Shitty, Shitty, Bang, Bang

The old Mooney family garden had laid fallow, unworked for years. “More than five, less than twenty,” was George’s best guess. It had degraded into a leeland, a waste of space serving no purpose, choked with weeds and miles of snarled baling twine carelessly dumped on the ground where it wound its way into the grass roots. On the far northern edge just beyond the garden fence a couple of cars could be seen poking up out of the ground. Not car parts, but cars.

George said that back in the olden days the Mooneys were poorer than the poorest dirt, so the boys dug deep pits and buried their dead cars because it was cheaper than calling a wrecker. It was a literal car graveyard. There were a few more rigs that had been pushed down the hill on the north forty of the property, some with trees growing through their rusted floorboards. Since then George had changed his ways. Now he lined up all of his dead rides in what was termed Automobile Death Row, and they stretched halfway down the long driveway.

Nigel was duly impressed with the display. The couple of classics he’d brought to the Farm were head-turners, in a nostalgic horror show sort of way. His vintage milk delivery van got a lot of looks, though mostly it was from folks innocently asking if the thing had fallen off a cliff and caught on fire. The old Plymouth rolled on in, then was lifted onto blocks and never moved again. And his bike, held together with superglue and electrical tape, was in a perpetual state of disrepair. Nigel thought they were the hottest rods in the county and gave them pet names, parking them all directly across from George’s row of junk metal.

Copyright © 2020 J.J. West. Campfire Tales.
All Rights Reserved.

Home Improvement: The Horse Hilton

Geoffrey fancies himself as a horse guy, as does Randy. Both, however, come from vastly different backgrounds. Geoffrey, at the height of his career, and having lots of disposable income, started buying high-dollar Arabians for his daughter to ride and show. These were stabled in the finest facilities in the Los Angeles area, where they were trained, fed, groomed, and generally spoiled by the best illegal immigrants that very little money could pay.

Randy, on the other hand, grew up in Western Montana and North Idaho where he worked ranches and chased sheep and cattle all over Hell’s creation. His horses were turned loose to pasture every night, or simply hobbled if chasing them down in the morning would take too long. All grooming, doctoring, and training was done by Randy. Where Geoffrey would show up, have his horses loaded onto his trailer, and then drive to a show to spend copious amounts of money on entrance fees, hotels, and his daughter, Randy would show up, saddle up, and head off to work. Where Geoffrey bought the finest in dressage outfits, well, let’s just say that Randy was never one to give up on a garment too soon.

When it comes to horses, their care, upkeep, and training, both Geoffrey and Randy each consider the other to be a complete idiot and moron. Both are probably equally right and equally wrong, for they simply come from different worlds but have been placed together at the Farm. Randy’s horses wouldn’t have made it on the show circuit, and Geoffrey’s wouldn’t have made it working cattle.

Both, after arriving at the Farm, noticed an obvious lack of horses, and both decided that such an oversight should be promptly rectified. Both lobbied George for horse privileges, and with George liking animals in general, or anything that might enhance the feeling of the Farm, readily agreed. Both set about to start acquiring some equestrian comfort animals, and both soon came to the quick conclusion that certain changes would need to be made first.

Copyright © 2020 J.J. West. Campfire Tales.
All Rights Reserved.

George’s Cup Runneth Over

George had just climbed up on his tractor to load hay when his phone buzzed in his pocket. “BREAKFAST” read the text message. Just one terse word, a command, without so much as a hello or a question mark. It was from Gabriella, ready to face her day. George jumped back down and trotted briskly to his car. Such a request came in nearly every day, at any given time, sometimes twice or more. Fortunately, he liked breakfast, and lunch and dinner too, so taking her out for meals wasn’t that big of a pain.

Gabriella had been needier than ever lately. Some days she barely had enough energy to replace the empty roll of toilet paper on the holder (that message had just said “BRING TP”), let alone the emotional strength needed to prepare a bowl of cereal. There had recently been a handful of incidents in the area where folks were being pulled over at night by someone impersonating a police officer, and a few of the more gullible ones had been robbed. Gabriella had a meltdown and declared the petty acts an epidemic crime wave, fearing for her safety. She said she could no longer handle driving herself around anymore and needed a 24/7 on-call chauffeur. Because Uber did not service the rural North Idaho area, that meant George.

He was a man who could not say no to anyone or anything. It all stemmed back to his years as a reform school teacher, forever hopeful that with each new droopy-eyed, mouth-breathing face he had the opportunity to change the world and make a difference. His ‘hope burns eternal’ attitude crossed over into his personal life, too. For one thing, he’d married and divorced Gabriella four times over the years. After the last split he’d decided to open his home to all of God’s children, giving birth to Bonner County’s most well-known flophouse. Nobody said being a slumlord would be easy, but George managed to make it a thousand times harder, just because.

Copyright © 2020 J.J. West. Campfire Tales.
All Rights Reserved.

Fine Dining

Eva was a maniac when it came to her garden, working for hours without taking a break. She often forgot to eat and was looking ganglier than Olive Oyl. Most folks got exhausted just looking at her, and hungry, too. Out of the blue one evening Jim stopped by the garden and invited her to join him for dinner. He said he knew a place close by that made the best salads in town and that she was in for a real treat.

When they rolled into the parking lot at Buffy’s she gave Jim a look. Buffy’s, known to the locals as BFE’s, was the biggest dive bar in the north county and had virtually no curb appeal. It may have been the only bar around for miles and close to the Farm, but every time Eva drove past the place she saw the same row of cars lined up as early as 9am. Don’t judge a book by its cover, goes the line, but in Eva’s eyes there were no surprises here.

The place was a total dump outside and in, and Eva had her nose up in the air as they walked through the front door. She snickered smugly as she slid into the booth in a dark corner with Jim, seats striped with duct tape patches and a sticky sheen on the table. The appetizer menu sitting between the salt & pepper shakers offered gizzards and corn dogs, critically pointed out by Eva, and full menus were soon brought to their table by Barb, one of the proprietors.

“Well don’t you two look adorable tonight! What can I get ya for a drink?” she asked, bright-eyed. “How about a beer? Do ya want beer? Or maybe some wine, or just water? We have Diet Flat Water and OkieDokee on tap, if that’s your kinda thing.”

Copyright © 2020 J.J. West. Campfire Tales.
All Rights Reserved.

Tweaker for Hire: Earl

Earl came to the Farm one day, low on funds and looking for a place to stay. A few years back Earl had earned a full-ride scholarship to the Boundary County Reform School where George was a teacher, and lo and behold, both remembered the other. A quick conversation was struck up, hands were shaken, and a room was agreed to be rented, with George having completely forgotten how and why Earl had earned his full ride in the first place: by being kicked out of the regular high school for drugs and truancy.

During their initial meeting, George inquired of Earl what he was currently up to. Earl replied that he was working for a concrete contractor and that he was getting ready to start his own general contracting business. This pleased George greatly, as he was always happy to hear of any of his former students doing anything other than working as exotic dancers, or as budtenders at the smoke shops down in Spokane. George was so impressed by Earl’s success that he offered to trade out the room in exchange for Earl doing construction work around the Farm. Earl was pleased to have this arrangement as well, as he had no money for a security deposit or rent, what with starting a new venture.

Earl’s first project was to help build a new barn, dubbed the Horse Hilton, with J.D. and Randy supervising, just in case, and the building was completed within just a few days. There had been a few issues related to things being straight, square, and plumb with the barn, but the general consensus had been that Randy and J.D. were negligent in their supervisory roles, both having maintained a steady BAC level of .18 during the entire project. Little notice had been paid to Earl’s ability to randomly fall off of ladders, fall off of the roof, chuck random tools into the pasture, or his need to run up to his room every hour or so for a quick “energy drink”.

Copyright © 2020 J.J. West. Campfire Tales.
All Rights Reserved.