After stopping at the stop sign south of the house,,and turning west onto 19th that paralleled the north
side of the Junior High I became aware of a sound coming from the trunk.It was a kind of 'thump-bump',pause,'thump-bump' that
me think of the garbage can rolling back and forth as much as the space in the bottom of the trunk allowed for.
My nagger decided to sound off with,,'yeah,,and ya better be careful to not let that distract you while
driving.' which made me realize that I was really glad that schoolkids weren't all over the road like normal and prompted
me to turn on the radio.
As amazing to me as it was that the radio was off station and producing nothing but static that nagger
shot out ' that's no surprise since ya got some kind of 'hoo-doo voo-doo' dooflicky in your trunk,,is it?' I simply turned
it down a bit and jabbed the 'preset button' to see if it was simply twisted off of the station.
The sounds of 'Riders on the Storm' came piping out of the speakers as soon as I did.And a little red
sports car ran the stop sign at the corner of 19th and 19th,,making it in front of me by the amount of space I managed to
keep between its rear fender and my cars front bumper by tapping the brakes hastily yet slightly.By the time it registered
that the 'angry looking' black man who was staring dead ahead as though he didn't even want to see if someone was coming before
he had squeeled his tires through the intersection,,I was allready through the acrid blue 'burnt rubber' smoke.
Cold from the reaction to the sudden event,,my senses seemed to solidify as though coming out of a dozing
nap or a 'fugue' like one gets from doing rapid bong hits.Glancing in the rear view while squirming my butt and back into
a more erect position I could see Johns wide eyed face peering at me.
Holding my hand up to my forehead and moving it away in the easily recognised 'whew' motion I returned
my attention back to driving as nagger said,,'allmost got us,didn't it?don't get me,,er,,I mean us in a wreck dude,,pay attention.'
which led me to respond to it with,'Hey,,I didn't even see it.It was like my foot just did that all on it's own.By the time
I seen the car,,I was allready tapping the brake.'
Paying strict attention for any other 'adverse' events I got to 27th and turned south.Trying to look
all directions at once while driving about 5 miles per hour below the speed limit I made it all the way to Oslo with only
one scare,,and that was from a 'mockingbird' flying right in front of the windshiled,,just barely making it across in time.Which
allmost made me slam on the brake and did make me realize I had nothing at all to drink to help my now dry mouth.Getting to
the intersection I turned into the Cumberland Farms and parked in the sandy area behind the building.
Putting it in park and cutting off the engine.I listened to see if I could hear the 'thump-bump' from
the trunk while John pulled up next to me on my left and shut off his car.I could.But that was all besides the sound of traffic,,no
birds and none of the usual sound of chicadas begging for rain or complaining because they aren't gonna get any soon.
I asked John,,"You hear that?" through his open passenger window.He paused,,then eyes narrowing and face
gaining an allmost 'tired of being freaked out look' he asked,,"What's that?","The can in the trunk,dude.It's been doing that
since we left the house."
"It's just rocking from the car moving,man." was his response,,but the tone made it more of a question
than a statement.
"Yeah,John,,but the cars NOT moving now,,,is it?" Not waiting to hear a reply I asked him,"Do you want
to wait out here while I run in and get a soda or something?My mouth is dryer than cotton mouth from that 'drift dope' we
were smoking last month."
"Uh,,okay,,get me a Yoohoo will ya?" , "Sure." Stepping out I shut the door,walked past the noisy trunk
and headed around the building to the front of the store during which I heard music blare out of Johns car stereo.I didn't
think it would take him long to do that.Smiling to myself about it as I rounded the front corner of the building stubbed my
shoe toe on the perfectly smooth sidewalk.Catching my self on the wall corner I paused for a moment to steady myself a bit.
Expecting the nagger to chime in with a smart aleck remark,,I looked around for a moment.There were several
assorted cars and trucks at the pumps and the intersection was still fairly busy even though the morning rush had slacked
off by then.
The most common traffic was citrus grove related.Even more so during season.There would be lots of semis
and grove equipment along with ranchhand trucks and many vans full of grove workers.But right at this moment it was not so
much that kind of traffic,,pretty much just average cars and ranch hand trucks you seen pretty much year round.
A red headed,petite,disco cow girl came around the front of a dark green Power Wagon parked at the head
of the pump line with a squeegee in her hand.Suddenly stopping,,she looked at me and broke into a bright,beautiful smile before
demurely dropping her eyes and turning her attention to climbing up on the bumper to reach the windshield with the sponge
and rubber tool.
Climbing up apparently forced her to assume a position which managed to give me a clear view up her short
Not adverse to enjoying the sudden view of her obviously unpantied,denuded ancestry,,I was so busy enjoying
the delighful interlude that it took me a minute to realize that a fella who didn't look like he had any disco in his cowboy,,
mainly due to the spurs he actually had on his well worn boots,,was looking at me with an evil eye while telling the girl
to hurry up since,,"That long haired hippy freak over there can see right up that damn disco shit you're wearing!'
Snapping out of it,,I said loudly to him while I resumed walking to the doors,"Sorry dude,,I came around
the corner and got a free shot!But hey,,it sure is a cute little pretty ya got there,you lucky man you!" Carefully stepping
quickly and trying not to look him in the eye,,as the handbook on 'How to stay safe in cow towns' advises I made it to the
door and ducked into the store.
After almost busting my butt from slipping on an invisible wet spot in front of the cooler where the
Yoohoos were I decided that I would just get four of those rather than risk a broken buttbone getting a soda from further
down the 'visibly dry' aisle.
Lucking out,,I got to a line less register and quickly got through paying for the drinks even though
the old fellow working the register seemed to have trouble keeping a grip on the change he counted back to me.And he had to
lick his fingers so many times to seperate the bag for my drinks that I was allmost about to pick them up and go but then
he got it working.
Getting out the door with out tripping on the threshold I thought it was going good since the cowboy
didn't holler at me,,and I didn't look to see if he was looking or if she was lookable.Everything was hunky dory,,untill I
got around to the back of the building and seen four cats sitting on the trunk of my Skylark.That being surprising enough,the
added sight of around a dozen or so crows,mockingbirds and bluejays that were circling in a squawking cloud above and around
mine and Johns cars made for a major 'Hitchcockian moment'.
All but one of the cats were ignoring the birds while the fourth,,a young looking java with two creams
color on white shorthair,,was swatting and half jumping at the noisy avian squadron.Another,,a calico and white,egyptianly
lithe female,,was watching them swoop overhead making little clicking,,'ki-ki-de-kik' sounds as they came directly over her.The
other two,,a large round headed rusty 'turkish van' red and white male and a large orange tabby Opie Taylor looking male who
were both looking at me with a steady non alarmed gaze.
Not a single one seemed perturbed nor disturbed by the loud sounds of K.C.s "Fly Like an Eagle' coming
from Johns car.
While I was standing and staring in transfixed amazement,,and not just a little delight,,seeing as how
I love cats,,a large black and white thick masculine looking female,,there were obvious baby factory style teats flapping
as she moved,,that made me think of Dusty Rhodes,,pounced up onto the roof from the front of the car and leapt off the roof
into the air while the calico and white patterned female launched herself up into the air off the trunk.
Each aiming at a different flying squawk box,,the black and white,reddish hi-lites glinting off her black
patches,,sailed in an arc outward from the back of the car nabbing a large mockingbird as she passed by the calico and white
travelling straight up by scant inches.As the black and white hit the ground with the mockers head in her mouth the calico
egyptian reached the top of her flight path about 6 feet above the trunk lid which intersected with the path of a large heavy
Coming up directly in front of the bird she seemed to catch it much like a receiver would a well thrown
spiralling football,,in the chest.There was one big difference though,,a football doesn't have a neck to be caught in the
players needle sharp fanged mouth.
Folding around the bird like a four prong felt clamp she flipped completely over and yet landed on the
trunk in a perfect four paw stance,,crow twitching broken necked in her mouth like a fish on a hook.
Allthough,,unlike the black and white,,which scooted off with her prize as soon as her paws hit the dirt,,she
spied me,,froze,,yet not in an 'afraid fashion',,dropped her catch at her feet and began 'gazing at me' like the two males.
The java colored youngster,,who had watched the calico intently,,bounded over to her and began batting
at the bird after giving her a rubhug that made me think there was a family bond.Catching on to and appearing surprised at
the older females lack of attention to the bird,,the young one followed her gaze,,and stared at me like them for a moment.
But the lure off the still twitching crow was too much for it to ignore for more than a few fleeting
moments so its attention quickly returned to the bird.Reaching out with both front paws while half rising on its hind legs
in that fashion which allways makes me think of a monkey of some sort it double dapped the dying bird a few times then slapped
it off the trunk and immediately dove after it as though the hunt was still on and the bird was running prey.
As though that was a trigger of some sort all three of the others suddenly started as though they had
seen a ghost and focused their look at a point behind me.As that occured I became aware of the sound of a vehicle coming past
the corner of the building and skitching to a halt about 10 feet behind me and a female voice saying,,"Why do you have to
be like this,Bobby?Didn't nothing happen."
The cats disappeared like dew glints do when they dry up,,seemingly effortlessly and with no transition,,just
gone with no sign of motion.Only the still slightly twitching crow making a little dust cloud around itself was left to prove
the event occured.
Taking three steps toward my car,,and patting my pocket to see if my keys were there or in the ignition
before turning to look at the commotion behind me.I was relieved to see,,past the cowboy trying to get out of the half open
truck door while his flirty little girl was hanging onto one arm and both were talking at once in arguementive tones,,that
a deputy was pulling off of 27th into the Cumberland Farms parking lot.Since it wouldn't take the brightest badge in the department
to see that the two in the truck were having some kind of 'conflict',,he simply continued his turn to swing his car up along
side the truck to put it in park with the rear bumper about two feet in front of the trucks open drivers door and quickly
step to his cars rear while asking loudly,,"Are you folks having problems?"
Not taking time to reflect one bit about the turn of events for 'cowdude and his disco dudette' since
the cat event was still reeling in my mind I turned on my heel sharp enouh to make a Marine D.I. proud I stepped to Johns
passenger door,opened it,,said,,"Turn it down,,there's a cop." and dropped a Yoohoo on the passenger seat.
Not waiting for a reply I shut the door,,pointed cross handed at the cop behind me,,turned,,opened my
door and got in.Quickly cranking it and putting it in gear,,I drove straight ahead along the back side of the building and
turned right to go around the far corner and exit through that side of the lot to get onto Oslo and go east to the intersection.
John,,taking my quick start cue followed close enough behind me that we both got out into traffic together.Sitting
at the corner waiting for a space long enough for us both to turn left together I watched the deputy defuse the couples conflict
in typical 'cop' fashion.
After 'talking' to the fella a moment or so,,during which time the guy hands him his license,,he motions
for him to go to the front of his cruiser and turns to talk to the girl still in the truck.
This of course places the guy in the perfect position to see me sitting at the corner draining a cold
Yoohoo.As he proceeded to glare at me as though he was trying to use Superman style heat vision to fry me,,John tooted his
horn causing me to look up and see that oncoming and turning traffic had passed leaving a very clear window of opportunity.
Dropping the now empty bottle on the passenger floor I scooted around the corner and accelerated south
down 27th with John close behind me.It didn't take long to get to the trailer park where I had spent a lot of the time in
past years with a group of people who used to be 'the gang' in my life.
Those days were past and none of them lived around there any more except the parents of a trio of brothers
who were among that crew.Well,,one of them since they had split up.
Johns place was on the south side of the park where a county 'canal' paralleling dirt grade road ran
west off 27th.The last trailer on the road,,next to the 'scrub woods' that started there and continued out the the road primarily
used by a semis,farm hands and grove crews who worked and or lived in the 'ag land' area a mile or so out,,and the 'late night
cruising young of the county' of course.
That wasn't a part of my lifestyle now.As with most things,,changes happen,,things end,,other things
begin.But I remembered them 'oh so' fondly and allways will.They were my formative years.
Pulling off 27th we kicked up a large cloud of dust from the summer dry marl and gravel road.Passing
the few trailers between the turn off and Johns place generated a dusty fog that was just begining to drift on the miniscule
morning breeze which was bound to pick up in an hour or so as it usually did.
Parking in Johns drive closest to the trailer,,I waved to his mother who was sitting in a chair under
the large oak in the yard that covered their trailers roof entirely along with a corresponding space around the property.They
spent a lot of time outside under the oak as was attested to by the type and amount of 'yard furniture' scattered around the
Her usually constant smile was barely discernable on her 'weathered islander' face.It was still there,,flashing
at the corners of her mouth and in the crinkles of her eyes and it was still as sincere as ever but obscured by the weight
of the matter facing her.As she stood up and walked slowly to the space between mine and Johns car which he parked to my left
her head cocked into a 'listening pose' as she heard the 'thump-bump' from my Buicks trunk.Her face became an intensively
frowning mask that could be considered a 'negative image' of her normally cheerful,sunny expression.
That observation set the nagger into gear which produced,,'man,,she is bummed about this.' which led
me to respond to it with the subvocalised,'duh,dip stick,,so am I.'
Getting out I gestured at the noisy trunk and said,,"That's it.It keepsa knocking but I won't let it
out." which illicited a smile from the woman whom I've called the 'nicest mean lady' I've ever met.
"Hey mon,,I got somting for dat ting dat shore make it lay quiet." ,she said with a smile before continueing
with "Even widdout da Name you know you don' wanna hear,,you betta be quiet in dat car boot for I tell yo loa you no do yo
job,mon." she said in a loud authoritarian tone of voice which had a 'tinkling' sort of quality underlaying it.
The 'rythymic' bumping abruptly stopped.And as a moment of seemingly profound silence settled down over
us,,the dust floating in the still air seemed to become an insulative layer silencing the sounds from the nearby road still
humming with traffic.
A heart beat later the chicadas resumed their normal 'no rain till later,just heat right now' chorus
that I didn't realize had ceased when we pulled up.
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