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Heavenly Libations and Hacking Hoovers The Continuing Saga of Hoovers in Myrtle Beach – 2018 version

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Heavenly Libations and Hacking Hoovers

The Continuing Saga of Hoovers in Myrtle Beach – 2018 version

Preface

Over the years I have written many stories about our annual golf trips to Myrtle Beach, SC. At first they were mostly a journalistic play by play of the rounds we played that year, albeit with a humorous side to them. The last few, however, are a more creative attempt at story telling where I make stuff up to highlight the golf, but more importantly, the camaraderie we experience. In order to help explain some of the terms and people involved I decided to include the following.

Glossary

Dewey, Cheetum, and Howe – a multi-billion dollar sports management firm which is featured prominently in previous tales. See below for character descriptions of the partners.

Gray Wolf Transport – Most years I drive to Myrtle while the others fly down. To save money on baggage I transport everyone’s golf clubs in my gray 2013 Toyota Corolla S. This year I dubbed the enterprise as Gray Wolf Transport.

Punta Gorda, FL – the actual home of Jimmy Ouellette; aka Two Birds.

20 bucks is 20 bucks – a saying uttered by Bob Svirsky, the origin of which I have forgotten. 20 bucks is 20 bucks – a saying uttered by Bob Svirsky, the origin of which I have forgotten. **Editor’s note – it has been brought to my attention by Bob Svirsky; aka The Commodore, that the saying can be attributed to none other than the grand old man of the Hoovers, Loring Mackey; aka The Mahunna.

**Editor’s note to follow up the editor’s previous note – per The Rick: The true origin of the term is that it is derived from a t-shirt I saw in Key West a couple of years ago. I was going to buy one for Loring, but just didn’t have the chance. The T-shirt said “I’m not gay, but 20 bucks is 20 bucks”.’

Eight tenths of a mile – I am hearing impaired and while that is a source of frustration for everyone involved, it does at times provide some comic relief. We were driving to a golf course, I was navigating using the GPS on my phone. Now I can usually follow a conversation if I know what the context is which during the time in question was about the distance to the course; at least that’s what it had been. However, while I was busy exploring the map the context changed, and which I was unaware of, to where to go for dinner. When I was asked what I thought, I answered in what I believed to be the correct response given the context I believed was still current, and replied eight tenths of a mile. For the remainder of the week ‘eight tenths of a mile’ was a standard reply to any question.

Gotta go fast/Ricky Bobby/Shake and Bake – references from the movie Talladega Nights- The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Fireballs – shots of Cinnamon Whisky

The Principals at DC&H

  • Rocco Ian MacDougal – age 47 born in Dover, DE of an Italian mother and Scottish father. This mixed heritage explains his drinking preferences of Sangria in the morning and Chivas Regal after noon.  Took part in many black-ops as an Army Ranger, none of which can he talk about but he has let it slip it that one had something to do with Saddam Hussein.   One of the top agents employed by the Sports Management Agency of Dewey, Cheetum and Howe and had Ocho as his top client until Ocho quit golf and became an author. Recently named a full Partner in DC&H, he’s still waiting to see his name on the letterhead.
  • Samuel Dewey – age 62 born in Ogallala, NE.  Graduated from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute in 1970.  His friends call him CR from his earlier career as a corporate raider.  Indeed, the founding of DC&H was as a result of a corporate takeover.  His business acumen is so sharp that he has been married and divorced three times and has never had to pay a settlement or alimony despite being one of the 50 wealthiest Americans..  He drinks Stoli Elit before, during and after breakfast and switches to Southern Comfort at lunch.
  • Vincent Cheetum – 59 born in Piney Green, NC, a little fart of a town just outside of the largest Marine Corps base on the East coast, Camp Lejeune, where his father settled after retiring from The Marines as a highly decorated Master Sgt.  After a brief stint as a roadie for The Grateful Dead, Vinny followed his dad’s footsteps and also retired from the Marines as a Gunnery Sergeant, hence his nickname of Gunny.  His beverages of choice are Schlitz and Jack Daniels.
  • Clyde Howe – 72 born in Altoona, PA.  He is a distant relative of Lord Richard Howe, the British commander during part of The Revolutionary War.  Graduated from The Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1959 and had a minor role in The Bay of Pigs Invasion.  Also, it was his ship that was fired upon by a North Vietnamese patrol boat in the Gulf of Tonkin.  The Ancient Mariner, as he is known by, retired as a Rear Admiral.  Has always expressed great admiration for the movie, The Big Lebowski so he drinks White Russians day and night.  The exception to this is when he brings out a 29 year old Cragganmore single malt Scotch that he sips while smoking Cuban cigars.
  • Marjorie Detwiler has been employed for these last 10 years by Dewey, Cheetum and Howe, as Director of Excursions and Executive Flight Attendant.  At five feet, 11 inches tall, Marjorie stood taller than all of the partners.  She received a Masters Degree in Sports Management & Entertainment from Harvard while playing shooting guard on the women’s NCAA basketball team and was an Honorable Mention All American.  Little in her college experience, however, prepared her for employment with this group of semi-hedonistic, inebriation record setting, globe-trotting golf, and adventure seekers.  Recently promoted to head the new space travel agency, Heavenly Libations.

 

 

The Rick scanned the faces of the minions sitting around the large teak wood conference table, his gaze causing a multitude of responses from the group of wannabe posse members.  The annual trek to Myrtle Beach is coming up in two weeks and The Rick is determined to have only those completely loyal to him accompanying him on this trip.  At least, that’s what he was hoping.  Instead, he determined with a scowl spreading across his face, the only minions available to make the trip were those who have been his posse in the past, and this did not please The Rick at all.

The agenda for this meeting was supposed to have been a secret so as not to frighten off potential posse members.  It had become common knowledge that The Rick was a very demanding and eccentric boss; one may even say he was a despot.  However, someone leaked the agenda thereby negating his desire to have new posse members to heap scorn and derision upon.  Needless to say, The Rick was not in a good mood.  “Which of these wretches spilled the beans?” he thought to himself as he looked at the familiar faces of the four who did attend.

********************

Meanwhile at another conference table, this one made of Amazon Rosewood, located in the stately home of Sam Dewey of the Dewey, Cheetum, and Howe sports management conglomeration, plans were being made for a historic journey.  The partners were bored, having golfed, hunted, and caroused every corner of the globe, they were seeking something new – and then Elon Musk sent a Tesla to Mars.

********************

As it turns out it was all four of the attendees who, unbeknownst to each other, were the meeting agenda whistleblowers.  Leakers who were now all wilting under The Rick’s scornful gaze. This is not to suggest that they didn’t have good reasons for their actions, however selfish or illogical those reasons might have been. The result of the leaks was phenomenal to say the least and while the four perpetrators may have acted separately, the fact remains that they probably saved the sanity of any who may have wandered into that meeting being caught unaware as to the agenda, and been chosen for the trip.

Now, you might be curious as to why this gang of four would want to be members of The Rick’s Posse given the knowledge they possess of previous Myrtle Beach junkets, and the ignominious duties to which they have been subjected. It seems that there is a rumor floating about The Rick Enterprises that he is either in negotiations with, or has already partnered with Dewey, Cheetum, and Howe in some sort of space exploration project.  Their collective hope is to be given positions in this rumored opportunity.  Fanciful dreams of riches to be made, of mundane tasks to be a thing of the past, of respect earned are mighty motivators in the minds of these downtrodden minions of a domineering boss.

“All right, I’m only going to ask once,” snarled The Rick, “If I don’t get an answer, I’ll have the four of you reassigned to the most desolate spot on the planet. Who leaked the meeting agenda?”

********************

The project is called Operation Space Drunk, the precursor to a new travel agency suitably named, Heavenly Libations, being researched and designed to offer a type of space booze cruise aboard space party stations orbiting around the Moon, Mars and Venus. The orbital party platforms are named; The Galactic Hooch, Lushed in Space, and the Cannabis Café.  The original plan called for The Galactic Hooch to orbit Venus but a sudden realization by Rocco had them scrambling.

“I remember watching that science program, Cosmos, with that astrological guy, uh, Grass something,” Rocco said, “anyway, it seems the planet Venus is so screwed up with greenhouse gasses that no one on the Hooch would see anything of the surface of the planet.”

“His name is Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and he ain’t no damned astrologist,” replied Clyde, “he’s an astrophysicist, but you are correct about Venus’ atmosphere. This could be a serious problem. Where are we going to send the Hooch?  Jupiter is out of the question for months yet.”

The four partners continued their walk through of the giant hangar that housed the three space stations.  They had been joined in the inspection by Ocho, who was there on their invitation, and on the sly from The Rick. DC&H was still desperate to lure Ocho out of retirement and back to his lucrative golf career.  Little did they know that Ocho was never going to return to golf now that he was a successful author. He was even being mentioned in the same breath with Vonnegut and Twain, and was being touted as the next great American novelist. It was only his undying devotion to his buddies, the Hoovers, that had him make the trek to Myrtle Beach every year; well, that and his chance to garner story material.

Ocho stopped as they were passing by The Cannabis Café, “What? Are you kidding me? I waited 40 years for the stuff to be legalized and now you have an orbiting doobie machine?”

“Yeah, kinda neat, ain’t it?” said Vinny, “we hope to corner the aging hippie market with what is basically a giant cannabis humidor.  We’re sending this one to orbit the moon, the thought being that all those new age types will identify with the moon.”

Ocho thought for a moment and said, “I have the solution for your Venus problem. Instead of The Galactic Hooch going to Venus, send The Cannabis Café. The clients on the Café won’t notice the difference.  Heck, they’ll probably freak out over the clouds.”

********************

A few weeks earlier in Punta Gorda, FL.

Jimmy Two Birds gazed out of the front window of his palatial retirement home.  Joey Fairways and NASCAR Bob were seated on the couch flipping channels on the massive 92 inch television.  Joey wanted to watch Wheel of Fortune; Bob was set on a replay of the 1992 Daytona 500. They had come down to Punta Gorda to not only escape the bludgeoning nor’easters of New England, but because Two Birds was convinced something interesting was going on in that newly constructed, gigantic hangar just across the swamp from Two Birds’ living room. One of the major factors for Two Birds to move to this house was because the small Punta Gorda airport fed his love for flying. Lately, however, things began to change as there was less and less of the small plane activity and more heavy construction equipment arriving daily. Soon, the only flights in or out of the airport were the company helicopters of DH&C and much to Two Birds surprise, The Rick Enterprises.

********************

The Everglades style air boat that Two Birds had ordered through Amazon, paying extra for expedited shipment, arrived the following morning. They maneuvered the boat into the murky waters of the swamp. NASCAR Bob pushed his way to the driver’s station and announced, “I’m driving,” and then in his best Ricky Bobby’s voice, “Gotta go fast.”

“I love that movie,” said Joey excitedly, “ooh, ooh, can I be your sidekick? I’ll be Bake and you can be Shake.”

“I hate to interject some salient information here,” said Two Birds sounding much more intelligent than usual, “but, we need to get to that hangar in a stealthy manner. Now, through my very expensive binoculars I found a good place for us to beach the air boat.”

“Wrong,” interrupted NASCAR Bob, “it is not ‘the air boat’, its name is The SS Shake&Bake, and I am now Commodore Bob.”

“And, I’m navigating,” Joey added, “That’s the sidekick’s job.”

“How can you be the navigator?” replied Two Birds, “I’m the one who lives here and has spent countless hours looking at this swamp. You don’t know where to go, I do.”

Joey started shaking his head, “No, no, no, I’ll be the one telling Commodore Bob where to go.  I am Bake, he is Shake. You’re just a passenger on the SS Shake&Bake.”

Two Birds, his patience having been tested to the limit, threw his hands in the air in defeat and said, “Okay, I’ll tell you and you tell the Commodore.  Is that good enough?”

With that settled, Commodore Bob started up the Chevrolet 350 engine, “Whoowee, will you listen to that baby purr?” as he revved it up even louder.

“What?” screamed both Two Birds and Joey as they were climbing into the passenger seats in the bow of the Shake&Bake.

“Tell the Commodore to go past that line of large cypress trees to starboard,” Two Birds yelled to Joey.

Joey strained to hear Two Birds and turned to the Commodore and shouted, “Two Birds said to go fast.”

The swamp came alive, the sound of the SS Shake&Bake’s roaring engine sending flocks of waterfowl racing for the heavens. Two Birds turned in his seat and started to yell for Commodore Bob to “Slow down”, but as the boat plowed forward those in the bow seats were drenched by a sudden wave splashing the occupants. Commodore Bob was laughing, the exhilaration of going fast taking hold. It was when he noticed that they were headed into a copse of large cypress trees that he realized he didn’t know where they were going. “Hey Bake,” he yelled down to Joey as he slowed the boat to a stop, “Which way do we go?”

“Tell the Commodore to follow the tree line for eight-tenths of a mile,” said Two Birds to Joey, “we’ll see a landing area just a few hundred yards to starboard once we get past the trees. There’s a pipeline that empties into the swamp. I don’t know what is coming out of it, but the usually lush, green vegetation in that spot is a not so lush grayish-brown.”

Commodore Bob glanced to his left as they came to the end of the cypress trees, and with a gleam in his eyes, and without warning, turned the boat hard to port, sending Joey crashing into Two Birds knocking him over the port side rail, his head now in the murky water. Joey reacted quickly and pulled Two Birds back on board.  Two Birds looked up at the joy filled Commodore and started to scream but instead of “Commodore you idiot”, a gargled, sputtering sound came out with a stream of murky water and a small turtle.

Commodore Bob slowed the boat to a stop. Up ahead was a beautiful expanse of open water dotted with groves of lily pads, resembling the pool area of a fancy resort, many of the lily’s being used as deck chairs by the frog tourists. However, unlike a resort pool area, a great blue heron stalked among the deck chairs, striking down and skewering a sun bathing amphibian. A large gator, aroused from his shoreline nap, slid into the water and started swimming toward the SS Shake&Bake. “Anyone want to play buzz the gator?” Commodore Bob asked.

“NO!” answered both Two Birds and Joey as they climbed as far back from the bow seats as possible. “Turn this thing around,” said Two Birds, “time to get on with our mission. It is also time to be a little more inconspicuous, so proceed as slowly and quietly as you can, but fast enough to leave that hungry reptilian behind.”

Commodore Bob mumbled to himself, “Couple of wussies,” and swung the boat around, slowly heading to the spot designated for their disembarking. The difference between what lay ahead of them and the lily pad haven behind was startling. There was no vibrant vegetation teeming with wildlife; only dead debris, and the droning of thousands of flying insects feeding on the decaying plants and animals, including the carcass of a gator. It was bloated making it look like an inflatable pool toy, “Anyone fancy a pair of gator skin shoes or belt?” asked the commodore, “we could drag that bad boy to shore and skin it.”

“NO!” answered both Two Birds and Joey.

“Couple of wussies,” mumbled the commodore steering the boat away from the floating haberdashery, and pointed the bow at the beach. “Eight-tenths of a mile or there about to the beach. What do we do when we get there?”

The massive building dwarfed the flat, lowland swamps that surrounded the former airport.  Hanging from each of the four walls, in three foot letters was DH&C Enterprises – Space Entertainment Division – Future Home of Heavenly Libations Travel.  Having bought the airport; constructed all of the infrastructure required to build and then launch the party platforms as well as the space shuttles to get the clients to the platforms; hired away most of NASA’s top engineers and pilots, the partners spent most of their non-golfing time at the site giving advice to experts in their fields, and being generally in a “giddy as a schoolboy” mood.

“We’re almost ready to deploy the party stations,” said Clyde, “except we are down a couple of pilots.  Seems that two of the ones we hired got into the Cannabis Café, and now they refuse to leave the smoking lounge on the third deck.  They keep sending text messages asking for pizza to be delivered.”

The Rick, with a wink at Ocho replied, “I have a couple of possible pilots we could use for this venture, though I will have to trick them into thinking that they pulled one over on me. I have found, over the years with the lackeys I surround myself with that they respond better to my orders if they believe they are important in the grand scheme of all things pertaining to me. So, let me take care of this little problem.  Jimmy Two Birds and NASCAR Bob will do nicely flying the friendly skies for Heavenly Libations.”

The trio clambered down from the beached air boat, swarms of insects descended upon them as they made their way through the thick, thorn studded foliage. Alternately swatting flies away from faces with one hand while the other was pushing thorny stems away from legs, they plodded along too busy to speak. Finally the insect horde diminished as they reached the top of a small hill where they stopped for a rest while Two Birds scouted ahead with his very expensive binoculars. He saw a door that appeared to be slightly ajar and was about to relay that info to Joey and Commodore Bob when some movement on the roof of the hangar caught his eye. He trained the binoculars on the roof and saw Ocho and The Rick walking toward a helicopter. Following them were the four partners heading to their corporate bird. Ocho stopped, and grabbing a pair of binoculars from the copter pilot, stared straight at Two Birds.

Two Birds dropped quickly to the ground signaling the others to do likewise. He continued to watch Ocho, hoping that they had avoided his attention. It was then that he realized that the bright orange shirt he was wearing along with the fluorescent yellow shirt worn by the commodore were sure to be noticed. As if to verify his suspicion he saw Ocho, as he was boarding the helicopter, wave to him. “Well, I don’t care if Ocho knows we are here,” he said to the others, “as soon as those whirlybirds take off, we head for that open door.”

 

Two Birds was the first through the door taking just three steps inside before stopping. The immensity of the interior of this hangar had him mesmerized for a moment but he was jostled back to reality when Joey, who was also being taken in by the surroundings and not watching where he was going, barged into him, followed a few seconds later by the equally bewildered commodore. “Holy jumping monkey butts,” exclaimed Joey, “this place is huge.”

“Forget huge,” replied Bob, “these are freaking spaceships. Ohhh, I gotta fly one of these.” He walked over to the closest party station.  The Galactic Hooch was setting on top of a very large truck trailer. Bob climbed onto the trailer and lovingly touched the surface of The Hooch running his hands along the bottom of the first of three circular decks. Each deck was connected by translucent elevator tubes that gave the illusion of being in the transporter on Star Trek’s Enterprise. He continued his inspection until he came across an access panel and pressed the open button. The hiss of the hydraulics was followed by the lowering of one of the translucent tubes.  Bob entered and pressed the button for deck one. To complete the transporter ambiance the elevators were equipped with a state of the art light show that showered down on the occupants a shimmering cascade of twinkling light mimicking the special effects on Star Trek. When the elevator reached deck one, the lights retreated upwards and the door opened. Bob exited the tube walking over to a map of the station. Each deck had ten different bars, some of which offered a specialized, limited choice of liquor. Vodka Valhalla, Tequila Temptations, and The Dude’s White Russian Experience were some of the names Bob saw, but the one that caught his undivided attention was The Fireball Express.  “Oh my,” he said, “gotta get me some of that.”

Two Birds wandered over to the station named The Cannabis Café. He had watched the commodore enter the Hooch and figured that the stations probably had similar modes of egress, so he climbed onto the trailer, walked around until he found an access panel and pushed open. Unlike The Galactic Hooch, the dominant shape of this station was rather joint-like. Two huge joint-like cylinders composed the main body of the spacecraft. They were connected to each other by the same type of translucent tubes, but these were horizontal moving walkways. They were also connected to the cockpit. It resembled a pipe’s bowl. The port side cylinder housed living quarters, recreational facilities such as golf simulators, bowling, and batting cages. The starboard side was the lifeblood of the Café. Vast hydroponic greenhouses for growing the various cannabis hybrids lovingly tended by a troop of robots that ceaselessly worked 24×7 to supply the finest grade Indica-Sativa blends for an eclectic clientele. The rest of the joint was a giant humidor for storing the hybrid blends that were delivered to one of the smoking lounges; each one of the eight lounges would feature one hybrid, changing to which ever one was the freshest each day. Names like Confidential Lemon, Hazy Days, and Purple Mountains Majesty were just some of the blends. The lounges were a series of eight smaller joint-like shapes joined together to form a circle that rode above and were connected to the two large joint-like cylinders. Two Birds found himself in the port side joint and looked around for some indication of where he should go, when a C3P0 droid approached and asked, “Are you delivering pizza to the two pilots in the Purple Mountains Majesty? They are rather hungry.”

“Sorry pal,” answered Two Birds, “just looking around. An independent inspection tour for The Rick Enterprises. I cannot be detained in the performance of my duty, so please step aside, or better yet, show me around.”

“Whatever you say, sir,” replied the droid, “follow me, and if I may, I have the authority to hand out samples.”

“All righty then. That’s more like it,” replied Two Birds, “lead on and hand me a doobie.”

Meanwhile, Joey arrived at the Lushed in Space, the station destined to not only orbit Mars, but also to colonize the planet. DC&H thought big picture and planned on building colonies surrounded by fields of barley, hops and malt for the first brewery on Mars. The main body of Lushed was shaped like a beer bottle. The topside of the beer bottle was emblazoned with a label touting DC&H Martian Brewed Ale. The bottom declaimed in bright bar-like neon, Lushed in Space. Continuing the theme of old beloved television shows, Joey was met at the entrance by a ‘danger, Will Robinson’ robot from Lost in Space. “Welcome to Lushed in Space,” he announced, “may I offer you a beer? We are well stocked with the finest brews from around the world, and will soon be from Mars.”

Generally speaking, Joey was not an imbiber of alcoholic beverages, though he would occasionally down a Fireball or two, but today he wasn’t in the mood for beer. “Say, Robbie,” he asked, “you wouldn’t by any chance have any Diet Coke on board?”

“We have an excellent supply of various soft drinks,” he replied, “they are for the colonists. There will be no alcohol allowed on the planet until the colonies are built, the crops are sown, reaped, and turned into ale. DC&H think that will spur them on to work a little harder and faster.”

“Great,” said Joey as he contemplated how many liters he should ask for. He first thought that two or three would be sufficient while he was still at Two Bird’s place, but then he remembered that Two Birds kept a well-stocked larder but the Diet Coke supply was depleted. Two Birds believed in having a goodly supply of necessary items; ketchup for instance. He had enough to last three lifetimes but couldn’t resist the periodic ‘buy 1, get 1 free’ sales. However, Diet Coke was not one of the necessary items in Two Bird’s pantry, so, Joey said, “I’ll take 20 liters.”

Two hours, and two liters of Diet Coke later, Joey drove the custom built golf cart the Lushed robot staff brought out, the cargo area crammed with 18 liter bottles, to the rendezvous spot at the door. The cart had the front end of a Dodge Charger, seating for six, retractable sunroof, and a stereo system hooked up to satellite radio. He was listening to a classic rock station grooving to ‘More than a Feeling’ by Boston when the Commodore staggered over. He looked over at Joey and belched. Joey thought he must have been seeing things as smoke came out of the Commodore’s mouth and ears when he burped. “Best Fireballs I ever had,” he said as he belched more smoke.

Two Birds walked over to join Joey and the Commodore holding a pizza box with one hand and a huge doobie in the other. “Nice wheels,” he chuckled, “how are you gonna fit that on the Shake&Bake, or even your haul of Diet Coke?”

“How about just driving out of the front gate of the complex?” quipped Ocho as he emerged from the shadows, “Turn right out of the gate, another right at the first intersection, and straight for eight-tenths of a mile to Two Birds place. It’s a tad easier a route than a loud airboat through a gator filled swamp. Why in the first place did you come that way?”

 

 

 

********************

Back to the present

            “Well?” said The Rick, “Stop stalling, and look at me, not at each other dammit.” When the four guilty parties still refused to answer, or look him in the eyes, The Rick stood up, his 6 foot, 4 inch chiseled body looming menacingly, his sparkling blue-green eyes shooting daggers, his bulging biceps threatening to rip through his expensive Armani shirt as he brought his fists down on the teak wood conference table so hard that water sloshed out of the crystal glassware in front of each cringing minion. Almost at once Two Birds, Joey, NASCAR Bob, and Ocho rose to their feet, and as if from a scene from the movie Spartacus they each cried out, “I am the guilty one.”

The Rick sat down, keeping his head bowed to hide the smile on his face. “Wait,” he said, “Each of you, without the knowledge of the others, leaked the agenda.  Is that what I’m understanding here?” After a moment of hushed consultation the seemingly chastened minions each nodded their heads. However, they all thought to themselves that they had outwitted The Rick. The Rick, his composure now regained, motioned for them to sit, and said, “I suppose the next question, and believe me I ask it in fear and trepidation, is why? What could possibly be the reason for this strange, bewildering betrayal?”

Joey was the first to speak, although it was more of a mumbling, stuttering, clearing of his throat with many uhs and ahems before he said, “I wanna be Commodore Bob’s sidekick in space.”

Commodore Bob nodded his head vigorously and only said, “Gotta go fast, gotta fly a spaceship,”

Two Birds hung his head and tried to slide his chair away from Joey and Bob but Ocho slid closer to Two Birds wedging him in.  Two Birds sighed and stood up, “Okay, here’s the deal. We know about Heavenly Libations and the plan to send party stations in space. We want, no, demand that we have a part in the project. Preferably, in the case of the Commodore and myself, based on our years of experience watching and reading about being pilots, in the roles of space station pilots. We will not take no for an answer.”  Two Birds sat back down and wiped the sweat from his forehead with a shaky hand.

The Rick looked at Ocho, ‘Well, what’s your reason?

Ocho smiled as he looked over at his companions. He took out his notebook and read back to them what he had written so far in his current story. “I’m just looking to get in a couple rounds of golf and to collect material for my stories. You guys are a goldmine of inspiration.”

**********

Marjorie Detwiler sat at her desk drinking her fifth cup of coffee, perusing her email.  She had risen through the ranks at DC&H and was now in charge of Heavenly Libations Space Travel.  The list of interested tourists grew steadily every day, despite the staggering sum encountered when booking a flight: $25,000 for a round trip fare; bar tab not included; $45,000 for an unlimited bar tab. Prominent politicians, the top entertainers from every genre, the hoi polloi oligarchs from around the globe, and the aging hippies all wanted to participate in what was being billed as, “The Heavenly Libations Tour of the Universe”. There was even a request from the head of The Flat Earth Society who was eager to prove once and for all that the earth was not a globe, and that all that hogwash spouted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson was just that, hogwash.  That brought a smile to Marjorie’s face as she read her next email; Neil DeGrasse Tyson also wanted to book a flight.  “Oh my,” she murmured, “I think they should fly together.”

A sharp knock on her office door followed by her secretary Chad entering caught her by surprise as he had never entered without waiting for her to answer his knock.  Chad cleared his throat announcing that there was a very insistent lawyer demanding to see Marjorie immediately.  He tried closing the door behind him, but the visitor bulled his way through, knocking Chad up against the glass trophy case that housed Marjorie’s awards from her basketball days at Harvard. The lawyer, a short, stubby fellow walked to Marjorie’s desk, set his briefcase on it, and plopped down in the chair opposite her. “Thank you for seeing me,” he said with a sarcastic smirk, “my name is Randall Pennyworth. I have been retained by The EPA, NASA, and the good people of Punta Gorda, FL, the town you are planning to inundate with toxic byproducts resulting from the launching of vehicles into space.”

**********

The weather in Surfside Beach, SC, the home of The Rick’s vacation estate, was mediocre, bearing little resemblance to normal conditions this time of year. The minions were concerned that there might even be snow, and that would certainly put a damper on their pilot futures. The agreement arrived at between The Rick and his minions was a simple one. If any of the want to be pilots, or a pilot’s sidekick, beat The Rick anytime during the week, then they would be granted the privilege of flying for Heavenly Libations.  The first round, played at The Tradition Club, went as expected. Two Birds, Commodore Bob, and Sidekick Joey were sky high in anticipation at the beginning of the round. The fact that with Two Birds now living in Florida, meant he was able to play year round and was sure that he could best The Rick easily. The others knew he was their best chance, but they were also alive with self-confidence, knowing that this was their time to rise above the mundane; to climb out of the despair of meaningless existence.

The euphoria, so prevalent on the first tee, subsided with every hole as shot after shot went awry, seeking regions known only to burrowing mammals or fish. The Rick, however, was on top of his game; driving 30-40 yards farther than even Joey with his new M2 driver. His touch around the greens was superb; his putter was in tune with speed and slope, one putts being the norm. It was clearly not the minions’ day. Two Birds could be seen muttering to himself; Commodore Bob was reduced to chasing the beverage cart begging for a Fireball, and Joey was flinging clubs everywhere.  This was the way things went for the next two rounds as well. At Blackmoor the next day, and at wind swept and cold Grande Dunes the following day, the results were the same; The Rick was dominant, the minions were doomed. By the third hole at Grande Dunes all Two Birds could think of was the world famous homemade chili Ocho was preparing for dinner.  Joey, while still enamored with his new M2, was less than thrilled with the rest of his new clubs and was not only flinging them with reckless regularity, he was leaving them where they fell. The Commodore, feeling the chance to ‘go fast in a spaceship’ slipping away, mounted a comeback on the back nine at Grande Dunes, but it fell short when his approach shot on 18 also fell short and now sleeps with the frogs, turtles, and gators.

The next morning, as Ocho was grinding Starbuck’s Espresso beans for another pot of coffee, a rather loud, almost deafening roar and rumble emanated from the dark mass of clouds that held sway over the dawn. “Wow!” exclaimed Ocho, “Looks like golf is out for today, my fellow Hoovers.”

The Rick, dressed in a silk kimono, paused at the top of the stairway landing, “I do believe we shall go shoe shopping today, and then perhaps we’ll play Cards Against Humanity until dinner time.  After which we will watch a couple movies; my choice, naturally.”

Joey and The Commodore rose from their seats at the breakfast table and said in unison, “So let it be written. So let it be done.”

“I’ve also given some thought as to how to make the golf more competitive,” continued The Rick, “tomorrow at Willbrook Plantation we will keep score a bit differently. We will go out as a five some. We will add the lowest scores for every hole by you four.  That will be your final tally for the round.” He looked around at his minions, they were already convinced that they couldn’t possibly lose. Partially because of the caffeine level in their bloodstreams, and partially because they now felt back in the game, their high fives and chest bumps became more animated by the moment resulting in minor injuries and some slight damage to the décor.

The less said about the shoe shopping, the better.  It was an agonizing four hours watching The Rick try on virtually every shoe in the store; a store that did not have a customer’s restroom.  A real hardship considering the amount and strength of Ocho’s robust coffee; add to that the fact they ate chili the night before. Finally, and with five new pair of golf shoes, The Rick declared it was time to go back to the condo; with a quick stop to get gas and to unload bodily fluids, etc.

**********

The day of reckoning was cool, but at least it was sunny. The drive to the course was filled with nervous excitement. The minions, who were so confident the night before were now starting to feel the pressure. Joey was already on his third liter of Diet Coke.  Commodore Bob was following the cart girl as she loaded up making sure she was well supplied with Fireballs.  Two Birds was in a dither about politics.  Ocho, however, remained calm as befits one who knows how the story ends. The Rick was all smiles as befits one who thinks he knows how the story ends. The match itself proceeded along the lines stipulated by The Rick with the four minions carding their lowest score on each hole. The problem with that was that while The Rick was shooting pars and bogies, the minions were often left with double bogies as the best they could do. So it was that through 15 holes, The Rick had a four stroke lead. With all their hopes seemingly about to crash among the rocks of despair, Ocho took charge. On 16, a par 3, Ocho’s tee shot landed a scant few inches from the hole giving the minions a birdie, while The Rick could only manage par. The lead was now three with two holes to go.  The 17th hole was a par 4 with a dogleg right. The safe play was to hit the tee shot straight and hope you made the corner for the second shot. Ocho didn’t play it safe and blasted a 260 yard drive over the trees guarding the corner leaving him only 50 yards from the green, and from where he proceeded to make another birdie. In a rare display of mediocre golf, The Rick chunked three shots in a row and made double bogie. Going to the par 5 18th, the lead was now down to one. From the tee on 18, the best drive was Joey’s who then surprised everyone by hitting his second shot 200 yards; his third onto the green; his fourth a 35 foot putt for birdie that had everyone holding their breath as the ball hit the cup on the right edge and did a 360 before dropping in for birdie. The Rick, who was also on the green in three, had two putts to win the match. His first putt stopped 2 feet short but was a certainty for par. While he lined up the putt, Ocho reminded him, quietly, that he needed to miss this for his plan to have his minions as pilots. With as much sincerity as he could muster he pulled the putt just missing the left edge of the hole. The minions were now Heavenly Libations bound.

**********

The ride back to The Rick’s estate was a boisterous affair.  Sidekick Joey and Commodore Bob even tried to do a chest bump while both of them were seat belted, and shoulder harnessed in the elegantly appointed Rickmobile.  Two Birds, who was sitting in the front seat while The Rick drove, just kept pointing and jabbing his index fingers for emphasis as he repeated over and over, “No more minion; time to blast off.”  The Rick shot Two Birds a look of disdain, but inside he was cheering just as loudly as his minions, ah, former minions. With them on the rolls as pilots, The Rick just upped his stake in the venture which up until now consisted of investing in and providing the   enormous amounts of rocket fuel they needed and stocking the massive inventories of alcoholic beverages and hybrid marijuana strains.  The drain on his multi-billion dollar reserves coupled with the monies invested in The Rick by his friends and cronies, would have worried a lesser man, but The Rick wasn’t even fazed.

Then the state of the art Bluetooth connection announced an incoming call.  The Rick hit connect and the display screen came alive with the four partners and Marjorie seated around a conference table; a scene of noise and confusion. From the chaos came a question from Sam Dewey, “Pakistan? You got the fuel from %$#^* Pakistan?”

In a monumental set of unfortunate circumstances beginning with The Rick trusting the Pakistani agent who assured The Rick that the fuel was not toxic.  In fact, he continued, “It is the first ‘green’ rocket fuel ever developed, guaranteed to even help the ozone layer repair the ravages of the Industrial Age.”  In actual fact, however, the exhaust from the rocket engines, given the vagaries of wind and weather, would have wiped out most of life from Tampa to Naples.

Ocho had been aware of the source of The Rick’s fuel and was skeptical of the veracity of the ‘green’ claim. On his first visit to the hangar he pilfered a small vial of the fuel that was going to be part of the marketing campaign and sent it to a lab for analysis. Thus it was Ocho, who without revealing the bit about the fuel, anonymously leaked to NASA, The EPA, and the town council of Punta Gorda that there were going to be many rocket launches by Heavenly Libations over protected wetlands and golf courses. To say that Ocho kept the fuel out of his correspondence with the agencies he contacted is true enough.  It wasn’t until he slipped a note into Randall Pennyworth’s pocket saying to check the fuel that all hell broke loose.

After a frenzied explanation to the fuming partners and the confused minions, The Rick, visibly shaken by this turn of events still managed to get back to the estate safely. Not waiting for someone to open his door, he bolted out of the vehicle and headed inside. The 125 inch television came on at his command tuned to MSNBC where a group of talking heads were already in damning mode concerning Heavenly Libations in general, and The Rick in particular. A few seconds’ later messages began scrolling at the bottom of the screen from investors, friends, colleagues, and the multitudes who harbored a grudge against The Rick, who were bailing out on The Rick Enterprises and otherwise distancing themselves from the man and the fallout sure to come.  From multi-billionaire to financial ruination does not take long apparently; even the shoe store was demanding the recent purchase of five pair of golf shoes be returned due to his credit card being denied. The Rick, to his credit, did not lash out, scream, or even cry; he merely sighed, shook his beautiful head of hair, and went up to his room where he did lash out; throwing objects around and banging is head against the wall. While this was a bit noisy, the tantrum did, at the very least, announce to the minions that The Rick was not doing himself in.

“What are we gonna do?” Joey asked, the realization that he was not going to be Sidekick Joey finally sinking in, nor would he be employed any longer by the devastated The Rick Enterprises.

Two Birds just sat at the table, the remains of his chicken cordon bleu barely visible on his plate. “Maybe I’ll just retire,” he said, “my cat Rufus would like that.”

Commodore Bob, he refused to dispense with the title, switched the channel on the TV to the NASCAR station. “I think I may join a pit crew,” he said as he downed a Fireball shot, “race teams are always looking for someone who likes to go fast.”

Ocho, who had gone up to check on The Rick, came down and said, “Oh, I wouldn’t be too concerned about things. I have a feeling that all will be well.”  He opened the freezer and pulled out a pint of Chunky Monkey, grabbed a spoon and began to eat, “Trust me. I have a plan.”

Later that night Ocho came down from his bedroom where he had been writing this story, and found The Rick sitting in his favorite lounger staring blankly at the ceiling, his silk kimono opened to his waist, an empty package of Oreo Double Stuff cookies lying at his feet.  Black cookie crumbs mixed with dots of double stuff mingled with his chest hair, the glass of milk in his hand dangerously close to spilling on the very expensive Persian rug that he no longer owned, but which did tie the room together. He looked up at Ocho bleary eyed, his crow’s feet wrinkles readily visible without his usual application of make-up. “I am ruined,” was all he could say.

“Now don’t lose hope,” Ocho remarked as he snatched the glass of milk as it slipped out of The Rick’s hand, “I have everything taken care of.  You’re going to be just fine.” He then laid out to The Rick his plan for making things right, pausing occasionally to let The Rick, who was understandably shocked at what Ocho was telling him, catch his breath.

When Ocho was done, The Rick pointed to the dining room table and said, “There are the keys to the Range Rover.  Take it before the creditors come to repossess it, gather up the others and get to Punta Gorda as quick as you can.  I’ll stay here and meditate on my new reality.  Do you think I’ll be able to keep this rug?”

************

With Commodore Bob and Two Birds trading time behind the wheel they made the trek from Surfside Beach, SC to Punta Gorda, FL in record time.  Joey insisted on navigating even though Two Birds was pretty confident he knew how to get home.  Ocho sat in the back seating section typing away on his laptop, or texting messages to the people and groups needed to get on board with his plan.  He had said nothing to the others except that everything would be explained when they got back to Two Bird’s house. That was all they heard from him during the drive except an occasional chuckle.  The only words spoken loud enough for them to hear was, “Yes, Mr. President. Thank you for your rational approach and kind consideration in this grave matter.” ** Editor’s note: This is a work of fiction and as such, the President in this story is also fictional and in no way depicts the current resident of the White House. J

The first thing Two Birds noticed when they turned the corner onto his street was two immaculately detailed extra-large Ford Econoline Vans parked in his driveway, but it was the first thing that Commodore Bob saw that stole the show. A brand spanking new Peterbilt double trailer semi with the same Gray Wolf Transport detail emblazoned on both sides of the vans and the truck.

Four large pizzas and a requisite amount of liquid refreshment later, the three former minions were ready for Ocho to share his plan. “Okay then,” said Ocho as he swallowed the last of his Guinness, “here’s the deal. I called in a bunch of favors and was able to convince the powers that be to go along. The illicit fuel is being taken care of by the EPA with no further action taken against The Rick other than his ruined businesses and loss of prestige. DC&H get to keep the party stations, though they cannot send them into space. That means that there are no pilot jobs for you guys, but as you noticed as we arrived, Gray Wolf Transport does have need of drivers. If you’re interested, we can start right away. The pay is $20 an hour. The first job is to load up the vans with as much of the liquor and Diet Coke that they can carry, and the semi with the humidor and weed aboard the Cannabis Café.  The booze and Diet Coke will be delivered to your homes for your use.  The weed is for me.”

Two Birds, looking a bit confused replied, “Wait a minute there Ocho. If The Rick is ruined and down on his luck, why are we taking his supplies. It seems to me that he would need the revenue.”

Ocho nodded his head, “That would be the case if The Rick hadn’t agreed to let me have the inventory for nothing except, and this is the beauty of being an author who can make stuff up as he goes, I am going to revive The Rick’s career in a future story about you guys. He was so happy with that he told me to take all I wanted.”

Joey, though somewhat disappointed that he would not be Commodore Bob’s sidekick, was thrilled with the prospect of having so much Diet Coke on hand, and a goodly supply of Fireballs for special occasions.

Commodore Bob cared nothing about the how and why of the plan. His attention was firmly focused on the fact that he would be driving a double trailer semi, and as he has said many times, “Twenty bucks is twenty bucks.”

AFTERMATH

Dewey, Cheetum, Howe & MacDougal – yes, Rocco is finally acknowledged as a Partner; more on that below.  Though foiled in their master plan to orbit planets and colonize Mars, the fact that they retained the space craft made for new possibilities. Coming soon; The Inter-Galactic Adults Only Space Station Amusement Park located in the Berkshire Mountains in Western Massachusetts. The three stations will all be upgraded with a state of the art animatronic Star Wars bar complete with all of the lovable aliens, including the band. The choice of location is ideal as weed is legal in Massachusetts and is only a few miles from the Hancock Shaker Village giving the wives and children something to do while dad is amusing himself at IGAOSSAP.

Marjorie Detwiler – left her employment with DCH&M as she was nominated and confirmed as the new Secretary of The Interior.

Gray Wolf Transport – Through the brilliant marketing and branding plan put together by Rocco, who was once again Ocho’s agent bringing untold profit to DC&H which prompted the change to DCH&M, Gray Wolf Transport went public on NASDAQ. Starting at $20.00 a share the price steadily rose and now stands at $86.00. The three original drivers were no longer driving the cargo vehicles having trained a new crew that now numbered in the hundreds. Taking their profits from the rise in the stock price they formed Gray Wolf Racing.

Two Birds – capitalizing on his years of experience as a fleet mechanic for a large utility company, he built a NASCAR ready, gray Toyota Corolla S, and christened it The Shake and Bake Special, regally bedecked with Gray Wolf images and logo.

Joey, aka Sidekick Joey; aka Bake – capitalizing on his years as an employee of the USPS, Joey was now the Pit Crew Chief for Gray Wolf Racing, changing tires with one hand, and a cold Diet Coke in the other.

Commodore Bob, aka NASCAR Bob; aka Shake – with the ‘gotta go fast’ motto emblazoned on the back of his alligator leather racing jacket, Commodore Bob was now the principal driver for Gray Wolf Racing winning the first race The Shake and Bake Special entered and which took place at the home of Ricky Bobby – Talladega.

Ocho – rich now beyond his wildest dreams, which only goes to prove the vivid, creative imagination he possesses.

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

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excerpt from chap 5 – Clash of Empires

Liam awoke to the sound of thunder and Liza preparing porridge for their breakfast.  That he had been asleep surprised him as he had not slept for almost three days, the sight of Orenda tied to that tree haunted his dreams still as did the sound of her screams as she cried out to him.  Daniel and Henry were already awake and making ready to begin today’s trek to Donehogawa’s camp on Mahoning Creek.  Teeyeehogrow and Pierre had risen before dawn and went back tracking to see if anyone was in pursuit.  They had gone about two miles and were standing on the top of a hill looking down at a troop of French about a mile distant preparing to break camp.  ‘Best to warn the others and hasten our pace,’ said Pierre.  Teeyeehogrow nodded in agreement and replied, ‘We don’t know for sure they are after us though I suspect they are and there’s little chance they won’t find our tracks.’  They returned to where they had tethered their mounts and had to soothe the trembling horses as a blast of thunder and flash of lightning pierced the early morning quiet.  Another sudden clap of thunder brought with it a pelting rain that soaked them to the bones as they made their way back to camp.  ‘The beckoning call of the rising sun,’ spoke Pierre, ‘the breath of promise on the early morning breeze.  Dawn is God’s blessing to man and beast, though it seems to be an off day for the almighty.  I suppose even God enjoys a bit of variety.’  Teeyeehogrow slapped Pierre on the back and chuckled, ‘more likely he’s just pissed about something.’  ‘My friend, you are quite probably truer to the mark,’ replied Pierre.

With the news that they were probably being tracked by the French, Liam and Daniel decided they would take a position a few miles behind the others as they rode, keeping a watchful eye on their pursuers.  By mid-morning the storm had fled eastward and now the sun was beginning the drying out process as steam rose from the horse’s flanks and the ground was enveloped in a swirling mist.  Birdsong now replaced the staccato rhythm of the rain.    This was the third day after leaving Fort Necessity and they were pretty sure they could reach the Mohawk camp on Mahoning Creek by nightfall if they pushed their mounts a little harder.  As they crested a hill they found themselves looking down at the creek but could not see the Mohawk camp and were not sure which direction they should take once they crossed the Mahoning.  The sound of hoof beats from behind had them reaching for their weapons but as Daniel came into view they relaxed and dismounted.  He came to a halt, the suddenness of his stopping sending up a spray of dirt and leaves.  ‘We’ve got trouble,’ he started, ‘the French have split their pursuit and now half of them are heading down to the creek to keep us from crossing while the rest drive us into it.  Liam and I will hold them back for as long as we can but you need to make haste across the water.’  Teeyeehogrow motioned with his hand to point out the fact that there was already a group of French getting into position for the ambush at the water’s edge.

Lieutenant LeFurge positioned the six men with him behind a scattering of boulders and fallen trees.  ‘We have them now,’ he murmured to himself as he slid his saber in and out of its scabbard, willing himself to not be nervous about his first real taste of battle and there was no way he was going to obey his orders to the letter.  ‘No one fires until I give the command,’ he ordered, ‘shoot to kill but spare the woman, she’ll make a fine gift to our Shawnee friends.’

Wahta and Deganawidah were returning to the Mohawk encampment from a hunting trip and from the trees noticed the French across the creek setting up for what appeared to be an ambush.  They set down the deer they were carrying and crept to the creek bank to see if they could be of help to whoever the French were after.  The sounds of gunfire from the hill in the distance drew their attention but they still could not make out who it was.

‘We can’t take on both groups, there are too many,’ said Daniel, ‘Pierre, go get Liam.  We’ll meet the group behind us from here.  We’ll have the advantage of being uphill with enough cover to protect us.  Liza, I know you’re a good shot but for now I need you to reload our muskets.  We have two extras so we should be able to keep up a continuous fire and no doubt Liam will be using his bow as well as his musket.’

Liam and Pierre rode back to the others and took up positions behind the trees just as the first of the French came riding up the slope.  They dismounted quickly as Liam let fly and struck one the horses with an arrow in the shoulder causing it to rear and throw its rider.  Daniel and the others then opened up with musket fire taking down two in the first volley.  The remaining three returned fire but Liam and the rest were too well sheltered for any clean hits and when they reloaded and stood to fire again they were met with another volley wounding two more of the French troops.  Setting his musket down and holding his palms outward, the lone remaining Frenchman helped his wounded comrades onto their horses and took off back the way they came.  ‘Looks as though we won’t have to worry about that group,’ said Daniel, ‘How do we deal with those in the rocks below?’  It was then that Wahta recognized Liam and shouted while he drew back his bow and released an arrow, striking one of the surprised French in the back, the force of the arrow causing him to stumble and fall into the creek, ‘Snake slayer my brother, let us meet our foes together.’  At the sound of his voice and seeing one of his troopers floating away, LeFurge turned to see two Mohawk braves shooting from across the creek.  He barely had time to duck as an arrow whizzed by his ear.  Taking advantage of the changing situation, Liam, Daniel, Henry, Liza and Teeyeehogrow charged down the hill, muskets at the ready and firing into the rocks.  There wasn’t much chance of hitting anyone from the back of a charging horse but it kept the French pinned down as they took fire from front and rear.  Thirty yards from the French Liam and the others veered off to the right and plunged into the creek while Wahta and Deganawidah kept up their fire killing one more of the French and wounding LeFurge.  Once his friends were safely across, Wahta stopped shooting and headed up to meet them in the trees.

With a smile almost as broad as his shoulders Wahta embraced Liam, ‘It does my heart good to see you again brother.’  ‘Not as much as I am to see you.  We were in some trouble and the outcome would have most likely been different without your timely involvement.  How far is it to Donehogawa’s camp?  I fear our horses are sorely tired as are we.’  ‘We will be there before the sun sets and then we will feast on venison and talk late into the night,’ replied Wahta.

Lieutenant LeFurge, his right thigh bandaged and in some pain seethed at the thought that in his first engagement he was so thoroughly routed and wounded on top of it.  All that and he didn’t even fire his musket once, so complete was the surprise attack from across the creek.  His already smoldering hatred for the English was now raging into an inferno of revenge especially at the expense of these uncultured backwoodsmen and that bastard Colonel Washington for allowing them to leave the fort.

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Hoovers 2015 Myrtle Beach

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This is a rambling account of our annual trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.  I have entitled each section with a song title or a line from a song.

Growing Older and Tenser With the Times[1]

Ocho and his gang of ever increasing in age hackers of the sacred turf have once again escaped the cruel and bitter bonds of winter.  A winter that was going along nicely until February and then all meteorological hell broke loose and the leaden skies and howling winds buried New England.  A winter that saw poor Ocho climbing out onto his deck through the removed lower window of the door in order to clear off the five foot deep ‘freshly fallen silent shroud of snow’[2].  A winter that saw poor Ocho hanging out of a third floor window in a desperate attempt to clear the two foot deep swath of ice and snow off the roof before it crashed down on a poor helpless vehicle in the driveway below.  A winter that saw a large chunk of the aforementioned collection of ice and snow on the roof, crash down on the wife’s lease car causing multiple contusions, bruises and the decapitation of the passenger side mirror thus prompting the aforementioned hanging out of the window.  All of the Hoovers have similar stories of woe, exasperation and deprivation.  All except Jimmy Two Birds who has retired and now calls Punta Gorda, FL as his home, the fat bastard. J

Another result of winter in New England, though this is not erratic like the fickle patterns of meteorological mayhem, this happens every year.  We do not get much golf played, say after Halloween, so by this time of the year we are salivating at the thought we will be teeing it up again.  While we are suffering from this environmentally enforced dormancy we get periodic emails from Jimmy Two Birds about all the golf he is playing, how many pars he averages, in general how much he is improving, the fat bastard.  J

All Strung Out from the Road[3]

It was an epic almost Magellan like trek, this solo drive from Providence RI. to Myrtle Beach, SC.  At 06:00 Gray Wolf pulled onto I-95 south, eager to stretch his legs on this 1050 mile jaunt.  The route chosen will avoid the nightmarish travel corridor of New York City to DC and the attendant dollars spent in tolls on The Jersey Turnpike.  Instead, Ocho will wend his way out of New England via I-84 as it travels through land formerly occupied and or used by the Delaware, Huron, Mohawk and others.  Ocho pauses for a few minutes to refuel and to grab a cup of mediocre yet necessary coffee to stave off the effects of being up all night at work as there are many miles yet to go.

Near the blood soaked hills and fields of Gettysburg a foursome walks a golf course fairway now cleared of snow renewing Ocho’s energy level; an anticipatory foreshadowing of the week ahead.  The Mason-Dixon Line looms just a few miles ahead, one of the landmarks/milestones that Ocho uses as another means of energy revitalization.  Not only are these sights important in terms of how far is left yet to travel but they also stir up the historical thought process that inevitably comes to the forefront of Ocho’s mind.  The more prominent milestones include the rivers, Susquehanna, Hudson, Potomac and James.  Formidable obstacles all and makes me wonder in awe at the hardiness of our pioneer forebears.  Imagine the sheer effort needed to cross those rivers and the countless smaller rivers and creeks, the effort needed to climb and descend numerous hills.  Not to mention that those game trails they followed weren’t exactly Eisenhower Interstates.

I-81 south runs through an area rich in history.  It seems every exit leads to a Civil War battlefield, not that that is surprising as the Shenandoah Valley was the bread basket of The Confederacy and both sides fought to control it.  General Philip Sheridan greatly hastened the end of the war by destroying Shenandoah.  It’s amazing that this is the kind of stuff that filters through Ocho’s mind as he drives, that and the hope that there’s a rest stop soon.  Ocho and Gray Wolf need another nap.

Twenty-five hours later, 1050 miles, half a dozen cups of coffee and numerous stops to recycle said coffee and to take naps, I arrive at Jimmy Two Birds timeshare.  We are scheduled to tee off in a couple hours but it is one of those rare occasions when I am glad it is raining.  Gray Wolf and I are just a tad worn out.  J

 

 

Won’t Get Fooled Again[4]

In an effort to add a little excitement and the chance to win a sleeve of golf balls, Jimmy Two Birds instituted a Par 3 contest.  You win a sleeve if you get a par on a Par 3.  The rest of us protested that no one would win on account of our self-acknowledged ineptitude but Jimmy Two Birds persisted and thus those are the rules.  Today’s round was the first one played in about 4 months for Joey, Bob and Rick and the first one played in about 4 days for Jimmy Two Birds.  Jimmy Two Birds won a sleeve of balls today, the Fat Bastard.

The teams having been chosen in a random fashion, for today’s golf match are Jimmy/Rick vs Bob/Joey.  A pairing that elicited an immediate, ‘We’re gonna kick their ass!’ comment from Rick who then went out and shot a front nine 57 thus winning a sleeve of Ram balls for his excellence in futility.  As to the arse kicking, Bob/Joey put up a valiant yet vain effort losing 9-7, although Joey did distinguish himself by taking individual honors for the day harking back to the year Joey won our most prestigious award, The Harry A.  A feat so astounding that even to this day no one believes it actually happened.

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant[5]

Some of our more memorable moments take place at the various eateries we frequent while in Myrtle.  Last night at the Texas Roadhouse, for example, we simply reinforced the notion that we are losing our mental edge.  The tallying up of the bill proved to be an exercise of mathematical futility.  Determining that $35 was needed from 4 people because 130/4=35.  No one questioned that figure and we ended up $10 over what we needed.  With no immediate solution as to why the discrepancy, Joey, out of kindness, handed the extra $10 to Ocho.  The problem gnawed at Ocho on the drive back to the condo so he whipped out the calculator on his smart phone and lo and behold, 130/4=32.50.  Mystery solved and a time to celebrate so Ocho used the $10 and bought beer.

I’m Just a Substitute for Another Guy[6]

As has been the case the past few years Ocho’s financial woes have relegated him to the position of a stand by substitute golfer; not unlike some alternate on the PGA Tour waiting on somebody to drop out of a tournament.  I have to be ready at a moment’s notice in case one of the aging Hoovers can’t shake out the kinks from the prior day no matter how long they hog the limited hot water in the condo.

There are, I think, two prevailing theories as to why my fellow Hoovers insist that I come to Myrtle despite my monetary limitations.  Theory #1 is that they cannot do without my pleasant demeanor and witty repartee.  Theory #2 is they only care about not having to drag their clubs through airports and pay a small fortune to have them flown here.  Your guess is as good as mine as to which one is true.  J

Day number three and the call for a relief golfer has been made and Ocho is making his way in from the bullpen.  Now mind you the last two days were bathed in glorious sunshine and near 80 degrees.  Today is cloudy and only reaching the high 50’s.  Jimmy Two Birds is a no go for today’s round, the Fat Bastard.

Two days in a row for the relief golfer as JTB is once again hors de combat with a balky knee.  I feel bad every time I lace up my golf shoes at the expense of one of my fellow Hoovers, but only for a moment.  J

Day number five and for the first time ever in the annals of Hoover history a Hoover pulled himself out of a round halfway through.  JTB called ‘no mas’ after nine holes for the simple reason he was having no fun and was in danger of throwing his clubs into a gator infested pond.  Fortunately the relief golfer was at the course and took over for the distraught and frustrated Jimmy.  Unfortunately the relief golfer had to use Jimmy’s clubs and they weren’t any kinder to him than they were for Jimmy and almost ended up in the gator infested pond anyway.

 

Don’t Fear the Reaper[7]

For some reason, probably the onset of our advancing years and the aches, pains and medications needed, we had a jocular discussion on death and how we wanted our remains taken care of.  Jimmy mentioned having his ashes scattered over many of his favorite golf courses in Myrtle Beach but all I could imagine was a Big Lebowski type mishap.  A sudden gust of wind and Jimmy is scattered all over those officiating the event.  I came up with a couple possibilities for my epitaph … ‘All things considered, I’d rather be putting for birdie’… or (and this is a reference to my hard of hearing condition), ‘You can say anything you want about me, I won’t hear you anyway.’

Boring Stories of Glory Days[8]

I have been fortunate in my life to have two distinct groups of close friends.  The guys (and later the girls) I grew up with are once again a part of my life after nearly 40 years of no or very limited contact.  We have an annual reunion, this year being the 4th and those few days are filled with silliness and the chance to relive our glory days as young athletes.  We have played basketball & football.  We went bowling and visited the batting cages.  We recount our prowess with clear minds with no thought of hyperbole as we fail miserably to be what we used to be but laughing our arse off nonetheless.  We even have our own Hall of Fame of which we are all members and which we named The Moron Hall of Fame in honor of the fact that we actually made it to adulthood mostly unscathed and without criminal records.

That brings me to the group that sustains me in the ‘back nine’ of my life, The Hoovers.  For those who are not familiar with the history of the name we chose a brief digression.  It was somewhere on a golf course on Cape Cod.  We had just hit four of the more miserable tee shots in the history of golf.  As we watched the fourth one sail off to a place a golf ball ought not to visit, Jimmy Two Birds uttered these words, ‘We’re like a bunch of Hoover vacuum cleaners, and we can’t suck enough.’  Thus the name of the group was born along with our motto.  Since then we have traversed many fine fairways and even more not so fine areas of golf courses scattered throughout this great country of ours.  The main point of our exercise in futility is not so much trying to improve as that ship has sailed but to have more fun than should be allowed.  I would really like at some point to mike all of us for a round as there would be some great material to cobble together in a story.   So here’s to my buddies The Hoovers:  Joe Martin, Jimmy Two Birds Ouellette, Bob Svirsky, Loring Mackey and Rick Lobsitz.  May your balls be many and your strokes be few.  J

 

Every Day is a Winding Road[9]

Every nook and cranny of Gray Wolf is stuffed with the flotsam, jetsam and the necessary golf accoutrements needing to be returned to the normal habitat of our four intrepid Hoovers who must now sadly depart for the frozen wasteland of New England.   Rick and Bob are flying home from Charleston, SC while Joey opted to only fly to Myrtle and drive back with me.  Jimmy, of course, is driving back to Punta Gorda, FL where it is not a frozen wasteland, the fat bastard.  Included in the flotsam is Joey’s rather large suitcase that was not part of what Ocho brought down to SC.  Some creative packing was involved to accommodate it so as to leave room for Joey too.  It would have been a shame to have to strap Joey to the roof for the 1050 mile trek home.

On the road at 5:00 a.m. feeling the usual pangs of remorse that the week is already over, that the daily joy of camaraderie is once again relegated to memory and in my case to the written word.  However, those thoughts need to be suppressed in order to survive the long, long way home.  So with a stoical mindset Gray Wolf springs to life and we head home.  Nineteen hours later Joey is safely ensconced in his own bed and 15 minutes later Gray Wolf is safely at rest in his own driveway.  The trip home is mostly without incident.  The only traffic encountered came, naturally, when we got on the Mass Pike; a kind of welcome home committee.  Until next year, same time, same place.

[1][1] Paraphrased line from Bruce Cockburn’s ‘How I Spent My Fall Vacation

[2] Paul Simon I Am a Rock

[3] Bob Seger ‘Turn the Page’

[4] Pete Townsend ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’

[5] Billy Joel ‘Scenes From an Italian Restaurant’

[6] Pete Townsend ‘Substitute’

[7] Donald(Buck Dharma)Roeser –Blue Oyster Cult ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’

[8] Bruce Springsteen ‘Glory Days’

[9] Sheryl Crow, Jeff Trott, Brian MacLeod ‘Everyday is a Winding Road’

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Myrtle Beach 2015 – an excerpt

Growing Older and Tenser With the Times[1]

Ocho and his gang of ever increasing in age hackers of the sacred turf have once again escaped the cruel and bitter bonds of winter.  A winter that was going along nicely until February and then all meteorological hell broke loose and the leaden skies and howling winds buried New England.  A winter that saw poor Ocho climbing out onto his deck through the removed lower window of the door in order to clear off the five foot deep ‘freshly fallen silent shroud of snow’.  A winter that saw poor Ocho hanging out of a third floor window in a desperate attempt to clear the two foot deep swath of ice and snow off the roof before it crashed down on a poor helpless vehicle in the driveway below.  A winter that saw a large chunk of the aforementioned collection of ice and snow on the roof, crash down on the wife’s lease car causing multiple contusions, bruises and the decapitation of the passenger side mirror thus prompting the aforementioned hanging out of the window.  All of the Hoovers have similar stories of woe, exasperation and deprivation.  All except Jimmy Two Birds who has retired and now calls Punta Gorda, FL as his home, the fat bastard.

Another result of winter in New England, though this is not erratic like the fickle patterns of meteorological mayhem, this happens every year.  We do not get much golf played, say after Halloween, so by this time of the year we are salivating at the thought we will be teeing it up again.  While we are suffering from this environmentally enforced dormancy we get periodic emails from Jimmy Two Birds about all the golf he is playing, how many pars he averages, in general how much he is improving, the fat bastard.  J

All Strung Out from the Road[2]

It was an epic almost Magellan like trek, this solo drive from Providence RI. to Myrtle Beach, SC.  At 06:00 Gray Wolf pulled onto I-95 south, eager to stretch his legs on this 1050 mile jaunt.  The route chosen will avoid the nightmarish travel corridor of New York City to DC and the attendant dollars spent in tolls on The Jersey Turnpike.  Instead, Ocho will wend his way out of New England via I-84 as it travels through land formerly occupied and or used by the Delaware, Huron, Mohawk and others.  Ocho pauses for a few minutes to refuel and to grab a cup of mediocre yet necessary coffee to stave off the effects of being up all night at work and there are many miles yet to go.

Near the blood soaked hills and fields of Gettysburg a foursome walks a golf course fairway now cleared of snow renewing Ocho’s energy level; an anticipatory foreshadowing of the week ahead.  The Mason-Dixon Line looms just a few miles ahead, one of the landmarks/milestones that Ocho uses as another means of energy revitalization.  Not only are these sights important in terms of how far is left yet to travel but they also stir up the historical thought process that inevitably comes to the forefront of Ocho’s mind.  The more prominent milestones include the rivers, Susquehanna, Hudson, Potomac and James.  Formidable obstacles all and makes me wonder in awe at the hardiness of our pioneer forebears.  Imagine the sheer effort needed to cross those rivers and the countless smaller rivers and creeks, the effort needed to climb and descend numerous hills.  Not to mention that those game trails they followed weren’t exactly Eisenhower Interstates.

I-81 south runs through an area rich in history.  It seems every exit leads to a Civil War battlefield, not that that is surprising as the Shenandoah Valley was the bread basket of The Confederacy and both sides fought to control it.  General Philip Sheridan greatly hastened the end of the war by destroying Shenandoah.  It’s amazing that this is the kind of stuff that filters through Ocho’s mind as he drives that and the hope that there’s a rest stop soon.  Ocho and Gray Wolf need another nap.

Twenty-five hours later, 1050 miles, half a dozen cups of coffee and numerous stops to recycle said coffee and to take naps, I arrive at Jimmy Two Birds timeshare.  We are scheduled to tee off in a couple hours but it is one of those rare occasions when I am glad it is raining.  Gray Wolf and I are just a tad worn out.  J

Boring Stories of Glory Days[3]

I have been fortunate in my life to have two distinct groups of close friends.  The guys (and later the girls) I grew up with are once again a part of my life after nearly 40 years of no or very limited contact.  We have an annual reunion, this year being the 4th and those few days are filled with silliness and the chance to relive our glory days as young athletes.  We have played basketball & football.  We went bowling and visited the batting cages.  We recount our prowess with clear minds with no thought of hyperbole as we fail miserably to be what we used to be but laughing our arse off nonetheless.  We even have our own Hall of Fame of which we are all members and which we named The Moron Hall of Fame in honor of the fact that we actually made it to adulthood mostly unscathed and without criminal records.

[1][1] Paraphrased line from Bruce Cockburn’s ‘How I Spent My Fall Vacation

[2] Bob Seger ‘Turn the Page’

[3] Bruce Springsteen ‘Glory Days’

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excerpt from Chap 1- 2nd draft – Clash of Empires

CHAPTER 1

A Journey Contemplated

1749 – Autumn

Thomas Mallory stopped chopping and took a moment to wipe the sweat from his brow.  ‘Saints preserve us,’ he sighed, ‘it will take more wood than this to see us through the winter.’  He gazed about and took in the sights of the small lease held farm he worked with his family.  His wife Abigail was baking bread in the outdoor oven. His eldest son Daniel was over in the field harvesting the last of the squash and pumpkin. His only daughter Elizabeth was spreading feed for the ducks and chickens.  Liam, the youngest son was nowhere to be seen as he was out hunting.  ‘Aye and what about the spring?  What will they think about my plans for the spring?’

Thomas never did much like farming.  The plot of land that he leased from a wealthy member of the Philadelphia merchant aristocracy was barely sufficient to feed his family and make a profit.  For fifteen years he toiled, saving up every last farthing so that at last they could move West and begin a new life.  He had met William Trent, an adventurous woodsman and one time officer in the Virginia militia a few years back when he stopped by the farm looking for a place to bed down for a few nights.  He regaled them with his stories of the frontier, about his trip down The Ohio and the opportunities waiting for men with vision and courage.  ‘This is only the beginning’, said William, ‘but I plan on opening a trading post along the Allegheny River.  If I’m any judge of events then it won’t be long before the frontier will be teeming with them that’s looking to make their fortune.  Hunters and trappers at first and then with settlers.  Once things have settled there it will be back to The Ohio to start another trading post.’

The seed of adventure and profit was duly planted in Thomas so when William asked him to be his partner in a recent letter he quietly accepted to himself.  The time to tell the family would come soon enough.  All he needed to do now was to convince his wife Abigail that the move would be more than worth the risks involved as the area in question was in dispute between the British, the French and the various tribes of Indians, some of which sided with the British and some with the French.

The thought came to Liam as he followed the movement of the deer that he was never so at peace as when he was in the woods.  For as long as he could remember he made the most of every opportunity to be outside, marveling at nature and studying it.  Indeed he had come to know the area around his home very well and was now hidden on a small mound that was overgrown with brush.  He knew from experience that the deer used the trail below the mound to travel to a small creek for water.  He also knew that he would be too far away for an effective shot with his favorite weapon, the bow, so he had brought his musket along.  The deer was now broadside to Liam, the hindquarters obscured by tree branches but the front shoulder was in the open.  Liam fired, the shot hit and knocked the deer down but it was soon back on its feet, staggering away.  Liam resisted the notion of rising up and following the deer right away.  He knew that that would only cause the deer to panic even more causing it to run meaning it would be farther away once it finally succumbed to the wound and Liam was sure the shot was fatal.  ‘That got at least one lung, maybe both,’ he said to himself as he rose up just enough to keep an eye on the deer.  The wounded deer was still standing and walking but it was quickly losing blood and becoming weaker.  Liam, satisfied that it would not be going too much farther sat back down to wait for a few more minutes giving him time to think and daydream.   As was usually the case his thoughts were of Indians and how they used and nature to survive.  He was most in awe of the Indians and their way of life though he had encountered them only fleetingly. The farm he grew up on along the Schuylkill River west of Philadelphia didn’t have many Indians in the area. The last of them, the Delaware tribes, had been pushed farther west by the encroaching white settlers.  What truth he did learn he gleaned from a former Black Robe, a priest who had lived with his Order in the village of Teatontaloga near the white settlement of Albany.   Pierre Baptiste was now the village apothecary having learned from the Mohawk about the various herbs and plants that could be used for assorted ailments.  He was also an amateur naturalist and agreed with Liam to teach him about the Mohawk including their language in exchange for Liam gathering up and bringing him herbs and any other interesting plants and critters he could find.  He peered over the brush in time to see the deer collapse to the forest floor.  He slowly got up and stretched his cramped legs.  When he reached the where the deer had fallen he noticed the pink froth that had been seeping out of the deer’s mouth and nose.  ‘Yep, got the lungs,’ he said to himself.  Liam then got down to the business of field dressing the deer, removing the unwanted innards, placing the heart, liver and kidneys in a pouch.  He used a long strip of rawhide to wind around the torso, keeping it closed as he hoisted the carcass up onto his shoulders using the legs as handles and began the short but laborious trek back home.

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finish line still in sight

A short breather from this morning’s musings…a time to celebrate another minor milestone…word count now stands at 89,004.  Had to change things up a bit as what I thought was the last chapter proved to be longer than I liked so I split it in two…well actually three as I am now just starting the last one as I felt the need to finish at Mallory Town….the epilogue will play off that nicely I think.  So, boys and girls work continues on this longer than expected work…originally thought 80,000 or so would be good…looks more like 95,000…

I have four beta readers reading the pre-edited final draft…if all goes well and I can find the resources to acquire a good cover I hope this will be out in Kindle in a couple months…..

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finish line in sight

Getting close boys and girls…the last chapter is proving to be a bit lengthier than I first thought but that’s okay…will be writing the last major battle of the book next as the British penned up in Detroit attempt to break the siege….after that it’s only a matter of time and pages until Pontiac’s war concludes and book one ends….the epilogue is partially complete and I hope sets the scene for book two.  🙂  Here’s a bit of the lead up to the battle I haven’t written yet:

Captain Dayall as Major Gladwin knew was not one who liked to be on the defensive so it was not a great surprise when Dayall suggested rather heatedly that the time to strike was at dawn tomorrow.  What did surprise the Major was that Liam and Mulhern both agreed with him.  ‘Pontiac knows we’re going to hit him but he doesn’t know when.  The sooner we strike the less chance he will find out and the less time he has to prepare,’ said Liam.  ‘All right gentlemen,’ responded Gladwin, ‘we attack at dawn.  Captain Dayall will be in command.  I suggest using the river gate as it is less visible than the front.’

Pontiac knew he was violating one of the main points of his program for the tribes but sometimes, as he was learning, it was necessary for those in power to bend or even discard the rules once in a while.  The spyglass had been a gift from the captain of a French trading vessel and was one piece of the white man’s ingenuity that he was not ready to give up.  He climbed up into the oak tree he had been using during the siege as a vantage point for keeping an eye on the British.  The eastern sky was heralding in the first light of the new day on the horizon as Pontiac focused the spyglass on the far wall.  He had seen little activity at the front gate but did notice the many soldiers forming up near the river gate.  ‘So, I was correct in thinking you would make your move tonight,’ said Pontiac to himself while clambering down from his perch.  He walked over to Megegagik and said, ‘ready your men and make sure they remain hidden.  I will join you shortly and will lead the charge.’

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