Bobby B -Trinity

After four takes of doing it for the camera, the girl who was on the edge of too perfect from her teeth to her tan, and wasn’t a parts delivery girl but played one on Monterrey Mick’s Mad Mods, dropped a sponsor’s logo covered box full of nothing on a tool cart next to him.

“Houma. You be de long way ‘round from down de bayou, Boudreaux.”

Bobby looked up in mock shock. “Marie! You be gone so long dey drain de swamp lookin’ for your bones, girl.”

She stuck out her hand. “Bernie. Cajun for Bernadette. Port Barre. Not quite, but close enough to claim it.” Bobby checked his hand for grease, gave her hand a finger and thumb squeeze.

“Bobby. Never been a Robert. Port Barre’s not a very wide place on a skinny road. Fished Little Darbonne with my daddy one time.”

“Damn. That’s as big a why as your Vega rescue mission.”

“Nothin’ to it. Daddy stopped in a bar there off 190, left me in the truck. He came out so drunk he couldn’t find his ass, said it was time to fish. Drove across the road, followed some ruts till they stopped. I had to walk behind the truck to back us out. Surprised I’m still here to tell that one.”

“Catch anything?”

“Boredom.”

“Lucky you. Darbonne is a chemistry set. Anything you caught would’ve been cancer tomorrow on your hook today. I thought you were going to tell me a Boudreaux or Ellen remix, just to prove you know where my people are.” They looked at each other for a few, tried to gauge how much truth either of them had told.

Bobby pulled a grease rag out of his pocket, went to work on his hands, tried not to look her over. At least not be obvious about it, went for nonchalance.

“Can you make a Trinity?”

“Ask a bayou girl does she breathe to stay alive, Boudreax. Tellin’ me you can cook something to throw it in if I do?”

“Thinking about throwing a long-on-vegetables California-ized boil for these people when they finish polishing this week’s turd.”

“The paisley Sixties mail truck? Why? ‘These people’ won’t eat mud bugs.”

“Paisley was my idea and I thought they’d find a stencil, or a projector, not do it by hand. And I know they’ll eat the shit out of shrimp ‘cause they took me to a place for lunch last week that served it raw and expensive like it tasted good that way. I can have jumbo the size of lobster tails, here, same day fresh. If you can do a bucket of chunky Trinity with more than one kind of pepper and a spice on the tolerable hot side that doesn’t come in a jar, we’re on.”

“Are you making a run at spending quality time with me by working down-home food together?”

“No. I was —”

“Well start, fool. Does all the water run so slow down bayou?”

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Looney Lunes #121

New Planet ‘Theranus’ Named for Politicans! They Can’t Get Their Heads Around (or Out of) It!

I won’t get into the debate about climate change. But I’ll simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that.

Kentucky state senator Brandon Smith (R) (The average temperature on Mars is −80 degrees Fahrenheit; the average temperature on Earth is about 59 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Bobby B – Turnip Truck

Shorter and more often on Bobby B, or I’ll never get it written

“POS Restorations?” The guy grabbed Bobby’s arm and shook his hand like a first-class politician who was behind in the polls. Bobby had seen the guy smile a thousand times on TV, but he was shorter in person and the lights in the shop gave the golden hair that might not be all his a greenish tint. “And you’re paying us to work here, right?”

“Um…Yeah?”

“What’s the tag line for POS again?”

“Show a loser some love.” Bobby looked around, felt like he was being interviewed for TV. “Maybe. Maybe that needs work…” The lights were too bright, the guy was in total television host mode, not body shop boss.

“Tell me what you plan on doing at POS, Bobby. After you learn all our secrets. You know, just so we’re on the same page.” The guy winked over Bobby’s shoulder, at nobody.

“Well, uh… We’ll be doing cars nobody wants to see again. Vegas. Gremlins. Pintos, Geos, Corvairs. Dusters. Anything chapped, with wheels.”

“Why?”

“Somebody out there had one they always wished was cool.”

“Anyone who had a car on that list wished more than just the car was cool. My mother had an old, fishbowl Gremlin she ‘saved’ for me.” He’d used quote fingers on ‘saved’. “Can you believe that? I set it on fire the day before my sixteenth birthday. Some cars aren’t worth the effort, Bobby.” He winked again.

“That’s what people keep tellin’ me, but –”

Bobby couldn’t count the people who spun out from behind some tall walls on wheels, but there must have been twenty of them, with two too-skinny girls in sprayed on jeans and crop tops pushing a rolling tool cart with a big cake on top. “Welcome to the Monterrey Mick’s Mad Mods!” When he looked around again there were, no shit like magic, three cameras on dollies.

***

“Hey man, put the checkbook away. We don’t want your money.” Mick banged the door closed on an office they didn’t show on TV, reached under his logo golf shirt and ripped off a wide piece of elastic with Velcro on it, held it up in front of him. “Fuckin’ man Spanx, Bobby. Can you believe that shit? They have me eating rabbit food and working out, taking five shits a day. I felt bad, but Captain Kirk wore a girdle in Star Trek so what the fuck, do what you gotta do, right?” He handed Bobby a short set of stapled papers. “Sign this. If you need a lawyer, we know fifty. It’s about –”

“I can read.” Bobby read it all, knew some California lawyer had made their BMW payment for filling it in on a word processor. “I’m not paying you now, you’re paying me? A dollar an episode? Even for re-runs? I didn’t know there was TV hooked up to this.”

“Yeah.” Mick found his TV host and got magnanimous again. “We were dyin’ for a season concept until I got your call and the proposal from some lady lawyer in Baton Rouge. That bitch must eat glass for breakfast and hasn’t been fucked right since Reagan was governor. Off topic, I’m back. Look, everybody’s done muscle cars and rust buckets. Obscenely rare liked to killed us on parts, ran off two old-school machinists and the numbers went in the shitter. Pimps and players and sports stars and custom Escalades with initials embossed on the seats. Low riders painted like the Sistine Chapel according to the Aztecs…That shit pulled us out last season, but fuck me, I’m a body shop guy, not a bank. Financing on those deals almost killed me.” He reached across the gray metal desk and whacked Bobby on the shoulder. “Thanks to you we’re out to have fun this season. We have a VW van and some other goofy shit lined up.”

“The ‘bitch in Baton Rouge’, she sent you the non-disclosure and intellectual property forms for POS?”

“We signed them. I don’t know what you’re worried about. Nobody gives a rat’s ass about shitty cars except watching us turn turds into diamonds in an hour. You should have called your little operation PAT. Polishing a Turd. No matter how much it shines, a turd’s a turd. I drop a couple five times a day, I oughta know, right?” Mick laughed like taking five shits a day made him the funniest guy on the planet.

“Thirteen shows, sixteen weeks. The long fucking hours are reality. You’ll work every station, every build. Rotation will put you in and out in the middle of things. Ask questions, stay out of the way, take all the notes you want. Start thinking about this yesterday – we wrap the season with the Bobby Mobile. You have two weeks to find a place to live, get yourelf straight. Once we start, BANG.” Mick shoved Bobby’s paperwork in a desk drawer, picked up a cigar box full of water color paint tubes and brushes and opened the door.

“FYI. I’m banging Syd, the tall one with the rose on her shoulder. Because she likes to paint, and what she fucks up I can sketch again, and it beats paying her. Monik, the Cali-entay Mexican girl, is gay. And so is Larry, the not so Cali-entay sheet metal biker. Good luck getting laid out here with that accent.”

“She works for free, so she can paint your car pictures?”

It took Mick a second. “No, no, no, man. I let her trash my sketches pretending she can paint so I don’t have to pay to fuck her. Jesus, Bobby, park the turnip truck. This is L.A. We don’t have time for stupid.”

Bobby B – Elephant Snot

Bobby was ushered into Liz Vernier’s office like he wasn’t wearing overalls and a faded t-shirt.

“Bobby…” She glanced up, ignored his outfit, lined up three short stacks of paper on her desk. “These are the forms that will put you in business as POS Restorations, LLC. As with Swamp Vue, in Louisiana you need a registered agent to handle your paperwork. That will be me. Again. The last sheet is assignation to Carrie Louise when she passes the bar. Again. You’re here instead of Atlanta because she’s in school and has enough to contend with that she doesn’t need you dumping all the oddball shit you dream up on her.” She looked up across the desk at him. “That was a hint.”

“I heard you told Momma Roche that I was the Big Mistake in CL’s personal life, and it was her fault for letting it happen. What you’re saying is if I need lawyerin’ from now on, look elsewhere?” Bobby leaned over, signed by all the yellow sticky “sign here” arrows. “She’s too busy learnin’ to be important, you’re too important already?”

“My sister needs to keep her mouth shut. Carrie Louise needs to see herself in a viable future. You need to understand how the world works, how destinies are shaped. You and Carrie Louise were kids together in a swamp. You are no more than what you are, her bridge to getting out. She did whatever legal nonsense you asked of her, for experience, when you were kids. We put your financial affairs in order after your Father’s death, she will continue to manage your financial affairs under my direction, and in return you will pay for her education. When she graduates all of those agreements pass into the legal graveyard. After this POS business lands –”

“I took that hint.” He gave her a look of straight up acknowledgement with a touch of fuck off. Something she rarely saw heading her direction in men twice his age. They’d say it, but they wouldn’t look her in the eyes like he had. She paper clipped and stacked his signed forms.

“You’ll receive your copies by courier. Good day, Mr. B.”

“Ms. Vernier, do you ever meet people you wish you’d somehow missed altogether?”

“Every day. Why?” She continued to push paper around on her desk and ignore him like he was an unwelcome guest’s fart that wasn’t fading fast enough.

“Just checkin’.” He walked out through her office, past her reception, punched the elevator down button. He wiped his forehead with his shirt sleeve, turned back her way when he popped his hat on. “Me, too.”

***

Francis Guillon was an attorney who had graduated Magna Cum Laude and never practiced law a day in his life. The summer he graduated, knowing Liz Vernier was out of his league no matter what he wanted, he’d married a pretty girl who made pretty babies and good conversation and was born with a “will Hostess and Breed for $” tattoo on her forehead that only men who qualified to provide well enough could see. He started in energy management, shook five hundred hands a month, jumped jobs once a year for five years, followed his father into state politics when he was thirty-one. Where, for the last twenty years he made speeches, got his picture taken and dabbled as CEO or COO for any number of major corporations that needed political grease of one kind or another.

Without the resume he was a nitty, arrogant, vain, starch and cologne festival with a lightweight kink shadow. When he wasn’t smiling like he pooped rainbows he was busy getting the dealers pardoned who ran a small, break-even drug pipeline for, and through, his mistresses. Or renting prostitutes without checking their ID. Things Liz Vernier had no trouble reminding him of, or cleaning up for him. He was going to be Governor, and she was going to be the puppet master. Come hell or high water.

Guillon frowned. “Seriously, Liz. This shit looks like elephant snot with orange lumps.”

“It’s vegetarian gumbo. Supposed to be the only real cure for a hangover. If it fixed stupid I’d buy her out just for you.”

Guillon put the lid on the plastic bowl, dropped it in the paper bag and tossed it out the window of her car. “Remind me why we came here?”

“The woman you shook hands with in there had a big write-up in Baton Rouge Today, where she thanked you for getting the crack dealers out of her parking lot and putting her back in business. And because your office is wired like mine. Appearing to eat local and cheap and fact find in your district based on our phones’ location looks like we’re working. Get out, pick up the bag, take it to the barrel.”

“Fuck you.” He pushed the door open, climbed out. “Take my picture. Guillon is cleaning up his district. What have you done for Louisiana today?” He made a face at the dripping bag, held it out as far away as possible.

He dropped back into the Caddy SUV’s bone colored leather, slammed the door. “Where were we?”

“Eating elephant snot. I was, at least.” She rolled her window down, motioned for the kid with the broom who should have been in school to come over. She handed him her non-dripping bag of lunch trash and a five dollar bill. “Tell everyone you know to vote Guillon. He’s the only one who gives a damn about the people down here.” The window went back up.

“Will you claim that five?”

“Can’t. Smells like bribery if I do.”

“He’s what, fourteen?”

“Roughly the same age as your last stupid indiscretion that cost a lot more than five dollars to send away happy. If it hadn’t happened in the islands that one could have been the end of you, dumb fuck. If you don’t learn where that thing belongs, I’m going to have it cut off and sent to your wife.”

“I’d straighten up if it was you and me, babe.” The almost a ladies man grin always pissed her off. “But you had to be gay.”

“I’m not gay, Frank. I don’t care about men and when I need to be serviced I stay under the radar. Your father and mine could piss in a jar and sell it as lemonade, but there was no way they could ever sell us on each other.”

“Have you fixed that for me this time around?”

“Maybe. I have other options than your son, with equitable long term leverage and I’m not selling Carrie Louise short. As it stands now, your son won’t be an easy sell. I need him hardened up, with decent posture. Send him to the rain forest or somewhere on a mission, get rid of the skinny dough boy and bring me half a man. He’s up against a reasonably good looking, rich, healthy and fit, albeit unrefined, young man. With redneck macho charm to burn. And a big head start.”

“And Sean is a tall, skinny, whiny, silver spoon weasel who sneers and leers. I’ve heard you, believe me. Next summer he works a sawmill, gets a farmer’s tan, learns to eat elephant snot and drink Miller Lite, get his heart to beat Zydeco like his father and his grandfather. At least when people are looking. Where are we right now?”

“Sean and Carrie Louise will be neighbors on Greek Row, and I’ll push as hard as I can. I had Bobby’s car sabotaged before their prom and Carrie was already pissed when I brought her up here. I kept her here or in Atlanta most of the summer, made sure Bobby and the boat show bikini girls’ pictures were lying around and had his texts to her shunted to the Twilight Zone. She’ll pine for awhile, but she’s an eighteen-year-old female used to an active sex life who’s been thrown into a whole new world full of alcohol and an endless supply of healthy, horny boys with nice cars who own more than two pairs of pants. And the Prince Charming she’s been sold since she was in diapers has apparently dropped her.”

“That’s it?”

“For now. If Sean and Carrie Louise don’t trip over each other we’ll do Thanksgiving together, show them the writing on the wall. They’ll roll their eyes at us and do what freshmen will do. Over the next couple of years they’ll burn out on sex and parties, grow up some, see the inevitability of their future bearing down on them. Time and proximity are on our side.”

“And you can keep up the campaign against the little redneck until I get Sean manned up some?”

“I can. Well enough that ‘manned up some’ might be all we need.”

“It might be all we can get.”

“Funny.” She looked across the Caddy. “I can almost hear your daddy saying that very same thing.”

The Grandest Illusion / Throw Some Flowers

The Nutcracker

The remarkable thing about The Nutcracker is that it does with music and dance what we, as a global society, often cannot. It transcends religion and geography and tells a story full of cross cultural fantasy and spectacle and fear and joy and when it’s over everyone throws or delivers flowers to the stage where it happened. How cool is that?

Here’s the deal. The Nutcracker is supposed to be about Clara, a little girl who dreams her dreams of faraway magical lands that she shares with a brave, handsome prince. But what makes the music come to life, what makes the principle dancers from the best ballet companies in the world look so spectacular, what makes people cheer year after year is that the stage where it happens is packed with ageless little girls’ dreams, not just Clara’s. Dreams so big and real they fill up a theater with their hope and that inexplicable magic of belief in something bigger than reality.

So if it’s your neighbor’s kid or your kid or grand kid or your wife, or even if no one you know is in The Nutcracker playing in your part of the world this year, go see it. Talk to a stranger in the lobby, toast the season. Take some flowers with you and give them to a dancer who might be famous, might have been famous, might have been hurt, might even be a grandmother. This season, no matter what you believe, make yourself part of something bigger and better and more magical than what the nightly news would lead you to believe is our world.

 

In North Texas? Chamberlain’s Nutcracker at the Eismann Center is my choice. My wife is in it.

http://chamberlainperformingarts.org/

Bobby B – The Omen

“It’s an omen.” Bobby took the joint from Eldridge Junior. Junior nodded towards the middle of Bobby’s front yard.

“Sheriff Wylie just gonna leave it in your yard thataway?”

“Fella that croaked out hasn’t got any people. Sheriff doesn’t want it takin’ up permanent residence in the impound lot. He said he could come tow it, but if he did I’d have to pay the lot fees if I wanted it back. For a small donation to the Sheriff’s Posse Roundup he’ll witness the title transfer and it’s mine.”

“What the hell you want with a Chevy Vega, Bogart?”

Bobby passed the joint back. “Told you, it’s an omen. Man drove it into my yard, got out, walked across the street with his heart exploding and fell in the bayou. Like he was sayin’ ‘Bobby, I’m goin’ over here to die, but first, here’s your omen’. So I have to keep it, work it out. Besides, it’s a ’75 Cosworth Modified, not a lick of rust anywhere on it. Looks showroom when it oughta be dead like the man who owned it. It’s an omen, for sure. Figure it’s time to re-build the garage.”

“You want me to call Eldridge Senior, get him over here?”

“Yeah. Why the hell do you do that, call your Daddy ‘Senior’.”

“Always have. He said Momma started callin’ him that the day I was born. All I ever heard. You know Senior. He ain’t gonna say much, one way or the other. You want another shed?”

“Think I’ll need to pour a slab this time. Cinder block with rebar and concrete walls. Three cars wide. And tall. I’ll need to put one of those mobile lifts in it.”

“Damn, Bobby. Somethin’ like that I’ll have to bring the laptop and run it for him. Getting’ kinda champagne for a Vega, ain’t it?”

“Not the only one. I’m out to rescue Vegas. Maybe Pintos. It’s my new mission in life.”

“Why? Truck stop whores have better reputations that Vegas, and for sure Pintos. They blow up on you when you least expect it, don’t run for shit when they do run, ain’t worth fixin’ and won’t be missed when they die.”

“‘Cause that’s the same shit people been sayin’ about me since you and CL are headin’ off to college.”

“They ain’t sayin’ shit about me. What they’re sayin’ is Carrie Louise is gonna keep getting’ better lookin’ and smarter and be a lawyer someday, like she always said. And you’re just gonna keep being a lucky, dumbass redneck. One of these days she’ll get tired of you bein’ an anchor around her neck and she’ll tell you and Houma to kiss her ass just like her Momma’s sister and your Momma did.”

“Hell, you’re goin’ to college. So why is it you don’t have to go to a party every weekend and move in early? All I get from Carrie Louise is ‘I can’t Bobby. Not this weekend, Bobby’. All summer long. Her new sorority sisters need her, her Aunt needs her, this or that party is callin’ her name.”

“Maybe you hadn’t noticed, but I’m the wrong color for most all of that except movin’.”

“It’s 2007, brother. Please.”

“Yeah it is, and the white folks in those old funky Animal Houses are still getting’ fucked up and singing ‘Hang your coat in the closet and your nigger out back, Jack.’ Other option is goin’ radical with my ‘brothers’ or bein’ the token lump of coal in the marshmallow bag. Neither one appeal to me. I asked Senior about the real need for any of that, and he said no black man owes any culture anything. He got his engineering from the Army, I’ll get mine from a wrong color brother’s dead daddy. Don’t need to belong to get along, he said. Just be like the swamp and roll on.”

Bobby lit a Marlboro Light, smoked it slow before he put his boot over it on the bottom step.

“Set it up to with Senior to build me a garage before you and Carrie Louise go off to college. I’m going to school myself, when I get it all set up. Find out what I need to put in the new garage.”

“Seems like you could adopt what’s workin’ at Swamp Vue.”

“Swamp Vue’s runnin’ itself. And if it’s not, Ms. Annabelle will have somebody’s ass in a meat grinder. Besides, this Vega thing is an omen, not a dream, and that makes it personal.”

“You can take it personal and still hire mechanics, Bobby. Probably find some don’t give a damn they’re fixin’ trash.”

“I’ll hire a mechanic, for damn sure. But I need something to do. And I know they don’t teach whatever that is in school. I’d best go see how this custom car business works for myself, so some slick don’t come to Houma and take me for a ride or talk me out of it. Or find me another Annabelle Monette.”

“Where you gonna go learn all that?”

“Hollywood.”

“Sheee-it, Bobby. We got us a Messican body shop out past Bernard’s. They’d be happy to take your money and show you –”

“I’m sure they would. But out in California they know how to trick-out a car like nobody. I’ve been watching that celebrity news shit and those custom car shows. When Hollywood’s not getting’ fucked up and wrecking expensive cars, they’re bending each other over like it’s county jail inspection time. Call your Daddy, Eldridge. Build me a garage. Come sometime this fall I’m gonna go get me an education, too.”

“Sounds crazy to me. I was you, I’d buy a decent ride, put a month’s worth of coin in my pocket and go to the Keys or somewhere bikinis say overdressed. Get drunk, fuck anything with tits and a heartbeat. Live it up before whatever being a grown-up business magnate looks like moves in on you.”

“Fuck that. Daddy didn’t get his head popped off so I could chase women and kill myself in a crazy car. Been on my own, mostly, since I was twelve, so I’ve been out late and gotten stupid with nobody watching for a while. Somehow money I never see is payin’ for CL’s college and yours ‘cause of all that shit her Aunt Liz set up. I haven’t touched the principle yet. And don’t plan on it. Not for a car that’s a leather decorated living room on wheels or a pussy loaded vacation.”

For once Junior could say he’d seen Bobby look a little lost. Confused even. But like always, he could see the gears turn, see Bobby putting something together that would come sideways out of left field.

“How are you gonna explain to Carrie Louise about you and Hollywood while she’s going to real school?”

“She’s in Atlanta, partyin’ like a rock star, waiting for school to start. According to you and the wind, she’ll probably be there forever. I’ll make sure somebody checks in on her Momma while I’m gone, otherwise doesn’t seem there’s much to say.”

“That’s a cold shot, bro. You two been knowin’ each other since you were babies.”

Bobby set his phone down on the porch between them, tapped it with his index finger. “Be hard pressed to prove it by what’s on this. Woulda been nice to have her hand out pictures a couple of times in the big city boat shows. I had a hell of a time being a phony, happy whiz-kid with an operations woman, real salesmen and rent-a-babes handing out pictures of my boats that don’t exist.” Bobby stared off across the yard, across Bayou Black and into nowhere.

“That’s why Hollywood.” He popped Junior’s knee with his palm. “All the grown up I need to learn is how to smile like I mean it, when I don’t.”

Looney Lunes #120

Winning at Football Requires a Deep Understanding of Strategy

“Peyton Manning threw it to his receiver’s hands on purpose!”

Football commentator and two-time Superbowl winning quarterback Phil Simms

“It’s third and twenty. They need a good play here.”

Football commentator, Superbowl winning coach and Hall of Famer John Madden

Like, uh, DUH, dudes…Maybe I’ll just turn the sound down and listen to music.