Monday, February 23, 2015


Down here we had the Jarmacks, all big trouble and notoriously violent, with the eldest of the three brothers, Joe, being the most badass'd. One night Little Panama comes running into the local Foosers Hut and hollers that Fightin' Joe Jarmack has barricaded himself in the old abandoned Boys Ranch House for Orphans and that anyone going in there gets thrown out the second floor window.

Of Course the place empties out, and a caravan forms up to journey down Devils Backbone, a twisting turning roller coaster road that dead ends into the Boys Ranch where a crowd has gathered in the dark outside of the dilapidated two story wood structure.

Its pure Hugo without the hunchback, unless you want to count Cross Eyed Myra, who seemed to be everywhere all the time, just lookin' for a little lovin'.

Big Panama goes running into the darkness of the ranch house and in like 20 seconds you hear a scream and *WHOOSH* here he comes flying out the second story window. Same thing happens to Zigger-zoo, Cherokee, Tubby and the Strackman. Then Truck-Bob hollers "torch the place" and someone comes up with a gallon of gas, its once for the Devil and once for the Christ, and the next thing you know this weather-beaten old Ranch house is in flames, lighting up the hot August night. The crowd went wild!

No one ever saw Fighting Joe again, but the next morning his Saint Christopher medal was sifted from the ashes, still glowing red hot like Shelley's Heart and did not cool until it were dunked, hissing and steaming into the Boys Ranch Pond.

Today it is the site of the nicest little park and community center you would ever want to see. Its been deemed a State Historical Site because of the Old Boys Ranch for Orphans. But there is not one whit in tribute to the night that Fightin' Joe went down in a blaze of glory. The legend is that he still wanders the Park and surrounding neighborhoods, looking for his old girlfriend Betsye.

When the wind is out of the southwest, breathing its way down Devils Backbone and blowing through the willows by the waters edge, you can hear ol' Fightin Joe howling for his lost love.


“Fighting Joe” was far and away the most baddass’d dude in these parts and a real life Urban Legend. I writ about 'im a while back.
He came from a long line of notoriously violent people.
My Mother –in-Law, Sparks, used to manage one of the toughest Redneck saloons that actually had a REAL Liquor License way out past the lights on the Jacksboro Highway. She knew Fightin Joes dad “Jigsaw" and she may be the only person on earth that might could take him.

Sparks didn't abide no bullshit in her Bar. Back in the 70's, they say she put JIgsaw out on his ass by his ear more than once. That was why he never come to her place no more. Sparks kept a sign over her bar said
"You are Welcome but your Dope is not"
and if she got wind that anyone in there was holdin' it was out the door with you.

Fightin' Joes dad, “Jigsaw” Jarmack would take offence to anyone unwitting enough to cast a glance in his direction. But he was right clever about it. Sparks said his usual method of operation was to down a couple dozen Boilermakers, which just seemed to bring out all the hate in him, then he would look for someone to unload on. He would act all friendly to them, even buy a few rounds and then out in the Parking lot he would give ‘em the knife.
He never killed anyone that could be proved but he left a long trail of men with only one ear, or minus the tip of their nose and a finger or two and there are enumerable fellows walkin’ round having a jagged tear down one cheek and stitches in their side like that guy Dalton from Road House.
All souvenirs of the night they made a big mistake, thinkin' they had befriended “Jigsaw” Jarmack.

His son, “Fightin’ Joe” was a bit different. He never pretended to like nobody.
Nobody ‘cept his girl, Betsie Boopman that lived down the street from me. She really wasn't a Boopman at all. Neither were her two half sisters.

The Boopman’s were the most unusual family you’d ever want to meet. They were like the Brady Bunch on a mean batch of Crank.
There were three brothers, all sired by the same father, Bum.
But all three son’s had come from different mothers.
Their names were Butch, Boomer and Buck. Rumor was that Butch's Mother had been killed by Boomers Mom, then when Boomers Mom got the chair, Bum re-married and Buck was born, but his momma ran off with the Carnival. Buck was the most normal of the brothers.
The other two, Butch and Boomer, were like Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum and they were in a constant struggle against each other and for each other, all at the same time. They seemed to be living some kind of ancient genealogical war begun by two women, all the while having more in common with each other than their differences.

Then there were three sisters that all came from the same Momma, but they each had different Daddy’s. Their Momma's name was Eve, and she really got around I guess. I never did get comfortable with the hungry way she would eyeball me from time to time.
There was “Ruthless”, the eldest of the three, and “Lobo”, the one in the middle. Me and Lobo got to be pretty good friends. She drove a “72 Honda Civic, smallest car there could ever be (least until they came out with that Cooper thing) and sometimes I would get to be the 7th person in the car while a Grass Mask was passed front to back in the Parking lot before School.
I never did know what her real name was, but one night I did find out why they called her Lobo.

Betsye was the youngest, and she was the apple of Fightin' Joe's eye. Betsye was 16 going on 21. She was the best looking of the three. When she got all dressed up she was probably the best looking girl in the school, but instead of giving her confidence, she had become mousey, a kind of poor Cinderella Girl; quiet, shy and easily manipulated by anyone, especially Fightin Joe.
So when Bum and Eve got married, they combined to produce a household of six half Step-brothers and Step-sisters, only they were more like thirds.
Its like nothin' I've ever heard of before.

There were a lot of jokes about what went on at that house, you just didn’t want to tell ‘em when Fightin Joe was around.
You had to know about the Boopmans before I could tell you about the day that Fightin' Joe took “Perk” Perkins and “Hogshead” Newman apart during Drivers Ed then headed to the Boys Ranch to meet his end..


When he was 4 years old, Buck Boopman cried all the way to and from the
all-girl tap-dancing lessons his mother made him go to. But he did not cry
during the classes. No, that would have been too humiliating. It was bad
enough to have to wear that leotard and those shiny black shoes with the
little ribbon as a shoelace without bawling like a big baby about the whole
thing. The real reason Buck kept it together was simply out of respect for
the little girls in that class, especially Teddy, the daughter of the
Minister at the church he went to. Buck always looked forward to seeing
Teddy there. Teddy was Buck's first love. Tap-dancing lessons may not have
made him a dancer, but they taught him that sometimes love is just hoping to
see someone, and keeping it together for them when you do.

A few years later, in the second Grade, Buck would walk home from school
with Donna  for lunch everyday.  And everyday he would split the baby
Snickers bar his mother had given him with Donna when they met on the corner
for the walk back to school. One day when his mother gave him his usual
Snickers bar, Buck asked if he might have TWO snickers bars today.
'Why do you need two today?” his mother asked.
And Buck explained to his mother that everyday he split his candy bar with
Donna, and that today he thought maybe Donna might like one of her own.
"Oh yes!" His mother beamed as she wiped her hands on her Watermelon Apron
and reached into the pantry for another Snickers. "You certainly may!"

These two events would form Bucks attitude towards women that he kept for
the rest of his life.
It was also why he felt a bit nervous and uneasy about the effect that his
step-sister Betsye had on him, all the while hoping something might happen
between the two of them.


Betsye was 16 years old. She had a father somewhere that sent a birthday
card to her on her birthday for the last 14 years. She loved her daddy like
all little girls do, but stayed confused as to why he chose to stay away.
She had had to suffer the looks and jeers of quite a number of her mother's
boyfriends over the years. She had grown up 'fast" as the old folks say,
having started her period at the age of 10 and having her breasts come in
when she was 13. And my, did they come in! The flat chested girls could not
imagine what a curse it could be. Boys never looked you in the eye. Some of
them even would just come up and grab at them.
Men gawked and didn't even try to hide their lust.

She didn't quite know it, but she was more than breasts. She was also very
pretty and sweet, it’s just nobody had ever really told her that.
She had never really had a boyfriend, she stayed to busy just trying to
defend herself at school, and on the walks home, and when she and her
girlfriends would get cornered by some boys down at the Bellaire.

So when Fightin' Joe Jarmack, the toughest guy at school, showed an interest
in her and asked her out, it made sense to her to say yes. Nobody messed
with Joe, and nobody would dare mess with Joe's girl. She was scared and
vulnerable, and she did whatever Joe asked, but she wasn't really afraid of
Joe. Joe liked her too much to ever hurt her; she sensed that. He
represented protection, and it seemed like a good trade, her affection for
his protection.
But recently, since her mom had married Bum Boopman, she had taken a liking
to her step-brother Buck. He was kind and gentle, and had always showed her
a great deal of respect. He smiled to see her in the mornings, and she found
herself daydreaming about him during class, and at night before she fell


No one was home , so Betsye  took a shower, wrapped herself
in a towel, painted her toenails while she sat on the edge of the bathroom
countertop. She didn't hear when Buck came home until she heard him gasp
"Sorry" as he rounded the corner and into the bathroom.
"That's OK" she said as she hopped down from the counter to face him head
Buck fought the urge to look at his boot tops and just stood there, looking
into Betsye's eyes.
Betsye knew it was up to her. She was tired of the affliction, tired of
playing the role of Joe's girl.
She smiled her best smile and let the towel drop, and Buck stepped into the
bathroom, pulling the door shut.

“Howdy do...yeah, I got somethin for the head!
Come on, come stand over here, it’s the best spot on Campus. Want a hit? Yeah, its Oaxacan  and it is good. See, from here you can see down the side of the building both ways and if Potter or Coach Dibble show up, we got a runnin start to the Parking Lot. They'll never know what hit 'em. Lobo is out there with all her girls. See that “72 Civic, the Purple one with the smoke comin’ out the rear window? Theres more pussy packed into there right now than a Future Teachers of America Convention. Sometimes they let you party with em, but you gotta wait for the invite. Won't take long, man.

When the wind is just right, comin out of the lot, you can get high just standin here, and seein’ as how jus’ ‘bout every other car is packed with Freaks all tuned in to KZEW its like were getting’ “Smoke on the Water”… in Quadraphonic too. Pretty cool

From here we can see everything. We got a better view of the Parking Lot and the Drivers Ed course over there than Mr. Turcell up there in the tower. They put that in last year, looks like something out of a Yogi Bear vs. The Park Ranger episode. Turcell thinks from up there with his Binoculars he’ll be able to see whats goin’ on inside the vehicles while everybody’s practicing driving.
Say again? Yeah, it looks like something a Boy Scout Troop made. He climbs three flights of ladders every day to get up there.
No, you’re right, they didn’t spend much money on it and it don’t look real safe.

Uh oh, there goes Fightin Joe. Looks like he's on a mission. Looks like they are headed to Drivers Ed. He’s got Tiny Fontanadana with him too. They’re probably lookin’ for someone for Tiny to beat up while Fightin’ Joe holds ‘em. Tiny is little, but he’s a coward and that makes him dangerous, especially since he’s Joe’s only friend besides Betsye.
But don’t look now cause here comes Cross-eyed Myra in that Rabbit Jacket of hers. 88 degree's in the shade, Myra has gotta wear that jacket. Her mommas REAL French, barely even speaks English, but Myra is from Brooklyn. She likes to think she's French though.

Listen! Hear that squeaky sound?
Its that Patent Leather Ultra Miniskirt she wears. Man she’s really truckin’ ain’t she? Check it out, she’s gonna want a light for her cigarette…she’ll let it dangle until she decides to make Gentlemen out of us, and ask us if we ain't gonna light her cigarette.

Hey Myra whats happenin'?!
No, ma’am, I do not know what Joe and Tiny are up to besides no good. Lookin for who? What do they want with Buck? He did what? You don’t mean it! He and Betsye? But she’s his Half-Step Sister. Yeah, I guess that don't plug no holes. Aren’t I gonna what? Oh sure, here you go…man I need a cig too after hearin’ that shit.
Buck and Betsye! My my!
Ok, catch ya later!

Man! Buck has been makin' out his own step sister, Betsye, which just happens to be the most notoriously bad-assed’ dude in the world's girlfriend. Fightin’Joe must be wiggin’ out. Someone's gonna get hurt, I guarantee you me.
Buck better keep his ass well hid.

Whats that? Me and Cross-Eyed Myra?? No, not me…everyone thinks I am but the fact of the matter is I’m the only one thats not.
Yeah, it gets pretty intense around here for sure. Whats your name? Good to know ya, Stan-man…
They call me Bulletholes. See ya ‘round”


Turcell looked up the three flights of ladders that led to his perch. It was like the worlds biggest Deer Stand, 30 feet up from the blacktop, and situated smack dab in the center of the Drivers Ed Course. From here he could keep an eye on the 15 year old Hoodlums that were learning to drive in his program. Years ago, he felt like he was doing the Community a real service. These days he didn’t know.
Something had changed.
The kids were different, that was for sure. The kids today had changed everything. They had changed in the way they acted, especially towards any authority. They acted so oppressed, like the National Guard had been to their School, fired M-16's into their mob, cut their classmates down, hit their heads with nightsticks and blinded their eyes with tear-gas.
None of that had happened to these kids, so why did they act that way?

When he reached the top and settled in to his chair, he put out the Green Flag indicating the course was open. He fired up the radio with which he could communicate with each car. There was always some joker out there that thought they could get away with something, like smoking a cigarette, or worse, fire up a Reefer, and the CB Radio was there to let the kids know Turcell was on top.
“On top, darn right I’m on top, I’m more on top than that gook sniper that took out my best buddy in the ‘Nam” Turcell thought to himself.
Then he reached into his pocket, pulled out the little silver flask.

It looked like it was gong to be a long morning.

With his Binoculars, he could see Bulletholes up on the hill, right on that blind corner of the building where the gooks, I mean, the kids, could get away with murder.
Bulletholes! That kid was too sharp to be a slacker, but that’s what he was allright. And now, he and that new kid, blacker than the Ace of Spades, are cutting class and smoking that shit.
There goes the neighborhood.

Whoa! Whats this? Theres Cross-eyed Myra, always lookin' for some trouble. She's found it with those two!
That slut.
Turcell licked his lips and refocused his binoculars for a better look and muttered to himself:
"Every boy in school must be bangin’ that. Every boy but me. What are they lookin at?
Oh shit… Fightin’ Joe and Tiny. Shit, they’re headed this way.
Whats this?
Car 17? Thats Perk, Hogshead and Buck!
They’re pullin’ Perk Perkins out of MY car!"

Turcell took a quick swig from his flask and reached for the Red flag that signaled "All Stop".

(Radio Static)
“Perk, you get that car under control or your ass is grass!
"Perk, I want your butt back into that drivers seat now!"
Hogshead, can you hear me? I want you to make Fightin Joe leave Perk alone, and if you can’t do that I order you to gain control of that vehicle!”
(More Radio static)

Turcell gulped hard as he watched Fightin’ Joe wrestle Perk the rest of the way out of the drivers seat. He saw Buck Boopman exit from the rear passenger side door and run for his life. He saw Hogshead exit the passenger seat, go ‘round the rear of the vehicle and try to sneak up on Joe. Hogshead was a big ol boy, but a peaceful, slow-movin' kind of guy, no match for fightin' Joe.

The whole time, Car 17 was idling along in a slow wide arc, driver-less, but still in gear. But all eyes were on the hand-to-hand combat taking place on turn #3 of Turcells beloved Drivers Ed course.

It looked like Joe was about to remove Perks head, and Perks upper left arm was bent in a most unnatural way having been both broken and dislocated from his shoulder while being extracted from the vehicle. Why Joe went after Perk the driver instead of Buck in the backseat has been a subject of much conjecture for many years now.
Blind rage coupled with mistaken identity seems as likely an answer as any.
Maybe it was just Perks lucky day.
It was only during the investigation the next week that Buck's affair with Joe's girl Betsye came to light.

But now, Turcell could only watch in confused amazement from his Tower.
At the last second, Joe saw Hogshead approaching from the rear of the car.
Joe let Perk go and Perk sat there, holding his arm and trying to keep Tiny from pummeling him more with those little fist’s.
Joe squared off and met Hogshead head on with a straight right that would have stopped one of Rucker’s High Performance jobs.
It would have stopped a tank.
In his Binoculars, Turcell could see Hogsheads face flatten, and his ears bulge out. Hogshead sank to his knees and kissed the asphalt.

The fight was over, but Turcell felt a hole in his middle. He could taste the coppery flavor of some impending doom.
What was it?
What was that sound?
What was this screeching, crunching, scraping, noise?
And why was his tower leaning now as he watched the parking lot get closer and closer to his window?
Crap! Car 17!

Turcells day suddenly seemed to have gotten significantly shorter.

 ‘Ol Bulletholes cannot speak for any of the characters, unreal imagined or conglomerated into his story about fightin’ Joe. He can however, speak for himself.
Bulletholes resides in Bedford, not far from the old Boys Ranch for Orphans. He works a job as a Shipping and Receiving Clerk.
Bulletholes is a very grateful Recovering Addict with 411 days of clean time. He spends his time spreading the message to the still suffering addict:

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