Notes From The Cactus Patch

Tall tales from Texas about characters I know and have known. Who knows, you might be one of them.

Author Archive

” Little Moses” of Texas


A final installment of “feel good” stories from the country of Texas. The resemblance to any person, horse or cow, living or not, is purely intentional.

Pictured here is my grandfather on the left, and his friend Hymie Rothstein with his horse Miss Golda. Hymie was, or possibly is the only Jewish cowboy in the history of Texas.

Hymie left the “old country” (New York) in 1926 with a burning determination to become a cattle rancher. With a grubstake from his uncle, he bought 500 acres of prime ranchland between Weatherford and Mineral Wells and stocked the spread with 500 head of Hereford cattle. He named the ranch “The Flying Menorah,” his mothers idea.

Another relative in New York opened a number of restaurants and made a deal with Hymie to furnish him with Kosher meat for his patrons. Hymie, a bit of a slacker in his faith, had no idea how to raise Kosher cattle.

Using the best methods and practices formula, he required his ranch hands to wear Yamakas and grow a long beard. Every Friday before sundown, he would drive a wagon through the herd with the local Rabi standing in the back, blessing the cattle and the land. He assumed if the cattle were somewhat converted, then all would be Kosher.

He purchased a 3500 lb. Hereford bull from a nearby ranch to keep the cows happy and grow the herd. The bull, a massive beast with a hyde like steel, would walk through any barb wire fence and wander off for days at a time. He named the bull ” Little Moses.” because of the bovines wanderlust.

In December, a blue norther blew in and dropped 12 inches of snow on the ranch. It was two days before the ranch hands could tend to the cattle, and when they didn’t find the herd, they checked the fencelines. There at the back of the 500 acres, was a section of broken fence. Thousands of cattle tracks led through the opening and onto the vast prairie. ” Little Moses” had escaped again, and the herd was following his lead.

The cowboys tracked the cattle for miles but lost their trail in the rocky hills. Hymie was frantic and called his local Sherriff, JD Ramses for help. The Weatherford police put out a “missing cattle” alert with a poster showing a group of smiling cows. Calls from West of Mineral Wells reported a large contingent of cattle crossing Route 66 a few days ago.

Hymie and the boys found the crossing and followed the herd. The cattle had been missing for 39 days and nights without hay or feed, surviving on clumps of prairie grasses and creek water.

On the 40th day, the cowboys located the herd resting at the edge of Palo Duro Canyon. All 500 cows were accounted for, but “Little Moses” was missing.

At sundown, one of the cowboys spotted a snow-white bull lumbering and stumbling out of the canyon. It was “Little Moses.” His cow fur had turned completely white and his large pink eyes glowed like fiery jewels.

The bull lay down near the campfire. The herd moved in and surrounded the cowboys and the bull. The cows seemed to be saying goodbye to their leader. Hymie fed him some bread and a few sips of Kosher wine, and then ” Little Moses” expired. It was a good way to go. Laying by the warm campfire and surrounded by his minions.

There was a crack of thunder and lightning bolts hit a grove of trees nearby. Normally that would spook the cattle, but not a one moved. There was a sound of trumpets from somewhere in the sky. The herd looked skyward as if they were being summoned.

Two ” Heavenly Holstein” cows with angel wings descended from the sky into the camp. They each carried a golden trumpet in their left hoove. The angel cows stood on either side of ” Little Moses” and together, the trio ascended into the clouds, starting their journey to Bovine Heaven.

Hymie and the cowboys were gobsmacked by what they had witnessed.

The herd dispersed and laid down in the grove of trees next to the camp. In the morning, as they were preparing to saddle up and lead the cows back to the Flying Menorah, one of the cowboys found a large white sack where the angel cows had landed. He looked inside and found it to be full of chicken strips with honey mustard dipping sauce.

Hip To Be Square


I wrote this story a few years ago and decided to bring it back for a re-visit. Given todays headlines with the hipster crowd in Seattle and Portland grabbing our attention. I think a good recount of how ridiculous we can be about out coffee.

A while back, my wife and I visited the new and improved Fort Worth landmark, Sundance Square. Beautiful place, well planned, and functional architecture. Good job, Bass boys.
After a few loops, we got a hankering for a cup of coffee and maybe a pastry.


We found a coffee house cafe with little sidewalk tables. Not our style, so we went inside.


Passing through the door, I caught the name on the storefront window, “The Door to Perception.” The famous beat author Aldous Huxley wrote that book. He and Jack Kerouac birthed the beat generation via literature. This might be a cool place.


We queued in line at the counter. The young man in front of me smelled of Petiole oil. An odd scent for a man. Didn’t mix well with my Old Spice. Hippie chick perfume is what we called it back in the day. My wife nudges me and whispers “what kind of place is this? These kids all look alike.”


Her observation was spot on. Every male in the room had a similar symmetrical haircut, facial hair, garage sale chic mismatched clothing, and skin-tight jeans. Birkenstock sandals seemed to be the shoe of choice. The girls were ditto, but without the facial hair. Stepford children they were. I knew immediately that we had stumbled into a Hipster coffee house. I told my wife to please be calm. This is no more dangerous than wading into a gob of old hippies at a Steppenwolf reunion concert. She wasn’t amused.


The Petiole boy in front of me was ordering his coffee. I caught the conversation with him and the barista.
“I’ll have a Trenta in a recycled rain forest cup, free-range, green label, fair trade grown, Andean, but not from the higher region but the lower valley, harvested by virgins no older than 16, aged in a cave on the coast to a bold bean, roasted on a log fire made from non-endangered rain forest trees, lightly pressed, and kissed with a serious pour of steamed spotted Syrian goats milk, then ever so slowly, pour two Cuban sugars at the same time on opposite sides of the cup. Oh yeah, and Kale sprinklers. Don’t stir it, I need to experience the aura.”

“Ahhhh… that’s my favorite. An educated choice sir,” cooed the barista.
We are stunned. What in the hell did that kid just say?

I stepped up to the counter. “Two coffees with two creams and sugars each, please,” I say.
“And what region will your coffee be from, sir,” says the young barista.
“How about from Columbia, you know Juan Valdez and his little burro,” asked I. “Don’t know that one, sir, don’t know a Mr. Juan Valdez,” she replied.
“Got something from Mrs. Olsen or Mrs. Folgers ?” I asked.
“No, sir, don’t know them either,” she said.
“Got anything that comes in a vacuum-packed can?” I ask.
“No, sir, our beans come in hand-sewn burlap bags from India,” she replies.
“Do you have any coffee grown in the United States?” asked I.
She perks up and replies, “Yes sir, grown in California, Big Sur area by the Wavy Gravy Mystical Coffee Co-op. I hear it’s harvested every third quarter when Jupiter aligns with Mars, and the moon is in the seventh house. You know, sir, this is the age of Aquarius.”
“Yes, I know the song,” I say.
“Is there a song, sir?” she replies.

At this point, my head was about to explode, and I needed to wrap it in duct tape to contain the splatter. My wife saved me by stepping up to the counter, addressing the barista.


“Look, Moonbeam, just give us two cups of that Gravy Wavey coffee, and you pick out the sugar and cream, deal?”
“Names, not Moonbeam mam, its Hillary,” says the barista.
“Of course it is, sweetheart, I should have guessed that. I suppose you have a brother named Bill too? “No mam, just a little sister, Chelsea.”
My wife shot me her “get me out of here before someone dies” look.
The barista sensed where this was heading and promptly pushed the coffees across the counter. I paid, and we left.
We stood on the sidewalk, took a sip of the gruel, and poured it into the gutter.


On the way home, we went through the McDonalds drive-through for a red, white, and blue cup of coffee. Can’t go wrong with good old Mickey D’s. None of that Hipster crap.


“I’ll have two coffees with cream and sugar; please,” I said to the voice.
“Sir, will that be a Latte, a breakfast blend, a dinner blend, a dessert blend, an anniversary blend, or an I love you blend, a save the children blend in a reusable cup or an expresso, chilled or topped with sprinkles” the voice replied.
I pulled out of line, and we headed home to our old and extremely un-hip Mr. Coffee.

Mooch Goes To Portland


I haven’t heard a word from my old pal Mooch in over a month, so I dropped by his house yesterday.
The older than dirt Dodge pickup sits in the drive, and his lawn was knee-high, so I figured something is not right. Mooch loves his yard like it was his child.


Five minutes of door banging, and Mooch cracks the door and says, “go away, I don’t want any of it.”
” I’m not selling nothing old buddy, what the hell is going on with you,” I say.
He opens the door enough for me to get a good look at him, and holy crap, he looks terrible. A white beard, hollow yellow eyes, and a pale complexion. Not the fit and the tanned man that I know.


” I’ve been out of town for a while,” he says. “The wife and I heard that them Antifa folks were paying people to protest and riot, so we went to Portland for a while. We figured, why not, somebody’s got to get paid and it might as well be us. Old peoples got to eat too. We made $3000 a week plus room and board at the Holiday Inn. If we got arrested, there would be an additional $2000 a week for jail time. I made enough to buy a new pickup next month.”


” Where is your wife, Mrs. Mooch,” I say.
He looks down at his shoes and mumbles something. I ask him to repeat it.
He sort of shifts around and says,

” I left her in jail for a while longer. I figure another month, she will have made enough money and we can pay the house off.”
When I return home, I ask my wife if she would consider a visit to Portland.

Hunting Murder Hornets


Murder Hornet 1

While watering my landscape this morning, I hear a loud buzzing sound radiating from a Salvia bush. I part the leaves searching for this demonic buzzing source.

Bingo, attached to a branch, is a Murder Hornet. I have a picture of the little beast on my refrigerator for identification, since I knew they were heading my way. The Farmers Almanac said they would make Texas by late July, so the magazine was correct for once.

Why is it all pandemics and end-times monsters originate from the Asian continent?

It’s a laundry list of evil mutants starting with Godzilla, Mothra, Son of Godzilla, King Kong fighting Godzilla, Giant Transformers, The Corona Virus, The Asian Flu, The Bat Flu, the Pig Flu, the Bird Flu, and now hornets with the face and murderous attitude of Charles Manson.

Fearing for the lives of my Bumble Bee’s, I spray the Murder Hornet with a substantial dose of Raid. It flaps it’s wings a few times and buzzes at me. No effect whatsoever. Okay, so this mutant is chemical resistant and now knows what I look like and where I live.

I retrieve my 1966 era Daisy BB Pistol from my work shed; old school tactics are now on the table.

I sneak up to the Salvia bush and spread the branches enough for a clean shot. There it sits with a Bumble Bee in its grasp, stinging the life out of the poor pollinator. I see a dozen more casualties on the ground below the plant—Satan with wings and a stinger. This monster has to go to La La Land now.

The first BB bounces off the buggers’ armor plating, putting a hole in my den window. There go $300 bucks. Now it’s personal. The second and third shots wing the critter, and now it is insanely mad and buzzing like a New York apartment door buzzer.

With only two BB’s left in my pistol, I go for the kill shot to the head. I take my aim and begin to squeeze the trigger. The murderous thug-bug looks up at me with its Charles Manson eyes, and a shiver runs up my spine.
” Go ahead, kill me if you must, but I have friends that will track you down.” It’s look says it all.

I take the shot, and the invader falls to the ground, headless. The Bumble Bees sensing victory swoop in and finish the killer off. Payback for their fallen brethren.

I retrieve the dead hornet from the bush with a pair of Martha Stewert grilling tongs and place it on my backyard retaining wall. A few squirts of charcoal lighter fluid and a wooden match complete the deed, and the bad-ass bug is on its way to hornet Valhalla.

My wife walks up and says, ” so, you got him, good job. Look at these cute little packs of Chinese seeds that came in the mail just now.”

My Texas Garden of Eden That Never Ends


When my wife and I purchased our home, it was newly built. Sitting on a rocky hill facing Comanche Peak, the beginning of the Texas hill country, it was the perfect size for us, and the view was beautiful. The exterior was dirt and rock, a clean slate for a landscaper/ artist. That is how I see myself these days; or did for a short while.

A railroad tie retaining wall was added and backfilled, then dirt for a backyard, then 4 pallets of grass, then more dirt, then a 12 yard load of 1 inch gravel, then 6 yards of decorative pea gravel and I wasn’t even close to installing plants. I should probably mention that I was going through radiation treatment for cancer at the time I was doing this task, and my wife Maureen was working as a nurse here in Granbury. I was trying to get as much done before the high dose radiation kicked my ass, and by some miracle, I succeeded and then collapsed for a few months to recover. The ordeal was only beginning.

Our intent was to install as little as possible, using gravel, rock and native Texas plants to save water and time. The less maintenance the better as you age, but, somewhere during the process, my OCD Artistic Creative gene kicked into full gear. I was helpless and my body went with the flow. There was no sleep; only nightmares of plants multiplying and gathering for a siege. I am the Alamo, the fauna is the army. Every waking hour was spent spreading gravel, digging holes, wrestling with unruly petulant plants and dangerous cactus. I was a slave to the land, and could see no reprieve. By this time, the radiation was taking it’s toll on my body. I looked like Betelgeuse on a good day.

My wife suggested counseling, so I called a local radio plant show, the Dirt Doctor. He told me I was a sick puppy and to sell the house and move or I was going to collapse and expire while holding my Craftsman shovel. He happened to know a guy that would give me a good price. Right?

I called my famous friend Dr. Wu. He suggested I come in for a series of acupuncture treatments and Chinese meditation to rid me of my plant based demons. Neither one did any good. I was still as possessed as Rasputin and the siege of the greenery advanced. I tried to ignore them. It didn’t work. The plants, still in their plastic pots, sent telepathic signals to my tortured brain. They were making a pod person of me so the landscaping could continue when I stroked out.

Six Chaste Trees, multiple cacti, Oleanders, Texas Sage, Lantana, flowers, more cactus, Agave’s, Salvia, more cactus, more gravel, rock retaining walls, 100 bags of top soil, large rock stacks and sculptures, bird feeders, Canna’s everywhere, stepping stones to nowhere in particular. A landscape vision out of control. And then, for no apparent reason, we constructed a raised garden using concrete block and 50 bags of soil. The garden didn’t do squat. A few tomato’s, some cucumbers and some okra. It’s back to H.E.B. for veggies.

More later, the remaining plants are knocking on my door and staring into my Ring Doorbell.

That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Indian


I celebrated a birthday a while back, and my sister gifted me with an Ancestery.com account. For years I was curious about where my family roots came from and who they were, really. I knew about the crazy aunts and rowdy cowboys in old Fort Worth, but I was interested in the other ghost from the family’s past.

When the kit arrived, I spat into the tube and sent it away. A few weeks later, I received the results via email. It was not what I had expected.


I look like an Indian, and my mother looked Indian, as well as my grandmother, an American Indian. She grew up on the Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma, making Buffalo hide clothing and sleeping in a teepee. So who is to question that? Ansestery.com, of course. They say I am a full-bore European from Scotland and Ireland. Not one mention of my Native American genealogy. Furious with the outcome, I call Ancestry and give them a piece of my mind.


I ranted a bit about this and that and how wrong they are. Then, the kind lady told me that Native American heritage is almost impossible to confirm because the tribal counsels refuse to comply with DNA testing and release records. She assured me I was an Indian and could go on acting like one if it pleased me. I am better now.


I am pleased to let my family and friends know that we are still related to Belle Starr, Chief Quanah Parker, Chief Grey Squirrel, and Dancing Rain Doe. Our Cherokee heritage is intact and our war bonnets are flying in the wind.
The best part is that as a kid playing cowboys and Indians, I always played Tonto, and can now prove I was a real Indian. As Chief Dan George once said, “May the wings of Eagles carry you to a peaceful land full of fat game and cold beer.” Kemosabe.

Trashy Juanita’s


This will be my 5th installment of childhood feel-good memories to take your mind off the present situation that greets us every morning. It always starts with the “we are all in this together ” the horror movie called “The Evil Bug From the Continent We can’t Name Because It Will Offend Someone And Make Them Cry Or Tear Down A Statue and God Help Us If That Misunderstood Sock Cap Wearing, Birkenstock stepping, Back Pack Toting, Green Haired, Pierced Eyebrow Unemployed Young Person Is Squished.” It’s a long title, but you get the message.


Childhood memories are like teeth, we all have them, good ones, and rotten ones. If you grew up in Texas in the 1950s, you will identify with some of mine, or maybe not.

I was nine-years-old before I dined in a Mexican restaurant. I knew they existed because my father and mother enjoyed them, bringing home little mints and matchbooks touting the restaurant’s name. I got the mints, my parents put the match books in a jar in the kitchen. I dreamed that one day, I might visit one.

In Texas, Mexican food is part of life. It’s one of the major food groups, and a boy cannot grow into a man of substance without it. Looking back, not having real Mexican food at that young age affected my evolution into a healthy young specimen. I harbored a nervous tick, I stuttered at times, and one leg was shorter than the other. All those maladies were cured, once I ate the real-stuff. The medicinal qualities of Mexican food is amazing.

I had for many years, eaten tacos at my cousin’s house and believed those to be authentic Mexican food. Sadly they were nowhere near the real deal. A few times over the summer, my cousin Jok’s mother, Berel, would cook tacos and invite the families for a feast. Cold Beer and Tacos. Pure Texas.

Berel would stand at her massive gas range, a large pot of ground beef, and a cauldron of boiling grease heating up the room to cooking temperature. She would drop that Taco in the witches cauldron, pull it out and toss it to the pack of wild African dogs sitting around her breakfast table. The dogs, of course, were my cousins and me. My poor mother would leave the room. She could not bear to see her son eat like a feral child: growling, biting, snarling as we consumed the tacos like they were a cooked Wildebeest. That is what I considered to be Mexican food and proper behavior when consuming it.

If you drove northwest of downtown Fort Worth on Jacksboro Highway, right before you come to the honkey tonks, you would find “Trashy Juanita’s” Mexican restaurant. Legendary for its Taco’s, frijoles, and cold Jax Beer. It was also legendary for other things that my father would not mention until I was older. Gambling, shooting dice, and in general questionable behavior was part of the after-hours entertainment. It wasn’t on Jacksboro Highway for the view.

Juanita Batista Carlita Rosanna Danna Esposito, the owner, was not a trashy woman, but a middle-aged Latin beauty with a bawdy laugh and sharp wit. It was the restaurant’s front yard adornments that earned the name. Offended at first, she finally accepted her crown and wore it proudly.

Two old rust-eaten pick-up trucks, one painted blue, and the other yellow sat abandoned in the front yard behind a cyclone fence. Pots of flowers decorated the fenders while the beds were overflowing with vines and small flowering trees. Fifty or more chickens strutted and pecked around the yard, giving the place a barnyard atmosphere. Some saw a work of art, while others called it a junkyard that happened to serve great food.
In an interview in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Juanita claimed to be related to General Santa Anna, Pancho Villa, and the Cisco Kid, making her royalty in Mexico. The people of Fort Worth loved her, and she was considered a local character.

Trashy Juanita’s was my first introduction to real Mexican food, and all that comes with it.

My father sold a fiddle to a buddy, and with the profit, he took the whole fam-damly to dine at Trashy Juanita’s on the Fourth of July, 1958.

Juanita had gone “whole hog” on this holiday. American flags hung from the front porch and draped the cyclone fence. Two small children sat in the front yard shooting bottle rockets at the cars driving on Jacksboro Highway, and the chickens were wrapped in red-white-and-blue crepe paper streamers. Very patriotic, and also very redneck Texas.

A jovial Juanita escorted us to a large table next to the kitchen doorway. A waiter delivered tortillas, salsa and two Jax beers for my father and grandfather. Large, frosty glasses of sweet iced tea for the rest of us. There was no menu; it was Tacos or nothing at all.

The unfamiliar aroma of exotic food floated on a misty cloud from the kitchen, filling my young nostrils and activating my juvenile saliva glands, causing a torrent of spit to drip from my mouth onto the front of my new sear-sucker shirt. My mother cleaned me up and wrapped a napkin around my neck. I was ready; I had my eating clothes on.
We decided that the family would dine on a medley of beef and chicken Tacos, frijoles and rice, and guacamole ala Juanita. The waiter rushed our order to the kitchen.

The evening was turning out great. My father was telling jokes, the Jax beer was flowing, and then a waiter walked past our table into the kitchen. Under each arm, was one of the patriotically wrapped chickens from the front yard. My grandfather must have forgotten that there were two young children at the table and remarked, ” there goes our Tacos, can’t get any fresher than that.”

His remark went unnoticed until I chimed in, asking my father, ” Dad, or we going to eat the pet chickens from the front yard?” He didn’t offer an answer.
I got a big lump in my throat, and my eyes got misty. My sister whimpered and cried like a baby, and my grandmother, seeing her grandchildren in such distress, shed tears in support. Mother gave the two adult men the worst evil eye ever. The mood at the table went from happy to crappy in a minute or less. So much for a joyous family celebration. We might as well be eating Old Yeller for supper.

There was a ruckus in the kitchen, yelling, pots and pans clashing, and the two chickens, still wearing their streamers half-flew and half-ran through the dining room, and out the front door. The cook was right behind them but tripped over a man’s foot, knocking himself out as he hit the floor.

Juanita, standing in the middle of the dining room, announced that there would only be beef Tacos tonight. The two doomed birds had escaped the pan, and my sister and I were happy again. My father breathed a sigh of relief that the night was saved, and my grandfather bent down and polished the new scuff on his size 12 wingtip.

Defending Texas 2.0


I am, by my own admission, a proud Texan that will go toe to toe with anyone that diminishes the history and heritage of my state. I haven’t needed to do that in many years, but the piss and vinegar is still there if needed.

Statues are inanimate objects. They can’t shoot you, slap you or speak to you. The only way they might cause harm to one, is to fall on you as they are being pulled down by an uneducated mob of hoodlums wielding ropes and ladders.

Texas has more statues than Forest Gump has shrimp. There are brass, bronze, metal and stone statues of the defenders of the Alamo, various animal hero’s, horned toads, our founding fathers, soldiers from all wars, questionable politician’s and scores of others. I saw a statue of Flipper the dolphin in Galveston, so I guess everyone that has their own statue is not bad.

In Granbury, where I live, the town is named for a famous southern general named Granbury. He served in the confederate army and lived in Waco, where he practiced law. He has a statue of course, and the town carries his name, and has for over well over a hundred years with no complaints or problems created by the inanimate object.

Now, in Granbury, like the rest of the state, and country, people want them removed because the site of a statue hurts’ their feelings or makes them think of injustices, either real or imagined, committed centuries ago in a country that was far different than the one they are now attempting to ruin. With young men and women that depend on Google for information and education, can we expect less? Our education system has failed them. Texas history is barely touched on and smoothed over with a pacifist brush.

Our state history is not pretty: It is rough and tumble with a lot of bloodshed and dying by all. Indian wars, The Alamo, Goliad, San Jacinto, hand to hand knife fighting musket shooting battles that were horrific. In those hard scrabble days, people were tough: life was tough, and a young Texas ranch wife would kick your butt as good as her husband. My grandmother was one of those gals.

The Alamo mission, in San Antonio, is the most sacred piece of history in our state. It is a shrine held in reverence by Texans since 1836, when the mission, held by volunteers and led by William Barret Travis, fell to General Santa Anna and his army. Most of our counties and many of our towns are named for the defenders. Now, there are mobs and hooligans that want to tear down the mission because it hurts their feelings. Fortunately, our Texas Rangers and other patriots are guarding the Alamo to keep this from happening. Texas history will not go down without a good fight. God bless The Alamo and Davey Crockett, and God Bless Texas.

Entertainment Is But A Phone Call Away


This past year or so, I noticed that phone calls from friends and family had dwindled drastically. Not that they were that frequent in years past, but now, the calls have almost ceased. The holidays count for a few, and if there is a surgery or accident, that will bring one or two sympathy or curiosity calls.

One can assume that as you age and become a seasoned person, your friends and family are in the same boat, and you can talk about medical issues and health only so much before your head explodes. My sister, bless her heart, does call every few days to chat about nothing in particular, but she is down from four dogs to one and is easily bored. She watches a lot of Netflix.

My multi-tasking son rarely calls. He lives in North Padre Island, by the beach, surrounded by an impressive collection of “man toys.” He and his wife own a business that keeps them hopping, so I get it. The rest of his time he divides between Cub Scouts and baseball games with my grandson. He is a busy young man and appears to have broken all his fingers on both hands, or lost my phone number. I am considering sending him an amazon package with my picture and a burner cell phone.

My generation X grandson keeps in touch via text, the preferred form of communication for people in their twenties. Sometimes he will answer his phone, and it takes me a second to remember his voice. He sounds much like his father, who passed away seven years ago, and if I am melancholy, it unnerves me a bit, so texting is alright for now. As he ages, actual speaking will replace texting.

My late-late mother, ever the geriatric comedian, in her golden years, remarked on how lonely life can be, and she wouldn’t have anyone to talk with if the telemarketers and scammers stopped calling. I laughed at how ridiculous that sounded, but alas, I may be in that same position.

Medicare enrollment is upon us with a vengeance, and I receive a dozen calls a day, most of which my spam app catches and disperses them back into cellular orbit. I did answer one a few days ago because it displayed a number with fourteen digits, and I was curious who has that many digits. What the hell, have some fun.

The youngish man on the line started his spiel about Medicare, and I could tell he was either “in” or “from” India. I listened for a minute then asked him where his call center might be? he answered, ” Indiana.” Then I asked his name, which he replied, ” Ronnie.” I politely told him that was bull crap, you are in India, and your name is not Ronnie.

He was busted, so he fessed up. Speaking in a pleasant accent, he said, ” yes sir, I am in India, and my name is Aakash. I work at the call center for American Exploitive Insurance.” He seemed like a polite young man, so I continued the conversation.
“Tell me, Aakash, do you have Netflix and Amazon Prime in India, and if you do, have you seen Jack Ryan and The Kaminsky Method ?” I enquired.
He was quiet for a few seconds then responded, “yes, we have those, but we watch only Bollywood movies here. Our movies have much drama, love love, and shooting guns, then everyone dances and sings happy songs. It’s joyously entertaining. India is a happy place, mostly.”
” And what do you mean by mostly?” I say.
I could sense his hesitation and the frustration in his voice, but he needed to vent to someone, and I am three-thousand miles away, and that’s as safe as it gets.

This young telemarketer begins spilling his guts to a stranger, in America, over the telephone, hoping to receive a form of absolution from a non-Catholic, even though I am wearing a black t-shirt and eating Mrs. Pauls fish sticks for lunch so that counts for something. Speaking in a comforting voice, I urge him to continue. He lets it all hang out.

In a desolate cracking voice, he wails, ” my girlfriend lives with me in a tiny, tiny, tiny apartment, and all day, she plays this Brittney Spears person’s records and dances about like a hoochie lady. It is making me a crazy man. Last week for the evening meal, I try to make American Texas Terlingua chili using Indian spices and goat meat, and it gives us both the running bathroom visit for days. We have more nuisance monkeys in our neighborhood than residents. The little mean shit animals dismembered my moped, and then they break into my apartment and eat my James Taylor albums and raid the food closet leaving my home a mess. I have no gun, so I can’t shoot them dead; the mean monkey has more rights than me. I have applied for citizenship in your country, but it takes two lifetimes. I have four degrees from a university but make little money. My life is a hot fresh cow pie residing in the middle of the road.”

I am bewildered by his predicament but yet amused at the absurdity of it all. We exchange pleasantries, and I tell him to call me again next week for another chat, to which he agreed and wished me well.
Who knew telemarketers could be so exciting.

Little Audie Murphy


A third installment of “feel good” stories from my childhood. Virus’s, Riots and Looters…Oh My! The only thing missing is the gang of Flying Monkeys terrorizing Granbury.
With all the mayhem now in our small towns, I should take my firearm when shopping at H.E.B. for groceries. You never know when ANTIFA will come down the aisle and set fire to “Uncle Bens” and “Aunt Jemimah” products. This recount should take your mind off of the bad stuff and hopefully leave you sedate and smiling.

The farm. Santa Anna, Texas. July of 1955. My two uncles, Jay and Bill, need more to occupy their time. I need them away from me. I’m a six-year-old kid, and their influence is ruining my childhood. They told me Howdy Doody is not real, and Captain Kangaroo hates kids. I cried for days.
The chaw of Red Man chewing tobacco behind the smokehouse was the last straw. Seeing a kid puking for two hours seemed funny to them.
My grandfather told the two grown kids that a man in Coleman has a pig that won the ” Purple Paw” award. Every year, the governor of Texas bestows the prize on an animal that has performed a heroic act. Who knew there was a hero nearby?
Of course, my two uncles have to see this pig, so they head for Coleman with my cousin Jerry and me in tow. Arriving in Coleman, we stop at the feed store for directions and a coke.
The owner tells my uncles to be very respectful of the pig since he saved the farmer and his family’s lives. In appreciation, the farmer named the pig “Little Audie Murphy,” after the famous WW11 hero and movie star. I am more than impressed. This pig is the real deal.

Arriving at the farm, we are met at the gate by the proud farmer. My uncle Bill has a $10.00 bet with Ray that this is a load of bullcrap. They never stop.

Ray wants to hear the pig’s story, so the farmer is more than happy to recount.

The farmer takes a chaw of Red Man and begins, ” I was plowing one day, and my old tractor hits a stump and tips over, trapping me underneath. I’m yelling for help for an hour, and finally, my old pig shows up. The pig grabs a timber and scoots it underneath the tractor, then stands on it so’s the tractor tilts up, and I can scoot out. That porker saved my life.”
I can tell by the look on my uncle’s faces that they think this is B.S.
The farmer continues, ” about a week after that, I’m in town at the domino parlor, and my house catches on fire. My wife and kids are knocked out by the smoke, and the pig pulls them out of the burning house and revives them—a true porcine hero, that pig.”
Now my uncles are impressed. I see a tear trickle from Bill’s eye. I got a lump in my throat.

At this point, we want to see this pig for ourselves, so the farmer takes us to the barn. He stands outside the corral and yells, ” Little Audie, come on out.”
A huge Yorkshire pig wearing a ribbon and gold medal around his neck makes its way out of the barn. I’ve seen pigs before, and this wasn’t any normal pig. He was missing an ear and a front and back leg. Where the legs had been, the pig now sported homemade prosthesis. He seemed to walk fine and was friendly.

My uncle Jay was shocked and asked the farmer what the hell happened to the poor pig?
The farmer took a minute to answer that question. Then he smiled and said, ” well, a pig that special, we couldn’t just eat him all at once.”

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