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Some Unforgettable People

 
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Jul, 2006 07:14 pm
I forgot about Carol's younger son. He graduated from high school and moved back to Hawii. Not sure if he will make it here in time for the funeral.
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realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Jul, 2006 08:39 pm
johnboy nods towards edgar, saying nothing.
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sublime1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Jul, 2006 08:43 pm
realjohnboy wrote:
johnboy nods towards edgar, saying nothing.


As is the only thing you can do in a thread like this. Just sit back and admire it.

Thanks again Edgar
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Jul, 2006 08:44 pm
I understand. Thanks, guys.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Jul, 2006 07:09 pm
I never understand suicide - not really. It always seems such a devastating loss to those left behind, but a relief to those who leave.
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edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Aug, 2006 08:23 pm
Our sprawling complex ends with a retainage pond along the back street, the whole of the property fenced by a twenty three year old work of cedar pickets and non pressure treated posts that is a creative endeavor just to keep standing. Across the fence from the pond is a house, of the type so popular in the area's newer upscale neighborhoods- -the kind so oversized that a family of less than five might get lost in it. A handsome structure, it changes owners as often as the apartments switches tenants.

A few years back, I got in the habit of getting haircuts at a barbershop that stood on the ground employed by a small used car lot. The lady barber pounced on me when I informed her of my employment at the apartments. "I live in the house at the northeast corner," she said. "Those sprinklers along the fence flood my property. I want you to do something about them."

Sprinklers are not hard to adjust and realign. I did anything reasonable she asked of me.

One morning, the television news told of a local getting arrested in a plot to hire out his wife's murder. He made a deal with an undercover man, who arranged for the woman to fake her own death, to be photographed as proof the task was carried out. Turns out it was the couple occupying the home across the fence. The car lot and barbershop closed, of course, and I never saw the barber again.

The next family to live there featured an overbearing guy who made it a pet peave to demand we put up a new fence. His son became the real asshole, however. It began with basketball games up against the decaying old boards, and pickets getting knocked loose almost daily. Once, the ball came over the fence and the young man drove around to retrieve it, his radio announcing to the world that he was headed in.

My manager demanded he turn off his music. He swore at her. Once he got home, he began kicking out fence parts. From then on, it was a part of my week, to photograph the damage and repair it. One Saturday, he and his friends had a beer party, during which they smashed Bud Light bottles on our sidewalk. Someone even shattered a meter globe by hurling one at it. A cop made him pick up the pieces. Two days later, the severity of the attacks increased, but became sneaky. It was as though he roved the property late at night, selectively knocking apart fence and shattering Bud Light bottles. I learned later that when he and his friends lost a ball over the fence, one of the residents kept beating them to it. By the time he drove around, the people already had stolen them.

They soon moved away.

The latest residents have a dog that tears out boards to escape his yard. We haven't had any run ins as yet.

I learned that part of the reason the house can't stay occupied is that it sits on a pool of oil, the result of an oil company's activities in the years before the land was sold to residential. I will continue watching it, as it is like a serial I want to find a conclusion to.
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Endymion
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2006 04:13 am
Please write more, Edgar
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2006 04:53 pm
I plan to keep the thread going, no matter how much it upsets BBB and jlnobody.
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Tai Chi
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2006 05:58 pm
bookmark
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realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2006 06:22 pm
um. Why was the guy drinking Bud Lights do you suppose, Edgar? That doesn't seem very macho.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2006 06:25 pm
There's no accounting for taste. Why he and friends eschewed Lone Star for Bud Light is a mystery.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2006 07:45 pm
This is great stuff Edgar. Its a style all its own . I just ran into it tonight andI had to read the whole damn thing and with my ADD thats saying something. Did you ever write fearture articles for publication. Your word choices are just right and you move around from topic to topic with a great easy glide that many writers never learn to pull off.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Aug, 2006 07:59 pm
Truth is, farmerman, I never hit the right combination with the right people.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2006 07:52 pm
We are diminished. Our assistant manager left us last night. She was 27, my younger daughter's age. She had been so bright, energetic, faithful, and a pure joy to be around. Almost like losing a child of my own. We don't know the cause just yet. She died in her sleep last night. The manager had told me early on, she had "female problems." After that, several months ago, she spent a week in the hospital, and had a miscarriage during the time. Yesterday, she told me she thought maybe she had eaten something bad at a local chain restaurant. She went home, but came back at four to do bills. Her face was an unnatural color. We urged her to take care of herself. I wish I had put her in my truck and driven her to the emergency room, but I am not beating myself. None of us knew the severity of it.

There will be an autopsy, I am sure.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Sep, 2006 10:01 am
I guessed Darby weighed nearly five hundred pounds. He was handsome in the face, he spoke well. Darby mostly sat in the pick up truck and sent his boy, Jason, to run the crew each time I hired them. They would tear off the shingles and clean the roof, and my men and I would re-roof it. After two years and a few dozen jobs like this, we had gotten close. I knew of his wife's medical problems. I had been horrified at his tale of how the FBI crashed through the door and put guns in their faces, merely because somebody had told them he looked like a fugitive featured at the Post Office. I learned that Darby came from Arkansas, and that, despite his cool manner and well modulated voice, he practiced a rock bottom fundamentalism. I valued his friendship enough to overlook it when he derided my favorite brand of music, sneering the words, "peace and love." Jason worried me on the job, slugging whiskey from a silver flask, speaking of killing abortionists at times.

I thought I knew most of Darby's business, but he surprised me one day. He had not previously spoken of his mother.

"My mama lives in the back yard. I built her a cabin there, because her Alzheimer's has gotten so bad, she can no longer live with the family. I need you to do some work for her."

Never one to turn down any job, I packed up my tools that following week and met Darby at his front door. He ushered me into the kitchen, where he held me up long enough to detail the job and explain about his mama.

"It's strange to listen to her talk about her son, and she don't even know it's me she talks about. … She took to walking across the street, repeatedly, without looking, going to the house over there and thinking it's hers. … I fenced the back yard and put her there, so I could take care of her. I can't afford to put her in a private facility. … This door is the only way to get to the back yard."

He opened it up and led me to a plain little shack, but one with all the amenities, including air conditioning. He introduced me to Urlene and left so I could get to work.

Urlene followed me to the bathroom, where the commode water tank was choked up with weeds. "Those kids keep doing that," she said, exasperated.

She went into the yard, leaving me to deal with it. I looked behind her as the door closed and saw with a shock that "those kids" had been sitting in high chairs at the kitchen table the whole time. They were dolls, a normal girl one and another that had been made identical, but now, with the hair chopped off, had been converted to a boy.

I got the toilet restored to working order, and moved to the door to repair a broken latch. It was a simple matter to replace it and reset the striker plate. By the time I relocated at the kitchen faucet, Urlene returned.

"I've been working," she said, proudly holding up a perfectly excavated and cleaned specimen of a weed. It was about eighteen inches tall, from the tip of the root to the highest leaf, perfect in every detail. I marveled that not a bit of root had been damaged, no leaf crushed or left dangling, no speck of soil clung to it. She placed the unfortunate plant on a book shelf in the living room, then came back to watch me and make conversation. Walking past the dolls, she spoke to the boy.

"Did you eat your corn?"

Well, she didn't pursue the conversation much and pretty soon it was time to go.

* * *

We had hurricane Alicia that year, and the next months were busy. Darby's wife had to have some surgery, but everything went rather smoothly. Once, I revisited Urlene to do a minor repair. She had put something in her mouth the day previous, and her lips were puffed up like a blowfish.

"I had to put her in a state run facility," Darby confided after that. "She's turned violent. When we give her a bath, she says, 'Those are my clothes,' and fights us for them. I didn't want to do it, but I can't pay for something better for her."

I didn't have any more roof tear-offs for several weeks. When I met Darby next, he showed me photos of Urlene in the "home." Her face, near one eye, was badly bruised. There was a cast on her arm. "I'm trying to get her out," he said. "They told me I can't do it."

The next time we spoke, Urlene was dead.

* * *

Darby managed to get on some kind of a program that paid for a home and pretty much relieved him of needing to work. I didn't understand the nature of it and didn't ask. He moved to the far side of Houston, so I never saw him again.

For a time, Jason did his father's work, but he showed so much instability, I feared to rely on him. Besides, the nature of my work evolved away from the need of his services, and I soon had to cut him loose anyway.


The episode ended in 1984. I occasionally wonder about Darby. I wish I had gotten his address. Oh, well. Maybe it's best I don't know.
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Sep, 2006 10:25 am
Edgar
Edgar, your talent never ceases to amaze me. It's why we admire and have affection for you.

BBB
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Sep, 2006 12:00 pm
BBB
I've seen evidence of your great talent also.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Sep, 2006 08:18 pm
That piece could have been refined a bit before posting, but oh well.
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Endymion
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Sep, 2006 04:05 am
I read it through twice - and like you, Edgar - I don't read to the end if something doesn't grab me.

Your writing style is very compelling and I look forward to more of it
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Sep, 2006 08:48 pm
I have to be careful who I write about and what I say. Never know when someone I know will discover this site.
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