County Lines by Bob
According to the guidelines issued by the Country Columnist Consortium,
I must write at least one true story a year with no embellishments.
I wouldn't belong to the C.C.C. if my membership card didn't entitle
me to a 15% discount on all out-of-date edible items at Friendly
Farley's Fish Camp except bait unless the worms or minnows have
shown no signs of life for at least 24 hours.
Writing a true story without stretching the facts won't be fun.
But I need that card, so here goes.
I was in Trinidad teaching Stevie Wonder to drive when a hurricane
blew in. "It's getting nasty out there," I said. "Drive
me back to my hotel, Stevie."
"This driving thing is out of sight,” Stevie said. "I
really dig it. I don't want to stop." "Just drop me off,”
I said, "then you can drive around Trinidad all you want. If
you get washed out to sea, turn left and head toward Puerto Rico."
When Stevie stopped to let me out, he said, "Don't forget,
Bob, you're going to play bongos and sing backup on my next album.
You have a groovy voice like Barry White."
"Don't you find it curious," I said, "that a black
man is named White?”
"What's black and white?" Stevie said.
"Never mind," I said. "It's not important. Remember
what I taught you, Stevie, follow your intuition while driving and
you probably won't run over too many people."
I slammed the car door and waded toward the Hotel de el Podrido
Cabrons, temporary home of outlaws and deviants of every description.
When Stevie called and asked if I would fly down and teach him
to drive, he offered to put me up at the Trinidad Hilton. I told
him I would prefer staying somewhere less plastic with an ambiance
of a more realistic nature.
The rats scurrying across the metal roof and the roaches scattering
toward their hiding places when I switched on the light provided
more than an ample supply of what I requested.
Making my way through the wind and rain wasn't easy. But I finally
reached the hotel entrance and walked into the lobby.
Six men with assorted weapons, tattoos, and scars were sitting
around a table playing five-card draw.
Many languages are spoken in Trinidad, including English, Spanish,
Portuguese, and French. But poker in any language is still poker.
No matter what tongue is spoken, a straight flush always beats
four of a kind. Five of a kind will get you hurt unless something
is wild. Regardless of race, creed or color, only a drunk, an idiot
or both tries to fill an inside straight. In Boise or Katmandu,
poker is poker.
The sound of cards being shuffled, music to my ears. The dealer
looked in my direction. "Hey," he said, "wanna play?
Plenty of room for one more."
"Maybe later," I said. "I need to go to my room,
dry off. Have any of you noticed we're in the middle of a hurricane?"
One of the poker players, a man with long, braided raven-colored
hair and skin the color of charcoal said, "De wind blow, mon.
De rain fall. De world turn ‘round. De game continue. You understand,
Probably a Rastafarian, I thought, zoned on Jamaican ganja, smuggled
over on a fishing boat more that likely, hidden inside a giant grouper.
"I understand," I said. "Catch you guys later."
I squished up the stairs, unlocked the door to my room, removed
my wet shoes, and looked out the window.
The hurricane was pounding full force. Palm trees and traffic signs
were being ripped from the ground. Coconuts were flying past like
they'd been shot from a cannon.
One zigged then zagged and sped in my direction. I ducked, but
not quickly enough. The coconut smashed into my forehead at approximately
200 miles per hour.
When I regained consciousness, I heard someone saying, "Bob,
are you okay? Bob, are you okay?"
I opened my eyes. Pinchy was looking down at me. "Where are
we?" I asked.
"Somewhere in the Atlantic," Pinchy said.
"How did we get here?" I asked.
"When I heard a hurricane was going to hit Trinidad,"
Pinchy said, "I rented a boat at Friendly Farley's and came
looking for you."
"Friendly Farley's is in the middle of Tennessee," I
said. "How'd you get to the ocean from there?"
"I know a shortcut," Pinchy said.
Arguing with feminine logic is useless even when it involves geography.
"I got to go back to Trinidad," I said, "find Stevie
Wonder. No telling where he is by now."
"No need for that," Pinchy said. "Who do you think's
steering the boat? I picked him up on my way to look for you. He
said he was driving to Puerto Rico. Volkswagens do float, don't
"I don't want to bum you out," I said, "by talking
about work. "But I need to write a story that conforms to the
C.C.C. guidelines before we dock in Tennessee. Something about my
adventures in Trinidad would probably be good."
"Plenty of time for that later," Pinchy said. "Now
that we're alone on the ocean except for Stevie Wonder, we can do
what we enjoy most."
"Good idea,” I said. "You get the bait and I'll rig up
the rods and reels.”
"Maybe I'll catch a giant grouper," Pinchy said.
"Yes," I said. "Maybe you will."
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570