Friday, July 19, 2013

No Farm, No Howl

Michelle was riding the other morn when she noticed a large fish flopping in the grass. 
After the rain of the past week he had gotten stranded and now was on his side and if asphyxiation didn’t get him that day, a coon would get him that night.  Michelle fetched a bucket, managed to get him in, then took him to a nearby arm of deep, brackish water.  He eventually swam away.  He was a large freshwater blue gill, maybe a pound or more.  And BTW:  I am so proud of my good-hearted wife.
I performed a similar act once.  I saved a large carp.  He had gotten stranded in a bean field after a small creek had flooded at my father-in-law’s farm back on the Kansas-Missouri border.  As I’ve learned, fish are the ultimate wanderers and they will explore virtually anywhere if only a trickle of water allows it.  In this case, after the water rapidly receded, the poor carp was left hanging out there to dry, literally, in the field, to slop and flop impotently in the brown mud.  I saw this from the house and walked down the steep hill to rescue him.  As I mucked through the mud and made ready to toss him back into the now tiny creek, my father-in-law boomed from afar, “Mike, bring him back here.  We’ll have him for supper tonight.  Mike, no, don’t do that!  Bring him up and we’ll eat him tonight.  Mike, no. . . . Oh, why did you do that?”
The carp was back home where he would be safe until the next little flood and his next opportunity to run aground again in a Kansas farm field.
BTW—There was no chance my father-in-law would be mad at me very long.  We were buddies.  We did everything together when my first wife and I went up there for weekend visits.
Claude Ronald Eads was an ex-Navy man, about average height but rotund and always out of breath.  He had served in the Pacific War and had gotten his lungs scorched during a fire aboard a flattop.  Kamikaze attack, I think.  Later, with nautical tattoos on forearms, Claude was a tug boat captain in Japan.  Still later, he was a Navy recruiter and womanizer for years throughout the Midwest.  Claude loved the water.  Even in Kansas he found ways to indulge.  When we went fishing on ponds he always had to put his little two-man electric motor boat in, even if the puddle was so small that one could easily cast a line clean across it.  He just had to float his boat on water.   
Claude loved to belly laugh long and loud at stale or corny jokes but he was terrible at telling them himself and often forgot how they went.  Nevertheless, he persisted.  He also loved to watch TV on Saturday nights and those dreadful live wrestling matches that emanated from St. Joe, Missouri.  He loved to bellow and rage at something that angered him but he was over it in a minute and with a laugh he returned to the genuine softy that he was.  
Despite his sometimes gruff, hard-shell exterior, Claude was really a weak man inside, and we all knew it.  One time he openly sobbed to his daughter and me as he pounded a wall complaining about being nagged and bossed like a fool by his wife.  As a child he suffered from what passed for discipline back then—severe beatings and long hours locked in dark sheds.  I have seen photos of Claude as a kid and indeed, there is a rather haunted and hurting look on his handsome young face.
I do believe that I loved Claude about as much as any person or pet in my life.  Although he died nearly thirty years ago of lung cancer, emphysema and complications from his war wounds, I miss the man to this very day.

Up Pensacola way, a young woman was spotted shoplifting wholesale from Dillards. When the thief reached the parking lot and her car brimming with kids she was suddenly surrounded by cops, one pointing a Buck Rogers Stun Gun, though in the dark it looked like a pistol.
“You will have to shoot through the baby to get me,” said the desperate woman as she grabbed one child still in its car seat.  When that failed, the woman flung the rock-a-bye baby, cradle and all, at a cop, then fled for it.
This gal was caught of course.  And what can one say?  What can one say?  She’s a bad mother?  Yeah, okay, that goes without saying.  Drugs made her do it?  That also goes without saying.  It just wasn’t a good day?  That’s an easy call too.  But what of it?  What about this young woman before drugs made her a bad mother making bad decisions on a bad day?  Back then, before this all happened, she must have been a decent, normal person of sorts or she would not even have had kids to begin with.  Had she been a terrible person back then she would have been in prison and that would have been all the natural birth control necessary.  No need for pills, or IUDs, or abortions.  
So it would seem the awful slide began well after the kids came.  Such a pity.  I have no answer; at least no answer that sounds smart in thirty seconds of thinking.  Sorry to take you down a rabbit trail like that, but sometimes life, like this woman, seems to have no meaning to it; no purpose, no explanation . . .  no hope.

Meanwhile down the coast a few at Ft. Myers, Donna Lynn Brown was totally hammered one night not long ago.  How hammered was Donna?  Well, lovely lady Donna Lynn was so loaded that when she made a sudden u-turn on busy US 41 in her SUV, she didn’t even realize that she had just run over a man on his motorcycle.  Indeed, Ms. Brown, age 55, was so plumb plastered that despite the noise, screams, sparks, and trailing smoke, she just continued on her drunken way oblivious to all the flashing high beams and horn honks from passersby as she dragged the man to death down below.  It was only after three miles and five minutes, and with her vehicle engulfed in flames, that the lady was finally pulled over by cops.
The fire was put out, Donna was hauled away, and, of course, there was almost nothing left of fifty-four-year-old Carl Patrick and his Harley except some sizzle and steam from what looked like a large burnt steak.  They might as well have just scrapped up Carl and his beloved bike and planted ‘em together since man and machine were melded into a solid blackened mess, one and inseparable.
And as for dear drunken Donna?  After posting bond, she was out of the can in a jiff; out and back at her favorite bar almost before the last bits and pieces of Carl had been hosed off the road.