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, April 12, 2008

Things That Happen When I'm Minding My Own Business...Part Two

After Susan had driven off, Mr. Thornton finished his drink and offered his hand to me. We shook hands as he was standing up and he smiled warmly.

“Well thank you so much for your kindness but I must be going.”

I offered to make him another drink but, to be honest, I was ready for him to leave. Especially back in those days, I was a virtual hermit and guests, invited or uninvited weren’t one of my favorite things. I liked the little old guy but…well you know.

We exchanged pleasantries as he walked to the car with Barney escorting him step for step. As he opened his door to get in, the strangest thing happened.

Barney jumped in the man’s car, went to the passenger seat and sat down!


Mr. Thornton hadn’t done a single thing to encourage the dog other than pet him a few times and Barney HAD sat at his feet while we were on my front deck but…nothing else.

We both laughed in amazement at the sight of big ole Barney sitting ramrod straight in the passenger seat staring straight ahead as if saying…

“Home James.”

I went to the passenger side door and opened it.

“Barney, get the hell out the man’s car.” I chuckled and gave Mr. Thornton an embarrassed look.

To my shock and irritation, the dog wouldn’t move. Didn’t even acknowledge that he’d heard me.

He did not so much as glance my way.

I repeated my ‘command’.


I started to get a little perturbed at this point so I reached in, grabbed him by his collar and literally had to haul him out of the man’s car.


I think I’ve mention Barney in a couple, hell, maybe a few posts but, for those who don’t know or remember…Barney was truly more of a friend than a dog at that point in my life. As I mentioned earlier, I was in the ‘tortured artist/jaded human being/rugged loner’ stage of my life when I got Barney as an eight week old puppy. I never tried to ‘train’ him much; we just kind of hung out together and became incredibly close and co-dependent.

Non verbal communication was the norm for us and he wasn’t so much obedient as he was eager to please.

We loved each other.

Four years after he was stolen from us, I still think about him almost everyday.

My point is this…..while Barney was incredibly friendly and lovable and EVERYBODY loved Barney….he was strictly a ‘one man dog’!

Don’t get me wrong….he loved to roam but he always came home.

This next part of the tale is gonna sound like b.s. but…..when I look back on his behavior that day and a couple of other times…I believe my analysis of the situation is correct.

He had a remarkable ‘gift’ which I’ll explain in a bit.

I’ll have to tell ya’ll some other Barney stories in the future.

For Example:

Almost every day, the big old goofy bastard would go through the automatic doors at Lowe’s grocery store (a mile from my house) and act like a friggin’ Wal-Mart greeter!

He never stayed outside the store nor did he wander around inside the store, he would simply sit by the door and shake hands with anyone who wasn’t terrified of a 135 lb dog that looked a bit like Astro on the Jetsons.

Most everyone loved it and the local paper even ran a story about him but, due to the article, the county health inspectors decided to ban Barney from his ‘duties’.

People actually cried and wrote angry letters to the editor about how a horrible injustice was being done to Barney!

He was a hoot.


After I pulled Barney from the car and shut the door, I let go of his collar and he immediately went around to the driver’s side where Mr. Thornton had just sat down and closed the door. Barney hopped up, put his paws on the window frame, stuck his head in the window and ‘talked’ to the man.

I think that most intelligent dogs are truly PISSED that they can’t speak and Barney was no exception. He would growl, sigh, whine and moan as though he were trying to talk to you and was damned upset that you couldn’t understand him!

The little man looked at me as I came around to his side of the car to get Barney again.

“He IS a friendly chap isn’t he?” He smiled. “I think he rather fancies me.”

I laughed.

“Don’t be too flattered Mr. Thornton…Barney loves almost everybody.”

With that, I grabbed Barney’s collar again and damned if he didn’t pull away from me and GROWL!

I was absolutely stunned and I don’t mind telling you….a little bit scared.

We’ve all heard stories about dogs suddenly ‘snapping’ or ‘going postal’ out of the clear blue.

Hell, if a friggin’ Yorky or a Pomeranian goes bat shit crazy well…it’s no big deal but Barney was one big S.O.B. who loved to chew on lumber for the hell of it!!

He could devour beef rib bones like dog biscuits!

Instinctively, I let go of his collar and he immediately jumped back into the car window.

I looked at Mr. Thornton, he looked at me and we both wore uneasy expressions I’m sure.

After a few seconds, he opened the car door, got out and stood before Barney. He reached down and petted him while looking at me.

“Well….you said that dogs love you Mr. Thornton.” I said apologetically. “I don’t suppose you want a dog?”

He grinned.

“Actually, I would love a dog but I’m afraid I don’t care to own a bloody horse!”

As we stood there trying to figure out what to do about this strange situation, a car came across the little bridge and pulled in behind Mr. Thornton’s.

“I wished I was dead.” I muttered.

Mr. Thornton looked at me.

“I beg your pardon.”

“Here comes trouble.” I said.

It was Susan’s asshole husband…..Bill.

As I mentioned earlier, Bill was a retired NYPD beat cop. He was in his early seventies and one of the surliest men I’ve ever known. I pretty sure the man was weaned on sour milk and vinegar. He was one of those people who could say ‘I love you’ but it came out as ‘kiss my ass’ if you know what I mean.

He sprung out of his Crown Victoria with the nimbleness of a man half his age. Like him or not, you had to give the man his ‘props’. He was in incredible shape for a man his age and loved to regale anyone who would listen as to how physically superior he was to anyone he knew. He began this proclamation with a handshake that would make a Marine drill sergeant weep and a steely eyed glare.

I’m not making this up folks….

When I first met him, I was inspecting the rental house in anticipation of signing the lease. Susan and I were just about to enter the tiny guest house when all of the sudden, a candy apple red Mercedes 450 SL whips into the driveway and a man dressed like a cricket player vaults out of the convertible like something out of a Magnum P.I. episode!

Unfortunately, the wannabe Magnum’s tennis shoe must have failed to clear the top of the door and, as a result, the man pitched quite literally ‘ass over tea kettle’ onto the leaf covered ground.

It was such a hideous landing, face first into the ground and at an impossible angle with no hands breaking the momentum that I was pretty well certain that I was witnessing a ‘Christopher Reeve’ moment!

Damn!! He had to have broken his neck!!!

I heard Susan chuckle and I looked at her in disgust.

“You think THAT’S funny?” I asked.

I watched as the man miraculously rose to his feet albeit a little cautiously.

“Hell yeah it’s funny.” She snorted. “That dick with ears is my husband.”

She opened the door to the guest house and motioned me inside.

“Are you gonna check on him?” I asked.

“Hell no honey….he does enough ‘checking’ for the both of us…..the jealous prick.”

No sooner had we entered the little house than Bill came bursting into the room.

“So dis guy heah is the new tenant huh Susan?” He asked.

She ignored him so I pitched in.

“Well, I’m just sort of looking for now.”

“What’s he looking at Susie?” He growled. “He lookin’ at the fuggin’ house or the gadamn ‘amenities’?”

Geez….what an asshole.

Susan whirled around and faced him.

“Bill, get the fuck out of her right now!” She shouted. “You wanna handle this job….handle the fucking job but don’t tell me to handle the job and then give me a fuckin’ hard time when I do handle the fuckin’ job!”

I was amazed.

Even though I had been in the Navy, I don’t believe I had ever heard such a short statement utilizing the ‘F’ word so many times!

The ‘lady’ was an artist.

Bill glared at me.

“Who are you?” he demanded.

I’ve never liked assholes even though I’ve been one myself many times in my life so naturally……I had to speak up.

“I’m the guy who ain’t gonna rent this place from you.” I said as I headed for the door.

Suddenly, Susan rushed over and grabbed my arm.

“I’ll cut the rent by a hundred a month and I’ll do all the yard work.”

“For crissake Susie, why don’t you just let the fuggin’ guy stay here for free?” he groaned like Archie Bunker.

“Shut the hell up Bill!” she screamed. “Get out of here or I swear I’ll shoot you with your own damned gun when I get home.”

Oddly enough, Bill turned and left but not before delivering a parting shot.

“You just remember that I know where my guns are too!”

There were a few uncomfortable moments after Bill departed and then she turned to me as if nothing had happened.

“So… wanna see the darling little room upstairs?”

What the hell could I say?


As you know….I ended up signing the lease.

The rest is history.

To Be Continued……

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Things That Happen When I'm Minding My Own Business

A few years back I was living in a very old rented house across the street road from the Little Toe River. Yep….that’s the real name. Lord only knows why they named it that but I suspect it’s because the damned thing is barely deep enough to dampen your little toe in places but…who knows? While it’s not much of a ‘river’ it was and is a really good trout stream and is very popular with fly fishermen.

One fall afternoon I was sitting on my front deck with my dog/best friend Barney minding my own business and enjoying the brisk afternoon when a car came around the curve and pulled off the road next to my driveway. I watched curiously to see who would emerge from the car as I tried to prevent Barney, a 130 lb Rottweiler/Lab mix, from tearing off the deck and licking our visitor to death. As we sat there, the door opened and a little old man wearing full body Orvis fly fishing regalia stepped out of the car and went to his trunk where he began unloading his fishing gear.

As he stood there sorting out his gear after giving me a barely noticeable wave, I heard another car approach and recognized it as the black Jaguar belonging to my landlady Susan. She rarely came by unless she was desperate for a partner to play a round of golf or trying to escape her husband Bill….a retired NYPD cop and an asshole of gargantuan proportions.

She knew that I hated playing golf with her so I rarely answered the phone when my caller ID told me that she was calling so…she would simply show up at my house and bushwhack me.

Susan was somewhere in the vicinity of sixty years old and had only taken up golf a few years before and as a result, she was one of the worst golfers I’d ever seen up close. At the time, I was about a twelve handicap (pretty decent) and she was absolutely inept yet extremely dedicated to the game. I would tee off on a par three, land my shot on or near the green then watch her hit the ball (or miss it entirely) fifteen times before she finally reached the green!

It was painful to watch.

I could usually tell by the way she walked up the rose lined walkway whether she was there to beg me to play golf or fix her a really strong drink. I watched carefully as Susan got out of her car and stormed up the path to the deck.

Thank God!!

No golf today….the lady was in a drinking mood.

I could see her eyeing the little old fly fisherman suspiciously as she braced for Barney’s inevitable attack. For some reason Barney LOVED Susan and she loved him but she was always concerned that he would bowl her over and ruin her designer outfit.

As she reached the gate leading to the deck, I mischievously released Barney and he bolted towards her.

“Ron!” she squealed. “You are a dirty sonofabitch!”

Much to our astonishment however, Barney bolted past her as though she wasn’t there and ran immediately to where our unknown angler was standing. I was shocked as I watched Barney run to a spot about two feet from the little man where the giant dog abruptly stopped and simply sat down in front of the man. I had been watching Barney and hollering for him to come back so I didn’t notice it immediately but as I saw Barney sit down, I looked at the man and saw that he had not taken his eyes off of his gear sorting task. He had to have heard me yelling, Susan shrieking and Barney’s huffing and puffing as he lumbered toward him but he never stopped what he was doing. A couple of seconds after the dog had sat down beside him; the little guy looked down at Barney as if he had just noticed him.

“Well then….who might you be?” he asked in a clipped British accent.

Barney hopped up and put his paws on the bumper of the car and the man proceeded to pet him as he looked up at the deck.

“What a magnificent animal.” He stated with an amiable grin.

I laughed and walked to the railing.

“Please don’t let him think you referred to HIM as an animal.” I chuckled. “Let’s just pretend you were talking about Susan here.” I said pointing to my dour land lady.

He gave Barney a shove, shut his trunk and strolled up the walkway with Barney on his heels.

“May I approach the cottage or will this fellow make an appetizer of me?” He asked cocking his head toward Barney.

I waved him up to the deck and he climbed the steps.

“Barney?” Susan snapped. “Hell, you would have to cover yourself with raw liver before he’d bite you! He’s a woosey!”

“Well…..he DOES put forth a furious image doesn’t he?” He laughed.

“Yeah….you really seem terrified don’t you?” I laughed. “How the hell did you DO that?” I asked.

“Do what?”

“How did you make him stop like that?” I asked. “I’ve seen him knock people over trying to say hello.”

“Oh that.” He said nonchalantly. “I have no idea how that works but apparently, dogs love me.” He said simply. “Always have.”

Susan and I looked at each other.

He grinned and shrugged his shoulders.

“On the other hand…. trout absolutely loath me.” He said dejectedly pointing across the road to the stream. “I can’t catch a trout to save my ass.”

We all laughed at this and he introduced himself as David Thornton from England. He explained that he was ‘on holiday’ in America and was newly arrived in our county to try his hand at fly fishing for native, brown and brook trout.

“I’ve been told that almost anyone can land a trout in this river.” He stated hopefully. “Is this your place?”

“No, I’m only renting the place from this lady.” I explained.

I introduced Susan and myself.

After making our introductions, he asked if he might try his luck in the river for a few hours but efore I could say a word, Susan spoke up.

“This is private property sir.” She said rudely.

I looked at her disapprovingly.

“Susan…the man just said that he can’t catch a friggin’ fish to save his ass so….what’s the harm?”

She shot me a nasty look.

“Well…it’s MY property!”

I looked at Mr. Thornton and winked.

“She’s my wicked land lady Mr. Thornton but she’s not all that bad. She seems to have forgotten that this is MY property as long as the rent is paid up so go ahead and fish your heart out.”

Susan started to say something but thought better of it. She grinned and nodded toward the front door.

“Do you have a drink in there?” she asked.

I looked at Mr. Thornton and laughed as he brought his hands up in front of his face like a begging dog.

I could only assume that he too wanted a drink.

Even Susan had to laugh and I invited them into the house.

Susan was quite familiar with the bar and helped herself to an ice cold bottle of Vodka while I asked David what he desired.

He watched as Susan slammed a straight double shot without so much as a grimace and he winced.

“Dear God….did we have a rough day darling?” he asked with a straight face.

I almost fell off the barstool.

In fact, Susan could drink a Russian sailor under the table but, she didn’t like being called out on this fact so…she got a bit indignant.

“No…not a rough day…..a rough LIFE!” she growled.

I couldn’t stand to see her make an ass of herself so I stepped in.

“Susan….I’m sure that Bill (her asshole husband) has been a jerk today or your tee time was canceled or maybe your tanning bed blew up on you but please….as long as you are in MY house….I’m gonna have to ask you to be polite!” I was deliberately yanking her haughty chain which honestly….she enjoyed.

She looked at me and then at David as she poured herself another double.

“You know…” she looked at David. “He’s a real asshole sometimes but he’s right….I should be polite. I don’t do polite very well because I really don’t like people.”

Without missing a beat, David looked at her and grinned.

“Oh dear….what a shame….and I’ll bet they just love you!” He said with a snide look.

I liked this little dude!!!

Mr. Thornton had asked if I had any single malt whiskey and I had to inform him that I didn’t. He then asked for scotch and again, I had to break the sad news that I didn’t. Before he could ask and be disappointed again I reached under the bar and in two seconds, displayed my entire stock of liquor. A bottle of Jack Daniels, half a bottle of Tequila, a drop of Rum and the quickly disappearing bottle of vodka that Susan was apparently intent on ridding me of as soon as humanly possible.

He asked for Jack Daniels on the rocks…straight up.

I poured his drink, grabbed myself a beer and walked back to the deck hoping they would follow me.

They did.

We all found a chair and sat down in silence. After a few seconds, Mr. Thornton began asking about the trout stream. He asked about the type of flies he should use, where to fish and what type of trout he was likely to catch. He began spouting names of flies and types of larvae and insects and…well, he wouldn’t shut up so I interrupted him.

“Canned corn or dry dog food.” I said.

I had to laugh at his expression.

“Pardon me?” He asked.

I repeated myself.

He looked at me as though I’d spoken in tongues.

I couldn’t help but laugh as I explained to him that the river in front of my house was a release point where every couple of weeks, a big truck from the state hatchery pulled up and dumped hundreds of farm raised trout into the stream. Hell, the trout in my part of the river were damn near tame. You could almost grab them with your bare hand but canned corn or dry dog food would do nicely.

It took him a few moments to digest this information before he finally spoke.

“Not very sporting is it?” He asked. “Where is the challenge?”

“The challenge is trying to keep more than one of them to jump on your hook.” I chuckled. “Actually, it’s almost like they turn themselves in or commit suicide…not much of sport really which is why I don’t fish much.”

“Damned disappointing.” He remarked.

After he digested the news, his face lit up and asked me how far up the river he had to go to find the wild trout. I told him that he would have to hike about a mile upstream to a small waterfall but I also informed him that it was a pretty rugged hike up the mountain to reach the best spots.

He was as eager as a kid.

“Well….that’s precisely what I’m looking for!” He almost gushed. “Will you show me where to go?”

I told him that I would show him the trail but that it was too late in the day for him to set out because he would get caught in the dark before he could reach the area. I also told him that I wouldn’t advise him going alone due to the rocky and rugged nature of the trail. Of course, this led him to ask me to act as guide for him.

I told him that I couldn’t guide for him tonight or the next day but that I would show him the trail head and if he was dead set on going it alone, it would be easy to follow the trail in daylight.

This idea thrilled the hell out of the feisty little dude.

Susan, who had been sitting there listening to all this was now on her fourth or fifth shot of vodka finally spoke up in a slurred voice.

“Yer gonna climb that mountain to catch a damned fish when all you gotta do is just go across the road over there and invite one of those slimey sumbitches to jump in your fucking basket?” She asked incredulously. “That’s just plain stupid!” She added.

Mr. Thornton and I laughed like hell as we watched he stand up shakily and wave her hand as if dismissing both of us as morons.

“Go on….break your friggin’ neck for all I care!” She spat. “I’m goin’ home to my asshole husband.”

With that she staggered to her car and drove away.

We looked at each other.

“She’s quite the charmer isn’t she?” He asked.

“Oh yeah…and you caught her on a good day.” I laughed.

To Be Continued……

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