Archive for Mostly true

Billy Staub

It was hotter’n blue blazes around this part of Texas this past summer; over a hundred degrees on a lot of days. It reminded me of this poem I wrote several years ago. It’s a true story–embellished a bit–and what happened on that long ago day had everything to do with the heat. Lord knows I wish I could say the whole thing happened in my imagination. If it hadn’t been so hot, and the logging crews hadn’t been shut down, Billy Staub might still be with us. But then again… probably not.

This Silence Was Not Golden

 

I was on the porch in the wood swing

It creaked and gently swayed

In a hot south wind

 

No workin’ in the woods on those kinda days

Fire danger and all

Didn’t matter to me

 

I was four beers in; two to go

And Hank Jr. was croonin

‘Bout bein’ whiskey bent

 

Billy Staub’s chainsaw was whinin’

Out back somewhere

An angry steady sound

 

Dale’s old hound dog came up and laid at my feet

I thought to shoo him

But let him be

 

My leg was itchin’ something fierce

No way to scratch it

Through the dang cast

 

Hank stopped singin’… a tree crashed

Then Billy’s chainsaw

Sputtered… and died

 

hound-dogThe old dog raised his head, listening

Somehow seeming to know

This silence was not golden

 

The breeze sighed then went still

And somehow I knew…

Billy was gone

 

Billy Staub was small in stature, but tough as nails, and had a heart as big as an old-growth fir tree. He had his faults, and one of them may have been partially responsible for his death, but he was a good man and a good friend.

I left the woods after a big tree fell on me, breaking my leg so badly it required two operations, and about two years in and out of casts. Billy was killed not long after my accident, when a big tree he was felling took an unexpected turn and landed on him. He was probably high when it happened, because he usually was. When the big tree hit my leg, I saw it coming and ran like crazy trying to get out of its way; I imagine when Billy saw the big tree coming at him, he probably just grinned and looked at it with those ever-droopy eyes of his and said, “Huh… would ya look at that…”

Copyright © C. Mashburn 2012

(Revised 11/07/2018)

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My Not-So-Patient Ways

Yep, I’ve pulled some stunts, and many were due to my rebellious and not-so-patient ways. Hey, I already knew everything. Such was the case when my grandpa taught me to climb poles.

I was nineteen and working for the local cable TV company. The job was cool, except for that big heavy ladder. It only took a few days for me to know I needed to learn how to climb poles, so I wouldn’t have to pack that ladder back and forth to the truck

One afternoon, I told Bunk (my grandpa) I needed to learn how to climb poles. We got his hooks and belt and headed out to the light pole by the storage shed. Bunk explained the basics, and after a few tries, I had it all figured out. I’d go up a few feet, then jump back down. It was easy! Bunk tried to get me to go a little higher, but I saw no need. “I got, it, Bunk,” I assured him.

“Now, wait a minute,” he said. “I need to show you how to get dow…“ I waved him off, took the belt and hooks off then sauntered toward my car with them. I was a lineman, now.

The next morning, I drove to my first install, put on the hooks, and up that pole I went. Once I was up there, I snapped the safety belt around the pole, leaned back and surveyed my kingdom. Man, this was awesome! I was awesome!

WichitaLineman.tif

I did the install, then as I was putting my tools in the pouches on my belt a sudden realization hit me; I didn’t have the slightest idea how to get down. My mind raced back to all the things Bunk had said, and I recalled those last words, “I need to show you how to get dow…”. Oh, guff! He’d been trying to get me to slow down, so he could tell me how to get down.

I was only up about twenty feet—it looked like ninety, and I think I stayed there—frozen in place—for fifteen or twenty minutes. Then, resigned to the fact I was going to have to try and get down, I went for broke. I yanked my right hook out of the pole, my left knee bent allowing that hook to split out of its grip, and I was on my way to the ground. Then the belt caused me to slam into the pole, which at the time I thought was a good thing, and I wrapped my arms around the pole and hung on for dear life, which slowed my decent, but not much. I slid in jerky motions—fast, then slow, then fast again, to the ground. Did I mention there was a drainage ditch on the street side of the pole?

I hit the ground, tumbled sideways into said ditch, landing upside down with the belt twisted and holding me tight against the pole. My shirt was torn to shreds.

I stayed there for several minutes, hoping no one had seen me fall, then started wishing someone had seen me, and would come help me get out of the ditch. Finally, I managed to undo the safety strap, then slid to the bottom of the ditch. I finally got to my feet, knees shaking, and my face, chest and stomach literally on fire. I was scraped and scratched from my cheek to my waist and there must’ve been a hundred large, creosote splinters in me!

I got most of the splinters out, and somehow struggled through the rest of the day—I used the ladder—but by the time I got home, I was miserable. Bunk helped me get the rest of the splinters out, chuckling the entire time. I’m pretty sure he was laughing at me, not with me.

That weekend, we went out back again, and Bunk gave me a thorough lesson on how to climb poles. He also showed me how to get down after I’d gone up. I listened intently to every word he said.

 

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Just A Boy! It’s Here!

Just A Boy - Cover“JUST A BOY”—my new book—is now available! The paperback can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and through the publisher, Outskirts Press. Now available on Amazon Kindle, too!

AMAZON

AMAZON – KINDLE

BARNES & NOBLE

OUTSKIRTSPRESS

Click on any of the four links above to purchase your copy!

THANK YOU!

 

 

 

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Many Years Later

boysMy new book, Just A Boy, will be coming out in a month or so, and I hope you’ll read it. It’s mostly about growing up in a small town during the 50s and 60s but it’s also about growing up in the dark shadow of an angry, confused man. The book is full of good stories, some of them funny, and some of them about me just being a kid, but I felt like the other stuff–the bad stuff–had to be touched on as well.

When I’m beginning a new book, my thoughts wander in a random and jumbled fashion (Don’t say it, Gary Williams) and then they start forming sentences, paragraphs, and pages. And usually, that’s when the book begins. While the first book was about a boy, the second will tell the tale of that boy becoming a man (Gary!). That said, this morning I woke with the following thought on my mind, and thought I’d share it with you. I’m quite sure the following paragraph will, in some form, appear in the second book:

I realized what had happened when I was a child was my dad made me fear him, which made me angry at him, which made me hate him, which caused me to become like him. And then, many years later, I realized all that had happened when I was a boy, then a boy becoming a man, had eventually helped make me a better me. I’m certainly not trying to say I’m a good man, mind you, but I will say this; I’m not afraid, I’m not angry, and I don’t hate.

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All Things Considered

In the mid-eighties, I spent a few blurry years in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and it was there I ran into a guy by the name of Rooster Myrick. I don’t recall how we met, or where, but it was a match made in… well, we made a good team. That is if you were looking to cut a wide swath through life, kickin’ butts, taking no names, and never using your real one.

Rooster was a big, good looking guy, and he’s even bigger now but his looks have gone a bit south on him. At the time we met he was a lean, mean 240 pounds stacked on a six-foot-six frame. There’s been debate over the years about his height, but the man is tall, ain’t no doubt about it.

We partied hard back in the day, and a few of those parties took place at Elephant Butte Reservoir, south of Albuquerque near the town of Truth or Consequences. For real, folks, that’s the name of the town.

It was on one of our trips to said lake, my propensity for incidents reared its ugly head, and Rooster (so he claims) was nearly a victim. Like I’ve said before, I never set out to do anyone harm, or cause trouble, but sometimes folks were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. With me.

I had a souped-up ’85 Chevy pickup at the time, and man that thing could haul a boat uphill. I won’t go into the boring details but suffice it to say it was a mean machine. Anyhow, one morning we decided to take a cruise around the lake and see what there was to see. I was driving, Rooster had shotgun, and another of our pals from ABQ was in the middle. Of course, we all had a beer in hand. I mean, after all, it was only a few hours ‘til noon, and it’s quite possible it was five o’clock somewhere. And besides, at the lake it didn’t matter what time it was.

pickup rideThere were some jeep trails out where we were and seeing as how the “truck” was four-wheel-drive, we decided to give one of those trails a whirl. Well, I decided. Kind of sudden-like, too. It was like, there was this dirt path going up a hill, and I said, “Hey! Let’s do some four-wheelin’, boys!”

Well, we shot up that little hill, and I never even asked Joe to hold my beer. Shoot. The truck had an automatic transmission, and any old fool can drive with one hand. I got to tell you though, the ride got pret-ty hairy, pret-ty quick. There were some sharp turns where we couldn’t see nothing but air out front of the truck, and I can’t even put to print some of the things Joe and Rooster was saying. Me, I was laughing like a crazy man, and hanging close to the side of the hill. Heck. We weren’t even going that fast! I couldn’t figure what they were so concerned about.

Then, quite sudden-like, the trail got real steep, and the tires lost traction. We began to slide backward down the narrow trail, and that when the screaming started. Darndest thing I ever heard! Took me a minute to realize it was coming from the fellas riding with me. I coulda swore a couple of ten-year old girls had somehow gotten into the pickup. Those two big ol’ boys were shrieking like someone had stole their beer coolers.

Well, anyhow, we somehow got situated and were able to get down the hill. Them boys were quiet for a while, but then started in calling me names and threatening bodily harm if I ever pulled another stunt like that. I just did some guffawing and grinning, thinking they’d get over it by beer-thirty (noon).

When we got to the bottom of the hill, a young fella was sitting there on his motorcycle, and he waved at us to stop. I pulled up beside him and asked what was up. He said, “Dude! Are you crazy, or what?” I give him a grin, and Rooster and Joe hollered, “Yes!”

I took a swig of flat beer—it gets like that when you shake it up too much, and the ride up that hill had done us some shaking for sure. “Whatchootalkinbout, Willis?” I said to the kid.

He shook his head in that way that, says, “Yep. Dudes plumb loco.” Then he said, “That’s a motorcycle trail you just tried to climb!”

Joe and Rooster about went nuts when they heard that. Called me things they’d left out before.

Me, I said, “Well… we did pretty good then. All things considered.”

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A Propensity For Incidents

ear tuck

Oh, rats!

From the age of six (maybe even earlier) to this day, I’ve had what I’ve deemed a “Propensity For Incidents”. I typically did not plan said incidents but rather, in many cases, I didn’t look before I leaped. I’ve chronicled many of them in short story form, and they can be read on this blog. I’ll list a few at the end of this piece. The most recent incident might possibly be a case of karma—if you believe in such a thing—but I’m going to go with APFI.

We recently bought a used house, and we’re repainting prior to moving in. We hired a painter to do all but the garage, and I’m still working on my phase of the project. We had several other things we wanted to do, and we turned to Tracey and Sean (daughter and SIL) for contractor recommendations. Sean grew up here, and Tracey has lived here since they got married twenty some years ago. Their advice has been spot-on!

The most recent request for advice was for a wood flooring contractor, and so I sent a text to Tracey. My typical texts to her regarding contractors were complete questions like, “Do you know a good plumber?” This time, however, my text was brief (I thought I was being hip you see) and it read, “Wood floors?” Her answer was, “??”. My response to that was a comment about blondes, and a complete sentence as to my need for a wood flooring contractor. She replied with a name and phone number, which, despite my use of smiley faces in the blonde comment, I perceived to be a terse response.

So! I went back to my garage painting, and APFI (or maybe it was karma) followed me. I grabbed a can of paint, shook it up, and popped the lid off. Then… I saw a squirrel. Not really, but, you see, another of my propensities is one which causes me to go from one task (or more) while in the middle of another. I call it multi-tasking, but Sherry calls it squirrel chasing.

After completing my squirrel chasing, I returned to my primary task—painting—but failed to remember an important detail; when I’d seen the squirrel, I’d set the lid “loosely” on top of the paint can. So, when I grabbed the can of paint and gave it a good shaking, paint went everywhere! But mostly… all over me. After a thorough cleanup job, I put the lid securely on the can of paint, put it away, and then went out to the patio, where I sat and watched squirrels play in the yard.

I should have let the painter do the garage too.

Here are some samples of my APFI:

https://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/22-holes-in-one-tire-3/

https://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/22-holes-in-one-tire-4/

https://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/go-get-the-drew-twins/

https://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/go-get-the-drew-twins/

https://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/tothleth-in-tekthath/

https://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/way-over-the-line/

https://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/it-was-suh-weet/

https://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/eeeyeent-eenk/

 

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A Fidget Spinner Samich!

pbjIt’s not anything like the Tide Pod thing, so don’t even go there, but I ate a fidget spinner samich for lunch today. Sort of. Actually, it was a grilled peanut butter and jam sandwich, the eating of which spun out of control. We were down to the bottom of the jar of peanut butter, you see. There was more than enough for the sandwich, but so little was left in the jar, I figured, why not and just put it all on the sandwich. I saw it as a challenge, and it was! You know how it is. You take a bite, and the jam and peanut butter squish out everywhere. So, what do you do? Well, me, I spin it around and take a bite where the most stuff is squishing out, then repeat the process. Sure, some fell onto my plate, but that just made me spin it faster, and by the time I got finished, I was quite calm and satisfied. I never put much stock in the fidget spinner craze, but now… I’m thinking they might be onto something.

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