County Lines by Bob
Uncle Phil was buried with his cell phone. I'm not blaming anyone
for the oversight. His wife Jill should have checked the pockets,
however, before giving the suit to the undertaker.
At first the phone's location was speculation, until I got an idea.
Handing Pinchy a slip of paper, I said, "At exactly twenty-one
hundred hours, call this number. Any questions?Ó
"Only one," she said, "what's twenty-one hundred
"Nine o'clock p.m.," I replied.
Pinchy asked why I didn't just say nine o'clock.
"I've planned this like a military maneuver," I replied.
"Military planning requires military timing."
"I'll call at nine," Pinchy said.
"Have it your way," I replied.
Ten minutes before the appointed time, I parked outside the cemetery.
Like a cat, I crept past the headstones until reaching Uncle Phil's
Flopping down, I spread out on my stomach, lifted a stethoscope
from around my neck and listened to what was going on down under.
I heard worms crawling and ants digging tunnels. Then a phone
rang. Pinchy was precisely on time.
The phone was ringing for the eighth time, when something tapped
me on the shoulder. Turning around, I saw a cop bending over, looking
at me. "What are you doing?" he asked.
I told him the dead-Uncle-Phil-cell-phone story.
"You been drinking?" the cop asked.
"Everybody drinks," I said. "You have to consume
liquids or you'll die."
"Alcohol," he said. "Have you been drinking alcohol?"
"Nope," I said. "Gave that up to see if I could
make sense of things sober."
"And?" he said.
"And what?" I replied.
"Did you make sense of things?" he asked.
"Only to the point of understanding things aren't supposed
to make sense," I replied.
"Get up," he said. "Brush yourself off. Stand on
"Is this a field sobriety test?" I asked.
"Yes," he said. "Extend the primary finger on your
right hand and touch the top of your head."
Extending the finger next to my forefinger, I said, "This
"Stop trying to be funny," he said. "Extend the
finger closest to your thumb."
Standing on one leg, I touched the tip of my forefinger to the
top of my head. "Now what?" I asked.
"Spin in a circle," he said.
"Clockwise or counterclockwise?" I asked.
"To the left," he said.
"That's counterclockwise," I said.
"Whatever," he replied.
I was spinning around like a ballet dancer on Folgers, when the
cop said, "Now, sing Ol' McDonald."
"All of it?" I asked.
"Only until the monkeys," he said.
"I don't remember any monkeys in Ol' McDonald," I said.
"They're right after the elephants," he replied.
"Oh," I said. "How does a monkey sound?"
"That's for you to figure out," he replied.
After I finished singing Daydream Believer in my best Davy Jones
voice, the cop said, "You can stop now."
"How did I do?" I asked.
"I give it an eight," he said.
"Is that good?" I asked.
"Better than a seven," he replied. "Worse than a
"Oh," I said. "May I go now?"
The cop shined his flashlight toward the cemetery entrance. "Walk
on your hands to there," he said, "then turn around and
walk on your hands back."
"That's a steep incline," I said.
"But it's downhill back to here," he said.
"One more thing, bark like a dog while walking on your hands."
"This isn't Candid Camera, is it?" I asked.
"No," the cop said, "this is a standard sobriety
test in the police manual."
"Does the manual indicate what type dog I should bark like?"
"Don't be silly," the cop said. "That would violate
I barked like an English Bulldog on my way uphill.
On the way back, my hands were moving so fast I could only yelp
a few times before blazing past the cop, hitting an oak tree, and
bouncing into an open grave. So, this is what being dead feels like,
The cop shined his flashlight in my eyes. "What are you doing
down there?" he asked.
"Trying to decide if I need medical treatment," I replied.
"Get out of there," he said.
Standing, I raised my arms to lift myself out. I'm three inches
above six feet and my arms extend several feet above that. But I
couldn't reach the top.
"This hole is deep," I said. "Throw down something
and pull me out."
The end of a tow chain came flying down. "I hooked the other
end to my patrol car," the cop said. "Hold on."
I wrapped the chain around my wrists and held on. The cop revved
his patrol car faster and faster. I was about to yell, "Not
that fast!" when the car shifted into gear. I flew out of the
grave and remained airborne for at least a hundred feet before crashing
head first into the ground.
After being released from the hospital, I pled guilty to listening
to the ground without a license. I was fined $500 plus court costs
and sentenced to 800 hours of community service.
I called the cellular communication company and told the man at
the other end that Uncle Phil wouldn't be paying rental on the phone.
He told me the rental fee would be paid or he would come and get
"Don't forget to bring a shovel," I said. "A crowbar
wouldn't hurt either."
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570