Photo Credits: Chris Hancock-All rights reserved
Dolores worked in the Postal Service
She was barely holding it together
Her test score was high,
But not like her brain
With drugs making a first class run
She had not yet resorted
To using her curves or licking stamps,
Although her position let her make special deliveries
To better paying patrons.
Dolores took the package
Right to the door
Where she would knock
Announcing that she had that special delivery,
The recipient always saying, “Just a minute,”
Which was the code that let Dolores know
This was the junkie looking for a hook up.
She took the money, left the heroin, and
Made the next delivery.
None of the natural roadblocks or even daylight, would interrupt
Her special deliveries,
But it was the police who ended her career.
Over the next few days I’ll be posting photos of an abandoned farm house. My guess is that the wrecking ball will be coming its way soon, although the demolition has been held off for about ten years. The land around the house still holds a rural energy, but strip malls and box stores are coming. Eh…
It is 7:59 on June 5, 2016 and I am writing this as a tribute to my old basketball coach, Jerry Farrior. Why 7:59? That is because for three seasons, Saturday morning practices started at 7:59am. One more minute, 8:00, and sprints or some other unsavory ridicule would be gifted to anyone who wanted to get there late. Here’s how it went:
7:30: We started arriving and shooting jumpers. If the balls weren’t out, Tim Marsh would start singing John Cougar songs.
7:59: “Let’s go. Lay ups.” That would be Coach Farrior. He would be rocking a Fayetteville Polo, tennis shorts of early 80s appropriate length, low cut Pro Keds with mid-calf socks. We quickly got in lines and started with lay ups and jump shots.
8:09: Monkey Drills: These were the worst form conditioning next to whatever CrossFit would throw my way years later as an adult. I hated the drill. Essentially, we made a figure-8 around the gym using the baselines and sidelines as our Spirograph while tapping the floor with each shuffle. Yo, Johnny Wallace, did you have to go so fast?
8:19: Passing Drills: In this one we shuffled from one end of the gym to the other while completing whatever pass with either a basketball or a weighted basketball. If the pass was not complete, the duo had to complete another trip. Two hands, Russell…
8:29: Shuffle Drills: Take a defensive stance and shuffle as quickly as possible across the lane on the basketball court. 10x, 9x, 8x…
8:39: 1v1 Full Court: Two guys go out and play one on one. Loser stays. Hey Me, why did you go so early? It makes for a long morning when you lose the first game played. Heard, we survived, brother!
8:59: Free Throw Practice: Groove them now or pay later.
9:09: Game Practice
9:39: Sprints/Suicides: Everyone had to run whatever number of sprints in the time that coach called out. Sometimes I think his clock was wrong and he just made us run to run. The worst episode of this conditioning actually happened on a Thursday night, Thanksgiving 1982 or 1983… Come on, Ozzy!!! Everyone, quit cheating!!! I nearly lost my dinner on that one.
9:45: 2 or 20: Take two free throws. Make them both and practice is over. Make 1, take 10 laps. Miss 2, take 20 laps.
10:00: Practice is done. Hardees, home, shower, nap…
Sometimes the Saturdays got to be hard. As a sophomore, I didn’t get to play much. As a junior, I played a lot. As a senior, my playing time decreased as the season went on. To be fair, I was an average player. I had a decent jump shot and played good defense. I had no handle or hops and I made bad decisions with the ball from time to time. I wasn’t scared on the court, though. Coach Farrior got me to be tough with loose ball and boxing out drills. Even though I was not gifted with the backside spread of coach, I understood how to use my butt and elbows to hold my position. None of the teams we faced had players that scared me. I probably should have been scared of the kid from Denbigh who got taken from a college class we were in by the Newport News police. I’ll also admit I tried to stay away from the Hampton coach. I’m not sure what he said to me on the sidelines once, but I know it was the one time in my life I felt compelled to keep my mouth shut. Anyway, I think that toughness came from my coach and in part, his unique start time for practice.
The boat ride back to Tangier Island was a race against time. The Chupacabra seemed to be busy with sheep instead of goats and the way the guys figured they had about two weeks before the goat sucker would be done with Cleveland and Philly. That did not leave Rory and Allen much time to figure out a way to keep the bay from claiming the island. Fortunately, Allen had been schooled in the art of pouring concrete and Rory was willing to do whatever to save this important piece of land.
“If that cemetery goes under and those souls are washed up, there is going to be a terrible cost,” said Rory.
“You think?” asked Allen.
Poodle was steering the boat and in total fear of what was happening. He could hear the dark voices more clearly. “They are restless,” he said, “We aren’t going to make it.”
“Take another drink of that Sea Grass and get us there?” yelled Allen.
Poodle did and he drifted into the haze of the life changing drink. The boat’s engine began to roar with a renewed strength. Within an hour they made it to the island.
Rory jumped into the water first, “There’s no time to waste. I’ll get the goats taken care of. You guys get everything set up here and we will begin building a sea wall.”
“I just hope there is time to get the pumps running,” said Allen.
“I’ll get the boat out of the way in case we need to make a beer run or something.”
“Thanks, Poodle,” said Allen.
The three got to work. When the goats were safely on dry land, Rory returned and helped Allen construct concrete molds like they had seen on Alone In the Wilderness. Their plan was to fill the molds with concrete and drop the slabs into the water. They would work in small sections and pump the water out of each section as they went along. They started near the cemetery since it was the most important part of the island to save. The whole time they knew the Chupacabra was infusing every bit of anger into the souls of people that he could. He had speech writers stealing from other speech writers. He led the FBI to erroneous conclusions about potential world leaders. He had people so angry that they were willing to shoot, shout, or smear in an effort to get ahead. The idea that people had the potential to develop maturity, forgiveness, or resilience to face uncomfortable situations was being usurped by the Chupacabra’s reliance on people’s willingness to micromanage the drama in every situation instead of seeing the big picture. Evil, in the forms of politics, race, and economic status, were blanketing goodness and bringing the end of everything more quickly than even the Doomsday experts could predict.
“I bet the world is over by November,” said Allen.
“At least I wouldn’t have to vote, then,” said Rory.
On the eighth day, a large fog bank moved into the bay. Poodle was totally freaked out because he remembered seeing The Fog at Martin Cinema. “Scared the hell out of me,” he thought. Rory and Allen kept working, but they were beginning to see the futility of their efforts. They had been able to build a small wall around the cemetery, but the rest of the island could never be saved without a massive effort. The fog was making the work more difficult.
“We’ll never make it,” said Allen.
“Did the Bandit and Snowman make it? Was it over when the German’s bombed pearl harbor?” said Rory.
“I know, but the point is that we must keep going. The fog will break and we will keep trying. Allen, there is a lot riding on this island.”
And the fog did break. It pulled away to an incredible sight. There were hundreds of boats circling the island. Poodle fainted at the sight of colonial ships, canoes, and paddle boats from the basin in the nation’s capital. One small boat taxied up to the where Rory and Allen were working. The captain leaned over the railing and said, “Springsteen or Matthews?”
“Champ?” asked Rory.
“Yep, what’s your working music?”
“Before I answer, how do I know you are not some kind of evil imposter?” asked Rory.
“Because you sat in my house and watched rodeo on ESPN.”
“Good enough for me. You are who I think you are, but I’m not sure how you got here.”
“I’m here because there is plenty of good in the world and some of us who have moved on have decided to come back and help restore what makes people great.”
“And what is that?” asked Allen.
“The ability to think,” said Champ.
“Springsteen, then.” said Rory.
With that, the Ghost of Tom Joad blasted through unseen speakers. Champ yelled, “More south side.” The music got louder on the other side of the island. “I hope you guys are ready, this is going to be something else.” Champ had been a major league engineer. He had arranged the boats in a way that made a tight ring around the island. “Fill in the gaps with your concrete,” he said to Allen.
Rory and Allen went into automation mode. The mixed, poured, and set concrete between each boat. The people, more correctly the good spirits that had been on the boats, were now in the water scooping with whatever containers they had. They used buckets, spoons, and their hands to toss water over the boats. The guys never looked up and kept working until they could go no more. They crawled back into Poodle’s boat, The Contributor, and passed out.
The sun came up and horse flies used their bite to wake the trio. Rory could not believe what he saw. The boats were gone and concrete circled the island. They had temporarily saved Tangier Island, but were no closer to the origin of the Chupacabra.
“We need more help,” said Rory.
Husband: The tables are so close together.
Wife: They are just the same as yesterday.
Husband: I’m not sure, but I’ll take your word for it.
Husband: This coffee is hot.
Wife: Same as yesterday.
Husband: Do you have my sunglasses?
Wife: No. I think you left them at the barber shop.
Husband: Oh, no, I don’t want to drive over there again.
Wife: Why don’t you call them and see if the glasses were turned in?
Husband: I don’t have my phone.
Wife: Here, use mine. It’s ringing.
Husband: Hello, can you hear me? Hello, Hello, Hello…
Wife: Let me have that. Hello, my husband got his hair cut there yesterday. I’m wondering if he left his sunglasses there.
Wife: They are checking. Yes, oh, okay, thank you for checking.
Husband: These tables are so close together.
Wife: Same as yesterday. Let’s go find your sunglasses.
Dancehall, happy calypso
Feeling good music
Horns blaring, smiles stretching wide
Carefree, awash in tempo
Loose gravel sliding
Momentary loss of control
Photo Credit: unsplash.com via Pexels