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Uncle Georges Rides Again,,,
Uncle George was crazy as a shit house rat. He had been most all his life, at least in a fun sort of way. He had accelerated once Aunt Flo had died some twenty or so years ago. Daddy hated the day that we took Uncle George to the “Sy-lum”, but Uncle George needed a lot more full time attention than we could give him. I knew that my visiting time with Uncle George was becoming short. I had some important things on my list to complete with him. Today was a good day. Sunny skies and the temperature was just right.
“Uncle George, hey there , I am Jim Bob. How are you doing?” Knowing he couldn’t hear a cannon go off if his butt was leaning against it, I was darn near yelling at the top of my lungs. I never could tell if he actually heard anything I was telling him. He leaned forward, each time, hunching his shoulder and squinting his sky blue eyes as if that would make him hear better.
“Huh? Whad ya say Glen Roy? I caunt hear ya, I ain’t got my teef in” He always laughed out in a series of outbursts with a wispy windy laugh. It always made me think he sounded like a blacksmith’s bellows blowing air onto the hot coals. His mouth, open in a big circle grin, as if to reinforce his claim of not having his “teef” in. His blue eyes still twinkling. “Shussssh, we gotta be quiet. They listening in on us all the time. These people that run this joint are nuts. Crazier than betsy bugs,, all ‘uv ‘em. You can’t trust none of ‘em. They even give you them there little pills that make ya,, ya know? Not chase women. I fool ‘em though. I drink a Mountain Dew right behind ‘em. Knocks ‘em in the head, right off. Just ‘cause they think they gonna hide my shells, it’s gonna keep me from going hunting’” Blacksmith bellows.
As a little boy I loved going over to Uncle George’s place. He enjoyed playing as much as us kids did. He had a nineteen forty nice GMC pickup that was in good mechanical order but had not been registered for many years. There was a dirt road that traveled the back side of his farm. He would take us on a whirlwind ride up and down the curvy hills at breakneck speeds. When we got into our early teens he let us sneak off by ourselves, but he enjoyed the rides as much as we did. I took the old truck to my place when Daddy took Uncle George to the sanitarium. I didn’t want vandals and the elements to just wipe it away.
“Uncle George, I think we should go on an adventure.”
His eyes fixed on my face. He was not smiling. He waited for a good long spell.
“They ain’t gonna let me just walk out of here‘ Are we gonna have to carry on here in this hell hole?” One eye, the left one, squinted closer to shut than the other one. He studied me right close.
“When was the last time you went for a ride? I mean a reaa-ull ride? The left eye almost shut now while the other one danced back and forth. Tongue licking recessed lips, darting from side to side like a grass snake stalking a bug. “I am fixing to break your ass outta here!” Big blacksmith bellows.
“I ain’t goin’ without Mona” Shut eye, no smile, tongue darting. “Me and her been a courting, when I can get my hands on a Mountain Dew.” Darting, waiting.
What the hell. Jail is jail. “Ok. Where is she?”
“Right down the hall. Two doors.” Shut eye. Darting.
“When I say so, go tell her to get ready and ya‘ll come back down here.. Don’t get into any long discussions. Now I was darting. Now what? “Have you got any matches?”
“Nope but I keep a Bic lighter, hidden for my pipe. Why?”
“Just give it here!”
“ Dang boy, you going to burn this sumbich down?” Big bellows.
“Not quite, but you just hang close when the commotion starts. Are you ready?” It took about sixty seconds for the Bic lighter on its highest setting to melt through the heat activator that kept the valve closed on the sprinkle system. Sirens and flashing strobe lights filled the corridors with voluminous alarm. White suits filled the halls and people where hollering from all directions.
“Get Mona.” Uncle George must have had a Mountain Dew with his lunch. He hit the floor in full stride, or more distinctively full shuffle. He was swinging his arms back and forth to give extra balance and speed. I grabbed his suitcase that he always kept packed. He expected every visitor to take him back home. As soon as I reached the hall they appeared. Mona kept looking at Uncle George then back at me as if to wonder what was going on. Uncle George must have noticed that too.
“We’re outta here Mona. Do you have what you need? Uncle George was in a heighten state of excitement to say the least.
“Old man, don’t wait on me. Let’s hook ‘em.” she had what looked like a pillow slip full of various belongings. She chewed ninety to nothing on a wad of Beechnut chewing tobacco. Her excitement was also apparent.
Nobody was paying attention to anyone that was walking on their own power. People who were being helped to walk and wheel chair patients had overloaded the staff. Hardly anyone noticed the three of us casually walking down the hall toward the door. Just before the main lobby Uncle George reached over to the red switch on the wall and pulled the lever, breaking the small glass seal. The alarm was already ringing. “That is for good measure.” He never even smiled. The exit doors unlocked when the fire alarm goes off so I pushed and the door opened. Mona stopped just before walking onto the porch. Uncle George and I both stopped to see what she was up to. The registrar was sitting in her office behind a plate glass shield. Mona turned her back to the frowning lady and gave her a big ‘ole moon.
“Dang Mona, you beat all I ever seen.” Uncle George slapped both knees. Big blacksmith bellows.
Stopping beside the restored nineteen forty nine GMC pickup truck, all three of us turned and looked at the old red brick “Sy-lum”. Time was precious, we had to get out of there.
We packed up and went to Far Rockaway beach for one last ride on the coaster