County Lines by Bob
Down with a cold last week, Pinchy sent me to the grocery store
to pick up a few things. Although I didn't say so at the time, I
knew sending a monkey in my place would have been a better idea.
"Here's a list," Pinchy said. "Don't lose it and
don't be wandering around the grocery store, talking to strangers."
Grabbing the list, I said, "I'm not 8 years-old."
"Put your slinky away before you leave," Pinchy said.
"I get that thing wrapped around my ankles again, it's history."
Picking up my slinky, I tossed it into my closet next to my roller
skates and my Harry Potter comic books. I was glad when Harry started
appearing in comic books. Makes reading about his adventures quicker.
Plus I can just look at the pictures if I want to skip the words.
"Might be a lot of muggles in the grocery store," I said.
"This could get dangerous."
"Please, Bob," Pinchy said, "go to the store and
come straight back. I need those things on the list."
"What list?" I said.
Pinchy blew her nose. I thought about geese flying south for the
winter. "You haven't lost it already, have you?" she said.
"Just kidding," I said. "I have the list."
But where? I didn't know. No problem, if I couldn't find it, I'd
just improvise when I got to the store. Nothing wrong with that.
Life is mostly improvisation anyway. Handling what comes unexpectedly
after spending sleepless hours figuring out how to handle things
that never happen.
Pinchy handed me a fifty. "That should cover it," she
said. "I'm never letting you loose with a checkbook again."
"Cover it," I said. "Of course it will cover it.
You know how many carts of groceries I can get for fifty bucks?"
Pinchy blew her nose again. I thought about fog horns on a misty
Atlantic night. "When was the last time you bought groceries?"
"Let me see," I said, "July, no October, 1967."
"Here," Pinchy said, "take this twenty too. You're
in for a surprise."
Wow, I thought, seventy bucks. With the money left over, I'll
get me a couple of those dollar yo-yos and a bunch of those one-cent
baseball cards. Load up on nickel candy bars and penny bubblegum
Pinchy blew her nose again. I thought of elephants summoning their
mates. "Bye, Pinchy," I said. "Don't worry, I'll
be back faster than you can say Sandy Koufax."
"Who?" she said.
"Sandy Koufax," I said. "He won the Cy Young award
"Who's Cy Young?" Pinchy said.
"Never mind," I said "Bye."
At the end of the driveway, I had to make a decision. Veer to the
right and drive the shortest route to the main road into town or
make a sharp left and stick to the winding, narrow back roads until
I reached the main road after passing a field of cows, all the same
color, all the same size. Definitely some cloning going on in the
Figuring that looking at clones more than once would be redundant,
I chose the most direct route. When I reached the highway, I turned
and headed toward Livingston.
I shifted into fifth and continued to gain speed until rolling
up behind a truck load of pigs, obviously on their way to becoming
pork chops and bacon. By the look on their faces, they were enjoying
How much like humans, I thought. On the road to dying without a
thought or a concern about what's at the end. Maybe that's good.
Maybe it's not. Maybe it's some of each. But who am I to judge?
I swung off the road into the grocery store parking lot. The pigs
I hadn't been in the store a minute before seeing at least 25 people
I knew. "Hey. Hello. How you doin'? How you been? Good to see
you. Come visit sometime. Have a nice day. You too."
That's one of the many things I love about Tennessee, friendly
people with a strong sense of community.
I spent two months in Chicago without having one of my "How
you doin's?" returned. If I cross the Mason-Dixon line again,
I'll have to be dragged across, while yelling and fighting. If Heaven
ain't a lot like Dixie, it ain't Heaven.
Unable to find Pinchy's list, I started throwing the necessities
into the cart. Potato chips, peach ice cream, talcum powder, beenie-weenies,
pork rinds, Oreos, Frosted Flakes, taco shells, charcoal, olives,
a rawhide bone for Woolly, the list went on and on.
When the cart was full I pushed it toward a checkout line. After
totaling everything, the cashier said, "$269.87."
"That can't be," I said. "The last I time I was
at a grocery store I bought twice this much for less than fifty
bucks." The cashier said, "$269.87."
"Take back $200 worth of this stuff," I said. "At
least that will leave me a dime to buy a bottle of Tab from the
The lady behind me laughed. "Where have you been for the last
30 years," she said, "in outer space?"
"Yes," I said, "I'm an astronaut. I've just returned
from a deep-space probe. There is life on Uranus, but not as we
When I got home, Pinchy said, "Congratulations, you didn't
buy a single thing on the list. A monkey could have done better."
"That's true," I said. "But monkeys can't drive,
Pinchy blew her nose. I thought of Cheryl, a tuba player I knew
in high school.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570