Mrs. Forrest has always been a compulsive feeder. Before she retired, she was cooking for the Mule Barn truck stop's customers, and is singularly responsible for about three flabby tons of avoirdupois on this nation's truck drivers, and may have been marginally responsible, third-hand, for a cardiac event or two.
It was like buzzards circling the body.
The Jones kid, Randy, was out in the Mule Barn parking lot with the hood up on his car. He was staring down into it the way a first-time parachutist would look out the airplane door. You never quite knew for sure what lay ahead.
"Looks like Randy's got problems," said Steve.
"Let's have a look," said Dud.
So coffee was left to get cold and the entire Supreme Court of All Things Mechanical - Steve, Dud, Doc, Herb and Dewey - trooped out to see what was going on.
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It was just one of those things. It didn't really mean Marvin Pincus had lost his mind. Consider this yourself for a minute. Marvin had opened the mail that morning and in it was the Fenwick glass fly rod he'd ordered. Oh, it was used, of course. But there's a feel to a Fenwick that only a man dedicated to a life of using dry flies can appreciate.
When Dewey and Emily walked into the Mule Barn the other day, they were greeted with applause and whistles. Emily blushed and Dewey took a bow, almost hitting the coffee pot Loretta was carrying.
"I hear you too really fell for each other," Doc said. "And the way I hear it, many times."
"That's right, Doc, I finally cornered him and we're planning a wedding," Emily said.
Emily is a brave soul, taking for a husband the most accident prone human being since Wrong Way Corrigan.
Our pal Doc is a genius.
Just take the other day, and all of us were gathered up and coffee'd at the Mule Barn truck stop coffee shop and world dilemma think tank, and ol' Doc just proved it again.
Steve noticed them first, the young couple who had just pulled into a parking space outside the "efaC" window. From the outside, it reads "Cafe."
"Say," said Steve, "isn't that Bobby and Carol Ann?"
"Yep," said Jimmy, "and if I ain't mistaken, there's three of 'em today."
"Lived on through another May Day!"
The guys at the philosophy counter turned to see who it was. Windy Wilson, of course. He meandered into their midst and sat and flipped over a cup to the upright and fillable position.
"We sure did, Windy," said Doc, smiling, "but I hadn't thought we were in much danger."
"That there's what they wantyou to think, Doc," Windy said. "I'm sure you know about how that May Day stuff got started. Oh, they used to say it was a fertilizer rite and all that ..."
"You mean fertility?" asked Steve.
Doc smiled and felt really good inside when he heard the familiar bird song.
"Hey there, Wheezer," he said, "happy spring!"
For some reason, this mourning dove with the speech impediment comes around to Doc's back yard every spring, and Doc thinks that's just all right. If ol' Wheez didn't have that distinctive voice, Doc would never know if this bird favored his yard or was just another bird looking for a home. Let's face it, Wheezer looks just like every other dove in town.
Billy's been a busy guy ever since he became the official town dog here. Sally had been the town dog until she passed away on Doc's porch, and then Billy's owner died just two weeks after that, so it was something of a natural progression. Sometimes offices are filled without an election.
The high school wood shop boys built Billy a dog house next to the school crossing, but Billy preferred Aunt Ada's couch in the cold months and a nice dog depression under an oak tree when it's warm.
Down at the sale barn Saturday, the think tank had coagulated there with coffees to go to celebrate spring. Doc and Dud had their dogs with them, while Bert and Dewey and Steve went stag.
Dud tried to start a conversation, but the loudspeaker soon drove them outside, where they arrayed themselves on dropped tailgates and waited to hear what Dud had in mind.
"I thought about it a lot," Dud said, "and I wondered what the favorite part of my job was, and wondered if you fellas ever gave that any thought, too."
They nodded. Yes, by mutual consent a worthy subject.