Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Another Christmas Day

Waiting in the cold dark winter’s night
The gusting wind blows with the Arctic’s might.

Remembering the loved ones who have passed
I shiver so slightly as my thoughts are sad.

Although I’ll always love them so
Life’s still worth living this I know.

As I sit waiting for the gift-giving Saint
I search my soul to discover no taint.

Be grateful for another Christmas Day
‘Cause it’s with family and friends here I stay.

And when it’s time to go through the door
I’ll see the loved ones who’ve gone on before.

But that won’t come just yet I pray
‘Till then I’ll be grateful for another Christmas Day.

Chuck Connors,December 25, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Laurie's Song

Chuck Connors

Joe got into his truck and squinted at the sky. He didn’t see any sun. “Must be behind a cloud or something,” he thought to himself as he cranked up
the motor and pulled out of the driveway. “It’s gonna be a good Thanksgiving,
even if we aren’t gonna be together for the turkey and everything. Shoot, after we’re done at each of our folks we can get together and go to Asheville or something.
Maybe take in a movie or go hear us some music. Then it’ll be about time for some
all-night good lovin’.”

Joe had called earlier when he was getting dressed but all he got was her
answering machine. He didn’t think much about it because she was probably in the
shower or something. Laurie was like that. One time he came to pick her up for a date early. He slipped into her apartment quiet-like, tip-toed into the bathroom,
and ripped the shower curtain open. Laurie screamed and darned near knocked him
out with a shampoo bottle. His head had hurt for a couple of days after. Whenever Joe had reminded Laurie about the joke, she usually punched him in the ribs and told him “don’t ever try that again Herbie Joe or else you’re gonna be missing something real special to you, like the family jewels.” To this day, Joe hadn’t dared to try her on it. He knew when she was serious.

Traffic was non-existent going through the small college mountain town of
Judaculla Rock near where he lived. “Seems like everybody’s at Granny’s house today”, he thought, as he passed a guy in a red Volkswagen jacking up his rear end to change out his flat tire. In the back seat Joe thought he saw a coffin-shaped box. “Strange,” thought Joe, “why the hell would somebody be carryin’ around a coffin in the back of a VW? Folks are getting’ weirder and weirder every year.” The guy didn’t look like he needed any help though.

Joe thought he’d give Laurie another call from his cell phone. He punched in the numbers he memorized almost from the first time she’d given him her number. He hit send and it started the first ring.

Joe could remember the first time he’d seen Laurie. He’d been in a club over in Asheville sitting at the bar sipping on a cold one when a dark-haired beauty in a black miniskirt, tube top, and black stiletto high-heeled boots had walked through the front door. Joe couldn’t believe the energy the woman gave off. She wasn’t putting up with any crap though. The dark-haired mystery woman fended off two guys who tried to stop and talk with her by icily ignoring them and brusquely walking on by.

She came and sat down on an empty stool just a couple away from Joe. She lit a cigarette as the barkeep hustled down the bar to take her order. Joe took a deep breath and a hefty swig from his bottle and turned to the mystery woman and smiled.

“Hey, name’s Joe. What’s yours?”

“You tryin’ to pick me up too?” she said as she looked him suspiciously.

“Just trying to find out your name so I can make some polite conversation.”

“Keep your shirt on cowboy, the name’s Laurie an’ nobody picks me up unless I

know who they are. I already know what they want. What do you do when you’re not in

here?” she asked.

“I go to school and I’m a part-time disc jockey at the rock station at Scottsford in Jefferson County. What do you do mystery lady-named-Laurie?” She smiled when he said that. He was dazzled by that smile.

“I work with computers; office systems stuff. Kind of boring. It’s a living

Joe didn’t get a date that night but he got a phone number; which eventually led to a date, and to a relationship which took his breath away. She was the most exciting woman he’d ever dated, and she knew it too.

“Damn answering machine again,” said Joe as he thumbed the stop button on the

cell phone. “She must be in the shower or using the hair dryer.”

Laurie always kept herself looking good—classy good. Hell, the short skirts she wore made it extra hard for Joe to keep his hands off of her, even in public places. Laurie was that attractive. He remembered one time they were sitting in a cafĂ© in Asheville.

She was wearing one of those frilly miniskirts. All the guys in the place were looking at Laurie’s legs, especially when Joe put his hand on her thigh and slowly started moving it upwards….

Joe pulled into the road along the river that Laurie’s apartment was on. The light was golden and diffused, yet the river looked flat and dark. Joe still couldn’t see the sun. “Normal for these mountains for it to get behind one and you not to see it,” he thought.

Laurie was more than some sweet-lookin’ eye candy too. In the past couple of
years Joe’s mother’s dementia had been getting worse. She needed somebody to do for
her—help her take a bath, get dressed; help her with memory exercises. Laurie was there when Joe needed her. Laurie knew about problems. She’d been abused when she was a kid. It haunted her despite her seeing a shrink. Joe still wanted to kill the bastard that had messed with her.

Joe pulled into the driveway that led to the apartment complex Laurie lived in. He always felt a charge of anticipation when he was coming to see her. He could
remember waking up of a morning in her bed, looking up at the pictures and awards hung up on the wall. He’d hear the covers rustle next to him and Laurie’s husky voice would ask him, “would you like some coffee or something else cowboy?”
Mostly he couldn’t keep himself from saying “something else Laurie darlin’.”
They always ended up breathless, with hearts pounding; too exhausted to move from each other’s embrace.

Joe pulled up in front of Laurie’s apartment. He cut the motor; let the radio play low. Laurie was a big one for rock ‘n roll. He’d come in the door and she’d have the stereo on. Laurie would be dancing, some eighties or nineties rock ‘an roll blasting, eyes closed, lost in it. She’d open her eyes, see him and smile. It made him love her more.

Joe got out and went up the walk to Laurie’s door. Usually one of her two cats were sitting in one of the two front windows. Joe didn’t see ‘em. He knocked a couple of times on the door, stuck his key in and turned the lock. The door opened a couple of inches and stopped. Joe pushed against what looked like a couple of chairs propped up against the door. When he got in, he could see the apartment looked like a bomb had gone off in it. Joe’s heart started to pound. He walked real fast through the mess on the floor. Joe turned the corner in the hallway to Laurie’s bedroom door. She was there by the bed, lying on the floor. He got down on his knees, grabbed her arm and started shaking her; no life. Joe jumped up and ran into the living room. “Where’s the phone, dammit?” Joe roared to an empty apartment. He spotted it lying on the floor, picked it up, and punched in the emergency number. Joe told the dispatcher he needed an ambulance quick at Laurie’s apartment, gave him the address, and hung up. Joe noticed a piece of paper on the coffee table at the end of the couch.

“Dear Herbie Joe, Mother and Dad, I couldn’t take it anymore. The pain was too much. Please forgive me. Take care of my cats. Love you Mom and Dad. Joe, I will always love you. Do not resuscitate.”

Joe went into Laurie’s bedroom while he was waiting on the ambulance. He knelt down and kissed Laurie on the cheek one more time and prayed for a few moments.
“Laurie, I love you so much. Why did you have to leave me?” He didn’t know if he’d
ever know the answer to that question. Joe got to his feet and walked out of the
apartment. A deputy was getting out of his patrol car and putting on some rubber gloves as Joe walked up to him. “I checked for a pulse,” Joe said in a flat voice. “She’s cold. I didn’t try cpr.” The cop came out a minute later and spoke into his radio; “cancel that 10-52; cancel all first responders on that last call.”

Joe felt a sharp pain, like somebody had kicked him in the back of the head.
Crazy, dark thoughts were spinning round and round like a million fireflies going nuts in his mind. The only thing he could focus on was how good a drink would feel right about now. He doubted it would do anything for him but he didn’t much care. He wanted to get totally obliviated and forget that this day ever happened. Joe looked up at the sky and didn’t see the sun. He didn’t think he ever would.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Carolina Sky

The couple scamper home
aware of each other’s breathing
Like children they feel
the irresistible call of joy

Waking up with you
deliciously tired and sated
Takes me back to the moonlit night
where we clutched each other
under a boundless Carolina sky

Chuck Connors, December 4, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Last Few Miles

The last few miles are the hardest
my feet are sore, the pack chaffs my back

Staying close to the rock face
the terror of the cliffs is soon past

The scent of the mountain pours down on me
the sun is warm, the shade is cold

I gaze out to the far mountains
across the valley so deep and low

The first stream rushes merrily onwards
it’s waters taste of ice and snow

I reach the lowlands and look back upwards
the mountain patiently waits for my return

Chuck Connors, November 7, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Huddled close to the warming rays of the candle
Its feeble glow gives the illusion of heat

My belly full, a sheaf of dead writers in my hand
Lost in the past I share the moment with them

The sleepers grunt, snuffle and wheeze in their dreams
Morpheus comes not for me, not yet!

The stars wheel in their ageless rounds
The Balsams give off their Christmassy smell

A last bit of chocolate to stoke the body furnace
Its bittersweet taste lingers on my tongue

I shiver against the night, the cold in my bones
Put out the candle, time for sleep

Chuck Connors, November 6, 2007

To the Moon

Trudging along it seems this path goes on forever
Has it been that many years since I’ve been here, now?

The sharp rocks cut and bloody me like a knife
As I clamber tiredly over them inches from the void

A hawk glides over close enough to touch
I see his sharp eyes, smell his hunting smell

When will I reach the top of the mountain
Or does this path go up to the moon?

The hoarfrost is freezing in nooks and crannies
I can hear and taste the biting of the wind

Divine Principle of the Universe, Ruler of all
Give me strength and courage to reach the summit

Chuck Connors, November 6, 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hate to Walk

This damn trail
little more than an animal track
takes me forever higher
amid the sharp rocks and slippery clay

Why did I come
on this foolish venture to nowhere
The top of the mountain
grows no closer to me

Around the bend
a beautiful vista
A cooling breeze
a place to rest

I hate to walk
but love to arrive
at the highest peak
the ultimate goal

Chuck Connors, October 31,2007

Into the Woods

It is the day,
the day we hike,
into the woods,
to escape from modernity.

Why am I anxious?
Do I long for the civilized life?
Or am I fearful,
of entering God’s cathedral?

Into the woods,
to the back of beyond.
Insanity can wait;
God cannot.

Chuck Connors, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Rifle

Drill Sergeant: Platoon, ten-hut! At ease. This – is – your – rifle, you SOB’s.
For the rest of your time here you will clean your rifle every day.
You will go to the latrine with your rifle. You will sleep
with your rifle. Your rifle is your friend. You WILL take care of it,
because one day your rifle will save your sorry asses!
Do - you - understand – me you apes?
Platoon (shouts in unison): Yes, Drill Sergeant!
Drill Sergeant: Platoon, ten-hut! Right, face. Forward, march.

This is my rifle, this is my gun.
This is for fighting, this is for fun.

A soldier’s rifle is a tool that any fool may use
but when it comes to life or death it’s definitely time to choose.

When I was in the army we cleaned our rifles well
‘cause we knew one day we’d have to shoot the enemy all to Hell.

Sound off…one, two…

But since my term of service I’ve learned a thing or two
‘bout the difference ‘tween a rifle an’ a gun and what they’re made to do.

A rifle’s d’rect fire makes it very good indeed
when the enemy’s comin’ ta kill ya with all good haste and speed.

Sound off…one, two. Sound off…three, four…

A gun’s another animal of a totally different stripe
it shoots its projectile in a curve to do it’s duty right.

A soldier nev’re confuses a rifle with a gun
his rifle is for fightn’ and his gun is jus’ for fun.

Sound off…one, two. Sound off…three, four.
Sound off… one
One two, THREE FOUR!

Chuck Connors, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Roscoe the Fireplug Dog

Chuck Connors

Roscoe was some kinda dog. Roscoe’s owner Pete, loved to take Roscoe to the
leash-free park everyday. Roscoe loved it. He could run like a wild dog without having
to drag Pete behind on one of those nasty throat-choking leashes. Only these days’ folks
are worried ‘bout just what ole Roscoe might do to Hondo’s monument in the park.
The leash-free park in Hillsboro, Oregon was dedicated to Hondo, a brave police
dog who died in the line of duty a few years back and the park's designers put up a
special monument to Hondo; a glorious fireplug all painted up in our country's patriotic
colors--red, white, and blue! Now the designers figured that dogs were gonna do what
they were gonna do on and around this special patriotic monument to Hondo. So they set
the fire plug up on a big pedestal at least two feet high. They even went to the trouble of
plantin’ prickly bushes around it so pups like Roscoe couldn't cock their hind legs an'
take a shot at Hondo's special monument.

Well it turns out some media type found out about the monument and took a

picture of it for one of the local papers. Naturally, this created a big hullabaloo all up and
down the west coast an' people started sendin' in lots of emails against dogs cockin' their
legs at Hondo's patriotic monument despite park officials not receiving any reports of
dogs lettin’ loose on it.

To say this might be somethin’ of a "tempest in a teapot" wouldn't be exaggeratin’
much as some of the emailers were pretty irate. “That gallant dog must be turning in his
grave at the thought of the flag being desecrated every time a dog pees on that hydrant!”
wrote an individual who shall remain anonymous. Say what? I saw that Robin Williams
movie ‘bout goin’ to Heaven and I think old Roscoe is chasing a lot of rabbits and havin’
himself a good ole time up there.
Well I don't know what you think about this sorry state of affairs out in the leash-
free park in Hillsboro Oregon but I got the answer and its pretty simple. Paint the fire
hydrant the colors of the Iranian flag, take the prickly bushes away an' let every Roscoe,
Rover and Ranger take their best shot. The way I figure, it would be a whole lot cheaper
than sending a bunch of our soldiers over to Teheran an' a lot less dangerous too. But I
guess that would be too easy and un-socially correct. I doubt Hondo is rolling in his
grave over this foolishness. I think it’s a bunch of dog haters laughing from theirs.

Later, ya’ll.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The High and Windy Places

In the high and windy places, the places above the stairs,
lives a furious untamed wildness up in the thin and freezing airs.

It’s when I go a marching, a tramping from the start,
to those wonderfully empty places
that quickens the beating of my heart.

Though I’m a stranger in high places, I strive to understand;
those high and windy places, the special places of the land.

Chuck Connors

Little Candle

Little candle in the deep dark woods,
your yellow flame so cheerily bright;

your warmth and glow means so much,
little candle, hold me tight.

Little candle always protect me please,
save me, little candle from my own fright.

If I should wake and you be out,
little candle please dispel my doubt.

Little candle how I love you so,
‘cause we’re always together, this I know.

Chuck Connors

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Day in the Life


Chuck Connors

The dream is always the same. The sun is hot and bright as I enter the tool
shed at Uncle Doyle’s place. The old, uneven boards are rough on my bare feet.
I can hear the squeaking from the old bed with the dirty mattress in the back where it’s dark. The voices are barely audible to my ears.

“Now turn over while I take real good care of you honey. C’mon baby doll its
good an’ you know it.”
“You ain’t gonna tell my Daddy are ya?”
“Naw, you just be a good little girl an’ everythang’s gonna be alright. Hell, I’ll even get you another Barbie doll.”
“Shush, what wuz that?” the young female voice said.
“Must be them damned cats fuckin’ and fightn’ up in the crawlspace again.”
Just about then I knock over a can of nails. It always happens, can’t avoid it.
Hey! Who the hell’s there? Is that you Jeremiah? Get yore ass in here boy. I wanta show you sumptin. We’s gonna make a man of ya ain’t we Doreen?”
Doreen giggles and I hear slurping sounds.
I feel myself pulled towards the speaker, Uncle Doyle. He’s about 50. He takes me fishin’ sometimes. Uncle Doyle let me drink a beer once when we was fishin’ on the lake. My Aunt Lily plays the piano in Church and makes good apple pies.
She’s a nice lady. The girl is Doreen Stokes. We ride the school bus together. She lives down the way with her widow mother Elberta. Doreen was twelve a ‘couple
of months back.
As I move towards the back of the shed it’s dark and my eyes can’t adjust. I hear the slappin’ of sweaty flesh hittin’ together. It kinda sounds like a hog fartin’.All I can make out is two bodies laying on the dirty mattress movin’ in
ways that make me squirmy.
“Are you comin’ boy? Where you at? Aww, there ya are. Come over an put
yore hand on Doreen’s butt.”
I hear my ten year old voice shakily saying, “Uncle Doyle, I don’t wanna touch Doreen’s butt.”
“Boy, I told ya to get over here an grab Doreen’s butt or I’m gonna whip yore
I start to do it. One part of me wants to an’ the other part don’t. Then something like a fire alarm goes off. I piss my shorts.
The alarm clock is jangling and the wife is hollern’ for me to come into the
kitchen for breakfast. The kids (Jerry jr’s eight and Lori’s six) are fightin’ over who gets gets the Cheerios first.Manda, my wife, is tellin’ ‘em to shut up an’ eat or they’ll miss the school bus.
I’ve got it real good; decent marriage, happy kids, money-making business. Not bad for a “Bubba” who’s only got two years of junior college. There’s still
that rotten place in me deep down I can’t talk to nobody about. God help me.
After a cup of coffee an’ some raisin bran I give Manda a kiss an’ a big hug—tell Jerry junior an’ Lorri if they do good in school this week we’ll go out
fishin’ on the lake.
I love my family. They make the pains of when I was a kid growin’ up a little easier—even though they don’t know it.I know its time for another trip
outta town.These days I don’t want to do it.I know it ain’t right. But I got to.
The dreams stop for awhile when I do.
My daddy was the one who took me down to Knoxville for my first time with the
young ones. “You don’t shit where you eat,” he said. So I go to Knoxville. I can’t hold my head up though— look folks in the eyes.
After I eat I head to the shop an’ make sure Mike, my head mechanic,
made it into work an’s got something to keep him busy for the rest of the day. I tell him I got to go to Knoxville to get some parts for a Mustang that’s been
sittin’ for three days. Mike gives me a sly smile and says “sure Jeremiah,
anything you say.” He don’t know shit.
I took off south down the four lane to Knoxville. Cruisin’ along at 70 per,
I wonder what it could have been like. Got married right after graduation; first kid came along ten months later. Inherited the garage that the old man started when
he got home from the war; hell I’m even a member of the Rotary. Seems like it
don’t mean nothin’ though.
Made good time. Got off the four lane onto East Magnolia. Cruised past the bus station an’ there they wuz. Hell, they wuz always thare. All dressed up
an’ hot lookin’. My hands were shakin’ a little; ya know, kinda anticipatin’.
Who knows ware they come from. They got to have the money to smoke their crack.
Makes ‘em feel good. Makes ‘em want it.
I cruise past a couple of times checkin’ for cops. If ‘n ya look careful, you ken see the cop spy van parked down the block. They got ta have ya on tape or it won’t stand up in court. Nope, not today.
I slow up ‘side a little blonde honey. She’s cute. Gotta little polk-a-dot mini on with a black low cut top. Hmmm, something ain’t quite right though.
“Hey, how you baby? How much ya lookin for ta get ya some new clothes?”
“It’s a hunnert dollars mister. Fuck an’ suck till yure done.”
“Maybe next time doll baby. I’m lookin for a red head today.”
“Wanta buy some weed?”
“No thanks baby. Beer’s more my style. Later.”
Further down the street I spot her. This one’s got bright red hair done up with a pony tail. She’s wearin’ one of them red shorty cheerleader-like dresses
with a halter top to match that shows off what she’s got real good.
“Hey! Where you been honey?”
“Why mister I jus’ got into Knoxville last week. You wanna party?
“How ‘bout I get ya some new clothes sweetie?”
“I think I could use ‘bout a hunnert dollars worth okay mister?”
“Get in baby”
We cruise to one of the cheap flops I use further down Magnolia Avenue.
In the room, I tell her to strip.
“Gimme my hunnert dollars first mister,” she replies.
“Strip first cutie ‘cause I gotta know if you got a mic or sumptin’ on ya.”
She takes ‘em off and I marvel how much she looks like Doreen looked in high
school when we’d skinny dip at the blue hole on the little Doe River. Doreen would
stand on top of the rock we used to dive off, her body just a shinin’ in the sun. Made my heart ache for her. Hell, my tallywacker shore did.
I pay her and we do it. It’s always too quick. Soon I’m on the four lane headed north.
I get back to the shop with the parts—had ‘em stashed in the back of the dually from gettin’ ‘em yesterday over at the NAPA place. Mike’s workin’ on a transmission in a pick-up.
“Got the parts for the mustang boss?”
“You can start work on the mustang tomorrow boy. Why don’t ‘cha take off early ‘an go home to that cute wife of yore’s?”
“Thanks boss. I guess I’ll see ya tomorrow.”
I go in the office, shut the door, ‘an take the .38 snubbie out of the drawer. It feels warm an’ real in my hands. What the fuck. I stick it in my
mouth an’ pull the trigger.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Eye Witness


Chuck Connors

I’m just a regular guy, at least for a writer. I’ve rode a few miles, been a few
places, but I’ve never been an eye witness to a robbery; that is until now.
Most people think a robbery is pretty simple and most are. You see the closed-
circuit camera footage on the news. Some idiot comes up to the counter of a 7- Eleven or
your local bank, jumps over the ounter, grabs the cash out of the register, knocks the
clerk a couple of times on the side of the head and runs out the door. The crook gets
caught in a day or two; the cops get a confession; the prosecutor gets a conviction;
and another dumbass goes to jail; case closed. You commit the crime, you do the time.
That’s why I was surprised when an acquaintance from high school who’d been in
prison a time or two, called me up one afternoon and asked if I wanted to see how a real
rip-off went down.
The high school ‘friend’, whom I’ll call ‘Jack,’ said “hey man, how you been
“Pretty good. Been doing some writing; mostly humor columns for a local
rag,” I cautiously responded.
“Chuck, I’ve read some of what you’ve written an’ it’s pretty good. It’s mostly
made up though ain’t it?”
“Jack, the stuff I write is all true and some of it may have actually happened,”
I shot back. Then he got to the meat of the conversation.
“Do you wanna write about something that’s going to happen; something one
hundred percent factual? Do you wanna be an eye witness to a real ripoff?”
This left me speechless for a couple of seconds. “You’re bullshitting me dude.
And if you aren’t I’m not going to let you put me in some Handy Andy or worse, a bank
and watch you or who ever get their shit blown away by some “Harry Callahan” type
looking to make a name for himself.”
“No man. It’s for real. I can hook you up with some professionals who’re gonna
rip off a “big box” soon. They don’t play man. They know how to handle weapons an’
they know tactics. They’re gonna do it and it’s gonna be beautiful. Whatcha’ say?”
“Besides the obvious one, what’s the catch? What do you want? Hell, what do
‘they’ want?”
“Hey, all I want is for these dudes’ story to get out. I don’t want no money or
nothin’. So if you’re not interested, I’ll just fuckin’ hang up.”
“Wait a minute partner; didn’t say I wasn’t interested; just want to know where you’re coming from. As for whether this whole thing is on the up and up, I reserve
“Ok. These dudes have read your stuff an’ they think you can put their story
down how it really happens. They know that the government, starting with the local
yokels, all the way up to the feds, are gonna lie, ‘cause they’ve done it before. An’ they
want the real deal to get out. They’re not “Robin Hoods.” They’re just a bunch of
professionals who believe in getting’ it right the first time.
“All right. I’ll bite, at least for now. What do I have to do to meet these

Writer’s note:
Here’s where I’m going to get a little vague for obvious reasons as I don’t want
the State or Federal types seizing my computer and grilling me in some windowless room
for days on end.

“Chuck, you be at such and such a place at such an’ such a time an’ the dudes will
meet with you. After that, you’re on your own.”
“Alright Jack. If you’re not being straight up about all this, I’m going to make
sure you get a little visit from the Sheriff.”
“It’s the real thing man. If you’re not satisfied that these guys are for real, you
can go ahead an’ turn me in to the Sheriff.”
A couple of days later I was at an unnamed place in the middle of night waiting
on who knows what. I felt a little stupid. After I’d smoked a couple of cigars I walked
over behind a bush and took a leak. A stick cracked.
“Don’t turn around Mr. Connors.”
“Alright guy. Just let me do my business first and then you can get my money.”
“We’re not here for your money. Stay facing the way you are and put this blind-
fold on,” the voice commanded as some material was thrown over my shoulder. I zipped
up and put the blindfold on and stayed facing in the same direction.
Hands grabbed me roughly, turned me around and I heard the voice say. “Just had to be
sure it was you Mr. Connors. We don’t want any fuck-ups.”
“Who the hell did you think it was out here in the middle of nowhere in the
middle of the freakin’ night?”
“Don’t worry about it. Just get into the vehicle. We’re taking a little ride.”
I was pushed into a vehicle and sat in the middle of a seat with two guys sitting
on either side of me. One of them farted. The other one stank of garlic. Since I’d rea
novels and seen movies using this sort of thing I kept my mouth shut. The car moved for
what seemed like a long time (I was glad I’d taken a leak) turning and going up and down
steep curves numerous times. One time we were on a gravel road which seemed
to go up forever. Finally we stopped. I was pushed out and stood shakily on my
now asleep feet.
“Mr. Connors, we’re going to take you into a building and put you in a chair.
Bright lights will be shining in your face.
“I don’t really have much of a choice do I?”
“No. Just do what I tell you and you’ll get the story of your life; and live to tell
about it also.”
I was pushed roughly through a door into what felt like some sort of basement.
Arms set me down into a chair and a rasping voice told me to “stay put.” I was told to
remove the blindfold and just like they said, the light was bright. I really couldn’t see
“Do you have any questions Mr. Connors?”
“Yea, like what the fuck is going on?”
“Your acquaintance already told you. We’re going to rip off a “big box” soon and
we wanted you to write the story for us. We believe you’ll do an honest job. If you
don’t…well we know where you live.”
“Why a fucking “big box” and not a bank or something?”
“That’s the beauty of it Mr. Connors. There’s so many ‘Edward Abbey’ types
running around Western North Carolina that any monkey wrenching that happens will
be blamed on them. We’ll be in South America before the F.B.I. even suspects just who
it was.”
“Okay. So it’s just robbery. Why should I give a damn that your story gets out
sans the usual bullshit and lies we all get from our so called leaders.”
“Besides us, you are the only one that’s going to know exactly what’s going on.
You get the exclusive. We don’t plan on killing anybody because we’ve done stuff like
this before. Plan the ‘op'. Follow the plan. Spend the money. It’s all about precision.”
“Okay. I’m in. What’s the plan,” I asked.
“Simple, Mr. Connors. We’ll create a diversion; a little explosion i
another part of the store. Propane can get out of hand if it’s ignited improperly; if you
catch my drift.
“Gotcha. Now how do you get to the real cash; not the cash registers, but where
the store’s safe is at.
“You catch on quick Mr. Connors.” The real cash, actually well over a million
dollars, is in the money room. The room has a key punch to get into it. We grab a
supervisor, give them some encouragement to punch in the code and we’re in. We stuff a
couple of duffel bags full of cash and leave. Two minutes tops.”
“How do you get out?”
“An emergency exit is next to the money room. The sprinkler and the fire alarm
will be activated so those diversions, the smoke, plus the bad emergency lighting after the
power’s been cut will create lots of panic. It should keep people busy while we leave the
“You didn’t tell me two things; how you cut the power and how you get in.”
“We have an employee who will pull the main switch. His motivation is ten
thousand dollars and we know where his family lives. Getting in is too easy. A high
school kid could do it. I’ll let you figure it out. In the mean time all you have to do is
stand where I tell you and keep your eyes and ears open. It’s pretty likely there’ll be a
panic so you might want to watch out that customers, who’ll be trying to get out the front
doors all at once, don’t run you over.
“This almost sounds like that Peter Fonda movie, “Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry.”
I suppose you have a ‘get-away’ car?”
“Actually several. And of course we’ve got something to get us south of the
border. There’s a bunch of governments down there that could care less about the U.S.,
especially for a bribe or two.”
“Okay. What store and when?” He told me.
“One last thing Mr. Connors: I’ve told you where to be. Stay there. Don’t try to
be a ‘hero’. We’re going to have select-fire rifles and shotguns plus body armor and
other ordinance. If we have to take somebody out we will.”
“Understood.” I was blindfolded again, driven back to my vehicle and told
to wait five minutes before taking the blindfold off.
On the day and about a half hour before the time he told me, I was at the “big
box” in a dirty little southern Appalachian mill town. It wasn’t very far from where I
lived. Hollywood types had shot a couple movies in and around the town because of the
local scenery. Yea, there was plenty of it, scenery that is—lots of little Abner and Daisy
Mae types running around in jacked-up 4X4’s. “Dueling Banjos” came to mind.
I walked in and positioned myself where I was told—the camera section. I wasn’t
bothered. This “big box” chain is notorious for poor customer service. I didn’t notice
anything unusual; just another day for low prices and cheap, Chinese made junk. A
Hispanic man put a sign on the men’s restroom saying “Closed for Cleaning” and put a
mop bucket in front of the door to drive home the point.
Suddenly there was a ‘pop’ in the back of the store and a loud whooshing noise
with what looked like a fireball. The store started to fill with smoke and the sprinklers
and fire alarms went off. I saw several guys dressed in tactical gear holding rifles and
shotguns at the ready exit the men’s room. Their body armor had ‘Police’ stenciled in
big white letters across the front and back. The leader grabbed a supervisor, some kid
with a mullet and pimples, and pointed a large semi-auto pistol at his head.
“Don’t shoot mister. I’ll open it for you. Nobody who works here gives a damn
about the store’s money anyway.”
Just like “Mr. Smith” had said, the customers were screaming and running down
each other trying to be the first out of the door of this low prices now turned seeming
death trap. In a way it was almost funny.
The kid let the heavily armed gang members into the money room and it wasn’t
two minutes before they reappeared with three bulging duffels, cut left and exited the
store. I heard a couple of loud booms from outside and the roar of a big block motor with
the screeching of tires as I ran out. It wasn’t more than a couple of minutes later that
the police showed up and immediately starting herding people away from the doors.
After the heist was all over and the ‘bad guys’ had gone I saw how quickly the
B.A.T.F. guys influenced the town manager to lie; not that he didn’t have a lot of practice
telling whoppers with a straight face. The Sheriff went along because it was in his best
interest to go along—he wants to get re-elected. Of course the media regurgitated what
they were told to.
As far as the cops actually figuring out who had pulled off the heist, well all the
‘boys in blue’ zeroed in on the decoys that the gang had purposeful sent undisguised in
range of the security cameras. They’re still looking for them as “persons of interest.” It
really doesn’t take much to fool someone who doesn’t have a clue what to look for,
especially when they’re looking for some wild-eyed tree hugger type.
I went ahead and wrote up the details—took me a couple of days to go over the
notes and get it all straight. Then I posted it on my blog. Haven’t got any comments yet,
but then, I’m not really expecting any.
I did get a postcard from Brazil the other day. The picture had a couple of topless
beauties soaking up rays on a perfect white beach. On the back was printed “Thanks,
keep up the good work. Wish you were here.”
I laughed until I almost cried.
As for whether you, the reader, believes a word of what I’ve written, I could
care less. I know what I saw. I was there and an eye witness. Like I’ve said before, all
of its true and some of it may have actually happened.

Editor’s Post Script:

According to police, on Wednesday September 26, 2007, there was an incident at the Wal-Mart Superstore in Sylva, North Carolina. Reportedly there was a triggering of some kind of explosive device. Several people were injured. The store was closed until 6:00 am the next day. Persons of Interest, recorded on surveillance footage, are being sought. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, along with State and local authorities, are still investigating.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Aunt Martha and the D.E.A.


Chuck Connors

Here lately the sheriff an’ his boys have been collectin’ some of them
“wildwood” weeds from up around Glenville. Yea, there he was in the papers, just a
smiling, surrounded by a forest of those pesky plants. Looked like he was in a jungle or something.I half expected a monkey to jump out screechin’.

Evidently it’s a BIG problem ‘cause deputies managed to round up about a
hundred or so of them loco weeds an’ save us law-abiding citizens from a life of
depravity an’ shame living under a bridge. Shoot, if they gather a few more truck
loads of ‘em it might be enough to keep that plant cooker goin’ for awhile
up at that “green” energy park just outside of Dillsboro!

Seems our mountains are good for growin’ stuff, flora or fauna; and with lots of National Forest land there’s plenty of room.Unfortunately though, certain government agencies just got to take an interest in some folks’ plantin’ habits.

Every once in awhile you see one of them helicopters flyin’ over real low, like
they’re lookin’ for somethin’. They just buzz around like skeeters for awhile an’ then they go away—I guess back to Washington D.C. maybe.

Seems like I remember one time some of them D.E.A. boys found more than they
was lookin’ for when they visited Aunt Martha an’ Uncle Gus’ place over on
John’s Creek.

Aunt Martha an’ Uncle Gus pretty much kept to themselves except when they had
to come into town for staples. One afternoon in the late summer Aunt Martha was
workin’ out in her garden and she happened to hear something like a pack of motorcycles roaring up the road. Up over the ridge came one of them big helicopters,
kinda like a big horse fly. Well it circled around for a minute and set down
in the pasture below the house. Aunt Martha just knew that somethin’ must be wrong
like maybe they was in trouble or somethin’ an’ she trotted down to see if she
could help.

Well those government boys was all dressed up in camouflage—like a lot of them
Yankees that come to play “batman in the boondocks” in these mountains of ours. They
looked like they was goin’ bear huntin’ ‘cept you generally don’t go bear huntin’ with M16 rifles. Aunt Martha come up to the D.E.A. boys an’ hollered
"ya’ll need some help?” The leader of the gang of agents put his hand to his
ear questioningly.
“I say ya’ll need some help?” Aunt Martha yelled. She was persistent if nothing
The leader shook his head ‘no’ an’ shouted at Aunt Martha, “Maam, you need to
get away from here—go on home.”

Aunt Martha kinda looked at him peculiar, like he didn’t have much sense.

“Well I thought you might of needed some help thare young man,

‘specially since you set yore 'heelocopter' down right next to our beehives.”

About then all them bees from Uncle Gus’ dozen or so hives came flyin’ out
angry and ready to go to war. Aunt Martha skedaddled back up to the house and the bees swooped down on them government fellas like there was no tomorrow.
The D.E.A. fellers commenced to jumpin’ ‘round an’ swingin’ their arms like they
was nuts. Shoot, anybody with half a brain knows you can’t fight bees like that.

Uncle Gus fell out right there on the front porch he was laughing so hard.
Just about then the sheriff and some of his deputies pulled up, saw what was
happening and joined Uncle Gus in laughing like Hyenas. Aunt Martha said some of ‘em
was laughing so hard they was cryin’.

Well the government boys spotted the fish pond at the other end of the field and
decided to make a tactical retreat. Uncle Gus’ bees chased all them government boys
into the pond and the leader of the gang was the last to dive in—clothes an’ all. It was a full scale rout!

Later on, Uncle Gus put the smoke to the bees and calmed ‘em down so the
D.E.A. boys could get a flatbed to come get their helicopter and the rescue squad had the opportunity to come an’ practice a little first aid on ‘em.

The government being what it is I imagine they’re still going to fly around
our mountains looking for the wildwood weeds. I guess next time though they’ll
be a little more careful exactly where they land.

Later, ya’ll

The Rapacious Nudist

Chuck Connors

Were I to be a rapacious nudist,
someone with an unscrupulous way of looking at things you say.
I think you might find that on my birthday,
a bit of an insane snicker to celebrate the day.

Were I to be a rapacious nudist,
it's perfectly alright you see;
as long as I'm true to my calling
and become the swinging dick I was meant to be.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Those Crazy Tourists

Chuck Connors

Up in Minnesota where the ‘skeeter is the state bird folks got a powerful interest
in airport restrooms. No, not them ‘happy’ guys ya’ll might be thinkin’ about; but people
on vacation out to see really weird stuff. Yeah. Folks want to see the stall where that
U.S. Senator from Idaho got arrested. “It’s become a tourist attraction.” “People are
taking pictures,” said Karen Evans, an information specialist at the Minneapolis-St. Paul
International Airport. Get outta here!

Americans will travel thousands of miles to gawk at, take pictures of and
generally go nuts over just about anything new, different or strange. Mark Twain
loved to play the tourist traveling the world. Teddy Roosevelt, one of our greatest
presidents, was awful fond of traveling and seeing strange critters too. Shoot, my
Uncle LeeRoy always said “them tourists come up hare ta tha mountains ta see thangs
so let’s show ‘em some ‘Kodiak’ moments."

He practiced that sayin’ for a lot of years too.

First, he had him a pettin’ zoo. Don’t ‘cha know kids just love them pettin’
zoos? Then he had ‘em a reptile farm an’ bear menagerie filled up with snakes an’ bears
an’ such. It even had a six foot ‘gator Uncle LeeRoy won in a poker game down in
Georgia and smuggled ‘cross the border. If that wasn’t enough, Uncle LeeRoy was
always takin’ them Floridians on tours to see strange sights like Judaculla rock over on
Caney Fork or goin’ on huntin’ expeditions up in the Plott Balsams for the Beejum;
Western North Carolina’s answer to Bigfoot. The tourists loved them squiggly marks but
they never found the Beejum.

Every one of them tourists got their money’s worth seeing something a little
different and educational and all too. Every year there’d be whole droves of ‘em just
a beatin’ down Uncle LeeRoy’s doors just to see the new and different stuff right here in
these famed Smoky Mountains of ours!

Ladies and gentlemen, is there anything educational or worth taking a picture
about of a stall in a men’s room in an airport? If there is I just ain’t figured it out yet!
But then I never was one to hum a tune and tap my toes anyways.

Later ya’ll.

Tastee Freeze Nightmare


Chuck Connors

How had they ended up here? The piles of trash, the rats, the screaming kids;
nobody wanted to be here. ‘Here’ was a squatter’s camp in the woods not far from
the Interstate. Joe and Rachel were on the run.

Joe had a history of brushes with the law in the small town where he grew up.
He had started drinking and drugging when he was a kid. Every time Joe got into
trouble with the law he was drunk and high. He had tried a hitch in the Army but respect
for authority was not one of Joe’s strong points. Since leaving the Army he had a
progression of jobs which all ended abruptly because of his ‘attitude.’ Joe believed
none of this shit was his fault and that the “assholes were out to get him.”

The whole fucked up episode started when Joe met Rachel in a mall a few
miles from his hometown. Joe told himself that it would be different this time.

Yea, right.

He could still remember how her ass had looked in the tight pair of
jeans she was wearing when he spotted her sauntering along in front the food court. Joe came up behind her, calling out “hey good lookin’,” and she had turned
around and smiled.

From there it was a lot of tall boys in a beer joint that Joe occasionally shot pool
in and continued with a weekend of rutting like two dogs in heat back at his dingy little
basement apartment in a shitty part of town.

Rachel, it turned out, was just separated from her husband. Her momma had
convinced her that the ex was Rachel’s ticket out of the trailer park she’d grown up in.

Yea, right.

Rachel had come home one morning from her store clerk job at the Quick Sack to
find her hubby busy in bed with her slutty store manager. Rachel screamed “you two-
timin’ motherfucker” and smashed an empty 40 ounce against the side of his head.
Rachel scared the bitch so bad she ran neckked out of the trailer. Rachel filed for divorce
divorce the next day. For the last several days she’d been living in her rusted-out Escort
dodging the bastard.

Joe came to Monday morning with the sound of someone making a god-awful
racket beating on his door. His head felt like a mule had kicked the shit out of him. The idiot didn’t seem to understand that some folks might be sleepin’ in.
“Keep your shirt on asshole”, Joe shouted as he threw on a pair of shorts and stumbled to
the door.

“Let me in you cheatin’ bitch”, shouted an angry male voice on the other side.

It sounded like trouble to Joe as he grabbed a pool cue leaning against the door
jam. Joe threw open the door to a fat, red-faced fool. He was holding a bottle of cheap
wine and had dried puke running down the front of his shirt.

“Hey motherfucker”, the asshole shouted, “you fuckin’ my woman?”

“Fuck you dick head”, Joe replied in a tight voice. “You done lost yore honey to
a real man who knows how to take care of her. I ain’t playin’ yore stupid-ass cheatin’
heart games this morning fool. Get outta here ‘fore I bust yore head.”

The red-faced fat fucker lurched forwards and swung his bottle at Joe’s
head. Joe stepped back but the end of the bottle caught him on the head splattering cheap
wine everywhere. As Joe recoiled he reached over and grabbed the dropped pool cue
and swung on the fat fool. The pool cue made a solid ‘whap’ sound as it connected with
the drunk’s head. The ex slumped to the floor and started pissing himself. Prettysoon he went still. Rachel came through the bedroom door with just a pair of panties on,
took one look at the vomit covered drunk on the floor and started screaming.

“Shut-up dammit, you’ll get the neighbors ‘roused up.”

“Herbie Joe, you killed the bastard.”

“The fucker had it comin’ Rachel. Now we got to get this shit cleaned up.”

They rolled his lifeless body into a ratty carpet and threw it into the back of Joe’s
truck. When night came Joe drove the truck to a dumpster and threw the seemingly
lifeless body into it. The couple packed up a few clothes and such in Joe’s truck, drew
out all of Joe’s slim savings from an ATM and headed west. Joe kept to back roads and
drove at night. They stopped at seedy run-down places to avoid the law. He wasn’t
taking any chances.

The last campground Joe and Rachel stayed at a couple of friendly women
had taken pity on them and loaned them a tent to sleep in. Joe had promised the two
women he’d return the tent when they found a place to stay indoors.
Even as Joe promised the women he knew he was lying. “Fuck those broads, he thought.
It’s about survival.”

Yea, right

Sitting around the campfire, Joe took a hit from the joint he and Rachel
had conned out of the guy at the gas station. Joe held the toke in for as long as he
could. He followed it up with a man-sized slug from the bottle of cheap vodka.
Later, he’d get some pussy for dessert.

They’d eaten pretty good. Larry and Nina had made the chili. Joe and Rachel
had met them in a bar a couple of weeks ago. Joe and Larry had hit it off when neither
could beat each other at pool. Rachel and Nina got along well enough although both were wary of each other. The two couples had hung together since then working odd
jobs here and there. They stole from stores when no honest work showed.

Earlier that afternoon Bill, a single dad with three kids, had pulled into the camp.
He claimed to be from Illinois and seemed a friendly sort. They invited him to supper.

It was a bad decision.

After the chili, a loaf of bread and a twelve pack of Milwaukee’s Best
were scarfed down they sat around the fire passing around the half gallon of cheap
vodka and twisting up a couple of joints from carefully saved roaches. They were
pretty far gone when the conversation turned to politics.

“What’d ya think about Ross Perot?” Joe said, asking no one in particular.

“Some of tha' things he says sound good,” trumpted Larry.

“Yea if he could get us some fuckin’ work I’d vote for him,” Nina said.

“I think he’s fulla’ shit,” Bill snidely remarked.

“Aw man I think the guy’s pretty stand-up,” said Joe. “He talks like he has a plan to put people back to work.”

“You guys don’t know shit,” Bill said. “The fucker’s just another corporate jerk-
off tellin’ you want ya wanna hear.”

“You’d better watch your mouth ‘round my woman,” Larry said. “I’ve heard too
much of your shit already and I’m about ready to shove my fist down it.”

“Hey guy,” Joe said to Bill, “just chill out.”

“Chill out my ass mother fucker,” Bill said. “What the fuck ya gonna do about

“For one thing asshole,” Joe said, “I’m gonna pistol whip you with this forty-
five hog leg I got strapped to my hip. And second….”

About that time Larry came out of nowhere with a round house punch
to Bill’s jaw. Joe jumped in and smacked Bill a couple of times with the barrel
of his Colt. After that it was just a flurry of punches and kicks; then nothing but a

Joe was getting a blow job from Rachel. She gave damn good ones. “Hey
baby,” Joe said, “just keep lickin’ like it’s a Tastee Freeze--yeah, right.” Something was wrong though. He couldn’t get it up. Joe came out of the dream with Rachel
shouting at him from the door of the tent.

“Herbie Joe we got to get packed up. The deputies say we got a half hour ‘fore
they’re gonna start arrestin’ people.”

“What tha' fuck?” Joe groggily replied. Joe moved and his head felt like it had
been pounded with jack hammers and his mouth tasted like a cat had pissed in it. Joe
thought, “that stupid-assed mother fucker Bill, why the fuck couldn’t he have left well
enough alone?”

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Climb


Chuck Connors

The sunlight seemed magical as the shifting patterns of light danced along
the ridges and hollows. The trees swayed in the wind gently murmuring to each otherand the birds’ mating calls proclaimed the age-old rites of spring. It was the day
for the climb up the mountain. Crossing over an old foot log Eddie paused to look down
at the trout holding position in the current of the stream. He wondered what those
trout thought in their tiny fish minds of the huge creature seemingly suspended in
another universe above their lies?

Something caught Eddie’s attention on the bank. An old man shabbily dressed
and leaning heavily on a walking stick hobbled on a path by the creek towards the boy.Eddie wasn’t sure what he might be up to.

“Hey who you be?” said the old man. Grimy and ragged he limped closer and
showed a snaggled-toothed grin.

“My folks named me Eddie, sur and I’m climbin’ to the top of the mountain
today. Have you been up thare?”

“Yep, many times,” replied the old man. “On a clear day you can see all the way
to the settin’ sun—some say even further.

“Is the way passable?”

“Yep,” replied the old man, “but its growed up an rocky an’ steep in
places. Last year another boy was charged by an old boar bear who dens near
the top. The boy ran and the bear caught an killed ‘em. You’d best be careful.”

“Oh I’ll take care,” said Eddie. “No old boar bear is goin’ to stop me from
gettin’ to the top.”

“Keep yur eyes peeled,” said the old man. “he’s liable ta show up when you
least expect ‘em.”

As the old man disappeared in the bushes downstream Eddie gazed up at the ridge
and said a silent, but fierce prayer of determination to the God that the preachers
shouted about. He gripped his stout walking stick, checked his hunting knife
in its sheath and thought “enough, time to do it.”

Eddie walked silently on the path as it gradually wound above the stream.
From time to time he saw dark shapes leaping through the trees. Their piercing
barks and furtive movements marked them as fox squirrels. He had hunted them
with his blow gun in the hollows near his families’ cabin. At other times Eddie
heard loud crashes deeper in the woods. He thought these were probably Elk but
he wasn’t sure. The noises sent shivers down his spine.

Eddie crossed the creek, now only a yard wide and followed the overgrown
path as ancient steps led into a cave-like cleft in the rock. The ceiling was low.
Eddie bent to keep from cracking his head on the jagged rock. Lichen grew on thewalls of the cave. It smelled of bat droppings and things rotten.

Eddie finally emerged from the cleft and stood on a bluff overlooking the
valley. He took a short break. He could see down the drainage for several miles.
A tiny spring came out of the ground between two rocks. Eddie greedily drank all
he could hold.

As Eddie climbed onward, the character of the trail and forest changed.
The trail became steeper and rockier while tall incredibly dense mountain
laurel, impenetrable to humans, replaced the hemlock and rhododendron of the
lower elevations. Eddie looked upward as he heard a high pitched ‘kree kree,’
just able to see the tiny outlines of hawks against the clouds.

Suddenly there was a loud commotion in the bushes just ahead. Cat-like
screams pierced the air as the laurel rocked backed and forth. A fully grown
catamount burst out of the bushes and bounded up the path. Right on its heels
a huge panther leaped out with a roar it’s claws raking at its opponent. Both
cats disappeared quickly leaving a few startled birds and the shaken boy.

Eddie grasped his staff tighter and climbed higher. He finally came
to tremendous sheer cliffs that fell from the top of the mountain far above down
to the valley below. There was only one possible way. A tiny ledge, only a
couple of feet wide, seemed to cross the cliff face. Beads of sweat covered
Eddie’s face as he carefully placed each foot on the loose shale. He used his
staff to test for dangerous spots. Weathered hand-holds helped him to cling
to the rock.

Eddie inched his way several hundred feet across the cliff face when
from around a sharp bend he heard a low menacing growl. Eddie froze.
The sound came again and now it was a roar of defiance and hate. Something
long, dark and low, with lots of teeth and claws came around the bend in the
cliff face. The demonic creature launched itself directly at Eddie’s throat.
Eddie instinctively brought up the end of his staff in a defensive posture.

The thing, mean looking with red eyes and slobbering jaws hit the end of the
staff with its chest, jarring Eddie to his knees. Eddie ducked as the beast flew
past his shoulder. One of its sabered paws reached out and tried to rake Eddie’s
head. Instead its claws ripped the shoulder of Eddie’s hunting shirt. Eddie
managed to pivot the staff and watched as the hell-beast fell into the valley
below. Its crazed screams were extinguished as the faint sound of its body crashing
into tree limbs reached Eddie’s ears. He stood upright and wiped the fear-sweat
from his brow.

Just around the bend the ledge ended. Running in a zigzag pattern up the
cliff was a crack not much wider than his body. Eddie tied the staff to his back
with a short piece of rope and began crawling up the indentation. Each foot he
climbed was taken literally hand over hand and he dared not look down.

Eddie finally clawed his way between two gigantic boulders which were poised
on the edge of the cliff. Crawling up on a flat area Eddie was amazed at what he saw.
Several circles of rocks, each stone larger than a man, stood one inside the other on the
summit. In the very center was a tall flat stone with strange markings on it.
Eddie had heard legends about the top of the mountain but he hadn’t really believed
any of them until now. There was something eerie about the flat stone. It seemed to
somehow not be of this world as it shimmered in the dim light. Poised just over the
summit a gathering of huge blue-black clouds gave Eddie a feeling of an ominous threat.

As Eddie slowly moved towards the summit stone he heard a deep woofing
sound just to the south of the summit. Small Spruce trees were knocked down
or pushed aside. As in a feat of sorcery a huge bear suddenly appeared limping into the clearing.
Its ancient grizzled snout snuffling at the air. Eddie quickly reached behind his back and
untied the staff. The old boar bear, Eddie estimated, looked bigger than one of the heifers
his mother owned. Its fur was shaggy and a nasty stench came from the gigantic beast.

The bruin caught the scent of man-flesh and let out a roar of anger as it began to
lope towards him. Eddie crouched low with his staff extended point first and prepared
to meet the charge of the angry animal. The slavering monster slid to a stop just
a few steps in front of Eddie and reared up with a gigantic roar. Eddie desperately
speared his staff into the chest of the bear before the bear batted the point out and away.

Eddie took a step back keeping the point of the staff directed at the bear. He
told himself that he probably didn’t have much longer to live but he refused to give
up. The bear charged and Eddie thrust the staff into the side of the bear and jumped
to one side. The bear roared, broke the staff into two pieces and tried to wheel.
Its two hind legs slipping on the very edge of the precipice as the monster struggled
to keep from going over. The taloned front paws dug huge furrows in the rocky
soil. The bruin stopped its fall and pulled itself back on to the summit plateau.
The horrible thing was insane with rage. Eddie pulled the large hunting knife
from its sheath. Balancing the heavy blade in his hand he threw the knife as hard as
he could point first into the chest of the bear. The bear swiped at it with one of its
paws but couldn’t brush it free. It charged Eddie.

At that moment a strange blue light seemed to envelope both the boy and
the bear. The air crackled and Eddie’s hair stood on end. He threw himself to one side as
the bear, its huge canines dripping with saliva, attempted to engage him in a death grip.
A bolt of whitish-blue fire streaked from the heavens and struck the ground just in front
of the bear. Eddie was knocked unconscious.

When Eddie regained consciousness he lifted his head and realized his hair and
clothes were smoking from the tremendous heat generated by the bolt. He saw that the
bear had been cooked in a split second and its pelt was on fire. The bear’s eyes still
gleamed with a seeming hunger-hatred.

Eddie staggered to his feet with the noise of the thunderclap still ringing in his
ears. He stumbled over to the tall flat stone and pulled himself up to the top by steps that
had been hollowed out of the side. The stone seemed to vibrate with power.

As Eddie stood it seemed he was on top of the world. Eddie turned to the
West and saw far towards the horizon, where the sun goes to sleep at night, a
tremendous range of snow-capped mountains. Eddie knew now that this had just
been the beginning.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Tootles the Dancing Cat


Chuck Connors

Ya’ll might of heard about Oscar the ‘death cat’. He’s the furry nursing home‘therapy’ animal up in Rhode Island that likes to be there at the end. Some folks claim he’s got special powers that give him the inside dope on a patient’s passing. Shoot, adoctor even wrote about him in the high brow New England Journal of Medicine. It all may be true but I sure wouldn’t bet my last dollar on it. Speakin’ of dollars that reminds me of my daddy’s friend Delmar Judaculla Moses and his dancing cat, Tootles.

Now Delmar was always the fast talker—willing to trade for just about anything.
He usually got the best end of the deal too. Delmar ran a produce and souvenir stand
just outside of Dillsboro on Highway 441. When he wasn’t fleecing tourists at the stand
he was installin’ indoor plumbing for the snooty town folks.

One day after school I went over to Delmar’s house to go huntin’ squirrels with
his two boys Elbert and Willie. Delmar had a big cardboard box up under the porch and
said “you boys ken take a look if yore real quiet like.

We poked our noses up under the porch and lo and behold the box was full of
kittens! They was all black ‘cept for one—a scruffy lookin’ gray with four white
slippers. Lookin’ closer, the girl-kitten had something we’d never seen before—a blue
eye an’ a gray eye. After a bit Delmar told us to git and to leave the critters alone.

The next year was a dry spring an’ not much rain a ‘tall throughout the summer.
Hershel Greene, who’d been drilling wells for the folks that just couldn’t cotton
to perfectly good spring water was havin’ a hard time findin’ water for some of ‘em.
Delmar heard about it and called up Hershel sayin’ he figured he had just the thing.
Hershel, knowin’ that Delmar had studied up on some geology when he’d gone to
college figured that Delmar might could help him out, said to come on up to the
drill site near Cashiers.

Delmar drove up bright and early the next morning and got out of the beat-up
Ford pick ‘em-up he drove with a cardboard box that had a bunch of holes poked in it.

“What’ch got thare Delmar?” Hershel said with a big grin on his mug just knowin' that Delmar was gonna pull some sort of trick.

"Oh just this here cat I trained to find water Hershel," said Delmar.

“I know you ain’t trying to mess with me with some kinda foolishness Delmar.”

“Naw, it’s the real thang Hershel. I’ve been trainin’ up this cat for the best part of
a year and she always hits it right on.”

“Now this is somethin’ I’ll just half to see,” said Hershel with a look a pure
skepticism that woulda made one of them college types proud.

Delmar reached in the box and pulled out a scruffy gray queen with white feet
and said “Tootles, its time to go to work.” Delmar pulled out one of those cat toys, a fake
mouse on a string, that you could buy in the dog and cat section of the hardware store
downtown and commenced to dangle it above the cat’s nose. Tootles half-heartedly
batted at it a couple of times and gave Delmar a look as if to say, “is this what you
brought me here for?"

Delmar said “okay Tootles you always want a treat first, here’s ya one. Now
dance for me and find the water,” as he threw the gray a sardine out of a can he’d opened
Tootles leaped for the sardine, ate it and suddenly started to jump up and down like she was on a hot stove. “C’mon now find it girl,” Delmar urged as Hershel looked
on in total disbelief. The cat continued to bounce around on its back paws for about a
minute and suddenly sat down and began to wash its paws. All of a sudden Tootles quit
washing, jumped over to a spot off under a bush and began howlin’ like she was in heat.

“Hershel, that thares whare yore water’s gonna be at—probably purt close to the
surface, the way she was howlin’ and all.”

“Now if that don’t beat all,” said Hershel disbelievingly. “Jus’ how in the name
of all that's holy does that cat now whare the water’s at?”

“That’s were it’s at Hershel and if ya don’t believe me and Tootles well you ken
jus keep hittin’ dry holes” said Delmar as he picked up the cat and got in the truck. “Oh
by the way Hershel that one won’t cost you ‘nothin’—but the next one, well me an’
Tootles charge by the job,” said Delmar as he took off towards Tuckaseigee. It weren’t
but a day or two ‘fore Delmar got a call from Hershel.

“Darned if you weren’t right Delmar. I didn’t drill twenty foot ‘fore we hit a
gusher. I got a ‘nother couple of drill sites up near Highlands if you’d like to brang that

Pretty soon word got around that Delmar had a cat that could beat the dowsers
with their sticks just about every time. One afternoon a big fancy Cadillac pulled up
and a flatland city-slicker got out smoking on a big cigar.

“How’re you doin’ today Mr. Moses? My name is John May Pettigrew, pleased
to meet you suh.”

Eye’n the city-slicker up and down, Delmar noticed the Florida plates on the
caddy. “Well I ‘spect I’m doin’ fair to middlin’ Mr. Pettigrew. Kin I get ‘cha some o’
these ripe ‘maters I jus got in?”

“No thank you Mr. Moses, I’ve come to see about buying that amazing Felis
silvestris catus
you’ve been using to find water here in these magnificent Smoky

Well I’d be real put out to part with such a valuable cat Mr. Pettigrew,” Delmar
said as he looked the flatlander up and down and knew that he had ‘em in the palm of
his hand.

“Mr. Moses, would $1,000.00 make you more agreeable,” said Pettigrew as he
pulled out a fat wallet?

“I might re-consider let’n you take this here cat off’n my hands for say
$2,000.00,” Delmar said as he scuffed the toe of his beat-up Redwings in the dust.

“Done, Mr. Moses,” Pettigrew said excitedly as he fanned out a sheaf of bills.
Pettigrew tore out of there with Tootles like his pants were on fire. Delmar laughed all
the way to the bank!

‘Course ya’ll know how the story ends. Delmar had trained the cat to dance and
howl when he made a little signal with his hands as folks would be too busy watchin’
Tootles do her bouncin’ and howlin’ act. What happened to Tootles, you say? Well after
the word got out that Tootles was just a good performer Delmar gave her to me. Two or
three kittens in each one of her litters would come to have those strange blue and gray
eyes an’ at least two white paws. They got to be right smart mousers too. Least that’s
what them snooty town folks I sold ‘em to tell me.

Aunt Lucille Whups the Bear


Chuck Connors

Some of ya’ll might have heard about the bear that staged a break-in at the WNC
Nature Center in Asheville awhile back. Accordin’ to media reports a yearling black
bear scaled a ten foot fence and dropped in to do a little visitin’ with the center’s
herd of deer. Bob Fay, the nature center’s critter curator, said the deer “didn’t much
appreciate the visitor”. Why wouldn’t Bambi welcome a friendly visit with his ole buddy
Smokey the Bear?

Speakin’ of visitin’ that reminds me of the time brother bear visited my Aunt
Lucille. Aunt Lucille was a nurse up at C.J. Harris hospital and a lot of times she’d
work over-time and get back to the house pretty late. Her husband Rufus would leave the
back door unlocked when he left to go to work at the mill in Sylva ‘cause sometimes
Aunt Lucille would forget her key to the house. The bolt on the back door didn’t catch
too well and Aunt Lucille had been pestern’ Uncle Rufus to fix it for the longest time.
But you know how us men-folks can be with those honey-do’s.

It had been a cool spring with a late freeze and most of the berries and such that
bears and other critters in the woods ate just weren’t coming out. A big ‘ole black boar
bear happened to be huntin’ up some garbage cans close to town and scented Aunt
Lucille’s pot roast simmerin’ on the back of the stove. He peered into the house
and spotted a plate of cookies settin’ on the kitchen table like they was just waiting for
him! Well it weren’t long ‘fore brother bear just happened to nose up to the back door
and give it a little push. The pearly gates opened up and brother bear was in heaven!

First, brother bear devoured the oatmeal-raisin cookies on the kitchen table.
Like a lot of us folks brother bear’s motto was dessert first main course later.
Next he attacked the pot roast on the back of the stove—sliding it frontwards and spilling
the contents all over the kitchen floor. A perfect mess!

After devouring the tasty pot roast off the kitchen floor, brother bear smelled a
strange scent coming from the pantry. He ambled over to the pantry door pushing it
open. There sittin’ in the corner was Uncle Rufus’ beer crock plum full of strong bubbly
brew. After chowing down on the cookies and the pot roast brother bear had a powerful
thirst. He knocked the heavy clay top off and commenced to slurpin’ up Uncle Rufus’
best homebrew.

When ‘ole brother bear was done he belched contentedly and feeling a little
sleepy padded up the stairs wobbling from side-to-side. Nosing the bedroom door open
brother bear saw Lucille and Rufus’ bed which looked just fine for a post-feast nap.

Aunt Lucille came home to find the back door wide open to the world. She
took one look at the hog wallow in her kitchen and just about had a conniption fit.
“That man,” she thought, “he’s a gonna get my broom on his backside” as she
commenced to cleanin’ up.

When Aunt Lucille got done cleaning up the mess she was plum wore
out. As she started to the head of the stairs she could hear the snorin’ and thought to
herself, “Rufe ate all that pot roast, cleaned out the brewin’ crock of homemade beer
and now it sounds like he’s logging the whole forest. Can’t I ever get any rest?”

The light was burnt out in the hallway and Aunt Lucille felt her way up the stairs
to the bedroom that she and Uncle Rufus shared. As she opened the door the snoring
from brother bear sounded like hogs tussling over the feeding trough. Aunt Lucille got
into her night gown and slippin’ into bed gave brother bear a poke with her elbow and
said “Rufe quiet down so’s I can get a little sleep.” Brother bear grunted and shifted in
his home brew induced stupor.

When brother bear wouldn’t quit snoring Aunt Lucille gave the bruin a little
nudge with her hip. Well brother bear didn’t like that too much and gave out a little
growl that made Lucille sit up and take notice. She took one look at who her bed partner
was and sprang out of bed like she’d seen the Booger man himself!

Aunt Lucille grabbed the broom settin’ in the corner and started chasin’
brother bear ‘round the room. Just when she was gainin’ on him the bear would give a
little jump and get away. Finally, Aunt Lucille cornered the poor drunken bruin by the
dresser and gave him a good whop with the broom. Brother bear saw his chance and
leaped towards the window like one of them gold medal winnin’ Olympic high jumpers
and crashed right through it. Aunt Lucille rushed to the window and all she could see
was brother bear high-tailin’ it for the woods like a thirsty man headed for his still.

After that little incident Aunt Lucille made sure Uncle Rufus fixed that bolt on the
back door. So the next time you see brother bear pokin’ ‘round the backyard of your
‘little house in the big woods’ just remember he’s hungry and it’s his front yard!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Uncle Billy Ray's Sheep Get Baptized


Chuck Connors

Down in the flatlands of Eastern North Carolina there’s an Apex man that’s
got a powerful interest in sheep. Now just wait a minute ‘for you get the wrong
idea ‘cause this ain’t one of them kinda stories. According to the A-ssociated
Press, David Watts was arrested for having 77 sheep in his house just outside of
Raleigh. The police were called when someone happened to notice “sheep grazing
in the town cemetery.” Investigatin’ further the police discovered Watts kept “some
of the younger sheep on the ground floor of his house” and “others in pens in the

Now all this tomfoolery reminds me of the time my Uncle Billy Ray’s sheep
got baptized. Say what? Uncle Billy Ray had a place up Cullowhee creek and was
something of a free spirit and a practical joker. He was known through out the
county for the menagerie of critters he kept too. Besides dogs, cats, pigs, cows and
the odd ‘possum , Uncle Billy had a small flock of Merino sheep. One day Uncle
Billy heard about a new circuit ridin’ preacher in the county so he thought he’d have
a little fun.

Billy Ray invited the new preacher to stay up at his place and the circuit
rider, a Reverend Henry T. Willis, accepted hoping to win another soul for the Lord.
Preacher Willis rode up to Uncle Billy’s place ‘bout a week later on a decrepit old
mule. Billy Ray welcomed the preacher and invited him in to have some victuals.

During the meal Uncle Billy poured the preacher a cup of clear liquid (XXX)
from an old clay jug Uncle Billy kept for special occasions. The preacher took a sip,
made a peculiar face, and said, “Brother Billy this here’s some strange tastin’

Uncle Billy told the preacher, “why Reverend that thare’s some special water
from my ‘sacred spring’.” “Sacred spring”, remarked the preacher, "I ain't heard a any
a’ them kind a’ miracles ‘round these parts!”

“Yes suh,” said Uncle Billy Ray, “we was havin’ trouble with it runnin’ so’s I got
the old circuit rider, Preacher Jones, ta bless it.” “I dug a pond on the hill out
back and folks been comin’ from all over to get baptized right here in the ‘Holy
waters’ of tha ‘sacred spring’.”

“Praise the Lord,” said the preacher (who was fully took in by Uncle Billy’s ruse),
“it tastes powerful strange but I likes it. Can I git another?”

Much later, after a lot more cups of ‘water’ from the ‘sacred spring’, Uncle
Billy had to pour the preacher into his bed. Billy Ray said the man of the cloth was
just a snoring up a storm.

A little before sunrise Uncle Billy poked the preacher sayin’ “Preacher
wake up there’s sinners to be baptized and souls to be saved from the Devil.”
The preacher, all bleary-eyed and far from sober said, “Brother Billy,
give me a ‘nother cup a’ that sacred spring water so’s I can wet my throat.”

Uncle Billy did, helped him to his feet, and led him in the dark to the
‘baptizing pond’ out back of the house on the hillside. Earlier that morning
Uncle Billy Ray had penned up his sheep right next to the pond and he also had
invited a whole crowd of his friends and neighbors from up and down the creek.
Little did they know just what Uncle Billy was plannin’.

Preacher Willis said a long prayer, not much of which anybody could understand,
and ended with a loud “A-men.” He stepped into the pond and immediately
proceeded to fall flat on his back-side sending a wave of ‘sacred spring’ water
soakin’ the legs of the gathered crowd. Preacher Willis struggled to his feet with a kind
of pinched look on his face and drippin’ wet cried out “Brothers and Sisters we’re
gathered here this fine mornin’ ta’ bring sinners to tha Lord.” “Who’s gonna be
first to be saved?”

Uncle Billy Ray replied, “Preacher, I got a whole bunch of repenters for ya”
“They wuz at a house party up the way an’ lightnin’ struck the house. I think they’s
got the fear of the Almighty in ‘em. They’s ready ta come ta the Lord.”

“Thank ya Brother Billy,” said the preacher. “ Bring me the first sinner.”

Uncle Billy Ray started to open the pen and grab the first ewe. Right then,
my cousin Eugene who’d just come back from Asheville on a late night moonshine
run and had over indulged hisself in several heaping plates of pinto beans and cornbread
at an Asheville greasy spoon, cut loose with what I believe to be the loudest flatulence
ever produced by a human being on Cullowhee creek.

A woman screamed and Uncle Billy’s sheep stampeded knockin’ the pen flat.
Most of the crowd of folks was plum run over by the crazed ruminants. The
‘baptizing pool’ became a riot of floundering humans and struggling sheep.
Preacher Willis had a look of absolute terror on his face as a large ram jumped
up and ducked him under with a loud ‘Baaaa’. Uncle Billy managed to escape a
dunkin’ until one of the angry women threw a lamb in the water at his feet an’
drenched ‘em.

Later on Uncle Billy made a public apology at the Church and even sent
a bushel of apples to the Bishop. I imagine the folks down in Apex will be talking for
sometime about Watts and his sheep just like folks up on Cullowhee creek still
remember the day Uncle Billy Ray’s sheep got baptized.