room walls. Living room ceiling. Heck, we managed to put some of the little beggars into the front yard. It was wonderful.
Mom didn't see it quite that way, of course.
Aside from a few shining spots (Joey Cheek, bless your heart), I have never seen such a herd of two-bit, four-flushing, spoiled-rotten, self-absorbed, snivelling little snot-nosed honyocks in my entire life.
Whoever the hell was responsible for teaching this bunch of parasitic pinheads common courtesy, manners and sportsmanship should be set on fire and used as the next Olympic torch as a reminder to the next set of athletes to pull their self-absorbed little heads out of their fundaments.
I honestly don't know who should be horsewhipped around the courthouse square first. I mean, given Chanda Gunn refusing to shake hands with the opposing hockey team after the hard-pressed game was done; Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick pulling hair in their very own cat-fight; and Bode Miller - no comment necessary...God, what a choice.
I think, though, given my druthers and a hickory switch, I'd wear that thing down to a nubbin on Young Johnny Weir.
For those Gentle Readers (both of you) who may have missed this, Master Weir decided that it would be both appropriate and amusing as a representative of the United States, to wear a gen-yoo-wine CCCP sports team jacket during his official warm-up.
Words fail me. They really do.
For someone who has been selected as the representative of the United States to the Olympics; a person who is our ambassador, chosen to represent US -- you and me and everyone else in the United States -- to the O-L-Y-M-P-I-C-S, for that person to wear the uniform of a vanquished nation who was our direct, indirect and constant enemy for FIFTY YEARS, a country whom we fought a sometimes-bloody-not-always-quite Cold War, is NOT A GODS-BE-DAMNED FASHION STATEMENT!
Somebody, please, for the love of God, whup his ass. I'm begging you.
As for the rest, you pin-headed, self-absorbed, puling little jackanapes, you know who you are, listen up!
The Olympics are not about you.
The Olympics Games are about celebrating the Olympic ideal. They are about representing your nation at the Olympic Games.
If you can't get that through your self-absorbed little skulls, I think you shold be thrown off the Olympic team in favour of a junior varsity player who DOES understand.
I also believe that the coaches should be given Meditation sticks
and anytime the words: "Me", "I don't wanna", or "I rocked these Olympics" come out of your cakehole, the coaches should give you a firm rap betwixt the running lights, so that you will have the time, opportunity and ability to reassess your sodding priorities, you insufferable little oiks.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
By-the-by, translating English into Injured Redneck is more difficult than one might think.
I had been out west of town, settling a dispute concerning the paternity of a litter of puppies and was heading back to the SO on one of those lovely Panhandle fall afternoons.
I had the window down, just generally enjoying myself, when I was passed by a 1958 Chevy pickup doing approximately twice the legal speed limit.
About ten miles later, I get this Chevy pulled over, when the driver gets out and sprints back to the cruiser. Friends of mine will tell you that I have a real dislike for people doing that, so I promptly tear into him:
"Bobby, what the hell are you doing?"
"Well," he says, scrunching and fidgeting with his gimme hat, "I done murdered Earl, and I thought I might oughta find a doctor for him."
"Do you realize how fast you were going? All four of these tires are so bald that they're showing wire, the passenger side front fender is going to fly off in the wind...You did what?"
Bobby's expression kind of wrinkles up, and he mauls his cap a bit more. "I kilt Earl."
Oh, God. This I don't need. I find myself speaking very slowly and carefully, "Bobby, are you sure you killed Earl?"
"We-eeell, I shot him in the face with a shotgun."
Oh, yeah. That'll do the trick. I feel a headache tip-toeing it's way up my spine with all the dainty grace of a rhino in steel-toed combat boots.
"Bobby," says I, still in that slow, calm voice, "Think carefully now. Did you mean to shoot your brother?"
He abruptly takes on a hunted expression. His hands clutch convulsively at the John Deere cap -- he knows there's a legal trick somewhere in my words. He seeks a neutral, non-condemning answer, an answer which won't violate his Fifth Amendment Rights -- he has it!
"You mean, this time?"
"One felony at a time, Bobby. And where's the body?"
Bobby looks at the truck, "He's in the back."
I point at Bobby, "Don't go anywhere!", vault onto the rear bumper of the truck, and sure enough we have a body laying on a bed of fish poles, beer cans, oil jugs, shotgun shells and other assorted detritus necessary for the proper operation of a country truck. And, even better, the corpus has slid forward until everything from the armpits up is hidden under the toolbox.
Oh, joy. I swallow a couple of times, take a deep breath, latch onto the ankles of the cadaver and begin to pull him out from under the toolbox, when the Deceased promptly spasms violently in my grip, such spasm together with the deep, sonorous tone of a bell sounding in a place where there weren't any bells, causes me to turn loose of the ankles of the Dearly Departed and tumble into the bar ditch.
Okay. No problem.
I'm laying there in the bar-ditch, pulling goat-head stickers out of my limbs and very carefully not wondering about how much a face being slammed into the bottom of a stainless-steel toolbox sounds remarkably like a church bell, when said face appears over the edge of the pickup bed and peers down at me in an accusatory fashion.
"Ju brogd by dode."
I concentrate on a particularly ambitious sticker.
"By ond brugga choosts be in de ged, and deen de gops breg by dode."
I roll to my feet, and carefully amble back to the cruiser, and fish around in the back seat until I find a handkerchief, walk back to the pickup and hand it to Earl.
"Thakds" he mubbled, dabbling the blood flowing down his face and revealing several dozen dark grey (one might even go as far as to call them lead-colored) pimples.
I sit on the bumper, fishing around in my vest for a badly needed stick of gum, "Hunting accident?" I hazard, minutely studying a paleolithic stick of Juicy Fruit clutched in my ever-so-slightly trembling paw.
"Dumg fezant tookt off betweeg us, and by dumg chit brugga wagn't looging where he was chooging..."
"Quail, Earl," I say very firmly, "Pheasant season is still a couple of weeks away."
"Dugn't magger. By dumg chit brugga goodn't git a bull in de bugt widt a figgle angyway."
I look at Bobby, who is cogitating intently, "That about what happened, Bobby?"
"I'm pretty sure it was a pheasant," opines Bobby, carefully, "It had a long tail, and a ring around it's neck and it was a lot bigger than one of them little quail."
"Bobby, don't say anything. Now, nod your head. No, keep nodding. Did you accidentally shoot your brother while hunting birds? Good. Take Earl to the doctor and get him patched up."
"Dumg chit brugga goona neeg a goctor agger I gicg his bugt."
"Oh, yeah? You and which army?"
Which was the last thing I heard as I went in search of a badly-needed, soothing cup of tea.
Big Mama was the matriarch of what passed for a crime family in our neck of the woods. She was responsible for most of our crime, until she got too big, then she left it up to her family.
Anyhoo, I was on duty one day when the word came in: Big Mama had Passed On. We were in the middle of a Moment of Silence ("Thank God", murmured the Sheriff) when the ambulance crew requested help.
We had a problem. Hoo boy, did we have a problem. When I say Big Mama was big, I mean she overloaded the 300 pound weight limit on the stretcher by a good bit. We couldn't even get her off the bed. After a couple of hours, we worked out a plan: someone scooted over to the local monument company and borrowed their forklift and a spare pallet, the volunteer fire department got out the Jaws of Life and popped the exterior wall off of Big Mama's bedroom. Six of us rolled her onto the pallet, then we raised the pallet and put it (and Big Mama) onto the hosebed of a firetruck. Voila!
Off we go to the funeral home, where the Director (Bless his heart), had dug out a portable embalming outfit (I didn't even realize there was such a thing) and did the deed on Big Mama in the garage.
Which, in retrospect, was probably responsible for what happened later.
The day of the funeral arrived. I had to be there, because--true to form--four of Big Mama's nephews, cousins and grandkids were in jail on various charges. My handcuffed, shackled and leg-ironed charges and I showed up early, and let me tell you--I was impressed. Someone, somewhere had found a casket big enough, and Big Mama was laid out in her Sunday Finest with a peaceful smile on her face.
Which in and of itself was shocking. I had only ever seen Big Mama when she was fighting and cussing fit to make a sailor blush. Never saw her smile until she was gone. Looked downright odd.
Anyhoo, we're there early, and I'm listening to the gossip, which was all based on whether Big Mama's youngest daughter would show her face. Big Mama had, years earlier, attempted to rearrange her daughters' giblets with a set of pinking shears, and daughter had run off to California, vowing Never to Return.
Well, she came back. And that performance should have gotten her an Oscar, I'm here to tell you. But I'm ahead of myself.
Four, count 'em, four Baptist preachers got up behind the pulpit and lied their butts off about the Deceased. Three different people got up to sing muzak versions of pop songs. The Eulogy was a masterpiece--bore no more resemblance to the Dearly Departed than a toady-frog resembles a polecat--but it sounded nice.
Then, finally, it was almost over. The family rose up and walked past the casket in saying their Final Farewells (and stealing any jewelry left on the body), with the entire congregation looking on and sniffling. And last in line was Baby Daughter.
Like I said--a masterpiece. Baby Daughter had to be supported by two cousins in her time of grief. She was bravely fighting back tears, as she tenderly touched the frozen features of Big mama, then she'd turn to leave, and then wail: "Oh, Big Mama, why'd you leave us!?" And the two cousins would gently lead her away, but she'd turn back to the casket, and blubber, "But I can't leave her!"
Someone get that girl an Emmy Award.
Anyhoo, This went on for about five minutes, until finally, Baby Daughter flings herself across Big Mama and wails, "Come back, Big Mama, come back!"
And Big Mama did. Sort of. Well, actually, she kinda flopped a bit and made a 'song of the humpback whales' kind of noise, as a glowing green ball appeared over the casket.
I remember thinking: "Aha! So that's what an air bubble in a corpse looks like. I always thought that was an Urban Myth. Fascinating."
And then I noticed that I was the only person left in the church. Everyone else was sprinting down the hill.
With the Head Preacher and my four leg-ironed prisoners leading the pack, I might add. And the glowing green ball was the tritium insert in my front sight.
I also noticed, about that time, that I was in a Weaver stance that was so solid that it took me about five minutes to bust my knees loose enough to sneak down the aisle to make sure Big Mama was well-and-truly deceased.
(There are rumours floating about that I actually poked the Departed with stick during my examination. I deny these allegations. I couldn't find a stick. So I stood at the Amen Pew and tossed flower arrangements instead.)
"Those who fight monsters should take care that in the process they do not become monsters. When you gaze long into the Abyss, the Abyss gazes into you."
One of the bad things about monsters, is that the worst of them don't believe that they are monsters. They believe that they're doing The Right Thing. Maybe they're a little blinded by their idealism, I don't know, but it makes them monsters none the less.
Which brings us to the War on Terrorism.
Terrorists, and those that support them, are world-class monsters. Literally.
As such, those that gird up to fight these monsters should take extra time to make sure that they aren't developing scales and horns along the way.
When fighting world-class monsters, every "necessary" action should be second-guessed, agonized over, and outside opinions should be sought.
Unfortunately, I get the awful feeling that Congress, the Executive Branch, and those tasked with enforcing the laws of Congress, and the orders of the Executive Branch, aren't checking themselves and each other for symptoms of creeping monster-itis often enough.
The utterly worst monsters became so willingly, and for all the right reasons.
Metaphorically speaking, I suspect that the Abyss is giggling its' little black ass off about right now.
Many, MANY moons ago (don't even ask, 'cause I won't tell you) when I was still a pup, the family lived in Nigeria. We had a bungalow at the Odibo Estates, out near the Biafran border. Every evening peddlers (called 'traders') used to walk up and down the main road, offering to sell or trade various knick-knacks and merchandise.
Ali Cheap-Cheap was one of the busier traders, and he spent a lot of time on our front porch haggling with Mom. Now, Ali Cheap-Cheap was very proud of his ability to get just about anything you might want or need.
One evening, Mom was visiting on the front porch with the visiting wife of one of the English engineers. Said wife had never been outside of London before, and as a consequence, loathed Africa. She and Mom are chattering and griping when along comes Ali Cheap-Cheap. Old Ali Cheap-Cheap doesn't have anything Mom or the English lady want, so, before he wanders off, he asks if, "Madams want for anything?"
English lady gets a funny look in her eye, taps her snake hide purse and says, "I want one of these." "Yes, madam," replies Ali, and off he wanders.
'Bout three weeks later, Mom and the English twit are on the front porch, and along comes Ali Cheap-Cheap. With a friend. Ali and friend have a cane pole slung over their shoulders with a burlap bag hanging from said pole.
Now, on the front porch, we had a Mongoose-a-minium in which lived our pet kusimanse (Pygmy mongoose). This Mongoose-a-minium had a PlexiGlass ceiling which Dad had assured us was unbreakable.
Up to the porch comes Ali Cheap-Cheap and his buddy.
Mom is eyeing the burlap bag with some trepidation, having had some nasty experiences with what the locals tended to store in burlap bags, when Ali and buddy proudly lift the burlap bag and announce, "Oh, madam! We have your beef!"
I should interject here, that "Beef" is bush slang for any animal.
Wait for it.
Mom has risen to her full height, and is about to order Ali to get his beef away from her house, when Squeaker (the Pygmy mongoose) wanders out of his apartment, and screams in sheer rage. (It was always amazing how much sheer volume that little hairball could put out) Ali and buddy are startled by the shriek and drop the burlap bag onto the Plexiglass roof of Squeaker's residence.
The 'unbreakable' Plexi shattered and dropped the burlap bag into the Mongoose-a-minium. Inside said burlap is one 15 foot, rather scared python.
Squeaker, who was about the size and girth of a tennis ball, offers up a brief prayer to the Mongoose God for the meal he is about to partake of, and latches onto the snakes tail, with tooth and claw.
The snake has discovered that he has been dumped into a place which reeks of mongoose, panics and pours himself up the side of the Mongoose-a-minium and down to the porch--with Squeaker not only still firmly attached to his tail, but bracing all four legs to prevent his meal from getting away. I should probably mention that the snake was approximately fifteen feet long.
Squeaker didn't even slow him down.
The snake hit the porch floor with Squeaks gnawing away at his tail like a chipmunk on speed, and notices that the sliding glass door in the front of our house is open about six inches (for ventilation).
Yep. You guessed it: in goes the snake.
Now, Dad and one of his Brit buddies were sitting in the house, drinking whiskey-and-sodas. Brit buddy looks down and sees several yards of snake whip by, shrieks, and makes a flat-footed, sitting-down leap from the sofa to the top of the bar. Whereupon, he begins to utter genteel curses at the top of his lungs.
Dad looks down, lifts his feet, insures that his drink doesn't tip over, and watches the snake haul scales with bemused interest. (Dad didn't ruffle easily)
In one corner of the living room was The Chest. The Chest was a great huge hand-carved teak box, that weighed approximately the same as an early 60's Buick. Guess where the snake went?
Yep, slithered under that chest slicker than grease (knocking Squeaks off in the process), wrapped about 13+ feet of coils around the solid teak legs of The Chest, tucked his head back into the darkness and muttered nasty things.
Mom sails into the house at full speed, Ali Cheap-Cheap and buddy hot on her heels.
Mom (as she scooped up Squeaks): "Where is it?"
Brit Buddy: "Under the bloody chest!"
Ali Cheap-Cheap: "Dis beef, 30 Niara!"
Mom: "Get it the hell out of my house! 30 Niara? I don't want the damn thing!"
Dad: "It'll probably leave on it's own after things calm down..."
Brit: "Good God, the thing is bloody huge!"
Ali: "Oh, madam, you take the food from my children's mouths! 25 Niara!"
Brit: "25 Niara for a snake?! Are you daft?!"
Mom: "OUT! I don't want the damn snake!"
Brit: "I should say not. Must be charging by the pound."
Ali (tearing at clothes): "20 Niara! Not a kobo less! You are evil woman!"
Squeaks (translation): "As God is my witness, I'll never go hungry again!"
Mom: "Get. That. Thing. Out. Of. My. HOUSE! Ali! Get out of my house!"
Ali (much offended): "Madam, you have my beef. You give 20 Niara."
Dad: "Thief man, this beef 10 Niara--no more."
Ali: "Ah! Boss! Is good juju--make you strong like bull! 15 Niara!"
Brit (still on top of the bar): "I say, do you really think so?"
Dad: "Well, Tom, if you've got 12 Niara, you can find out."
Mom (dreadfully quiet): "Why is that thing still in my house?"
Ali: "13 Niara!"
To be continued ...
I had to bow to public pressure, though.
When last we left, Mom was sitting in a chair with an enraged African Pygmy Mongoose in her lap, Tom was standing on the wet bar, Ali Cheap-Cheap was trying to get someone to pay him for 15 feet of perturbed python lurking under the furniture and Dad was...well, contemplating.
Does anybody know how big a fifteen-foot python is?
I can hear the chorus now: "It's fifteen feet!" Yes, but do you realize how big around a fifteen-foot python is? It's bloody huge.
My brother and I had been attracted by the up-roar and, as boy-children will, immediately converged on the snakey parts sticking out from under the Chest.
Dad murmured, "Watch the sharp end, boys" as he pushed the chest out from against the wall, then knelt down and peered under it from the back side. Upon seeing something, Dad promptly slid his arm under the chest and began to feel around.
Squeaks, fed up with the wait-service, banzai-ed off Mom's lap, hit the floor and in one bounce shot under the chest, shrieking a tremendous mongoose war-cry as he disappeared: "Hah! Feel my wrath! Here is your doom! Prepare to be devoured!"
One of Dad's eyebrows kind of slid up, and he pulled his right arm out from under the Chest, revealing Squeaks clinging to it with all four sets of claws whilst delivering the dreaded Mongoose Death Bite(tm) to the back of Dad's wrist.
"Honey," said Dad, mildly, "Your rat isn't helping all that much."
"Are you sure you need the boys help?" inquired Mom, as she sat back in the chair, with Squeaks firmly anchored to her lap.
"Hmm?" mumbled Dad's voice from behind the Chest.
"Too right, Jim, old boy, I mean, that is a predator after all," chimed in Tom, helpfully.
The head of the python appeared over the top of the Chest, with one of Dad's hands clamped around its neck, "I've got the pointy end. Boys, see if you can find a tail on this thing."
Chris and I began to root about happily under the chest, and with the aid of a couple of Dad's walking stick collection, we pried the south end of the snake out from under the Chest.
"Dad, we found...oh, yuck."
Now, the Discovery Channel will tell you that, when disturbed, some species of snake will: "Secrete a noxious substance from their tails."
Folks, I'm here to tell you that if a snake "secretes" that noxious substance, then a firehose "secretes" water. Got a hell of a range on it. Enough range, as a matter of fact, to reach out and paint a mother from her eyebrows down to the mongoose retching in her lap.
And her with waist-length hair.
"Eep," said Chris, rather eloquently I thought, as Mom slowly scraped black/green grease off her face with one taloned hand.
"Bad luck," murmured Tom.
Dad popped up like a prairie dog. "What?"
"Dad, it, uh, sprayed..."
"Did any of it get on you?"
"Ah, hmm. On us? No, but, umm..."
"Good, good. Don't let the hind end get back under the Chest. Ali, come here."
Ali Cheap-Cheap, who had been watching all of this with intense fascination, jumped and pointed to his torso, "Boss?"
"Yes, you," One of Dad's hands reached out and got Ali by the front of his dashiki and pulled him behind the Chest. "Hold this. When I tell you, I want you to drag this end towards the door. Boys, when I lift the Chest, drag the tail out from under, okay?"
Dad got his fingers under the edge of the chest, puffed a couple of times, and then lifted what I swear to God was half-a-ton of hand-carved teak wood.
"All right, pull."
"Boss, you say 'pull', nah beef, he say 'no'."
"Pull the snake, Ali."
"Bush man, I swear, if you don't..."
About this time, Mom levitated some three feet off her chair and, a bit like a Roman candle, exploded in a flaming mass of eyes, hair, grease and claws: "Pull the [deleted] snake ..."
...Ali took off like he'd been goosed with a cattle prod...
"...you [deleted] son of a [deleted]-[deleted] ..."
...Tom's eyebrows crawled up into his hairline as he regarded my rampaging mother...
"... [deleted] mother of a [deleted] goat..."
...Ali got to the end of the snake with approximately the same results as a running dog hitting the end of his chain, but he moved the snake about three feet...
"... [deleted] snake [deleted] IN MY HAIR!"
Dad vaulted the Chest, grabbed the python in the middle and heaved him onto the front porch, where he bounced twice and skidded into the yard.
Watching the snake haul scales in the general direction of Port Harcourt, Dad sniffed reflectively, dusted off his hands, turned around and the first thing he saw was Mom.
"Honey," said Dad, somewhat bemusedly, "Why are you covered in grease?"
Mom glared at Dad, whipped around, and with Squeaks still firmly clenched in her hand stomped into the back of the house, muttering explosively and gesturing wildly. Crashing sounds drifted back.
"Redheads," opined the worldly-wise Tom.
Ali was practically dancing in rage, "Boss! Dis beef, fifty Niara!"
"Ali," murmured Dad, as he poured two glasses of Mr. Daniels finest, "You have gold?"
"Ah, Boss! I have gold necklace. A necklace such as only a princess could wear!"
"Oh, Boss! Seventy Niara is taking..."
"Trader man," Dad contemplated the bourbon, "Madame has gone for to fetch her machete."
"A blessing on your house, Boss." Ali traded the necklace for the money, bowed once and hot-footed it out the door.
Dad gathered up the necklace and both glasses of bourbon, and began wandering in the direction of the destructive noises emanating from the back of the house, "Bye, Tom. See you at the office tomorrow. Boys, go play. Stay away from anything with an appetite."
Friday, February 24, 2006
Anyhoo, I posted this one, and to my utter surprise it wound up being a favorite.
When I drifted over to TFL, I edited this story to remove the first paragraph, but the story didn't flow as well, so I wound up putting the first paragraph back in. It still seems to be a favorite, so I guess I did it all right.
In late 1995, a critter in our town twisted off and hit his ladyfriend in the head a couple of times with an axe. Not one to leave a job half-done, he dragged her out to the lake, wired her up to a cinderblock and shoved her off into the water.
Wonder of wonders, she survived. Even bigger wonder, she came into town and filed charges on her boyfriend.
I had been out on a date, and wandered back into town about the time that the search was really getting wound up. First thing in the door of the office and the Sheriff hits me with three conflicting orders on where to go (one of those places would require asbestos underoos). Anyhoo, I'm trying to find my spare set of armour and a call comes in: one of our local merchants has spotted the critter climbing in a back window of an abandoned building used for storage.
The Sheriff grabs me and a luckless Highway Patrol Trooper who had come in for a coffee refill and off we go.
The other two deputies were hell-and-gone on the other side of the county, so it was just the three of us.
For those of you who don't know how to search a large building with only three people, it's really quite simple: two officers place themselves on opposite outside corners of the building so that they can see all four sides (to catch the critter trying to escape) and one officer goes inside.
Three guesses who got to go inside, and the first two don't count.
Yep. Let me tell you, that place was darker than the Earl of Hells waistcoat and stacked floor-to-ceiling with shelves. On those shelves was the collected knick-knacks of 20 years of Main Street stores. And not a lightbulb anywhere.
There I was, with a snubbie .357, a five-cell Maglight and a Handi-Talkie, and me only having two hands. About the fourth time I tried to answer the Sheriff's: "Have you got him yet!?" while trying to cover a suspicious patch of darkness and juggle the Mag-Lite, I stopped in the feeble light of the moon shining down through a hole in the ceiling.
I'm busily trying to figure out which I needed more: the Mag-lite or the Handi-talkie, when the SOB jumps me. I'm here to tell you, folks, things went rodeo from there. He lunged out of a shadow, trying to grab for my throat, and me--reacting totally instinctively--I whack him a good one across the forehead with the Maglight.
Bulb, batteries and assorted electronic parts arc gracefully into the darkness. Critter takes one step back and jumps at me again.
Things are not looking good in Dogville.
I've got the snubbie back with my right hand, trying to keep it away from this goblin, and I'm trying to stiff-arm him away with my left when I step onto what was later found to be a D-cell battery from my Maglight.
Down I go. And the alleged axe-murderer lands on top of me. Hoo boy.The gloves really come off then. We roll on the cold cement, I'm hitting him in the head with the butt of my revolver, elbow smashes to the jaw and brachial plexus, knee strikes--the whole enchilada. And he keeps grabbing at my throat.
Finally, we roll into a patch of moonlight--and the bastard has a knife!
Folks, I hate knives. No, I really hate knives. He's on top of me, and he has to weigh three-hundred pounds, and that damn knife is coming down in slow motion......about the same time that the barrel of my snubbie rams up under his chin and I squeeze off two rounds.
Blowing the electronic brains and assorted stuffing of the Animatronic Life-Like Talking Santa Claus belonging to the local Thriftway halfway to Dodge City.
You don't want to know what a couple of .357 rounds will do to hydraulics.
There I was. Staring at the robotic Kris Kringle whom I had assaulted, aggravated assaulted and finally brutally murdered, when the Sheriff and the trooper come crashing through the place looking for me.
The Sheriff looked at me and the fallen Jolly Elf and then began to stare fixedly at the ceiling, while tugging his moustache.
Gary (the trooper), holsters his SIG, gets out his pipe, looks around the crime scene, picks up a piece of flaming hat trim and uses it to light his pipe.
Gary: (puffing pipe into life) "Obviously an assault candy cane. Bet it ain't registered."
Sheriff: "Dangerous things, assault canes."
Gary: "Obviously, a good shoot." Puff, puff.
Sheriff: "Don't worry boy. I'll call the Marshals first thing in the morning.
Me: "Duh, puff-pant, huh?"
Sheriff: "Boy, there's gonna be several million kids after your hide come Christmas. Witness Protection Program is your only chance."
Smart ass. That was the only time I have ever used the Universal Peace Gesture to my fellow LEOs.
And the critter was caught in New Mexico an hour later.
Doc wished me, "Happy Birthday" then drove the dagger home by commenting that given my age, instead of just giving me some pills; she was going to give me some pills AND a shot.
Folks, if your medical professional attempts to approach you with a syringe full of something called "Rochephrin" -- shoot them. Immediately.
It was a very large needle. This is because the gelatin-like medicine inside had been mixed with a like amount of novocaine. When asked, the nurse perkily replied that the novocaine was necessary because the injection would hurt too bad without it.
This is what us carefully-trained law enforcement investigative types call, "A Clue".
And, of course, due to the mass amount of ... stuff ... inside the needle, the injection site will not, I say again, will not, be in your arm.
A side note? Perkiness has it's place. That place is not when I'm bent over an exam table with my jeans and unmentionables around my knees.
And the phrase "Okay, big burn" should never, NEVER, be uttered in a perky tone of voice.
Birthdays are really starting to suck.
After Rysher went Paws Up, I moved on to Rich Lucibella's The Firing Line. TFL was accused of having no sense of humor, so I posted this story. Seemed to work okay.
In late 1994, we had a Lady who developed a stalker problem. We busted the stalker, and got a Protective Order for the Lady. It worked for a couple of days, then she reported that the critter was sneaking into her garage and moving stuff around.
The Sheriff went ballistic and decided that we'd ambush the critter and send him off for a long time. Guess who got volunteered for the ambusher duty?
Now, this Lady lived at the top of hill just outside the Southwest city limit, in a big old two-story house with an apricot orchard out back, and shrubbery everywhere.
I show up that evening, check in with the Lady and set up an ambush. The driveway led from the road up to the garage and was bordered on both sides by a pyracantha hedge.
I settled down under a tree, and lined up on a gap in the hedge near the house. My plan was to wait until the critter was well up to the house, before dashing through the hedge and arresting him.I'm bellied down under the tree and I wait. And wait. And wait.
Along about 1AM, an armadillo wanders up from the orchard behind the house where he's been feeding on fermenting apricots all night, and bounces off my foot.
I hear the question now: How did I know it was a 'he' armadillo? Simple kids. The drunken little sod promptly, and aggressively, fell in love with my left boot.
He'd sidle up to my boot, murmuring, "What's your sign, baby?" in armadillo-ese, and I'd shove him away, whereupon he'd sleeze back in, crooning armadillo love songs.
And so the evening went. I'd kick him across the lawn, and he'd hiccup and oil his way back. About two hours later, I have had it. I'm just about to stand up and drop kick the Armoured Menace into the next State, when I hear the crunch of tippy-toed feet coming up the gravel driveway.I freeze, locking in on that gap in the hedge (the armadillo took the opportunity to sneak in a grope. Chauvinistic bastard), and I see a shadow move in front of the gap. I take off like a shot--to find out that some commie pinko liberal moved the gap in the hedge.
I also found out that 'Pyracantha' is a Latin word that means, "Deadly Demon Vampire Bush from Hell." I don't know who screamed louder: the armadillo, when his lady love disappeared; the critter, when I snagged a good handful of his shirt; or me, when I crashed into a brisket-high wall of thorns.
The Lady of the house hears the triplicate scream, decides that the unthinkable has happened, dials 911 and screams, "That Deputy is getting killed!"
Meanwhile, I'm half bent over the thornbush, trying to hold on to a panicked critter with my right hand, and a walkie-talkie with my left hand. We struggle, and I end up halfway over the hedge, upside down, and I look down the road and all I see are lights. Red lights, blue lights, yellow lights, white lights, flashing lights, strobe lights, wig-wags--you name it. All coming up this road.
About that time, the critter twists loose and hot-foots it down the road leaving me with a shirt.
I get on the walkie-talkie, wait for a pause in the traffic from the SO, DPS, EMS, and game warden all demanding to know what has happened to me, and say, "I'm all right. Subject is a white male, no shirt, Northbound on foot."
I suppose, in retrospect, I may have sounded a little ... emotional ... on the radio.
Apparently the Deputies, firemen, EMT's, park rangers, security guards, DPS troopers and LEO's from all eight surrounding counties and towns heard my voice and thought: the 'Dog sounds panicked. The 'Dog don't ever panic. Therfore the 'Dog has obviously been shot/stabbed/gutted/burned/run over/abused/whathaveyou and is, no doubt, in immediate danger of expiring.
Anyone who wasn't coming before, is now. The critter is spotted halfway down the road and becomes the subject of a multi-jurisdictional pigpile.
There I am, upside down and helpless in the grip of this fiendish hedge. And what do my friends, my brothers, my comrades-in-arms do, my drinking buddies do to help me in my time of need?"Hey! Who's got a video camera?! We have GOT to get video of this!"Took them thirty minutes to get me loose from that plant. I never did see that armadillo again. Good thing, too.
We'll see how this works. I had intended to use this blog as a backup to the stories I post at www.thefiringline.com, www.thehighroad.org, and www.armedpolitesociety.com.
I will, of course, offer the occasional de rigeur snarky comments and rants.
We'll have to see how it goes.