Compleat Redneck

Commentary from the boondocks. If it makes any sense, it is just by chance.

Thursday, July 24, 2003
Cletus is plumb wore out by his epic tale of yesterday. Sometime next week he promises to tell the part about the shootings and other dastardly deeds brought about by the former Go Kart Bandit's career as a lover. As per usual, some of his story might not be all that believable, but it will be interesting.

Bubba says the next thing you know, we will be posting "bodice rippers" here. Cletus said we may do that since there seems to be a lot of money in that business but you can bet there won't be any ripping of the ones Mizz Gore posted about, them things being too expensive for other than display and did we realize he didn't pay that much for the old F250 and it has AC. Bubba said he bet the "utensils" do too.

Elroy asked what a bodice is and we discovered we don't have a clue. Berta Mae, who is waiting tables this morning, won't tell us since she says that would be like casting pearls before swine.

I think she just called us pigs, but that is better than what she calls us most days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Since I have been running a little behind in story telling, Cletus has been trying to help me out by reminding me of some of the more interesting things that have happened around here. Today he came up with the story of a couple of his cousins and their run-in with the local po-leece. One cousin was about 25 when this took place and the other was 16. This story has sex, violence, intrigue, Perry Mason like courtroom scenes and a bit more than you really need to know about small town life. There may be a Faulknerian sentence or two before we finish since Cletus kind of talks in Faulknerian sentences often forgetting what the subject is shortly after reaching the first verb. Okay, back to the cousins.

The older cousin was named Mark Anthony. Cletus' Aunt got pregnant when she was 15 and before he was born, she went to her very first play. The family was living in Detroit at the time and her junior high class went to see a play about Julius Caesar, Cleopatra and Marc Antony. Mary was still having problems understanding Michiganders and the language of the play she couldn’t understand at all except she heard the name Marc Antony-which she heard as Mark Anthony and decided to name her baby that if it was boy and she planned to name a girl Cleopatra. Mark Anthony says he is thankful that he wasn’t a girl since having an unusual name isn’t all that pleasant for anyone. Mark Anthony may not be real unusual in most places, but around here in the 1960’s, it stood out among the Bills, Bobs, Joes, Jims and other everyday names. Many of the less literate even thought it was puttin’ on airs. You have to remember that if you had two given names, you were called by both so Mark Anthony was Mark Anthony and kids being kids, he took a lot of teasing until about the 8th grade when he got a growth spurt and was no longer an easy target. The teasers learned that he was a dangerous “victim” and moved on to younger kids less like to beat the crap out of them. This doesn’t have a thing to do with the story, but Cletus felt that he had to make sure everyone knew who he was talking about. We all knew before he started since Anthony ( which is what he likes to be called now) comes in here just about everyday.

The other cousin in this story is named Michael and for some reason, he was always called just Mike. I know it doesn’t make sense and violates Southern naming conventions, but that’s how it was. Mike got a racing go kart when he was 14 and soon became the terror of the local dirt track. He kept increasing the power until the kart would do about 100 MPH on the street which is where he drove it when his parents weren’t around that being from the time he got out of school until about 6:00 PM and all day in the Summer. He would go screaming down the main street on the cart wearing his full coverage helmet baiting Bobby Joe the afternoon Police. Bobby Joe would give chase in his 74 Chevy Nova Police Special, Mike would turn down a side street at about 70 MPH. Bobby Joe would slow to twenty to make the turn, Mike would go around the block, back on the main street and back home before Bobby Joe had made his turn. If Bobby Joe stayed on the main street, Mike would go the opposite direction and head back home. The problem for Bobby Joe was that Mike lived outside the police jurisdiction and unless Bobby Joe could keep him in sight until he got him stopped, he couldn’t do anything. The truth was, old Bobby Joe enjoyed the whole thing himself and there was a lot of time spent in the old BBQ Emporium talking about how close he came to catching the Go Kart Bandit as he was known. Although we all knew who he was, it wouldn’t have been seemly to say his name since he had never been caught.

The people who didn’t find it funny was our Mayor and the Chief of Police. There were only two fulltime police and one part-timer but you have to have a Chief. Bobby Joe was the older and more experienced police, but he didn’t care for the extra paperwork and the city council meeting that came with the $10.00 a month extra pay so the Mayor’s son Billy Wayne was the Chief and he took his job right serious. The Go Kart Bandit was on the agenda of every Council meeting and Billy Wayne would present pictures of the criminal in action and go ever his reports of the dastardly deeds done and the danger to the good citizens of our fair town. The meetings were well attended and we took turns pointing out similarities between Billy Wayne and that great American lawman, Barney Fife. Catching the Bandit became the focus of the police force. The council authorized Billy Wayne to get a magnetic blue light to stick on the top of his car (really his Daddy’s old Chevy) the city only having the one cruiser and it becoming apparent that it would take the full force of the law to lay the Bandit low.

I should say something about the town’s police cruiser and what patrolling was at the time. The 1974 Nova was the “fuel saving” police cruiser of choice except it didn’t save any fuel, would do about 80 MPH and hurt Bobby Joe’s back something fierce. It did look good but all the local car guys had cars that were faster than the cruiser. Bobby Joe spent his shift catching high school kids and little old ladies violating the speed limit to make sure he got paid every two weeks what with the fines being the only real source of money for the city. The real problem with the Bandit was chasing him took away from writing revenue enhancing traffic tickets. Every Thursday night, there was a city magistrate’s court where the ticket holders got to pay their fines which ran about $50.00 each. The magistrate was a lawyer who practiced down at the County Seat and got his greens fees from his sideline job as magistrate. It was a pretty easy job since no one ever contested the tickets. The council had talked about letting people mail in their fines, but the Mayor said it would take too much of the Clerk’s time from all the important work she had. Of course, she did get overtime pay for the Thursday night court session. Since she was the Mayor’s “on-the side” woman, it worked out right well all around.

One Saturday night, Billy Wayne was patrolling the streets around midnight. He had hit upon a real good way of sneaking up on people who might be doing things on the backseat of their car. He took to driving around town with his lights off. He normally got two or three teenage couples on a Friday or Saturday night and after he made them get out of the car in whatever state of undress they were in, he would take their names and tell them he would call their parents to let them know what was going on unless it happened to be one of them mean Jackson boys in which case, he let them go as soon as he saw who it was what with them being people who would kill you even if you was the police.

On the night of the story, Billy Wayne had spotted a car over across the street behind the Ferris Brother’s General Store and had started slowly driving across the street to catch his latest victims when Mark Anthony came down the street doing about 50 MPH in his 1968 Buick land barge and hit the police Nova a right solid blow in the front fender spinning Billy Wayne into the parking lot and pretty much totaling his cruiser. Billy Wayne wasn’t hurt and quickly called for backup which meant Bobby Joe had to get out of bed and drive his own pickup down to the site of the crime. Bobby Joe was thinking how he quit his job at the service station because he didn’t like getting called out to tow cars in all night long and here he was losing sleep anyway plus he had to put up with the idiot Mayor and his son, the Police Chief. He arrived on the scene to find Mark Anthony cuffed and a small crowd gathered around ragging Billy Wayne and him waving his pistol to hold them off which wasn’t real smart since most of the crowd had bigger guns and knew better how to use them. Bobby Joe asked what the problem was and Billy Wayne said he had arrested the drunk Mark Anthony after he ran over the cruiser. Bobby Joe could see right away that Mark Anthony wasn’t drunk, in fact, he had just got off work and he and Bobby Joe were planning on going fishing the nest morning.

He was about to point this out to Billy Wayne when someone said to the gathering crowd: “Someone ort to do something about the cops in this town. It was Mike, the Go Kart Bandit and frustrated lover from behind the General Store. Just when things had been getting interesting, there had been this big crash and his girlfriend of the evening had insisted on getting up to see what had happened. Bobby Joe looked over at Mike and told him to get back in his car and go home and told his daughter that she better be home when he got back, her being the one what was in the car with Mike. You can’t escape that kind of coincidence in a very small town.

Well, Bobby Joe hauled Mark Anthony down to the Sheriff’s office and they did the drunk test and he was as sober as a Baptist preacher at a revival, that being one of them cliché things. We try to be helpful in case any English teacher should ever decide to use any of our writing on her students and they have to point out things such as clichés, run-on sentences and bad punctuation ther being a lot of each in anything we write. The Highway Patrol came out and investigated the wreck and wrote up the city for driving without lights and that was the end of that case. On Monday morning, the mayor and the Police Chief came up with the brilliant idea of charging Mike with “interfering with a policeman in the performance of his duty” and went up to the high school and arrested him, hauled him down to the Sheriff’s office, had him fingerprinted and jailed. If you can’t catch a bandit in action, get him for whatever you can was what they were thinking. Mike’s brother and uncle had to go bail him out when they got off work. On the way to the jail, they discussed beating some sense into Billy Wayne, but reasonably decided that if was a useless exercise so they chewed Mike out for being stupid and took him on home. The county prosecutor refused to take the charges so Mike was told to appear before the City Magistrate’s Court on a misdemeanor.

Thursday night came and there were at least a hundred people on the docket. Billy Wayne had been real serious about ticket writing all week what with the city needing a new cruiser and all. Fortunately he still had his stick-on blue light. Mikes case was about in the middle of the docket and he sat and watched person after person plead guilty and pay their fines. When his case was called and he was asked how he pled, he said not guilty. The Magistrate who had been thinking that the city clerk didn’t look half bad and he himself was younger and better looking than the Mayor, banged his gavel and said: “Pay the Clerk, $100” before he realized that someone had said not guilty. Looking a lot surprised and banging his gavel again to quiet the laughter, what with the courtroom being packed with spectators, none of the traffic ticket people having left since everyone knew Mike was going to plead not guilty and wanting to see how it played out, he asked Mike how he was going to prove he wasn’t guilty and looked pretty stupid when Mike answered that the thought the city was supposed to prove their case not him, but he would prove he wasn’t guilty anyway and called Bobby Joe as his witness. He asked Bobby Joe to tell the court what had happened on the night in question and Bobby Joe told about having to get out of bed to go help the Police Chief and how someone said something about the police and how he told Mike to go on home and told his very own daughter that she better be home when he got there. The Magistrate saw that he had a problem. He had never found anyone not guilty before, the purpose of the court being to collect money and if he found people not guilty, they didn’t have to pay anything, but he could see that the smarty-pants young man before him would appeal to the circuit court if he found him guilty and the next time he played golf with Judge Morrow, the Judge would tell him he was even more stupid that he thought he was, so banged the gavel down again and said “Not Guilty”. There was cheering in the courtroom and he had to demand silence and Bobby Joe had to get up and yell at the people to sit down and be quiet before he hauled the lot in, a pretty empty threat what with him having to drive his old pickup on patrol since Billy Wayne wrecked the cruiser.

All the women in the courtroom had noticed Mike really for the first time and what they saw was that he was probably the best looking male in 50 miles and maybe the smartest. Mizz Stewart, the 23 year-old high school English teacher, was there to pay her most recent speeding ticket. The next day she asked Mike to stay after class so they could discuss his debating technique and Betty Ruth, the City Clerk, called him after he got home from school and asked him to come by and give her an estimate for mowing her lawn him being in the lawn mowing business and all. His lawn mowing business picked considerable although it seemed to take him a lot longer at the houses where the women were between 20 and 40 years old and the BBQ Emporium talk was how it was good he was only 16 or else he wouldn't be holding up as well as he was with all the extra work.

By the end of the week, Mike had given up his career as the Go Kart Bandit and begun one as a lover of older women, but that is another story that involves shootings and other intrique.

Monday, July 21, 2003
Cletus is all over me because there have been no posts since Thursday. The boy just can't latch on to the idea of someone being too busy to sit down and write about his doings so since I promised a while back to post some of Mary Ruth's column from the local paper, here goes.

I have changed names, places and other identifying information to protect myself. Mary Ruth may nose in other people's business, but she get down right testy when she thinks you are in hers.

Herman and Betty Joe Smith visited her sister Babe last Sunday. They had roast beef and mashed potatos for lunch. For dessert, Betty Joe made a blackberry pie from berries she picked over on the Jones place where Cletus lets them mean hogs run wild. Babe's oldest boy Joe Bob's seeing Lucinda Roberts and they were there too.

Cecil Phillips is in the Huntsville Hospital for some tests. His wife Gertha says his prostate is acting up and the doctor may have to do surgery and remove it. Gertha says he will probably be out of action permanently after the surgery but that is won't be any great loss.

The Golden Girls Club went down to Huntsville to eat in one of them fancy new sea food places. Brother Ivy from the Baptist Church drove them. Making the trip were Irene Evans, Betty Jones, Willeen Roberts, Edna Glick, Ruby Snodgrass, Weltha Ledbetter, Gertha Phillips and Roy Adams. Roy, who used to be their driver, is an honorary Golden Girl since he is now mostly blind can no longer drive the bus. They all had the all you can eat buffet and gave it a two thumbs up review. Unfortunately, none of them can remember the name of the restaurant. Brother Ivy says he is looking for another volunteer to drive the bus and he is willing to pay a little.

There was a bit of trouble at the ballpark last Wednesday. Bobby Joe Starnes disagreed with a call that Umpire Eddie Key made and the next thing anyone knew, there was a big fight in the stands. Patrolman Cooper broke it up. Fortunately he was there to see how his boy was doing the in the game (He says he wasn't watching the game but was just checking is to see how things were going) and there were only a couple of black eyes and some scrapes. The fight had nothing to do with the game but started when Erice Ledbetter said she liked BJ Starnes who was playing first base and Stephany Winkles got upset since she and BJ have been seeing each other out behind the Gym. No charges were filed.

Mary Ruth Smith and Ullyses Jones went to the Galleria in Birmingham on Saturday and enjoyed a day of shopping. Ullysses drove his company truck so it could be seen by potential customers. As you know, Ullysses is a successful local businessman who is always working to improve our community. Your columnist has not been able to verify reports that he is considering seeking a term as County Commissioner, but it would fit well with his record of public service.

After this follows a list of at least a hundred birthdays.