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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

Hear ye! Hear ye! Cometh to the think tank this morning Delbert McLain, our very own Chamber of Commerce. A broad smile beameth.

You know, we're really proud of Del. Of course, what he'd like to do is make this valley so rich and crowded that none of us would want to live here anymore, but at least he works really hard at it. We admire hard work.

"Hey Del," Steve said, "pull up a cup and sit down."

Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

It was the cold outside that bound us together better inside the Mule Barn truck stop. The coffee warmed our innards and the laughter at the philosophy counter heated our souls to very comfortable.

It was Doc who noticed it first. He's trained to be observant, of course.

"Dudley, me lad," said Doc, "are you on a diet?"

Dud, whose body would fall into the "just right" category, shook his head.

"Not me, Doc. Why do you ask?"

"Every day, for years, you put sugar in your coffee. You didn't this morning."

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

Doc was just getting up to leave the philosophy counter as Herb walked in. Herb was grinning and flexing muscles and had the look of eagles in his eyes. We stared.

"Herb," said Doc. "You know, you can overdo a good thing."

"Why Doc ... whatever do you mean?"

"I realize that getting more exercise is your resolution for the new year, but a man your age ... you need to pace yourself a little, that's all. Don't try to get in shape all at once."

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

Windy Wilson came in to the philosophy counter just about the time we'd finished the hash browns with chile on the side. Red, of course. Windy looked terrible.

"What's wrong, Windy?"

"These here folks today ..." he said. And we gulped a bit when we hear a sentence begun that way. "Folks today..." he sounded resigned, "they don't ever try to unnerstand folks who ain't perzackly like them. And people who have a leetle handiclap? Fergit it!"

Yep. Windy talks like that.

"What happened, Windy?"

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

The guys were outside at the sale barn, sipping coffee in Styrofoam cups and waiting for someone to say something. Inside, the pitch of the auctioneer was heralding the glories of an old spavined milk cow, and fevered cattlemen were waving cards with numbers on them.

It was quieter outside.

Finally, it was Herb who spoke. "You guys ever burn the toast and then scrape it?"

Toast, huh? Why not?

"Used to do that a lot before the toasters got modern on us," said Doc. "Hardly ever burn any more."

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

Dewey picked up Emily's yellow dress at the cleaners and drove it back to her here in the valley. They had managed to get most of the wine stains out. But what Dewey hadn't managed to get out that fateful evening at the Italian restaurant was his vow of eternal love for Emily and a suggestion that they become mister and missus Decker.

Oh well, he might give it another try tonight. But this darn clumsiness of his always seemed to get in the way.

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

It all began when Windy Wilson told the assembled philosophers at the Mule Barn truck stop that he was going to start writing songs so he could win what he called the Nobelly Prize for Lit-a-chur. He said Bob Dylan won it and got money and all kinds of stuff and his name was in the paper, and Windy figured he could do the same thing, only in country music.

Steve had been listening to this for some minutes and finally said, "Windy, tell you what. You write a song, and I'll sing it."

"You can sing?" Windy said.

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

Slim Randles

Dewey reached up to straighten his tie and stuck a finger up a nostril by mistake. Here he was, on the most momentous evening of his life and he couldn't do one little thing right. Tie a tie. Every 9-year-old boy getting ready for church could do it, but not Dewey.

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

When Steve and Dud got up to go get a paper, it left just Doc and Bert sitting at the philosophy counter of the Mule Barn truck stop. Bert turned his head and smirked a little, being careful not to let Doc see him. Doc also didn't see Dud outside, punching in a number on his cell phone while Steve stood by as a cheerleader.

"Doc," said Loretta, filling the coffee cups, "phone call for you, Hon."

"Here? Okay..."  Doc walked over to the cash register and picked up the phone.

"This here Doc?" said the caller. "The Doc what lost his squirrel?"

Home Country

PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

It might have been the winter doldrums that did it. You can never be sure of these things. It's just that ... well, Doc is one of those guys who can't stand to see anyone bored. He claims it's bad for their inner chemistry, and since he has more initials after his name than anyone else in town, we tend to listen to him.

When it happened, we in the inner circle of the World Dilemma Think Tank down at the Mule Barn truck stop thought back on what Doc had said a year ago when the temperature dropped, along with everyone's spirits.