Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! Have ya ever noticed that age seems to have its benefits? Since I retired, I can sleep when I want, eat when I want an’ work when I want. I jump from project to project, not makin’ much headway on anything, but I’m not gettin’ bored, either. I’ve got more projects than I’ll be able to finish in 20 years, an’ I just keep draggin’ more home!
I was perusin’ Craigslist when I happened on an ad for a basket-case Sporty chopper that had been in Easyriders magazine a few years back. The ad said all the parts were there an’ the price was right, so I e-mailed the guy. Now I’m usually the guy who says, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” but now an’ then, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn, so I called an’ got directions to the guy’s hidey-hole up in the woods.
“Take Highway 41 to road 365 an’ turn left,” he said, as I’m tryin’ to write it all down.
“Stay on there for about seven or eight miles till ya get ta the crick next to the Buckbrush Tavern, then hang a right on the gravel road that looks like part of the parkin’ lot.”
OK… I got this part covered… He cussed at a dog that was growlin’ in the background, then continued.
“Take the dirt road on yer left just past the old barn that’s leanin’ sideways, but watch out when ya open the gate, cause sometimes there’s a bull loose in there, an’ he don’t cotton ta no strangers.”
I scribbled furiously, tryin’ to keep up with him, but ended up with barn leaning, bull running, watch open gate, but I figured I could make sense of it later, kinda like redneck shorthand.
“Then,” he continued, “head on up the hill a spell, till ya see a double-wide perched up on top of the hill. Blow yer horn when ya get here, so’s I can lock this here dog up, cause he don’t cotton ta no strangers neither.”
“You don’t have a banjo, do ya?” I asked. It just kinda slipped out before I had time to think about it.
“Huh?” he paused. “What’n hell would I be doin’ with a banjo?”
“Uh… Never mind; I’m old, so just consider the source,” I told him. The next day, I started out early in the mornin’. I took Brother Bear with me in case there was any heavy liftin’ to do, an’ by 10:00, we were already at the turnoff for Road 365, with breakfast burrito sauce down the front of our shirts an’ coffee spilled all over the truck seat.
Bear picked up the note with the directions on it, an’ studied it for a minute. “What’s this crap? What’s a born loaning?”
“That’s barn leanin’,” I said. “That’s where we turn, but first we’ve gotta take the gravel road next to the Buckbrush Tavern.”
Twenty minutes later, we’d found the right roads, an’ the leanin’ barn, an’ the bull had found us.
“Wow,” Bear grumbled, lookin’ over his shoulder at the immense animal that was still stompin’ down the middle of the road in our general direction. “You see the size of that bull?”
“Yeah,” I told him. “Sure hope he doesn’t consider us strangers now that we’ve met!”
Sure enough, the double-wide was right where the ol’ boy said it was, perched on cinder blocks on top of the hill, with junk takin’ over around it like rusty kudzu. I blew the horn and the door opened, releasing, for lack of a better word, a sight right out of The Grapes of Wrath, with slouch hat, bib overalls an’ all.
“Hullo, fellers,” he yelled. Guess yer here ta see the motorsickle. Come on back ta the shed an’ I’ll show her to ya.”
We climbed out of the truck just as a blurry, snarlin’ vision of Hell came tearin’ around the corner, fangs bared an’ slobber flyin’. Bear jumped into the back of the truck, an’ I jumped back in the cab.
The guy yelled, “Dammit, Luther, go lay down!” He picked up a rock an’ heaved it in Luther’s general direction. Luther made a strategic retreat, but kept an eye on us from the porch.
I was surprised to see that the Sporty was actually complete, and in pretty good shape, considering, so I offered him five hundred less than he was askin’ for it, just to break the ice. He stepped over to the shed door an’ called out, “Here, Luther… Here, boy!” We could hear toenails scratchin’ for traction on the porch, an’ a growl like the rusty hinges on Hell’s back gate.
“Uh… I think the askin’ price is fine,” I told him. “I’ll take it.”
Bear laid down the four-foot long chunk of 2×4 he’d picked up, and the ol’ boy sent Luther back to the porch. “Luther’s the best damn salesman I’ve ever had,” he chuckled, countin’ the cash as we loaded the boxes of Sporty parts in the truck.
“Damn,” Bear said as we pulled away from the trailer and down the rutted road, “That sure was a mean-ass dog. I’m glad we got outta there with our skins!”
“Me, too,” I agreed, “but remember: It’s your turn to open the gate on the way out!”