The Innersnet

The Farm proudly boasts Innersnet service as one of its amenities. Originally conceived to deliver information more rapidly and accurately than two passing neighbors parked along the county road, the Innersnet has become an indispensable part of modern living, or so we here in Bonner County have heard. We have also heard that the Innersnet was conceived as a series of tubes, like the ones in our black and white TV sets. However it is supposed to work worldwide, in Bonner County the Innersnet runs on smoke signals, just like the Indians used to use before the white man showed up.

Oh sure, the phone company sold George some chingadero that plugs into a phone line somewhere and has flashing lights to tell one the status of its tubes and what they are allegedly doing, but no one here is falling for that overpriced ruse. Because the simple fact is that when one is burning off slash piles, having a bonfire, or has the wood stove really putting out heat, the Innersnet can be readily accessed with super-strong reception. Let any of those fires dissipate, and the Innersnet fades with the flames.

One can always call the service provider to complain, but after the relocated Mayberry operator spends five minutes inquiring about everyone’s health and the hay harvest, one usually forgets the reason for the call. Assuming one actually remembers the reason for the call and that a connection is actually established with the service provider, then the complainer will be given some song and dance about the service working up to the panel box on the property line.

Now if the service is working to there, wouldn’t one assume that it should make it all the way to the chingadero with the pretty flashing lights? After all, it only has to pass through 300 yards of the finest pieced-together wire that could be obtained from the dumpsters of construction sites or, God forbid, purchased from the local Habitat For Humanity. Despite the lack of conduit, multiple splices wrapped with assorted types of colored tapes, and varying wire sizes, surely the Innersnet must work as advertised, right?

Copyright © 2019 J.J. West. Fiddlesticks! Tales From A Country Ghetto.
All Rights Reserved.

George Goes Trick or Treating

Halloween rolled around, and a house party was tentatively planned. There were a few young children currently living at the Farm, and it was suggested they get dressed up and go from cabin to cabin for some good old fashioned trick-or-treatin’. The Seventh Day Adventist’s boy bubbled with excitement over the idea and asked his mother if he could go. The answer was no; such activities were too worldly. They had some Bible studying to do, plus sugar was the Devil’s spice and was not allowed. Nor was fun.

George walked in and sat beside Seth while his girlfriend, Crystal, was in the bathroom getting their daughters ready for Halloween. Seth and Crystal had both been his students at the reform school some years ago, and unfortunately their troubles had followed them into adulthood as well as into George’s home.

He had put them all up in the small sunroom off the side of the house, no questions asked. With the present plethora of god-fearing residents, any misdeeds happening around the Farm were generally traced back to the problematic couple. The smears of ugly tattoos decorating Crystal’s forearms and Seth’s crusty-looking mohawk and scabbed skin didn’t gain them any trust from anyone except George. He figured all they needed was a little helping hand.

Crystal came sauntering out of the bathroom with the two little girls in tow. “Ta-da!” she sang out, beaming with a pride that only a bad mommy with bad habits could have. Between the glitter and sultry streaks of eyeshadow, the skin-tight bodysuits, and pink tiger-print mini-skirts, the girls looked like a pair of pre-pubescent prostitutes.

“Wow! Don’t you girls look pretty!” George called out with a big smile. “Let me see now. Are you dressed up like princesses?” he asked them in his gentle teacher voice.

Copyright © 2019 J.J. West. Fiddlesticks! Tales From A Country Ghetto.
All Rights Reserved.

Movie Nights: The Dish

Spring and summer passed quickly with outdoor activities, leaving little time for sitting around watching movies or battling the snail’s pace Innersnet service. This was a working farm, and there were calves to be born, wood to be chopped, and weeds to be pulled. The place ran on a fifty-year master plan with projects scheduled decades ahead of time. Someday they might even get done, but probably not.

“You know what I really like about the Farm?” Eva informed George at breakfast one day. “No TV! I can’t stand people who sit around staring at the TV for hours on end. I never watch it unless I’m bedridden. Layyy-zee!” she sang out with a holier-than-thou tone.

“Welp, my folks would be just tickled to hear you say that,” George said with a grin. “We never did watch much TV, mostly on account of money being so tight that we could only afford to run one light bulb in the house after dark, but also because we were always busy doing things outside.”

A few days later, George welcomed his newest tenant. Geoffrey was a retired civil engineer in his late 50s from Las Vegas who just needed a place to stay for a while. While there were no actual bedrooms available to rent at the time, George had been so impressed with the man’s blustering tales of hardships and successes that he offered to let him move into the tiny sunroom that Wendy had forcibly taken over as her personal art studio.

The room was far too small and far too public to be a bedroom for a grown man. Three of its walls consisted of uncovered edge-to-edge windows, and the fourth wall was a sliding glass door leading to the community dining area. It could have been a nice little reading room or, more ideal for a working farm, an indoor greenhouse perfect for growing garden plants. As was the way of the Farm, neither of these practical ideals came to be.

Copyright © 2019 J.J. West. Fiddlesticks! Tales From A Country Ghetto.
All Rights Reserved.

Butch Cabernet

One evening Jim, Randy, and Susan were at the Sand Creek Tavern for the weekly Tuesday evening eight ball tournament. Randy had blown out in two games and was now in the process of reaching .25 on the BAC scale, as Jim had driven and Randy just didn’t care. Susan was hanging out by the tables watching the games and generally trying to stay away from Randy, and Jim was still in it to win it. Delusions of grandeur and all that.

The Sand Creek is an old dive bar on the north side of town. It is probably the only bar left in the county that still allows smoking, as its owner has a solid three pack a day habit. The bar is decidedly classic rock themed, with lots of posters, souvenirs and album covers from the owner’s youth in the late 60s and early 70s. The music can be modern, though, with scores of songs from the 80s being played.

The bar used to have a separate restaurant that was closed some years ago due to lack of effort and lack of interest. The kitchen is still open, though, and food is served on the bar side. About the same time the restaurant closed, the last cleaning of the property occurred. The layer of dust, dirt, and grease that every flat place in the establishment sports could be used to backfill a football stadium, and it’s amazing that the floor isn’t mud from spilled drinks hitting the dirt on it and soaking in. The electric and plumbing are barely functional, except for those systems needed to pour drinks and operate the stereo. Even the stripper pole has tarnished over the years from lack of use.

The Sand Creek has its long-standing clientele consisting mostly of the chain-smoking, beer-drinking drunks that live on the north side of the county. The Sand Creek does serve cocktails, but the locals prefer either the cheap beer or cheap shots. Rest assured, the owner does not stock any pink umbrellas to be placed in a Mai Tai or Daiquiri.

Copyright © 2019 J.J. West. Fiddlesticks! Tales From A Country Ghetto.
All Rights Reserved.

The Ballad of Randy and Susan

They arrived at the Farm at the beginning of winter one year, a middle-aged couple going through a tough time in their lives. Randy had just gotten over a bout with cancer, a two-year ordeal that left him a hundred pounds lighter and the both of them in financial ruin. They had spent most of the past year living in a small camping trailer parked at a friend’s place, on the verge of homelessness.

One of Susan’s friends had seen a crazy story on the Potatobook online about an old family farm north of Sandpoint that rented out rooms to anyone, no questions asked. It was cheap, really cheap, and it was way out in the country, and there were cows and horses. Susan checked it out and talked it over with Randy.

As was the case with many of the tenants who drifted in and out of the Mooney Family Farm over the years, they were flat broke and in need of a big helping hand. They found this offered by George, who warmly welcomed them into his home with his usual handshake and pay when you can business terms.

Randy and Susan had met fifteen years earlier one night at the Sand Creek Tavern. Randy spotted the beautiful blonde who had walked in with her lookalike sister and asked her to dance. She said yes. She also said yes to breakfast the next day, and then a date that following weekend. Randy and Susan became an item.

He was one of the infamous Whites of Bonner County: well known in the local world of real estate, construction services, demolitions, honor beatings, bar fights, and domestic quarrels – and tiresomely renowned in the local judicial system. The family name was police code for Public Intoxication, and at any given time there was probably at least one White involved in a tangle with law enforcement and the county courthouse.

Copyright © 2019 J.J. West. Fiddlesticks! Tales From A Country Ghetto.
All Rights Reserved.