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.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

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

A busy week ya’ll but I’m back to finish this thing….I hope.

Thanks to those of you who have left comments. I especially like what AC said…..I ‘meander’ stories.

That’s funny but I suppose it’s true. Michelle has actually fallen asleep during some of my‘stories’. I’m not sure why I can’t seem to simply come to the point but…what the hell?’s the way I am.

Don’t get me wrong AC…I didn’t take the comment as a ‘bad’ thing…quite the reverse…I accepted in the spirit with which it was offered.

Thank you.

In writing as in my personal life…I am a ‘meanderer’.

I like that.


Back To The Tale……..

As ya’ll know, I DID sign the lease and I’m really glad that I did. It was a really good time in my life. I had finally become determined to live a solitary existence as a way to ‘get my self straight’. At that point in my life, my love life’s track record looked like miles of long hard road and I was desperate to give myself a break so…a little old house near a trout stream at the foot of a mountain seemed like a great place to hide for a while.

My only companions were a big old goofy dog and my thoughts. Sadly….the big old goofy dog turned out the better of the two. My thoughts were scattered and depressing for a time but that big old goofy dog brought me a lot of joy.

However……I digress.

From the time I moved into the house, things went well. My closest neighbors were an interesting group of people….to say the least.

It was a pretty cool time in my life but it was also a strange time. I really need to write about some more of the strange stuff that took place there so I’ll be able to remember it in my old age.

Damn…I’m falling into that ‘meandering’ thing again but sometimes….one thought just leads to another which presently leads into another and I feel compelled to write it down so that I’ll someday come back, read and remember.

Oh well…we’ll forget about the meth addicts who lived to the right of my place and their vicious billy goat for the time being. We’ll also pass on recalling Miss Rose, the fiddle playing old lady who lived to the left of my place and the former college basketball star who abused his beautiful elementary school teacher wife even after I punched him in the mouth in his own front yard with the neighbors watching. I still despise that son of a bitch.

Yep….I’ll forget about that for now. Hell….I’ll not even write about the weird little moles that lived around and about the old house. Those were some spooky little bastards! They also gave off a smell that led one to believe that the house was soon to be consumed in an electrical fire.

Okay…I’ve written all that crap down so I can now go back to THIS strange tale.

Back To The Tale……again.

The next morning, Mr. Thornton showed up at my door in full Orvis fishing outfit. He seemed a bit uneasy, perhaps because I had expressed no desire to act as his fishing guide but…there he was anyway.

I had been in the kitchen when I heard the tapping at my door so I removed the pan from the stove and headed into the living room.


I opened the door and he grinned sheepishly.

“I don’t suppose you would show me the trail you mention yesterday?”

“Now?” I asked.

“Well not NOW exactly but…..I would like to get started sometime this morning.” He stated.

Honestly, I couldn’t believe the chutzpah of this little dude. Hell, it was nine a.m. on a Saturday and the only reason I was even awake at this hour was because I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before unless you call a gallon or so of beer and a few Kamikaze’s a meal while playing sets at Nick’s dinner.

I was HUNGRY!!

I couldn’t find it in my heart to be rude to the man but I’m sure he could read the look on my face.

I motioned him into the living room, pointed to the sofa and walked towards the kitchen.

“I was in the middle of cooking breakfast.” I snarled.

I saw him grin.

“Would there be enough for two?” He asked.

I couldn’t believe my ears! What a presumptuous little prick!

“Yeah….I’m cooking enough for two……me and Barney.” I snapped.

He shrunk back into the sofa a bit.

“Oh dear…I suppose that WAS a bit pushy of me wasn’t it?” He muttered.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Yeah….my thoughts precisely but….I can always throw a few more eggs together.”

After that, we ate breakfast and talked a bit about fishing on the mountain.

Needless to say, I caved in and told him that I would guide him a few hundred yards up the hill and show him the trail.

He was almost giddy.

We finished breakfast and I changed into some ‘going up the mountain’ clothes. I carried my boots out to the front deck and was putting them on when Mr. Thornton asked me if Barney was going to accompany us on our little trek.

I laughed.

“I wouldn’t want to be the one to try and stop him! He dearly loves to crash through the underbrush but he’s a lousy fishing partner. I’m telling you the truth…if he spots a trout he’s gonna do a belly flop before you can say damn.”

He laughed.

“I’m serious man…he’s got eyes like a hawk and can spot a trout in a heartbeat. It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or in the shade, he’ll screw up a fishing trip if you let him.”

“Well, I’ll wait until you get me to my spot and you can take him home with you.” He said.

We headed out shortly thereafter with Barney leading the way. The summer growth hadn’t died off yet in this, the early fall so it was slow going for us as we headed up the rocky path. Of course, Barney was unencumbered by the undergrowth so he fairly hauled ass up in front of us.

We were about fifteen minutes into the hike when Mr. Thornton called out to me.

“Could we stop a moment?” He was obviously struggling to catch his wind.

Trust me….we weren’t walking very fast at all. Hell….I was in lousy shape even then! After all, I was a moderately hung over guitar player that fine autumn morning way back then.

I turned to answer him just in time to watch him step on a loose rock and actually witnessed him turning his right ankle at a not so healthy looking angle.

He went down to the ground without a sound.

He lay on the ground for a moment, grabbed his ankle and looked up at me with a pained expression.

“Damn that hurt!” He gasped.

“I’ll bet.” Was all I could manage to think to say. I was trying to picture how I was going to lug this old man back down the trail on my back.

Why me?

Within minutes of him falling to the ground, Barney showed up like an apparition from the dense undergrowth panting heavily. He took one look at the situation and sat beside Mr. Thornton.

I would have a hard time believing this if I hadn’t witnessed it but I swear it’s true….Barney began licking the old man ankle very gently but VERY deliberately.

How the hell did he know what was ailing Mr. Thornton?

Mr. Thornton was not rubbing his ankle at the time Barney appeared and of course, Mr. Thornton had TWO ankles after all….how the hell did Barney choose the correct offended appendage?

The old fellow and I just stared at each other and grinned.

It was one of those ‘Twilight Zone’ moments.

I remember thinking of a time when on this very same path a few months earlier, I had slipped on a moss covered rock and smashed my right knee into a river rock while crossing the stream and had basically passed out on the side of the river. I had actually blacked out briefly…I think. I really don’t know how long it had been but when I awoke, the pain was still incredible and Barney was right there with me licking my face and laying on my chest.

He was the first thing I saw when I came to.

I sat up for a second and got violently ill for the first time in years. Man that knee was HURTING!!

Through it all, Barney was freaking out and trying to do SOMETHING to help me.

Finally, I got to my feet and bore the pain then slowly, limped back down the mountain with Barney beside me every step of the way.

I made it back to my house and iced down my knee but it didn’t do much good. I spent a week or two hobbling around on it before it finally got ‘better’ after I had it drained twice.

If you’ve never had your knee drained, let me tell you…it’s one of the worst/best feelings in the world. One minute your knee feels like an abscessed tooth, then they shoot you up with five or six excruciating shots THEN comes the turkey injector sized needle which feels like a railroad spike even AFTER the Novacain and then…..instant pain relief!

Ah…….however….I meander again.

Anyway….Mr. Thornton managed to get up and limp around a bit while testing out his ankle. I suggested that he take his shoe off and soak it the bitterly cold stream which, after a moment of doubt, he did.

We all sat there for probably twenty minutes while he immersed his foot in the stream after which time he declared himself fit enough to go on with our little journey.

“Mr. Thornton…I really think you ought to just hobble back down the trail and go home.” I said honestly. “That ankle is probably gonna swell up like crazy before long if you don’t get off of it.”

“Oh nonsense…it’s feeling much better now.” He replied. “I’m feeling much better and it’s not as though I haven’t sprained an ankle or two in my life. Walking on it is the best medicine.”

What the hell? I couldn’t really argue with that logic as I had done the same thing many times in my life. You just sort of ‘work through it’.

Well….we headed back up the mountain until we came to the clearly marked trail which lead to the locally famous ‘honey hole’ where many a trophy fish had been caught. I asked him if he was okay to go on alone and he assured me that he was. I told him exactly how to reach the spot just short of the little waterfall complex and with that, he took off on his own.

Barney and I headed back down the trail and were back at home shortly thereafter.

I asked Barney if he wanted to play and of course…he did.

Our ritual was to go across the road with a tennis ball and an old tennis racket. I would hit the ball as far as I could hit it into the woods and he would take off like a bat out of hell to retrieve it. It really didn’t matter how far or where I hit it…in the woods, in the river or straight across the bridge, Barney would find it and bring it back to me and place it on the outstretched tennis racket…..ready to go again.

We played that game for hours sometimes. He never got tired of it.

That particular day however, I hit the ball a few times and he really didn’t seem all that eager to participate but he did so anyway for a little while. On the fourth or fifth time however, he watched the flight of the ball as it landed downstream in the river, looked at me and promptly dashed UPSTREAM without so much as a ‘kiss my ass’.

He was gone.

Honestly, I was almost always happy when Barney lost interest in our little game but it usually took him a very long time to tire of it. This day however, I remember thinking that it was kind of strange for him to quit so quickly. Hell, I didn’t know…maybe he was chasing a rabbit or something. Whatever the reason, my duty had been fulfilled so I went back in the house and started watching a college football game.

It must have been sometime around four o’clock in the afternoon when I realized that Barney hadn’t come back to the house and I began to get irratated that I’d probably have to go looking for him…..again.

I know that the fog of time probably guarantees that what I’m about to say is inaccurate but, it seems to be a fact as I sit here and write this.

It was only a few short minutes after I had thought about having to go looking for Barney, when I heard someone walking on my front deck. Before I could get to the door, someone began knocking.

I pushed the curtain aside and laughed.

It was old Miss Rose, my fiddle playing octogenarian neighbor.

I opened the door and she stormed into my living without so much as a ‘by your leave’.

Too funny.

She spun and looked at me.

“Where’s that damn dog of yours?” She asked.

“Damn Miss Rose…I don’t know. What did he do?” I asked.

“If you’d turn that damned TV down and step out on the porch you can hear him barkin’ some damned-where!!” She said as she walked over to my TV and began punching buttons.

I picked up the remote and turned the TV down before she could screw the damned thing up forever.


Without even going outside I could hear Barney yelping.

Sounds in the mountains are quite difficult to pinpoint sometimes and even after I walked outside, I couldn’t quite tell where he was just by listening but….I knew where he was.

I really did have an ominous feeling of dread. Believe me or not….I KNEW something had happened to Mr. Thornton.

I rushed inside and began putting on my boots and jacket.

“Where the hell are you going?” she asked.

“I’m going to find Barney but I think I know exactly where to find him.” I answered. “He’s up at the falls with that English guy.”

“What English guy?”

“Rosey….I’ll tell you all about it later but I’ve gotta get going.” I said as I headed for the door. “The old guy twisted his ankle and he’s probably lying up there unable to walk back down.”

“Okay…I’ll call Wally. He’ll be able to help you if you need him.” She offered.

Wally was her 400 lb volunteer fireman nephew who would probably have a stroke if he walked up my front steps much less the damned mountain but…I was in no mood to argue with her.

“Yeah fine Miss Rose.” I said. “I’ve got my cell phone with me and I’ll call if I need help.”

With that….I headed back up the mountain and was soon hustling through the brush.

After stopping once to catch my breath, I was certain that Barney was at the water falls. His yelping kept getting louder and maybe even more excited sounding to me. I pushed forward and after another ten minutes or so, I crested the little ridge and looked down at the series of small waterfalls and the chain of little pools in the river.

Sure enough, there was big ole goofy Barney standing knee deep in the river facing the largest of the waterfalls…howling his damned head off. I carefully made my way down the treacherous hill until I got to within fifty yards of where Barney was. The noise from the falls partially drowned out the commotion the dog was making but I could still hear it. I yelled several times and Barney looked around without seeing me. Finally I quickly trotted towards him and when I was a few yards closer, I whistled very loudly.

That got his attention at long last and he began lunging toward me and then quickly turning back to face the falls as though he couldn’t make up his mind whether to come or stay where he was.

When I finally reached him and waded into the frigid shallow water to reach his side, I immediately saw what had happened.

I know this sounds terrible but I remember my first thought being…

Damn it!!

Why me?

I know...I'm a selfish bastard but really....

Why ME?

Lying in the water under the waterfall was the body of Mr. Thornton. He was floating in the large pool of water being intermittently pushed underwater from the force of the rushing surge like a child’s rag doll in a washing machine.


To Be Continued….. yep....there's more.

Read more!