Don't believe her

Ok, here's how the totally unbelievable, but possibly true story of Bill's vacation debacle really wrapped up.

After eluding police in four states, Boudreaux and his man-boy-love-slave-toy were finally cornered in Gaffney, South Carolina. After pulling over the red primer 77 Torino for a quick bite to eat, (and some roadside relaxation), the car was spotted by alert Sheriff's Deputy and erstwhile harmonica virtuoso Ralph-Bob Smith just outside the Fatz restaurant.

Upon entering the establishment, with his gun drawn because of the possibility of armed and dangerous fugitives being present, quite the commotion broke out when Boudreaux, recognizing that johnny law was closing in, grabbed his lil' "meat-puppet" and made a break for freedom through the kitchen area.

Emerging from the back of the restaurant, Boudreaux, desperate for a place to hide from the probing eyes of justice, somehow managed to scale the giant peach, with his object-du-amor in tow, not unlike Fay Wray. I'll let the published accounts of the local bird cage liner complete the tale - they got pretty close to what actually happened on that sultry afternoon

Gaffney Daily Bee-Tattler - Special Edition

More and stranger excitement has not been witnessed in Gaffney since Mr. Bladesdale was caught by his wife and her sewing circle group 'tending the chickens' some months ago.

Tower of Death?

The Giant Peach

Two dangerous fugitives from Louisiana Justice were 'peached' late yesterday afternoon, when Sheriff's Deputy R.B. Smith spotted their getaway car parked outside Fat Jack's restaurant near Exit 92 on I-85. Judging that the situation was too fluid to wait for the back up officer, Deputy Smith entered the establishment, only to see the two fugitives bolt for the back door. Deputy Smith's fears of a high speed chase on I-85 in a cloud of blue oil smoke were not realized, when to his amazement, the criminals scaled the big peach water tower seeking to elude detection. "I might have lost 'em, but that little feller was just a screamin and cryin for his momma like a five year old by the candy rack at the check-out at the Winn Dixie. And ya'll know how loud that can get."

The chase brought a tragic end, however, to the criminal career of one L'Enfant Boudreaux, of Dauphin Parrish, Louisiana. After consulting with Louisiana officials of some note, Deputy Smith attempted to coax the habitual offender down by claiming that there was an all you could eat crawdad boil starting at the restaurant. Suddenly, Deputy Smith recounted, the whiny little guy, started screaming "NO! I won't 'suck the head' one more time you bastard!', and began running around the top of the peach. As most residents are aware, the top of the peach is somewhat slippery anyway, and there had been a recent spot of precipitation. This led to a recipe for disaster not quite as tragic as when that Mexican painter fellow slipped on the peach two years ago. Only because, as he plummeted to his death, L'Enfant Boudreaux did not deprive this community of a fine young man that offered streak free house painting at reasonable rates.

The second man, identified as Paul Cimino, who was being held on charges of abusing small animals in New Orleans when he apparently conspired with Boudreaux to make a break, choosing a life on the run over a $35 fine and court costs. Relatives of Mr. Cimino insist that while he may not be totally innocent of the indecency with animals charge, and that going to extreme lengths to avoid paying for things due to an innate cheapness to make Scrooge blush is fairly typical, that he was an unwilling captive during the entire sordid affair. Mr. Cimino claimed he was willing to come down, but eventually had to be rescued by the volunteer fire department, Hook and Ladder Company number 3, from over by Three Legged Salamander Creek Lane.

Yeah, hung out by the pool all week, my ass.

The Fire Tower

Sort of like Michele, I grew up living in pretty much the same place. For her, it was the same neighborhood on Long Island. For me, it was in a couple of houses that were only about three blocks apart from each other.

Something more defining than that was that from practically everywhere I was on a daily basis until I left to join the service, I could look up and point out one single feature. An old fire observation tower, perched at a high point on a ridgeline overlooking the eastern end of the city of Birmingham. I can never recall, nor can anyone I've ever known recall a time when the tower was manned on any sort of regular basis. It just sat there, nothing special, similar to dozens of others built at about the same time using the same specs all over the country.

But it was THE fire tower. It was a subject of expeditions for us as kids. It was a fixture to prove one's bravado (hey, we got over the fence and climbed the fire tower). Sometimes I wonder that any of us that tried that stunt are still alive, considering that one summer - the summer I actually worked up the nerve to climb the structure, with it's clearly rotting wood stair treads - from one trip to the next the flooring up in the observation box disappeared between 'completely' - ending up as rotted chunks of wood spread around the base of the tower. Pretty sure no one was in it when it happened; if someone had, it would have been the kid urban legend story of, well forever - "yeah, and this kid Paul was IN it when it let go! He bounced all the way down!"

But the sheer unrecognized (to most outsiders) iconographic status of this metal framed structure is it's most enduring value. The sight of it has always conjured one thought in my mind, when seeing it towards the end of a trip - "Home". I've even had the good fortune of spotting it while riding in an aircraft passing the Birmingham area.

This time, I arrived in the city in the wee early hours of the morning. Coming over the hill into the suburb of Irondale, a jasminlive place where the tower is first visible on that route, I was able to make out not much more than the red warning lights that let airplanes know it's there. But that was enough.

I took a 3am tour of the city - probably as good a time as any, and better than most; for the better part of the time mine was the only car on a given street. After a half hour or so of crisscrossing the downtown area, I headed to the northeast. Back towards the tower.

The area around the tower was made into a nature preserve/hiking trail area many years ago - in the infancy of the project, I actually served as the very first 'caretaker' of the Nature Center just down from the tower. At that point, it was little more than a converted dilapidated old house that had been donated for that use, and my friends and I used it as a party headquarters during the times the Center wasn't open trying to attract hikers and nature enthusiasts.

And that is where I headed. To the Nature Center. It's changed considerably since then, with purpose built buildings and exhibits, a rather large parking lot where there used to be a large vegetable garden ringed with perennial kudzu, and the old dilapidated house was torn down long ago and replaced with a pavilion with picnic tables and storyboards mapping the various trails that have been established on the mountain.

There was now a gate - And a sign. Hours: 9am to 5pm. Gates close promptly at 5!

Unfortunate that I was outside the window of banker's hours. Unfortunate, that is, for whoever came up with those rules, that is, if it was expected that I would abide by them. While I can completely understand that some sort of structure needs to be in place for something that is to be used as a public livejasmin facility, and I appreciate that steps have been taken to preserve this place from those that see it merely as a passing attraction - I'm not one of those people. Not that I'm better, or worse, just that the area now used as the Nature preserve is an integral part of my life. It has always been there. It was my playground in childhood. Most of the things that I did as a kid are now strictly prohibited - no campfires, no firearms, no camping, etc, etc. Which is fine by me, because if more than a handful of kids doing those sorts of things on the mountain were the norm, it would trash the place in nothing flat.

I chose to ignore the sign, with a small grin. I parked the car down the street from the service entrance, and began the walk to the tower. 3:30 or so in the morning may seem like an odd time for a walk in the woods, but at the time, it was the thing to do. Better that than go over to my brother's house at a horrific hour and wake him in the middle of the night, as he did have to work the next day. No, it was the perfect time to go to the fire tower.

I'd camped on the mountain before - but actually not more than a handful of times. And those adventures were usually in the company of a group of no less than five, with all the flashlights and batteries we could carry, and a roaring campfire wherever we chose to set down and battle the mosquitoes. No one usually slept on those expeditions, everyone constantly keeping vigil for the terrible creatures we were sure lurked in the dark woods, just waiting to make a tasty snack of foolish children presenting themselves in buffet fashion.

I walked, with those memories, around the barricade gate, and up the service road to the fire tower. As an adult, I fully realize that there are no large predators on the mountain - no bears, no cougars, no purple shaggy things that live in the abandoned iron ore mines on the far side of the ridge. I was also aware that there was probably no good reason for anyone else to be walking about on the mountain at night. Yet still, on the darkened path, with the small trees and undergrowth straining to fill in the empty space above the narrow paving, I found myself stopping on more than one occasion, controlling my breathing, and listening as intently as possible to hear any sign of something, or someone close by. The woods were dark, but it wasn't pitch black, and it was not dark in the sense of inducing a foreboding of evil. In fact, as I stopped, and listened, smelled, and extended out with all my senses to gather as much as I could, it came to me that what I was sensing touched on deep memories, memories usually unrealized because of the clutter of recollections of sight. It was familiar, soothing, and very, very peaceful.

Somewhere along the way, I settled on the idea of sitting up by the tower to catch the sunrise. This was partly due to my exceptional math skills, and forgetting that I was now in the Central Time zone, not Eastern, and would have basically an extra hour to sit there than what I thought. I stood about for a bit, wondering why the sky wasn't beginning to lighten. Eventually I sat down. Finally, I reclined, laying down and looking up through the trees at the light cloud cover and the way the moon played through it. There were many fewer bugs and things than I remember, but that may simply have been because I was tired from the long trip, or had become used to the man-eating swarms of Tidewater Virginia. Probably the former, as the ones I did notice were not bothersome in the least. The ground was cool, and there was a slight breeze. It was extremely peaceful. I could hear, better than any high end audio equipment could ever reproduce, the sounds of the city, from the valley on the one side, and the train switching yard, in the valley on the other. Mixed with the chaturbate sounds of the crickets and occasional night singing bird, the experience was incredibly relaxing. Eventually, I nodded off into a half-waking/half-dreaming state, only startled a few times by sudden noises such as branches falling; not immediately recognized but quickly identified and welcomed as a part of what is.

All things must come to an end, I guess, and this idyllic interlude was interrupted quite completely by what I think was a grand daddy long legs scampering up my arm as I lay there. Yep! hooo-kay. I'm up. By then, it was close to 5:30, and the sky had lightened enough to try and take a few photos, but it wasn't quite as light as the camera needed. Also, nature was literally beginning to call, and the prospect of leaving a present then mistaking poison oak or ivy for Charmin was a particularly unappealing thought. Since the tower has been pressed into modern day service as a support structure for a telephone cell, I had an excellent signal as I called my brother to make sure he was up and about.

I walked back down the service road, wondering if I would encounter any of the current Nature Center employees, who would doubtlessly have no idea who I was, and what kind of episode it might cause. Sure enough, as I stepped through the inner gate to walk past the center, someone was there just opening it up, getting it ready for the day's activities. My plan was to simply walk right by, like I completely belonged there, and not stop unless challenged. It never came to that, as even though I walked within a few yards of the man, and at one point I thought he looked over in my direction, he made absolutely no indication whatsoever he was aware of my presence. I imagine it happened because he was just there, at his j o b, not in the midst of something that was a part of him, about which he was constantly aware, immediately noting anything out of the ordinary.

His loss.

I'm Back...

And I can't say I'm very happy about it. Got into work at about seven and I had 939 e-mails. 939!!! 900 of which were spam. But I can't really complain. Had a great week off doing...nothing. Oh, we went crabbing and to the beach one day. We got there early. Hardly anyone was there. A half an hour later, what seemed like a Girl Scout troop trudged through the sand and parked themselves approximately eight inches from Me and Alice's blanket and all started talking and screaming at the same time. Nary a word from the parents of the troop. So we left for the solitude of our backyard pool where we spent the rest of the week.

But I wasn't supposed to complain was I. Sorry. Anyway, me and Sweet Alice now look like mulattoes. After a week's worth of sun, we decided we could stand one more day of the blazing orb. Yesterday, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the temperature was about 90 with a heat index of 105. Probably wasn't a great idea to baste in the pool another day but we did. And that's exactly what it felt like -- basting. You stand in the pool and when you start feeling your shoulders burst into flames, you scoop up some water and put yourself out. We were a little crispy last night.

While I'm complaining, we took Oscar the Meat Cat to the vet last Saturday. We needed to take three of the cats for their shots but decided on only one at a time because it's easier. We were going to take Modean but we couldn't find him so we just grabbed Oscar. Big mistake. Since we moved, we're going to a new vet. The new vet didn't know about the whole Oscar Incident and took one look at the tiny hole under his arm and said he needed AN OPERATION. $400 dollars later, Oscar had more stitches under his arm complete with drainage tubes and one of those E-collars so he can't lick himself. He looks ridiculous and he knows it. You can see the humiliation in his eyes. And I'm sure the other cats are making fun of him. Plus we have to give him these horse pills that he somehow manages to spit back out every time we cram one into his maw. It is almost impossible to get him to take one. And he's not allowed to go out so he just sits by the door and whines. Someone remind me again why I have animals.

So that's the story. I'll have more details as I remember them since I drank enough vodka last week to keep a small Russian city nicely buzzed.