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The Places You Should Go!   Excerpt from The Adventures of The Posse of Little Horses
Posse Excerpt Posse Excerpt Front Cover
Back Cover
Why Read this Novel
Title Page
Unsolicited Praise for Oxbow Lake’s
Dare we call it praise? Unlike praise you’ve ever read.
A Copyright Notice Like No Other
Can you believe that this is a legal copyright notice?
Dedication
Few novelists have been so indebted!
SPANKS AND THANKS
Does Oxbow Lake the 2nd have revenge on his mind?
A Little Advice from Mark Twain
A Taste of The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses
Thursday, June 26
Renting a bower of love for fun and games...
Friday, June 27
A theatrical fertility rite gone real…
Saturday, June 28
A rose is not always rosey…
About the Author and His Novel
And this author remains free and wandering about in our midst?




Why Read this Novel

Why would a Mexican drug cartel blackmail Jamie Steinkraus’s father-in-law, Dr. Jeremiah Wright?

Could it be to get possession of the mountain chalet Jamie gave to his young bride, Leslie Fazzano-Wright? Can detective Big Louie Fazzano solve the mystery? Will Jamie and his unbroken Posse of Little Horses elude the cartel’s hit men as the posse flees west on Route 66 in a red 1958 Edsel convertible? Will their supply of Brand XXX tequila last long enough to get them to California?

What can modern psychiatry do to cure Jamie’s young wife Leslie of her obsession to give herself to black men whom she believes are Zulu warriors? To find the answers to these and other intriguing questions, you’ll have to buy this book! Neither you nor I will regret this purchase!

Is this a plot or what? Kinda boggles the mind… tickles the funny bone and occasionally stimulates that reptilian brain of yours in ways that can be both pleasurable and embarrassing, for as Kramer Killread, reviewer for The New Tampa Guide to Sane Automobile Repair writes in his review of Posse:

Why read this stupid novel? Because it’s funny and dirty . . . in the literary sense of both words. If you are titillated by someone else’s ox getting gored, this is the book for you! It’ll make your funny bone twitch at someone else’s expense . . . provided you have a funny bone to twitch. This book might win an award someday!

Take a gander at the Table of Contents below and link to a section or three to get a small taste of what’s in store for you and then purchase the paperback or the ebook PDF. The ebook for Amazon’s kindle and the ebook for Barnes and Noble’s nook will be available shortly. If you’re a buyer for a bookstore and particularly perceptive, you can buy the paperback in quantity. Go to Outskirts Publishing.




The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses

Oxbow Lake the 2nd

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Unsolicited Praise for Oxbow Lake’s

THE ADVENTURES OF THE POSSE OF LITTLE HORSES

“I re-ckon Oxbow Lake is a pen name. Is that damned idiot Ward A Bobb the 3rd ashamed of his work?” - Sam Clemens (channeled through Bob Dylan)

“If I were alive, I’d have written it myself, only differently and better!” - Mark Twain (You Dead Tube)

“The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses does not make me regret committing suicide.” - John Kennedy Toole (Giggle Beyond Internet Site)

“The bastard plagiarized my Ride a Cockhorse after I died so I know that at least part of it is good.” - Raymond Kennedy (scratched on a bar near Columbia)

“Worst punctuated novel I’ve ever read. The man’s obsessed with ellipses… he’s out of his freakin’… elliptical mind!” - Lisa Lazzero (freelance professional punctuator)

“It has some damn short sentences which is damn good. Too bad they don’t make any damn cents.” - Ernest Hemingway (channeled through Groucho Marx)

“He’s my intellectual mini-me. Mr. Oxbow Lake the 2nd knows how to really torture a thought.” - Marquis De Sade (channeled through VP Joe Biden)

“To get this novel published, Oxbow will need at least two sets of knee pads.” - Senator John “Bluto” Blutarsky (Animal House séance)

“I find Oxbow Lake’s novel to be vulgar and despicable, and I have only read the first page.” - Charles Dickens (channeled through Hugh Hefner)




A Copyright Notice Like No Other

This book is a work of fiction created in the fevered mind of the author or authors. Thus the characters, incidents, and dialogue are not real in that sense of the word. Any resemblance to actual persons, events, real or imagined, or living and/or dead is entirely coincidental in the interpretation of that word most favorable to the author or authors.

To prove my or our point, the author or authors did NOT use the incident in which certain individuals were accused of having some kind of relations with a burro, which actually didn’t occur in real life anyway. The opinions, ideas, notions, emotions and feelings expressed in this novel may or may not necessarily be those of the author or authors, the publisher, those who participated in preparing this novel for publication, those who read the novel, and/or those who do not.

Copyright © 2012 by Oxbow Lake the 2nd, Ward A. Bobb the 3rd, or Robert A. Ward III, take your pick.

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

One Toke Over The Line
Words and Music by Michael Brewer and Thomas E. Shipley
Copyright © 1970 by Universal Music - Careers
Copyright Renewed
International Copyright Secured All Rights Reserved
Reprinted by Permission of Hal Leanord Corporation

This edition is published by ShipWreckPublications Corporation.

Cover design and illustration by Karen Mathis

ShipWreckPublications Corporation

9745 Fox Chapel Road

Tampa, FL 33647

Visit our website at www.ShipWreckPublications.com




Dedication

     I dedicate The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses to my cat Rocket “Lefty” Garcia, who accompanied me to my writing desk all those mornings at 4:30 AM and did not return to his early morning hunting until he was satisfied that I was hard at work.




SPANKS AND THANKS

      First and foremost, we do NOT thank the many, many publishing agents of that debilitated, incestuous profession who rejected our wonderfully humorous, satiric and entertaining novel without having read any of it as they were too busy to do so because they were searching for the next great teen witch-fantasy vampire zombie murder-mystery spy novel involving a female CSI investigator who will become the next president of the United States after her heart-warming sex change operation so that she can become the first transgendered gay cross-dresser to become President of the United States… a novel to be written by a gay single parent Ivy-league father who is on welfare (a creative and novel touch) because of Vice President Dick Chaney. We actually look forward to this novel when it is published as we’d like to know which bathroom the author of this great tome will have his transgendered gay cross-dressing president use.

     We would, however, like to thank my cat Rocket “Lefty” Garcia who inspired and encouraged us, in spite of not reading well, and who, even given his lack of reading skill, recognized a great novel in the making… unlike the above debilitated and incestuous profession. Poor Rocket has since gone to the great litter box in the sky having succumbed to that most dreaded of feline fatal fates, Cats’ Bobheimer’s Disease.

     We would like to thank that great publishing mogul Robert A Ward III for publishing this novel through his ShipWreckPublications Corporation. He is a man of great vision and taste.

     We owe a great deal (or at least a little deal) to Alan Beebe and Tom and Sue Wolfe for reading the manuscript for the novel and not saying they didn’t like it. Whatever the deal, our thanks are unlikely to result in monetary remuneration for the three of them. We also thank published authors Steve Hamilton and David Silverman who, after reading the manuscript, did not encourage us to commit suicide as the most likely way to create the sympathy necessary for us to have even an outside chance of getting the novel published.

     Then there’s Lisa Lazzaro, who was kind enough to send us a quote that we use to advertise the novel. (See the ‘Praise For’ section of the book.) Finally, thanks go to Karen Mathis, the Creative Director at ShipWreckPublications, who designed and created the wonderful cover for the novel.

     Oops, we almost forgot to thank Gordon Gensler, whom we tricked into editing the manuscript and who, even after realizing we’d tricked him, did an excellent job making a silk purse out of what we sent him.

     At this point, we feel obligated to request that Colin Lazzaro-Smith and John Robinson return the manuscripts that we sent them and which they did not read and to warn them that we know people who will encourage them to do so in ways they may find unpleasant should they not heed this warning! We provided them with self-addressed and stamped envelopes. In a rather weak justification for their lack of action which we do not… I repeat, do not… accept, they claim that the United States Post Office might refuse to accept the packages as said packages may contain pornographic drug-related literature, which we kind of deny.




“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
-- Mark Twain




The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses




Thursday, June 26

Renting a bower of love for fun and games…

     Charles Fontaine, the best man to be, stood somewhat unsteadily before the check-in counter of the Adirondack Motel. Looking like a young Marlboro Man of years gone-by in an Ivy League Mexican odd sort of way, he peered from beneath a rather large sombrero at an old man with a large beer belly standing behind the counter. He steadied himself by placing his left hand on the counter and said rather thickly, “One of girls over at Hermitage retreat sent me. Said I could rent room here for a little bachelor party for my posse. One our guys getting married this weekend.”

     The old man scratched his beer belly with both hands, winked and said, “That sombrero a souvenir from a little senorita siesta over at the Hermitage?”

     Somewhat puzzled by the unexpected question, Charles stepped back from the counter, folded his arms defiantly and replied, “No, I’ve had hat long time.”

     The fat man laughed and asked, “Reserve a room for tomorrow?”

     Charles shook his head up and down vigorously indicating yes and as he did so, the large brim of his sombrero dipped backward and then forward, the forward dip causing him to lose his tenuous balance and slowly fall toward the counter. He reached for the counter with both hands to break his fall and again steady himself. Having regained his somewhat tentative equilibrium, he pushed back from the counter and again stood unsupported.

     The fat man behind the counter asked, “How about a suite of rooms? We have a real nice suite with full accommodations… full service kitchenette, large living room, beautiful bedroom. It even has a hot tub. Great place to party. Actually it’s our honeymoon suite, but it’s available this weekend.”

     “How much?”

     “Its five hundred bucks a night, but you gotta take it for the entire weekend… Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s a package deal. So it’s fifteen hundred, but I can give it to you for a thousand plus tax… in advance. Anything you break, you pay for.”

     Charles put both hands on the counter and his face disappeared beneath his sombrero’s brim as he dipped his head in thought. Then the sombrero rose revealing his smiling face and he asked, “Honeymoon suite?”

     “Yup, the honeymoon suite. It’s called the Shangri-La.”

     Charles’ face again disappeared beneath the brim of his sombrero as he lowered his head and scratched the back of his neck with his left hand. After several moments of apparently deep thought, up popped his sombrero revealing his face yet again and he said, “What the hell. It’ll solve two problems. I can give lucky couple Saturday and Sunday as wedding gift. I’ll take it.” He said to himself, “The Stuntman can begin life of marital bliss with lovely Leslie Wright at the appro… appro… approprat-ly named Shangri-La. Good a place as any for him to wet his dipstick in the virgin queen.” And he handed the fat man his credit card.

     The fat man processed the credit card and handed Charles a credit slip as well as a bill to sign. He asked, “And who’s the lucky couple? I gotta have their names for the register.”

     “Jamie Stein… Steinkraus and Leslie Wright… Mr. and Mrs. Jamie Steinkraus.” And he slowly spelled out the last name as the fat man typed the names into the motel’s computer system.

     Having completed the transaction, Charles turned to leave. However, there before him and blocking his exit stood an obviously very nervous, short and slender young man with a swarthy complexion who was dressed in a dark business suit, white shirt and red tie. He wore a pair of wire rim glasses behind which his eyes were constantly shifting back and forth. Stuck beneath his nose was a large and obviously false black mustache, which he kept pressing with the fingers of his left hand to keep in place. He appeared to Charles to be suffering from some form of untreated attention deficit hyperactivity. Charles thought to himself, “Damn, dude looks like Mexican Groucho Marx in business suit.”

     The young man smiled nervously, pushing at his false mustache, and said, “No bachelor party is complete without the traditional entertainment such an event calls for.” And he handed Charles a large brown envelope. The fat man behind the counter laughed and left the room.

     Charles took the envelope, pulled the top open, reached in and pulled out an eight-by-twelve color photo of a beautiful, dark-haired and quite well-endowed young woman dressed in a very short traditional Mexican dress, the kind with the slit up the middle that revealed her luscious upper thighs. She was looking directly into the camera and smiling.

     Charles blurted out, “What beau-ful eyes.”

     The young man said, “It is not only her eyes that are beautiful… no?”

     Charles replied, “No… mean yes… yes… all of her is beau-ful.”

     “She looks very young but she is an experienced entertainer. She has performed at many bachelor parties. For two hundred dollars, she will perform her dance of the running of the bulls at your party. Only two hundred dollars… an excellent deal… and if you wish her to perform something extra, you can negotiate such extras at the party.” Charles slipped the photo back into the envelope after several attempts and handed it back to the young man. He reached into his back pocket, took a step back to steady himself and pulled out his wallet. He removed two one-hundred dollar bills, which he thrust into the free hand of the surprised Mexican version of Grouch Marx, who, unlike the original, was at a loss for words, apparently having expected to do some haggling over the price.

     As he pushed his wallet into his back pocket, Charles said, “Friday round six… here… Shangri-La” and staggered out to his rental car. The young man stood holding the two one-hundred dollar bills looking very un-Groucho like as he nervously pushed at his false mustache with the sleeve of his left arm.

They’re not losing a daughter but gaining a posse…

     The rotund father of the bride, Professor Jeremiah Wright, leaned his rather large and jowly head forward and peered through his great bushy eyebrows into the full-length mirror before him. Unable to see his image, he leaned his head yet closer to the mirror. When he took this action, the weight of his large forward leaning head being added to the weight of his large forward-leaning belly, one of the Newtonian laws of physics took effect and he tumbled toward the mirror. As he tumbled, he muttered a rather cryptic “ut oh.” However, he was able to prevent an inadvertent and more than likely unsuccessful tumble into Wonderland with his right hand, which left yet another large handprint on the wall next to the mirror.

     It then dawned on him that his problem of perception was not one of distance but of focus, for he was not wearing his glasses, which thankfully happened to be in his left hand at the time and not his right. When he remembered to wear his glasses, he wore the kind called pince-nez, which is a fancy way of saying “pinch nose.” You’ve seen these glasses in old historical pictures. They’re the kind that one pushes down on the bridge of one’s nose and attaches to a piece of one’s wearing apparel with a safety string to prevent them from falling to the floor when they lose their grip on one’s nose. The professor righted his ship, pushed the pince-nez down on the bridge of his nose and tugged at the blue velvet safety string to be sure that it was securely attached to his vest. He then peered back into the mirror from a more upright position.

     He muttered to himself, “Unruly, unruly, unruly,” as his eyes focused on his large, grey handlebar mustache. His fingers reached into one of his many vest pockets and pulled out a monogrammed ivory mustache comb which he pinched between the thumb and middle finger of his left hand. He carefully leaned his head forward and delicately ran the mustache comb down his whiskers, working his way across the mustache. Satisfied that he had conquered his unruly whiskers, he smiled and returned the mustache comb to its vest pocket.

     Looking admiringly at his image, his jowls jiggled as he shook his head yes. With some effort, he pulled his plaid vest down over his considerable girth, smiled again and said to his image, “Good day, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt.” His colleagues at Columbia University never tired of telling him that he bore an amazing resemblance to an older (and unmentioned but thought, very rotund) literary TR, and the professor never tired of hearing it. His students, taking a somewhat different view, thought he looked more like an absent-minded Captain Kangaroo of super-sized proportions, who like the good captain wore funny glasses.

     His wife Rose, who not so coincidentally happened to be the mother of the bride, entered the bedroom and asked the question “Aren’t you ready yet?” As with most of her questions, the tone of her voice was more appropriate for a command with a very specific and expected response in mind than a question. She stood across the room from him with her hands on her hips. She was a short, slender, athletic woman who hyphenated her name and insisted on being addressed as Mrs. Rose Fazzano-Wright. Those who did not know her might consider her quite good-looking in spite of her years and her rather severe demeanor. Those who knew her referred to her as The Barracuda, but only when talking about her. She continued, “Get it in gear,” adding “Did you have to wear that brown corduroy suit again? I knew I should have laid out your traveling clothes for you.”

     Professor Jeremiah Wright looked into the mirror, crushing his jowls with his chin as a hurt expression slowly formed on his face. “Dear, I think that my present attire makes me look quite professorial. Quite appropriate for an adjunct professor of English literature at a prestigious Ivy League university.”

     Rose replied, “Well Mr. Adjunct Professor of English Literature at a prestigious Ivy League University… get your Ivy League adjunct professorial butt down to the garage. At the pace you’re moving, our daughter will be married and have given birth to several grandchildren before we get out of Manhattan”… the last part of her statement being yelled over her shoulder as she spun and exited the bedroom.

     The good professor took one last long look into the mirror and lumbered from their apartment to the elevator with a gait reminiscent of an old brown bear. Upon his arrival at the elevator, this lumbering old brown bear found it out-of-order. He then lumbered to the stairs and lumbered down five flights of them to the basement garage of their co-op. By the time he reached the landing to the garage entrance, he was sweating profusely. He stood for a moment to catch his breath and then pushed the entrance door open. There standing before him was Rose with her hands again on her hips, cool as a cucumber. She said, “What took you so long?” He started to reply, “The elevator is broke…” but before he could finish, she interrupted him, “It’s broken for everybody. Not just you.” Before he could fruitlessly respond, even the thought of a response became fruitless, because by the time he inhaled in preparation for speaking, Rose was already across the garage standing behind their ten-year-old Volvo and alongside a huge pile of suitcases of various sizes, a large garment bag and sundry other bags and baskets. She yelled to him, “I packed everything we’ll need. I hauled all this stuff down here while you were admiring yourself in the mirror. It’s your job to load up the car”… with great emphasis placed on the word your.

     The good professor thought very calmly and quietly to himself, “How could we possibly need all that stuff for a three day stay?” Why, you wonder, did he control the intensity of his thoughts when Rose was present? Quite simply in an attempt to keep those thoughts to himself and from Rose. Over the twenty-seven years of their marriage, he had become convinced that she could read his mind if his thoughts were too pronounced or as he termed it, too loud, for he was a great fan of Stephen King, one of his two concessions to modern popular fiction, and under the subtle influence of Mr. King had come to believe that much like young Danny Torrance in The Shining, Rose too could “shine”. He believed that if his thoughts were like whispers instead of shouts, she would be unable to telepathically hear them. Most of the time his thoughts must have been on the rather loud side, telepathically speaking, because Rose seemed to always know what he was thinking.

     Rose responded apparently to his thought, “Don’t complain about the luggage. We have to be prepared for all contingencies. Our daughter only gets married once… at least I hope she’ll only get married once, even if it’s to that turkey Jamie Steinkraus. I don’t want things to get screwed up.” He thought to himself, “Golly, she shined again and I thought very quietly to myself.” Rose interrupted his very quiet thoughts yet again, “Stop standing there trying to figure out life. Get over here and load the darn car.”

     Following Rose’s first order, he hung the large garment bag from the hanger over the rear door in the back seat, for it held all of Rose’s dresses, including several choices for the wedding ceremony. He loaded the luggage and the various other bags and baskets into the Volvo under Rose’s very careful supervision, having to remove items and rearrange them many times as Rose tried to maximize the efficiency of the loading without much consideration for the stress on the loader, the only constant being the large garment bag which remained in its original position. Luggage went into the trunk, out of the trunk, into the backseat and back to the trunk. Baskets and bags were stuffed and shifted about and, no matter how Jeremiah arranged things at Rose’s very precise directions, a large piece of luggage always remained orphaned on the garage floor behind a fully loaded Volvo.

     In frustration Rose yelled, “Damn it, you’ll have to tie a suitcase to the roof.” She emphatically pointed to the orphaned suitcase on the floor and said, “I want this one inside the car. It has the rest of the clothing and the other necessities I’ll need to dress for the wedding.” And so, after the trials and tribulations of even more supervision, Jeremiah unpacked the Volvo yet again and repacked it so that the large suitcase with the rest of Rose’s wedding necessities was loaded inside the Volvo and, as it turned out, the suitcase with Jeremiah’s clothes was tied to the Volvo’s roof with ropes that went through the two partially open rear windows around and over and around the suitcase yet again, with one end of the rope ending up tied to the front bumper and the other tied to the rear bumper in an arrangement that would have pleased the mythical, yet all too real, Rube Goldberg. Jeremiah pictured Tom Joad, whose image bore an amazing resemblance to a Henry Fonda, smiling down on them as Jeremiah squeezed into the driver’s seat and the Volvo slowly groaned towards his side of the car as he sat.

     Rose was already sitting in the front passenger’s seat ready to command the next phase of their odyssey. She opened a folder and said “MapQuest says The Hermitage of the Adirondacks is 260.4 miles from here. We’ll be taking the Thruway north. Turn left on Broadway, go up to 230th and take the I-87 ramp north to Albany. It’s on the left.”

     Being well-conditioned to following Rose’s directions, Jeremiah did as instructed and soon they were tooling north on the New York State Thruway in their very late model Volvo at a breathtaking 55 miles per hour with the wind loudly whistling through the two partially opened rear windows, a consequence of the necessity of tying Jeremiah’s one piece of luggage to the roof.

     Jeremiah yelled, “Where is this establishment?”

     Rose watched the cars and trucks whizzing by them and yelled back, “It’s outside Blue Mountain Lake. We’ll take the Northway at Albany to exit 23. According to MapQuest, it’s a 4 hour and 42 minute drive. That’s without stopping and going at least 65 mile per hour. We’ll be lucky if we get there in 6.” There was only one area of the good professor’s nonacademic life where Rose had totally failed in her effort to “bring Jeremiah up to snuff” as she put it and that was the speed at which he drove. No matter what she said or did, she could not get him to drive over 55 miles an hour and he frequently drove much slower regardless of the posted speed limit. Her failure here only served to highlight her success in virtually every other part of the non-academic areas of the good professor’s life. She looked at the speedometer and sighed.

     Jeremiah’s curiosity about his daughter Leslie’s wedding was raised for the first time. He had been preoccupied with the biography he was writing of the English novelist and poet D. H. Lawrence, and as was his habit, operating pretty much on autopilot concerning the events of the rest of his life, including, as it turned out, the arrangements for his daughter’s wedding. It was an easy state of mind for him to inhabit given his own predisposition, especially when combined with that of Rose. He asked, “What kind of establishment is this Hermitage of the Adirondacks anyway?”

     Rose yelled, “What’d you say?” Jeremiah dutifully repeated his question more loudly. Rose annoyed by both the question, the need to repeat it and the whistling of the wind that made repetition necessary, snapped back, “Weren’t you paying attention for… say… the last year or so? After all, it is your daughter’s wedding.”

     Jeremiah drove in silence for several miles in order to let Rose calm down before replying, and then said apologetically, “Well, I got the general gist, but I’m not sure I ever knew any of the details.”

     Rose liked informing him of the details of their lives in a manner and time of her choosing, for in so doing, she was exercising yet another form of control over him. There was the distinct possibility that she had never told him any of the details, but Jeremiah wouldn’t have remembered them even if she had. He was oblivious to his wife’s use of this technique and thus untroubled by it. He was steadfastly preoccupied with his work and this steadfast preoccupation was the secret to his sanity, what there was of it, and his happiness. Rose’s instinct to inform Jeremiah only as she saw fit overcame her anger, so she decided to tell him about the Hermitage and selected details about the arrangements for their daughter’s wedding.

     “The Hermitage of the Adirondacks is a kind of religious retreat. The brochure says it was founded by a group of Russian Orthodox brothers who came over here in the 19th century to provide aid and spiritual comfort to the Russian loggers who immigrated to the Adirondacks.”

     Rose paused and carefully scrutinized the expression on Jeremiah’s face to be sure that he was being attentive, and satisfied that he was, she continued, “The loggers were recruited by the logging companies and they logged much of the Adirondacks before it became forever wild.”

     Jeremiah drove and listened and thought and then asked, “I thought that forever-wild law virtually eliminated any development in the Adirondacks?”

     Listening to him this time, Rose actually replied to his question, probably because the question advanced her plan for directing the conversation. “The law states that there can be no new building and development, but whatever is already there is OK. Since the brothers, in their religious fervor, had built a substantial settlement on the far side of Blue Mountain Lake long before the law was passed, their settlement was grandfathered in.”

     “And they can still operate even though the Russian loggers are long gone?”

     “Apparently. The brochure doesn’t address this, but my guess is they have maintained their religious charter and therefore the state can’t fully control their operation. They rent out cabins and rooms in their lodges for what they call family retreats and other facilities for religious events like weddings. I think the brothers severed their connection to the Russian Orthodox Church years ago. Personally, sounds like a scam to me, but that’s between the brothers of the Hermitage and the thieves in Albany.”

     As if Rose had scripted Jeremiah’s side of the conversation, he asked on cue, “Do they have a church on premises?”

     “No, but there’s an open-air chapel and a covered pavilion for the reception. There used to be a church but it burned down years ago. The wedding’s a package deal that includes a nearby lodge with a full kitchen and large dining room, a great room and rooms for the bridal party.”

     “My, my. Sounds quite expensive. Did we have to contribute?”

     “You know, Jeremiah, you’re as oblivious as a sleeping Rip Van Winkle, only you’re oblivious whether your eyes are wide open or shut. No, we didn’t contribute a dime, as I believe I’ve mentioned a time or two. Our future idiot son-in-law paid for the whole thing.”

     “My heavens! How could he afford it? He’s still quite young.”

     “He’s young all right, but he’s also rich. Leslie said he dropped out of Columbia after their freshman year. Apparently he found college life too boring. I thought Leslie had seen the last of him. Turns out his deceased father had set up a rather large college fund which Mr. Wonderful used to invest in real estate back in Chicago where he’s from. Using this college money, the know-it-all Mr. Jamie Steinkraus started buying commercial property. Leslie says he leveraged his holdings to buy a chunk of land in Manhattan which he then sold for a large fortune. He owns property all over the country. Maybe the world for all I know.”

     “He sounds quite enterprising. To meet him, one would never know.”

     “Well to know his friends is to know him. I met them once last year and once was enough. He hangs around with a bunch of drunken dropout freaks he calls the posse. For God’s sake, Jeremiah, they ‘possied up’ as he tells it in jail… the Tijuana jail. I have no idea what Leslie sees in the man. I just hope she holds up through this ordeal. Maybe you could exercise a positive influence over your prospective son-in-law and his so-called posse, at least through the weekend. Try to keep his drinking and the influence of his ne’er-do-well friends to a minimum, and that includes my idiot nephew Louis.”

     Having said her peace and made all the points she thought necessary to get Jeremiah “up to snuff” for the upcoming wedding ceremony of their daughter and all the associated festivities, Rose ended the conversation and silence prevailed, only broken occasionally by Rose with a hoarse word or two concerning the directions for the drive.

     The good professor, with his wife riding a frustrated and somewhat deafening shot gun, drove on at the breakneck speed of 55 miles per hour. Seven hours and 14 minutes later, after four stops necessitated by nature’s call, they pulled up to the administration building for The Hermitage of the Adirondacks. With her head down, an impatient and angry Rose exited the car, ran up the stairs to the building and entered in hopes of quickly registering. After a good forty-five minutes she returned, red-faced and even more angry. “Can you beat that! The place is mobbed and who’s behind the desk? A bunch of Mexicans who can barely speak English. The Russian Orthodox brotherhood’s become senorita central. We’re staying at a cabin called the TR. Mr. Money Bags had reserved the cabin for the groom’s party but decided to stay in the lodge up by the pavilion.” She looked down at the brochure and map she had been given by one of the administrative senoritas and said, “Drive up this road and take the first left onto a dirt road. It’ll be about a half mile up the road on the right.”

     Jeremiah was overwhelmed and exclaimed, “The TR! How fortuitous! I have the feeling this is going to be a very eventful and exciting weekend!” He took the first left as instructed, drove up a dirt road and parked in front of a cabin. A large sign nailed to the cabin’s porch proclaimed The TR. He sat admiring the log cabin and asked, “Pray tell, why is this fine log cabin called the TR?”

     Rose, still annoyed by the difficulties she had encountered registering at, as she put it, “senorita central,” snapped, “Take a guess, Mr. Adjunct Professor of English Literature?”

     Jeremiah smiled, oblivious to Rose’s agitated state of mind, excitedly proclaimed, “Teddy Roosevelt came often to the Adirondacks. Perhaps he stayed in this cabin during one of his fishing or ornithological expeditions? It looks to be wonderfully restored.”

     Rose replied, “Now that was a conclusion only a genius adjunct professor of English literature at a prestigious ivy league university could reach. Get out and unpack the car.”

     They both got out of the car, Rose quite deftly and Jeremiah somewhat less so and faced each other over the hood of the Volvo. They both looked up at the roof of the car. The ropes securing the suitcase on the roof were all in place, the only thing missing was Jeremiah’s suitcase.

Order, order everywhere and not a drop to drink…

     Jeremiah had laboriously unpacked the car. He had hung the garment bag in the closet of the master bedroom and had placed the bags, baskets and suitcases about the large three-bedroom cabin in various strategic locations as Rose had instructed… that is, all the suitcases with the exception of his, which had mysteriously disappeared from the roof of their Volvo on the drive to The Hermitage of the Adirondacks. He was exhausted and sought refuge in a rocking chair in the master bedroom where Rose was unpacking her clothes.

     She stood in front of a chest of drawers refolding her array of various undergarments, blouses and socks that she had neatly packed in her suitcase. She stacked and stored the articles of clothing according to kind, color and size, as was her habit. An experienced sales lady in an upscale midtown fashion boutique could not have done it better. As Rose robotically refolded, stacked and stored her clothing, she said over her shoulder to Jeremiah, “They have a shop here that sells souvenirs and other incidentals. I think they sell some articles of clothing, sweat shirts and the like. After I get done here, I’ll drive back to the administration building. I think that’s where the shop is, and buy you some underwear if they have any for sale and whatever else I can find. Because of your size, I doubt we’ll be able to get you another formal suit for the wedding on such short notice.”

     Jeremiah sat in the big rocking chair slowly rocking himself back and forth, his more than ample jowls rhythmically jiggling away as he rocked. He was close to joining the previously mentioned Rip Van Winkle but managed a periodic and strategic “yes dear” here and there as his eyes closed and he drifted off. Rose continued talking and launched into a litany of criticisms of his inability to secure his suitcase on the roof of their Volvo, none of which Jeremiah heard. Suddenly he was jolted back to consciousness by Rose’s voice as she yelled, “Darn! There’s no cell phone service in this godforsaken place.” He thought it odd that God would forsake a place established by brothers of the Russian Orthodox Church and dedicated to providing a place for family retreats and other religious ceremonies. Of course there was that business of the brothers separating themselves from the Russian Orthodox Church and then using a technicality in New York state law to develop what many considered a resort which apparently made a lot of money. A second thought quickly overshadowed the first: perhaps God, being omniscient, would know this and much more unknown to mere mortals such as himself and even Rose, so the question of whether or not God had in fact forsaken The Hermitage of the Adirondacks remained open at this time in Jeremiah’s estimation, regardless of Rose’s contention.

     Rose continued, “I hate to use the phone in the cabin. I’ll bet the good brothers charge an arm and a leg for a call.”

     Jeremiah’s mind continued: Maybe there’s something to Rose’s contention that God has forsaken the Hermitage? If true, this does not bode well for our daughter’s wedding and all the matrimonially related ceremonies that accompany it.

     Rose now directed her attention to Jeremiah as she placed an envelope on the chest of drawers, “There’s your schedule for the weekend. Tonight’s the rehearsal. There’s a buffet dinner after. The rehearsal is scheduled to begin at 7:00 at the outdoor chapel. Imagine, an outdoor chapel. I still think they should be married in a church, a Catholic church. Well, that’s water over the dam. After that the rehearsal dinner is at the lodge up by the pavilion where the rest of the wedding party is staying. When I get back we can walk to the chapel. It’s just up the hill.”

     Jeremiah managed another somnolent “yes dear” as Rose continued, “Mr. Wonderful’s best man, Charles something-or-other, has organized a bachelor party for tomorrow night and you’re invited. The invitation’s in the envelope. He left it for you at the admin center. I’m not sure you should go, but if you do, see if you can be a calming influence on Steinkraus and his freaky friends and that includes that idiot kid nephew of mine. How Louis got involved…” her voice fading as she looked about the cabin to be sure that everything was in its proper place. Having assured herself that all was in order, she continued, “It’d be nice if that so-called posse remained upright for the wedding and reception on Saturday.” In the blink of an eye she was at the door and as she disappeared she yelled, “And keep that stupid corduroy suit clean. You’ll need it for the wedding.” And with that she was gone.

A rehearsal dinner or the Last Supper…

     The dining room was crowded with people scurrying about to fill their glasses with beer and their plates with food. Some attacked the beer keg first while others went for the buffet table which nicely divided the crowd into two almost equal lines.

     Rose and Jeremiah remained seated waiting for the crowd at the buffet table to thin out a bit. Rose kept her head on a swivel looking for her daughter Leslie to make an appearance. She pointed to the stairway to the second floor, nudged Jeremiah in the ribs and shouted, “There she is!” as she waved with her other hand. “Over here, Les! Over here!”

     Leslie made her way to their table, being stopped many times along the way to receive greetings and best wishes from friends and family. She sat down at their table and sighed, “I feel exhausted.” She was dressed in red shorts and a white tee shirt. Thankfully for her and particularly for her prospective husband, she had for the most part inherited her mother’s looks and build and her father’s disposition and intellect.

     Rose smiled and said what she said to Leslie every time they met, “You should eat something. It’ll help settle your stomach. Make you feel better.” Jeremiah kept an eagle eye on the buffet line.

     Leslie frowned and replied, “Mother, don’t get started. Not today. I had a bite to eat in my room. Jamie brought me a plate after the rehearsal.”

     Rose looked around the dining room and asked, “Where is Mr. Wonderful anyway?”

     Leslie pointed toward the beer keg in the front of the hall. Rose turned to see and there was Mr. Wonderful standing on a chair over the beer keg holding the keg’s spout in his left hand. With his red scraggly beard and longish red hair, he looked much like a somewhat diminutive modern day Celtic chieftain. He kept the spout open and beer gushed into the glasses of revelers who stuck their cups beneath the pouring beer as they walked by. He blessed each reveler as they passed beneath him. Every now and then he’d raise the spout above his upturned head and pour beer into his awaiting mouth. Remarkably little beer reached the floor.

     Rose looked at the beer pouring spectacle and said, “That’s disgusting. He doesn’t even use a glass, and those so-called friends of his. Just disgusting. Is that the sign of the cross he’s making. He’s supposed to be Jewish, I thought.” She turned back to face Leslie and said, “The rehearsal went well, considering that not one of the three ushers showed up.” Rose then added, referring to her nephew, “Wasn’t Louis and his freaky friends supposed to be ushers? What happened to them?”

     Leslie, knowing her mother’s feelings about Jamie’s friends in general and her cousin Louis in particular, replied softly, “Jonnie Hogg and Garcia Rosenbloom… they got arrested on the Northway for well…” She hesitated and Rose jumped in, “Arrested for what?” Leslie continued, “For urinating.” After a pause, she added, “Well actually only Jonnie got arrested for urinating.”

     Rose’s eyebrows shot up and back and she said in disbelief, “Urinating? Men stop to take a leak on the roadside all the time. What’s the big deal? Surely even an idiot like Jonnie what’s-his-name could manage that.”

     Leslie scrunched up her cheeks and said softly, “Well, it seems they weren’t stopped.”

     Rose, unable to comprehend the situation, asked “Weren’t stopped?”

     After a long pause, Leslie said, “Yes. Jonnie was urinating out the window of the car while Garcia was driving. Seems they were going a little fast and passed a state trooper and Jonnie inadvertently urinated on the state trooper’s windshield.”

     Rose finally got the picture. “Inadvertently! So while one of these characters was peeing out the window on a state trooper’s windshield, the other was driving the car and speeding. How fast?”

     Leslie looked down, obviously embarrassed, “I think that Jamie said he was clocked around 120 miles per hour. They didn’t want to miss the rehearsal.”

     Rose shook her head in some combination of disgust and disbelief. “This is like a Dumb and Dumber reality show. Where are Mr. Dumb and Mr. Dumber now?”

     “They’re being held in Albany.”

     “Where’s my worthless nephew?”

     “He drove down to Albany to bail them out of jail. That’s why he missed the rehearsal.”

     Rose said, “Jeremiah, have you ever heard of such a thing?” When she didn’t get the dutiful response she expected, she turned and found the chair next to her empty. Jeremiah was in the buffet line.

     Leslie reached across the table and put her hand over her mother’s hand. She looked down at the table. Rose instinctively put her free hand over Leslie’s and said, “What’s wrong, Les?”

     “I don’t know.” She paused and then said, “Well, I do know.” Again she paused and finally said in a barely audible voice, “Jamie and I have never been… well… intimate.” She looked down at their intertwined hands and continued, “I’ve never been intimate with…” and after a long pause whispered, “ anyone.”

     Rose gently patted her hand and said reassuringly, “You’ve been a good girl like you’re supposed to be. Don’t worry, dear, it’s not that important. Your father and I haven’t been intimate for years. These things have a way of working themselves out.”

     Leslie pulled back her hand and said, “I don’t know how to work something like this out. I’ve done a lot of research and reading but it doesn’t seem to click with me. Jamie’s been very patient.”

     Rose didn’t reply and turned to see where Jeremiah was.

     Leslie tapped her mother’s hand to get her attention and said, “You know, Janey and Angel are throwing a bachelorette party for me tomorrow night. You’re invited. It’s here, upstairs.”

     Rose replied without turning to face her daughter, “Les, I’m not into those kinds of things. Besides, I’m a little too old to be drinking too much and giggling late into the night with a bunch of girls.”

     The crowd had been eating, drinking and smoking at a furious pace. Jeremiah, no slouch he, was winning the putative eating contest, having already finished his third heaping plate. Rose, as usual, having only picked at a salad, was second to last with Leslie, also as usual, finishing dead last. There were many ties for the lead in the other two putative contests… drinking and smoking.

     The great unwashed had divided pretty much into two distinct and equal groups: a rough and tumble, very boisterous suds-consuming crew and a somewhat quieter, mellower group, more like a closely knit community, that seemed to grow happier and more chatty as the pungent and aromatic herbal odor in the dining room grew more pronounced.

     Jamie still stood on a chair above the beer keg pouring beer from the keg’s spout into the glasses of the revelers who passed below him. He raised his head toward the ceiling, poured beer into his mouth and turned the keg’s tap off. From his commanding view of both halves of his audience, he raised his hands and yelled, “Announcement! Announcement, folks! Important announcement!” At first half his audience groaned, believing that the keg was dead. Jamie, knowing his audience, at least this half of it, yelled, “Not to worry, folks. There’s plenty of suds. Another announcement!” He wiped his sweaty forehead with his shirt sleeve, pushing his longish red hair away from his eyes, and then licked the beer suds off his red mustache and wiped his beard with the same shirt sleeve in preparation for speaking. The crowd quieted. Jamie waved to Leslie with the hand holding the keg’s spout and yelled, “Les, come up here.”

     Leslie stood and slowly worked her way through the crowd until she stood before the keg of beer. Jamie looked down at her and yelled, “Les, I have a surprise for you. It’s my wedding gift to you. I’ve kept the secret for a year, but I can’t keep my mouth shut any longer.” Here he paused for a moment to be sure all were paying attention. Most were and he continued, “You know how you hate the long cold winters in crowded Manhattan?” He jumped from the chair and stood next to her, “Well I bought a small parcel of land with a mountain-type chalet east of San Diego. Now we’ll be able to escape the long cold winters of Manhattan whenever we want.” He kissed her, raised his face toward the ceiling and took a long slug of beer from the keg’s spout. The crowd went wild, not needing much of a nudge to do so, for they were happy for Jamie and Leslie and ecstatic now that the keg pouring could resume. Leslie struggled to smile faintly but neither Jamie nor the crowd in their collective happiness and ecstasy noticed her struggle.




Friday, June 27

A theatrical fertility rite gone real…

     As was custom, the time of the bachelorette and bachelor celebrations had come. The bride and the groom were to have one last fling as separate social and legal entities before their lives were conjoined by society’s matrimonial glue, and a very strong glue it would be. After tomorrow, should the bride and groom, either individually or in ironical unison, decide to unglue as it were, lawyers, the courts and large sums of money would be involved, and there was the distinct possibility that intimate biographical and even biological details of their lives would be made public in the process. The social and legal stakes were high, which may account for the emotional intensity enveloping the bride and groom and why their respective camps approached this night’s celebration with a frenzy approaching madness.

     The prospective bride, Leslie Fazzano-Wright, called Bookers by her close friends, awaited the bachelorette celebration with her typical nervousness. Even under much less stressful circumstances, she had great difficulty controlling her emotions. In May, she had collapsed the night before she was to accept her PhD in anthropology from Columbia University. Without the lotus-like help of the fruit of years of meticulous research by the pharmaceutical industry, she would have had to accept her degree through the US postal service.

      Mother Rose thought her daughter too thin, and with great perspicacity, attributed this thinness to a lack of eating. To solve this problem, she thought the best plan of action was to exhort Leslie to eat more as often as possible, and this she did. Her encouragement frequently took the form of the following statement, “You’re 15 pounds from being a knock-out,”… the unstated portion of this thought being “… and you’re not one now.”

     However, in spite of what her mother said and what Leslie came to believe, young males viewed her as a slender and quite attractive female member of the species. Contrary to their intent, these motherly exhortations made this nervous Nelly in extremis even more so, and the more she worried about her appetite or lack thereof, the less she felt like eating.

     Tonight Leslie’s emotions ran high and predictably she skipped dinner. Just as predictably, she had taken a double dose of the lotus-like help of the aforementioned fruit of years of meticulous research by the pharmaceutical industry in an effort to avoid a collapse during her bachelorette celebration. And a fine celebration had been planned. The maid of honor, Janey Toussaint, or JT as close friends addressed her, and one of the brides maids, Angel Bangor, referred to as Buns for quite obvious reasons by everyone, had organized one last fling for academic Leslie. As Janey put it, “Let’s show Miss Goody Two-Shoes what she’s been missin’!” And with this as the organizing principle of the celebration, Janey and Angel had invited the other four members of their old high school clique known as the Seven Damsels in Distress (the other three being the aforementioned Leslie, Janey and Angel), set up a wet bar, acquired several means to relaxation, and hired live entertainment, which Janey described as “enlightening.”

     The seven damsels in distress gathered at seven o’clock, their traditional meeting time, to begin the festivities. As Janey put it with a broad smile, “Let’s give the damsels some time to relax, have a glass of wine, smoke a little pot and chew on some munchies before they’re enlightened.” As Angel put it, “Oh boy, let’s have a big drinkie poo and toke some weed!”

     After Leslie and the other four damsels in distress had arrived and exchanged their various gossipy hellos and had a glass of wine or three, Janey called the celebration to order. “Circle up my damsels in distress! Circle up!” The damsels sat cross-legged on the floor forming a circle. Janey pulled two joints from her purse and said, “Damsels, lookie what ol’ JT has. Pure California Gold!” Angel shrieked “Oh boy!” as Janey lit one joint, took a toke and passed it to Angel who sat on her left. Janey then looked passionately at the second joint and said, “And scored right here from one of the cleaning ladies. Who’d a thunk?” She then lit the second joint, took a long toke and passed it to her right. The joints passed each other at Leslie who took a short, shallow toke of each and passed them on. Bowls of munchies followed the joints about the circle and the damsels occasionally got up to refill their wine glasses.

     The damsels talked constantly and from time to time apparently listened, for somehow vital communications seemed to mysteriously occur. Leslie remained quiet, barely sipping her wine and only taking several more short tokes as the joints passed by. By nine o’clock, the damsels were quite relaxed and Leslie, even though she had indulged lightly, was relaxed a bit beyond quite.

     A loud knock at the door signaled the end of the relaxation phase of the festivities and the beginning of the enlightenment phase. Janey jumped to her feet, walked over to Leslie, pulled her up to a standing position and guided the somewhat unsteady soon-to-be-bride to the door.

     Janey swung open the door and said, “This’ll be right up your alley, Bookers!” There stood a tall and chiseled male exotic dancer dressed in a red loin cloth, a feathered headdress, two feathered and belled ankle bracelets and nothing else. His skin glistened in the dim light of the party room. In his right hand he brandished a short plastic stabbing spear to complete his costume.

     Leslie looked up at him with stunned amazement and said the first thing that came into her mind, “Golly, he’s black.” To which Janey replied, “Honey bun, you of all people should know that not everyone’s white.” Leslie tried to clear away the cotton that absorbed her thoughts before she could realize them. Slowly her mind seemed to focus. Standing before her was not some exotic male dancer but rather a great Zulu warrior who embodied the folkways of that people. Her mind wandered back to her doctoral research and the Zulu fertility rites she’d witnessed and which she’d written about in her thesis.

     On Janey’s cue, Angel, who had retreated to the far side of the room, turned on the stereo and yelled, “Go Jamal!” A faint heavy base thudded slowly as the sound of distant tribal drums filled the room. Leslie heard the other four damsels screech with joy, anticipation and hope. “Do you think it’s true what they say?” giggled one of the damsels. “Dunno” replied another, “Hopefully tonight we’ll be enn-lightened!” Leslie was in something akin to an hypnotic state as Janey guided her to the center of the room and gently pushed her into a kneeling position as she motioned for the remaining damsels in distress to push back and form a semicircle facing Leslie, who now knelt before them.

     Leslie’s great Zulu warrior jumped forward into the room with both feet, his ankle bracelets jingling as his bare feet hit the floor. He swirled forward until he stood over Leslie. His dark eyes peered down at her. The chatter in the room quieted and the beating of the tribal drums quickened and became much louder. Leslie looked up into those piercing dark eyes and then down at the floor. Sweat formed on her forehead. Her stomach muscles tightened and she was struck with a strange emotion. Her breathing quickened and she felt something akin to fear, a primordial fear, well up inside her, yet a fear leavened with a strange anticipation and desire. Angel again yelled, “Go Jamal!” which all heard except for the mesmerized Leslie.

     This great Zulu warrior, taking Angel’s cue, swirled around Leslie, his belled ankle bracelets beating time to the rhythm of the drums as his feet struck the floor. He stopped before Leslie who looked up at him with fear and anticipation in her eyes. Her great Zulu warrior towered over her. The tribal drums grew louder and louder. Leslie felt weak and feared she would faint.

     As her great Zulu warrior beat time to the rhythm of the drums with his heels, bells jingling away, he thrust the short stabbing spear forward towards Leslie three times. Leslie felt a sharp pain in her groin and instinctively placed her hands between her legs. Her mind raced. She thought, “What is happening to me?” Then it struck her. She was being deflowered in a ceremony which she had witnessed and about which she had read and written. Her great Zulu warrior raised the stabbing spear above his head and shouted. With his other hand, palm up, he motioned for Leslie to rise, which she did slowly and somewhat unsteadily. From his spread stance, his hips slowly undulated forward and back as Leslie arose. Leslie felt her hips slowly undulate forward and back in response. Her now sweaty tee shirt clung to her breasts and she could feel the cloth rubbing against her nipples as she moved.

     Her great Zulu warrior then swirled about the room. The other damsels shrieked with joy. Janey whispered to Angel, “Now comes the expensive part.” And Angel, interpreting expensive to mean the very best, swigged her drink and yelled, “Oh boy!”

     After circling the room, the great Zulu warrior stopped in front of Leslie and motioned for her to kneel, which she slowly did. He swirled so that he faced away from her and slowly danced about the semicircle, facing the other damsels. He reached across his waist and pulled the clasp to the belt holding up his loin cloth. The belt swung free and dangled from his raised hand. With a wide stance, he bent at the knees and began rising on his toes and then hitting his heels on the floor in rhythm to the tribal drums as he danced about the semi-circle of anxious damsels. Slowly the loin cloth fell to his feet. There he stood, his groin covered with custom white bikini briefs known as a cock sock in the trade.

     Leslie could hear the almost painful yet quite joyful “Ooohs!” and “Aaahs!” emanating from the damsels whom he now faced. As Leslie’s great Zulu warrior swirled and faced her, she saw the reason for their distress… and joy. The so-called cock sock worn by her great Zulu warrior had a sheath-like extension which strained under the pressure of its contents. He then swirled about the room again and spun to a stop again facing away from Leslie. He reached for the custom briefs and ripped them away. For a moment there was stunned silence as Leslie swayed in her kneeling position to the rhythmic motion of the muscular black buttocks before her as her great Zulu warrior swayed forward and back. Then one of the damsels yelled, “My God, it’s true! Oh, Jamal!”

     Leslie’s great Zulu warrior then swirled around again facing Leslie. As he hopped towards her, his huge black phallus bounced in rhythm to the beat of the drums. He stopped, towering over her. She looked up into his dark piercing eyes and raised the palms of her hands, gently cradling his huge black scrotum with her hands. She lowered her head and then looked up at the great phallus running her fingers along its length to its root where a leather ring clasped about the base of the uncircumcised beast. Heat ran through her body and centered in her groin. She rhythmically tightened and relaxed her stomach and thigh muscles and the muscles of her groin and buttocks in response to the undulations of the great Zulu warrior standing over her. She felt a desire that she had never felt before and could not describe with words. The muscles of her groin and buttocks now involuntarily contracted rhythmically and intensely. She gently pulled the foreskin back revealing a wonderfully shaped head. She looked into this great black phallic Cyclops, raised her head, looked into the eyes of her great Zulu warrior towering above her and swooned, crumbling unconscious at his feet.

A gathering of the Posse of Little Horses…

     Professor Jeremiah Wright looked down at the formal, printed invitation through his pince-nez and read aloud to himself, “There will be a gathering of the Posse of Little Horses to honor our own Stuntman, who after tomorrow will be a one-trick pony.”

     There was today’s date (June 27) followed by the time (7:00 PM) and the place (Adirondack Motel, Shangri-La Suite). To the left of the text was a drawing of two horses. One horse was rearing up on its hind legs above the other horse and looked as if it were about to attack, while the horse about to be attacked seemed ironically to welcome its impending peril.

     Jeremiah stared at the drawing with his bushy eyebrows scrunched against his pince-nez as if he were trying to untie another of life’s great Gordian knots. He thought to himself: “Stuntman. Hmmmm… Stuntman?” He pushed down at his pince-nez to be sure they remained in place on his nose and wondered: “Why in heaven’s name is there a drawing of one horse attacking another on an invitation to a bachelor party? I wonder what the symbolism is? Such a metaphor makes no sense.”

     After several minutes of contemplation and still unable to make any headway in the metaphoric untying process, he looked down at the invitation, his eyes carefully avoiding the puzzling reference to a Stuntman and the strange drawing of two horses. He took out his pocket watch and stared at its face through his pince-nez. Sure enough, it was seven o’clock. He looked down at the invitation again, his eyes carefully avoiding the puzzling reference and strange drawing a second time, and checked the place. He looked up at the large neon sign by the road and it blinked a pale blue Adirondack Motel in a fine script. Then he looked back at the formally printed invitation, his eyes yet again carefully avoiding the reference and drawing, to check the room. Sure enough, he was standing in front of the door to the Shangri-La Suite. He knocked timidly.

     After several tense moments, the door swung open and there stood a tall, well-built young man whose features were partially hidden beneath the brim of a large Mexican sombrero. The man lifted his head in laughter and then Jeremiah recognized him. It was Mr. Charles Fontaine, best-man-to-be, with a big grin plastered across his face. He shouted, “The father of the bride arrives! Glad you could make it, Perfesser! You’re the first member of the posse to mosey in! Welcome to the Shangri-La Suite of the Adirondack Motel. Could there be a better place for a bachelor party than a place called the Shangri-La?” Charles waved the professor forward and yelled, “Come on in!”

     Jeremiah stood before the doorway peering into what appeared to be a large living room. The Shangri-La was obviously a luxury suite of rooms. Charles yelled encouragement, “Don’t be shy, Prof, step into the scene of tonight’s crime.”

     Jeremiah cautiously stepped into a large living room and looked about in wonderment. He had never seen a motel suite such as this. To his left was a counter with two bar stools and behind the counter, a kitchenette with what appeared to be all the modern appliances one could desire. At the living room’s center stood a large circular coffee table before a huge leather couch. A mosaic of an airborne cupid with arrow drawn decorated the surface of the coffee table. The large leather couch was an off-pink, a color apparently intended to complement the mosaic. Across the living room, were wide double doors. The doors were closed and over them was a relief of red hearts and yellow and purple flowers surrounded by an intertwining green vine with small pointed bright green leaves, and above the relief were the words “All for Love” in bold red script.

     Charles raised his hands above his head and said, “Well, what do you think of the place?”

     Jeremiah replied, “What kind of suite is this?”

     Charles began to laugh uncontrollably. When he regained control of himself, he said, “You look like the White Rabbit about to fall down the hole into Wonderland. Prof, this ain’t Wonderland and there ain’t no Alice here. It’s the god damn honeymoon suite!”

     Jeremiah looked dumbfounded and managed a weak, “Honeymoon suite?”

     “Yeah, I rented the place for three days. Tonight for the bachelor party, tomorrow night, after the wedding, Leslie and Jamie are going to stay here for a couple of days before they fly to wherever they’re going for the rest of their honeymoon. Know where they’re going?”

     Jeremiah stared at the relief and muttered to himself, “The Shangri-La. How appropriate.” Then he answered Charles’ question, “I’m afraid I don’t know. I think Rose said that Jamie’s kept it a big secret. Apparently even Leslie doesn’t know. At least that’s what I think Rose said.”

     Charles put his hands on his hips admiring the relief of hearts and flowers over the double doors and said, “Well Jamie’s been pretty tight-lipped about their honeymoon destination with the posse too. We don’t know where they’re going to end up, but I know where their adventure’s beginning… You won’t believe the bedroom… And the bathroom? It’s got a humongous hot tub. The three days cost me a small fortune. It’s my gift to the newlyweds.”

     Jeremiah handed Charles a wrapped gift, obviously a book. “I brought this gift for Jamie. It’s a copy of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”

     Charles took the wrapped gift and tossed it onto the large pink leather couch and yelled over his shoulder, “Great,” as he walked to the counter that separated the kitchenette from the living room. “Would you give me a hand setting up before the other horse’s asses arrive? Little Horses are always late, myself excluded. I don’t think the bastards can tell time… which is pretty stupid given they all have digital watches. But they’ll all show up. If not for the Stuntman… for this!” And with those words he turned and held up a bottle of tequila. “I got eight bottles of this stuff for 25 bucks.”

     Jeremiah looked puzzled, “Who’s Stuntman? I saw a reference to him on the invitation.”

     “Prof, I thought you knew. Jamie’s Stuntman. It’s his nom de caballito.”

     Jeremiah peered down at the invitation which he still held in his hand, “Oh, the Stuntman on the invitation is Jamie. Now the invitation is starting to make sense. By the way, that invitation is nicely designed and printed.”

     Charles was admiring the eight bottles of tequila, “Made a bunch of them to commemorate the great celebration. Ain’t computers grand.”

     “What’s the significance of the drawing of the two horses?”

     “The two horses? Prof, look at that magnificent beast rearing up on its hind legs. Notice anything?”

     “Nothing other than one horse seems angry and is about to attack the other horse.”

     “Prof, that ain’t anger. That’s desire. And that ain’t just any horse. That’s a stallion. And he’s hung like… well… a horse. And that other horse… that’s a mare.”

     “Oh my” was all Jeremiah could say as the metaphoric meaning of the drawing dawned on him.

     Charles, still holding the bottle of tequila before Jeremiah, said, “Brand X, X and X. Never saw this brand before and I’ve seen a bunch. Found them in that liquor store next to the laundromat in town. There they were. Eight beautiful bottles covered with dust. Bought all eight for 25 bucks… twenty-five bucks. The guy in the liquor store just wanted to get rid of them. Great deal!”

     Jeremiah walked over to the bar where Charles was placing one of the bottles of Brand triple-X tequila on a tray with two shot glasses, a salt shaker and a plate of lime slices. Without looking up, Charles said, “Back in a minute,” as he walked over to the far side of the living room and knocked on the double doors to the bedroom. A man appeared and took the tray. The man had a very real, large black mustache and looked like a modern-day Mexican bandito. He wore a black tenement tee shirt and his biceps bulged as he held the tray. He and Charles spoke in hushed tones. Then Charles reached into his back pocket, pulled out his wallet and counted out a number of bills, placing each bill on the tray as he counted. The muscular modern day Mexican bandito look-a-like smiled broadly, shook his head yes and disappeared behind the double doors.

     Charles literally danced back to the bar and clapped his hands. When he reached the bar, he rhythmically swung his fists in a chugging motion yelling, “Cha, cha, cha!” as he did so. He then said “And that, my Perfesser, is the entertainment, or at least the manager for the entertainment, and for a few more pesos, the entertainment has agreed to a little something special.”

     Jeremiah, still puzzled by the situation in which he found himself, said, “You hired entertainment?”

     “Yup! A stripper. A bachelor party ain’t a bachelor party without one. Grab three bottles of Mr. Brand X, X and X and put them on the coffee table.” As Charles spoke, he grabbed two bottles by their necks in his left hand and one in his right and walked over to the large round coffee table, which dominated the center of the room, where he carefully placed the bottles around the airborne cupid. Jeremiah followed suit and placed another three bottles on the coffee table. Charles then evenly spaced the six bottles around the edge of the coffee table. He went back to the kitchenette and returned with a large tray containing six salt shakers and a large plate of lime slices, which he placed at the coffee table’s center. He stood for a moment admiring his work and mumbled “That should do it for now.”

     Jeremiah and Charles plopped down on the large pink leather sofa to await the rest of the posse. Academic curiosity gnawed at Jeremiah and he asked, “Why brand X, X and X tequila? Why not one of the better tequilas like Curvos? I suppose a good tequila is more expensive, but I’ve read that a cheap one has a very harsh taste and causes terrible hangovers.”

     Charles smiled, “I think you mean Cuervos. Harsh is the point, Prof, and Cuervos ain’t harsh. For a tequila to be right for a gathering of the Posse of Little Horses, it has to be harsh, as you put it. It has to slam you. It just so happens that cheap tequilas slam the hardest. This Brand triple-X is cheap and kicks like a mule. I’ve tested it. I was lucky to find this stuff. It’s getting harder and harder to find really cheap tequila. Seems like the tequila industry has gone upscale. For us, it’s not the price that counts. It’s the kick.”

     Jeremiah scratched his chin in thought and said, “I don’t understand. Slam? Kick?”

     “That’s right, Prof. Kick drives tequila’s spirit to a man’s very core where his soul resides, and enables the tequila to do its job. I call it the kick of truth.”

     Jeremiah sat for a moment staring at the coffee table before them and the six bottles of tequila evenly spaced around its perimeter. He was facing another of life’s Gordian knots. This gathering of the so-called Posse of Little Horses raised questions he had not anticipated. Words thundered across his consciousness: stuntman, caballitos, tequila, the bite of truth? He decided to begin with the first word that had crossed his mind: “Is this in any way related as to why my future son-in-law is called Stuntman?”

     “You betcha. He’s the man, or rather he’s the Stuntman! That’s his nom de caballito.”

     “Why is he so called?”

     “Prof, because he invented the Stunt, in many ways the raison d’être of our posse. Many others have claimed the title, but for the Posse of Little Horses… he’s the one.”

     “So Jamie has earned this… what did you call it?”

     “Nom de caballito”

     “So Jamie earned this nom de caballito of Stuntman by inventing the Stunt, which as it turns out is the raison d’être for your Posse of Little Horses?

     “Co-rect-a-mundo, my Perfesser!”

     “And what may I ask, is this stunt?”

     “You know about the ritual for drinking tequila, right?”

     “Where one licks a slice of lemon, drinks a shot of tequila and then licks some salt?”

     “Well you kinda got all the parts but you ended up with an ugly camel instead of a handsome caballito. First you lick the back of your hand just below the middle finger. It’s got to be just below the middle finger, the one used for the single finger salute. Then you pour some salt on the wet spot. You lick the salt and quickly slam the shot of tequila, as we say. Then you bite into a slice of lime… not a slice of lemon but a slice of lime. It’s got to be lime. The salt clears the palate by neutralizing the natural acidity of the mouth and the flavor of the lime enhances the after taste of the tequila so that you get full benefit of the tequila’s kick.”

     “But that’s not the stunt, right?”

     “Riiiight! Jamie invented the ritual we call the Stunt. He’s the man or rather he’s the Stuntman! He invented our path to truth. First you lick the back of your left hand just below the middle finger. Then you pour a little salt on the wet spot. You snort the salt off the back of your hand, quickly slam the shot of tequila which you are holding in your right hand, slam that little horse on the table and squash the juice of a slice of lime into your left eye. That… my dear Perfesser… is the Stunt!”

     “Slam the little horse? I thought you were the little horse? You slam yourself on the table?”

     “No! Although that would be a nice touch. I’ll have to remember that.”

     Charles walked over to the bar and returned with two long, thick shot glasses which he held up to Jeremiah. “These are called little horses in the world of tequila. In Spanish they’re called caballitos. It’s where we got the name of our posse.”

     Charles handed Jeremiah one of the caballitos which Jeremiah carefully perused, turning it slowly in his fingers. Charles cautioned Jeremiah, “Careful now, that’s my personal caballito, my vessel of truth. Harm it not.”

     Jeremiah pushed his pince-nez down on his nose and looked at the caballito. “It says ‘Charlie-O’ on your caballito. Why Charlie-O?”

     “That’s my nom de caballito. All the members of the posse have one.”

     “What’s it mean?”

     “Prof, it’s a long story.” He took his caballito from Jeremiah and handed him the other one he’d brought from the bar. “This, Perfesser, is your own personal caballito. Keep it as a reminder of tonight’s celebration.”

     Jeremiah held the caballito up and turned it so that it was horizontal and read aloud the word “Perfesser”, which was neatly printed in black along the side of the caballito.

     Charles smiled. “My dear Perfesser, tonight you are an honorary Little Horse!” And with that, Charles gave Jeremiah a hardy slap on the back knocking his pince-nez from his nose and swinging by the blue velvet cord attached to the vest which covered his more than ample belly. “Perfesser, you already have a nom de caballito.”

     A knock at the door interrupted their little tête-à-tête and Charles jumped to his feet and yelled, “The rest of the posse has arrived!”

Slip Sliding in the bower of a Chicano love goddess…

     Charles ran to the door and threw it open. There stood a short, squat young man, whose blonde head was crowned with the world’s worst mullet, and a tall, thin, dark-complexioned young man with a large black mustache and a gigantic gold Star of David necklace prominently displayed about his bare, dark neck.

     As they entered the room, Charles yelled, “Pig Fat! Joobie! Two sights that make my eyes sore… and I mean that. Sober, you guys look like shit on a stick.”

     The short squat young man mumbled, “Go fuck yourself,” and pushed past Charles. The tall, thin, dark-complexioned man with the thick black mustache followed but with a slow mosey of a walk.

     Charles made the introductions. “Little Horses, this is the Perfesser, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Leslie’s father. Perfesser, this redneck Okie is Jonnie ‘Pig Fat’ Hogg and this Mexican half breed is Garcia Rosenbloom. We call him ‘Joobie’, short for Jew-beaner. His old man was a Mexican Jew. Believe that… and a wetback to boot. Swam the Rio Grande to the U, S of A doin’ a Mexican version of the Yiddish crawl.”

     Jeremiah stood and said a meek, “Hello, gentlemen. I am glad to make your acquaintance.”

     The two recently arrived Little Horses gave Jeremiah a nod and walked over to the coffee table. They took small leather pouches from their shirt pockets, opened the pouches and pulled out their own caballitos. Charles pointed to a bottle of tequila on the coffee table. “That one’s yours, Pig Fat,” and pointing to the bottle to the left said, “Joobie, yours is right there, to Pig Fat’s left. No, no, Joobie, Pig Fat’s other left.” Joobie obediently moved to Pig Fat’s other left.

     The two Little Horses carefully set their caballitos before their designated bottles of Brand XXX tequila. Charles asked, “Hey Pig Fat, where’s the Guinea and our guest of honor?”

     Jonnie Hogg was carefully centering his caballito before his bottle of tequila and without looking up said, “They’re outside. Took forever to… ,” and before he could finish the sentence, the door swung open with a bang.

     Someone shouted “Poncho Villa, we have arrived!” and two young men charged into the living room. Jeremiah recognized both young men, one being Louis Fazzano, Rose’s nephew, and the other, Jamie Steinkraus, his prospective son-in-law.

     Charles said, “Perfesser, you know these two as Louis Fazzano and Jamie Steinkraus, but for tonight’s celebration, they’re to be addressed as the Guinea and Stuntman.”

     Jeremiah mumbled a bewildered, “So it shall be,” and sat back down on the large pink leather couch.

     The Guinea, aka Louis Fazzano, who could easily have been cast as one of John Travolta’s Brooklyn buddies in Saturday Night Fever, looked about the room, whistled loudly and said, “Damn. This place looks like a French whore house with a microwave. What’s that say over the door? All for Love? Damn!”

     Jonnie Hogg yelled to the newly arrived Little Horses, “Get yer asses over here so we can begin.”

     Charles asked Jonnie derisively, “What’s barbequing your ass, Pig Fat?”

     Without looking up, Jonnie replied, “A fuckin’ afternoon in the Albany county jail. That’s what’s barbequin’ my fuckin’ ass.”

     Louis joined the discussion, and not reluctantly. “Shit, I had to drive down to Albany and bail you two assholes out. I’m the one should be pissed. And you two owe me five hundred bucks… each. Why the hell were you pissing out the window? That speeding ticket makes sense, but pissing out the window and littering?”

     Jonnie wiped his nose with his sleeve and said, “I had to take a fuckin’ leak.”

     Louis yelled back, “Well why didn’t you piss into one of those beer bottles?”

     “Couldn’t.”

     “Couldn’t?”

     “That’s right: couldn’t as in could fuckin’ not! We only had one bottle of Fitzgerald’s left and it still had beer in it.”

     “You guys never buy just one quart. What’d you do with all the other bottles?”

     “Chucked ‘em out the window. That’s how come we got ticketed for litterin’ too.”

     Charles rejoined the discussion. “You were drinkin’ Fitzgerald’s? Shit, if you pissed in the bottle it’d have improved the taste.”

     Jonnie, as unrepentant as ever, retorted, “Well if you were goin’ to take the next slug, I would have!”

     Garcia Rosenbloom stood silently before his bottle of tequila smiling inscrutably during the exchange.

     Charles pointed at the bottle of tequila sitting on the coffee table before Jeremiah and next to his and said, “Up, Perfesser, up!” as he motioned palms up toward the ceiling. He then pointed towards the coffee table and said, “Put your caballito there. The ceremony is about to commence!” Jeremiah stood and dutifully obeyed. Louis “the Guinea” Fazzano and Jamie “Stuntman” Steinkraus removed their caballitos from pouches as Jonnie “Pig Fat” Hogg and Garcia “Joobie” Rosenbloom had done and carefully placed them before their designated bottles of tequila. Charles checked the table to be sure all was in order and then placed his caballito before his bottle of tequila.

     The posse of five Little Horses opened their bottles of Brand XXX tequila and filled their caballitos, returning each caballito to its designated place on the coffee table. Charles said in rather reverential tones, “Our caballitos have become vessels of truth.” Jeremiah followed their lead.

     Each of the Little Horses licked the back of his left hand below the middle finger, grabbed a salt shaker from the coffee table and poured salt on the wet spot, returning the salt shakers to the center of the coffee table. Jeremiah followed their lead. The five Little Horses then thrust their right hands above the coffee table, clutched their hands into fists, all fists meeting above the center of the coffee table. Jeremiah timidly followed suit. As the fists met, the five Little Horses shouted in unison, “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” snorted the salt off their left hands, grabbed their vessels of truth with their right hands, slamming the tequila down, then slamming the now empty caballitos onto the coffee table, all in unison. Without hesitation they quickly and in unison grabbed slices of lime from the plate at the center of the coffee table with their left hands, quickly raised the slices of lime above their left eyes and squashed the juice from the slices of lime. They then threw the spent lime slices onto the coffee table and shouted “Fuck you!” shooting their right fists into the air with their middle fingers pointing to the ceiling in the familiar single-finger salute.

     Jeremiah stood holding his vessel of truth and watched in stunned disbelief. He had witnessed a strange ceremony, more like a carefully rehearsed insanely irreverent Greek chorus. Jamie yelled to Jeremiah, “Prof, slam your vessel of truth!”

     A dazed Jeremiah dutifully sipped from his caballito until the tequila was gone. At first he felt nothing and then a terrible burning sensation gripped him and he started to cough. Jamie slapped him on the back and said, “Prof, that’s the slowest naked slam I’ve ever witnessed!” as laughter filled the room. Jeremiah smiled sheepishly and sat back on the large pink leather couch.

     The salt poured, the tequila slammed and the lime slices squashed as the Posse of Little Horses and their one honorary member sat around the coffee table and drank tequila following the more conventional ritual. Jeremiah followed the lead of the Little Horses, albeit somewhat more slowly but fast enough to start to feel very warm. He liked the feeling… a lot.

     Jeremiah, his academic inquisitiveness now even more stimulated and less inhibited, asked, “Why do you call the… caballitos… vessels of truth?”

     Charles replied, “Because the caballito is filled with tequila and the tequila, once slammed, whispers to your soul, Know who you are. Be who you are. Thus the caballito becomes the vessel of truth. It bares your soul. It strips away the clutter. It teaches you your inner truth. It enables you to be who you truly are.”

     Jonnie smiled and interrupted Charles’ philosophical discourse on the consumption of tequila, “Yeah, it enables you to be drunk!”

     Ignoring Jonnie’s interruption, Jeremiah mulled over what Charles had said and then asked, “What’s the idea of packing a punch have to do with all this? From what I felt, the punch is painful. What’s the purpose of pain in all this?”

     Garcia Rosenbloom slammed another caballito of truth and said, “Othingnelito learscito wayasito hetito luttercito boutasito eryito oulsito ikelsito ainpito, istermito erfesserpito.” (Nothing clears away the clutter about yer soul like pain, Mister Perfesser.)

     Jeremiah looked at Garcia and back to Charles with an expression of great puzzlement. Charles asked Jonnie Hogg, “Hey Pig Fat, how many has Joobie slammed?”

     Jonnie raised four fingers and wiggled his thumb.

     Charles turned to Jeremiah and said, “Joobie’s speaking a Mexican dialect of Pig Latin that he invented. He always speaks it after five slams. Say again, Joobie” and Garcia Rosenbloom repeated what he had said.

     Charles translated for Jeremiah, “He says something like, loosely translated, pain clears the clutter from the soul,” adding “I can understand beaner Pig Latin but I don’t speak it very well.”

     Jeremiah replied, “That’s amazing. Does he speak Spanish?”

     Charles smiled, “No, but we think he speaks a little English.”

     Garcia Rosenbloom slammed his caballito on the coffee table after another draught of truth and said, “Herewisita ancingdita enoritasita, istermito harlieocita?” (“Where’s the dancing senorita, Mister Charlie-O?”)

     Charles stood and raised his hands and waved for silence. “Joobie wants the entertainment to begin and I agree.” With that, he picked up his bottle of Brand XXX tequila in one hand and his caballito in the other, walked over to the double doors to the bridal suite’s bedroom, and gently knocked on the doors with his bottle of Brand XXX. The large muscular man in the black tenement tee shirt opened the door. Jeremiah recognized him as the entertainment manager he’d seen earlier, but there was a difference. The entertainment manager swayed a bit as he stood at the door and grabbed the door jamb for balance as he and Charles spoke in hushed words. The entertainment manager stepped back into the room. Charles turned, motioned for the others to follow and disappeared into the bridal chamber. With Brand XXX bottle and caballito in hand, the rest of the posse followed.

     Just barely into the chamber the posse halted its already halting progress and gawked, for there before them was a large, heart-shaped bed on which lay a lovely and quite busty senorita in what appeared to be a traditional low-cut Mexican costume, the dress itself a somewhat shortened version for the senorita’s legs were bare. The posse looked up and smiling down at them was a clear reflection of the busty senorita. Jamie looked up at the ceiling mirror and muttered, “Damn, Charlie-O, where’d you find this place?” Charles laughed and said nothing. The entertainment manager wobbled over to a side table where a large boom box sat and turned it on. Trumpets signaling the beginning of a bull fight blared forth.

     The busty and lovely senorita waved for the posse to come forward. “Come, come, my gringo friends and be seated.” Seven chairs were arranged in a semicircle about the large heart-shaped bed. The bandito entertainment manager plopped himself down in the chair farthest from the door. The lovely and busty senorita waved them forward again: “Come, come, my little gringo friends. I will not bite you… unless of course you want me to.” Charles motioned for Jamie to seat himself in the center chair, the place of honor. Everyone else wandered to a vacant chair and sat.

     The senorita rose to a sitting position facing Jamie, pulled up her knees and spread her legs slowly as she leaned back on her elbows. Her shortened dress slid up towards her belly. She looked at Jamie and said, “Do you not like what you see of your Juanita?” What Jamie first saw were the beads of sweat running down her forehead. His eyes slowly moved down her body, his gaze resting between her legs. The lovely Juanita said again, “Do you not like what you see, my little gringo friend?” Jamie slowly shook his head yes as he admired the bright red thong which formed an alluring camel toe that could not fully contain her lovely and very full bush of black pubic hair.

     Juanita then swirled off the bed. As the music and cheering blared, the busty and lovely Juanita bent at the waist and as she did so, her breasts slid free of her dress. She placed her hands on either side of her head, sticking out the index finger of each hand as she pawed the floor with her feet as would an angry bull. She pawed the floor several more times in place, her large and firm breasts bouncing with each pawing. She then charged around the chair in which Garcia Rosenbloom sat on the far end of the row of chairs, rubbing the back of Garcia’s neck with her breasts as she passed. Sweat poured down Garcia’s forehead as he slammed yet another caballito of tequila and muttered, “Dito ikelito otito uckinsito noito hosetito esselsvita foita ruthtita.” (“I’d like to suck on those vessels of truth.”)

     The beautiful mad bull then charged in front of Jonnie Hogg, paused, pushed her head into his lap and poked her index fingers into his thighs as she pawed the floor before swirling about and dancing behind Jamie. As she passed him, she gently nibbled on the back of his neck and he too slammed another vessel of truth after she passed.

     Juanita kept swirling, now her back toward Charles. She bent over and pushed her bright red thong down to her ankles with her two forefingers, wiggling her hips as she did so. Charles threw back the sombrero shading his eyes to get a better view. The bright red thong fell to her ankles fully baring her plump and jiggling buttock cheeks a foot away from Charles’ face. Looking over her left shoulder, she smiled and blew him a kiss.

     She then stepped out of her bright red thong, grabbed it with the toes of her left foot, twirled and with a high kicking motion, kicked the thong through the air and onto Louis Fazzano’s lap. Louis grabbed the thong and pushed it against his nose yelling “Toro! Toro! Toro!” as he did so. Then he too slammed another vessel of truth and said, “Nothing smells better than napalm in the morning.”

     Juanita, now naked except for her short dress, which was bunched about her waist, twirled before Jeremiah, clapping her hands above her head as she did so. Jeremiah held his full caballito in his right hand over his lap. Juanita looked into his eyes as she clapped her hands above her head and moved her hips in a slow grinding motion. Jeremiah’s extended hand began to shake. The dress bunched about Juanita’s waist slowly slipped down her body. As it fell to the floor about her ankles, she yelled “Olé!” Jeremiah, in an almost trance-like state, moved his caballito to his lips, spilling tequila down his now jiggling belly and onto his partially hidden fly as he did so. He slammed what was now a vessel of half truth in one fast yet unsteady motion. Juanita gently patted his lap and said, “Poor Señor Gringo, you have spilled tequila on your pants.” Bending slightly at the knees, she spread her legs and said, “Perhaps seeing Juanita will help Señor Gringo forget his discomfort.” A dumbfounded Jeremiah shook his head yes slowly as the naked Juanita spun to the great heart-shaped bed and sat down facing the Little Horses with her legs straddling the point of the great heart-shaped bridal bed.

     Juanita leaned back on her elbows, spread her legs and said, “Do the little gringos not like Juanita’s body?”

     Charles yelled, “We sure do! How about some of those tequila body slams we paid for?”

     Juanita scrunched back onto the bed and lay down. She smiled and said, “As my little gringo friends wish.”

     Charles turned to Jamie and said, “The guest of honor first.”

     Jamie poured himself another vessel of truth and staggered over to the bed, kneeling over the prone Juanita. The other Little Horses followed in their somewhat unsteady gait, surrounded the great heart-shaped bed and chanted, “Bod-ee slam! Bod-ee slam! Bod-ee slam!” Jeremiah remained seated and stared blankly at the scene as it unfolded before him.

     Jamie held his caballito above Juanita and slowly poured its contents onto Juanita’s belly button. Then he quickly knelt over her, supporting himself with his arms and licked the tequila from Juanita’s belly button, quickly licking in circles around her belly button as the tequila spread across her belly. Juanita laughed as Jamie licked away and yelled, “Oh, Señor Gringo, that tickles.”

     Juanita kept laughing away as each of the Little Horses performed a tequila body slam on Juanita’s welcoming belly to the chants of “Bod-ee slam, Bod-ee slam!”

     Charles turned and noticed that Jeremiah was still seated in his chair and had not taken part. He yelled to Jeremiah, “Prof, you gotta body slam. If you don’t, it’ll bring bad luck to the groom. It’s a long-held tradition.”

     Jeremiah, even in his present condition, remained concerned with what he considered important details and slurred, “How long this tradition held?”

     Charles looked down at his wrist watch and said, “Twenty-seven minutes. But as an educated man such as yourself knows, twenty-seven minutes can be an eternity. Time is relative, but bad luck is forever!”

     Jeremiah carefully if somewhat unsteadily poured tequila into his caballito, spilling as he poured. He put the bottle of tequila down by his chair and kicked it over as his staggered toward the bed. He turned and looked somewhat befuddled as tequila spilled on the rug around his chair. He had lost his concentration momentarily but regained his purpose as the chants of “Bod-ee slam! Bod-ee slam!” rang forth.

     He approached the bower of love from the front, unsteadily lifted his left knee and then gently set it down on the left edge of the great heart-shaped bed’s point. Juanita, to make things easier for the unsteady Jeremiah, scrunched down the bed towards him until her legs were on either side of him. As he leaned forward to pour the tequila onto Juanita’s belly button, his other knee caught on the edge of the bed and he fell forward pouring his tequila onto Juanita’s thick bush of black pubic hair as he fell. He landed face first between her legs and could taste the tequila. Juanita screamed, laughed and instinctively brought her legs together over Jeremiah’s shoulders and around the back of his neck, trapping his head, face first, between her legs. He instinctively licked away at the tequila.

     Juanita leaned back on her elbows and looked down between her two firm, large breasts at Jeremiah as he licked away. She looked up at the ceiling mirror, threw back her arms and moaned, “Oh, Señor Gringo, you know how to say gra… gra… gra… ci… a… a… aaaas!”

     The Little Horses, apparently believing that Jeremiah’s pubic body slam was intentional, cheered wildly, “Per-fess-er! Per-fess-er! Per-fess-er!” As Jeremiah munched away, his jaw tired as the weight of his upper body pressed down upon his face. He pushed up, slipped off the bed and fell onto his back, hitting the floor with a thud. He looked up. Garcia stood over him and yelled, “Erfesserpito, ouyito avehito ventinito a-ito ewenito odybito lamsito, hetito unatito urritobito! Hetito unatito urritobito!” (“Perfesser, you have invented a new body slam, the tuna burrito! The tuna burrito!”)

     Jeremiah stared at the ceiling and saw a dark, luscious young love goddess smiling down at him. He heard the words “tuna burrito” shouted repeatedly. He slowly closed his eyes and fell into something resembling a deep sleep.




Saturday, June 28

A rose is not always rosey…

     Jeremiah slowly opened his eyes with great effort, the parting of his eyelids an act of pure courage. As he did so, light blasted his brain with pain. He saw above him what he thought looked like a familiar ceiling, but he wasn’t sure as it circled above him. He desperately wanted to know where his body now lay. He wasn’t even sure he was still alive, thus making it distinctly possible in his mind that he was not. Perhaps he was condemned to one of Dante’s seven circles of hell. Or was it nine? The details of the Inferno escaped him, buried in the waves of pain that scrambled his thoughts. Through the pain he slowly turned his head to see if any of Satan’s helpers were about. Then as his eyes slowly scanned the room, he froze in fear, for he was sure he was in hell, a living hell. There, primping before the mirror over the big dresser along the far wall stood… Missus… Rose… Fazzano…Wright… known to family, friends and even casual acquaintances by another name: the Barracuda. He thought to himself, “God, I wish I were dead.”

     He heard words. “Two strange young men dragged you in last night. A short, stubby reprobate and a tall Mexican wearing one of those gaudy Star of David necklaces. The stubby one looked like a poorly groomed redneck, if that’s possible. The other one appeared to be a cross between Poncho Villa and Ichabod Crane. Was he Jewish?” Jeremiah groaned and after a short pause the words continued. “They dragged you in by your arm pits and dumped you into bed. I think the Mexican explained to me what happened, but he spoke a foreign language. I didn’t understand a word. Sounded like a weird dialect of Spanish. Took me half an hour to get that stupid corduroy suit off that drunken body of yours. I cleaned it as best I could and pressed it this morning since it’s all you have to wear today. It’s hanging in the closet.”

     Jeremiah heard footsteps move away from him and then return. He heard a fizzing sound, then more words. “Drink this and get your adjunct professor’s butt out of bed. I’m going to Leslie’s room. I’m meeting her and the bridesmaids there to dress. She reserved a room at the resort’s Blue Mountain Lodge down the road. You know, so that Jamie wouldn’t see her before the wedding and she could have some privacy before the ceremony.”

     Jeremiah pushed up on his elbows and then very slowly and with great effort moved into a seated position. A hand, holding something, entered into his field of vision. He groaned and held out his left hand. He felt something cool thrust into his outstretched palm. It slowly registered that he was now holding a glass. The words continued. “You’ll have to drive me to that lodge building. Drink. It’ll make you feel better. You’ve got half an hour to get up to snuff.”

     He drank slowly from the glass. He felt the fizzing liquid cross his tongue as he swallowed and much to his surprise, his tongue found the sensation quite pleasant. Words resumed. “This place is gigantic. I had no idea.” As the liquid slid down his throat, his stomach reacted quite differently. It found the fizzing liquid quite revolting. He spun off the bed and landed on his hands and knees. He crawled forward instinctively and found himself over a large porcelain toilet bowl as his stomach consummated its revolt on its own initiative and heaved the contents of his stomach into the large porcelain toilet bowl which he found before him. The revolt continued for some time. His stomach muscles ached from the contractions. The revolt finally ceased and he leaned his arms forward, put his head down and closed his eyes. Then he heard more words… those most dreadful of sounds… “You’ll have to drive me to that lodge and help me find her room. I forgot to get the number. Can’t be that hard to find.”

     He thought to himself, “Maybe I am in Hell.” More words rained down upon him. “Brush your damn teeth. I can smell you from here.” He leaned back against the bathroom wall and groaned. A shadowy figure filled the doorway. The apparition came forward and spoke still more words, “Drink this before you brush your teeth.” He felt something warm thrust into his hands. He brought the warm vessel to his lips and sipped. The flavor of sweet, very sweet, black coffee slid down his throat. Then the apparition pulled open his right hand and thrust several small white pebbles into his now outstretched palm. More words. “Take these, you horse’s ass.” The apparition disappeared. He put the small white pebbles into his mouth and washed them down as he slowly drained the cup of sweet black coffee.

     Jeremiah was hurting but the world was slowly coming into focus. He stripped off his underwear and stepped into the shower, turning the water on full blast. The cold water jolted his body and then he adjusted the water so that it was lukewarm. He felt the water pelting the top of his head, rushing over his face, rolling down his rotund body and slowly washing away his pain. He turned off the water and stepped out of the shower stall. Grabbing a large bath towel, he carefully dried himself and with some difficulty tied the towel around his midsection for the large bath towel barely reached about his huge waist. He robotically brushed his teeth avoiding the reflection in the mirror before him.

     After these Herculean efforts, he turned and slowly lumbered out of the bathroom towards the bed. The thought of lying back down dominated what few thought processes were occurring in his brain. As he approached the bed, he noticed a pair of sweats spread out before him and a pair of sandals on the floor below. Any hope of lying down died a quick, painful death.

     He stood before the bed looking at the sweats. Then more words rained down upon him. “I bought the sweatpants and shirt at the shop here. I could only get extra large, so you’ll have to squeeze into them. I also got a pair of flip-flops. I think they’ll fit.”

     As he reached for the sweat pants, the towel about his midsection fell to the floor and there he stood naked as a gigantic jay bird. The Barracuda stood by the door next to a huge suitcase with a garment bag draped over it, watching him. Then more words shot forth, “You’d do well to get yourself a smaller belly or a longer thingy. Hustle it up. We’re late.”

     Still too numb to feel insult to his masculinity or any other aspect of his being for that matter, he pulled the sweat pants over his naked body. He grunted and struggled as he did so since even extra-large sweatpants were a couple of sizes too small for him. It was only with great difficulty that he could stretch them over the rather corpulent lower half of his body. He began to sweat from the physical effort. He then pulled the sweatshirt over his head and grunted yet again as he forced it over the upper half of his rather corpulent body. Sweat poured off his forehead. Having succeeded in covering his body after much struggle, he now had to cover his feet. As he stood over the sandals by the bedside, he could not see them for his great belly blocked his vision. He slid his feet about the floor feeling for the sandals and after many attempts got his bare feet into them and slowly shambled over to the mirror.

     He stood before the mirror above the dresser trying to gather his thoughts, wondering what the next step in his dressing routine should be. He noticed that he could not see well and after some thought realized that he was not wearing his pince-nez. He heard more words. “They’re on the dresser. Hustle it up or I’ll be late.” He felt about the blurry dresser top until his fingers came upon a pair of pince-nez. He picked them up and pushed them down upon the bridge of his nose, ending this particular stage of his ordeal by pinning the pince-nez’s blue velvet safety cord to his sweatshirt.

     He peered into the mirror to confirm that he was still alive and noticed that the sweatshirt covering his upper half and the sweatpants covering his lower half did not meet in the middle. A large, hairy band of white flesh, decorated with a huge belly button, separated the two halves of his attire. And the parts of his body that the sweats succeeded in covering did so as if they were a very tight body stocking. His sweats revealed every wrinkle, every indentation, every lump of his more than ample body. The sweats became a relief map for his physical being, and it was not an appealing map.

     The running commentary continued. “You should have stayed in the room last night and rested like I did. You’re too old for bachelor parties as you’ve more than amply proven. Quit admiring yourself in the mirror and grab the suitcase and garment bag.” He did as instructed, followed his wife out the door and with great difficulty trundled the suitcase and garment bag to their Volvo.

     Jeremiah stuffed the large suitcase and garment bag into the back seat of their late model but somewhat wrinkled automobile and then stuffed himself into the driver’s seat. He awaited more orders. The Barracuda, already in the passenger’s seat, did not disappoint him. “Take a left out of the parking lot and drive down the hill about a half mile. The Blue Mountain Lodge is the first building on the left.” He did as ordered, exiting their parking lot, driving down the dirt road and pulling into the parking lot in front of the aforementioned Blue Mountain Lodge. The parking lot was huge and the only parking space he could find was a considerable distance from the lodge’s main entrance.

     He tumbled from the front seat of the Volvo and with what seemed like a Herculean labor slowly pulled the garment bag and suitcase from the back seat. With yet a second Herculean labor, he slung the garment bag over his shoulder and dragged the suitcase across the parking lot. He tried to keep up with Rose but the burden of the suitcase and garment bag with the added weight of his hangover slowed him considerably. Sweat beaded on his forehead. The wet patches under his armpits, and in other creases of his body better not mentioned, spread. He could feel the sweatpants vigorously rubbing against those rather tender better not mentioned body parts as he struggled forward. When he finally caught up with Rose, she was standing in the lodge’s foyer before a large desk.

     She looked at him and demanded, “Where’s the clerk?”

     Somewhat taken aback and not expecting to have to field this question or any question for that matter, he mumbled a reply after looking about the foyer. “Ah… looks like there isn’t one.” Much to his dismay the dialogue continued.

     “Why not?”

     “I don’t know, dearest. What room is she in?”

     “I already told you I don’t know her room number. Now what do we do, Mr. Genius? I can’t call her on my cell. There’s no service in this godforsaken place. ”

     Jeremiah could tell that Rose was in full panic. She was hotter than a frying pan with anger and frustration and quickly moving into her red zone, for her a very short and oft-traveled trip. He looked about and noticed a phone on the desk. He pointed to the phone and said, “Call the main desk in the admin building. They’ll know.”

     On the faceplate of the phone was a list for all the lodge’s services and their extensions. Rose found the number for the main desk and hurriedly punched the number into the phone’s keypad as the phone jumped about the desk with the punch of each number. Jeremiah only heard one side of the conversation but even in his present condition it wasn’t all that difficult to figure out the other side.

     “Hello? I’m with the wedding party. I’m the bride’s mother.”

     “Yes, the bride’s mother. I’m supposed to meet my daughter at her room to dress for the wedding ceremony. She has a room reserved in the Blue Mountain Lodge, but I don’t know her room number.”

     “I’m staying in the TR cabin.”

     “My name? Rose Fazzano-Wright.”

     “My future son-in-law, Jamie Steinkraus, reserved the cabin.”

     “That’s right. Steinkraus… s-t-e-i-n-k-r-a-u-s.”

      “My daughter’s name? Leslie Fazzano-Wright. Last name sound familiar?”

     “You have no listing for a Leslie Fazzano-Wright?”

     “No, he’s not a bridesmaid. He’s the groom. Not that it should matter to you.”

     “Could you please give me the room number?”

     “So what if the names don’t match? Just give me the damn room number.”

     “You can’t? Why the hell not?”

     “OK, then call the stupid room and tell her I’m here in the foyer.”

     After a long pause, the one-sided conversation continued, much to Jeremiah’s dread.

     “What do you mean there’s no answer? This isn’t a nudist wedding. She’s got to put clothes on someplace and that someplace is a room in this stupid lodge. Damn it, call her again!”

     After another long pause, Rose slammed down the phone.

     By now, Jeremiah was sitting in a large leather chair facing the desk and a very angry Rose. He asked timidly, “No luck?”

     Rose swirled on her heels facing Jeremiah and screamed, “What the hell do you think? And don’t give me any of your B-S. You better not go ballistic on me, you horse’s ass.”

     Driven by great fear and trepidation and the belief that a solution was preferable to a painful and losing confrontation, Jeremiah replied, “Did you get a hint as to her room number?”

     Rose thought for a moment and then said, “I think the clerk mumbled 1245 as she dialed. That might be a room number.”

     “Right! Extension numbers are usually based on room numbers. My guess, that’s first building, second floor, room 45.”

     Without replying, Rose spun on her heels and double-timed up a nearby staircase, two steps at a time, disappearing down the corridor at the head of the stairs. Jeremiah grabbed the suitcase and garment bag and hauled them up the steps. By the time he reached the top of the steps, he began to be envious of the mythic Sisyphus, for Sisyphus wasn’t married to Rose. After that poor devil got done pushing the rock up the hill, all he had to do was walk back down the hill and push the stupid rock back up again. Without the benefit of Rose’s direction, commentary and encouragement. Jeremiah did recognize one benefit from all this extra Sisyphean physical labor. He was sweating the alcohol out of his system. He dragged the suitcase and garment bag down the maze of hallways, right, left, right, following the room numbers until he reached a long hallway that dead-ended, and there at the far end of the hallway stood his own personal minotaur trying, as far as he could tell, to devour a door.

     As Jeremiah approached, the banging got louder as did the shouting, “Leslie! Leslie! Open the damn door!” Once alongside the screaming and banging Rose, he noticed a Do Not Disturb sign hanging from the doorknob and offered, “Looks like the sign should read Cannot Be Disturbed.”

     Rose swirled about, yelled, “Shut up, you idiot,” and took off back down the hallway heading for the foyer. Jeremiah slung the garment bag over his shoulder and dragged the suitcase behind him, arduously retracing his steps to the foyer. Once there, he stood silently, knowing that emotional Armageddon was a poorly chosen word away and that virtually any word he uttered would qualify as poorly chosen.

     Rose stood silently for several minutes developing a new search strategy and then blurted out, “I’d recognize her voice anywhere. Wherever she is, she’s bound to be talking. She never shuts up. All we have to do is walk down each hallway quietly and listen.”

     Before Jeremiah could speak, had he the courage to do so, Rose was already posted in front of the first door on the first floor hallway off the foyer, listening. She put her ear to the door holding up her hand to Jeremiah as he approached. She shook her head no and moved on to the second door. Jeremiah, reprising the role of an unfortunate Sisyphus, followed as quietly as possible as Rose put her ear to the next door. They proceeded up the hallway, Rose putting her ear to each door with Jeremiah following with the garment bag slung over his shoulder dragging the heavy suitcase behind.

     As they proceeded up the hallway, Jeremiah noticed a map of the Blue Mountain Lodge on the wall, one of those building layout maps showing all the emergency exits with a big you-are-here arrow designating your present location vis-à-vis the rest of the building and the closest exit, which just happened to be alongside the map. He stopped, put down the suitcase, laid the garment bag over it and perused the map. He observed that the closest exit was to the right of the map, making the map in his mind somewhat unnecessary in relation to the need to find the closest exit. However, he was impressed with the total number of exits and rooms available and thought the map quite well-designed and helpful should someone desire to find another exit or a particular room.

     Rose, having listened with no luck at all the doors on the hallway, returned to where Jeremiah stood. He offered a meek, “I don’t want to be critical, but if someone opens a door and finds you with your ear glued to it, they could be offended. They might think you’re an audio voyeur of some sort and complain to the resort’s management, or even worse, take immediate vigilante action.”

     Rose gritted her teeth with the snarl worthy of a pit bull and said, “I dare the S-O-Bs…” but before she could finish, the building map on the wall behind Jeremiah caught her attention. Jeremiah pointed to the map and said, “We have an even bigger problem. I didn’t realize it, but the Blue Mountain Lodge is actually three interconnected buildings, each one two stories high. There are hundreds of rooms.”

     She sighed, and said “You’re right. It’d take way too long to listen at each door in all three buildings”, much to Jeremiah’s relief. He felt sure that their present insane search strategy was about to end, but he was wrong, very wrong. Rose continued, leaning heavily on her training as a programmer, “We’ll have to reduce the number of target rooms with a second search algorithm.” She thought for a moment and then smiled. “What do we know? We know the make and model of her car! We can walk through the parking lot in front of each building and chances are she’ll be in the building where she’s parked her car. Then we’ll only have one third of the rooms for our primary search algorithm.” She shouted, “Follow me,” as she bolted through the exit next to the now superfluous map and out into the parking lot for the second lodge building.

     Jeremiah stood for a moment girding his loins for the task at hand. He sighed the sigh not of a Sisyphean character but rather of an abused beast of burden. He had been downgraded from a figure of Greek mythology to a Disney character. He threw the garment bag over his shoulder, sighed again, grabbed the suitcase and pushed the exit door open with his elbow, edging his way into the second parking lot. By then, Rose had surveyed that parking lot and returned. As she passed him she yelled, “Her car’s not here” and double-timed to the parking lot for the third lodge building. Jeremiah, now drenched with sweat, followed as best he could. By the time he reached the parking lot for the third lodge building, Rose had already completed her algorithmic search of same, passing him for a second time and yelling, “Her car’s not here either” as she did so. She zoomed off to the parking for the first lodge building where they had parked.

     Realizing that following Rose was a fool’s errand even for a lowly beast of burden, he headed directly for the foyer where they had originally entered, huffing and puffing as he trundled along. By the time he reached the foyer’s entrance, Rose was standing with hands on hips waiting impatiently for his arrival. As he pulled the suitcase up the entrance steps, she said to him, “Her car’s not here either.”

     Once inside the foyer, Jeremiah let the suitcase drop to the floor, threw the garment bag over top of it, and plopped down into the large leather chair he had occupied before their great algorithmic adventure had begun. Rose stood at the desk and looked over at her beast of burden and yelled, “Now what, Mr. Genius?” as she fumbled through her purse. She pulled out a folded sheet of paper, unfolded it and started reading.

     Jeremiah asked, “What’s that?”

     “A list of all the rooms and cabins rented by the members of wedding party.”

     Jeremiah thought for a moment and then said, “Rooms and cabin numbers are also extension numbers. Start dialing until you get one of the bridesmaids.”

     Rose looked down at Jeremiah and said, “You finally have a decent idea” as she began punching numbers into the phone. She dialed a number and got no answer. Dialed a second and got no answer. After four or five more numbers, she shouted, “Hello? It’s Rose. Where’s Leslie?”

     “At the administration building? Why?”

     “Sign what?”

     “The marriage license?”

     “I’m in the Blue Mountain Lodge. The foyer.”

     “Her room here is in Building 1? Room 2-4-5?”

     After a long pause as she listened intently, she hung up the phone.

     “Her room’s 2-4-5 in this building. It’s the darn room we went to first. That was Janey. She said that Leslie had to go over to the administration building to sign the marriage license. She’s picking Janey and Angel up and they’re coming right over.”

     Jeremiah thought to himself, “Weddings reflect life. You always end up where you started after much thrashing about, one’s life being the thrashing about.”

     Not long after Rose hung up the phone, Leslie and her bridesmaids Janey and Angel bustled into the foyer. Janey and Angel were chirping away but Leslie uncharacteristically said little.

     Rose looked at Leslie and said, “Get all that signing business taken care of?” To which Leslie shook her head yes and walked towards the stairs. The two chirping bridesmaids, bubbling with small talk, followed. Jeremiah slowly stood, threw the garment bag over his shoulder, grabbed the suitcase and resumed his duties as family beast of burden. He followed Rose up the stairs as she followed the female portion of the wedding party, retracing their initial steps to room 245.

     When the group had all arrived in front of room 245, Janey unlocked the door. The women stormed into the room. Jeremiah meekly followed, putting the suitcase down and laying the leaden garment bag on the bed. He rubbed his shoulder and wondered if Rose’s dress not only looked nice but would also protect her from radiation should the need arise.

     He retreated to the car and drove back to their cabin. As he entered the cabin, he noticed a large brown envelope on the floor. Someone had obviously slipped it under the door while he and Rose were out. Curious as to its contents, he opened the envelope and dumped the contents on the bed. A folded piece of paper and a bunch of color photos fell out. He picked up one of the photos and there he was, somewhat fuzzy but recognizable, his mustached face buried between the stripper Juanita’s legs. He sagged onto the bed, bent over and held his forehead. His pince-nez fell towards the floor and then were yanked back from gravity’s pull by the blue velvet cord he’d pinned to his sweat shirt.

     He watched as the pince-nez swung back and forth below, his own personal pendulum of doom. They swung back and forth, their arc slowly decreasing until they hung motionless below his chin. As someone famous once said, “Nothing concentrates the mind quite like the prospect of hanging!” and Jeremiah’s mind became quite focused, for he knew that his beautiful Rose had long, sharp thorns and that those long, sharp thorns could inflict terrible pain.

     Then he looked down at the photos again and the accompanying folded piece of paper. He quickly grabbed his pince-nez, pushing them down on the bridge of his nose as he spread the photos on the bed. He again looked at the photo he had already seen. Much to his disappointment, he was still there munching away at the young and lovely Juanita’s great bush of black pubic hair. In the background, he noticed the very fuzzy images of two young men yelling encouragement. One appeared to be Charles Fontaine, who yelled his encouragement from beneath the shadow of a sombrero, and the other a wild-eyed Jamie Steinkraus, who just plain yelled. The next photo pictured him still munching away at the young and lovely Juanita’s thick, black bush, this time from a different angle, with the even fuzzier images of the other three members of the posse apparently cheering him on as well. He slowly checked the remaining photos. One appeared to be a fine picture of a thumb. Another, a wonderful picture of the floor. And the last, one of several pairs of well-shod feet.

     He nervously unfolded the paper that accompanied the photos and spread it out on the bed. He then read the following note aloud to himself,

     “5 grande or innernet will contak u for detail”

     He mumbled indignantly, “Why would someone slip bad, incriminating photos and an illiterate note under my cabin door? Thank God, Rose was not here. This is doubly humiliating.” Buoyed by his resulting doubled indignation, he showered a second time and dressed for the wedding ceremony in yesterday’s clothing.

     Now that the reptilian part of your brain has been excited and your curiosity aroused or the other way around vis-á-vis excitement and arousal, it’s time to buy the entire novel, for there is much more fun in store for you as the blackmailing plot thickens and the posse decides to run for it’s life down Route 66 in a somewhat less than inconspicuous red 1958 Edsel Citation convertible. Neither you nor I will regret this purchase. To order, click on the following link:

To Purchase ‘The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses’




About the Author and His Novel

     I believe that I have done a lot in my life. Unfortunately I cannot remember much of it, indicating that most of what I have done is not very memorable or possibly that my memory’s gone bad on me, both being very likely. Obviously those of my deeds which may be memorable, I am unable to write about since I cannot remember them. I do remember having a mother and father, three brothers and a sister and playing in the fenced-in grounds around the walls of Sing Sing prison where my father held the unofficial title of Captain of the Death House and where he apparently enjoyed his work very much. He celebrated his joy every evening by drinking copious amounts of Piels beer and smoking packs of Camel cigarettes. My mother was nice but never left the house for some reason. That pretty much sums up my childhood.

     I did go to high school at a place that nick-named itself the Ossining Indians, but to eliminate the possibility of insulting a tribe of Indians that no longer existed and all of whose tribal members had been deceased for a very long time, some board of education removed the “Indians” part of the nick-name.

     I’ve been married several times and am presently married and have a bunch of kids and step-kids and two to three grand-kids. During much of this time I worked at IBM in the Hudson Valley and never really fit in there but did manage to make a lot on money writing things that I believe may have destroyed my memory. I did go to college at Albany State or SUNY at Albany or the University at Albany (I can’t remember which) and I believe that I did graduate with a major in English literature. I think that I taught in high school for a year at some place on the Hudson River named after Henry Hudson’s boat before having my memory destroyed at IBM.

     I got laid off by IBM and took a course in writing at Columbia University taught by the now deceased novelist Raymond Kennedy who wrote one of my favorite novels, Ride a Cockhorse. IBM apparently felt bad about forcing me into what became an early retirement and paid for the course.

     The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses is my first novel. It’s pretty long (97,000 words, give or take a word or three). When I first attemted to get the novel publishing, I originally described it as a “hardboiled detective novel” of sorts for reasons I do not remember. When I got no takers from that debilitated and incestuous industry, I re-described it a “softboiled detective novel” . . . again to no avail. Anyhow, now that the wonderfully perceptive publishing mogul Robert A Ward III, the CEO of Ship Wreck Publications, has agreed to publish the novel, I call it a “satiric humorous crime novel” for reasons I can’t explain because I don’t understand why these words are any better than any others.

     This great novel was inspired by at least three novels. The first two novels are humorous, wonderful and distinctly hardboiled in their fashion, but surely not hardboiled detective stories: Raymond Kennedy’s aforementioned Ride a Cockhorse and John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. The detective hardboiling of this mulligan stew, at least what there is of it, came from reading Steve Hamilton’s wonderful and very hardboiled detective novel A Stolen Season. I could probably have listed any of Hamilton’s Alex McKnight novels as inspiration, but since A Stolen Season is his latest hardboiler and I think his best, I credit it. When he reads my claim that he inspired me, he’ll probably ask me to remove his name, but it will be too late! Ha, ha!

     I originally gave my opus erectus the title The Universal Posse. I was never quite satisfied with this title and slowly but surely it became a kind of not-working working title. However, I could not think of a better one. Kennedy, Toole and Hamilton had come up with such wonderful titles making mine seem rather pale and prosaic in comparison.

     Then rather serendipitously, someone copied me on an email with the following tag line: “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” -- Jonathan Swift.” Ironically, the author of the email is a lifetime member of the confederacy posing as a true genius. One has to be suspicious of individuals who even hint that they are true geniuses, for they are more than likely undercover agents for the dreaded and ubiquitous confederacy.

     I feel obligated at this point to interject that I do not claim myself to be a “true genius” in the Swiftian sense of those words, but I do believe that I am not a member of the much dreaded confederacy. However, in all humility, I leave it to others to make this determination.

     Anyway, the quote from Swift made it quite clear where Toole got the title for his novel. This was news to me. I suspect that my rather forgetful mind had known this at one time but forgot to inform the rest me, for as that great Irish-American Indian troubadour Jimmie Dale Gilmore sings “my mind has a mind of its own” and my mind, in particular, often operates as an independent entity. On its own initiative, having been inspired by the Swiftian barb, my mind marched forth, bad memory and all, to seek out a better and more appropriate title for me.

     This inspiration took my mind to perspiration (thank you very much, Mr. Edison) and off went my soon-to-be perspiring mind in search of this better title. On the internet, my mind found a site of famous quotes. It went to the site’s compendium of famous quotes by Jonathan Swift, who as it turns out, said a shitload of memorable things. Undaunted by volume, my mind plowed through them, apparently thinking that if Swift were good enough for Toole, surely he was good enough for the rest of me. But according to my mind, no combination of the words that could be strung together to form a better title for my novel ever passed through the Reverend Swift’s lips, modestly or otherwise... at least as far as my mind could determine from that Irish malcontent’s blasts of irreverence as documented on this website.

     My mind thought that perhaps it should investigate the quotes of Oscar Wilde, for like Swift, he too was Irish and said a whole bunch of pithy criticisms of mankind’s follies. (What is it with the Irish, anyway? They’ve surrounded me: Kennedy, Toole, Swift, Wilde and Gilmore. Even Hamilton, I suspect, has a touch of Irish blood. They all are so clever, pithy and… malcontent, each in his own way. My mind always thought that the Irish deserved each other, even when they’re alone, and here I was intellectually encircled by a mob of them.)

     Anyway, my mind ditched the Oscar Wilde gambit for me on the grounds that the frilly Mr. Wilde was much too literary and far too clever by three-quarters for someone such as the rest of me. Then the name Mark Twain popped into my rather independent mind. At first my mind was a bit suspicious of someone who had to use an alias to become famous, but then concluded that this need for anonymity was evidence of the severity and social unacceptability of his quotes and so off my mind went, stomping through the fertile ground of the quotes of Mark Twain, AKA Samuel Clemens. After reading many of his barbs, my mind concluded that Mr. Twain or Mr. Clemens, take your pick, must have been of Irish descent too, and if his biography claimed otherwise, there was surely an undiscovered Irishman somewhere in his family’s wood pile, as they say.

     Then my mind came across these words of Mark Twain: “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” My mind, now drenched with sweat, jumped (metaphorically speaking) high into the air and yelled at the rest of me, “You silly bastard, make your title out of those words”. Unfortunately try as I might, I could not, and so in desperation I re-titled my novel The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses after a kind of shot glass.

     You may wonder why and how I adopted the pen name of Oxbow Lake? Unfortunately the name Ward A Bobb the 3rd, which happens to be an alias, is all too common and more prosaic than my non-working working title, even when adorned with an undisclosed middle name and a 3rd at the end. For example, I often get calls from someone in Oklahoma looking for a long lost relative with the alias of Ward Bobb, which isn’t me. To overcome this anonymity through commonality while still preserving some anonymity at the same time, I have decided to adopt a pen name. The big question was: which one?

     I enlisted my mind again even after considering the job it had done finding a more intriguing title for me. After all, what choice did I have? My mind thought it might be useful to search around the term mark twain since it was Mark Twain’s words that had inspired my novel’s inscription in a back-handed sort of way. After fumbling about the internet searching for Mississippi river boat terms and some safe water words I could use, my mind stumbled upon the rather mysterious and undefined term oxbox.

     My mind knew not what the term meant and decided to google said term. Fortunately, it misspelled or mistyped the term, incorrectly entering the term oxbow, which, as serendipity would again have it, is the first word of a term used on rivers throughout the world, including the Mississippi. The full term is oxbow lake. An oxbow lake is a small lake located in a former meander loop of a river. It is generally formed as a river cuts through a meander neck to shorten its course, blocks off the old channel, and then migrates away leaving a lake behind, an oxbow lake. Eventually, oxbow lakes silt up to form marshes and finally meander scars. There’s a bunch of them in various stages of oxbowness decorating the lower Mississippi.

     Could there be a better pen name for the likes of such as me, particularly when writing in the shadow of the likes of a Mark Twain, et al? I think not! So here I am: the newly minted Oxbow Lake, a writer more or less left behind to eventually silt up literarily speaking to become a meander scar, but it is my beautiful scar.

     Note: I added the “2nd” to the end of my pen name in case there was already a “

To Purchase ‘The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses’

The Adventures of the Posse of Little Horses is currently available in paperback and as a PDF ebook. It will be available shortly as kindle and nook ebooks. The paperback is $13.95 and the PDF ebook is $5.00. The kindle and nook ebooks will be $4.99 when they are available. Particularly perceptive buyers for book stores and those who would like to give many copies as gifts (an act of great consideration, kindness and taste that I fully support and encourage) may want to order multiple copies at a discount.

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