Monday, June 11, 2012


Some small towns are funny. The rest are just plain scary. I remember being in Batesville Arkansas once; they manufacture caskets there. As you pass by the town square, there are a dozen grizzled old men, retired casket-makers, that give you the hairy eyeball. There is a stop sign there, but its best just to roll right through it. I stopped off at the diner, where the owner needed more information about me than what I would have expected before he could serve me.

'Its not me, " he explained, "its the darn Chamber of Commerce. They don't want no tourists or college kids classin' up the place."
He told me that it was for that reason he couldn't get anything but frozen peas to serve with his Chicken Fried Steak.
"No fresh vegetables" they had told him, "Too delicious, people might come back"
None of it made any sense, even when he asked if I would like to buy his restaurant so he could get out of Batesvlle Arkansas.

It reminded me of a movie I saw long ago, "Outback" with Donald Pleasance. He played a schoolteacher who was stranded in a funny scary small town where they drank every night and everybody played a game with dice and no one could leave until they won the stupid game. Of course Pleasance never won, the movie ends with him sitting in the scorching sun, sucking on the barrel of a rifle and a single bullet in the chamber.

I just got back from passing through a town like this, where the cashiers at the grocery look at you funny and say "From out of town aren't you?" and its not a question at all. As you pass through the town square there are grizzled old men that don't bother to look up from playing domino's, they know you are there, they knew you were there since before you left the grocery store. You wave at the one who does look up, but he just stares right through you as you pass. Later at the lake there is an eerie quiet and there are no fish, or fisherman, its just you on the lake and you feel a million eyes watching you.

The lady at the grocery store said there had been gators in the lake, and they called in a gator hunter and he pulled 23 out of there and thinks he got them all, but none of the locals will go near it. You start to imagine that somewhere someone is building an altar of straw in the shape of and alligator, like the one in the movie "Hook" and you fight back the feeling you and that altar will have a lot in common around midnight.
It doesn't surprise you one bit when you find your car battery doesn't work, or when the local deputy shows up at dusk with a bottle of whiskey and a set of dice.

The next time you pass by a big 18 wheeler full of coffins, take a look at the tags.
I bet its from Batesville.

This story is inspired by my visit to Tommy and Tammy Rutledge's back about 6 weeks ago. It isn't at all what I intended to write, but every single part of it is 100% true. In fact it is so true that the only thing not true about it is that I took the unbelieveable parts out.

NOTE #2- this was originally posted a year ago under the name "Batesville Casket Company". I've added a bit to it after reposting @ FB.
I've also changed the title, inspired by Soubriquet comments.



flask said...

the second time i went to vote in my town, i stepped up to identify myself.

"i know who you are", the town clerk snapped.

sunoco station, town office, firehouse. that's it. we call it "downtown.

bulletholes said...

Sounds like a nice place as long as you don't have to win a dice game to leave.
Hey flask!

e said...

Everyone's future is in an urn, unless they choose to be buried and consumed by bugs...This makes me appreciate being above ground, even in scary places...Thanks for visiting me.