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.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Last Christmas Of Mike McCarthy...The Last Day.

Sorry I left ya'll hangin' IS Christmas you know!

I hope ya'll had a great Christmas...mine was WONDERFUL!

Back To The Story:

The Last Day

I was awakened the next morning by a knock on my front door.

The house was so old and fragile that the windows in my bedroom rattled when a slight wind blew so, when someone knocked on the front door, stepped on the front porch or even looked in the direction of my house…the windows rattled. Between the rattling windows, Barney’s keen ears and vicious bark backed up with my .44 Magnum, I had a security system that would strike fear into the Mission Impossible crew!

Within seconds, I was wide awake. I stumbled into the living room and peered through the wavy glass of one hundred year old windows backed by modern but dirty storm windows.

I could see someone standing there but couldn’t make them out. I then looked through the panes in the front door.

Holy Shit!!!

It was Miss Rose!!

Side Note:

To call Miss Rose ‘eccentric’ is being a bit too conservative. She was a character of the first order.

She lived down the road from me in a home which was absolutely HUGE but… wasn’t a mansion. It more closely resembled a rustic ski lodge. You could accommodate over fifty people in the house but she inhabited less than one sixth of the structure and spent most of her time watching TV.

One summer day when I first moved in, I was picking a few tunes on my front porch with a buddy of mine when, out of the blue, I heard a fiddle playing along with our music. I stopped playing and heard the dying strains of a sweet fiddle note fading in the direction of the small bridge crossing the Little Toe River.

Not being able to see where or who was playing the notes….we resumed playing.

As soon as we began playing again, Jim P. and I heard the fiddle notes again and grinned at each other.

We kept on playing as I looked down the street.

Within a minute, I got my first glimpse of Miss Rose.

Jim and I were playing a sort of Blue Grass/Gospel Medley version of ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’, “Amazing Grace’, ‘Dixie Land’, ‘Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms’ etc when, all of the sudden, I witnessed an unforgettable sight!!!

Strolling in the middle of the road in a flowing white peasant dress was a tiny little white haired woman playing a fiddle held down low on her left hip!

She was strutting like a twelve year old cheerleader in the Fourth of July parade.

We looked at each other and laughed like crazy but DAMN……that little ole lady sounded damned

We quit playing until we heard her screaming at us.

“Don’t stop now boys!” She hollered. “I ain’t coming to borrow a cup of sugar!
I wanna play some music!”

That was my first encounter with Miss Rose.

We hit it off and periodically, we’d get together.

We’d have a couple of drinks and pick a few tunes until she’d stop abruptly.

Each time, she’d look at me and smile.

“Well, are you gonna take advantage of me or be a gentleman and walk me home?” She would ask.

Every time, I’d put down my guitar and give her a lecherous grin.

Who say’s I can’t do both?” I’d say and she would laugh as if she’d never heard me say it before.

Each time she would take my hand and pat me on the cheek as I helped her out of her chair.

“One of these days I’m gonna give you a ‘Senior Moment’ you ain’t ever gonna forget!” She would say.

That was Miss Rose.

Back To The Tale….

It was still snowing hard and the thermometer by the front door read 15 degrees so, I rushed to open the door and let her in.

As I opened the door, she looked at me standing there wearing only a pair of sweatpants.

“Go put on a damned shirt!” She snapped.
“There’s a lady present!”

“Is everything okay?” I asked as I turned to do as she had ordered.

She meticulously wiped her boots on the rug and ‘shooed’ me away with a wave of her almost skeletal little hand.

“Everything’s fine.” She chuckled. “Go get dressed and I’ll make some coffee.”

I laughed and went to find a shirt.

“Where’s Barney?” She hollered.

I put on a tee shirt and hurried back into the living room to crank up the heat before she started bitching about how cold it was in the house.

“He spent the night in the guest house with an old buddy of mine.” I explained.

She popped her head around the corner of the kitchen doorway and frowned.

“Not one of them damned ‘Hippie’ music friends I hope?” She asked.

“Yep…..’fraid so Miss Rose.” I answered. “Last night we smoked a bunch of pot, protested against the war in Vietnam and sang some Bob Dillon songs.” I laughed.

I could hear her snort and clang a few kitchen utensils.

“You’re a smartass!” She snapped.

I was turning on the TV to check out the news when I heard the back door open. I could hear Barney’s paws on the floor and Miss Rose talking to him in a sing song voice.

“Oh….you’re such a GOOD BOY!” She cooed.

I was wondering where Mike was until I heard Miss Rose utter a stifled shout.

“Dear GOD!” She gasped.

I rushed into the kitchen in time to see little Miss Rose staring up into the eyes of a disheveled looking Mike.

“Who the hell are YOU?” She demanded.

Mike laughed.

“I’m Mike McCarthy ma’am.” He replied respectfully.
“Who are you?”

She stared up at him for a second.

“Ron didn’t tell you about me?” She asked.

Mike shook his head.

Miss Rose chuckled.

“I’m his love slave.” She said. “Do you want some coffee?”

Mike looked at me as if to say,
“What the hell?”

I just shrugged my shoulders and grinned.

For the next hour, Mike got to know Miss Rose.

Mike and I sat at the dining room table as she made breakfast for us. We ate our fill and I finally remembered to ask her why she had come over at an uncharacteristically early hour.

“I was hoping that you and Barney would come over to my house and build me a snowman.” She said. “All them grand, great and not so great grand babies are comin’ over today so….I’d like to show ‘em a snowman.”

Before I could say anything, Mike spoke up.

“Miss Rose….I’ve never built a snowman in my life so, I’d LOVE to help.” He said.

She chuckled.

“Why the hell would I want an inexperienced snowman builder?” She asked. “I’m wantin’ a damned GOOD snowman!”

Mike laughed.

“Hey...I've never made a snowman but my prices are right!" He joked.

Miss Rose chuckled.

“Well…since the job doesn’t pay a damned penny, I reckon you can come along.” She cackled.
“Beggars can’t be choosy I suppose.”

Mike laughed and promised her that he’d do his best not to disappoint her.

We talked for a bit until Mike said that he needed to go back to the guest house for a minute but that he’d be ready in a bit.

“Well, hurry it up boy….we’re burnin’ daylight here!” She said.

Mike didn’t look too well so I followed him to the back door.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

He was a bit shaky on his feet and looked sort of pale but he gathered himself and stood tall.

“Honesty?” He began. “I feel like shit but, I’m gonna build a fuckin’ snowman! I’ve gotta go put on some clothes.”

I laughed.

“Why don’t you just hang out here for an hour or so?” I asked. “I’ll build the snowman and be back before you know it.”

“Screw that dude!” He snarled. “I’m gonna build that damned snowman.”

He staggered a bit as he turned to leave.

Barney followed him.

So did I.

Mike had trouble walking through the snow and I held him by his right arm until we reached the front door of the guest house.

He turned to me and chuckled.

“This is gonna be fun!” He said. “Can we make a snow chick instead? Hell…..
I’ll do the tits!”

I laughed and helped him inside.

Once in the living room, I noticed that he had built a fire in the big stone fireplace. The fire was raging and it had to have been eighty five degrees in the place.

I led him to the recliner and he sat down heavily.

“I’m gonna sit here for a minute but don’t ya’ll start without me.” He said.

I thought about it for a second.

“Mikey….you can make a snowman later on today or tomorrow.” I started. “Why don’t you just sit here and chill out till you get to feelin’ better?”

He looked at me and his face looked as though he about to ream me out with a profanity laden response when, after a few seconds, he lay his head back and closed his eyes.

“Damn I’m tired.” He said and then he opened his eyes and lifted his head off of the headrest to focus on me. “Ya’ll go ahead and build the damned snowman but don’t let me sleep all day…..hell….it’s Christmas!”

He grinned at me.

“Where the hell is that remote?” He asked.

I spent the next ten minutes trying to find it and finally located it on the floor under his chair.

“Where the hell is that big ole goofy dog?” He asked. “Barney wanted to check out ESPN with me today. We’ve got a bet on the Net’s game.”

I grabbed the remote, stood up quickly and handed it to him.

“I hope you took the Nuggets.” I said. “They won by eleven points.”

He looked at me seriously.

I took the Nets.” He said. “I hope that goofy sumbitch likes CHEAP dogfood!”

He laid his head back on the recliner and I went to the door.

“Call my cell phone if you need me Mikey….I’ll be right down the street.” I said.

As I opened the door, Barney rushed in without so much as a “get the hell out of my way” and went directly to Mike’s chair.

He placed his big head and front paws in Mikes lap as Mike laughed.

“There you are big boy.” He laughed. “Hang out here with me while they make a damned snowman.”

I laughed at the sight.

“See you in a little bit Mikey.” I said. “Barney…behave yourself.”

I left the guest house and went back to my house where Miss Rose was washing dishes.

“It’s about damned time young man….we’ve gotta hurry up.” She snapped.
“My kids will be here in three hours!”

I poured myself another cup of coffee and watched her wash the dishes.

“Mike’s really sick Miss Rose.” I blurted it out. “He doesn’t have long to live.”

She placed a clean plate in the dish strainer and looked at me.

Really?” She asked. “He seems like such a nice boy.”

“Yeah….he’s a nice boy.” I answered.

She came and sat down beside me.

“You don’t have to go build snowman if you don’t want to.” She said.

“Nah….it won’t take long and Mike gonna rest a while.” I said. “He really wanted to play in the snow but I talked him into resting awhile.”

She looked at me and scowled.

Why the hell did you do that?” She asked. “It’s HIS damned life! If he wants to build a damned snowman, I say let’s go get him and
make a damned snowman!”

With that, we put our coats on and walked to the guest house.

I tapped on the door as I opened it.

“Mikey…Miss Rose wants you to come help us build the snowman.” I said. “Let’s go.”

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness in the room, I saw Mike. He had slumped forward in his chair and his arms hung down to the floor.

Barney was just sitting there in front of him looking back and forth between me and Mike.

I rushed over and grabbed Mike by the shoulders and eased him upright. Mike had turned blue but, as I pushed him upright, he took a deep breath and his eyes opened wide. He stared at me as he got his breath back.

After several minutes, his color returned to almost normal and he looked at me.

He grinned weakly.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

Miss Rose leaned over and rubbed Mike’s hand.

Mike looked at her and smiled.

“That feels good.” He said almost in a whisper. “That feels SO good.”

Then he turned and looked at me.

“Allright, let’s go make a snowman.” He said quietly.

Then he took a shallow breath.....and died.

I pulled him from the chair and laid him on the floor.

I was preparing to try and revive him when Miss Rose put her hand on my shoulder.

“Call 911 but leave that boy alone son.” She ordered.
“He’s gone.”

I did as she told me.

When I got finished with the call, I hurried upstairs and searched Mike’s bags for any drugs he may have left.

Sure enough, I found them and quickly flushed everything.

I left everything else as I’d found it.

I then went downstairs and suggested that Miss Rose and I go back to the house and wait for the ambulance to show up.

While sitting in my living room, she looked at me and chuckled.

“You’ve gotta hand to him…..he found a great way of getting out of helping me build that damned snowman didn’t he?” She asked.

I couldn’t believe how casually she was taking the whole situation.

“Damn woman….a man just DIED!” I said.

She looked sadly at me.

“You know boy, I’m 93 years old.” She told me. “I’ve buried my mother, father, two husbands, two sisters, three brothers, two sons, one grandson and a passel of friends.”

I looked at her expectantly and waited for her to finish.

She shook her head and chuckled.

“Are you a Christian?” She asked.

“Yes ma’am….I am.” I answered. “Not a good one sometimes but, yes…I’m a Christian.”

“That’s good.” She said quietly and then looked at me.
“Was that young man a Christian?”

“Yes ma’am…we talked about it a lot.” I told her.

She absolutely BEAMED a thousand watt smile in my direction.

“Well damn boy….right this minute Mike is feelin’ sorry for US!” She laughed. “Be happy for him. He’s done with this world.” She added quietly. “Don’t get me wrong…it’s a wonderful world but, if you truly believe in God, you should never hold on to this world too tightly.”

I thought about what she said for a second.

“Yeah well….you’re 93 years old Rosey…looks like you’re hangin’ on pretty fierce!” I laughed.

She gave me a mischievous grin.

“God’s punishing me for getting mad at HIM when my son’s were killed in World War Two.” She said. “I cussed God out for six months after I got two telegrams in two months telling me my boys were dead.”

“Dear God, that must have been horrible.” I said lamely.

“It was.” She said as she took a deep breath.
“It still is.”

“I can only imagine.” I said.

She gathered herself and grinned at me again.

“My point is that all the grieving we do when folks we care about pass away is either a bunch of guilty conscience about how we treated them, how we’ll miss ‘em or…more likely, a whole lot of fear that we could be next!” She said. “Don’t feel sad for Mikey…feel sorry for those of us who still have to deal with headaches, arthritis and crooked politians!”

I was still laughing when the ambulance and four police cars pulled up to the house.

Within an hour, everyone had gone. They had taken Mike away, questioned me and Miss Rose and hauled off all of Mike’s possessions.

A young deputy sheriff came up to me as they were leaving and showed my Mike’s envelope full of cash.

“That old boy had over two thousand dollars on him!” He told me.

I was SHOCKED and immediately suspicious.

“Officer…he had eleven thousand dollars on him YESTERDAY!” I informed him.
“Ya’ll better go back and look again.”

He got very defensive.

“Sir….four deputy’s went through that house and this is what we found.” He snapped.

“Yeah well, where did the money go?” I asked.

“Maybe you took it!” He suggested.

“Yeah, I stole his money and told the police about it!” I growled.


Miss Rose patted me on the back and looked at the young cop.

“He’s just upset but I want you to know that I’ve got a DAMNED good attorney so….if there’s any bullshit goin’ on here,
ya’ll better change your tune.”

The poor guy just stood there speechless.

Miss Rose was a local legend and you just didn’t argue with a living legend, much less a frail looking 93 year old lady.

“Ma’am….nobody took that fella’s money.” He said respectfully.

She looked at him and then turned to me.

“This child ain’t lyin’ to you.” She said.
“They didn’t steal that boy’s money.”

I thought about it a bit and then laughed.

“I don’t know why I should give a damn anyway… ain’t like he’s got any use for it now.” I said.

She laughed.

“Now you’re catchin’ on.” She grinned.

After everyone had left, Miss Rose stood looking out the front windows for a minute when she suddenly twirled around and looked at me with a panicked expression on here wrinkled face.

Oh my lord!” She gasped. “They’re HERE!!”

“Who?” I asked.

“My babies!” She began putting on her coat and gloves.

I looked out the window and, sure enough, the was a big car pulling into her driveway.

She looked at me and grinned.

“Get your coat on big boy….
you promised me a snowman!”

As the next few days passed, I learned that Mike had given away a lot of money that last night at Nick’s but, it still bothered me that only two thousand bucks had been found of his money.

Six or seven months later as I was preparing to move from that house, I was cleaning out the refrigerator in the guest house when I found a piece of notebook paper underneath the ice tray.

I still have the letter.

It read:

Hey dude… it’s getting onto dawn now and I’m feeling pretty crappy so I figured I’d leave a note just in case I don’t see you again.

I had a great time hangin’ out with you again and I’m sorry if I caused you any problems by croakin’ on you.

Hell….we’ve all gotta die SOMWHERE right?

Well, take care of yourself and I’ll see you later my friend.

Oh Yeah….

Look under the sink in the bathroom. I left you a little something taped to the drain pipe.

Have fun.


I sat stood there for a few minutes as I composed myself and then, like a little kid on an Easter egg hunt, I went to find his
‘little something’.

Just as he had said, he had taped a plastic baggy to the drain pipe.

I opened the bag and found six thousand dollars in cash, an ounce of pot and another note.

It read:

You know the old saying that says: “Dope will get you through times with no money better than money will get you through times with no dope? Well…….why not have BOTH?”


I'd like to say that I donated the cash to charity and flushed the pot down toilet but....anyone who knows me would KNOW better!

I still think about Mikey and how he died.

I can only pray that I do it as well as he did.

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