Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Camping at Toledo Bend one year, I was cutting the grass for Aunt Glesnal who lived right on the lake and I decided I needed a new muffler for her Lawnmower.
Glesnal lived way out in the boonies, 20 miles into town. She told me the nearest Hardware store was "Smileys" but it had no identification on the outside of the building, just a dilapidated weatherbeaten ol' wooden shack on a certain intersection of a dirt road and a one lane blacktop.
""Bout 8 miles down, can't miss it; don't let Smiley scare ya" she says.
I also needed some bolts and other stuff so I made a list and took off down the road to Smileys. Sure as heck, its right where she says it will be, in the middle of nowhere, couldn’t miss it. No cars in the driveway but through the trees you can see back to what is probably Smileys house. I go to the door and peer into a very dark room thru a screen door. I open the door and step inside. Behind me is the summery slap of the screen door. Even though it is the middle of the afternoon it is eerily dark in this room.
Peering through the darkness I clear my throat and say "Hello". It is more a question than a greeting. Out from the darkness comes the reply "Can I help you?" and a light comes on.
Its Smiley; he is 6'6" tall, completely bald and looks like that lead singer for Midnight Oil. There is a single bare bulb bouncing by his head, hanging from a wire, his hand in the air as he holds the pull chain for the light.
"I need some bolts" I say
"Follow me" he says. The light goes out and I follow Smiley through the dark, mostly by sound and shadow. At last he stops, reaches up and "click", a light comes on, revealing an assortment of bolts. Into a paper bag we put the ones I need.
"What else?" he asks.
"Garden hose" says I.
Light goes out and we proceed in the dark to my next item. He stops, light goes on, he produces from a shelf a garden hose, pulls the string,lites out!
We repeat the process through my entire list. Every item I need, we go to in the dark, and there is always a bulb hanging within a foot of my selection. I have never seen lighting so strategically placed anywhere, and Smiley has not said another word since the initial "Follow Me" It was quite surreal.
Last thing on my list is the muffler. I can remember the make of the Mower but not the Engine so I take a guess. Smiley knows better and tells me "NO, for that make of mower it is this engine and the muffler you will need is this one."
I'm not too sure and decide on the muffler he is warning me against.
We proceed to the register, lite goes on , I pay , lites out and as I am leaving I speak again, into the darkness of Smileys Hardware Store:
"If this muffler is the wrong one I can bring it back, Right?"
A moment of silence...then from the darkness Smileys slightly irritated voice:
"Sure, son, if its not the right one."
I get back to the house and check the muffler.
Damn! Wrong one! Back to Smileys I go .
Thru the screen door,slap!
Into the darkness once again I speak:
"Looks like it’s the wrong muffler, sir."
A long moment of silence.
Again I say, "Looks like it’s the wrong muffler, sir."
Finally out of the darkness comes the voice of Smiley:


Lily said...

excellent! ever thought of writing short stories? (not THIS short, of course)

bulletholes said...

Lily, this is about as long a short story I need to be writin'. This one seemed to go on forever!