Rolled out of bed about 7 and fucked off til about 10, then went into town to the post office to mail off some Christmas packages, then came home to wait on the woodcutter.
Let me back up a minute.
When we first moved in, the brush and undergrowth in the treeline was so thick I couldn’t get into it but I could see wood that had been cut laying on the ground. Cool, there’s my winter wood. Only thing I didn’t figure on was that as soon as that shit hits the ground here, it starts to rot. It ain’t like California where it don’t rain and the wood actually seasons when it goes to ground.
Okay, trying to be practical I figure I can heat the house a lot cheaper in the long run with the wood stove than I can with central heating and air. Not only that, but the area is known for ice storms and power outages in the winter. Generator? Check. Gasoline? Check. Propane stove and fuel? Check. Wood? Uh-oh.
Gotta be prepared, right?
So there’s a woodlot in town with seasoned firewood for sale, sold by the rick. For those of you that don’t know, a rick is a face cord – 8 feet long, 4 feet high, 18 inches deep. Don’t be ashamed of being ignorant, I didn’t know what a rick was either – the only dealings I’ve had with wood was cordwood. But it makes sense when you stop and think about it. Most wood stoves can only handle wood up to 20 inches long.
I called Bubba yesterday and found out the price and then ask if he delivers because for me to go pick the shit up I’ve got to unload the toolbox on the truck, take the box out, then make a couple trips back and forth to town and then reload my toolbox and….. you get the picture. Bubba says he’ll deliver the wood for 10 dollars extra cash money but it’ll be Saturday after dinner before he can do it and he’ll call first to make sure I’m home.
Dinner here is the noon meal. About 1:30 I still ain’t got word from Bubba so I call him. Did I mention that Bubba is the grumpiest motherfucker I’ve talked to since I hit Tennessee? No? He tells me that he’s not entirely sure where I live and I need to meet him at such and such a place in an hour and he’ll follow me home. Shit, where he wants to meet is about a half mile from his woodlot so I tell him I’ll just meet him there.
Me and Miss Lisa leave right then because she needs to start on our monthly shopping. We go to the canned foods store, do that and then head over to the woodlot where Bubba is splitting wood. I walk over and introduce myself and tells me “Go pick yer rick and I ain’t gonna hear no bitching and whining because it ain’t all split. Everybody wants split wood but damnitall, you cain’t split everything. Yer gonna getcha some rounds whether you like it or not. Some of that shit is either knotted up or too small to split.”
Hey, no problem, man. I pick my rick (easy, I picked the one I was leaning against because I ain’t in the mood to be gunshot) and he pulled his flatbed up and started tossing wood and actually looked surprised when I started throwing logs too. What the fuck, the dude’s about my age and twice as bitchy. I’ll give him a hand. Again, I ain’t in the mood to get gunshot.
When I tell him where we’re headed he looks surprised – “You told me it was 5 miles outside of town!” Well yeah, 5 miles from the other side of town – 7 miles from where we’re standing on his woodlot – on the far side of town. “Don’t trip, I’ll kick you another 5 bucks for gas.”
Okay. We get out to my place and I tell him to just pull up in front of the woodshed and we’ll dump it there. I’ll stack it inside later. Again, I’m helping. Bubba finally lightens the fuck up and starts talking, telling me about his day working as a handyman and his kids and his grandkids and his great grandkids and now I can’t get the motherfucker to shut up.
I hand Bubba his money – the price of the rick, 10 bucks for hauling it and 5 for gas just like I said. He counts it, looks puzzled and says it ain’t right. Huh? This fucking hillbilly’s gonna hold me up for more? He peels off the 5 extra and hands it back. “We had a price and you paid me too much.”
“Naw, it’s further out than you thought. I’ll pay you for your gas.”
“Nossir. We agreed on a price. I’m a man of my word.”
“Well, let me buy you a beer” and I try to give him the 5.
“Let me buy you a soda pop then.”
“Got me one in the cab.”
“Let me buy you a hamburger.”
Well, fuck you then. “How ’bout I give you my wood business next time?”
“That’ll work” and he jumps in his truck and roars off.
Shit, after all that, I’m dying for a beer and I mention it to Lisa. “Do you want to go back into town and buy some? Because we’ve got our canned goods but we still need dairy and Christmas dinner stuff.”
We head back into town, my third fucking trip of the day. Third. Some weeks I don’t even make it to town once and now I’m on my third trip that day and we’re headed to the Walmart.
Here’s where my day got strange.
We’re pricing hams and I look up and see Sammy Kanada. I haven’t seen Sammy Kanada (we called him Frenchy, I don’t know why, he was an Okie) since man, 1986? Funny thing is, last time I saw him he was fucking dead. I mean laying in his casket dead. You can’t get a whole lot deader that that. And I know for a fact he was dead because when I bent over to kiss him on his forehead before they closed the casket, he was colder than a motherfucker. Dead. No life. Fini, bro.
Yet here he was in the Walmart in middle Tennessee. Same height, weight, greasy-ass 1960s style ducktail, same slouch, everything.
Fuck me running.
It took me awhile to realize that I was seeing the 1980s Frenchy, not the Frenchy that he’d be today if he was still alive. He was 45 then, he’d be in his 70s today. Plus this imposter was wearing a brown leather jacket and Frenchy wouldn’t be caught dead in brown leather. And he didn’t have a Model 19 in his pocket. Yeah, I checked out the dude’s ass. Sue me.
It still sent shivers down my spine.
A couple quick things about Frenchy and I’ll get back to my day.
Frenchy was an old school 1960s hoodlum. Carried a 357 and a switchblade but preferred to beat the shit out of people with a chain or an ax handle. He drove Panheads or Lincolns and wore a black leather jacket, wore his hair in a ducktail and combed it about five every minutes or so. Lived in a single wide. Smoked other people’s cigarettes but left his daughter over $200,000 when he died.
I remember one time me and my connection was driving down the road and saw a car fire in front of us. As we’re idling by, Randy says “Hey, ain’t that Frenchy?” so I pull over and bigger than shit there’s Frenchy sitting on the curb with his chin in his hands looking all glum and shit. “Hey bro, what happened?”
He didn’t even look up. “Overheated, man.”
When he died we held a Dead Man’s Auction, the kind where you auction off his possessions and forward the proceeds on to his survivors. I bought his sheath Buck knife for something like $180 for a 50 dollar knife but what the hell, it was for a good cause. I’ve still got it somewhere. I can remember Red the auctioneer selling his shit saying “Ten dolla, ten dolla do I hear fifteen, come on you cheap cocksuckers, give it up, I got fifteen, how about 20, 20 motherfucking bucks, the price of a quarter gram…..” Strangest auction I ever been to.
When we gave the proceeds to his daughter she looked kinda puzzled and said that the reading of her daddy’s will was just that afternoon and he left her 200+ thousand dollars….. and that cheap bastard used to bum cigarettes off of me.
Okay, back to my day.
Once I got back home I realized I’ve got a shitload of logs but no small splits or kindling so I got my maul and wedges out and started splitting wood. Turned out I didn’t need the wedges – seasoned wood splits easy but it was still a workout. I haven’t done any serious splitting in 30 years and I remembered that even then I didn’t like it. That was back when I was in my 20s and I’m 57 now. I split enough to get week’s worth of fire going and said fuck it.
Tonight I got online and checked the weather – there’s 90% chance of rain and then I remembered all that wood piled in front of my woodshed. You gotta be fucking kidding me.
My original intent was to gather up all the loose wood, pile it up and then throw a tarp over it until I could stack it inside tomorrow, but I realized that I could throw it in the shed just as easily, so I ended up tossing it most of it in a pile in the shed. It ain’t pretty but at least it’ll stay dry until I can stack it tomorrow. The rest of it I hauled up to the porch and filled the wood box inside the house.
So that was my day – handling a face cord three times, three times into town, two shopping trips and a motherfucking ghost.
I did buy my monthly six pack though so it wasn’t all bad.