Rons Rants

A Blog Is A Self-Inflicted Invasion Of Privacy

Location: Newland, North Carolina, United States

I'm a fifty two year old happily married man who doesn't really like many people which is why I live on the top of a mountain.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Okay..I Lied...Sorry Ya'll

I got incredibly busy since I posted "The Last Christmas Of Mike McCarthy" but, I should have time to finish the story tomorrow.

I can't wait to tell ya'll about Mike's last days....he was a HOOT!

I'll see ya'll tomorrow.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Last Christmas Of Mike McCarthy

For those of you who may not have read the conclusion of the last can be found below this post.

With Christmas coming on, I felt compelled to tell a story that occurred a few years back involving a friend of mine who was dying. While it's not a particularly 'happy' tale, it's one that has marked me for life in a good way.

Very little time is spent on learning how to really LIVE. Even less time is spent learning how to die.

Mike McCarthy showed me how to do both.

I pray that I can always follow his example.

Now to the story....

The Last Christmas of Mike McCarthy.

I had lived up here in the mountains of North Carolina for a few years when I received a phone call one late and snowy night. I believe it was around two o’clock in the morning.

It was a week or so before Christmas when the phone rang.

I was a little perturbed because the phone interrupted the process of learning a few songs I really liked. I’ll never forget that one of the songs was “Heart Of The Matter” by Don Henley. Each week or two, I tried to learn or write a new song or two so that my gigs wouldn’t become stale and I usually devoted several nights a week to doing so. I REALLY liked that song and I didn’t appreciate being interrupted while learning it but….such is life.

I answered the phone with an uncharacteristically gruff comment.

“This better be a matter of life or death.” I growled.

“Damn bo…you’re freakin’ psychic!” The almost cartoonish deep voice of Mike McCarthy said.

Instantly, I was no longer angry.

For some reason, even to this day, my old musician buddies wait until the wee hours of the morning to call….and, in the interest of full disclosure…I call THEM at ungodly hours too.

It must be an old musician thing but….it’s true.

In this particular case, it was ‘Mikey Mac’ and I was tickled to hear from him.

Months earlier, I had gone to Columbia for a huge private party on the Santee River and Mike had shown up looking pretty bad.

He had always been a tall, heavy and incredibly humorous man but, this day…he was none of the aforementioned.

He wasn’t doing well at all.

He was a really good bass player, a great bass singer and a longtime great friend.

He was a one of kind guy.

I asked him if he was okay and he said that he was going to the doctor soon. I hadn’t talked to him since I’d last seen him that day at the party.

“What are you up to Mikey?” I asked. “I hope you know you woke me up!” I lied.

“Fuck a bunch of sleep!” He snarled. “There’ll be plenty of time for sleep when I’m dead.”

I laughed. We always went through the same routine.

“Don’t make me hunt you down and shoot your big ass.” I chuckled.

There was a moment of silence.

“Are you there?” I asked.

“If you wanna get credit for the kill bro…you better hurry the hell up.” He said quietly as his deep voice shook a bit.

Instinctively I knew the answer to my next question.

“Is it bad Mikey?” I asked.

I could hear him take a deep breath.

“Well, if you’re my ex wife…no, it ain’t bad but if you’re MEit pretty much sucks out loud.” He replied.

“Damn dude.” I said lamely. “What is it?”

He proceeded to perfectly pronounce a medical term which was totally alien to me but, the gist of it was that he should have seen a doctor two years ago when he first noticed the symptoms.

As things stood at that moment in time…he was going to die.

“How long have you got?” I asked.

“Well, I’m gonna go shopping for a one month calendar tomorrow but, I’ll probably only need half of it.” He chuckled.

“Dear God Mikey….I’m so sorry.” I remember saying as I held back the tears.

A few minutes passed as we both collected ourselves.

“Is it snowing up there?” He asked.

I was taken aback by the abrupt change of subjects.

It took me a second to respond.

“Yeah….as a matter of fact, it is.” I answered. “It’s snowing like a mother.”

“Man, I’d love to play in the snow!” He said. “I ain’t never played in the snow.”

Without even thinking of the ramifications, I answered him.

“That ain’t a problem big boy…come on up here.” I said.

“Hell, I’m scared to drive.” He snorted. “I'm afraid I’ll pass out and kill somebody.”

“Well hell….I can be there in five hours.” I told him. “I’ll come get your ass.”

“Really?” He sounded like a little boy.

“Sure dude.” I answered. “I owe you Mikey. Remember when you came to rescue me down in Florida?”

He laughed.

“Yeah…you DO owe me don’t you?”

Mike had once driven eleven hours to pick me up in Key West when my car totally died and I was stuck with no money, a bunch of equipment and a gig waiting for me in Charlotte in three days.

No questions asked. No terms.

He just came and got me.

“You’re damned right I owe you.” I said.

“I gotta go the doctor tomorrow to get my prescriptions but, I’ll be ready to go after that.” I could hear the excitement in his voice.

“Are you sure it’s okay for you to travel?” I asked.

“Jeez dude…I’m dyin’.” He laughed. “What’s it gonna hurt?”

I actually laughed. I can’t believe it but…I laughed.

“Good point.” I said.

He didn’t say anything for a second or two.

“You know…I was watchin’ the weather tonight and the local station said it was snowing up there and I thought of you.” He said. “Something told me to call you.”

“I’m glad you did.” I said.

I could’nt think of anything else to say.

His booming laugh came out over the phone so loudly that I had to pull the receiver away from my head.

“You lyin’ sack of shit!” He was REALLY laughing now. “You’re sittin’ there thinkin’….what the fuck did I just promise Mikey?”

A couple of seconds went by as I thought about what he had said.

He was ABSOLUTELY right.

I’m not proud of it but…I never expected him to take me up on the offer! Hell…he was dying right? Who’d have thought he would want to hang out with me in his last days?

However….I was stuck.

I quickly decided that the best thing to do was to deal with him as I always had…honestly.

“Ok asshole….you nailed it but, I’m game if you are.” I laughed. “Just do me a favor and don’t fuckin’ die on me while you’re here.”

He laughed for several seconds.

“Trust me dude….I’ll do my best not to.”

“Ok, well, I’m comin’ to get you tomorrow afternoon.” I informed him.

“Is it still gonna be snowin’” He asked.

“It’s supposed to snow all week so you’ll get to play in the snow.” I told him.

Another moment of silence passed.

“I owe you dude.” He said. "Everybody else is avoiding me."

It was all I could do to maintain my composure. Tears were flowing down my face and I covered the phone as I cleared my throat.

I felt as though I would never swallow again.

“Shut the fuck up Mikey.” I managed. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“You sure you wanna do this?” He asked. “I’m a friggin' mess these days.”

“You’ve always been a mess Mikey.” I said. “I’ll be there around six tomorrow.”

“See you then.” He said. “Thanks bro.”

“Thanks for calling me Mikey.” I said. “I’m glad you let me know.”

“Later dude.” He said as he hung up.

I hung up the phone and sat there for over an hour until something came over me and I knelt on the floor in my living room.

I remember asking God to help me handle the situation in a way that would help Mike. I couldn't remember the last time I'd been on my knees in prayer nor the last time I had cried so hard but........I did.

I knew that I was in over my head and needed guidance.

Within minutes, I swear, a sense of calm came over me and I stood up.

I quickly went to bed and slept like a baby.

I woke up the next day and couldn’t believe that I was actually looking forward to seeing Mike. I've never been a 'touchy feely' kind of person but...I really was looking forward to seeing him.

I spent the first part of the day calling a few musician friends and a couple of very attractive women. I explained the situation and got commitments from them to participate in an elaborate week long party for Mike. To a person, they were all extremely willing to take part even though NONE of them had ever met Mike McCarthy.

It was amazing.

Thus began a few days that I'll never forget.

To Be Continued.........

Side Note...

I didn't realize how tough it would be to relate this story but...I'm glad I'm writing it down. Unfortunately, it won't take long to finish this story but...I hope I do it justice.

More tomorrow.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Adventures In 'Smug Druggling'...the conclusion.

I've been busy as hell doing all sorts of family stuff. Thanks to all of you who have continued to stop by. I hope ya'll had a great Thanksgiving.

When we left our story Butch and I had been stranded in a swamp by an enraged, monstrous buck.

Side Note....

For those of you who believe that my suggestion to approach the monster buck from hell was a BAD decision…..well, just screw ya’ll! Nine times out of ten, ANY friggin’ deer will haul ass when it’s approached by a vehicle so…..what the hell can I say? I was playing the odds but, I must admit, in THIS situation…it was a REALLY bad move.

Damn all you second guessers!

We Southern boys go towards danger! Of course, typically our bold and reckless actions are prefaced with the age old distinctly Southern ‘kiss of death’ proclamation.

“Hey boys! Ya’ll watch ‘dis shit!”

Many a Southern man has met his maker shortly after uttering these words.

Back To The Tale….

After contemplating the situation for roughly ten minutes, I turned to Butch.

“Dude, we ain’t gonna get it out of there by ourselves so let’s go back to Kelly’s house and sit on the porch till he wakes up.” I suggested.

“Man we need to get that truck outta there NOW!” He snapped.

I simply shook my head and began walking up the road.

What the hell are you doing?” He asked angrily.

“I’m gonna go lay out on Kelly’s porch and get some sleep till he wakes up.” I informed him.

“Let’s just go wake him up!” Butch suggested.

I stopped and turned to face him.

“What the hell are we gonna do when we wake him up Butch? Kelly doesn’t even have a phone!” I asked. “He DOES however have a big assed twelve gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot and a nasty temper if you piss him off!”

Butch just stood there staring at me.

“Ok…what the hell are we gonna do?” He asked.

“I don’t know about you but I’m going to walk back to Kelly’s house and crash out on his porch till he wakes up.” I told him. “But I damned sure ain’t gonna wake his ass up!”

“Screw that dude! My guy is supposed to pick this shit up at nine this morning!” Butch declared.

“Well…if you can find a phone, call the sumbitch and tell him to come get it ‘cause there ain’t a damn thing we can do right now.” I snapped. “Fuck you and the dope, I’m goin’ to Kelly’s.”

With that, I left him standing there fuming in the middle of the road.

Within ten minutes, I had walked/jogged back to Kelly’s front porch. I laid down on an old rusted out chaise lounge lawn chair and was just about to doze off when Butch arrived.

“Is he awake?” He whispered.

“I don’t think so.” I answered. “Kick back and get some sleep. We’ll figure it out in a few hours.”

From inside the house Kelly’s voice boomed.

“Figure WHAT out?”

I damn near had a coronary!

“Hey Kelly. It’s me again.” I said sheepishly.

“I know it’s you Bubby. I heard you when you hit the first step.” He growled.

The door creaked open and Kelly stepped out on the porch.

“What ‘chu two knuckle heads doin’ here?” He asked while sipping a steaming cup of coffee. He had obviously been awake quite awhile.

I told him what had happened.

He looked up sharply.

“Where dat buck now?’ He asked.

“Hell, I don’t know….he crashed into us and then hauled ass! I don’t think he was even hurt!” I said.

“That sumbitch!” Kelly spat. “I been trying to hang his rack on my wall for ten years! He’s no count, thievin’ mutherfucker!”

“A deer?” I asked.

“Oh hell yeah…a man can’t plant a gotdamn petunia on this island wid out that big sumbitch eatin’ it up!” He complained. “Wished youda kilt his sorry ass.”

I laughed but Butch was beside himself.

“Mr. Brown….we gotta get that truck out of the water and get that shit to James Island quick! Can you help us?” He pleaded. “The guy who’s lookin’ for that shit ain’t a patient man.”

Kelly thought about it for a second.

“Well son, fact of da matter is simple…we gon get dat truck a yours out da water when we get dat truck a yours out da water and not a mite sooner so…don go worryin’ ‘bout it.” He said flatly.

He invited us inside and fixed us some biscuits and ham while he thought about the situation. After we had eaten our fill he lit a pipe and walked over to his bed and laid down.

Butch shot me a look as if to say “What the hell is he doing?” I shrugged my shoulders.

I had no idea what he was doing.

A few minutes went by and Kelly sat up quickly.

“Boys….I got an idea.” He grinned.

We just sat and waited for his follow up.

A couple of minutes went by but still, he didn’t say anything. Finally, Butch could stand it no longer.

“Mr. Brown…what’s your idea?” He asked.

Kelly laid back again and grinned.

“Well fust off…you boys get busy doin’ dem dishes and when ya’ll finished, I’m gon tell you what I got figgered out.” He grinned.

“I can’t be wastin’ time doing the dishes!!” Butch whined.

Kelly chuckled.

“Well Mr. Butch….I noticed you didn’t mind wastin’ time when you was eatin’ my food so you shouldn’t mind cleanin’ up my dishes.” Kelly said calmly.

Butch sat there and fumed but didn't say a word.

“Boys, I’m gon go see a man I know.” He told us.“He got a wrecker truck and he do some haulin’ for the state. I bet he can get ya’ll outta dat water but it’s gon cost you.”

“How much?” Butch asked.

Kelly laughed.

“Offhand, I’d say it gon cost you what da man say it’s gon cost.”

Butch looked at me and grimaced.

“I don’t suppose we’ve got much of a choice do we?” He asked.

“Nope…I think we’re pretty much stuck.” I said.

Kelly mumbled something and walked out the door. A few minutes later, his took off up the road in his ancient old Ford LTD.

We were sitting on the front porch and hour later when Kelly pulled back into the yard followed by a large wrecker. Kelly shouted for us to hop into his car and we headed down the road with the wrecker right behind us until we reached the spot where the truck has left the road.

The top of the cab was still visible.

We got out of the car and stood by the side of the road as the wrecker guy maneuvered his truck so that the crane dangled out over the water. The driver climbed out of the cab and I damn near passed out cold!

The driver was wearing the uniform of a Highway Patrol Lieutenant!

“Boy’s dis my old buddy Billy Harris.” Kelly announced. “He gon get ya’ll oughta dat water so’s ya’ll can get to work.”

I’m sure my hands were trembling as I shook hands with him.

“Looks like ya’ll got yourselves in a hell of a mess.” He grinned.

“Yessir, I guess we do.” I said. “That old deer damned near killed us.”

“Yeah…dey was lucky allright.” Kelly said. “Dey was coming back from checking my crab pots for me when dat mean sumbitch rammed ‘em.”

“Well, let’s see what we can do to get ya’ll out of there.” He said.

I figured that we would have to get into the water to attach the hook but Trooper Harris simply dropped the hook into the water at the rear of the truck and after a few tries, he managed to hook the bumper.

Slowly, he began to winch the truck up the bank and within fifteen minutes, he had it dragged onto the dirt road. Thankfully, all of the roofing paraphernalia still covered the illegal cargo and he began to hook the truck up properly.

Butch and I just stood there trying not to look guilty as he went about his business. Finally, Trooper Harris wiped his hands on an old towel and walked up to us.

“Well, where am I gonna haul this thing?” He asked. “Kelly say’s ya’ll live on James Island right?”

“Yessir.” I said and then told him where Butch lived. “How much is this gonna cost?”

He thought about it a minute.

“Well, since ya’ll are friends of ole Kelly…how does $100.00 sound?” He asked with a friendly smile.

“Sounds just fine to me!” Butch almost shouted almost too quickly.

“Well good, ya’ll hop in the truck and we’ll get going.” He said.

Kelly got into his car and I walked over to him as Butch and the trooper climbed into the wrecker.

I leaned into the window and whispered.

“A state friggin’ TROOPER?” I asked.

Kelly laughed and pounded the steering wheel.

Bubby…I wish you coulda seen da look on your face!” He laughed. “Billy’s retired but he in the honor guard for the troopers and he gotta go to a funeral today so….he dressed up for it.”

“But damn Kelly!” I said. “He’s still a cop!”

“Aw hell, he don’t ‘spect nothin’.” He said. “Ya’ll tole me that shit was covered up good and he ain’t gon be lookin’ for nothin’ so shut up and get yo ass in the damned truck.”

I shook my head and started to walk away.

“Hey!” Kelly shouted.

I walked back to his car and leaned in the window.

“When do I get my money?” He asked.

“I’ll bring it to you tonight if your cop doesn’t throw my ass in jail.” I answered.

Kelly laughed and patted me on the arm as I stood up to leave.

“It’s gonna be ok boy. I’ll see you tonight.” He said.

I walked to the wrecker and crawled in beside Butch who was sitting there sweating like a whore in church.

“I’m ready.” I said. “Thanks for helping us out Mr. Harris.”

“No problem boys…I can always use the money.” He replied. “I’m retired you know.”

“Yessir…Kelly told me.” I answered trying to make conversation. “How long were you a trooper?”

“Once a trooper…always a trooper.” He explained. “Hell, I pulled a guy over last night for racing down my road but, I retired three years ago.” He proclaimed proudly.

“You look kind of young to be retired.” Butch said.

“Well, I put in twenty three years and I’d still be on the job if I hadn’t gotten fucked up in a crash.” He said.

“What happened?” I was trying to break the tension Butch and I were feeling.

For the next twenty minutes, he proceeded to give us a minute by minute recitation of his getting hurt in a high speed chase trying to arrest a couple of fugitives.

He finally finished the tale which concluded with him shooting one of the criminals after crawling out of his destroyed and overturned cruiser.

“Why were you chasing those guys?” Butch asked.

“They ran from a road block we had set up.” He explained. “Turns out they were fuckin’ dope dealers with a couple of ounces of coke in the car.”

Butch and I were left speechless.

After a few more minutes, we pulled onto the road leading to Butch’s house. As we neared the house, I could see two cars in his driveway. Standing outside the cars were four guys.

Butch elbowed me in the side.

“Hey Ron, let’s take it to your house so we can use your tools.” He said nervously.

“Sure.” I replied. “It’s a few houses down on the left.” I told the trooper.

He continued down the street and pulled into my driveway. As he pulled alongside my car, the trooper spoke up.

“Aw man!” He said. “Is that your car?”

“Yeah.” I said.

“Son of a bitch!” He said as he came to a stop. “That’s sweet! I used to have one just like it!”

He parked the wrecker and immediately rushed over to check out my candy apple red 1955 Chevy Bel Air convertible.

While he checked out the car, I rushed back to the truck dangling behind his wrecker to find that a couple of bales of black plastic wrapped pot were clearly visible! I rushed to pull shingles over them as I heard the sound of cars pulling into my driveway.

Butch ran towards the cars and I rushed over to engage trooper Harris as he was looking under the hood at the engine.

As I got to the front of the car, I heard one of the guys talking loudly to Butch.

“Where the fuck have you been?” A guy shouted.

“Man, we had some trouble with the truck but everything’s cool.” Butch tried to calm the guy down.

“You were supposed to be here at nine!” The same guy shouted.

I could see that trooper Harris was hearing the exchange between Butch and the drug dealer so, I tried to distract him.

“Did you check out the carb?” I asked as I began removing the air filter.

Suddenly, I heard Butch scream like a small girl and poked my head up over the hood to see two guys pinning him against one of the cars.

Much to my dismay, trooper Harris was all over the situation. He immediately jogged over to where the altercation was taking place.

“Hey!” He shouted. “Knock it off!” He shouted.

Time almost literally stood still as the doper guys saw Trooper Harris standing there in full dress uniform!

No one said a word as the guys turned Butch loose and backed away with their hands in plain site away from their bodies. Butch simply hung his head and slumped against the car.

Not a word was spoken for several seconds until I couldn’t stand the silence.

“Butch’s truck got hit by a fucking deer asshole and Trooper Harris pulled it out of the swamp!” I said as I walked up to the guy who had been yelling at Butch. “You’re lucky we got here THIS soon!”

The four guys had their eyes trained on the trooper as I continued.

“As soon as we get Butch’s truck unloaded, we’ll get over to your house and fix the roof but it ain’t Butch’s fault…..OK?” I said while improvising as quickly as I could.

The guys made a bunch of mumbling noises as they got back in their cars and quickly drove away.

Trooper Harris watched them drive away.

“One of those dudes looks familiar to me.” He said. “I swear I think I’ve put his ass in jail before.”

He went back to my car and looked it over a bit more. After a few minutes, he unhooked Butch’s truck and we paid him.

“I’d be careful when you clean that truck up boys.” He warned. “Ain’t no telling what kind of shit got into it out there overnight in that swamp. Snakes, gators...all kinds of shit.”

If he only knew!!

He got back in the truck and drove off. Butch and I waited until he got out of sight, looked at each other and began laughing our fool heads off.

Needless to say….that was the end of what we came to refer to as our ‘Smug Druggling’ experience!

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