County Lines by Bob
After receiving a letter from the editor of a travel magazine who
wanted a story that would draw tourists to the Upper Cumberland
area, I decided to write about the 60-foot, reptile-like creature
that was deposited in Dale Hollow Lake as a genetically enhanced
spore by space aliens in 1957.
After composing a headline that would certainly attract tourists
to this area, DALE HOLLOW LAKE MONSTER KILLS THOUSANDS, I began
writing an entirely true story.
I had almost finished writing the article when a desire for food
struck me. Placing my glasses on top of the computer stand, I walked
into the kitchen and started looking for something that didn't require
After gulping down a can of sardines, three cans of beanie weenies,
half a box of Captain Crunch, six Little Debbie cakes, approximately
two dozen Oreos, and half a can of something that tasted strange
but not bad, I grabbed a pair of glasses I keep on top of the refrigerator
for such occasions and looked at what I thought was corned beef
hash. According to the label, I was eating "Alpo. Pure beef
flavor. Satisfies even the most finicky dogs."
If I told Woolly once, I thought, I've told her a thousand times,
don't keep your food in the same cabinet as mine.
To show Woolly I mean what I say, I finished eating her food and
threw the empty can out by her doghouse. When she stuck her head
out, I yelled, "I hope this teaches you a lesson! Don't be
expecting to go possum hunting with me until you learn to store
your food properly!Ó
After chastising Woolly, I slammed the door, sat down, and wrote
the last sentence of my article: "If you enjoy adventure, visit
Dale Hollow Lake, where being torn to shreds and eaten by a big,
horrible, slavering beast while you're swimming or fishing is a
I knew my story would attract tourists in big globs, like fat
maggots wiggling and squirming in a thick pile of oozing slime that
hasn't been shoveled out from under a rabbit cage in months, maybe
even years. I also knew I felt nauseous.
What I didn't know was why. Was it the sardines or the beanie weenies
or the Captain Crunch or the Little Debbies or the Oreos? Maybe
it was the Alpo. I don't usually eat dog food, except when I'm not
wearing glasses or when I'm teaching Woolly a lesson about properly
storing her food.
Then it came to me. Why I felt nauseous didn't matter. Finding
something to make me feel better did. I stumbled into the bathroom
and searched through the medicine chest.
Some bottles were on their side. Some were upside down. Little
bottles were hiding behind larger bottles. Some bottles were empty.
I was about to yell, "Who's the stupid idiot responsible for
this mess!" But then I remembered rearranging the medicine
chest several months earlier while searching for who knows what.
After finding something that appeared suitable for my condition,
I read the directions: "Take two tablespoons for indignant
stomach." I cleaned my glasses and read the directions again:
"Take two tablespoons for indignant stomach."
Strange, I thought, very strange indeed. Probably written by a
Chinese immigrant who hasn't been in the United States long.
But why would a foreigner be writing directions for American products
when plenty of college football and basketball players, both former
and current, in this country are capable of writing at a third-grade
level and no higher?
Perhaps it was my fault the directions sounded strange. Maybe I
didn't understand the meaning of every word as well as I thought.
But I was certain two meant one more than one and one less than
As a former undercover agent who posed as a White House chef for
Nixon, who liked his eggs runny and his steaks well done or it might
have been the other way around, I can't remember for sure, I knew
a tablespoon equals three teaspoons. If I didn't, Henry Kissenger
would have sat on my head until I was forced to reveal my true identity.
Deciding I knew what stomach meant, I started searching for indignant
in my Collier's.
Before reaching indignant, I came across Indiana. Within the definition
was a reference to Hoosier as a nickname for residents or natives
I flipped back to the H's and found Hoosier, which, according to
Collier's, means "A big, burly, uncouth specimen or individual."
That explains a lot, I thought, including why my Hoosier ex-wife
walked like a cave man and couldn't completely get rid of her mustache.
If only I had sobered up before the wedding, maybe I could have
avoided the whole horrible mess.
After finding the definition of indignant, "Filled with anger
aroused by something unjust, mean, or unworthy," I decided
to play it safe and take Alka Seltzer instead. After swallowing
two tablets dissolved in water, I belched and fell asleep.
When I awoke, I looked out the window and saw the Dale Hollow Lake
Monster swimming toward Nashville.
Maybe when it gets there, I thought, it will eat all the verbally-challenged
television newscasters with plastic hair and fake smiles who act
like country music and sports stories are important news.
For the sake of common sense and literacy, I can only hope it does.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570