Worst Thing That Can Happen to a Guy
Going 30 miles out in the ocean with four people and a big dog in a 17 foot boat is always exciting. But the amount of good eating fish filling tummies and freezers makes it all worthwhile. The worst problem stems from there being only room for one large cooler on such a small boat, as such, the beer and the fish reside in the same bloody fish scum. Making matters worse, Red Snapper, the central point of the hunt, have some serious badass spines on their dorsal fins. It wasn’t long before we found we were losing about a third of our canned beer (we have subsequently moved to bottles) to these snapper-spines puncturing not only our hands, fingers and thumbs, but our beer as well.
A physics lesson well learned. As the ice in the cooler melts, it generates a slush which causes both fish and beer to slosh about more vigorously. With the boat pounding in the waves, the cans of beer gain internal pressures. At the same time the snapper-spines are hitting the aluminum cans. This causes the beer to briskly fizz out. Once the beer is out, the surrounding water pressure seeks to replenish the now empty beer can through the same tiny hole, filling it with about 12 ounces of bloody, slimy fish scum, all happening in the unknown darkness of the closed cooler. In went my hand, pop went the top, up went the beer and a long hard pull. THE WORST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN TO A GUY.
I am not always so Political, sometimes I am concerned about the beach! Grab my towel and off I go, but first, my wife must worry about:
· If she will get sunburn
· If she will get sand in her craw
· If the kids will get sunburn
· If it will rain
· If it will be too cold
· If the water will be too salty
· If it will be too hot
· If her suit looks OK
· If there will be girls prettier than her
· If we have enough soda
· If we have too much beer
· If a bug bites her
· If a bug bites the kids
· If sharks eats the kids
· If a crab bites the kids
· If a fish bites the kids
· If we have enough sun screen
· If the sun screen # is high enough
· If it gets too cloudy
· If I talk to goofy people
· If goofy people talk to her
· If the kids gets kidnapped
· If the kids gets molested
· If we run out of cheese singles
· If the dog gets sand in the car
· If we will run out of gas
· If we will get stuck
· If I drive too fast
· If a wave knocks her down
· If there is a tornado
· If she will get hit by a Frisbee
· If we will all drown
· If I go out to far
· If the kids gets sand in their eye
· If the kids gets salt in their eyes
· If the dog has a fight
· If the dog has sex
· If she has to take a poop
· If the kids have to take poops
· If the battery goes dead
· If there is thermonuclear war
· If there are ants
· If her thighs are too big
· And, of course, the worst thing that can possibly happen…. A bee in the car!
So, going to the beach is a very traumatic experience for her, I worry too, but only about the beer.
“I’m not wearing them.” Rack snapped.
“I bought those shorts and that matching shirt specifically for this brunch, it’s my friends from work and it’s my day, put them on.” Flower snapped back slamming the wad of clothes into his gut.
“My God, these are RAPFAT shorts! I mean look at these.” he held them to his waist, “The bottoms reach my ankles and I could put a refrigerator down each hole here. This is absurd, where did you buy these, the clown supply store?”
“Put them on Rack, or those five days a month you hide from me will turn into 30.” Flower stated going in the bathroom and slamming the door.
“Gee…” Rack mumbled putting them on. Looking at the matching shirt, he then walked over to the closed door and yelled.
“WHAT IN THE HELL IS THIS THING ON THE SHIRT HERE? ISN’T IT SUPPOSE TO BE AN ALLIGATOR OR AN AARDVARK OR SOMETHING?”
“It’s the NIKE emblem you out of touch old man.”
“It’s a red check mark, you want your friends to think I’m a bagger at the Safeway? Where’s my cutoffs and my STONES shirt?”
“Not only will you wear what I tell you to wear, you will also keep your damn mouth shut about anything regarding politics, religion, sex or any of those boring ‘when I was down in the jungle’ stories.”
“You really think having a third of my nose removed by a bear in a tutu is boring?”
“Tell those stupid stories to your stupid friends. Two rules Rack, don’t speak unless you’re spoken to, and when you are, I will signal you if it’s okay to reply.
“Gosh… Conservative Correctness strikes again. So what can I talk about?”
“The weather, sports statistics, cars and what’s new at the mall are what we talk about at work, try those.”
“Oh, I suppose I can say a bunch about da mall!”
“My mistake, do not mention the mall.”
“By the way, I called Flashdog to come baby-sit.” Rack stated knowing what was coming.
“Call him back. He’s not sitting my kids. I don’t even want him in the house. I called Harry.”
“Harry! What’s he bringing, the whole arsenal or just the assault rifles?”
“I won’t have Flashdog watching my children. You know damn well what happens. He brings those stupid old records, turns the stereo to eleven, and they dance and go wild for hours. And every time we come home, every pillow and cushion in the house is on the floor or still flying in one direction or another. NO.”
“Gee… That’s called having fun Flower. Unlike your brother-in-law who wears that hat not to hide the receding hairline but to cover the barrel of cold rolled steel growing out of the top of his head.”
“He likes guns. So what? Everyone has a hobby. Well, except you.”
“I have lots of hobbies!”
“Name one that lasted longer than two days.”
“Like I said, I have lots of hobbies. And revolving my world around guns is not one of them. Is he bringing guns here per usual?”
“Only a few revolvers.”
“What is going on? Pillow fights are now decadent un-American activities and gun play is the new high morality.”
“Harry doesn’t do drugs.”
“Besides a quart of gin a day. Flashdog doesn’t do drugs; he just gets high on the humidity or something. He’s just a happy guy rather than a delusional barrelhead.”
“Harry is family. And you say it’s humidity that gets Flashdog doing all those crazy rock star imitations? Come on.”
“The kids love it, they love him, leave me alone. I’m getting phised at all your friends already and I haven’t even met them yet.” Rack responded looking at the image of RACK THE RAPPER in the mirror. He high kneed in step to some raucous arm movements and hummed…
“The gunman come to the Rackman hood to sit his kids when the Flashdog should…”
“Cool!” The big one said peeking around the corner.
“Which is cool, the song or the clothes?” Rack said shaking his head looking at the twelve year old in her FATRAP shorts, a T-shirt that went down even lower than the hem of those shorts, a pair of tennis shoes that were bigger than sub compact cars and almost as expensive, hair that was covered in some sort of goo to make the front part rise while the rest she somehow managed to swing all the way over to one side of her head.
“The outfit Dad. You look cool! Who’s coming over to watch us?”
“Uncle Harry I guess.”
“Cool! Is he bringing a bunch of guns like last time?”
Yeah, I guess so, don’t shoot anyone okay?”
Rack and Flower got in their first fight in the driveway when he got into his car. “We’re taking mine Rack. I will not be seen in a car with a OINK IF YOU LOVE RUSH sticker on it for this occasion.” Rack gave in and got in the GO ROCKETS covered machine and off they went. “This is the sub-division, turn.” Flower ordered.
Rack turned in, commenting on the big sign that said, BAYOU GARDENS – FROM THE LOW $400’S. “Look at this. Just like every new subdivision I’ve seen in the last ten years within ten miles of here, not a new house under $250,000. Is there even such a thing as a new house for under a grand a month anymore?”
“Shut up Rack. Don’t get started.”
Rack saw the house coming for the cars in front. Most with bumper stickers.
I DIDN’T VOTE FOR HILLARY
DONT BLAME ME I VOTED FOR BUSH
NRA LIFE MEMBER
STOP CLINTON-VOTE REPUBLICAN
RUSH IS RIGHT
Rack pointed to the most prolific bumper sticker in Houston, GOD LISTENS, and intoned, “Well at least they may have that one right, he may listen, trouble is he hasn’t done a damn thing in three billion years.”
“Gosh, hot day hey?” Rack began approaching the ten ton BBQ machine everyone in Texas seemed to have. His comment drew in a gaggle of them and they talked pleasantly about the “real” hot summer of ‘91 and of course, their hurricane experiences.
“It’s the humidity that makes it so awful.” Someone said.
“Speaking of humidity, I know this guy… URG!” Rack felt the solid kick to his ankle from behind.
“How about them Rockets hey? A clean sweep, I bet a lot of the mucky-mucks wanted them to lose last night to get the revenues three more games would have generated hey?”
“Houstonians aren’t like that, everyone wanted them to win I am sure.” The guy in cutoffs with the STONES shirt said.
“I like your outfit,” Rack stated cheerily, “Though I was told by someone with far more fashion acumen than I, not the proper attire for… URG.” Rack said as he got the kick to the back of his other ankle.
“Yeah, I can wear what I please, I own the company.” The guy smiled.
“Never would have guessed it. Are you an out of touch… URG!” A much harder
kick to the back of the knee.
“What are you wearing there, you in a RAP band or something?” The boss asked.
“Na, as you can tell by my shirt here, I’m a bagger at the Safe… URG!” Real hard one to the back of the other knee. Rack decided to protect his body from further assault by moving away from the boss and hopefully to some far more boring people to talk to.
“So what are you driving now?” He listened as a few talked of the industries spurious gas mileage claims and the odious new emissions test in Texas.
“We were just down in Matamoras and those Mexicans don’t even have mufflers on half the cars there, we are being regulated to death here.”
“I was passing through Escarsaga a few years ago and this bear…URG!” Now they were jabs with a fork to the kidney.
“Hey, that emission test is only $22 for a two year sticker. Take a deep breath, what is that? Hmmm, Northwest wind today, Champion Paper Mill, must admit it’s better than the Southeast blow and that rotten egg smell of the Tetracycline plant.”
“You must be one of those environmentalist wackos Rush is always talking about.” Some real fat guy in a NUKE THE WHALES shirt and a pair of shorts exactly the same as Rack’s said. A hard elbow to the kidneys came even before he opened his mouth to reply to that one. He hurt now enough to have learned his lesson.
He wandered around with his mouth shut listening to the growing Bloody Mary and Champagne induced ever louder conservative rhetoric: Rush is so right and so bright, the stinking Clintons, the stinking taxes destroying the country, the stinking welfare queens, the stinking Blacks getting all the good jobs, the stinking UN, the stinking federal government, stinking liberals, stinking Democrats, damn unions, bootstraps, immigrants, lazy bums and of course the biggest topic of the day, getting their licenses to carry concealed weapons.
Rack went out to the car after a while and sat there wondering how many other people like him are coerced into silence in so many work and social gatherings around the nation. He smiled realizing what with this united mad rush to Right-wing crapism of late, that the answer to that was probably about seven. And why, after coining the phrase Conservative Correctness a dozen years ago (which most certainly has replaced political correctness with the power shift) has he yet to see the words used beyond his own hand?
Lt. Jite was so short, he was dating quarks. His head below his hat was peeling and he was sorry now he had it shaved so close to returning to the real world, but under fire is not the place for the brass to complain about hair length and he had wanted to make a statement to that effect. He had enough problems coping with the BS in the back, yet up front, so under orders to report to the General at Officer Club #4 with haircut and no mustache by 21:00 hours, he shaved and shined his head and painted the words “REAL SHORT, SIR” on top. He made the point to the General but certainly looked foolish to all the girls back home that coming wonderful summer of 1969.
Jite walked up the wide gravel driveway to the motor pool thinking about home only two days away. God, he hated that duty, Motor Stables, 14:00 to 16:00 everyday, busy work he thought as he tossed an aerosol white paint can to Corporal Tubbs.
“Going to re-stencil the names and numbers on all the vehicles today, have at it Corporal.”
The heavy dirty corporal caught the can, “Sir, we just did that yesterday!”
“Well Tubbs, day-glow orange just ain’t got that camouflage look we’re after. Come on, get going, you rather rotate the wheels on all 16 deuce and a halves again.” He said as he wandered under the hot metal roof to remove his hat to play with his head.
At 16:30 he went to Capt. Corats office to get the coordinates for the evening cannon salute. Corats was regular army and a creep. Jite took the information Corats handed him and walked to the parade ground where the Fire Direction Center was located to find where the 8” shell would drop.
“Ben, I think he’s got this 180 degrees out, look at this!” Lt. Billings saw it immediately, shoved the info into the FADAC computer and they both shook there heads in disbelief. “Yep, right in the center of town! Christ, we’d even have to re-lay the gun to deal with his numbers. Well, let’s call him.”
“Ben, let me handle this, I owe this guy one. No, I owe him about twenty, I’m gonna leave him a going away present.”
Jite’s wheels spun as he looked at the map. He found an open target area about three klicks directly below the town on the same azimuth. He was the Safety Officer and Ben had to do what he said. And anyway, Corats had screwed even gentle Ben on occasion. Jite went out to the guns, started up #4, turned it around, and re-laid it. It sure looked funny seeing that fat ole barrel pointing opposite the other three, so unparallel, so unmilitary. Sgt. Smith came by to help in loading and firing as usual.
“What ya got here Capin’? You crazy? That ain’t the one we’re firing?” he asked pointing at the out of wack cannon.
“Yep! That’s the way Capt. Corats wants it, that’s the way he’s gonna get it.”
The sergeant went into FDC and checked the map. “You gonna kill about fifty people to screw ole Honky-Harvey?”
“Thought we’d only put in charge #4 and #5, it will drop about 3 klicks short, on target range #21, same elevation and azimuth figure Corats gave us only it will fall short on a safe I Corp target area. Hell, Smith, I’m gonna do it.”
“Okay, it’s your neck, but why don’t ya call Corats and make him verify the info so its recorded on FADAC?” Jite returned to FDC and called Corats, he knew he would stick to his guns, he never admitted a mistake. No sweat, in fact he said he wanted to fire six rounds as it was his son’s sixth birthday. They all shook their heads in disbelief as the most hated man in the Battalion dug himself deeper. Sgt. Smith helped with the shells, but Jite pulled and loaded the charges, and yanked the lanyard himself keeping Smith out of it. He fired all six and went to the Officers’ Club to wait. It didn’t take long before Corats stormed in.
“Jite! I want you to issue a max Article 15 to Corporal Tubbs, RIGHT NOW!” This caught him off guard, what was going on? “Come with me.” Corats ordered. Jite chugged down another glass of Jack and followed the little twit to the Motor Pool.
“Defacing government property and foul language. He’s your man and you are going to take care of this to the fullest extent of Military Justice! LOOK!” He looked down at the gravel Corats indicated, there in letters about a foot high, were the letters FTA in white spray paint.
“Hmmm..” Jite contemplated the derogatory acronym and dragged a foot back and forth over it erasing it.
“Kicking it away doesn’t make it so it didn’t happen, BUST him!”
“For what? Defacing Gook Gravel? Gimmie a break.” he said turning away walking toward the Club.
Corats grabbed his shirt. “You’re going to do this, I’ll see to it.”
Jite shook off the rabid little man, “Listen you jerk, I been across that river there for most of a year with Tubbs while you sat on your fat little fanny here causing trouble. You wanna screw people, screw em yourself.” Jite said thinking how pleasant it would be to bite off Corats’ nose.
“You’re a lousy Officer Jite, the only one that goes to the NCO Club, to the Enlisted Man’s Club, Christ, you even go to the Nigger Club with Sgt. Smith! You get drunk most every night, stagger in and out of the Donut Dollies’ hootch, go into town making friends with these damn Gooks, and wear those fruitcake wrap-around sunglasses, my God man, LOOK AT YOUR HEAD! And you think you know what’s going on!? You don’t know jackcrap! And if you think you are going to put anything over on me, think again!” He stormed away toward Tubbs who Jite knew would handle himself fine.
“Corats!” Jite yelled unsnaping the holster cover on his .45, “DRAW YOU WORM!” Corats turned and raised his hands away from his gun.
“Shithead!” Jite called turning away wondering if the idiot really thought he was going to shoot him, “And stop by FDC later, I think the Colonel has another being here metal to pin on ya.”
When he re-entered the Club he noticed Billings under duress from the Colonel who vigorously waved him over. “Six shells landed in Target area #21, I Corps is mad as hell, you’re the Safety Officer, didn’t you get Corats’ Coordinates?”
“Oh, I got em all right.”
“Dammit, well you’re both in it deep, what’s the matter with you people? You come out of combat and you think you’re above it all. Well you’re not! You have a very simple job Lieutenant, at 17:00 everyday you fire a shell so it falls within 500 meters of the coordinates designated by my S-2, Capt Corats. What is so damn hard about that? We’re going to straighten this out even if it means no Stateside. You understand me?”
“Yes Sir.” Jite replied as he and Billings followed the angry Colonel out to his jeep and made for the gun battery.
“LOOK AT THAT!! That damn ‘shooter’ is backwards! In twenty years in the artillery I have never seen such a ridiculous sight!” He stormed into Fire Direction and sat at the map table, though quiet, he was seething while he inhaled the data. “Okay, get out of here, both of you! I have a feeling that if I asked about the ‘charges’ I would hear something about wet powder.”
“Must of been wet powder Sir.” Both Jite and Billings replied in unison.
“Jite, you’re suppose to be leaving tomorrow, right? Have my driver take you to the airport right now! Out of my life! What’s Corats doing? Where is he?”
“The usual Sir, Court Marshaling someone in the motor pool.”
Epilog: Corats? He is probably some big shot in the NSC, if not personally killing or funding the killing of poor brown women and children in faraway places, at least planning or hoping to. Jite? He went home a day early!
Racism, What’s it Get You?
It was late on a Sunday night. Rack sat in his newly remodeled office/garage watching the Iraq War on TV as the media and the American people wallowed in ecstasy with every bomb released when he saw headlights flash against the house wall. Who it could be so late was soon answered as the patio door slid open and Bubba and friend entered.
“Yo Rack! What’s happening? This here is Randyman, you remember him don’t you?”
A somewhat toothless Randy offered his tattooed “H-A-T-E” fingered hand while Rack looked to see if “L-O-V-E” was there on the other. Rack did remember him, an almost always drunken sometime drug dealer who last he had heard, was in trouble for shooting up his trailer park with a flare gun. “Hey Randyman, I remember you, staying away from flare guns?” Rack joked.
“He should’ve stuck with flare guns,” Bubba commented, “I just picked Randyman up at Huntsville State Pen, this is his first day out in two years!”
“Gosh Randyman, what did you do?” Randy walked to the bar and tossed a case of beer up on the bar.
“Shit, assault with a deadly weapon. I shot a couple people, but I only shot them a little!” He guffawed.
“Yeah,” Bubba followed up, “it was only a couple blacks and they’re okay now. Hey Randy, show Rack the gun.”
“Oh gosh.” Rack sighed as Randy reached behind him and pulled some sort of automatic pistol from his back pocket. Rack moved his attention back to the carnage on TV while Bubba and Randy fawned over the gun.
Rack thought how hypocritical it was that Americans wet their pants with flag waving glory jolts of glee when guns and bombs kill thousands of people in some far off land, but are horrified when some miserable screwed up American shoots another here at home.
“Woo-E!” Cried Randyman turning his attention from the gun on the bar to the carnage on the screen, “Look at that one go! Must a blown a hundred of dem sand-blacks all to Hell!”
“So how was it in Huntsville?” Rack asked wanting to get away from black-kill talk.”
“Lots of blacks up there! But I stayed away from the monkeys and spent my time reading the Bible. I have become Born again.” Randyman smiled with a toothless grin.
“Oh,” Rack said reaching behind him on his reference shelf grabbing a Bible and tossing it to the Randyman. “Show me where in here it talks about blowing sand-blacks away, shooting blacks or calling them monkeys?”
“Hey Rack, I’m not a racist, I just don’t like blacks.”
“Gosh… Just out of curiosity, how far you get in school?”
“Screw you Rack,” Bubba butted in, “Big college man hey, so Randy and I didn’t get out of High school, that has nothing to do with anything, we aren’t ignorant or racists, we just don’t like blacks. What’s the big deal?”
“Okay Bubba, hating blacks got Randyman two years in prison, what does it get you? Don’t you see?”
“Sure we see Rack, you’re a stuck up Yankee college boy calling us racists.” “Gosh Bubba, tell you what, why not pack up your beer, your guns and your pal and leave me alone then.”
“We gotta go anyway, keep the beer for that crew tomorrow.”
The crew arrived with the equipment to begin the process of house leveling so many Houston home owners living on the gumbo usually put off until windows began shattering. Rack was surprised that the 12 man crew was Black rather than the usual Mexicans who did all the roofing-digging labor White Texans seldom did. He welcomed Eugene, the Black foreman, at the door only to hear the phone ring.
“Yeah.” He answered. “Yeah, the crew is here Bubba. I understand. No problem, they have the hydraulic coring equipment all over the yard and the foreman seems friendly enough. I am sure you can scarf all the information you need about the whole process and get out on your own in no time! Yeah, I’ll give them the beer.”
The crew worked fast, boring 25, 15’ deep three foot in diameter holes around the house with the wheel barrow men hoppin’ it out to the dump truck in no time.
Eugene came in to say it would be about an hour wait for the cement truck and asked if it would be okay if his crew sat around the yard and ate their lunch.
“No problem Eugene, in fact the air conditioning has been on in my party-room garage out there and my friend Bubba left a case a beer. If y’all want to sit in the garage and have a couple beers it’s fine with me.”
“We’ll take you up on that friend, thank you.”
Rack went back to work on his computer. Eugene came in after only a few minutes with a long level to note the tilt before the house was jacked which would come in a few days after the cement hardened. He was crawling around on the kitchen floor, unseen behind the dinning bar that opened into the living room when Bubba burst in through the front door.
“Damn Rack, there must be a dozen damn blacks in your garage! You can’t let blacks run wild on your property, they’ll steal you blind” Bubba stated.
“You know Bubba, we were just talking about this last night weren’t we? I tried my best to explain to you that racism and your dislike for people of color doesn’t get you anything. I have a suspicion that lesson is about to hit you square between the eyes. To no avail.”
As if taking a rehearsed cue, Eugene rose from behind the counter. “You listen to your friend here Bubba, he be telling you true.” He said nothing more and once again disappeared behind the counter.
Bubba stood embarrassed in the hallway, stammering for a way out. Realizing there was none, he left, $10 in the hole for the beer, and without the information he so wanted to get his business started.
Texas Sales Call
“I was astounded to read these courageous remarks by Charlton Heston. I am thankful to hear a man with such high esteem say essentially the same things for which I have been reviled by the liberal media. His words should be reproduced and put into the hands of every American.” David Duke, former neo-Nazi Klansman and present bigot, sexist, racist, homophobe, anti-Semite and Republican.
Rack turned into the parking lot, pulled down the rear view mirror, checked for boogers, stuck out his tongue to make sure it was the right color, yanked up his tie, grabbed his briefcase, and proceeded into Bullcrapburg. This particular customer had been one of his best for a decade, but with the high turnover rate endemic to the industry, he only had one real friend left there, and sadly not in purchasing. It was Jeb, their top salesman, who Rack had been out making calls with since the beginning, his only inside help any longer.
Good waiting room. Plants, phone, nice dark decor, three receptionists behind glass with little slots on the counter to pass your card through.
“Joe please.” Rack said leaning down shouting through the little hole.
“Is he expecting you [you lowlife peddler]?”
“Sure is, ma’m.”
“Have a seat Rack.”
If you have an appointment, always be late, they always are. Rack picked up the new issue of Industrial Distributor paging through it reading about the new and better priced competition that would kill him, wondering if they needed anyone and if their advertisements were as filled with gross exaggeration and lies as his company’s.
He played with the phone and called his answering machine to see if the kids had got to it again. No messages, so he left a funny one for the kids who would be at it before he would. He stretched and crossed his legs, but noticing one of the ladies looking at him about to speak, he quickly stomped both feet back on the floor hoping she hadn’t seen the big hole on the bottom of his Tony Lamas.
“Mr. Jite? Joe can’t see you today, can you come back some other time [in about six years]?”
“Let me see Bill then please.”
“Have a seat [no one wants to see you].”
Back to his main business, waiting room fun, he picked up Business Week and read that everything in Texas sucked. It said it about a thousand times. Rack threw it down on the end table and walked over to the shoe polisher with the whirling black and red fluffy things. Straddling the machine, he put one boot under each fluffer at the same time, pushed the button on the waist high handle and awkwardly bent over with his butt in the air to see if the red one did anything different than the black one.
The door to the back opened and Bill caught him being stupid. “Hi Rack, I only got a minute. What’s up?” Bill did not invite him back to his office as in the good old days. It was much the same everywhere, the distributors didn’t want their suppliers not hearing the phones ringing.
“Sit down Bill.”
“Only for a second.”
Rack reached in his briefcase, yanked out the number one selling tool in America, The Full Color Brochure and, what every buyer thirsted for, the new price sheet with terms and discounts included!
“Here Bill,” Rack said handing over the stack, “Notice the prices went up a bit but the net discount went from 2% net 30 days to 10% net 10!”
We want your money and we want it NOW Rack joked to himself.
Bill made quick small talk about how bad things were which Rack understood to mean, no order today. It also meant that his sales manger would be again threatening him come Friday.
Realizing that it was only 10AM and he had to go do this another eight times today and then go home and write it all down so not to forget how stupid it all was, he surmised that if corporate America took all the time and money spent in this country on getting people to buy one identical thing over another identical thing, we could buy the rest of the world and turn it into a giant theme park.
Rack’s reverie came to an end when Joe came running through the lobby.
“Whoa… What’s going on?” Bill asked, grabbing Joe and swinging him around before he made it out the door. “Yokum’s wife was found shot dead about an hour ago, the cops are looking for him!”
“Jeb Yokum?” Rack asked, now even more depressed, “Gosh, I was just out with him yesterday on a sales call.”
Soon a score of people were running through the waiting room to the parking lot as the rest hummed with the sordid news. They were soon rushing back in with handguns tucked in belts, hanging out of pockets or in hand, one even carrying a shotgun as they filtered back to their desks and counters to hopefully fill yesterday’s pal with lots of big holes today. As a few stood in the lobby shoving in clips and comparing weapons, one of the receptionists shouted over the clicking din to announce the police had called to say they just found Jeb dead in his truck from a self inflicted gun wound.
The room held an air of intense electric silence, when Rack suddenly came to the realization that it was not over the death of a friend, but the disappointment of not having the chance to shoot him. Rack ran out the door, just barely making it before throwing up.
Campus Draft Counseling 1970
“I drew a 23. I do not want to die for something I do not believe in.”
“Besides trying to get in the Reserves, you have three choices: Run, conscientious objection or go smart. Which will it be?”
“What is go smart?”
“Going smart is about doing your two years but reducing your chances of dying in Vietnam. Here’s how it works. You sign up for the draft. That should give you a better chance of choosing what you want to do in the Army. During Basic Training you will be given a choice of a MOS. There are many options, but there are only three combat arms, Infantry, Armor and Artillery. If you pick one of those the chances are pretty good that you will get what you ask for. DO NOT PICK INFANTRY. Picking Band or Movie projectionist in Paris will get you Infantry. Armor only means fast moving Infantry, it also could very well mean 1st Cav Vietnam boom boom you’re dead in a month. Artillery on the other hand is much more attractive. They need people in the Artillery, and you have a very good chance of getting it if you pick it. Secondly, the big Artillery fronts are Korea and Germany, more Artillery people go there than to Vietnam. Thirdly, if you do go to Vietnam, the Artillery is always dug in a few miles back waiting for trouble rather than out looking for it which greatly increases your chances to stay among the living. I also have a Go Smart Kit here for you explaining this along with how orders are cut, how the S1 office cuts the orders, and how to affect the enlisted men and officers in that office. Remember, officers may think they are running things, but it is really the Specialists that use the typewriters.
“I think that’s for me. I will Go Smart.”
“Here is your kit, read it over after you have been in Basic Training for a few weeks when you better understand the system. Good luck. Stay alive.”
“I drew a 17. I do not want to die for something I do not believe in.”
“You have three choices. Run, conscientious objection or go smart. Which will it be?”
“What is go smart?” [see above]
“No. I am politically and morally against this war and I do not want to be part of it to any degree.”
“Can you prove membership in a pacifist religious organization?”
“Are you wealthy enough to hire a hot-shot lawyer or affect politicians?”
“That leaves running. I have a kit here that explains what you should do. Basically it says you should go to Mexico right away, get lost on a beach somewhere for a while and then fly directly to Canada avoiding US Customs. Here’s the kit.”
“Do not take this lightly. Think long and hard. This means you will leave your family, your friends and your country, possibly forever. Even if you are someday allowed to come back it means that for the rest of your life there will be some jerk waving a flag in your face calling you a traitor and a coward. Not only does it take a brave man to stand up for his beliefs to such a degree, it takes a very strong man as well. Think it over carefully. Here’s the kit, good luck.”
“Is this where ya sign up to go kill gooks?”
“No… Ah, what the Hell… Yes it is. What can I do for you?”
“I wanna go kill gooks. I’m ready. Where’s the plane?”
“Slow down there John Wayne. Why do you want to kill gooks?”
“My dad was a Marine and killed gooks in WW2. My uncle killed gooks in Korea and my brother is in the Navy killing gooks now. So it is only natural that I want to kill gooks.”
“Sure! We have always killed gooks and communists. I am a good Christian so I hate gooks and I am a patriotic American so I want to kill communists. And I want to do it now before we run out of them!”
“Never quite thought of it in those terms. How old are you?
“Do you have any physical disabilities?”
“9th grade but I’m working on my GED.”
“Well, you sound like just what we’re looking for, better cannon fodder I have never met. Here’s what you do. Take this note down to Sgt. Kline at the recruiting center at 112 S. Main. I suspect he will have a plane waiting for you this afternoon.”
“Wow! Thanks a lot! I’ll send you some gook ears or something!”
“No problem. Send the ears to your old man, I am sure he will appreciate them more than I. Have fun!”
#1 Came back with a box of medals and became a campus drug dealer.
#2 Was never heard from again.
#3 Was dead in six months, his brother dead in a year and his father has been sitting in the local VFW with a shoe box full of brass, ribbons and dried body parts drinking shots of Kessler’s for the past twenty years.
Republicans on Vacation
The climb up the Temple of the Sun was wearying, and hot. The Chiapas sun had finally burned through the hanging mist on the East side of the mountain leaving the Runias de Palenque speckled with the bright clothing of visitors from the world over. They dotted the stairways and promenades contrasting pleasingly with the dull gray walls of a millennium past.
“Well, let’s get down and have a refresco, hey Butch?” Rack said as they sat at the top of the oh so vertical stairway.
“Cut out my heart and throw me down Rack, save me the walk.”
The Gringos worked themselves around the back of the temple and descended through the thick jungle taking the shade by following a stream a few hundred meters through the deep green foliage. They soon arrived at a small pallapa and sat at one of the standard metal card tables emblazoned with “Superior” and the inevitable red and white checker board. They savored their Fantas beneath the thatched roof watching the staked out alligators in the clear stream below.
“Chiapas garbage disposal,” Rack commented, watching the beasts slop down mounds of orange rinds and egg shells, which were about the only things no one seemed to want. A gaggle of turkeys entered the wall-less building begging for God knew what. “What do turkeys eat, Butch?”
“They seem to want the tortillas.” Teasing them by dangling one in front of him as they he giggled and they gobbled in unison.
The Gringos noticed a pair of middle-aged Touristas winding down the seemingly endless waterfalls to the small soda stand. At their approach Rack reverted to Spanish while Butch put an “O” on the end of everything. They wanted to sound foreign so as not to have to guide more of the endless stream of nitwits to all the right places. But soon the rain forest ambiance was shattered by the pair of angry, shouting Americans.
Rack watched them berate a small ten year old Mayan girl who possessively clutched two bottles of Coke to her breast, shaking her head negatively.
“You Hippies speak Spanish?” The man boomed at Rack.
“You guys look White.”
“OK, OK, what’s the problem?” Rack replied.
“See, Herb, I told you they were Americans. We are from Ohio, where are you from?” the wife asked.
“ Somalia.” Rack answered the sunburned aliens.
“This little Spic here won’t take our damn money, that’s what’s the matter!” The angry man shouted. “And she doesn’t even speak English!” Mrs. Buckeye added.
Rack had witnessed this scene all too often, “You speak Spanish in Ohio do you?” They of course, being typical parochial Americans had no idea what Rack was getting at.
“Que is problema?” he asked the frightened girl.
“Malo dinero.” she shyly replied.
“What y’all giving the kid here Herb? Let’s see… These are US fifty cent pieces, she never saw one of these before. You got any pesos?” Rack wondered himself when he had last seen a fifty cent piece.
Mr. Buckeye scowled, “Hell no! Me with Mex money, no way! I got checks, I got a VISA, and these here.” He said flipping one of the strange coins in the air.
“Well why don’t you give her the VISA and she can go down to the water and wrestle the card machine out of the gator. They eat them you know.” Rack was getting annoyed.
“Really?” Mrs.Buckeye asked, eyeing the large Caymans and stepping back.
“No, el kidding-O.” Butch replied, waving the tortilla around as the dozen or so fowl made a close semicircle around him. “Gobble-gobble-gobble.” Butch cooed. “Gobble-gobble-gobble.” The turkeys would never fail to reply in chorus.
“OK, OK, Butch, alto with the turkeys.” Butch quit turkeying. He could see Rack had just about had it with this new round of ugly Americans.
Rack turned to the girl and handed her a handful of pesos and told her to keep the change. She released the sodas to the couple with a sigh of relief.
“Gracias.” she said to Rack with a smile that was well worth the quarter tip.
“You tip these Spics?” Mr. Buckeye asked pocketing his coins.
“Ya know Herb, as I have heard them say so well down here, why don’t you go pound pinto beans up your ass.” Rack said turning away.
The couple waddled back up the path toward their air-conditioned Winnebago and ultimately back to Ohio to tell their friends how they had seen Mexico. Quaint, but too dirty, no one spoke English, and filled with American undesirables. As the Buckeyes entered the large van with the sodas the undesirables had bought them and the returnable bottles they had stolen from the Spic, Mrs. Buckeye asked Herb, “Have you ever met such rude people in your life?”
All Along the Watchtower
I was way down in the jungles of Mexico traveling with a magician and his wife. He spoke five languages, wore a turban and was from Des Moines. We put on shows at night in small towns as we traveled. He would do the standard stuff; walk on glass, eat fire, swallow swords, stick big needles through his tongue (yick) and pass the hat when it was all over. We would put the show on in pleasant clearings in the jungle just outside of town. We would use diesel filled beer cans stuffed with rags as a circle of light. Usually about a hundred or so peasants and a few dozen gringos from around the world would attend. He always ended the show with a sort a spiritual con, blind folded while describing things his wife held up from the audience.
One night cloud cover caused a deep darkness conflicting eerily with flashes of lightning from an impending storm. It made for an exceptionally spooky setting as the turbaned magician tried a bit of mass hypnotism, complete with chanting and pleas to the spirit world for recognition.
Suddenly a form appeared at the edge of the jungle. It was white and the entire audience fixated upon it as it slowly became larger and larger with the lightning finally verifying a women in white. Wearing a long flowing dress, she seemed to float toward us without moving her legs. Everyone gasped, mesmerized by the apparition. Silence reigned as she approached with something under her arm.
As she entered the circle of light, the audience realized she was not the Virgin after all, nor the spirit of Quetzequoactal. She was just another damn Jehovah’s Witness come to pass out Watchtowers. Everyone went ‘OH NO’ simultaneously and laughed and laughed. I learned something that night. Jehovah’s Witnesses coupled with an ‘OH NO’ are universal to all languages and cultures.
Later that evening in a restaurant we went through the articles in the big hat I had passed around. The standard stuff was there; coins and bills from all over the world, joints, mushrooms, crafted jewelry, African beads, dried fruit, wet fruit, tamales… But the real gem was the bright red package of rubbers with the blaring brand name written in white across the package; GOOD LUCK!
“It’s a fringe element of gun owners.” General Norman Schwarzkopf in a statement resigning his NRA membership
Rack packed up the old van and headed North on his yearly Fall trek to his Wisconsin roots. For most of thirty hours he listened to one AM HATE RADIO broadcast after another realizing that Marlin Maddox, who he had not heard in years, made the rest of the Right-wing lunatics seem moderate. Maddox was not one for inference. Hillary is a Marxist. Hillary is a lesbian. The only proclaimed Liberal he heard was late one night out of Atlanta, and all that guy did was scream about the fascist AFT and crying for more executions.
The radio depression wore off as Rack pulled into the old compound of whitewashed rental shacks near Horicon Marsh. His day was brightened with nostalgic memories of the good times spent there with friends and family, fouling the water with lead shot, beer cans and duck parts. Duck hunting had become the only real bond left he had with his father, brother and old pals, and he was happy to be back if only for a few days.
His father met him at the screen porch door of the Duck Inn, one of the dozen cabins astride the marsh. With a happy handshake, Phil shooed Rack to the table in the center of the room to the smell of paraffin boiling in water. They sat together as they had for so many years, grabbing shoddily plucked headless ducks by their feet and dunking them into the hot wax to stack on newspapers to cool.
“Well Rack, I have to get back to your Mother in Milwaukee this weekend so we only have an hour or so, I’ll be back to hunt with you on Monday.” Phil said getting to all the catch-up family talk he enjoyed so much. Together they peeled the now cold wax and feathers from the round little bodies when the door opened and Smit, Rack’s old college roommate from down at the Stagger Inn, powered his tall thin presence through it.
“Well, well, if it isn’t the King-crap Communist from Texas! I expected to see you wearing a big red cowboy hat with a hammer and sickle on it” he playfully shouted coming over to shake hands. As he crossed the small room Rack quickly slit the belly of one of the now baby bottom smooth fowl, pulled out the gunk and plopped it down on the papers before he stuck out his hand. Smit taking the bloody handshake surprised Rack until the reek of bourbon whiffed by. This was a bad omen for the coming days as Smit had enrolled in AA two years before and had been off the sauce since. Rack was now faced with three problems; why the fall, should he address the fall, and more importantly, what to do about the insane Right-wing racist rhetoric the fall would surely produce.
Rack recalled their big confrontation three years ago. His friend Roger and Roger’s then 10-year old boy and he were having a nice cabin dinner when the door burst open and in stormed Smit in a blizzard of snow.
“What in the Hell do you think you’re doing Rack?”
“F you, half my decoys are in your boat, who do you think you are taking people’s stuff without permission?”
“Gosh Smit, both Phil and my brother had guests this morning and used both our boats. Roger and the kid came last night making for a problem in logistics, so I rented a boat and motor and borrowed some decoys from your boat knowing you wouldn’t be here till now. We were so cold when we came in we decided to warm up and eat before we went down to move the decoys and get our guns…”
“God dammit! I work hard for my stuff and this is America, not some commie country you fing liberals want to make it, my stuff is not available to you. I am sick of supporting blacks and every lazy Fing bum, get off your stinking socialist ass and go move the decoys now!”
“Yeah, when we’re done eating here Smit, ten minutes.”
“Are you drunk?” The kid asked.
“Sure you’re going to side with him, you sit in a duck blind all day while he feeds you all his communist propaganda! Big King-crap from Texas who thinks he has a right to everyone else’s stuff! Rack, go do it, now!”
“I will. When I’m done eating. By the way Smit, who brought you here so many years ago, who loaned you a gun, who taught you how to hunt, who helped you get in on all this? And look at yourself, I borrowed eight decoys worth $3 a piece for one day and you storm in here drunk having a fit, so f you.”
Smit came running, Rack stood up and deflected the coming swing. With his bourbonized imbalance adding to his ungainly height, Smit crashed head first into the stove crumbling into a heap on the floor. Realizing he was drunker than he thought he decided to leave, but at the door he had to have the last word. “Bunch of freeloading blacks!”
Back in the present, before Rack had a chance to think over his plan in dealing with the now again drunk Smit, it had already begun.
“Bush! I love him! Smartest man in America! Next President of the United States!” It began, releasing the firm friendly handshake and wiping the blood gunk on his Rubbermaid and Gortex covered body.
Phil at the other end of the table had not whiffed the proof of the statement, and annoyed that Smit had regressed into right-wing lunacy even while sober, snapped back. “Smart? Have you completely lost control of your senses? What in the Hell is the matter with you! The man’s all hat an no head!”
Ten years ago, Phil too had allowed a bottle of gin a day to often push him into conservative rants each evening much like Smit, but as soon as he put the bottle down for good, he miraculously became a reasonable human being.
Phil now perceived Smit’s idiotic statement as the beginning of the conservative pile on his son would be suffering the entire stay. It was also beginning to dawn on him that all his help over the past two years keeping Smit away from the bottle may have gone to naught. He was also annoyed that the political shouting match was replacing what little talk-time he had with Rack that day.
“Bush is great Phil! He just got a bad rap from the communist media is all.” Smit smiled back turning to Rack, “You’re being quiet, no hard response? Hehehe.”
Rack was in a quandary, Smit was the perfect example of the basic conservative mentality, but he was also an old friend from childhood. Was it his business to address the wagon-fall? He had heard that since the drinking had stopped so did the Nigger-Kike rants he was most known for. He decided against it, too much like tattling with Phil there who was not yet privy to the proof.
“Ahhh… Not much use arguing with you Smit. Do you still dress up as Adolph on Halloween and have all those Nazi uniform coffee table books?” Rack quipped back.
“Those are expensive quality books! I love them! It’s not what the Nazis did, it’s how they looked and carried themselves. Nazis didn’t take any crap from anyone!”
“Except for the United States under the liberal leadership of FDR and the communist Soviet Union who ground the spiffy uniformed a wholes into the garbage heap of history.” Rack smiled.
“I’m not saying what the NAZIS did was right, I just respect them for their values. Far more honest than you! What a hypocrite you are, a liberal with a gun murdering little ducks each year, what a joke you liberals are!” Smit snickered.
“Yeah, intolerance, racism, war and genocide are the higher values! As to my hypocrisy, I suppose you are right, but at least let me go through my litany of excuses: Phil embedded it into me by the time I was twelve, I only hunt ducks, I eat what I shoot, I have only one gun (a double barrel shotgun – no handgun, no semi automatic), it’s the only real commune I have with nature, the only time I see a sunrise on the water and my only real experience with tuning in the ecosystem and learning about it.”
“If that’s how you feel,” Phil interrupted, “Why not peruse it with a camera instead?” As the years had passed they had all sensed the second thoughts Phil had about the killing, who was often caught watching rather than shooting.
“I tried that, but with a camera, holding the shotgun in just one hand caused a serious wobble making for poor shooting.” After the snicker Rack went on, “And you know, if a human being caused me to get up two hours before dawn, dress in a dozen layers of old bloody clothes, put on twenty pounds of boots, break ice to get to where I want to go and sit in a freezing boat all day, I’d want to shoot them too!” Rack smiled, “And another point I have lately given thought to. The major funding for wildlife preservation comes from hunters, and sadly, with the Dark Tide upon us it will probably be the only funding left in helping the cause, especially regarding the Federal issues of interstate and international waterfowl migration. But to be honest, I know in my heart it is wrong but I do it anyway, I’m not perfect.”
“Hah! What’s the matter with you, every liberal is perfect they all say they’re perfect! Perfect, perfect, perfect!”
“Name me a liberal who has claimed to be perfect? Well besides Jesus Christ.”
“So now God is a liberal too! Everything Rush says about you maggot infested long-haired liberals is true! Lies and propaganda are all you do!”
“Gosh Smit, talk about hypocrisy, there is no one on the radio who spurts out more lies and propaganda to so many people than His Pigness. Well at least since your well dressed value oriented pal Mr. Goebbels shot himself.”
Over the sink, Phil snickered while he finished dressing the ducks, stuffed them with sauerkraut and put them in the oven. “These should be ready for you and the gang by 7pm. I gotta go, good hunting and see you Tuesday!” Rack walked him to the car to help with his bags which got Smit out of the cabin and the argument on hold for at least a few hours.
Soon Rack’s friend Roger and his 13-year old son arrived plopping a half gallon of rum on the table. Rack’s brother and his roommate, known as the NRA boys from up at the Stumble Inn arrived with a bottle of Beam. So too the Butchers from over at the Fall In, who as usual were covered with blood from some form of illegal poaching or other, entered and tossed a case of beer on the table. Smit had not arrived as yet, so there was a quick discussion about his wagon fall. His mother was in the last throws of cancer and was not expected to make it through the week, so the attitude was to leave it alone, pretending they didn’t know he was drunk as a skunk.
Rack kicked the broiler up to 550 for the last blast on the ducks to crunchy them up a bit. The sizzling smoke from the dirty old oven made for an open door to the screened porch. So they all watched Smit’s red-hot Mazda jerk to a stop close into the door. The muffled sound of The Doors upped to extreme decibel as the car doors opened. “Dinner music!” He shouted as he entered with his cabin mate Norts.
Too many people around the small table made for a messy but interesting surface. Greasy ducks, piles of bones, glasses, plastic cups filled with forgotten drinks in lieu of fresher ones, cigarette and cigar ashes on the tops of most of the thousand beer cans, and of course Roger’s crumbled lime slices everywhere. Drunken shouting laughing discussions of good shots, bad shoots, big kills and outboard motor failures enhanced the mess, and as the level of the liquor bottles went down the guns began coming out to enthusiastic ohs and ahs.
With the table so full and no place to set anything down the guns moved from hand to hand, often causing one fouler or another to become smothered in cold rolled steel. Rack found himself with two weapons while being passed another. “Look at this new Bernoulli!” Someone shouted over the mojo working Morrison and click-clacking din.
“Ah, art! Perhaps an Italian baroque master?” Rack quipped, his sarcasm low to keep from being decimated in a political argument against so many drunken armed conservatives. The winner of the gun show was Racks brother’s partner, the psychiatrist, who pulled from his belt the biggest handgun Rack had ever seen, in fact he could stick a finger in the hole at the end. It turned out to be a .410 shotgun barrel which also fired .44 Magnum shells.
“Gosh, what do you use that for?” Rack asked.
“Finches! Out in the blind those little Fking birds drive me crazy with their chirping and hopping around on the trees. BOOM! Chirping and hopping stops.”
He and the gun gained a standing ovation and after they all sang along with Jim for a few lines of “woke up this morning and got myself a beer”, they all stumbled, staggered and fell to their various inns to await the predawn hunt.
On the afternoon of his last day, Rack laid in one of the curtained off rooms reading while Phil napped in the next. The quiet time was interrupted when Smit came in to say his good-byes. Standing in the main room he looked in on Rack.
“You are one of my oldest friends, we get along fine so long as we stay away from politics, so no more politics okay?”
“Okay!” Rack said.
Smit halted at the cabin door, and leaning on the knob added.
“The problem with you Rack is you’ve been away from Milwaukee so long you forgot about the blacks. It’s the blacks that are the cause of every problem we have.”
“I thought we weren’t going to talk about politics anymore?”
“Niggers aren’t politics, they’re cockroaches.”
Phil woke from his nap and came in to sit down at the table.
“Phil! I want to apologize for falling off the wagon this week, but my mother is not expected to live out the week and it just got to me. I am going to put the black-Nazi talk behind me now, okay?” Smit said changing the subject. “So, it’s bad with my mother dying, my father died two years ago, that was hard too. Did you know that no one came to the funeral? Sure he was kind of an a whole but I expected to see some of my friends there at least, hardly anyone there.” He looked over at Rack for his excuse for not traveling 2000 miles to a funeral of an a whole he had only met once. He didn’t get one.
Phil understood and the discussion progressed to the hunting season again. “Tell me if I’m out of line Phil, but I want to get rid of Norts, after all,” he said glancing over at Rack again, “he’s not my friend but your son’s friend. Look, I work hard all year and this is what for. I have top-of-the-line equipment and I don’t want a roommate Fking with it. I can afford to rent the cabin alone if I want.”
“Norts is one of the kindest most docile individuals I have met, he has all his own stuff; a boat, motor, decoys. How do you mean he’s Fking with your stuff?” Phil asked.
“He was messing around in my boat. The decoys are in a mess and the push pole is not how I left it. Not how I always leave things. I am very careful with my equipment.”
Rack glared up over his book. Smit had come back from hunting the evening before so drunk Rack had had to go down to the pier to get him, “Help me, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Was the laughing cry alerting Rack. He soon found him laying half submerged in the water between the boat and the pier. Fifty gallons of water in his waders made for a degree of logistical expertise in drunk removal up an icey grass bank. Rack unhooked Smit’s wader straps and yanked him up the steep incline. Then he got in Smit’s boat and used the push-pole to retrieve the sunken waders probably kicking a few decoys out of the way in the process.
Rather than hit on Smit with his dying mother and all, Rack responded, “My hat fell off the pier last night, I used your push pole to reach for it and probably kicked around some of your decoys. It wasn’t Norts.”
“Well, I don’t care, I don’t like him! He’s a Federal employee, a mailman for Christsake, and, IN A UNION! He is everything I despise, I don’t want him around me. And he ate one of my apples!”
“Gosh, how awful for you!”
“Is that all you have to say? I paid for that apple, it was mine. You just don’t get it do you Rack?”
“I get it all right, and I do suppose one more thing needs saying. Unless you wake up, when you pass from this world there may indeed be a ton of top-of-the-line stuff piled on your coffin, but just like there was with your old man, there will be an empty funeral parlor.” A sad vacant silence ended the trip.
Laits and Lessons Lost
“Our fourth grade class is voting for President tomorrow, what am I Daddy, a Republican or Democrat?” The big one asked.
“AH! A question with a what rather than a why, I’m amazed! Well, look at it this way, what do you care more about, people or money?” Rack responded, happy that after years of questions she finally asked something substantial.
“People.” She blurted without pause.
“Well, then you are a Democrat.”
“Oh no, that means I have to vote for Clinton doesn’t it?”
“You don’t have to vote for anyone, but if you want a President who cares about everyone rather than just rich people, then you should vote for Clinton.”
“But all the kids are voting for Dole, I don’t want to be the only one voting for Clinton, all the kids at school say he is a communist.” She replied sadly.
“Gosh… Don’t listen to that poop, they just get that from their crazy parents. Think for yourself….” Rack began, only to be interrupted by Flower crawling into the room picking up, what to Rack, were little awful invisible things of the floor.
“Listen to yourself Rack, you tell her how to vote and then tell her to think for herself. What a hypocrite.” She said as she crawled by with a handful of whatever those invisible things were.
“Hell I did Flower, I just answered the question as best I could at a nine year old level. Open your hand! Let me see what’s in there? No, not that hand, the other one!” Rack was bound to one day actually see the little awful things on the floor she spent so much time gathering and complaining about, but as always, she played the game and rose to loudly and repeatedly snap her hand into the kitchen basket.
“You are all such pigs, I can’t live like this!” She said as she always did. “And I don’t like you feeding your extreme political views to the kids and you know it.”
“EXTREME? There is nothing extreme about this specific conversation, or in fact am I extreme about anything. Name something I am extreme about.”
“The death penalty, you are against it and every American is for it, you are out of touch Dear.” She answered, looking intently at the kitchen floor for more liats (Little Invisible Awful Things).
“Gosh, because I don’t think that dragging people down hallways to be put to death is a good idea, I am an extremist? What’s going on in this country? Gosh…”
“I don’t think they should do that either Dad.” The big one chirped in.
“Thank you Sweetie, so like I was telling you, follow your heart and your intellect rather than your wallet. And for crying out loud, don’t ever do anything just because everyone else does it, vote for Clinton tomorrow at school.”
“Clinton is for the Death Penalty Rack. Wake up!” Flower said still scanning the kitchen floor.
“Yeah, I know, and that single issue is probably the only reason we have a Democrat in the White House at all. Americans like killing a lot, I guess it comes with being the most Christian nation in the industrialized world.”
“See, there you go again…”
“God Flower, are you sure you and Reagan didn’t have a reciprocal brain transplant? Hey, I heard tell that there are crumbs all over the floor in the garage, better go check!”
“Don’t change the subject, stop feeding her your politics of division. Look at all the problems you caused in the neighborhood years ago with that damn Jackson sign!” She turned to the big one asking, “Is Daddy right, are there crumbs all over the garage?”
“I have no idea Mom.” The big one stated, seeming to side with Rack for once.
“Hey, it’s my lawn, if I want a Jesse Jackson sign on it I should be able to have one without all the neighbors going nuts. Hell, they stole it anyway.”
“The Orloff’s didn’t steal it Rack, Susan just borrowed it to stick on their lawn to freak out her husband when he came home.”
“He freaked out all right, he slammed on his brakes, jumped out of the car, yanked my sign out of the ground and tore my sign into little pieces.”
“It was funny though! But you feeding the kid all that Run Jesse Run and Win Jesse Win garbage when she was only in kindergarten was too much.”
“I didn’t feed her anything, we were watching him on TV do his stump speech and his audience was chanting and I chanted along with them, she just picked it up. By the way, those crumbs in the garage are so big even I can see them, better hop to Flower, they may breed and take over the block.” Flower left for the garage with a frown.
“Well, how did the vote come out today at school?”
“I was really embarrassed Dad, I was the only one in my class who didn’t vote for Dole, and counting the whole school it was 256 to 41! Why can’t I be a Republican like everyone else?”
“200 to 41?! And your school is the district all the NASA people go to? Gosh…” Rack sighed, “Hey, you can be a Republican if you want, just don’t be one because everyone else is, be one because you honestly believe making a lot of money is more important than making things better place.” He said hearing the car door slam in the driveway.
“Mommy must have just got back from voting Dad. I wonder who she voted for?”
Flower threw her purse on the table, checked the hallway floor, stooped and crawled into the den gathering laits. “Who did you vote for Mom?” The big one inquired.
“If you must know, I decided to vote for Dole.”
“YOU DIDN’T! My God Flower…” Rack cried.
“Hey, I went with the people from work and they all voted for Dole so rather than get in political fights with my friends at work I decided to vote for him too. Why cause division at work?”
“Shit, another lesson lost right down the drain…”
Penises, Semen, Murder and Dogs
“Ask yourself how you would feel if the President has his penis down the throat of your daughter!” Rush Limbaugh.
Summer had changed forever this year for Rack. Now with school out and the older one capable of a marginal degree of responsibility, she could watch the little one without leaving marks. This meant they were both home all day while Rack tried to run his various pro bono businesses. Not only did he now spend most of his day as arbitrator, cook and recipient of seven godzillion stupid questions, but as they both got to stay up a few hours later each night (no school) his rug-ratobia was heightening. In fact it was so bad; he had just got off the phone to a friend over at NASA to see if there was any call for doing tests on children in orbit.
Not even a month into it and he was barking more than the dog. He was also in trouble with Flower over that old beast. The dog was overdue for put down. For the past 14 years it had done nothing but bestow a slobbering degree of enthusiastic love, smiles and optimism upon the family without a witch or an unkind word (to anyone, ever), Rack had begun tossing it a chuck roast every night rather than the usual bowl of brown rocks.
Rack was pounding on the keyboard so hard his fingers bled. “How long can I use these same words” he mumbled to himself as intolerant, callous, selfish, Right-wing, bigot, gunloons flowed across the screen for the twentieth time that day. “Over used clichés,” he admitted to the monitor, “but so utterly true, it’s gotta be said. Perhaps in some future millennium it may get through.”
“Dad, why did the President show that lady his penis?” The big one interrupted his key slapping. Rack looked up to see Pat Robertson and Paula Jones on the tube.
“Give me that clicker. Come on. Bring it here.” He snapped over to C-SPAN to get a dose of congress and told the kids to leave it on, if they didn’t like it they could always do something they hadn’t done yet this summer, go outside.
Once again lost in redundant name calling he was interrupted. “What’s semen Dad?”
Rack looked up to see Dan Burton (R-Indiana), one of the endless stream of as intolerant, callous, selfish, right-wing, bigot, gunloons talk about how the dead Vince Foster had semen all over his underwear after the suicide. “Here’s the damn clicker, change it yourself.” He gave in.
Typing away, making macro commands for gungoonery and Conservanazi, she did it again.
“Who did the President murder anyway?”
“Oh Gosh… Who is that, Falwell? Damn. Okay give me that thing damn it.” Rack searched the channels for something more acceptable to the 6 to 12 year old audience.
“There, now leave it on this station, it’s far better than any of that crap you’ve been watching.” Rack went back to the keyboard listening to the more acceptable dialogs.
“Hehehe, cool Beavis. Hey Butthead, this sucks. Hehe”. Not one embarrassing or stupid question in half an hour and everyone was smiling along with the dog.
Wrestling With God
There are only two kinds of people floating up their eyebrows in religion, those that gain wealth or power from it, and the nitwits who give it to them.
It was February 1981 and the cold Connecticut evening bit at Rack’s thinned Texas blood as he skittered over the ice from the sales meeting to his bosses’ car. He horsed the bosses’ twelve year old twin boys into the back with him asking again where they were going.
“Madison Square Garden! To see the greatest show on Earth, you’ll love it!” His boss shouted from the front where he sat with another salesman.
The car lurched forward while Rack imagined front row seats to a Led Zeppelin reunion concert. “Yeah, that’s what y’all been saying, it’s not the where but the who I’m concerned with.” The twins wanted to tell, but there had been some earlier command from the boss, though wet-their-pants excited, they were tight as clams.
Nothing for Rack to do but wait it out.
Soon they gained the vicinity of the Garden and from the tinted back windows Rack could see the crowds with the cars stopping and tickets scalped to flashes of $100 bills. The fans consisted of far too many parents with little kids in tow to be a Zeppelin Concert. Greatest show on Earth the boss had said, Rack now figured it was the circus, and he liked circuses! They rounded a corner and to Rack’s dismay the marquee blared:
SOLD OUT! ANDRE THE GIANT VS THE 7 DWARFS! SOLD OUT!
After parking the car, what was left of the sales meeting rattled through the excited throng with the boss leading, smiling and joking in a better mood than Rack had seen him in years. What with Reagan as the new President, he was no longer being visited regularly by the FBI for putting up all those Wanted Dead or Alive posters of Jimmy Carter. So too, company dinners out were now much less embarrassing for his staff as he no longer slammed his fist on a table making flatware and utensils crash to gain the attention of all eaters before he would stand, point to some structure on the ceiling and scream, “WE SHOULD HANG THAT SON OF A BITCH CARTER RIGHT NOW FROM THAT GODDAMN…”
Kids, parents, teenagers, many elderly, all with an aura of nitwit about them clamored down the isles with enthusiastic abandon. Rack couldn’t help but notice the lack of Blacks in the crowd who he figured had enough sense to not waste a hundred bucks on this poo-poo.
They worked their way through the excited fans to a third row seat. Rack decided to try and get into the show as well as he could by poking and hammer locking the twins during the Rock & Roll lead-ins which were far more lengthy than the actual fights. But try as he might, the fake at such close range was so much more obvious than on television, he decided to go on a lengthy beer run.
The line was surprisingly long for a family show, but it was closer to reality than what was going on down in the ring. Rack started talking to people fore and aft, building waste-your-time-in-line acquaintances as he always did. He noticed a banner above the refreshment stand stating professional wrestling was now the top spectator sport in America.
“Yeah, give me a Miller.” Rack stated when his turn came. A Miller Lite was slopped on the counter in front of him.
“No, I want a Miller, not a Miller Lite please.”
“Don’t have it.” They replied.
“Okay, what else to you have?”
“Coors Lite and Bud Light.”
“Yer kidding? I want a real beer, you know, REAL BEER.”
“I’m sorry sir, that is all we have in the Garden. Make your choice or step aside please.”
“Well crap.” He said feeling an angry soapbox speech coming on…
“This country has gone to Hell in a hand basket! My God, we got a stupid B-movie actor as President, fake wrestling is the number one spectator sport in America and you can’t even get a Goddamn real beer in Madison Square Garden. I QUIT!”
One little guy with a Miller hat applauded in the next line as Rack stormed down to the front, got the car keys from the boss, told them he would pick them up in front at 11pm and left them to find a real beer.
Driving Manhattan for the first time in a cowboy hat looking for a six pack was an overwhelming experience, by the time Rack had found some real beer, he guzzled it in mad vengeful gulps until it was no more. He then got in line with the cabs who all yelled at him calling him humiliating cowboy names. Soon he saw his specific morons among the thousands of morons, got out, waved their attention, walked around the car and got in the passenger seat with an attitude.
Reasoning with the boss did little good, but with a 6-pack of real beer in him, Rack felt the mood upon him to have his say.
“Look Lynn, here you have a growing company with 50 employees, manufacturing and selling hepa, electrostatic, mechanical filters and safety systems to the workplace that we both know is directly related to State and Federal OSHA standards. You campaign and donate God knows how much money to get Reagan elected, who a dollar to a doughnut is going to at the very least take the bite out of OSHA and may very well disband it, putting you out of business and the rest of us out of work. Is your hate of what you perceive as liberalism so strong that you will sacrifice your company and employees for it?”
A curt, “YEP.” Was the only response. A few months later the company filed Chapter 11, laid off forty-four employees, and Lynn became a consultant.
Professional wrestling has effectively infused Hollywood and Rock & Roll making it the largest spectator sport in America besides car racing. An industry based on fraud, foolishness, finger pointing, screaming, name calling and premised upon already arrived at conclusions. Pandered with obscene profits to the ignorant and pathetic who will believe anything they wish to believe. What better comparison can there be than today’s evangelical Christianity? Why not put the two together and make a real killing? Think of the hit billings: Judas vs. The Apostles, Luther vs. the Pope, The Virgin Mary vs. Shiva, all building up to winner take all death match in an electrified cage between Jehovah, Jesus and the Holy Ghost!
“I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.” Thomas Jefferson
Rack tried to squeeze in a couple minutes of news while the kids were fighting in the hall. Oral Robert’s earlobes dominated the screen. The commentator explains that the medical center which had never exceeded 20% bed occupancy was going under, then a background piece on the Reverend Roberts asking people to send him $8 million or “the Lord will take me home.” The hallway skirmish moved out to the den and got between Rack and the TV screen as the camera panned hundreds of Oral Roberts University students flowing out of a large building.
“STOP IT!” He yelled at the clamoring small mammals in front of him. “Look at all the stupid people on TV.” The kids stopped and looked.
“Augh, Daddy, those are just regular people.”
“Nope! They’re stupid people. I’m your father. I know what I’m talking about!”
Flower entered the den. “What are you feeding the kids now Rack? Who’s stupid?”
“Anyone who would pay money to go to a college owned by a guy who got on TV and said that if they didn’t send him 8 million bucks, God was going to kill him!” Rack proclaimed.
“So how does calling all those people stupid help the kids understand God or spirituality or their place in the universe?
“Yea Daddy, I love the baby Jesus!”
“And your mother loves pyramids and crystals, good for you and so what?”
“Come on Rack, you know I believe there is a direct cosmic link between crystals and God, I am not an atheist like you.”
“I am not an Atheist!”
“What’s an Atheist Daddy?”
“I’m not an Atheist so it doesn’t make a difference what an Atheist is.”
“Well Rack, just what exactly are you then?”
“I’m a Deist.”
“What’s a Deist?” The Big One asked.
“That’s someone who believes in God and all, but thinks he’s just taking a real long nap.”
“So why don’t we ever go to church?”
“Well kids, I can’t find a church that looks like a pyramid that your mother would find acceptable.”
“There’s a church right on down at the turn-off that Jimmy goes to. Why can’t we go to that one Daddy? We could walk even!”
“The only walking your mother has ever done is to the car.”
“That’s a lie. I walked all over the mall Saturday.”
“Okay, from the car.”
“I want to go to Jimmy’s church!”
“Not alone Daddy!”
“Have your mother take you then.”
“What a cop-out Rack.”
“OK, listen Kids, God is everywhere, in church and out of church. And God is different to each person, some people love one kind of God one way, and others another kind of God in a different way, and no one really knows which is the right way. So rather than love God in any one single way, which could very well be the wrong way, just be nice and be good and stop fighting, and God will love you and take care of you forever. So you had better remove that screwdriver from your brother’s nose.”
The amount of tax dollars going to both PBS and NPR is 18% of the total cost, which is tantamount in keeping both viable in small markets.
Rack was standing in front of the television staring at the wall of shelf behind it which contained hundreds of videos. He was slapping a naughty videocassette against the side of his leg a friend had given him a few minutes earlier. He was wondering where to hide it. After a few minutes the idea bulb went off a foot over his head, singing his hair. He pasted a new label on all sides of it, penned them all with the big capital letters, P-B-S, and placed it front and center on the shelf. Realizing he had found the perfect hiding place, he smiling to himself when Flower in rushed the front door.
“Take that OINK IF YOU LOVE RUSH sticker off your car Rack!” Flower demanded putting down her mall bags and throwing his keys at him.
“No! I want my car to say something. And why are you telling me what I can or cannot put on my car?”
“Everything you wear says something Rack. You even write sound bites on your underwear, well at least when you wear underwear! Do you even own a shirt with buttons or anything at all that doesn’t have crap written all over it?”
“I like stuff that say things.”
“I went through it again picking up the kids in front of the theater. The guy behind me got out of his truck and tapped on my window and acted confused about the bumper sticker. He asked if I was calling Rush a pig.”
“So what did you say?”
“The usual, I told him it means whatever he wanted it to mean.”
“What a cop-out Flower, just say that Rush is a selfish bigoted conservative pig and anyone who agrees with him is too.”
“He had a gun Rack.”
“Half the trucks in Texas have gun racks Flower.”
“Funny, but had it been you, you would of moused down just like I did, don’t give me that macho crap.”
“Daddy, change the station to 12.” The big one demanded.
“Why is everyone always telling me what to do? And no, this is the Leher News Hour and I like watching it. I only ask to command the TV here for an hour a day while I feed you. What’s on? You missing an 8th degree re-run of 98032?”
“You are so dim Dad, you don’t know what’s good on TV.”
“Rack, of all the news shows this is the most boring talking heads of the bunch! No action at all.”
“Well, how about whenever it’s on I go get a gun and chase the rest of you around the room firing it in the air screaming DIE MFS DIE!”
“Cool!” The big one gleamed.
“Can I see the gun?” The little one asked.
“Gosh… Look, it’s an hour a day and what with the Republican congress trying to eliminate PBS, I want to watch it while I still can. Don’t any of you care that they are trying to take public television and radio out of our lives?”
“No one watches it but you Rack.” Flower stated trying to sneak the changer off the counter.
“Get your hands off that!” Rack grabbed it away.
“It’s real boring Dad, no one cares. And Dad, those rides home from school having to listen to Linda Wartshammer have been the most boring times of my life!” The big one stated.
“Linda Werthiemer! Well I care. What about all those neat shows on the whales you like?”
“That thing on whales was a video called Free Willy Dad.”
“Okay, what about Sesame Street, you both grew up with that!” Rack had them now.
“We grew up in daycare Dad, we played games with other kids, we never watched TV.”
“Hmmm… There was that NOVA we all watched about how babies are made.”
“Yeah Dad, that was six years ago.”
“You know Rack, the only interaction any of us have with PBS is trying to grab the changer from you to turn it off.”
“Sigh… About half the people in America don’t care, but there is a very loud minority of conservative loonies who do, and if the rest of us don’t start caring, I’m telling you all, the stomps of jackboots are going to soon drown out the sound of your 90544 or whatever the Hell it is.”
This flag amendment business burns me.” Rack declared without looking up from the paper.
“Why? Are you going to take off work today and go flag burning?” Flower asked while she shoveled another jar of mixed cereal into the thing in the highchair.
“It’s the principle of it! Is this a free country or isn’t it?”
“Rack, it’s as free as it gets, drink your coffee and go to work.”
“I don’t know, it just phises me off.”
“You just have to start looking at the bright side of things Rack, you are always complaining about some ridiculous thing that will never affect you, or us, or anyone we know.”
“Fine attitude, Flower! Nobody should care about anything unless it directly affects them?”
“It’s not ‘caring’, it’s complaining.”
“I just saw that clip again last night of all those people in Bensonhurst holding up watermelons and screaming out racial epitaphs at Black people in a funeral march for some Black kid who their dimmest and dullest shot only because he was Black. Are you saying I shouldn’t care about that?”
“No. But try and find some good in it.”
“GOOD IN IT? And the ones who weren’t holding up watermelons were waving American Flags as they screamed ‘Nigger go home’! Disgusting.”
“I think you stumbled on the answer. What does that Flag Amendment say?”
“It’s a Constitutional Amendment that allows the States to punish anyone ‘desecrating’ the Flag. An obvious abridgment of free expression.”
“OK Rack, what would you call it when a bunch of bigots wave the Flag while jeering racial slurs at Black people walking down the street?”
“Oh come now Rack.”
“Really. Burning is desecration, waving is patriotism.”
“Play your sarcastic humor at work, it’s wasted on me. The reality is that neither I nor most anyone sees it that way. Those people are ‘desecrating’ the Flag just as ferociously as someone burning it. And if the Flag Amendment passes, they can be arrested.”
“So you think people waving the Flag are going to be arrested? Get real!”
“I’m real Rack, it’s you who live in some unreal political morass. And don’t you have to agree that it would be worth it to jail a couple hundred flag-waving racists for each flag-burning communist?”
Rack took the messy thing out of the highchair and hosed it down in the sink, waiting until Flower left the room before he smiled.
90% of Federal judges and 75% of state judges want to end mandatory sentencing.
Every Tuesday at 9am Harris County invites inconsequential lawbreakers to come by the court house to plead their inconsequential cases. Rack happened to be one of those inconsequentia not long ago.
8:25am. Rack dressed to the hilt; his vintage corduroy O.P. shorts, a shirt with a collar and even tennis shoes and socks in lieu of flip-flops. He parked at the spacious courthouse lot, opened the trunk, hoisted out the unwieldy large garbage bag and sat it on the ground. He then closed the trunk, gathering the light but bulging sack to his chest to carry into the courtroom There were quite a few, how should one say, dirtballs milling all over the hot humid Texas landscape. It was a good mix though – even up, white, black and Hispanic. Rack, pushed through the crowd of smokers to the glass doors, and after finding the correct courtroom, sat himself in the center of the large empty room.
It filled quickly, and soon there was an overflow of people standing in the back. Though sitting or standing, none had big black garbage bags, which Rack found so unwieldy it would not sit on the floor without tipping its contents, which caused Rack to hold the bag in his lap. He was oblivious to the restless crowd who having become bored with staring at the judge’s door for twenty minutes, were now averting their attention upon something more substantive. What’s in that guy’s bag?
9:20am. Soon the crowd was told to all rise and the judge entered. It surprised Rack to see what looked to be the twin sister of blond Texas Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchinson. The judge addressed the room in teacher mode.
“This is Misdemeanor Court level 2. We of course do not hear felony cases but neither do we hear moving traffic violations. I am sorry it is so crowded today with so many of you having to stand, but as most of Texas goes, we have been downsized to a level where it’s amazing we get anything done at all. To compensate for this I have found the most efficient way to get us all through this process as quickly as possible. So with that said, I am going to ask the people along the walls there to squish on back… Thank you. First I want everyone who is here for driving without insurance to go line up behind the table over there. Good, and scrunch up against the wall there on the right.”
People shuffled. Soon half the contents of the room were lined up nicely against the right wall.
“Now”, the judge began anew, “Everyone who is here because of bad checks, line up on the left side of the wall in front of the table over there.” The remaining people shuffled to the left side of the courtroom as she went on to explain what they were to do at the table, how to contest their cases, and what to say to the judge.
9:25am. Rack sat by himself watching the long lines ever so slowly dissipate. He noticed how much darker the skin color was in the line on the rght, where the criminally uninsured went first. All had extremely boring stories about who actually owned the car and lent it to whom. One case, however, did get Rack’s attention.
10:45am. A 30 year old middle class black male whom Rack had befriended while initially waiting on the judge took to the table.
“Mr. District Attorney” the judge asked, “Those papers in your hand show that Mr. Jones here had a driving with no insurance conviction in 1986, again in 1993 and this one in April?” Both the judge and Mr. Jones seemed to sag when the DA firmly stated the papers showed just that.
“I have no choice in the matter Mr. Jones. The recent three strikes provision forces me to sentence you to one year in the Harris County Jail. You have to come back here through my door and put yourself in custody.” The judge listened politely to the hopeful cries of Mr. Jones about his job, wife and kids; in fact the Judge made somewhat of a liberal political speech concerning three strikes, but mercy was strained, it came down like hail from Hell.
11:15am. From that depressing moment things began picking up for Rack, not only was he noticing that the judge was giving curious looks to his garbage bag, but the cases moved from boring tales of no insurance to the fun of bad checks.
Though logical in retrospect, Rack was surprised to find that most bad checks were passed at video stores, most amounting to around $10 but sometimes as low as $3.67 or as high as $70. Suddenly the court became a place of immoral low class drama.
The judge having to run through these cases as fast as possible did not voice any legalese or lectures, rather, she would read off the titles to the movies they rented and didn’t pay for.
“Spank Me Lick Me, Snuff Me Now, Deep Throat Dollies, Faces of Death #4, 12 Inches of Hard…” The judge rambled on seemingly enjoying greatly the winces of embarrassment all the white guys were suffering.
1:15pm.Rack and his large garbage bag sat by themselves in the now empty courtroom as the Judge’s attention finally riveted upon him.
“Next cases will be those charged with domestic violence.” She announced, Rack sat.
“Next cases will be those charged with disorderly conduct.” The judge, obviously bored with her movie title game she had probably been playing every Tuesday for some years was now playing a new game, guess the offense of the guy with the garbage bag without asking him directly.
“Discharge of weapons within Harris County.”
“Poaching of protected animals.”
After about a dozen tries she finally got Rack to raise his hand when she said “Any non vehicular safety violations?”
Rack grabbed up his unwieldy garbage bag, hugged it to his chest and walked to the podium.
“What is your name?” The judge asked.
“Rack Jite Ma’am.”
“Well I want to apologize for you having to sit out there for so long, but as I am sure you understand, we are trying to dispose of these cases as quickly as possible. But perhaps you learned something today out there. Did you learn anything Mr. Jite?”
“Yes Ma’am, I learned that if I ever rent a dirty movie, pay cash.”
The judge had a good laugh. Rack had, by just saying what was on his mind rather than any try at being funny, unwittingly won the judge over, which in his present financial state, was important indeed.
“Bailiff, give me the sheet on Mr. Jite. Ah. Five counts of failure to abide by Harris County Boating Laws, One count expired fire extinguisher, one count no sound warning device present, and three counts of no life preservers.”
Rack put the large bag on the floor and pulled out a newly purchased redemption product to match each offense the judge mentioned, giving the loud can of air a toot in the process.
“Why didn’t you just pay the fine Mr. Jite.”
Well M’am, two reasons. First is that the three counts of no life preservers are a somewhat questionable offense. Though I understand ignorance of the law is no excuse, the law requiring Coast Guard certified life jackets in lieu of the seat cushion preservers I did have, changed only a few weeks before, which I and perhaps thousands of other Harris County boaters were not aware of. Secondly, as I missed my first court date, which I have no good excuse for other than age eating up my memory cells, I was required to bond double the five $100 maximum fines, so I have a thousand dollars in this which is more than the boat is worth. I would also like at this time to present to this court the receipt for the equipment here which is dated the day after the actual offense.”
“Well Mr. Jite, boat safety is no joke, but as your patience has been exemplary and your intent well taken, this court will fine you…Bailiff, what are the court costs regarding this case… This court fines you $47, have a good day Mr. Jite.” Rack was directed to the table, paid the $47, and about a year later got a check for $953 he had spent on bond.
“He’s guilty as Hell. I’m going to murder O.J. and hire Johnnie Cochran as my lawyer.” Joan Rivers
Rack sighed and turned it off. He was uninterested in the coming days of endless whys and wherefores of the Simpson verdict. He sat down to write his spin before the media corrupted him and the pundits stole all his ideas before he thought of them himself.
He scribbled dollar signs on the pad. No matter race, he knew it was still the money which was the central factor in our criminal justice system. He scribbled down the side of the page the secondary issues: “White racism. Jury racism. Jury fatigue. Police foul ups. Police injustice. Police racism. Rodney King. The media circus…” And of course the overriding force in American these days; hating the government so much our gums bleed.
Satisfied he had the basics down right, Rack’s attention moved to his new (now one year old) replacement dog, who as usual, was rolling another paper clip into a tight little ball with its rapidly smacking mouth movements. As the foaming saliva from its mouth fell to the tile floor into an ever growing puddle, Rack yelled. “Out! OUT! Why can’t you be more like our original dog?”
He opened the door and horsed the foaming beast out into the front yard. It looked over its shoulder giving him that Golden Retriever sad, hurt, I love you anyway look, dropped the tiny ball of wire, picked up a piece of pea gravel from the endless supply around the garden and was soon laying down drooling onto the hot driveway.
The door flew open and in came the Big One from school, all smiles. “I TOLD YOU HE WASN’T GUILTY DAD! I’m so happy! I knew he didn’t do it. He is just too cool.”
“Gosh… It’s not that he didn’t do it, it’s that he got away with murder because he bought the best lawyers money could buy, because he’s a celebrity ball chaser, and the Black people on the jury are so mad at the Los Angeles Police Department they let him go.”
“Dad! He’s innocent, the law says so. Me and all my friends knew it all along!” She danced away to the phone to discuss it with all the other twelve year old law geniuses who had been right all along and knew so much more than their lamer parents.
The Little One stormed in trying to blurt it out too, but couldn’t come up with that big “innocent” word, so he just keep shouting “OJ DIDN’T DO IT” in classic nyah-nyah style, though he did stop long enough to ask if Rack would take them to Australia tomorrow to catch snakes. Rack turned on the TV (any station would do) and pointed at the screen, “Sure I’ll take ya’ll to Australia tomorrow, but in the mean time, look at that snake right there!”
“Dad. You are not being fair at all. OJ is not guilty and that is that. Get with it.” The Big One scolded looking up from the phone.
“I thought it was thirteen when you pimple farms came to the realization that you knew more about everything than anyone. Well, at least you’re a year ahead in something. Hey, did you hear what he asked Judge Ito just a minute ago?”
“OJ asked if he could have his hat and gloves back.”
Rack missed the reaction as a double bark at the door caused him to open it to let the stupid replacement beast back in. It dropped the pea gravel on the floor in its main area – up against the air conditioning vent – and pushed his froth covered head under the desk to find another paper clip.
“Dad!” the Little One yelled, “The policeman are coming!”
Rack looked out the window to see a cruiser with lights flashing and siren sounding parked in front of his house and two officers coming up the walk. He opened the door while using his ankles to grasp the suds headed beast laying on the hallway floor, but it slipped on through and went bouncing, wagging and galumping its rear end off toward the cops in wild lovesick abandon.
“GET CONTROL OF YOUR ANIMAL!” One yelled while the other drew his weapon pointing it at the eighty pound overgrown puppy.
“HE’S JUST A PUPPY! OVER FRIENDLY! DON’T SHOOT! “ Rack cried.
“I gotta go! The police are outside with guns!” The Big One said to her friend on the phone who, sadly for Rack, happened to be her teacher’s daughter.
The moron dog was now jumping up and trying to get its paws around the first officer to see if it could get its head inside the man’s mouth to lick his tonsils. The second officer, understanding it was indeed a friendly dog, didn’t shoot but kept the gun out anyway.
“Someone called saying there was a rabid dog in the area.” The officer said.
As luck would have it, this was the moment Flower chose to pull in the driveway. Rack grabbed the dog, sat on it with hands-up facing the gun wielding cop, and after briefly explaining the drooling dog’s pea gravel obsession, asked if perhaps they could at least turn off the siren.
The first cop, now busy trying to wipe great gobs of white doggie loogie from his starched dark uniform, was in no mood. Obviously the lights and noise added to the ambiance of police work, which seemed to Rack to have only one purpose, to get all his neighbors outside to gawk, giggle and argue among themselves whether the Jites were more like the Bundy’s or the Simpsons. Flower stepped from the car trying to out decibel the siren, which to the disbelief of all present, she managed quite well.
“Oh Yeah!” She addressed the cop with the gun who happened to be Black, “Shoot our dog, shoot my husband, shoot my kids, and if you have a knife in your pocket, SLIT MY THROAT. Then move the venue downtown and you’ll get away with murder!”
“Gosh.” Rack quietly sighed shaking his head and losing control of the dog who galloped toward the car jumping on Flower, knocking her back into the seat. Flower pushed off the animal and stood kicking at it while it circled at her feet, jumping up occasionally to slobber on her face no matter how far the reach. She addressed the Black officer who was now holstering his weapon.
“Okay, you can shoot the dog if you want, but you people are not going to get away with murder here! This isn’t LA!”
“Gee.” Rack sighed again apologizing to the police who did have a good excuse in drawing a weapon at a charging dog they believed rabid.
“I’ll tell you what.” The first officer said stooping down to look at the collar of the dog who Rack now had in a full Nelson on the ground. “As I see no rabies vaccination tag, get to your vet and then stop by the station tomorrow and show us the paperwork.”
“We’re not going to be here. We’re going to Australia tomorrow!” The Little One happily interjected.
“We’re not going to Australia. It’s just a joke.”
“You said!” The Little One whined.
“Yeah Dad, you said!” The Big One re-whined as Rack backed toward the house.
“Australia? Rabies? What’s going on here Rack?” Flower whined. “Stop! Where are you going?”
“Nap time. Bye everyone, it’s been nice.” Rack waved to the crowd in front of his house and off to the bedroom where he closed the door, locked it and hid under the covers.
The barking, screaming, knocking, howling and pushing at the bedroom door soon caused him to climb out the bedroom window to go around the house and hide under a beach towel in the laundry room. Within seconds he was found by the replacement dog who was getting real close to being re-replaced. Having been found, the wrath of the Simpson verdict was soon heaped upon Rack by Flower.
“Calm down.” Rack pleaded.
“Calm down?! That bastard got away with murder, with that smirk of a crap eating grin and you tell me to calm down? I am never going to vote for any candidate ever who pushes for affirmative action in any way, shape or form again in my life. I am changing parties and voting for Pat Buchanan.”
“What? You going to organize a Jews for Buchanan political action committee? Look, I agree to a degree. The guy bought his way out, and the Black jury let him go, but understand them. Today we had the standard White suburbia experience with police. They come on a valid complaint, were nice to us even though a crazy Jewish woman insulted them, and they left without even writing a ticket. The Black experience with police is not getting dogs on leashes or cats out of trees, but with them crashing into their homes with guns, pulling them over in cars, slamming them down on the ground, kicking them in the head, calling them blacks, sometimes shooting them in the back and most times throwing them in prison to ruin their lives and the lives of their families, forever. And it’s usually for nothing more than trying to make some extra money selling a bag of drugs. If I were Black and on that jury I would have done the same. A couple of dead rich white people are not much compared to all the bullet filled Blacks they find laying around their yellow taped, chalk outlined streets most everyday. Point of view Flower, come on.”
“I’m telling you Rack, those nwords all cheering in the streets have made the biggest mistake they could ever make. I am not alone in this. The voting booths of the future will reflect my views, not yours.”
“Gosh, I’ve known you more than twenty years and never heard you use that word. Coming from you, it leads me to say I’m afraid you may be right. All I can do is ask why you weren’t as riled about William Kennedy Smith, Klaus Von Whats-his-name, or a host of other rich White people who were guilty as Hell and bought themselves out of it. Can’t Blacks with enough bucks buy themselves out too?”
“Inferring I’m a racist in front of the children Rack? How cool. I’m not the racist, those people on the jury are the racists!”
“Hey, people get away with murder all the time, its part of that better to let the guilty go than the innocent be imprisoned or executed thing, which is a good idea. My biggest problem with all this is what a total wanker Simpson is. A conservative wife beating Uncle Tom, who when meeting Rush Limbaugh at the Superbowl in 1994, told him he was his biggest fan. An NRA spokesman giving high dollar speeches on their behalf. A Black man who took his money and celebrity and did a 9.6 sprint from the Black community without ever looking back. Sucking up to the White upper classes like no other Black man has done except perhaps, Uncle Clarence Thomas and Ward Connerly. And to top it off, he is a smug, conceited, egomaniacal craphead. And he had the balls to use racism as his defense? What a sorry excuse for a human being.
GO AWAY OJ – GO AWAY! Clap-clap. GO AWAY OJ – GO AWAY!”
Staying Home in the ‘80’s
Prison population doubled in the last 8 years and will double again in the next 6 years.
Ivan took his wife dancing for the first time in years. It was a dance hall just outside Kiev. It was just before Christmas and a cold ‘Norther’ blew through their coats as they entered the large smoke filled room.
It was a treat tonight, a Rock and Roll band that played all Ivan’s favorite American CCR songs. They sat at a table surrounded by fifty or so other couples, stomping their feet happily to the familiar beat. Ivan knew some of the band members and recognized a few friends from work whom he introduced to his wife. Everyone was happy to see Ivan and to meet his wife, they were also happy just to be out for a change.
Ivan went to the bar and ordered his third vodka, and another glass of wine for his wife. His friend in the band saw him cross the floor, and over the mike coerced him into dancing, trying to get the crowd to the dance floor. Ivan held the two drinks like a dance partner, and made small circles toward his table. He put down the drinks and lifted his wife out of her chair and danced. It worked, and other couples followed them to the dance floor.
Laughing on the dance floor about what the heck “poke sally” was, Ivan saw the double doors suddenly slam open. A rush of cold drew everyone’s instant attention to the six large men in black jackets following the dark cold wind. The SCF (Soviet Control Force) made for the stage and stopped the music. Using the PA the leader said.
“LISTEN! EVERYONE AGAINST THE OUTER WALLS! NOW!”
The people moaned, but did as they were told. The darkly dressed husky men asked each individual for their papers, searched some, and asked how many drinks they each had drank. Various impossible physical balancing tests were given and soon 26 of them (including two band members) were cordoned off, handcuffed and prodded out to the waiting bus.
Though she had lived in the Ukraine her entire life, Ivan’s wife had never experienced such a situation, and on the bus she cried her heart out. The bus stopped in front of the Peoples’ Jail spilling its contents into crowded cells, which were then locked and forgotten about until the next morning. At around noon they were brought in front of the local magistrate.
“You plead guilty to being drunk, you pay a cash fine of $62. You wish to contest; you must place a cash bond of $500. You may use the phones.”
Ivan was tempted to contest for the two of them, but it was going to be hard enough finding someone with $134 on Sunday morning, yet $1000. And besides, he had to get his wife out, and what about the sitter? He first called home, then a friend who had about $400, he told him to bring it all in case others needed some help. By evening they made it home to find the sitter’s parents in the living room in an uproar. They explained the situation to no avail and were soon left alone.
Ivan’s parents (the sitter had contacted them at dawn), who had traveled hundreds of miles in fear, soon arrived. They were relieved to see their children and grandchildren. They complained little of the return trip they soon embarked upon. Ivan was not so sedate. He was angry and disappointed in the system. But what could one man do?
“Stay home.” His wife intoned, “Just stay home.”
The above is a true story. One thing though, substitute TLC (Texas Liquor Commission) for SKF, League City, Texas for Kiev, and Galveston County Jail for People’s jail.
The big one had the little one trapped under a laundry basket, stabbing at it through the slits with a pencil. For the fourth time that morning Rack saved the little one from the big one as he changed the channel from a scene of someone running after someone else shooting at them, to talking heads.
“Daddy! I hate news!”
“I hate you torturing your brother.”
“ He likes it. At least I’m playing with him.”
“ Why are you watching that depressing news again Rack? Give me that changer. “ Flower commanded as she held the paint catalogue in front of him. She finally stopped scrolling at a scene of someone in a car chasing someone else in a car, shooting at them.
“What color should we do the living room?”
“Neither I, nor any human on this Earth has been in that plastic encased living room in five years. Paint it black for all I care. Look! It’s Reagan without water on the brain! He looks great! I wonder if he thinks better now?” He laughed as the Ex-president showed his new doo under his baseball cap.
“Rack, we’ve been hearing you blast Reagan for almost a decade now. Time to stop. Reagan is history, maybe shallow history, but history none the less. And why is the little one under that laundry basket?”
“He likes it there I hear. And I agree, he is history and I see how he has changed our present history and ourselves as well.” He poked at the little one with the pencil. It giggled.
“Nothing’s changed Rack, it’s no different than when he started.”
“The furniture is all different. And I don’t like it. I want it to feel good. I don’t care what color it is.”
“Why are you always picking on that dumb old man Rack?”
“Because for eight years he was the most powerful, most quoted, most visible, most listened to man in the world, and all he had to say was don’t worry be happy.”
“And what’s wrong with that Rack?”
“He has made millions of kids see the world as a place where our problems are either blacks, immigrants, women or homosexuals stealing our jobs, opportunities and tax money. Most of them now think minorities are the enemy, that civil rights are bad words used only to define those who want to take what they have. And your pal Reagan has given respectability to that crap to such an extent that most of what I hear at the office these days is about buying and carrying handguns or assault rifles.”
“It’s not just the young Rack, what about Seymor? He’s 65 and hates blacks, women and homosexuals more than anyone on Earth. Why don’t you go in the bathroom and play your guitar like you used to. It released all that anger in you.”
“Seymor never made it through 4th grade. And where is my guitar anyway?”
“Oh, that’s right, when you painted that red tongue on it I refused to allow it to reside here any longer. I gave it to that Wertz boy.”
“Jimmy Wertz! You gave my guitar to a Jehovah’s Witness? They aren’t even allowed to listen to music, yet play it. What’s he doing with it, using it as a hat? Well I hope he left the strings on, else his head will fall through the little hole and then where would he be?”
“In the dark Rack, with you.” “I told you he liked it Daddy!” The big one said as Rack got in a good thrust to the diaper.
Melissa got the twins napping at the same time, a victory seldom accomplished. She turned everything off and snatched up the new Vogue and plopped down on the couch. The poodle in the adjoining apartment began its endless yapping at the stream of Orkin people who wandered through the complex. She hated dogs, it was the one bad thing about living there. The complex was well cordoned off though, the oldest residents to the front, the single people over by the volleyball pool, and families in the back. It all worked pretty well Melissa thought as neither group had much contact with the other. Though Melissa was very proud of her sociability, she just liked people kept socially separate. She would inquire about people with pets being put somewhere other than next door to her in the morning.
Melissa considered herself lucky, a dental hygienist who married the dentist, and he was cute and interested in fashion, she smiled. She paged through the magazine learning another eleven new ways to make herself more beautiful. The two year olds began to futz. She moaned and went in the bedroom to put on her bikini. She tried on three, ultimately wearing the one that allowed the most tanning area. Putting up her hair, she frowned at herself in the three/way mirror. Melissa knew how well she looked in the suit, but she hated those few areas of dappled shadows. She would have to call that President’s and First Lady spa she and Dennis had seen on TV the other night. She diapered the boys, got the Walkman, snapped in an ABBA tape and putting her sunglasses on her head, shoved the kids forward making for the pool.
“Hi Melissa,” Cindy said.
“Cindy.” Melissa smiled, she didn’t much care for Hippy-Cindy, she noticed she was again wearing shorts in the pool! “I see you have shorts on again, this is a swimming pool you know.”
“You know me Melissa, when I pass by on the last lap around the place, I just feel I have to jump in! So how’s Dennis?”
“Oh, he’s fine, the Volvo is in the shop you know, and Dennis went down there and got to talking with the owner and next thing you know he had a contract for all dentistry done on the employees of the entire dealership! It has to be insurance work though.” She looked around for someone else to tell, she had to get away from Cindy before she started talking about starving people, or the stupid environment or other real boring things.
She looked around for the Doctor’s wife but did not see her. She had been stroking the woman for a few months now, and she and Dennis were about to become friends to a real doctor. She dreamed of introducing them to her friends, especially her Mom. Her plan was to invite the Doctor and his wife to ride with her and Dennis in the Volvo to the day care barbecue next Sunday. Melissa set up her stuff far enough away from Cindy as not to have to participate in casual conversation. A few more mothers came by and listened pleasantly to Dennis’s good fortune. Melissa noticed that if she stood up and tanned, and spoke loudly, she increased her audience.
“I was down here the other day, and there was a dog in the pool! The guy who had it just ignored me! I got Fred, don’t yall just love him? Had him get rid of the dog and now he has a ‘lease review’ pending.” She watched as they nodded, and for the first time noticed a Mexican(or whatever) swimming around with a small girl hanging about his neck. “Who’s that?” she asked the others. They shrugged and listened as Melissa told them how she had bothered Fred so much about the cockroaches that now they had full time sprayers.
The Mexican was now talking to Cindy, probably about ‘dradles’, she laughed to herself, “what an airhead!” Cindy had made a big thing about that damn ‘Dradle Song’ at the day care Christmas show last year. Cindy backed up all the kids with a guitar, and at rehearsal taught them some Jewish song about a toy. Melissa didn’t like it, and expressed her doubts about it being a proper song for a children’s Christmas show. Not because of any bigoted reason of course, but because she just had never heard it and it had nothing to do with Christmas. That had been when the Doctor’s wife had taken her aside to explain that some of the children in the school were Jewish and it made them feel accepted. Melissa really didn’t listen to the long explanation, she was too happy to be finally making friends with the Doctor’s wife.
Melissa wandered over to where Cindy sat talking with the man who was playing with his child at the edge of the pool. She squeezed some lotion into her hand and did her tippy-toe application routine. It worked as well as always, though the man talked with Cindy, he was looking at Melissa. She moved to shadow his face to get his attention.
“Hi, you the one with the twins?” he said looking up, “That must be rough! I have my hands full with just one!”
“Yeah, they’re mine, don’t I know you from day care?”
“Sure do, I’m the one who always comes by on my bike.” he said remembering running into her a few times at the school.
“Yeah, yeah, I remember, which building do you live in?” She did remember, and what’s more, she was sure he didn’t live here.
“Oh, I have a small house around the corner, my little girl here always wants me to stop at the playground when we shortcut through the complex on the way home, I thought we’d wear our suits this time. I want to get this kid swimming! You teaching the twins?”
“So you don’t live here, huh? So read the rules! They’re right there! ‘NO GUESTS WITHOUT COMPANY OF HOST’. What, you can’t read?” She was taken aback by his plunge underwater and retreat to the other side of the pool. She was pleased to see the Doctor’s wife arriving. She now had an even larger and more important audience.
“LEAVE! YOU! Don’t pretend you can’t hear me. Okay, you asked for it.” She asked Cindy to watch the twins, and stormed to the managers office. No Fred. She left a message to have him sent to the pool as soon as he returned.
Back at pool side she found the damn Mexican(or whatever) talking with Mrs. Doctor. She kept cool, she didn’t have to do anything further, but she could not refrain from telling those around her of the awful abuse being perpetrated upon their pool. She spoke loudly, making sure he heard. Her small audience listened politely as the man returned to the water and swam gentle laps with the little girl hugging from his neck.
“Fred! Fred! OVER HERE!” She called to the balding man opening the gate. “You are such a darlin’ Fred!” She told him of the foul strangers in the pool. Fred sure didn’t mind looking at Melissa, but listening to her was another matter. Fred watched the man and child in the pool and thought this was a very good time to retire, why wait until next year. But he realized he had no real choice, he lit a cigarette, and slowly approached the man in the pool.
“Sir! Sir! Excuse me, I have a complaint. Could you tell me which apartment you live in?” He could not meet the man’s eyes.
“Ahhh, Fred! I was expecting you! Hey, let me make it easy for you and I’ll just make like a horse and gallop on out of here!” He flipped the little girl on his shoulders and splashed up the steps. Fred was relieved. He smiled at the man and rolled his eyes over his shoulder toward Melissa.
“Yeah Fred, I understand. Say goodbye to Fred darlin’!”
“Bye Fred!” The little girl waved, laughing to the funny gallop across the lawn.
“Carlos! Oh Carlos!” The Doctor’s wife yelled to the man placing his girl on the bike. “Be sure to come by again as my guest anytime, and don’t forget to pick Cindy and I up for the barbecue on Sunday!”
Melissa stood among the empty lounge chairs on her side of the pool thinking that she would talk to Dennis tonight about joining President’s and First Lady fitness spa and wondering where everyone had gone. Melissa hadn’t a clue.
It was one of those classic Fall days, crisp and breezy. Warm enough for Rack to have worked up such a thirsty sweat pushing the lawn mower, he had to stop the engine and go inside for a soda. There as usual, sat his family glued to the tube.
“You know people, it’s 65 degrees out, the sun is shinning, a cool breeze is in the air and the smell of burning leaves titillates the nose, the message is clear, it’s the last nice day of the year. And here you sit watching one of those damn videos you’ve all seen at least 85 times. GO OUTSIDE.”
“Shh! This is the part where the…” The big one said.
“All the kids are out, all the parents are out putzing and here you sit on your…”
“DADDY! Shhhh… This is where the…” The little one said.
“Leave the kids alone Rack,” Flower commanded, “They are quiet, happy and not fighting. GO AWAY!”
He went back outside, started up the mower and pushed, thinking about the mindless repetition video machines spit out. Movie after movie they watch over and over again. On their 85th viewing of TERMINATOR, times two hours, times three people is 514 hours wasted; 32 waking days subtracted from their lives watching a thousand bloody murders.
Lost in math, Rack didn’t notice the approach of The Wiener from across the street. But suddenly there he was standing in the path of the mower. Rack decided to stop his forward movement rather than chopping the guy up into bloody little cocktail wienies as he deserved. For in the ten years they had been neighbors, the nasty little man had not said one thing Rack had wanted to hear.
“IDNTLIKYRBUMSTKR.” Came the shout.
“WHAT?” Rack asked, deciding not to shut off the mower so Stanley would have to scream his twaddle loud enough so the whole neighborhood would be privy to whatever mindless dribble it was this time.
“I DON’T LIKE YOUR BUMPER STICKER!” Came the scream so loud the kids momentarily became interested enough to actually leave the television and peek outside into the dreaded real world.
“I DON’T LIKE YOU TELLING ME YOU DON’T LIKE MY BUMPER STICKER. SO THERE!” Rack shouted back.
“YOU ALWAYS HAVE BEEN THE MOST INTOLERANT MAN ON THE STREET.”
“What a wiener you are Stan.”
“We can’t all be WINNERS like you Stan!”
Rack knew it was useless to remind Stan about the three times he had called the police on Rack for loud stereo at 5pm, or the score of times he called the police because the dog walked by his house. Or keeping the kid’s balls when they landed on his property, or throwing stones at the dog whenever it came within range. But the ultimate had been the day Rack had moved in and was standing at the back of the MAYFLOWER truck when suddenly appeared perhaps the ugliest human being on Earth.
An intense, unpleasant little man, pock complexion, small narrow set eyes behind horned rimmed glasses with a spotty goatee that grew more on one side than the other. Even the clothes were ugly, shiny black low-quarters, black pants, fully buttoned white shirt with overflowing pen holder. Stan had come to greet Rack with a property complaint he had recently gotten down at City Hall. It seemed the beautiful live oak with the big meandering limb rising and falling over the front yard only cleared the sidewalk by seven feet when the law read it had to be eight feet. Rack read the complaint, and looking at the little man wanted to ask why someone who lived on the other side of the street and would have to grow four feet to ka-knock himself in the head with the offending branch, would give a rat’s ass. But the man was getting agitated by Rack’s silence, so instead he asked, being new to the neighborhood and all, if a lot of basketball players walked by this way.
From then on the relationship deteriorated into Stanley calling the police on Rack at a monthly pace with many hilarious court appearances. Stanley accomplished little other than making a complete boob of himself. Not a few of the various judges telling him pretty much the same thing: That Stan was a high strung nitwit with such neurotic fears of shubbery, dogs and Rack that the case was closed. Rack and his family didn’t really mind much, it soon became known as “Wieniefun”.
“TAKE THE OINK IF YOU LOVE RUSH BUMBER STICKER OFF YOUR CAR OR PARK IT BACKWARDS SO I DON’T HAVE TO SEE IT, OR I WILL SEE YOU IN COURT!”
The Little one who had been listening from the door ran in the house, “Mommy! The Wienieman is going to sue us again!”
“Shhhh… This is the part where he shoots the …” Flower responded, adding “So what’s new, court with the Wienieman is fun for your father, about the only fun he has any more.”
“WELL STAN, I DON’T LIKE YOUR BUMPER STICKER EITHER. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?”
“WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH MY, DON’T BLAME ME I VOTED FOR BUSH, BUMPER STICKER?”
“WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH IT? IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE, STAN. EVERY INDICATOR FROM CRIME TO THE ECONOMY IS BETTER THAN IT WAS UNDER BUSH. SO YOUR BUMPER STICKER ANNOYS THE BEJESUS OUT OF ME BECAUSE IT IS ILLOGICAL, UNREASONABLE, STUPID AND ABSURD. BLAME FOR WHAT STAN?” Rack watched as this typical conservative nitwit came close to coronary rupture; passing from various shades of red into the deep violets.
“YOUR BUMPER STICKER, OINK IF YOU LOVE RUSH, IS CALLING ME A PIG! AND I WON’T HAVE IT.”
“Su – eeeeee”
“I SAID ‘WHO ME’? OKAY STAN, IT’S A MISTAKE, IT USED TO SAY HONK IF YOU LOVE RUSH BUT SOMEONE TOOK A WHITE MARKER, CROSSED OUT THE “H” AND ADDED THAT SKINNY LITTLE “I” IN RED. I JUST HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO FIXING IT YET.”
“YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET AWAY WITH THIS! I WILL BE HERE TOMORROW AFTERNOON AT THE SAME TIME TO SEE IF YOU HAVE SATISFIED MY REQUEST. IF YOU HAVEN’T BETTER GET A LAWYER!”
Rack pushed the mower forward forcing Stanley to jump out of the way, thinking tomorrow afternoon would be a good time to get the louder, even more intimidating chain saw out for some tree work.
Bad Hair Day
“Pop-pop-pop pop pop.” “Okay, stop popping the popper strip until we see what Grandma sent and read her letter.” Rack said to the Little One grabbing the small plastic packaging strip from the boy and putting it out of reach on the table.
“Ohhh. I love popping those things! Please?”
“No. Come on, let’s read this. I’ll help you with deciphering the handwriting.” Just then the personal knock of the kid next door sounded. Rack yelled to come on in. Sidney walked into the room with a new doo. A classic bowl haircut with the sides shaved clean as a whistle. It set off his red hair making the goofy kid look all the more goofy.
“We’ll be with you in a second Sidney, we have to read this letter from Grandma first.”
Sidney picked up the small strip of popper packaging and began squeezing them off.
“Hey! Stop popping my poppers Sidney.” The Little One told him.
“Pop-pop pop pop.”
“Hey Sidney, come on, we were saving those, quit it.” Rack demanded.
That last defiant pop phised Rack off. “Hey Sidney, where did you get that stupid haircut, the vet?”
The Little One finished the letter, popped the few remaining poppers and out the door the boys went.
Rack sat at the computer staring out the window when he saw next door neighbor of twenty years, Betty Lou, come up the walk. Rack got up and opened the door.
“Let me ask you something Rack. Did you tell Sidney he had a stupid looking haircut?”
“Yeah. I did. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have, but I must say, it is about the dumbest haircut I ever did see.” Rack blurted out hoping an immediate apology and a bit of humor would nip this one in the bud.
“F YOU! FYOUFYOUFYOU! You never come on our property again! Our school carpool is dissolved. You keep your ugly little four-eyed kid away from us and if you ever set foot on our property again I’m calling the police!” She then gave a double finger and a dozen more F YOUS as she stormed down the driveway.
“Betty Lou! Come on. Lighten up. I’m sorry I hurt his feelings. I apologize. Come on. Easy does it.”
“F YOU! Say one more word to me and I’m calling the police.”
Rack cowered back into the house dreading the next few minutes when Flower would be home to hear about this one.
“You said what!!? How stupid are you!!? Damn you! Right now you call over there and apologize to Sidney. DO IT NOW! Sometimes you are just the dumbest man in the world.” Flower was phised.
The Big one, who had not said anything to Rack in a year other than “whatever” walked into the room with her walk-phone to find out what the commotion was about. Rack explained, and she sat down, right there next to Rack and began talking to him! It was amazing! Then the strangest thing of all happened. She put the phone down!
“I don’t know Flower, I feel I groveled enough. Let me think about it for a minute.”
“No! Do it now. Do it. NOW!”
“Don’t do it Dad.” The Big One implored, “Sidney is a little crybaby, and his haircut is stupid as Hell. It makes him look like he’s straight out of the nuthouse where his mom is half the time.”
“You shut up!” Flower pointed to the Big One, “Betty Lou just goes and takes rests a couple times a year is all, and Sidney may be a bit weird, but he’s the Little One’s best friend. The last thing we need is a war going on between us.” And then to Rack, “ See what you’ve started now? Listen, I know how Betty Lou feels. She did the same thing to us two years ago. The day the Little One got his glasses she told him they made him look like an old lady. I called her and asked if she had said that in front of him, she said she had, then asked to talk to the Little One, apologized to him and all was well. So all you have to do is call over there and apologize to Sidney and it will all be fine.”
“She said that?” The Big One interjected, “He does look like an old lady! Maybe Mom’s right Dad, if it worked then, if you do the same thing now, Betty Lou will chill out.”
“I don’t know. She’s loony. One day it’s AA, the next it’s Pentecostal counseling, the next the Doctor’s couch. But you are right. I have to give it a try.” Rack dialed.
“Hello, Bill, this is Rack. Let me talk to Sidney, I want to apologize to him.”
“Can I put my two cents in here?” Rack waited, assured the neighbor would scold him a bit but say something about his wife overreacting. “What you did was the most rotten immature thing I have ever heard an adult doing. It was uncalled for, cruel, and any relationship we may have had over the years is now over and done. You keep away from my children from this day forward. Got it?”
“Gosh.” Rack was taken aback while Flower and the Big One stared at him with their “what did he say” hand rolling. “Let me at least apologize to Sidney Bill. Come on.” The phone was passed to the boy. “Sidney, Mr. Jite here, I’m sorry I hurt your feelings saying your haircut was stupid, it isn’t, I was just mad at you for popping the poppers. Okay.”
“Bill laid into me, called me names and said the relationship was over, we are to get out of their lives.”
“You’re kidding? After what she said to the Little One and his glasses? That was even worse than what you did! And all that dreary Pro-Life Christian crap I suffer through from her? Christian forgiveness my ass! What is the matter with those people.” Flower was finally angry at someone other than Rack.
“They are silly people Flower, we have always known that, but Sidney is a convenient friend for the Little One, so we ignore it. It isn’t the end of the world.”
The Little One soon returned saying he could go over there, but they couldn’t come over here. After all, the Little One was the only friend Sidney had at all. The whole family, including the Big One, sat in the den with the TV and phones off and communicated, the first time in Rack’s memory. With the Christian neighbors Hellbent on making the Jite’s feel awful, the natural reaction was for the family to rally ‘round each other.
The Big One got it rolling by comparing the Jite’s to the Simpsons and the neighbors to the Flanders.
“We’re more like the Bundy’s!” The Little One added. There was enough truth in both kid’s comments to get everyone giggling. One at a time they added insights into what silly people their neighbors were.
“Hell, she has come by more days than not over the 17 years to borrow cigarettes, three at a time. What is that?” The Little One got out his calculator and the Big One helped him with the math. AMAZING!
“That’s over 400 cartons of cigarettes she owes you Dad! $5000! Call her up and get the money.”
“She’s borrowed at least 50 pair of panty hose from me she never returned!” Flower added.
“Yuck, you’d wear panty hose Betty Lou had on?” Rack questioned.
“And Sidney just two weeks ago scratched ‘Sidney was here’ on the trunk of Dad’s car with a hard stick and Dad didn’t even tell on him to his parents.” The Little One put in.
“Yeah, and what about that time I went to court for her to lie that her yappy little dogs didn’t yap.” Rack said, “But most of all, it’s that for most of the last eight years Sidney and his little brother have been running amuck in our house. 95% of the time they are here, two of them. 5% of the time the Little One is there, one of him.”
“Call them Dad and ream their butts!” The Big One concluded.
“No. I apologized, I groveled, we are on the high road now. No reason to make it any worse. They are only hurting themselves and their children, and hurting them far more than my comment. And you know, it wasn’t so much that I insulted their kid, but that I insulted Betty Lou’s taste in haircuts. Look, the Little One is on every team and the most popular kid in his class, and when he has nothing better to do, he can go over there. In fact I bet they will be begging him to come over there while we won’t have to put up with those little wienies with their stupid haircuts here anymore.”
They all sat around and talked the evening away, what had began as a foot in the mouth comment from Rack had brought the family back together. It was a win-win.
“Boot Da-dee, BOOT!” The two year old hollered.
“Boot?” Rack asked, “What the Hell is a boot?”
“He means a poop, daddy,” the older one said holding her nose.
“He has those damn training pants on doesn’t he? Where’s your mother?”
Flower stepped into the room. “You know Rack, if you would get out from behind that damn computer and start paying attention to what is going on around you, this little problem would have been taken care of before the fact.” Flower hated the computer.
“I have a boss, a wife and two kids yelling at me 17 hours a day, I am not allowed to yell back, so at least give me my modem yelling time.”
“I feel so sorry for all those computer people you spend so much time insulting each evening, poor souls.” She dealt with the “boot”.
“Poor souls? You have no idea! No concept of what I’m dealing with here! None whatsoever.” He typed a little faster replying to this days twentieth-odd right-wing crazy.
“You exaggerate Rack, just last night you said someone typed 27 messages in a row with the phrase ‘Affirmative Action is RACISM’. Do you really expect me to believe anyone is that stupid?”
“Damn-it Flower, SIT HERE!” He grabbed her and hauled her over the couch and plopped her into his chair. “That was yesterday, and I also said he does it twenty times a day each and every day! Hit the return key. The big one, no no no, not the long one, the big one. The one over there. Okay, now hit F1. On top Flower. No no no, not on the CPU on the keyboard. Okay, see the red lights blink, that’s the modem calling out. See it scroll? That’s auto log-on. Okay, now type “a 14”. See? The National Debate Echo. Now, all you have to do is hit return each time you want to read another one. Understand? No no no, the big key, no no no, the one on the right… Oh God. THIS ONE! I’m going to go take a boot.” He hit the key, grabbed the TV GUIDE and raced for the bathroom.
A gaggle of mammals chased after him racing for the door. He came in second, after the cat, but parts of dog and kids where wedged in the doorjamb keeping him from closing it. He pushed limbs and paws through the crack, slammed and locked it. “Made it!” he cheered. The two year old screamed “da-dee” and pounded on the door for 15 minutes. The older one knocked 70 times asking when he would be done. The dog cried scratching at the door and the cat rubbed against his ankles, meowing through the entire boot process. Rack used to have nightmares about booting in gas stations and bars, but lately he found himself longing for a quiet dirty men’s room somewhere.