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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?"

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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.

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

It was strange, Doc thought. All these years. All these people. It still hurts.

Old Tom had died around midnight, and Doc didn't get more than an hour's sleep since then. Just before he went, Tom reached out and gripped Doc's hand and thanked him for everything. He was smiling when he went.

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

A new year. A new start. Who said I can't finish this book?

Dud Campbell walked the frozen sidewalk and blew steamy breath out through his parka hood.

All I need, really, are a few ideas.

Dud's been working on his novel, "Murder in the Soggy Bottoms," for several years now, and it has taken on different blends of seasoning, largely depending on what things were happening here in our little valley.    

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

There's nothing like New Year's Resolution to make a guy feel completely inadequate, thought Doc as he sat and sipped coffee at the philosophy counter

of the Mule Barn truck stop's coffee shop. In other words, thinking central.

He happened to mention this to Steve, sitting on his left. Steve shoved his hat back and looked at his dear friend.

"Now Doc," he said, "I don't think you should talk that way. You see, the guys and I think you're about the most adequate fella we know. Why, some of us are still here because of your adequacy. I know I am."

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

"I can't stand winter," said Herb Collins, who had dropped in at the Mule Barn's philosophy counter for a quick cup. "There's nothing to do."

"Get out and enjoy it," suggested Doc. "Go skiing. Go ice fishing. Build a snowman. Do something. Then you'll feel better."

"I don't think your advice will take," said Dud. "Herb seems to be intransigent on this one."

We all looked at Dud.

"You see, he said he couldn't stand winter," Dud continued, "which shows he has a proclivity for intransigence on that particular subject."

We looked at him some more.

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PROMO 660 x 440 People - Slim Randles

For years now, Herb Collins has been helping Santa by donning the red and the beard and the tassels and waving to passing cars on Christmas Eve out at the Old Fort Road crossing. He takes a bag of candy along, in case anyone cares to stop, and he also takes his daughter Cindy along, because she's always been his head elf. Cindy's grown now and has helpers of her own, but this has been a daddy/daughter event for a long time and neither sees any reason to quit.