When I married my husband, he moved me to the little place where he was born and raised. It’s called Hope. Not sure why, it just doesn’t seem to fit. At first I thought it was just a regular little community, but I was soon to find out it was a whole different planet.
Right after I first moved in, it seemed we had visitors every night. From the time Randy would get home from work until bedtime, the driveway was full. Sometimes, the company would only stay minutes, others times hours but we had plenty. I finally asked him, as I fell into bed exhausted one night. “Is it always Grand Central Station around here?”
“Nope,” he replied, “They’re all coming to see what I drug in this time.”
I wasn’t sure if that meant that he had a bad reputation for the things he had brought in or if they just weren’t really sure that he could actually catch something that didn’t have fur or feathers. I didn’t really believe him until one day when we were in the local grocery store. I had left him by the buggy, while I walked toward another aisle to grab something, not sure what now and I probably didn’t get it then as I watched and listened to what transpired. He was standing there, looking about as comfortable as a giraffe in high heels (he’s really tall), when he was accosted by this short round older woman. I could hear her speaking to him, in what she must have thought was a whisper. “Is that her, Randy? Why, you got you a purdy woman. Where’d you get her at?”
I guess the store just sold the ugly versions. Or maybe she’d seen the ones he snuck out of his house at daylight, after spending the night before at the bar. I was so amazed at her words, I didn’t even hear his response. But I guess the feeling was well shared in Hope, because more than once, he was asked in our driveway, in front of me, “Well, what’s wrong with her? She looks pretty good.” One even asked if I was blind or just stupid. I began to rethink my decision to marry him. Was he an ax murderer or in his case, a chainsaw murderer (he logged for a living)? Did he use his women for target practice? He was an avid hunter and a lover of guns. He even had a gun building where he kept all his ammunition and reloading supplies. But even as these thoughts ran through my mind, I couldn’t reconcile them to the gentle man I knew. The man who puppies and small children flocked to. So I guess it was just the strange way of the neighbors telling him that they approved of his choice. And of course, there were the many who wondered if I could cook. I guess he’d made the rounds at breakfast, lunch and dinner time so often that they wondered if their grocery bill would now shrink. Did I mention he was a big man? Tall, too.
Well, the flow of traffic slowed down, for the most part. At the house at least. But I had never seen a place where the most of the traffic on the roads was tractors. Everyone around there had a car, but I don’t really think anyone drove them, not even to Wal-Mart. Everyone you saw was on a tractor. Or a four-wheeler. Those things were everywhere. They even had a four-wheeler gang, the Rough Riders, they called themselves. Across the hill from our house, we had another two hundred plus acres that we used mainly for hunting and recreation. One night, we decided we would ride our four-wheeler over and have a nice romantic time (if you know what I mean) out by the pond. Well, I packed a blanket and a pillow and some nice adult beverages, looking forward to sleeping under the stars with my hubby. We got loaded up and started up the trail to the farm. Well you would have thought we’d hit Interstate 64. We just kept running into people riding their all-terrain vehicles. I met people out in those woods that I didn’t even know lived in Hope. By the time we’d got to the farm, I was leery of baring my arse out in the wild, not because of the animal population, but because of the four-wheeler population. I finally convinced him we would do just as well at home in bed. But the idea had been romantic, if there hadn’t been a couple hundred people venturing through to say hi.
As our six month anniversary approached, I decided that a nice cookout would be in order for Randy’s friends. This way, they could see that I really could cook and that I was still here. I decided on the fourth of July weekend. I planned and cooked and planned and cooked. He drove around, inviting people. Before long the day for the cookout arrived. The hay wagon was covered in table clothes and loaded down with food, I was manning the grill and making small talk with those coming up to fill or refill their plates. Randy was holding court at the picnic table. Everything was going well. Until I heard a loud roar. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was but about that time, forty some odd four-wheelers rounded the house, converging on our gathering. I made a beeline for my husband, scared as a rabbit that was cornered. “It’s alright, honey.” He reassured me, patting my back. “It’s only the Rough Riders.”
After the initial shock of having an assortment of people show up on four-wheelers, I came to enjoy our time with the group. We did join them on several rides, starting with the one right after our cookout. Interesting, to say the least. Most of the farms around Hope have an extensive network of trails used for riding. You can go for miles and through about three different counties on the trails. The Rough Riders would pick a home base for the weekend and set up tents and start campfires. All rides would begin from that location and after many hours, would end up back there. So that night, we rode into their camp prepared to join the fun. When everyone was ready, we hit the trails. As we were passing through an overgrown field, a man rode up alongside of us. “Hey Big Randy, where’d you get your squaw?” He shouted. I think he may have been slightly inebriated. “Got her at the local whorehouse,” responded my loving husband. The man looked me over then to Randy said, “Well, I didn’t see her there.” Then off he rode.
Unsure of the whole exchange, I asked who that man was. “Oh, that was just Timmy. Now he’ll be going to see if he can find one that looks as good as you.” I decided not to question that, I really didn’t want to know if there was a local whorehouse.
We’d rode for a couple of hours through the dark woods. If I’d had to find my way home at this point, I think I would have been lost forever. But I guess the group knew the woods better than their own yards. During one of our refreshment/potty stops, someone noticed that Timmy, the whorehouse dweller, was not with the group. The leader of the ride sprang into action. He rounded up the four-wheelers and divided them into groups and sent them back across the trails we had just traveled and down the branches we hadn’t. The rest of us sat in the dark field and waited. It wasn’t long before the groups started coming back, to report. Not one sign of the missing man. “We will not leave a man behind, Rough Riders mount up!” was the rallying cry from the leader. But a chorus of “He’s probably back at camp now passed out.” Met his proclamation. Regardless, we retraced our earlier path and headed back to camp. When we returned, Timmy’s four-wheeler sat beside a campfire with him passed out across the seat, snoring loudly. Evidently, this was a regular occurrence during the rides. And after that night, I can remember many nights, summer and winter when I’d be awakened by the sound of a four-wheeler in the yard, usually between three and four in the morning. It would be Timmy, wondering how to get home.
Evidently, Randy is the honorary Mayor of Hope. Or maybe everyone thinks he’s the smartest person there. Everyone comes to him for answers about everything from women problems and gun problems, to how to fry taters. I’m not sure the answers he gave them were always right but they kept coming back. One man came to him, wondering what he should do about his wife. They were having marital problems and he had caught her going out on him. Well, Randy listened then calmly informed the man that his wife was a whore and he needed to get rid of her. The feller went home and I don’t know what happened but the two of them have been together ever since. I guess Randy knew what would work for those two.
Another time, a guy came to the house, carrying a revolver. “Can you fix my piece, Randy? The screws came loose when I was twirling it.” I shit you not. The guy then proceeded to demonstrate. We never did ask if he liked to twirl it while loaded or not. We really didn’t want to know and he hadn’t lost any body parts yet, so everything was good. But Randy fixed the screws, after he got the plumbing tape off of them.
Randy loves all things guns. He’s forever shooting, or reloading something. And before Homeland Security, blowing things up. He loved making his own fireworks and just seeing how far he could blow things into the air. He was so bad that the preacher who lived next door to us would hear him coming outside and tell his family, “Get in the house, what’s that fool doing now?”
But Randy’s calmed down lots, especially now that he’s afraid of going to the pokey for some of his exploits. It’s bad when a little harmless fun could cause you to end up in jail.
Since we’ve got five kids at home ages thirteen and under, we don’t go visit much. Because of this, our house has become a gathering place. Most nights you’ll find a least a couple of stray people in our living room. Some nights more than that. If it’s a holiday, we’ll have two houses full. There’s usually someone sitting around spinning a yarn. Most telling tales on themselves, like the guy who came by and told the tale of the time he peed on the electric fence. Yep, didn’t know anyone would try that. I mean when you’re a little kid, maybe. But this guy did it when he was like thirteen or fourteen. Yep, just whipped it out and peed right on the fence. Said it about straightened him right out. He was down for two weeks afterwards and to hear him tell it, he didn’t think anything would ever work right. Said everything was black from his waist down.
My husband’s gone to the dogs!!