© S. Bradley Stoner
Woke up this morning and stepped out front to check the weather. Yeah, I know I could watch the weatherman on the news, but I trust my eyes and my nose, not to mention old injuries and joints, more. Why? Because they're generally more reliable. I took a deep breath... and I wished I hadn't. There was a pungent odor permeating the neighborhood... sort of like a mix of mesquite and sulfur. Heavy fog held it close to the ground. I left the sanctuary of the porch that is enclosed on three sides. I wish I hadn't done that either. There, belching gray-black smoke from a stubby stack, was that dilapidated old motor home in front of Bingo Bob's house. After a few weeks, Slick was back.
Now for those of you who don't remember, Slick is Bob's cousin... the one who fancies himself an inventor, but who is actually just a craft show gypsy (no offense to Gypsies). Behind that cruddy old motor home of questionable parentage, was an equally decrepit old boat. About a sixteen footer. It had a center console, but no wheel and wire guts hanging out where the gauges had once been. It had twin outboard motors, if you could call them that. Only one had a prop and both of them were missing their cowlings. Even at this distance, I could make out crusts of rust in between the globs of black grease, or was it congealed oil. Who knows? There was a hole in the port side about the size of a basketball through which you could see the pile of junk on the deck. One thing was certain, that tub wouldn't float and it dang sure wouldn't move under its own power.
I spotted Slick exiting his abode, dressed in Bermuda shorts and athletic shirt with hair sticking out the the arm holes and rear yoke, scratching his behind in a most immodest manner. Hoping the thick fog would obscure Slick's view, I turned to make my escape. Too late. I think the guy has 360 degree radar or something.
"YO," Slick yelled so the entire neighborhood could hear it. It started all the dogs barking.
I waved and turned to head inside, figuring it was too early for Slick to trot in my direction. I figured I was safe. I figured wrong. Slick was capable of a surprising burst of speed despite his beer belly and short legs. Heck, that big stogie with the end fired didn't even slow him down. I moved quickly toward the driveway. No way I was going to let Slick inside my house. In fact, I wasn't sure I wanted him on my driveway, but that was a moot point now, because there he was in all his glory, standing smack dab in the middle of my driveway.
Slick didn't wait for me to make an opening remark. "Whaddaya think of my new boat? Ain't it a beaut?! And I got it for a song! Traded a guy a rebuilt can opener and one of them cheap fantasy swords for it. I figure I got a whole twenty bucks into it. Leaves me plenty of margin to fix this baby up!"
"I'm not sure," I opined, "I think the other guy might have gotten the better end of that deal."
"Haw haw... yer quite the card, ain't ya?"
Only I wasn't joking, and I told him so. Slick's face clouded a little, then brightened. He opened his mouth, but I was saved by the bell... Bingo Bob had come out of his door and saw that Slick had returned sometime during the dead of night. "Dammit Slick, I told ya last time ya couldn't park that piece of crap here! The HOA won't allow it."
"Oh hell, Bob... I just spent the night. I'm leavin' in a couple of hours. I gotta be in Wisconsin next Tuesday. I should be able to just make it."
"Well, ya better come eat some breakfast now then."
"Keep yer britches on. I'm visiting' with yer neighbor."
"Oh, it's okay, you better grab your breakfast while you can," I said, hoping he would take the hint. No such luck.
"Hey... you ought to see the big screen TV I got at the swap meet."
"That's okay, Slick, I have a couple of good TVs already, so I don't really need one."
"No, no. I'm not selling it. Just wanted to show you the special mount I invented for it. I'm lookin' for investors. It's really cool," he added, "it's a ceiling mount.. you know, so you can watch TV in bed without being propped up. You just look straight up from yer pillow and wake up with nary a crick in your neck,"
I was impressed. Not by his invention, but by the fact that he knew the word "nary" and even used it correctly. I began to wonder if his hustler, pitchman linguistic style wasn't put on, but I didn't ask. There are some things you just don't need to know and, frankly, I didn't want to spend an extra hour with Slick. I might be retired, but I have better things to do. About that time, Bingo Bob yelled at him again, this time with an edge to it.
Slick made a noise and said, "Guess I'd better go before he has a kitten. Maybe we can spend a little more time together next time I come by"
I bid him goodbye and happy travels, but next time I'm going to look out my window to make sure Slick's rig isn't out there before going out.