Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure (Part 1)

People throw away trash all the time, and they think that's the end of it.  If you put it in the trash can, it is gone, but that's not always the case.

Denny worked as a janitor at a local law firm.  He had a criminal record, but no one at the firm knew about it.  He had moved from one dead end job to the next before his stint in the state prison for larceny, and he did pretty much the same thing after that.  His job as a janitor was the latest in this string of jobs.

Denny always hated lawyers, and he hated them even more after his court appointed lawyer botched the cross exam of the police officer at his trial.  More than likely, this lost the trial, but Denny just needed someone to blame, someone to point to besides himself.

Denny never got along well with people.  He assumed they didn't like him, and he was right most of the time.  Denny wasn't inherently unlikeable, but  his hunched posture and quick awkward movements did not endear him to others; those traits gave him a ferral quality.  Denny was the type to smile at you while he ripped your guts if he had the chance.

"Hey there Denny," said Martin Blackwell, a forty-three year-old partner at the firm.  Martin had mostly black hair, but it was laced with enough silver to make make him distinguished.  He was also a dead ringer for George Clooney.  Martin had recently divorced, and he was dating a twenty-five year old trainer at the local Fitness 2000.  Denny didn't like him much.  In fact, he hated him.  Martin was everything Denny wasn't.

"Hello Mr. Blackwell, got a hot date tonight?"

"No Denny.  I've got to review these deposition transcripts in preparation for my construction mediation tomorrow."

"I hear you, Mr. Blackwell, but don't work too hard," Denny said.

"I will try not to Denny, but you know what they say...."

"What's that?"

"The law's a jealous mistress."

Denny laughed, but, as soon as the elevator closed, he cursed.  "That bastard.  He's so smug."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sometimes God Has a Way of Taking Care of Things

Moravia's City Council met on the first and last Mondays of every month.  Most of the issues discussed involved land use and zoning.  Although important, most citizens did not realize the significance of these issues, and the meetings didn't have high attendance.  Generally people are unaware the most significant decisions governmental bodies make aren't noticed.  These decisions are made in empty meetings at City Hall, the State Capitol and the U.S. Capitol.

Sometimes, however, people get upset over a cause, and they won't let it go.  For example, the issue of whether to fly the Christian flag over City Hall was slated to be discussed at the first meeting of the new year. 

Anyone who understands basic First Amendment law should realize flying a Christian flag, or any other religion's flag for that matter, over a governmental building is blatantly unconstitutional.  Multiple cases have held that.  But some people cannot let that issue go.  In order to play to their base, a few of the council members drafted a resolution.  No one expected it to pass.

Mark Butcher was one of the few people who thought it would pass.  A few weeks earlier Mark lost his job at the local textile mill because the mill shut down and went to another country.  He couldn't find a job anywhere else due to the bad economy.  Mark felt it was more than a bad economy.  He accused the Mexicans "of taking his job."  He also said "They've taken God out of the schools, and they are taking away our other rights," although he could not articulate what those rights were.  Mark had barely graduated from high school, and history had never been his strongest subject.

One Friday night in early January, Mark heard from a friend at the movie theatre that the City Council was going to decide whether to fly the Christian flag over Moravia City Hall.  "You mean that's even an issue!  Everyone knows this is a Christian nation," Mark shouted at his friend, and he stomped out of the theatre knocking down an eight-year-old girl in the process.  But he didn't stop to say he was sorry.

He showed up at the meeting on Monday with a speech scribbled on the back of a McDonald's bag.  He was out of paper, and it was the only thing he could find to write on.  He waited through all of the speeches too nervous and too unsure of himself to give his speech.  There were a number of speeches for and against.  Mark was confident the measure would pass.  It didn't.  It failed 5-2.

Mark couldn't believe it.  He jumped up and rushed to the podium, emboldened by the perceived failure of the council to follow what Mark believed was the will of God.  "What do you mean the measure failed!  How can you do that?!  Go to Hell you bastards!  I bet you are all a bunch of Jews!"  Without warning Mark pulled out a .38.  BAM BAM.  A gun flashed, but it wasn't Mark's.  When the smoke cleared, literally, Mark lay on the floor, dead.  Gunshot wound to the head.

Gus the security guard's aim was true.  Gus remembered the security guard who gunned down a would-be-killer in some other state; the man had been all over the networks.  When Mark started ranting and raving, Gus had pulled his gun.  Mark couldn't see him because Gus approached from behind and flanked him.  In over twenty years on the job, Gus had never fired his weapon.

The local newspaper called Gus a hero, and the mayor gave him a key to the city.  When asked about the shooting Gus responded "God has a way of taking care of things."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Now That You are Gone, all That's Left is This Note on a Napkin

Dallas was tired of Shelia. He wasn't one to settle down.  Moving from one woman to the next was as natural for him as the changing of the seasons.  Despite the alienation of affection lawsuit against him by Barrett and Shelia's slaying of Barrett, where she was acquitted using the "he needed killing defense," he knew he needed to get out of the relationship.  It wasn't going as well as it should, and he was restless.

Dallas and Shelia had been together for two months, and that was one month too long for Dallas (one month was about his average for a relationship).  He gawked at other girls in front of Shelia.  He couldn't help it, and he knew it pissed her off. Dallas liked women, and the women liked him.  That was part of what attracted her to him in spite of her marriage to Barrett.  Shelia loved that Dallas was an object of desire, but that made it hard to have a long term relationship with him.

"I was thinking we could go to the lake for the 4th of July," Shelia said to Dallas as she leaned up against him, stroking his mullet.  She always loved his hair.  Some people made fun of mullets, but she always found them attractive.  She guessed they reminded her of Samson's hair.  And she was his Delilah. 

The problem wash: she loved him, but he didn't love her.  And it wasn't right to stay it if he didn't love her.

"Maybe," he said reluctantly.

Eyes welling, "okay," she said and stormed out of the room.  Next he heard the door slam.  The engine of the Chevy Tahoe started, and tires screeched as she drove off.

Now was as good a time as any to leave, thought Dallas.

Dallas searched around for some paper to write a note to Shelia explaining why he couldn't stay.  He had never been much of a writer, but he did his best.  Because he couldn't find a sheet of paper he tore open a pack of 4th of July fireworks napkins and wrote on the blank side of the napkin "It just isn't going to work out.  I'm sorry.  Sincerely, Dallas."  He didn't want to use the word love because he didn't feel love.  Also, he didn't want to encourage her.  Likewise, he wasn't one to reminisce.

He drove off in his red Ford F-150.  He decided he'd go to live in Norfolk, Virginia, where his brother lived.

Surprisingly he didn't hear anything from Shelia for a few days, and that made him feel better.  He guessed she'd gotten over it, until he received a call on his cell phone one morning.

"Hellloooo," said Dallas, the whiskey from the previous night still on his breath and the pain pounding in his head.

"I guess you are pleased with yourself," an angry voice shouted.

"Who is this?"  "Shelia's mother!  She's dead you fool. When she got your note on a napkin where you said you left her, she was so upset she drove off and died in a car wreck.  What kind of asshole breaks up with someone that way?"

"I don't know what to say."  "You could say sorry and thank you.  You were her sole beneficiary on a  $500,000 life insurance policy.  She changed it the week before she died."  Shelia's mother hung up.

Dallas couldn't believe it.  He felt badly for a few hours, but then he thought of all that he could buy for $500,000.  All he left her was a note on a napkin, but she'd left him half a million dollars.  Maybe she gotten what she deserved for killing Barrett that way.  Oh well....he wasn't one to dwell.  Better to move on.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Horse Crap and Honeysuckle (Part 3)

Billy's success made him enemies.  In particular, Bobby Green didn't like Billy, and he didn't like alcohol at all.  It hadn't always been that way.  Bobby used to love to take a drink.  In fact, he took a lot of drinks, and it almost ruined his life, until he found Jesus.  In the mid-70s Bobby became a born-again Christian.  This was before he made his fortune in car washes.  He attributed his remarkable success to the hand of God.
He owned over 50 car washes in North Carolina and 20 in Virginia and Georgia.  The car washes netted him over $30 million per year, the lion's share of it going to Bobby, and all the car washes were closed on Sunday.

Bobby put 10 % of his income each year into two large evangelical churches, both of which he transformed from country churches to 10,000 members churches.  The churches, New Life 1 and New Life 2, had millions in their coffers, and each church had a state of the art fitness center, numerous flat screen televisions, multiple coffee bars, a school and a massive mission budget.  They were more like entertainment complexes than churches.

Due to Bobby's money and influence, he could often press for and get what he wanted at each church and in the community.  And he used the churches to further his own agenda both in business and politically.  For example, kids from the churches worked at his car washes for minimum wage.  In fact, he only employed church members; they were the only people he trusted.  Politically he used church members to support candidates, who were loyal to him.  Politics and business were the same to Bobby.

Bobby found out Billy wanted to start a car wash, and Bobby knew about Billy's ability to make money.  This concerned Bobby because he feared Billy would syphon off money from his business.  Competition was good, but not when you already had a monopoly.  So he decided to call on one of his biggest friends and supporters, Larry Shepard, the local D.A. for some help.  He knew nothing could stop a man in business or politics like legal trouble, particularly of the criminal variety.  And the D.A. had a lot of discretion as to what to prosecute.  In his county, it was a crime to serve under aged people.  The owner of the business was held criminally responsible.  There could be jail time, and the liquor license would be yanked.

"Larry," Bobby said in a fatherly manner.  "How's it going putting away the bad guys?"

"Same old shit, different days," responded Larry.  Larry, who was single and devoted to his job, admired Bobby.

"Please don't swear Larry.  God doesn't approve of that kind of language," said Bobby.

"Sorry about that," said Larry remorsefully.

"No problem, son.  Just remember whose listening next time.  Listen, I've heard some disturbing rumors about what's going on at the Honky Tonk Angel.  I hear Old Billy down there is serving under aged people.  Terrible.  I fear some of them may be from New Life 1.  In fact, I know it. Think you'd mind looking into that?  I've got some concerned parents"

"I guess I could send an undercover police officer down there, but that is more a police matter than anything else.  The police usually report these things to us.  Then we follow up.  But the Chief owes me a favor or two.  I can make some calls."

"That would mean a lot to me, Larry.  I know this is a bit unusual, but it is important," said Bobby.  With that, Bobby hung up the phone, convinced he'd get what he wanted.

Larry got to thinking:  This may be his chance to shut down the Honky Tonk Angel.  Lots of publicity.  More importantly, he would please Bobby, who he loved and admired.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Horse Crap and Honeysuckle (Part 2)

Even though Billy left the Bottoms, he couldn't escape the place.  The image of his dead father reminded him of what damage the wrong women can do.  He assumed, wrongly so, that all women were this way.  So he closed himself off emotionally.

Eight years after he left the Bottoms and Billy couldn't, at 26, form any type of lasting relationship.  What he could do, despite dropping out of high school like his father, was make money.  Lots of it.  He had the same ability as the cuckold, Wayne O'Reily, and it made him wonder if Wayne was really his father.

Billy made his money in the bar business.  He worked his way up from bar tender, to manager, to owner.  And his first bar turned a huge profit.  At the age of 22, he sold it for $2 million.  He used $1.5 million to buy another bar, and he called it "Honky Tonk Angel" after the line in the David Allan Coe song.

Honky Tonk Angel drew rednecks, yuppies, old and young.  The food wasn't bad.  The drinks were strong and cheap, and there was always the threat of danger.  The bar drew its inspiration from the movie "Roadhouse."

Billy was there every night.  He was a great boss, and all the women who worked for him wanted to marry him.  But he kept his distance.  "Why don't you date any Billy," asked one of the younger waitresses named Cathy.  Cathy wore her blonde hair short; she was tan; and she had the brightest smile he had ever seen.  And she had a sassy little attitude, but she was smart as a whip.

"Haven't found the right girl"

"If you don't date, then you will never find the right girl."

"I suppose."  Billy went back to work, counting his money and dreaming of a new business venture.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Horse Crap and Honeysuckle (Part 1)

Billy's mom, Crystal, left his dad for a two-bit insurance salesmen named Wayne O'Reilly.  His dad, Johnny, didn't see it coming.

Maybe it was O'Reilly's Irish charm, but, more than likely, it was his money.  He owned five insurance offices and a development company that brought in millions per year.  He wasn't an academic type, but he had that mystical ability to "make money."

By the time the divorce was final, Crystal took  almost everything (not much) but the worthless farm in an area know as the Bottoms.  Everything about the place said bottom from the rocky soil that wouldn't grow anything to the old horse named Gus.

Johnny put Gus out to pasture some years ago in happier times where it seemed like he and Crystal would always be together.  But things change, and, when they do, sometimes they don't change for the better.

Soon after Crystal left, Gus would poop out the most noxious horse crap, and its smell wafted throughout the farm.  The smell couldn't be escaped, just as the memory of Crystal coudln't.  And it only made Johnny more frustrated.  Eventually Johnny, who had never finished high school, developed such chronic back pain that he had to quit working at the local textile mill.  Somehow the Social Security Administration decided to award Johnny disability on the first go round.  Ironically, this wasn't a good thing for Johnny.

Johnny took the monthly disability check and blew it on moonshine that he bought from a still out in the county.  One day Billy came home from school and found his dad dead, clinging to a bottle of moonshine, stiff as a dead possum.  He clung to the bottle like it was the memory of Cyrstal.  Maybe it was the moonshine that killed him, but Johnny knew better.  It was a broken heart.  People do die of a broken heart.

At times, the smell of horse crap was overwhelming, but, even if faint, Billy could smell the aroma of  honeysuckle from beyond the pale of the farm.  It reminded Billy that the world was capable of sweetness and beauty, but not here.  No in the Bottoms.  So he followed the aroma and left, never to return.

Monday, January 3, 2011

He Needed Killing

Barrett Jones couldn’t get over it.  He couldn’t forget how Dallas McDonald slept with his wife in his bed, and the jury only made him pay $1 in damages.  The legal system was a crapshoot. 

He spent his days and nights driving this country’s lonely highways, and Shelia repaid him by picking up the likes of Dallas McDonald and screwing him.  But he loved Shelia.  He couldn’t stay mad at her, and he didn’t blame her.  Even when they were dating in high school, when she tried to make him jealous by kissing other boys, he always took her back.  He always found some way to blame the boys for Shelia’s mistakes, and he hated himself for it.

No.  This was Dallas’ fault.  And Barrett decided he was going to make him pay—with his life.  After all, this was the South, and a jury of his peers would take sympathy on him.  He felt a lot of men would want to give him a medal for killing Dallas.  That’s what you did.  Taking care of b’ness is how he thought of it.

Barrett remembered reading the story about the dentist, who murdered his wife because she repeatedly mocked his manhood.  The dentist was acquitted.  As with the dentist, this was a question of honor.

He didn’t have a creative plan.  Hard for a man who spent his day’s driving down the highways in silence to be creative. 

Barrett went to a gun show one Saturday at the flea market building off of College Drive across from the Lowes.  “You need a .38 for protection.  It’s a dangerous world, and the police ain’t going to be there fast enough to help you,” said the former biker, turned gun salesmen and part-time preacher.

“May I ask you a question,” the salesmen/part-time preacher said.  “Sure,” said Barrett.  “Is that tattoo on your arm with the name Shelia on it for your old lady?”  “Yeah it is,” replied Barrett.  “That’s why you bought this gun—to protect her.  You remember that if some asshole comes in your house, but I hope that day never comes.  Nice meeting for you.  I will ask God for your protection.”  This didn’t comfort Barrett.  In fact, the conversation only made him feel worse.

A few weeks later on a Monday night Barrett sat on his couch, ten Natural Light cans on the floor.  Shelia was out with her “girlfriends,” but he knew she’d been with Dallas.  He’d gone through her cell phone when she wasn’t looking and seen the call log.  Several calls a day to Dallas.

Barrett passed out on the couch about 11, with the Panthers losing another game.  Shelia stumbled in the door and woke Barrett up at around 12:30 a.m, drunk and smelling of Dallas’ cologne, Brut.

“You been with him again, haven’t you,” shouted Barrett.

“You got that right, and he’s better than you will ever be,” Shelia hissed, drunk and slopping looking.

She cursed him again, and Barrett lunged towards her.  But Shelia was too fast.  She shot down the hall and locked herself in the bedroom.  “Open up this damn door,” Barrett shouted.

Barrett ran full speed against the door with his right shoulder.  The door broke open, and two flashes sounded.  Barrett fell to the floor dead, shot by his own gun.  He died instantly.

The police arrested Shelia, but she got out on bail.  Despite a reputation for law and order, the judge granted bail.  Shelia had slept with him years ago, and the two e-mailed every now and then.  But only the judge and Shelia knew this.

Dallas paid her bail with the money he had been saving to pay Barrett for the lawsuit.  He also sold a Porsche a past girlfriend gave him to pay for the best criminal defense attorney in the state.  And the lawyer used two domestic violence charges against Barrett filed by Shelia to concoct a battered woman’s defense.  The jury bought it.

Shelia walked out of the courthouse with her attorney and Dallas.  A reporter asked her about the outcome, and Shelia said “like they say in Texas, he needed killing.”

Sunday, January 2, 2011

City of Moravia’s New Slogan: “where the past is always present”

 Moravia, NC: January 2, 2011.

The City of Moravia City Council is expected to adopt the new slogan “where the past is always present” at tomorrow night’s council meeting.  Last year the City Council voted against adopting the slogan.  However, the change in the composition of the City Council is expected to result in a unanimous vote in favor of the new slogan.
Opponents of the slogan say it focuses on the past.  Supporters of the slogan say Moravia’s past is something to be embraced.

The City of Moravia is alive and well

Keep your eyes open for more stories from the City of Moravia.  Dallas isn't going anywhere.  He got off easy last time, but next time it won't be so easy.  His nine lives are almost spent.  Barrett didn't forget what happened.

Are you curious about how Old Willy became Old Willy?

Honky Tonk Angel is not the best of places, but it is profitable.  Ownership is hidden by an elaborate web of corporations.  Someone is hiding something.

Feel free to comment or suggest new characters for this on going series of stories.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chicks Dig the Chicken Fried Mullet

            Everything is better when it is fried, especially when it is chicken fried. 

            Dallas loved the ladies, and the ladies loved Dallas.  His parents named him after the city of his birth.  Not very original, but most names are not original.  When they are, they aren’t well received.  Better to blend in.  Blending in is safe, but Dallas never blended in.  You couldn’t help but notice him, which is one of the many reasons the ladies loved him.

            He was tall enough and well built enough, but that wasn’t it.  Not a bad looking guy, but he was no Elvis.  However, he did have great hair, and he wore the hair a little long.  Not long, in the “Point Break,” Patrick Swayze quaffed way, but it was still a mullet.  It was long and greasy, like it had been dipped in bacon grease or chicken fried.  He was like Tim McGraw with good hair.  And, as is the case with Tim McGraw, women often said “there’s just something about him.”

            That “something about him” meant Dallas rarely had to work because he always had a sugar momma or a few sugar mommas.  Dallas  really was a good guy.  Men liked to hang out with him because he always had great stories, and subconsciously, men wanted to be him.

            Not everyone felt so positively about Dallas though. 

            One night Dallas went home with a woman named Shelia after knocking back a few Buds at the roadside bar Honky Tonk Angel.  He didn’t see a ring. 
            “WHAT’S HE DOING IN MY BED,” shouted an angry, male voice, rousing Dallas from sleep.  “Don’t blame him, he didn’t know,” shouted Shelia.  “He didn’t know I was married!”

              Truck driver home from a long-haul, and Shelia got her arrival dates mixed up.  Dallas stared at the cuckolded husband, who was momentarily paralyzed.  Husband regained his composure and swung clumsily at Dallas and missed.  Dallas scooped up his clothes and shoes off the floor and lit out like he had a fire under his ass.  He never did get Husband’s name.

            A few months later, Dallas was drinking a Bud at Honkey Tonk Angel, when a process server slapped him with a summons.  Barrett Jones was suing him.  “Who is Barrett Jones,” he thought.  Then he read further.  It was Shelia’s husband.  Mr. Jones was suing him for alienation of affection, an antiquated cause of action for cuckolded husbands and jilted wives.

            Dallas retained a lawyer paid for by one of his sugar mommas, and the case went to trial.  The jury came back with a $1 verdict against Dallas.

            After the trial, Barrett’s lawyer asked a few of the jurors why they didn’t find more damages.  There were ten women jurors and two male jurors, a dead give away to any good lawyer.  But Barrett couldn't afford a good lawyer; he got the town drunk, who somehow managed to not get disbarred. 

           A sweat little old lady named Pearl said “he reminds me of my grandson.”  Billy Ray said “I watched Law & Order once, and they said something about mens rea being necessary.  Dallas didn’t have that.  Besides, he is a good old boy, and I wouldn’t mind knocking back a few Buds with him.”

            Barrett saw a pretty blonde juror named Betty Sue slip Dallas her phone number as the two walked out of the courthouse.  "That bastard," muttered Barrett.  Barrett would never get it, but chicks dig the chicken fried mullet.