Note from Cleetus
Cleetus here. Cleetus Mulee (Prenounced Mu-lay) from deep in da holler. I were in da sharifs office, uninvited, and was lef neer a fancy computer, a PC 1, sos I looked yous up. Right nice pitcher of the holler. Tho I do have some issues wif dem birds. Ifen I git my di rections right my shed is right underwear dem birds is flyn. I swears Ima gunna shot one of dem birds right soon. Dem bird tirds are all over my Studebaker. Now I nose dat Studebaker is uppen on sender blocks but still the paint isa gitten bad from all dem bird tirds. I digest…
Wel I dozent has a hole lota time but jest wanna to cheek in wif ya. Seems livin in the holler, far from everones haz me a lil blue. Sorta gitten lonesum. And dat brangs me back to the sharifs office. Yous see I went yonder to Coxville to look up Shelley. I dozent seen her for… well now hows long has it takes to grown by beerd… bout 3 yeers. Sos I nocked up her dorr and she axed as ifen she dozent no me. Shelly, is me, Cleetus. Cleetus Mulee. Member in grade skool I waz da one who wanted to ask yous out ona date? I says to her. Sos she haz her nose stucken ways up in the air like shes alookin for dem bird in the holler and tells me to take a hike. Sos I says to her, take a hike likes I did to come see ya? And she says yea, just like that hike you took to see me but only in da other di rection and den she slams da door and my beerd gets stuck in it. Da door. Sos I can only pul sos hard becuz hey my beerd suck in da door. Sos I ranged da doorbell but it dozent work sos I nocked on da wendoe by da door and musta nocked two hard becuz the glass broke and now my hand is threw her wendoe sos I deeside to just unlock da door sos I can pull my beerd free and take the sugjested hike back to da holler but da dorr is chained up titer den dat Kungfo caractor Grasshopper in a Azun horehouse!
Dats how I met da sharif. He shows up at Shellys becuz shed called him sayin I wuz trying to breaks in to da house when I wazunt. I wuz trying to free my beerd so I can takes a hike back to da holler. Cant blame the sharif. It duz looks like I was… well… at leest stuck. Anyhows it looks like I bees hear a cupple daze tryin to esplane myself to the judge in da mornin. I bees letting yous no how all diz comes out.
Part two… Cleetus shaves his leg
Sos I gits put in a sell wif a preecherman. He dozent like talking two much. Until it wuz lites out and den hes all gabbie. Tells me how God haz brung usen together. Nice enuf guy. Sos I axe him why God made me takes a hike to Coxville to lookup Shelly and gits my beerd stuck in her dorr and my hand threw her wendoe den a rested by da sharif and he says its sumthin to do wif Gods will sos I axe him just how much money where talking bout and he axe like he dozent even no whats Ima talken bout. Den da sharif heers us and puts me in a sell by myself and tells me to gits sum sleep becuz I gits to see the judge furst thin in da morning. Da sharif like me becuz he gits a razer for me to shave my beerd. He tells me itll goes good for me ifen da judge sees Ima clean shaved. Sos it takes me along time to shave dat 3 yearold beerd. Shoulda washed it more dan a cupple times over all dem years I reckon. Sos I lays on my bunk, more presizely, the sharifs bunk to lay my hed fir sum sleep but I dozent sleep becuz Ima thinking on Shelly and then I gits an idea. Ima so lonely I takes the razer and shaves one of my legs just so it feels like Ima sleepin wif a woman. Musta werked becuz I dozent even remember fallin a sleep.
Sos da nex day I sees da judge and I tells him I tooks a hike to Coxville to see Shelly and got my beerd stuck in her dorr and den I mets da sharif and da preecherman an alls I wants to do is take a hike back to da holler becuz I cured my lonelynes by shavin my leg sos it feels like Ima sleepin wif a woman.
Judge letz me go ifen I promise to things. One… that I dozent take no more hikes to Coxville and gits stuck in Shellys dorr and to… I keep shavin my leg sos I dozent gits lonely. Da judge even gits me a dozen razers and sugjests I shave one leg den da other sos the hair grows back thicker. I tells him I wil honer numbers one and to but ifen its just the same to him Ima gunna keep shavin the same leg.
Plantin season is a comin, and Tater's gotta get out there and rip out the old tomater cages and basil stems and dig the soil. Gonna put in some raised beds this year, on account of that damnable Bermuda grass, gets its tentacles in everything. Got three beds laid out, two are 4 x 10, and one 4 x 6. Figure that's all the bricklayin Tater'll have time to do before it's hot enough for the tomaters and peppers to go in. Still, gonna have to lay in about 30 tomater plants, maybe 20 peppers, lots of arugula, lettuce, carrots, beets, parsnips, basil, maybe strawberries this year... so them beds gonna fill up fast and the rest'll have to be put in around the perimeter and in the west 20 and between the fruit trees.
Speakin of fruit trees, they all set to buddin early, and Tater's afeared they gonna get frost bit like the last three years. Dagnabbit, didn't get *one* piece of fruit last year for the frost. Except for apples, on account of they get flowerin later than the plums, peaches, pears, cherries, almonds and apricots. Oh, lordy, them peaches. Second year they was in, got over a thousand of em. That's thousand with a t.
Now, as to them new raised beds, gotta dig out the sod and put in the forms, then get the concrete man to come by. Problem is, the concrete man here'll try to short you on volume and additives. Last time Tater paid for fibered concrete, where they fill it full of plastic fibers to keep it from crackin, and he brought plain ol unfibered and tried to claim that you couldn't see em but they was there. Then he said Tater ought to just pour three inches instead of four, and Tater knew he didn't bring what was ordered.
Son of a bitch. Hate that kind of dirty dealin.
But enough of that complainin. Things is warmin up and soon we can set out back and drink wine and eat fresh vegetables and such. But only if we do the prep work, so this ol boy is gonna get out there and cut that sod. Soon as the rain lets up. And if his back don't hurt too bad. And if they's some coffee left. Provided he actually gets out of bed.
Dec. 29, 2009
Buddy and Mardeen of the Carolina Gumfries was up in Denver where Tater and Marlene (Don't get Mardeen and Marlene mixed up -- they's different gals entire!) been for about a week visitin kin, so Marlene and Tater and them got together for some supper. Mardeen is Tater's sister'n law by marriage, and her and Tater's little brother Buddy got them a couple of younguns, fine lookin ones they is, and the gal child's fixin to go off to college and pile up the learnin.
So they was over for some supper, and Tater cooked him up some noodles with mushrooms and bacon and eggs, and some winter squash soup with bacon, shrimps and squids with lemon juice. Now Marlene was havin a lie down on account of she weren't feelin so fit, but when she smelt that bacon she come on down, tell you what. But bacon weren't the all of it... Mardeen baked one of her famous cherry pies! Weren't no ordinary cherry pie neither. She made it with sour cherries and kept it kinda sour. She told Tater the name of them cherries, but he don't remember. Anyhow, her crusts are so dadburned good and flakey, you could put molasses and sawdust in there and you'd still finish it off. But this one had cherries, and cherry pie's Tater's favorite pie.
Now, Tater knowed his brother all his life... well, all his brother's life, not all of Tater's life, on account of Tater's the older brother, but all he knowed about Mardeen is that she's a real smart gal and she's good with pies. Anyway, what he didn't know is Mardeen ain't from around here, that is, when you're countin here as America.
That gal's from a place called Malta! Now, Tater didn't know nothin about Malta and he had to look it up on the Internets. You mighta heard of Malta Meal, and Maltese Falcons, Malta milk balls and such, well, them's some of the things come from Malta.
So Malta's an island between Sicily and Tunisia, and that's pretty durned exotic, far as Tater's concerned. And Tater's gonna keep it that way. Mardeen may look like a regular American dark haired gal, but from now on when Tater sees her he's gonna imagine her there in the marketplace wearin them long silk dresses with a bunch of servants grabbin her some chickens and saffron, and figs and dates and whatnot, with her falcon on her arm, then she's goin home to her tent or castle, or whatever it is they got there in Malta, and doin somethin real exotic like one of them scarves and swords dances...
... or makin Tater a Maltese cherry pie!
Dec 5, 2009
Did Tater ever tell you about the Salad Bar Incident over to the Chik'n Fry? They used to have them a salad bar, but weren't nobody ever eatin them greens there, on account of most folks in the holler like their greens cooked limp with butter and bacon. So Gooley Bismark, he owns the Chik'n Fry, was desperate to see how he could get folks to eat them greens and such, seein as how he spent $300 on that rascal. Jordeen Johnson had started it up when she commenced to carvin little critters and people out of carrots and radishes just to pretty that salad bar up some. They was pretty good too, and folks started noticin.
After a while the business started droppin off, once folks got used to the little radish critters, and Gooley was lookin for somethin new to get folks back to that salad bar agin. Gooley had him an idea. He was gonna have him a theme week, a different thing in the middle of that salad bar to get folks up there to take a look. It started durin NASCAR season with a big ol Pontiac model that Boog Newlan's boy Hubert built over to the YMCA Young Offender's Day Camp up in Humbert. Folks would look at that Pontiac and take a look at them lil tomaters and get a hankerin for em.
So the next week it was Jenny Carlisle's prize winnin diorama of the Battle of Coogan's Run, and then they had somethin Tater forgot, then they had that model gill-o-teen Gooley built... you remember that? Gooley put that thing in there and Jordeen made that little carrot man with the carved radish head all chopped off and snuck it in there, how mad Gooley got? Turned out that was the best salad week ever. So anyhow, folks got to expect somethin new every week, and even if it was a little off taste, like that radish head, they come to look at it anyways. But it was hard to keep it up, and when Miz Hurley, she's the middlin school art teacher down in Lumley, says she gonna put somethin real special together for that salad bar, well, Gooley says you go ahead, and even give her the keys so she could finish it up that night. Well, sir, the next day when Jordeen come in, she saw Miz Hurley lying there all peaceful in this pose that looked like she was curled up sleepin, and not wantin to disturb her, she careful-like put that fresh ice around her, and the veggies and the decorations and the pot of garbonzo beans and the kidney beans and the croutons and such, and she thought it was the funniest thing ever.
You know, it was that mornin that Bernard Huffman, he was the foreman over to the Coogan Holler Gravel Pit, ask Jordeen to marry him, and they just up and left. Didn't tell nobody or nothin. Went all the way to Las Vegas to get married. When they come back on a Sunday, Gooley was mad as hell and like to a fired Jordeen for goin off and not tellin him, but the salad bar exhibit was such a success that folks was comin in from all over Humbert county to see that life-like self sculpture that Miz Hurley done. Now, Jordeen, she ain't the brightest gal in the Holler, and even though she was pretty sure that was Miz Hurley curled up in there, and oughn't to a been sleepin that long, she pretty soon got to thinkin that maybe it really was a sculpture and that Miz Hurley weren't dead at all.
Come Monday mornin and Miz Hurley don't show up for work they got to worryin down there in Lumley and there was talk about where she been all weekend when she shoulda been baskin in glory on account of that amazin sculpture. So on Tuesday, when Roy Hooter accidentaly poked the "sculpture" with the salad tongs and a little fart come out, folks got suspicious, and before too long ol Roy had figured it out. But not before he run into that bathroom and throw up that plate of olives he et from the bowl right next to her butt.
Tell you what, the commotion that followed was somethin like you never seen in the Holler before. They had the county sherrif and the state police and even a news van with the little dish on the top from KHUM up in Humbert. Malene Meekers was out there with her microphone man and the camera feller followin her in there to take the pictures when the coroner loaded Miz Hurley on that little wheel table thing, and folks was cryin and carryin on, and sayin Gooley was as bad as his daddy Leon, who you probably remember got run out of town when they found them little preserved gals in the jars in his office over to the Bismark Mill.
So yeah, she was dead from Friday night until Tuesday lunch before folks figured it out. Tater's pretty sure it was the ice that kept her smellin fresh and lookin right.
Don't things like that happen every day in the Holler, but it's a real treat when folks get together and enjoy public art like they used to have there at the Chik'n Fry, despite the tragedy that usually comes along with it. So you can see why ol Tater is champin at the bit to load up that salad bar table with somethin again. It really brings the community together.
Nov 28, 2009
Tater and Marlene watched a couple of submarine movies and got to arguin about when they was invented. Not only was we ignorant about that, but we both thought the Monitor and the Merrimac was submarines. Well, they wasn't.
If we'd a thought about it, we coulda looked it up on the internets, and that's just what Tater did, over to the Wikipedia. And he found him an interestin fact -- the first military sub was used durin the American Revolutionary War! Tried to sink a British ship blockadin New York Harbor, but it didn't work out.
Now, the Monitor and the Merrimac was famous because they were armored ships, and the Monitor had a rotatin cannon in its turret, which was new, but there was other ships durin the Civil War that was submarines, and the South was the first on the scene with them rascals. Hand cranked, they was, with a big stick out the nose with a bomb on it, and they'd sneak up on a regular ship, fix that bomb on the hull, back off and set er off. BOOM! Then the submarine would sink and they'd die. Served em right for bein Southerners.
Anyways, if them primitive Americans could make them a submarine, then Tater can too. He's gots a arc welder and a whole lot of Buicks and El Caminos up on blocks, so he gots most of the steel he needs. Got a VW engine too, ought to be light enough. Gonna need some compressed air and a periscope and some torpedoes. Might could just fill up a propane bottle with air from the compressor, and for the torpedos, maybe some roman candles just to start out, then work out the kinks later. Torpedo's just a miniature kamikaze submarine. Shouldn't be too hard.
Nevermind Tater's helicopter never got off the ground. That was just a diversion. What Tater really needs now is a submarine, and ain't nothin gonna stop him.
This here's SCIENCE, dammit!
Oct 10, 2009
Tater gets true slack
Tater was cranky and bothered. Shovelin feed ain't as stress free as it sounds. It was Saturday, and Tater had been workin all day. At about 7:30 in the evenin, Tater couldn't stand it no longer, so he hopped in the truck and headed over to Lumley, where they was havin a fall harvest festival. Lumley's a farmin town and is full of folks whose ancestors was Mexicans, and they got a bunch of genuine illegal Mexicans too, but don't nobody mess with em because they just work on the farm and don't bother no one.
When Tater gets there and they got one of them Mexican bands with the trumpets and the oompah bass and they was sellin corn on the cob, and tacos and burritos and green chile and such, and they's all these folks dancin to the music and havin a good ol time.
Tater was pretty tense, so he goes over to the drinkin tent and gets him a glass of wine, and another, and tastes him some of the different beers, cause they got the breweries and the wineries in that tent giving out free tastes, hopin you'll buy some.
Well, sir, after a while Tater's ready to get on home, and he's walkin by the bandstand, and all these old Mexican folks is dancin to the music, so Tater stops and watches. Them folks is laughin and a twirlin and the horns is goin dit da da dit da da dit da da dee dee diddley daaaah! and a big ol smile creeps onto Tater's face, and he starts a tearin up, cause everything's so damned perfect, and a feelin of calm pours over ol Tater, and the smile turns into a Idiot Grin. Tater's surprised, cause he don't get emotional about much at all. Tater catches a whiff of somethin good, and he goes over to the taco stand and gets him a $1 taco, and it was the best taco ever! Tater ATE THE HELL OUT OF IT!
Now, Tater knows the feelin ain't gonna last. Tomorrow Tater gonna wake up and have to go to work, but that's the nature of slack. It's all short duration. Short duration personal savior, short duration marriage, short duration lovemakin... But they's certain advantages... don't nothin last that long means you get to make them course corrections more often, keep you on an even keel. Keep you sharp too, cause you never know what's comin, good or bad.
But you can count on one thing. From time to time, your troubles gonna melt away like butter on a short stack. And when that happens, the moment is gold.
September 19, 2009
Tater just took him his first ever helicopter ride.
Friend of Marlene's name of Slim Corigan come into town and called up sayin can he come over and say hi. Folks usually come into the holler from the north end, so we give him directions and he says "no, I'm south of town down to the airport" and we tell him how to get here from the south and he says, "no, I ain't got a car." OK, we tell im, we'll come pick you up down to the airport.
One thing you ought to know about the Kern's Holler airport is that it ain't really an airport. It's a runway, a big ol fuel tank and a Tuff-Shed. So we hop in the truck and head on down, figurin Slim musta flowed in with someone in a little two seater or some such.
But when we got down there, the only thing on that landin strip is a little black helicopter. Turns out Slim been a pilot since he was a teenager, and he gots him his own damned helicopter. Well, don't that beat all? Marlene knowed him for more than twenty year and he don't tell her he gots a helicopter? That just don't make sense, far as Tater's concerned. Tater had him a helocipter, everyone in the durned holler would know about it. Come to think of it, folks in the holler'd always be beggin for a helicopter ride, so maybe Slim has the right idea.
So we pick him up and go back to the Tater patch, and Marlene cooked up some biscuits and green chile gravy, cause Slim loves him some chilis, tell you what. That was some good eatin. We set a spell and drunk coffee and ate them biscuits and talked about Slim's work, which Tater don't understand nohow. Seems like Slim works for a feller gives away money up in Colorado. Slim's job is to figure out who to give that money to. Now, you ever heard of such a thing? Tater ain't never heard about nothin like that. Don't make no sense at all, and every time Tater'd get ready to ask him could Tater have some of that money, Marlene kicked ol Tater under the table, so he shut up.
Weren't too long before Slim had to get on the road, or on the trail, or whatever them pilots call it, so Tater and Marlene took Slim back to the airport. When we was droppin him off, he says "How bout I give you a little ride in this thing so you can take a look at the holler from the air?" You don't have to ask Tater or Marlene twice about nothin like that. We says "you betcha" and before you know it, we was up in that little thing flyin over the holler. We saw the dump and the river and the lake and the other dump and a whole bunch of stuff we didn't know was there, like a bunch of little trailers out in the woods with some motorcycles parked outside and folks goin in and out. And you wouldn't know it, but Rev. BIOU has a big ol pile of trash out behind her house, with cans and wine bottles and newspapers and whatnot.
One thing surprised Tater is how many stills they was. He only knew about four or five of em, but they must be at least fifteen! They's even one out behind Myra Whoopers' place, and she's the biggest teatotaler in the holler. Leastwise, she acts like she don't drink none. Tater's got her dead to rights she starts in on him next time.
Well, we was up there about half a hour and it was the most fun Tater had in a coon's age. Give a whole different perspective on things. Now Tater wants him a helicopter, but they cost some money, that's for sure. That damned thing uses 25 gallons of fuel every hour, but it'll do 130 without no trouble. So Tater's seein what it would take to put one of them together hisself. He's got an old Buick engine and the bucket seats out of a Tee Bird, now all he needs is a big propeller and a lil one, and a welder. Ought to be up there flyin over the holler in no time.
Far as Tater's concerned, Slim can come over for biscuits and gravy whenever he wants.
August 16 2009
Old Horace Cookley, the bartender down to the DAV in Humbert finally got took away. Horace gone twitchy about ten years ago, but it was only recent that he stopped talkin altogether. Don't no one know what set him off today cause he ain't said nothin since his sister Praline married that Polish feller Jozef Dudek, but Tater suspects it's the weather, which is uncommon hot even for the holler this time a year. Anyhow, Horace fell off the tractor before he could finish knockin down Praline's trailer, but he didn't stop wreckin stuff until the deputy down to the courthouse grabbed his bat just after he delivered the final blow to the Bergen Mine diorama. Tater don't have no idea why Horace went after that diorama, what with all them Christian displays and whatnot, and Horace bein such a staunch Atheist, makin it special odd that when they wrapped him up in them sheets he was singing Bible songs with a German accent like he been singin em that way all his life.
July 16, 2009
The big news in the holler was that them saucers didn't pick up ol Buck, who drove all the way to New York (the state, not the city) to go to that hippy X-day Subgenius summer camp they got goin over there, with your bonfires and drinking and preaching and such, even though everybody down to the Seed-n-Feed said he was crazy, and there weren't no "Bob" and wasn't Jesus enough for him, but he didn't listen. Anyhow, he come back all sheepish and mutterin something about the space time continuum, and didn't nobody have the heart to tell him the saucers did come to the holler, but it weren't sex goddesses; it was them cow cuttin froggy looking fellers, but didn't no one talk to them or go up close and take a look because of folks was concerned about probing and such.
Anyhow, ol Buck ain't saying much, but Reverend BIOU, that's pronounced "by you", like Bayou Bob, but she's a gal, who was also at that same X-day thing as ol Buck was at, anyway, she wrote some stories that's pretty much fit for the kiddies if you need a new story to tell em to sleep, but maybe you might want to look at them first before you read them out loud, as Jessie over to the millinery said little Buford didn't sleep a wink after she read him some. Might be Buford's a little too excitable, like his daddy. Might be not. Tater ain't saying. Anyway, Reverend BIOU wrote these here stories.
Now Roy, who works over to the Shell station on Gilmer, he's a big feller, and ain't nothing he can't do if he puts his mind to it, but one thing he never could do was straighten out old Bobby Dean Dobson (everybody calls him Bob Dean, or sometimes purple cause of that one time don't no one want to remember). Bob lives up at the end of the holler, and don't nobody want to talk to him on account of he got some wires crossed don't most folks even have. He's a sort of sorry Walter Mitty type, leastwise that's what Roy thinks. Tater thinks he's just lookin for attention. Anyhow, BIOU, who was sitting mindin her own business in the Central Park, run into Bob Dean, who sets down beside her and starts stirring things up. Reverend BIOU wrote it all down for us.
Tater had a big ol' boil on his neck, and when he popped it there was a gaping hole opening into a long corrugated tube, and there was a sort of peach colored light at the end, so Tater crawled in and sorta swam down the tube. When he rubbed against the sides it made a sound like a pig squeal played backwards, except really resonant and throbbing. As Tater came nearer the end of the tube, it started blooming, kinda spreading out like the cap on a mushroom, and so did Tater cause he was "one" with the tube. As he spread, the tube closed behind him, and Tater found hisself back where he started, looking in the mirror at the big ol' hole in his neck.
Tater can't make sense of this thing nohow.
April 16, 2009
Yup. Tater's new gal called up from Sanfrancisco where she got boss-sent for a few days, and she said come on up. So he did. Ol Tater has a relative in the airline business, and he got me one of them butty passes, an it only cost him fifty dollars. Nice hotel room too, way up on the top floor with a sweet (that means two rooms at a time but only one set of folks) with chocolate and a little icebox full of wine and beer, and a woman comes every day to clean up.
San Fran Sisco is a big place, and it looks pretty good from far off, but it's a little shabby up close, and Damn! They's crazy folk all over the streets! And a lot of em look real regular, until they get up in your face and commence to jabberin. Lotta Japs too, but Tater don't hold no grudge.
Fact is, Marlene took Tater out to one of them Japanese restaurants, where they gots pictures of what ya can eat, and Tater ordered up a bunch of the nicest lookin ones of them. Problem is, some of them weren't even cooked. Well, when the waitress came over she explained that we's supposed to eat them things RAW!! Well, sir, ol Tater don't like to be made a fool of, so he set a spell and watched them other folks messin with them sticks and the rice and such, and dog gone it, if they didn't eat that bait!
Some of y'all think of Tater as a rustic, and mebbe he is, but he's had steak and he's had lobster, and even held an oyster a quiverin in it's shell for a couple of minutes once before he had to set it down. Besides, Marlene invited him out, and he didn't want to make a scene. Anyways, Tater ain't no sissy, and he reckons that if some little Japanese gal can eat bait, then by God, so can Tater.
So he did.
And it was pretty good, too, except for the taste.
Didn't take like nothin, not even fish. And they had a nice bowl of soup with some mud and white chunks in it, and a regular ol salad with French dressing, and some ice cream and a half a orange.
Now you can bet Tater ain't ordering no raw fish down in New Mexico, but now he's got another twenty dollar bar bet he can win if he needs to. Folks down to the Capitol bar are starting to catch on to the shot of Tabasco trick.