dontravis.com blog post #375
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Sure got a lot of comments on my serialized novella, Impotent. Also got a bunch of hits. Thanks for tuning in and beefing up the statistics, guys. By the way, for the uninitiated, to me “guys” is a gender-neutral nouns, so my female readers (and I’ve got some because I’ve heard from them) shouldn’t feel left out when I use the term.
Today, we go lighter. It’s a little short story that came to me while I was daydreaming the other morning. Here’s part one:
JIM HEIGHTLY AND MISS LILY
Jim Heightly. A 150-watt bulb in a 50-watt socket. Everyone in the little Oklahoma farming town of Lynchpin knew one day the fuse was gonna blow. He’d go twenty-four hours straight before crashing to recharge his batteries. Jim was a “delivery driver,” or so he claimed. His 56’ Chevy panel truck looked like hell—brown paint chipped and front bumper awry… back one missing altogether—and smelled like burnt motor oil, but it purred under the hood like a tomcat contemplating a pussy. And when Jim tromped on the accelerator, it yowled like that he-cat had caught what he was looking for.
At five-eleven with husky shoulders and muscular thighs, Jim boasted a mop of untamed honey-brown hair, and a nose somewhat crooked from a teenage brawl. That nose must have looked good to some because Jim was considered “presentable.” At least by the ladies. He went through the available damsels one by one, but none of them stuck for very long.
Until he met Miss Lily, that is. Everyone in town knew her as Lily Stopperscale, but to Jim she was “Miss Lily.”
Miss Lily—a former waitress and exotic dancer who’d saved her “tips”—opened a bar out on the state line where thirsty workers from dry Arkansas could cross an invisible stripe on the highway and slake that craving. Miss Lily’s Stateline Bar served the cheapest alcohol, and everyone is this rural county knew exactly the cost of every drop no matter where it was served. The highest places were in town, but they at least sold food along with the drinks. Not the Stateside; you went there for booze, jukebox dancing, flirting… and a fistfight if that was your inclination.
Jim Heightly was one of the reasons Miss Lily sold so cheap. He didn’t mooonshine but bought from those who did and delivered to his own customers. A middleman, he called himself when he settled up with the county sheriff at the end of each month. Jim knew all the stills and shiners and bought from only the very best, the “delicious to the last drop” kind. Well, maybe not delicious, but that last drop sure as blazes held the same punch as the first one.
Most bars in the county bought Jim’s white lightning to cut drinks, but that was the only product Miss Lily served. She poured the stuff straight from brand bottles without fooling anyone. Nonetheless, the price and the “old west” atmosphere of the Stateline kept them coming.
Jim didn’t set out to become involved with Miss Lily. In fact, he didn’t know he was until he overheard a couple of boozers in the bar speculate on whether the two of them were an “item.” Not long after that, Miss Lily came over to his table and plopped down. Spurred by the eavesdropped conversation, he took his first good look at her and decided she was a fine figure of a woman. He’d heard that phrase somewhere—didn’t know or much care where—and thought it fit her to a whopping T. Heavy on top and bottom with a wasp waist separating the two. A pile of frosted brunette curls on her head and huge, black eyelashes hovering over a pert nose and big glossy lips just added to the pleasing mix. Jim’s ears went deaf to the loud talk, the shuffling of feet, the laughs and occasional coughs. The place no longer stank of beer and cigarettes smoke and stale sweat, and raw, unpainted planking. It smelled like the rosewater Miss Lily wore.
That was the moment—the very instant—Jim Heightly fell in love. He didn’t know when—or if—Miss Lily reached the same conclusion; he just knew their three o’clock tumble in her apartment over the bar after closing that night ended with a yowl that woulda done that old tomcat justice. It was the best summersault he could recall in all his thirty-three years.
After that, Jim’s life fell into a strict pattern. He bought his wares in the morning, delivered them in the afternoon, and spent the night at Miss Lily’s establishment until the two o’clock closing. Then… well, it was tomcatting time. People claimed that tourists passing by on the two-lane paved highway in the dead of night wondered at the size of felines in the area from all the caterwauling going on in that oak-planked building with a bar sign on top.
There’s some that say Jim’s 150-watt lifestyle caused the problem—although Miss Lily didn’t seem to be suffering any. Others claim Rod Peston’s coming to town brought things to a head. Rod moved in from Hot Springs, Arkansas, took a job at Clancy’s Auto as a grease monkey, and it didn’t take him more’n two shakes of a lamb’s tail to find the Stateline Bar… and Miss Lily. Except he called her Miss Stopperscale.
The first time Jim came barreling through the door and spotted Miss Lily sitting at a corner table with a big, brawny stranger, he stopped dead in the sawdust on the floor. Miss Lily claimed she put the stuff down to soak up spilled drinks and catch misses to the spittoons scattered around the place… mostly out of the way so they didn’t get kicked over. Jim figured she did it because it dulled the noise. The Stateline was a rowdy place, somewhat akin to a rodeo, clowns and all.
At any rate, when Jim halted in his tracks, Miss Lily cast him a glance and gave something between a grin and a grimace. Some claimed Jim blanched, others swore he turned beet red before marching over and demanding what was going on?
“Honeybun, sit yourself down and meet the new fella in town. Jim Heightly, meet Rod Peston. You can call him Pistonrod. Everybody does.”
Such was the power of Miss Lily’s—or Miss Stopperscale’s, if you prefer—introduction that the two men actually shook hands. In so doing, both managed to graze Miss Lily’s ample breasts looming over the table. But they didn’t exchange a word. None were needed. The whole place fell hushed. Even the jukebox chose that moment to moan its last. Nobody moved. Nonetheless, a gauntlet had been thrown down and picked up.
Reminds you of two roosters sizing one another up, doesn’t it? Are we about to have a cock fight? Tune in next week. Oh yes, better tell everyone I know that piston rod is two words. But allow me some poetic license, please.
Until next week.
The following are buy links for the recently released The Voxlightner Scandal.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-voxlightner-scandal-don-travis/1132632844?ean=9781640809260
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4AxPDo
Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!
My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old firstname.lastname@example.org. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:
See you next week.