County Lines by Bob
While my brothers were visiting last week, Pinchy let them go
grocery shopping with us. She didn't want to. But I talked her into
"Come on, Pinchy," I said, "they're my brothers.
Let's take them with us."
"No," Pinchy said. "You're a big enough problem
when you tag along. Thumping the produce. Pinching the meat. Sniffing
the dog food. Griping about prices. Wandering around. Getting lost.
You do remember getting lost, don't you?"
"I wasn't lost," I said. "I just didn't know where
"You were in the walk-in freezer," Pinchy said. "You
could have frozen to death."
"But I didn't, did I? Thanks to my trusty Zippo, I built a
fire and stayed warm until the manager of the meat department found
me. I know how to survive in a grocery store and so do Ricky and
Eric. I don't see why they can't come with us."
"I have an idea," Pinchy said. "You stay home with
your brothers and do something useful."
"Like what?" I said. "We shot pool and played poker
this morning. We've already had our afternoon naps. There's nothing
on television. What else is there to do?"
"Work," Pinchy said. "You could do some work."
"Sssshhh," I said, "not so loud. You'll scare my
brothers, not to mention me."
Pinchy scrunched up her face like a possum. But before she had
a chance to say what she was thinking, Ricky and Eric walked in.
"What are you doing?" I asked. "To keep from digging
them up," Ricky said, "I'm building a pipe bomb to blow
some worms out of the ground in case we go fishing tomorrow."
"Yeah," Eric said. "Then I'm going to vacuum them
up so we don't have to bend over. You got a vacuum cleaner, don't
"Pinchy has one," I said. "I'm sure she won't mind
you using it. But you'll need an extension cord. Let's go up in
the attic and ramble through everything to see if we can find one.
The light up there is broken. We'll need a bunch of candles and
plenty of matches."
"We could make torches out of rags and gasoline," Eric
"Yeah," Ricky said. "That would really light it
"Good idea," I said.
"I have a better idea," Pinchy said. "Let's go to
the grocery store."
"All of us together?Ó Ricky said.
"Yes," Pinchy said. "All of us together."
"Mom never took all three of us grocery shopping at the same
time," Eric said.
"She did once," I said. "You were too young to remember.
She said if hell was any worse she couldn't imagine it."
"Let's go," Pinchy said, "before I change my mind."
Pinchy was pulling onto 111 when Eric said, "Who cut the cheese?"
Ricky coughed. "Open a window or give me gas mask."
I smiled and kept my mouth shut.
Pinchy rolled down the window and slammed on the brakes. "Get
out and ride in the back of the truck," she said.
"Me too?" I asked.
"Especially you," she said. "You're the one who
started all this."
I jumped into the back, grabbed a piece of rope, and tied myself
"What are you doing?" Ricky asked.
"Yeah," Eric said. "What are you doing?"
"You'll see," I said.
As we approached Big Springs Hill, Pinchy downshifted into fourth
and punched it. Eric flew out past the tailgate. Ricky grabbed Eric.
I grabbed Ricky and pulled them both back in.
"Man," Eric said, "what a trip. That was fun."
"I'm glad you liked it," I said.
When we walked into the grocery store, Ricky and Eric grabbed a
grocery cart each and started pushing.
"Beer," Ricky said.
"Yeah," Eric said. "Beer."
"They don't sell beer in here," I said. "This is
a family store."
"We're family," Ricky said, "and we drink beer."
"And Grandma and Grandpa drank beer," Eric said, "and
they were family."
"Yes they were," I said, "on our father's side.
But they only drank beer when they had to watch us. They stayed
sober except for then."
"How do you know that?" Ricky asked.
"Uncle Jimmy told me," I said.
"Is Uncle Jimmy still an attorney?" Eric asked.
"I'm afraid so," I said.
"Do you think our family will ever live down all the shame
of that?" Ricky asked.
"I doubt it," I said. "Come on, I'll show you something
cool while Pinchy's shopping."
I walked in first. Ricky followed. Eric came in after that.
"It's cold in here," Ricky said.
"That's why they call it a freezer," I said. "Don't
let the door shut all the way. It can't be opened from this side."
"Too late," Eric said. "What are we going to do?Ó
"What are we going to do?"
"Stay calm," I said. "Don't freak out. I've been
in this situation before. All we have to do is stick together like
the Three Musketeers and everything will be okay."
"You sure?" Eric said.
"Positive," I said.
I was setting fire to a box of pork chops with my trusty Zippo
when the door swung open. Pinchy and the manager of the meat department
had found us.
"See," I said. "I told you. Just like the Three
Musketeers. We stick together and everything will be okay."
"Yeah," Ricky said. "Just like the Three Musketeers."
"Yeah," Eric said. "Just like the Three Musketeers."
"More like the Three Stooges," Pinchy said.
I wonder what she meant by that.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570