Springtime at the Speedway


Photo via MorgueFile.

by Erin Abernethy


Welcome to “Race Week,” y’all!

Bring us your hicks, your drunks,

your gas-guzzling RVs,

your big-ass campers and overgrown pup-tents,

jockeying to park in a nearby churchyard.

That’ll be $20, son.

Bless y’all. Jesus loves ya.


Bring us all your bad habits –

we don’t have enough of our own –

all your trash and your spit,

your sweaty sun-stink,

your potbellied, yellow-toothed,

smoke-sucking men;

your brassy blonde women

overflowing their shorts,

your children more monstrous

than all of your trucks.


Come and jam up the traffic

bring it all to a standstill

while cousins with roadside stands

make a few bucks

from selling you tickets and

overpriced firewood,

t-shirts and caps sporting

Earnhardt and Petty;

pocket the cash and

don’t tell the tax-man.

That’s the American Way

around here.


Never mind all the locals,

so lucky to live here with all this

Excitement. Oh yes,

it’s a great big adventure,

trying to get out to work

when the cops fix the stop-lights

to let trailers through.

Watch the race car parade:

look, it’s Bobby!

Is that Greg’s Ford?

We may die of amazement,

so impressed by these strangers

you call by first names.


Like a biblical plague,

this infestation, this

visitation of fools;

smell the diesel, the smoke,

as the cars run in circles,

the dinosaur roar

scaring dogs miles away.

How much gas do you think

will be wasted this weekend?

This is what our troops fought for:

more American horsepower!


So welcome to Race Week, y’all!

Get to the grandstand,

grab a beer and sit back.

If you pay close attention,

some driver might wreck;

you could be there, ringside,

see some cars crash and burn!

Holy crap!

Oh, sweet Jesus!

It’s the American Way!

Waving flags,

making noise,

blood and brains on the track.

Welcome to Race Week.


© Copyright 2015 by Erin Abernethy.

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100% Pure Genuine Government B.S.!


by Erin Abernethy

[Editor’s note: Back in the early years of the 21st century, when George W. Bush was occupying the White House, Erin Abernethy kept a blog called Brimstone Bites,” which consisted of equal parts political snark, overheard conversations, and general silliness. The blog was put on hold when she enrolled in her Advanced Statistical Analysis class, and it was taken down when a hacker turned it into some sort of bizarre real estate phishing scheme. However, some of her original posts were recovered, and we thought you’d enjoy seeing a few of them from time to time. Here’s a series that dates back to the days of the spinach contamination scare of September, 2006. – R.C.]

Need to Bury a Body Fast? Well, Too Bad.


And you know how long it takes to get a committee to agree on anything….

Bite This.

flea (‘flE) n. a small wingless bloodsucking insect

The government and most civil service agencies love acronyms. We’ve got the FBI, the CIA, the DEA, the DHS, the NSA, and you’ll need your ID and SSN or at least a PIN pretty much anywhere you go.

Considering all that, I find it interesting to note that in press releases and news stories, no one ever uses an acronym to abbreviate one of the lengthiest and most common phrases we hear today:
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.


Exercise Leads to Weight Gain. Don’t Let Those Infomercials Fool You.

Overheard between a sporting goods associate and a very hefty guy shopping @ a local Wal-Mart:

Assoc.: So can I interest you in one of these exercise bikes today?

Hefty: Nope, I just need some fishing line.

Assoc.: Didn’t your wife say the doctor told you to lose some weight?

Hefty: Yep, that’s what she said.

Assoc.: You oughta get yourself one of them weight machines, start workin’ out.

Hefty: Nope, don’t think so.

Assoc.: Well, you ain’t gonna lose no weight fishin’, I can tell you that right now.

Hefty: No, but I can’t start workin’ out, because muscle weighs more than fat, see? I start workin’ out, next thing you know, I’m gainin’ weight. I can’t be buffin’ up an’ puttin’ on muscle if I’m supposed to lose weight. They don’t tell you that on them infomercials, that muscle weighs more than fat. They don’t want you to know that. They’re tryin’ to sell machines, see. How many you reckon they’d sell if they told everybody muscle weighs more than fat?

Drug Companies Are Evil.

Oh, you want proof? Fine.


Now you know. But hey, don’t let that ruin your buzz.


“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”

~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The great error of nearly all studies of war… has been to consider war as an episode in foreign policies, when it is an act of interior politics…”

~Simone Weil

100% Pure Genuine Plastic!


Does the word “luxurious” really belong in a description of a shower curtain?

For that matter, should the words “luxurious” and “vinyl” ever be allowed next to each other?

Bad Spinach: Christian Cow-Eating Government Plot?

I almost hesitated to post this one because I was sure no one would believe what I overheard some big bubba-boy in coveralls saying this morning in a local grocery store:

“You know, that spinach thing, it’s a government deal. Y’all remember how they used AIDS to try and get rid of the homos? See, they’re usin’ this e-co-lie spinach to get the vegetarians. Them vegans, you know, they’re the ones always causin’ trouble, wantin’ to save the owls and keep the ten commandments out of schools and all that kinda stuff. That’s why the government ain’t gettin’ in no hurry to figger out this spinach thing. They’re hopin’ the vegans’ll starve to death and then we can get on with business.”

© Copyright 2006 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2015.

Header photo by oFace Killah. Licensed CC BY 2.0.

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After the Races


by Erin Abernethy

After the races have been run
and the cars rolled into trailers
and the drivers have changed out of
brand-plastered jumpsuits
into cheap Wal-Mart casual
and moved on to the next track…

After the crowds have vacated the grandstand,
left their bottles and go-mugs and wrappers behind,
maybe a diaper or two in the parking lot
(people get paid to pick that shit up –
don’t trouble yourselves)…

After the festive blue portable toilets
have been whisked away to
other fairs, other carnivals,
other gaudy pageants of
carnage and noise…

After the fields are returned to the cows
and no longer used for parking or
camping or public displays of
stupendous redneckery…

Still I’m surrounded
by forests of shotguns,
thickets of Confederacy,
bald patches of people so swollen with pride,
so whitewashed with bliss, so willfully ignorant
they could just bust their buttons at the
sight of it all –
these supreme infestations of loud local color
will never be gone,
hidebound and rootbound,
with their blonde Jesus gospel,
after the races.


© Copyright 2015 by Erin Abernethy

Header photo via Pixabay.

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This Week at Gatewood: May 24-30, 2015


Photo via Pixabay.

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in! Here are our features for the week of May 24-30:

Monday:Butte,” photography by Wolfgang Staudt

Tuesday:Stone Man Standing,” poetry by Hunter MacKenzie

Wednesday:Dead Confederates,” short fiction by K.C. Collins

Friday:No Expectations,” photography by P.L. Miller and quote from Fritz Perls

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Special Assistant Doc Nicholas brought us some chuckles this week:

Follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as other tidbits of interest.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of May 24-30. Enjoy your weekend, and check in to visit us again soon!

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Dead Confederates


Photograph via Pixabay.

by K.C. Collins

When I was ten years old, my family moved from Manassas, in northern Virginia, to a tiny town called Alkadel. Manassas is not exactly the center of the universe or anything all that wonderful, mind you, but it’s a stone’s throw away from D.C. Even when I was a small child it was not uncommon for Dad to drop me off under the supposedly watchful eye of an older sibling to spend the day at the library or the Smithsonian. (This was the 1960’s and the crime rate then was not the concern it is now; parents might worry about the White House being burned down or picketed, but the thought that their baby might be picked up and carried away or fed illegal substances by strangers had not yet entered their heads.) Alkadel, by contrast, was a flyspeck on the map, and that only if it happened to be a really detailed map. The nearest art museum (if it could be called that) was perhaps a two-hour drive away. There was a local library. It was a one-room affair which shared space with the tax assessor; sometimes it was even open, when they could find an old lady willing to sit there all day and wait for the droves of readers who never came. Usually this was a retired school teacher who frankly couldn’t care less if anyone came in or not; no patrons meant she could spend the afternoon reading or napping in peace.

Now, Manassas is a town of some history; there are markers around to commemorate various civil war events, and the occasional costumed contingent of confederates in a holiday parade or something. But the members of the town council of Alkadel had somewhere along the line become possessed of the idea that their hamlet was of singular historical significance, as there had been a salt works there during the American Civil War, as well as allegedly having been home to various little-known historical personages–or, rather, relatives of said individuals. In back of the Methodist Church there was a cabin, widely believed among Alkadelians to have been the birthplace of the sister of the mother-in-law of General J.E.B. Stuart’s aide-de-camp. They had “restored” it (meaning they had plastered new cement into the cracks between the rotting boards) and they had erected a sign in front of it not only to attest to the veracity of this tale but also in order that the tourists might find it easily when they arrived. Never mind that there were no tourists, other than those lost souls who ventured into the mountains every year, or the few college students who still returned to visit families now and then. The tourists would come; Alkadel was “gonna be a boomtown” – or so said honorary mayor-for-life Vern Griggs, a pudgy gentleman with the facial expression of an overexcited bulldog.

By 1974, when we moved there, this prediction had not proven true, needless to say, nor did it appear likely to happen during my lifetime. Still, my father was optimistic (though not quite as delusionally so as Mr. Griggs), and there he planted us. The move was occasioned by my father’s forced resignation from the school where he taught; the community college near Alkadel seemed one of the few places in the state which had not heard of the allegations of my father’s involvement with the communist party. Or perhaps they had heard but simply could not believe that anyone not born in the Soviet Union would choose communism over good old American capitalism, and thus disregarded the rumors as so much nonsense.

My sister Claire, fifteen years my senior and a piano teacher, was welcomed with open arms by the music-lovers in the area; it was to her that they sent their darling children in the hope that one day little Susie might grow up to be on the Grand Ole Opry (locally considered the epitome of musical success), or, at least, become the regular church organist. I think my sister took a truly demented sort of satisfaction in drilling these children on nothing but scales until she grew bored herself, and then propping a book of Bach in front of them, assigning the same piece over and over and over until Mom snarled that she was going to have a seizure if she heard that Burnette kid mangle that concerto one more time.

Mom did not adjust well to the move. Always high-strung, never what one might consider a socialite anyway, she held out as long as she felt reasonable. Then she went to the youngest of the three local doctors (the only one who did not have the reputation for giving penicillin shots for everything from appendicitis to yellow jaundice), and demanded the Valium which, under the circumstances, she considered her inalienable right. He agreed, and my memory of Mom during the next few years consists of a silhouetted figure blowing smoke at the television in the den, the curtain drawn aside just enough to make sure nothing horrible was happening in the backyard.

It was my brother Rob who became my ally and partner in crime at this time. Rob was ten years older than me, and had spent a year at college before deciding that he didn’t know why he was there and agreeing with Dad that it would be better if he figured this out before he tried it again. Since leaving school he had worked at a variety of jobs (which is a tactful way of saying he was fond of calling in sick to go to concerts). My favorite of the ones he’d had in Manassas had been his job as an Eastman Kodak film sales rep; it had been his job to go to stores and collect outdated film, which he was supposed to deposit at a recycling facility. Often he brought rolls of this black and white film home for me to try out in my Brownie Hawkeye camera which I’d been given by an uncle, and which I often used to distance myself from the events around me in which I did not care to become involved–holidays, family outings, moving to small backwoods towns–things of that nature. Thanks to Rob, I had enough film stashed away from the six months he’d worked there to keep things at a safe distance from me for several more years. (I had also learned from him that you could store it in the refrigerator indefinitely, a tidbit of information my mother certainly wished I’d never received, as she had to dig past stacks of little yellow boxes of salvaged film whenever she needed the mustard or mayonnaise.)

Currently, Rob was working at the funeral home down the street from our new house. He didn’t have to do much; he washed and waxed the hearse once a week, swept the garage, and drove the van to pick up the dead bodies. Most of the time he spent sitting in the back room, reading and waiting for calls. I often went with him to work, and when I was there we usually listened to the radio and played poker (which he’d taught me when I was seven). He was the one generally charged with “baby-sitting” since my sister had piano students at the house for whom she was responsible and therefore could not be expected to keep an eye on me as effectively as she otherwise would have. This was fine with me, since when my sister had been issued baby-sitting duty, her idea of a good time had been for me to watch her at her dresser experimenting with new lipstick. Rob, however, found interesting things to do, even if it was doing nothing; at least it was done somewhere other than our own house.

Since arriving in town Rob had made two new friends named Lucas and Shakespeare. Lucas was a soft-spoken, anemic-looking fellow who wore an army jacket year ’round with a confederate flag patch on one sleeve, a Led Zeppelin patch on the other sleeve, and pockets that bulged from the little plastic packets he carried; he was the local drug connection, I learned. “Shakespeare” was thus nicknamed, I discovered, because he carried with him a small pocket notebook in which he could often be seen scribbling. I asked him once what he was writing and he retreated nervously into his wall of lank, dark hair. Rob told me later that he had peeked into the notebook once when Shakespeare had passed out from drinking too much Boone’s Farm; it had been full of poetry, quotes from Nietzsche, Pink Floyd lyrics, and cubistic caricatures of the locals.

I was with these three when Rob decided to take acid for the first time. I was twelve years old. The idea of “dropping acid” was somewhat alarming to me at first until it was shown to me and I saw that it was not like the hydrochloric acid we had in science class at school (which would, I figured, eat your insides out). We had gone out to a rock quarry where there was a deep though not very wide lake. This was where the locals often deposited new cars that couldn’t be paid for, or so I had heard; I imagined a veritable mountain of cars rusting deep beneath the surface of that placid green water. This, too, was where some of the more eccentric locals would gather early in the morning on certain holidays and re-enact civil war battles, complete with costumes, horses and period firearms. Occasionally, after a night of drinking, one or two of them would wander over to the quarry at two in the morning and take target practice with those same period firearms and their empty beer bottles, until the sheriff would come out in his pajamas and confiscate their weapons and argue with them over their constitutional right to bear arms, usually winning out in the end by pointing out that while the constitution may give them the right to bear arms, it does not necessarily give them the right to shoot them.

I considered it my responsibility, then, whenever we came out to the quarry, to be the lookout against these characters. Instinctively, I knew that they would probably just as soon shoot at my brother and his friends as beer bottles–and I knew, as well, that I was probably the only one there who wasn’t too stoned to notice if we had company. Already I had once been given the wheel of Shakespeare’s car when they had felt the need to go and find food but felt themselves incapable of driving. I had carefully parked unseen in back of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store where Rob proceeded to spend the next twenty minutes gazing up at the revolving yellow smiling pig atop the front entrance while Lucas intoned “Piggly… Wiggly…” over and over to himself as though extracting some heavy-duty enlightenment out of the words. I’d finally given up on them and taken money out of Lucas’s pocket, leading Shakespeare into the store with me to collect munchies.

The first time Rob did acid, however, they had managed to have their wits about them a little more than usual. It was a warm spring day, and the water in the quarry was a deep blue-green, shimmering in the late afternoon sun. I watched with interest for the first thirty minutes or so, as my brother and his friends were usually pretty entertaining when they smoked pot, but this time he did little more than sit there with an absent look in his eyes. Actually, he looked a little depressed. Lucas was talking to him periodically, mostly, “Hey, you ok?” and getting little or no response. I was bored, so I got my camera from the back seat and began to wander around the quarry, taking shots of this and that, figuring if things got interesting I’d hear them easily. I’d just begun to use color film recently, and I wanted to get some shots of the water, deep aquamarine, glittering in the remaining light. After awhile I got hot and tired, and I walked into the woods to sit and cool off. Shakespeare wasn’t far away; I could see him sitting on a rock overhanging the water, hunched over his notebook. I couldn’t see Rob or Lucas but I could hear Rob’s voice rising periodically in annoyance as though he wanted to be left in peace to mull over whatever was happening in his head. Mostly, though, it was quiet. In fact, the air seemed so still around me, it was almost eerie. I was getting jumpy; the sun was going down and I was getting startled over the slightest sound. Something just felt weird. I lit up a cigarette I’d gotten from Lucas earlier and paced around the little clearing to shake off the strange feeling, then marched back out to see what was going on with Rob. I saw him sitting on the ground in front of the car, holding his head and rocking back and forth.

“Rob!” I said sharply. “What’s going on?”

He slowed down and peered up at me. “Mom…” his voice trailed off.

“No, dumbass, it’s not Mom, it’s me. What are you doing?”

He took my hand solemnly. “Mom’s going to see the dead confederates.”

“Uh-huh. You’re not making any sense,” I muttered, starting to walk away.

“No!” he shouted. “Listen! We need to get a ouija board, so we can talk to her. She’s going with the general.”

Lucas was chuckling, pouring some peach wine into a plastic cup over by the car. “You’re out there, man. You’re talking some shit.”

Rob gazed into my eyes, his own as glassy as the surface of the water below. It felt weird, like it had out in the clearing a few minutes ago. I looked at my camera, saw that I had a couple of shots left, and put a bulb into the flash socket. I squatted low in front of Rob, waited until he looked up, and snapped the shutter. The flash bulb exploded in a brilliant blue-white flare. Rob’s eyes widened in horror, then amazement, and he reached out, touching air. “Look,” he pointed, “she’s disintegrating… it’s like millions of little specks of glitter… why aren’t the dead confederates all sparkly like that?”

“I dunno, Rob, maybe because Mom’s not dead?” I suggested, getting a little irritated with him. This was getting old fast, I thought. Rob stared at me wonderingly, as though he had to individually process each word I’d said for a whole minute. I popped out the burnt flash bulb and flung it far away, watching it smash on the rocks. Shakespeare actually lifted his head to see what it was, and even chuckled. But most of the evening was a total bust, from my point of view. Rob sat around staring and occasionally muttering something unintelligible about the soldiers, and Lucas babysat him, talking him through whatever catharsis he seemed to be having. Shakespeare wrote in his notebook. I crawled into the back seat of the car and fell asleep after awhile.

I woke when I heard the car crunching onto the gravel of our driveway. It was just after eleven, I saw, looking at my watch in the dim glow of Lucas’s lighter I’d pocketed. Rob was half-asleep; I had to keep grabbing at his arm to get him into the house. Once inside the house, I noticed that the television was still glowing in the den; Mom was probably watching the news, I figured, so I tried to slip quietly past the door and into my room, thinking Rob would follow suit. Rob, however, was drawn to the doorway like a moth to a porch light. I heard low voices as he and Mom talked; I left him to fend for himself, and collapsed into my bed.

A little later I was awakened by someone shaking my shoulder insistently. “Wake up,” Rob was whispering loudly. “I gotta talk to you. Wake up.”

“I’m awake,” I yawned, sitting up, wondering what time it was. “What is it?”

“Mom was watching TV while we were out,” he said.

“So?” Mom watched TV day in and day out now; it was a rarity to see her do anything else.

“No, listen… guess what she was watching,” he persisted.


“Dead confederates,” he hissed. “There was some movie on about the civil war and that’s what she was watching tonight. Just like I saw. Isn’t that weird?” he marveled.

“Weird… yeah,” I agreed, intrigued despite how sleepy I sounded.

That night I had the most amazing dreams; it was as though I had taken on my brother’s trip, he having tired out and fallen asleep. I dreamed in translucent double-exposures, dreams of railcars full of coffins, bursting with flowers… soldiers who marched off into nothingness, leaving behind only their spooky shouts and the smell of gunpowder… and I dreamed I watched as Shakespeare duly recorded everything into his notebook, the ink flowing out of his pen in iridescent silver lines like something out of a sci-fi flick. I heard the world fall dark and silent, as quiet as I imagined outer space would be. And then the train reappeared, an ancient, sepia thing of insubstantial iron. It braked just ahead of me; the conductor, looking vaguely like Lucas, stepped off and looked for me. I hesitated only for an instant before I swung into the car and settled into my seat for a ride that shot straight into the technicolor sunrise.

© Copyright 1999 by K.C. Collins. Republished 2013, 2015.

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This Week at Gatewood: May 17-23, 2015

Climbing up was easy

Photo via MorgueFile.

by Dr. Nicholas

Hi, everyone! It’s time for our Weekend Wrap-Up, so let’s get right to it.

Here are our features for the week of May 17-23:

Monday:Morning Fog,” photography by Nez. This is a beautiful shot that’s been in our gallery for awhile, but we just found a larger, higher-resolution file, and wanted to share it with you. It was shot in North Carolina, and I really like those colors in the mist.

Tuesday:Cartoons (A Few Words from the Artist),” poetry by R. Kane. This is an old piece from a box of archived papers. It was written back in 1990, but as you can see, still very relevant twenty-five years later. This is the first time it’s been published.

Wednesday:Mama Earlenes Business Proposition,” by Patrick Redding. This was something Patrick wrote while he was having a sort of “writer’s block” period on a couple of his more serious pieces. It’s a short, funny piece that goes along with the “Mama Earlene” Christmas letters he does from time to time, but you don’t have to be familiar with those to enjoy it. I like that line about Mama Earlene’s brothers becoming “entrepreneurs” because they aren’t good at anything useful.

Friday:Magic in the World,” photography by P.L. Miller and quote from Roald Dahl. Here’s an interesting fish-eye shot from a nearby forest, and a whimsical, thought-provoking quote about magic from the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, among other things.

As you probably know, our Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

At this point, the person who does our Weekend Wrap-Up usually posts some funny pictures I’ve shared recently, but I thought I’d do something a bit different this week. I really want to thank some folks who have been helping to spread the word by retweeting on Twitter, sharing articles, and generally helping widen the audience for our writers and artists. We greatly appreciate it!

Many thanks to:

Robin Sinclair and The Ghost of Mary at Robin Sinclair Books

Rick Dove at A Streaming of Consciousness

Mary Clark at Mary Clark, Writer

Tara Sparling at Tara Sparling Writes

Susan Mary Malone at SusanMaryMalone.com

Robert Hookey at You’ve Been Hooked!

Jeannette Harris at A Country Rag

Give their websites a visit, and say hello from us!

Now, not everyone has a website, so if you happen to be on Twitter, check out these fine folks who’ve also been helping to spread the word:

@DavidHinn, @sc_mo, @HeloisedArgente, @spiggitzfan, @annalapointe, @Ghost_Of_Mary, and @kwikxand.

For daily updates on Journal posts, you can follow me, @docnicholas, on Twitter.

I understand it’s a holiday weekend in some parts of the world, so you’ve got some extra reading time. Sounds like a great time to check out some other things on our site, and share them with friends! Our creators would certainly appreciate it, and you know it beats cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, or whatever is on your to-do list, doesn’t it? Of course it does.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for May 17-23. Enjoy your weekend, go easy on the ‘nip, and visit us again soon!

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Mama Earlene’s Business Proposition


Photos via Pixabay.

by Patrick Redding

Dear Mr. Cheever,

My name is Earlene Ledbetter, and I am writing to you on behalf of my brothers Cephus and Orly. They have an idea for a brand new business they would like to start up, but since they do not have any money and I am not going to lend them any more after not getting paid back from the last time I bailed them out of jail, I figured the least I could do would be to write to you, the head of our local Small Business Association, and see if you might be able to help these young men pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Ha, that’s a joke – it’s like pulling teeth to get these two to wear shoes in summer – but I guess they could pull themselves up by their overall straps just as well, and make something of themselves besides a nuisance.

Let me explain their idea to you. They have recently been in contact with a fellow from California who told them all about juice bars, and they think this is something they could do. It’s true that this fellow was their cellmate during their most recent incarceration, but I do not believe that we should hold that against him. Criminal activity does not mean you are no good at business; in fact, he was in jail for tax evasion, so clearly he is right up there with anyone on Wall Street when it comes to business smarts.

They would like to open a juice bar here in our town of Shady Creek. Cephus wants to call it “Juice Bar” but Orly came up with “Loosey Goose’s Real Good Juices.” They can fight over that later, if they actually get some start-up money. Right now, I am just glad they are interested in doing something that is not illegal, and I hope you might be able to help them get started.

We do not have any juice bars around here, so it would be a unique addition to our little town. And don’t worry, even though it has “bar” in the name, I understand that these are to be non-alcoholic beverages. I assure you that there is no way I would recommend my brothers to run a bar. Like many of our fine neighbors, they do not have good sense when they are around alcohol.

As I am sure you know, “juicing” is an easy way for people to get their fruits and vegetables, but I understand that any number of things can be liquified and made into a healthy juice drink, with a good recipe. I would have preferred that Orly hadn’t stuffed my sliced Sunday dinner ham into a blender to make this point, but the fact that Mama drank it anyway speaks to the tastiness of his concoction, I guess.

They would like to start small at first to see how it goes. They would need a juicer, of course. While anyone can pick up a blender at Wal*Mart for $40 or so, they would probably need a sturdier model that could stand up to constant use from two fellows who do not know the meaning of the word “careful.” I understand some of the fancier models run into the thousands of dollars, but there is a $300 model which I am sure would be just fine for getting them started.

There are a number of empty storefronts around town, and any one of those would be suitable for them. It is certainly not necessary for them to build a place from scratch, and I would do just about anything to keep them away from using power tools! The last time that happened, our house got a doggie door where one was never intended, and it was so bad we had to just build out from it and turn it into a breakfast nook (which I think is just too pretentious for folks like us, but it was better than having a hole in the wall that a black bear could have walked through at any time). Anyway, my point is, they could probably rent one of those empty shops pretty cheaply on a month-to-month basis. The old diner would probably work out just fine. I think the rat invasion that caused them to be closed down back in the ’90s is probably not there anymore, and it has been repainted a time or two since those folks from the EPA came in and found all that lead paint and asbestos in the place.

They would need some supplies, of course, and that would depend a lot on the menu. They have suggested that they could get produce from the farmer’s market that is run on weekends out at the old fairgrounds. I told them that they could grow their own vegetables but it seems that would be too much like work for them, ha ha, and I was kind of sorry I’d brought it up after I remembered that they had gotten in trouble for growing marijuana in buckets on their porch before. They will need to get some “to-go” cups and straws from a restaurant service place, I imagine. I have several dozen old glasses and jars that I told them they can use for serving while they are getting started, but they will need to watch out and not let people just carry them off. Some of those are antiques, and I need my canning jars in the summer.

Here is a sample menu that they have come up with. They have made all of these things here in the kitchen with my blender, and while I cannot say I liked all of them, I will vouch for the ingredients and their ability to make them.

juice menu

1. “Very Berry Slush.” This is a combination of all the different kinds of berries they found in the back of my freezer, which includes strawberries, raspberries, and I don’t know what-all else. It didn’t taste half as bad as any of the rest, and I wouldn’t mind having another one.

2. “Piña Colonic.” It’s supposed to taste like a piña colada but it does not have any alcohol. It has a lot of coconut and all kinds of stuff in it that would be real good if you were constipated. If you’re not, you might want to stay as far away from it as you can get. I was real impressed with their fancy little fruit garnishes stuck on the glass. Cephus was always good with knives.

3. “Gatorita.” Basically, it’s Gatorade and a bunch of other stuff mushed up together and served like a margarita but without alcohol. That’s salt on the rim of the glass but they said you can get it with sugar instead if it ain’t sweet enough for you.

4. “Hamburger Down the Hatch.” Here’s a burger lunch for those that don’t have time to sit down and eat like civilized people. It’s got all the usual hamburger fixin’s – mustard, lettuce, tomato, onions, mayonnaise, etc. – except the bun, all smooshed together and garnished with pickles. Yummy yum yum.

5. “Mac and Cheese Delite.” I did not think anybody could mess up macaroni and cheese but I reckon I was wrong. That is puréed cottage cheese on top, by the way.

6. “Morning Brew.” Here’s one to get you awake and going in the morning. It’s got orange juice, coffee, sweet tea, and some sort of secret ingredient that I don’t think I even want to know about. It might be allergy tablets ground up, or maybe diet pills. I don’t know and I’m not going to ask.

I am sure that they will add to their menu as they see what folks like (or as they find cheap things they can stick in a juicer) but this is what they plan to start with. They say they will be happy to bring some samples for you to try, and would even be willing to cater one of your Small Business Association meetings as a trial if you would rather put the “taste test” off on other people.

I hope that you will give these boys any help that you can. It is true that they have been in jail (more than once), and they did not do well with their plan to restore a car and race it at Bristol a few years ago, but they mean well and they are just plain too old to be coming back home to live with Mama. Now that they are out of jail, I would like to see them do something worthwhile, or at least stay out of trouble. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, as you know. Since they are felons, they have not been able to get jobs, and since they are not really very good at anything useful, it seems only logical that they start their own business and become entrepreneurs.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, Mr. Cheever, and I sure hope your wife does not find out about you and that massage “therapist” while you are deciding how you might be able to help these fine fellows get their new business going.

Yours truly,
Mrs. Earlene Ledbetter

© Copyright 2015 by Patrick Redding

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