It is 3:00 a.m. here in Stonebroke Acres. I sit at a small table, my trusty Smith-Corona paused on ready, a steaming cup of java waits for my first sip as my weekly stint at observing the world around me takes shape once more.
It is a good time, for quiet has descended. The night feeding animals have stopped their everlasting search for food, and the night birds have warbled their last refrain and my light is the only one in the neighborhood.
I have the same old shaggy feeling on awakening, a kind of inner warning says that if I don’t sit quietly for a few minutes then I’ll fall down. There’s a flicker of indecision as there seems to be nothing so important as to rouse me at this hour, yet for some reason, a compulsion pries me from the comfort of my crib and a second cup of hot coffee prepares me for the day ahead.
The highway that fronts Sequoyah High School is finally nearing completion. While you are motoring along, especially on highway 82 or scenic highway 10, death is just a few feet to your left.
The thought has occurred to me many times while driving out to the lake or up to Kanesland. I have often been conscious of what could transpire if the approaching car should swerve over the center line just a little bit. It is not a pleasant thought I assure you, but one that creeps into the thinking of us that traverse the highways frequently.
Motoring can of course be pleasant and reasonably safe, but the driver of an automobile should at all times have in mind the tremendous responsibility of his own safety and the safety of others. Drive defensively. It isn’t a pleasant thought but one well worth keeping in mind—-while you’re motoring along, death is just a few feet away.
My dog Gus was not a hunting dog, nor had he won any ribbons for show jumping or any of that other such nonsense that we hear so much about on TV.
Gus was a great brush hog of a dog, he was part Blue Heeler and the other part alligator. He lived in the back of my pickup for about 14 years, and woe be on the person who put his hands into the back of my truck while Gus was keeping watch.
Though he wasn’t a hunter, he was a pretty good fishing partner. He would lie there in the sun on some flat rocks while I played whatever game it was that I would play with the fish there in Lake McClelland. Every now and then he would raise his shaggy head, and the stump that served as his tail would thump the ground a couple of times, then he would return to his siesta.
One day I missed him while at the lake. I whistled and called for him several minutes and then got a good bite and forgot all about him. After a while, Gus sashayed on down to the edge of the lake, with that particular dog grin on his face. In Gus’ mouth was about a two-pound channel cat, alive and all wriggly. You didn’t want to fish much with Gus, he’d show you up.
I cried the day Gus died, my wife cried too.
Gus was a gentleman’s dog.
Why is it that the line you are in at the supermarket or bank is always the slowest? The thing that makes it all the more trying is that no matter which line you choose, it is always the slowest one.
You enter the main banking room in any major banking institution in town. hopeful that you can walk right up to a teller and transact your business, receive your small pittance and be back on the street momentarily.
So, you eyeball the lines that you may join. Off to your left is a very long line, moving at a snail’s pace, while off to the right there are two or three people with a sharp, efficient teller dealing money like playing cards and all but pushing people out the door.
“Aha,” you say. “I’ll hook up with this short line and be out of here in a jiffy. I wish I’d left my motor running and the AC on.”
But in reality, you are four spaces from the teller. Naturally, that leaves three people in front of you. You wave to an old friend who is 9th in line on the left.
It’s almost your turn. The person in front pulls out a paper sack. The teller picks up the phone and hold a lengthy conversation with someone in the back. The conversation is over, the person in front of you produces more documents for the teller. The teller then leaves to confer with the powers that be in the banking room
“Kinda stuck in line there, ain’t cha?” It’s your old friend who used to be ninth in the other line.
You become desperate. You hop into another line, a faster line. It then slows down. Now the other line moves faster. You wished you’d stayed there but you’re too embarrassed to return.
Finally rescued, spying an empty teller’s cage, you transact your business. You look at your watch. A minute has passed.
No matter what you may have heard in the past, there is no such thing as a friendly game of cards. Truer words were never spoken than, “Where gambling begins, friendship ends.”
People with first hand knowledge of such things know that the kindly, considerate man becomes an insensitive machine when you place those pasteboards in his hands. His face tells you nothing, and his eyes become as hard as stone. His entire demeanor changes and you no longer know him.
Devotees of a game known as penny-ante poker have known people who were fast and true friends to leave a card table never to speak to each other again after a night of friendly poker playing. They say that the size of the wager doesn’t mean anything, but the competitive urge to win over your fellow-man is there whether you are playing dime limit or table stakes.
So the more you look into a friendly game of cards, the more convinced you become that there is no such animal and anyone that thinks he is getting into a friendly game should have his head examined. There’s an old saying, “Winners talk and losers yell, deal the *&@# cards.”
Written by Bob Briggs on July 27, 1996