Wednesday, November 4, 2009


The original plan had been for Hank to come alone. He was picking up seeds for James Winters’ farm. Soy beans had never been grown in the county back home, and Hank was carrying back forty pound sacks of seeds for James to experiment with growing. Both boys worked, off and on, for James Winters. Off and on, was about all any of the young folks worked after they had just graduated from high school. Billy Ray went directly to work for James and Hank had enrolled in a Junior College in the adjoining country. Junior college is the same thing as a community college in some other states. It was one of his “off” weeks so Billy Ray wrangled an invitation from Hank to make the trip. It didn’t take too much talking, Hank knew he would enjoy his company along the way.

“If this isn’t enough, just let me know. I will be right back with ya’ll’s beer”

She gently placed the two oval platters, piled high with whole fried catfish, on the table and turned to walk away. The mood had soften dramatically. The JAX longnecks were sweating ice cold condensation. droplets. They dripped tiny rain drops landing on the hem of her knee length outfit.

“Can I get you anything else right now?”

“I think we are OK, We’ll shout if we need something.” Hank noticed that suddenly she seemed tired. “My name is Hank. This here is Billy Ray. We are just visiting.”

With a shrug and a hint of a smile she actually seemed friendly. “Oh,? Well I’m Hazel” “There is a lot to do in Nuowluns, but only in certain parts. Her southern drawl was interlaced with something of an Italian twange. “I hope ya’ll have a good time.” A curly strand of chestnut hair feel across her eyes with a quick nod as she turned to go back into the restaurant to tend to other duties.

“Hank, when are we heading back? I think I could enjoy a couple of days down here.”

“We told James we would be back Thursday. He is only going to pay us for two days plus gas money, but hell, if we stayed a day or two on our own it shouldn’t matter. He is not going to plant those beans for a while anyway.”

“Get your goddamn hands off me!” The unmistakable sound of glass breaking and chairs falling over.

Instinctively Hank and Billy Ray jumped up and ran inside to see what was going on. Hazel was standing rubbing her fore arm keeping a table between her and a medium sized man who had grabbed a beer bottle and was waving it first at her and then the bar keep. Neither was making a move toward the man.

“Hey man drop it.” The attacker wheeled around to square off at Hank. The man broke the end off the beer bottle on the bar. Hank picked up a wooden ladder back chair and held it out like a lion tamer. He wasn’t sure that was going to be adequate but he had no other ideas at the moment.

“This ain’t your deal, dude.” The man was definitely in a fit of rage. Spit spewed with each word as if they were sentences of their own. “It don’t matter to me, if I have to go through you to get to her.” He took two steps slowly and then lunged toward Hank with the beer bottle pulled back ready to thrust at Hank. The assailant had been too focused to have noticed Billy Ray. Just as he lunged, Billy Ray swung a four legged bar stool, head level, and caught the man square in the face. The barstool collapsed and splintered pieces of wood flew across the bar and shattered liquor bottles in front of a plate glass mirror. As he collapsed to his knees, the force of the barstool sent his upper body falling backward and as he was losing balance he fell toward his left side. His head stuck the two by two square tubing boot rest that ran the length of the bar, and a gash opened up from his left cheek around to the back of his skull. Blood erupted in a fountain and he lay motionless except for a slight twitch in his right hand while releasing the jaggedbeer bottle as it clammered across the wooden floor..


  1. I'm laughing my ass off, because I spent a lot of time in a small town nursing home here in Georgia for a year and a half, and I can invision this happening there and with some of the residents that I knew!

  2. I must have scrolled down too far and put my nursing home comment on the barroom post? How did that happen?