Sunday, September 28, 2008

Creatively Created Creative Writing - Chapter XVII

It had been a quiet week for Arianne and myself. We had several long talks, and she had finally convinced me to close my office and retire from active work as a private investigator. We also decided to put the place in the city up for sale and make the home up on Beech Mountain our primary residence. So I called a friend of mine who had extensive real estate experience and asked him if he would like to be our agent. He agreed, and within 48 hours he had found someone who liked the place and was willing to offer almost our asking price.

And so we headed back down to the city to set things up for the movers -- wow, I'd never had movers before, but now that I was wealthy it was a different world. All we had to do was decide what was to go to the new place and what was to go to various charitable groups. And once we had that sorted out, we met with Scott and signed all the paperwork on the deal, and cut him a check for his percentage.

We had a couple of days to kill before the movers were to show up and transport our things, so we figured we'd take a short trip and visit some out of the way places around Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee.

Which is how we ended up on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, axle deep in mud, with Arianne's friend Amelia and her new boyfriend Jason. And, don't blame me for getting stuck - it was as much Jason's fault as anything.

He had been going on and on (and on) about how much money he'd earned last quarter as an investment banker, and then insisted he knew a back way from Elizabethton (Tennessee) to Hot Springs (North Carolina) and, for some reason, I let him have his way, even though he hadn't yet shown that he actually knew about anything he was talking about.

Most of you may not know this, but back in the hills, cell phones tend to not be very useful. Jason's 3G iPhoneSuperSpecial with Massage Attachment, or whatever it was, didn't work. He pouted for a bit, as he was being shown to be a complete fool. The pouting wasn't working, so he tried stomping his feet. There's nothing more foolish than a 40-year old acting like a 4-year old.

Arianne tried hers ... no signal, and mine, well, I hadn't charged it in weeks. "How do you plan to get us out of here?" she sighed, obviously exasperated.

"No worries. I have a cunning plan!" I responded, my grin spreading. Her eyes widened before she planted her face in her hand.

"I thought we talked about this! No more MacGuyver-ing since you turned the cat pink trying to insulate the house!"

"Aww, I keep telling you, that wasn't my fault!" I looked around, hoping for inspiration to back up my mouth, but nothing came to mind.

"Well? What's your plan, Big Boy?" Arianne said to me.

I sighed and said, "Simple. I walk back to that last farmhouse we passed, and see if they can help us."

"I'll go with you, Guy," Jason announced. Every word from his mouth was an announcement. Arianne and Amelia both nodded emphatically behind his back, and Amelia mouthed 'You could even get him lost'. She had obviously begun to regret ever meeting the schmuck.

"Come on, then," I said, and began walking back down the road. As we trudged along, Jason continued 'announcing' the. whole. way.

"If the state would keep these country roads in decent shape, this never would have happened.... I'm gonna sue Apple, because this iPhone isn't working like it should.... Man, that Amelia is one hot chick, isn't she?... The Gothic rule in Spain is one of history's forgotten splendors."

He was about to get on my last nerve.

There was just no logical reason for him to suspect this guy except that niggling, gut feeling gnawing at him. Something-no; nothing about this slime was right. Like Amelia; I wanted him GONE.

I looked over at Jason sharply. "Did you hear that?", I asked, but he was too busy taking the back off his phone - presumably to 'fix' it - to notice me, much less the voices I sometimes heard out of nowhere.

Finally, after an eternity of listening to Jason spouting forth, we got to the farmhouse we had passed earlier. "Uh, you better let me talk to these folks, Jason. Mountain folk don't always take kindly to strangers." Especially obnoxious assholes like you, I didn't add.

"Finally!" Jason shouted. "I've got a signal. I'll take care of things, Guy." And he stopped in the road, dialing furiously.

I only half paid attention, as I was eyeing the farmhouse and hoping the owner wasn't trigger happy, but the conversation that followed sounded something like this - on Jason's end, at any rate:

"Who ate my pink elephant?"

"The blue frog standing by that stick-in-a-pot."


"What what?"


"That you might cry."

While Jason stood there speaking gibberish to God knows who, I walked up on the porch of the house and knocked on the door. When it opened and an old man stuck his head out, I explained what had happened and asked him if he knew of anyone with a tractor, or if he could recommend - and call - a wrecker for me.

"Ain't got no tractor," he replied. "But I got a team of draft horses I use to drag timber. They can pull you out. Lemme go harness 'em." He paused for a moment, then said, "Is that crazy feller yonder with you?" and gestured at Jason, who was gesturing wildly as he shouted into his phone.

"Yes, he is, but I'd appreciate it if you didn't hold that against me." I replied, smiling.

The old man laughed heartily and said, "Well, there's one in every family, I reckon. C'mon to the barn with me. We'll hitch up the team and have you out in no time."

We walked around the house to the barn, and the old man started putting the tack on two of the biggest horses I'd ever seen. They certainly looked like they were capable of pulling my Woody out of the mud.

After he got the horses ready, he glanced toward the back door of the house, and then said, "Whew, that's some hard work. I think we deserve a swig or two afore we head up the road." And he reached behind a bale of hay and pulled out a jug.

"Here son. Try some-a this. It'll put hair on your chest - or curl what you already got!" He guffawed.

I took a small swig, and, realizing that it was some fine apple brandy, took another healthy swallow. "Thank you, sir. That's some mighty good brandy!"

He winked at me and said, "My pappy taught me how to make it, and he learned from his pappy. Now, let's go get you car out'en the mud." He tugged the lead and the team of horses obediently followed.

As we rounded the house, we could see that Jason was still shouting into his phone, so I called to him. "Jason, never mind. This gentleman is going to help us."

"Give him a shot of this," the old man said, holding out the jug to me. "If I know anything, that'll shut his gob."

I laughed and took the jug. "Here, Jason. Have some of this. All that talking, you must be thirsty."

"Hold on, Eric. What? The password is elephantism." he announced into the phone, and took a swig from the jug. I don't know who laughed harder then, the old man or me, as Jason started coughing and wheezing. Especially when he dropped his precious cell phone in a puddle.

Once Jason recovered from his initial fit of coughing, he joined us as we passed the jug back and forth, walking up the road. By the time we got back to the car, he had mellowed quite a bit, and I realized that I was not entirely sober, either, even though I had been taking small sips. Suddenly, I worried what Arianne would think when she smelled my breath.

Cheese. He realized he needed some cheese. A nice, smelly, salty, hunk of extra-sharp cheddar cheese. That would do it.

The old man looked at me and said, "Who the hell was that?" and I just shrugged my shoulders. He shook his head, already certain that we were a bunch of crazy city folk, and set to hooking the draft team to the front of the car.

"Now, you get in and help it along - give 'er gas gently, so as not to spook the horses," he said, and in no time the Woody was emerging from its sticky predicament.

Once we cleared the mudhole, I got out and offered to pay the farmer for his help.

"Never you mind that, young feller. I got plenty outta watching that guy."

"All right, then. I guess we'll be on our way, then," I said, looking up the road in the direction we had been traveling. My stomach was rumbling and I noticed that dusk was starting to fall.

The old man followed my gaze and said, "Road ends just around the curve yonder. There ain't nothing up there but my back pasture."

It was then I got that feeling. You know the one. It was that same sinking feeling you get when you call to see if your car is ready yet and the mechanic says, "Well, actually, we ran into a little problem."

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