Two Told Stories
Barry & the High Life
So it’s the last day of a long semester and Sarah and I are complaining a lot and end up going to lunch at some seafood dive and the special is a piece of white fish and six shrimp for seven bucks and when I order a beer she says we don’t have beer and I say well that’s the only reason I’m here otherwise I
just would’ve went to a sub shop and she says sorry so I ask does anyplace around here have beer and she says well Johnny just goes up to Save-A-Lot and buys a four pack if you just put it in a brown bag and bring it back we can pour it in a to-go cup for you so I look at Sarah and she says do it! So I run out the
door to the Save-A-Lot. It is a ghetto store with no butcher or fish guy and in the cooler all they have is steel reserve, natty ice, and high life so I get the high life and head back, slide into the booth and hand the paper bag to the waitress and she says Johnny does this all the time for Barry. Barry came up with it.
Like ten minutes later this guy with muscular dystrophy, in his motorized wheelchair, head pinned to his shoulder, rolls in and the waitress yells, speak of the devil, its Barry! So I’m watching Barry from across the room thinking, this guy is the man, I’ve got this beer right now because he invented this move
and I say to the waitress, can I buy Barry a drink (meaning give him a beer) and she says no Johnny takes care of him. But I get the feeling she means he eats free, not that there’s a beer for him. When she comes back she says I’ll get the other two beers and I say no they’re for Barry and she says how sweet.
On the way out I see Barry has a high life so I walk over and say hey Barry, thanks for teaching me and he says teaching you what and I say this trick, holding up my cup, I wouldn’t have never figured it out on my own and he says oh, I do it all the time. Do you ride over in your chair I ask and he says yeah, that he
lives close, over on round oak and I say cool though I don’t know what street that is. Careful man, those sidewalks are rough out there, I do alright he says and I say yea, but that traffic is crazy and I saw a kid get hit by a car just two days ago and he says no, don’t worry. God has been good to me so far.
Uncle Tully and the Dangers of Naming Your Own Price
So I’ve got this hotel thing going some cut rate lowball routine and I’m on a real hot streak when I overreach and end up double booked – one night, one town, two hotels – and I’m pretty sure no one would need both unless it’s to pull off some kind of elaborate heist which I wasn’t planning (yet) but
this bullshit company pulls the usual routine, the corporate non-think stuff, like my money has been locked in some impermeable vault even though the charge hasn’t even cleared and then it hits me I’m not talking to a person, just a post-civilized machine, from savage to civilization to this, who is
staring at a screen that says ‘refund: no’ and no matter how good my argument or how polished my wicked smaat rhetoric, I can’t beat the machine. So I start reading a blog of some scorned former robot and he says just say you had a miscarriage or that someone died and give them the name and number of
the funeral home and the screen says you’re clear. SO I check the papers and Dennis Tull, a seventy four year old former sailor from Green Cove Springs just died and I call and tell them and they call the home but don’t give a fuck for who Tull was or what he did and I feel offended so I tell them Uncle Tully
is what I called him, he was a good man, silence from the robot, stubborn at times, always carried pistachios in his pocket, he’d feed them to the passing geese, the pheasants in winter, he’d walk the cemetery with a saunter, my aunt said he looked a bit of a dandy when she first saw it, but Tully
was all man. The screen has no response ready for that so the robot says OK you’re all set, we’ll refund the money and I want to celebrate but I feel bad so I call the funeral home and ask if I can send old Uncle Tully some flowers and they say no, but you can make a donation to the American Cancer society
So I call them and cut a check for eighty one dollars and sixty five cents, the full refund of the room charge and they ask me if I want to send a note to the funeral parlor and I say yah, type this: “Maybe I didn’t know Tully as well as I should have, but he spared me some grace when I needed it.”
About the author:
Ed McCourt is an Asst. Prof. of English at Jacksonville University and writes CNF, poetry, and at points where the two meet. He is originally from Boston, and though that is where he makes the most sense, Florida provides him with enough nonsensical material to make living there worth it.