Archive | October, 2012

It’ll Do – Grist for the Mill

31 Oct

It’ll Do

by Peyton Breckinridge & William J. Conaway
Copyright William J. Conaway, 1989

Episode 4 – GRIST FOR THE MILL

If I could explain what happened last night to my partner McGinty, maybe he would understand why the take was so bad. All I know is, that in the beginning at least, it was a normal night.

Cherryville is just a ordinary town in this part of the country—beer only, although I do keep a couple of bottles of Bourbon under the bar for dark beer. and even the three strangers sitting in the first booth weren’t really strangers, just salesmen that came by once in a while. Orville, as usual, took them on at the pool table and made some drinking money, but with no hard feelings. it was something to do with the other stranger that came in.

Now, I’m not trying to tell you about a mysterious stranger who turned the town upside-down. As I remember, he was a pretty quiet sort that wandered in and had a few beers. There must have been something he did because things changed after he pushed open the door. I do remember that he came in, not in the apologetic way an outsider will usually come into a neighborhood bar, but with a kind of confidence you don’t see very often. Not pushy, just confident.

About in his middle forties, dressed pretty well, hair cut in a city-cut, but not flashy. He just came in and picked a stool next to one of our regulars; Al, I think. The reason I think it was Al was that pretty soon they were talking about the War in Korea, and that’s what Al talks about mostly. Somewhere after Pusan and Inchon Al got this sort of strange look. Now, I’ve seen Al look strange, but this was a strange look. I know I served them three rounds of beers, and I heard Al telling about freezing his ass off with his buddies and all, just as he always does. I remember that, for once, he quit before the army headed for the Yalu. Al likes to talk about how they could have gone right into China, kicked ass, and all that. Instead, came a point where he just quit talking, finished his beer, paid his tab, and left. Well, Al can get moody sometimes.

Then this guy moves over a seat and begins talking to Alice Mae. She’s an easy kind of drunk—doesn’t cause any trouble, just gets kind of sloppy sad. Stares into her glass like she could find something there she can’t find anywhere else. Alice likes to drink alone and everyone in the bar knows that. They leave her alone. He moves over next to her and before you know it she’s talking to him like he was her long-lost brother. Of course I hear them talking and I listen—after all, she doesn’t talk all that much. I’m interested in what she has to say.

You know what she said? It was about her only kid. About how he was queer and didn’t write her. How she was ashamed of him—not because he was queer, but because he didn’t communicate with her. She loved him anyway and would even go to New York just to be with him, but he didn’t want her to. She cried some—but then, Alice Mae did cry quite a bit anyway. I sort of lost track of the conversation because it was about then that those salesmen wanted another round. I was busy drawing their beers. When I got back where I could hear, Alice had finished off her beer and stuck a ten in the empty glass and was hauling herself up and pulling down her dress. She had some kind of dopey look on her face and seemed kind of drained. Out she went and this guy wanders over to where the salesmen are sitting.

They were joking, telling mostly stories I’ve heard more times than I want to. They were in one of our horseshoe booths and he just slid in next to them, not interrupting, just listening.

It wasn’t ten minutes they all got up and left. I didn’t know exactly what he was doing, but he was running off my customers. I didn’t know how, but he damn sure was. There wasn’t any loud voices and he wasn’t being obnoxious or anything like that, he just seemed to have this talent to run off my customers. OK, he wasn’t doing anything, but I kept watching him anyway.

Sure enough, he goes over to one of the two people I’ve got left in the place—Joe Small. Joe comes to the It’ll Do because his wife is a nag and he’s got to have someplace to go. Besides, this is a good bar, no real hustling, no pressure, just a quiet sort of a place… Joe isn’t a whimp, just a nice guy that needs a little time off for good behavior. Pretty soon this stranger is buying Joe a beer and now they’re talking like they were old classmates at a High School reunion.

I’m curious by nature. I went over and started cleaning the table where the three salesmen had been sitting and where I could hear what was going on. Do you believe this? They were talking religion! Joe, as good a Baptist as we had in Cherryville, was saying some things that would have him put out of the First Baptist Church as quick as the Board of Deacons could find a quorum.

Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, Joe included. I didn’t care. Sure, it was a little strange, him getting worked up that way, but nothing worse than some of the things you’ll hear in a bar. I go back behind the counter. Two minutes later Joe comes up and pays his tab and leaves.

That leaves Orville, who doesn’t have a game, the stranger, and me. The rent is due in a week, but I tell myself that sometimes you have slow nights.

Then this guy comes up and orders another beer and asks what kind Orville is drinking, and orders him one too. Then he moves over to the pool table and drops two quarters in the slot. Orville goes over and I see a couple of bills go on the side-board.This stranger wins the lag and puts a weak break on the rack. Orville tries to hide a shit-eating grin. Before you know it, the stranger is back for more change and two more bills are on the table.

Same thing happens. Well, I’m getting a cut from the table so I guess I can’t complain. Anyway, it’s Tuesday night, which is always a little slow. He comes up for two more beers but, before I can draw them, Orville comes by the bar, says good night, and waltzes out the door. I know Orville. He’s makin’ drinking money, enough to last him to Sunday, and getting freebies to boot. What the hell’s going on?

“I’m L.C. Watsmith,” the guy says, pulling up a bar stool, “looks like you’re having a slow night.”

“Oh, you know. Some nights are kind of slow.” I say, wondering what he wants.

“Pretty town.” he says.

“Born here,” I say, “been here most of my life, I guess it’s all right.”

“You lived here all your life?” he asked

“Oh, I went back east for awhile,” I started in then talking like I knew this guy all my life. “I followed a pretty little piece I was in love with.”

“Is that so? What happened?” he asked, kinda like he really cared.

“Ended up with two kids right in the middle of Philadelphia, wife gone God-knows-where. Had to leave them with her folks—wasn’t making much tending bar—and ended up right back here.”

“A good town?” he asked.

“Like I said, it’s all right. You know, quiet. I think a lot about that girl. Hell, I even think about Philadelphia. I haven’t heard from my kids since I dumped them. Guess I probably belong right here with all the other losers who don’t have the guts to get the hell out.”

“Must be some good things about Cherryville?”

“Mister, I’ve screwed every available piece in this town and some that supposedly ain’t. I’ve become a Baptist, an Elk and helped out with the Little League, I’m a member in good standing with the Chamber of Commerce, give blood when the Mobile Unit comes to town, and know EVERYBODY. I get by, I’ve got no place to go and no-one to go there for. Sure as hell, I’ll end up getting buried in Cherryville with the God-damned preacher telling every other poor son-of-a-bitch gutless as I am what a credit to the community I was. They’ll all go home, have their fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. Maybe, if I’d been some brighter, I wouldn’t have let that woman get away. Maybe I’d still have my kids—maybe.”

“There must be something in Cherryville worth staying for, isn’t there?” he asked.

I wiped a couple of glasses and thought. The water cascaded over and over on the neon sign next to the door. The vinyl seats were cracked and the bar was empty.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I’m a writer.”

There it was, a writer, so it was all just grist for the mill.

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San Miguel de Allende, Day of the Dead Observances

30 Oct
San Miguel de Allende, Day of the Dead Offering

San Miguel de Allende, Day of the Dead Offering

It’ll Do – Cherryville

29 Oct

The It’ll Do

by Peyton Breckinridge & William J. Conaway
Copyright, William J. Conaway, 1989

Episode 3 – CHERRYVILLE

There aren’t too many people who know it, but Prom Puckett’s great-grandfather founded Cherryville. One night at the It’ll Do, Prom talked about it. He told us what happened so long ago when Prometheus Puckett built a town. A town that was then, not much more than a bump on the prairie.

He had come (hadn’t everyone?) from back east. He wasn’t very skilled at anything. Since he didn’t have any idea where he was going, this place looked about as good as any other. At least it didn’t have any other people on it. In some ways being empty was good, particularly if one is low on money and doesn’t have a trade. Prometheus Puckett wasn’t lazy, he was smart.

Cherryville has a spring on the north side of town. Back before the building of Lake Fenian or before we had windmills there just wasn’t much water in this part of the country.

Prometheus went over to Madison and collected every empty whiskey bottle he could find, or empty. He brought them back to Cherryville, and filled those old bottles with spring water. He hand-labeled them “Pottowatomi Salving Water” and sold them in Madison. Pretty soon he was making enough money that he could get into something else. He opened a General Store, and that’s, more-or-less, how the town began.

It was only a store stuck out in the middle of nowhere. He was getting along. You could say that he had prospects, but wasn’t exactly what you would call prosperous.

He began hunting a wife. The natural place to look was over in Madison. Now, Madison at that time was just a small raw town. It did have a Methodist minister, by the name of Rev. Sellman, who had three unmarried daughters.

From what Prom Puckett told me, they must have been the kind that would shy away just about any young man. Having a father like Rev. Sellman probably didn’t help very much to improve their prospects.

Mrs. Sellman wasn’t of the same disposition as her husband, having a good deal more sense, and she was actively encouraging all comers. Prometheus Puckett looked like a good prospect to her. It wasn’t long after he went wife-hunting that love blossomed between Leticia, and Prom.

One thing, though, the Reverend insisted that Prometheus show himself to be a man of substance. All he could show the Reverend was a raggedy store and some bottled water. It clearly wasn’t enough.

At that time about the only fruit trees growing in the vicinity of Madison, there were none in Cherryville, were cherry trees. Prom seemed to have a knack. He knew he had to make some more money. He was pretty sure he knew just how to do it. So he started buying baskets of cherries.

With the water from his spring and those cherries he started making some of the stoutest Cherry Wine you could imagine. He did not try to call it Pottowatomi Fire Water, but it would have qualified.

When Puckett had donated $500 to the First Methodist Church Rev. Sellman consented to give his daughter, Leticia, away.

According to their great-grandson Prom, the marriage was a happy and fruitful one.

That’s how Cherryville got its’ name.

Many years later another great entrepreneur came to town.

When Todd Northcutt arrived in Cherryville, he came with money. No-one really knew him. Todd wasn’t a good-looking man, he had a way with words that had no equal in Cherryville.

He started with the Chamber of Commerce. He told them that he was looking for a business opportunity. At the same time he wanted to provide the young people of Cherryville with an opportunity to work here, at a good salary. Instead of leaving their families and going away.

McGinty, my partner, was on the City Council—although he wasn’t exactly what you would expect as a civic type. He got pushed into the position by some well meaning types that didn’t know any better. He was the only one who thought that Todd was a bull-shitter of the first order and said so.

Todd had a way about him. He told the City Council that if they floated a Municipal Bond they could get a matching amount from the Federal Government. Then he told them some story about how the THING these days was Memorabilia. He had the best idea for a non polluting factory that anybody ever had. They were so anxious to get their hands on some federal money, they didn’t take a very good look at the idea I guess… The Municipal Bond,
was for half-a-million dollars.

He would take on some twenty employees—and work from there, he said. Of course he had showed up in Cherryville with the fanciest car in town—better than any of the local doctors were driving. Started putting on expensive parties in the mansion he had rented. Everybody thought he was the best thing that ever happened to Cherryville.

He must have had some pull to bring Alf Landon to town, though. He said it was for publicity.

We were proud to have the famous Alf Landon in Cherryville. It’s true that Mr. Landon was somewhere in his 90’s. He was still sharp, though.He didn’t come into town in a big parade. He came in more-or-less unannounced. So there wasn’t any particular fuss made over him. He didn’t do much about the factory or Todd Northcutt either. Nobody could figure out what publicity they were planning.

Alf Landon came in to the It’ll Do and ordered a beer just like anyone else would do. To tell the absolute truth, no-one recognized him. He started up a conversation with Mavis, our
librarian. It didn’t take her more than a minute to figure out who he was. Pretty soon everyone gathered around to hear what Mr. Landon had to say.

“At my age there is only one dream that still holds my interest”, he said, “world peace,”. “The pictures taken from outer space showing the earth as a pretty little ball hung out there in all that darkness showed how we’re all truly brothers.”

He stopped and looked around the It’ll Do and then continued. “Even if brothers will fight once in a while they’re still family.”

You’ll have to give it to Mr. Landon. He lifted what was left of his glass of beer and tipped it in a salute, tipped his hat to all of us and left.

You might think it would take quite a while to go through $500,000 Dollars. No, it took less than three months, and then no Todd Northcutt.

He had managed to get into trouble with our bankers, and one (as far as we knew) of our doctors wives. He had run up a truly spectacular bill at the Elks’ Lodge, owed for a new Lincoln from the Ford agency and the rent on the mansion had never been paid.

Looking back on it all, you had to admire Todd. He put some life into old Cherryville. When he left town, he left the City Council with a very difficult decision. One of those they would have to run a country mile to get out from under. What to do with a manufacturing company that made buggy-whips?

 

San Miguel de Allende, Day of the Dead

27 Oct
San Miguel de Allende, Day of the Dead

San Miguel de Allende, Day of the Dead

It’ll Do – Marty Robbins

26 Oct

The It’ll Do

by Peyton Breckinridge & William J. Conaway
Copyright William J. Conaway, 1989

Episode II – The Day Marty Robbins Came In

We all know Marty Robbins is dead, and there isn’t a person around here who doesn’t feel a loss. When the customers get around to playing the juke box, he still gets as many plays as anyone.

There aren’t many that know Marty Robbins was here once, in the It’ll Do. When he came in I tried to be polite. The folks here don’t generally believe in sticking their noses in where they aren’t wanted, but I asked him what brought him to Cherryville anyway.

It turned out that Marty was on the trail of some car, some antique car. It turned out to be in Madison and not Cherryville at all. There used to be some fine old cars here, but they’re all gone. Anyway, Marty came in and he slid up onto a barstool and ordered a beer just like anyone else would’ve done. He just sat there sipping his beer.

There was this little under-age girl that came in, fit to bust her jeans. She came in with Big Albert, who works with Mr. Sybert at the Western Auto. Albert (I never heard anyone call him Al) gets a beer, goes over and plunks some change into the juke box, and they started dancing. I don’t think they ever let up enough to notice Mr. Robbins. but you could be sure he noticed them. It was only a little past-noon, but it was a Saturday, and the kids were having fun. Mr. Robbins could have been thinking, as I was, that ‘You only go around once’.

It isn’t everyday we get a visit from a State Senator, but who should come in but Senator Albert Flogg. There are some that call him ‘Floggy’ but every four years the Democrats seem to remember his real name. It wasn’t normal for him to go into a Bar; he knew that there are lots of folks who don’t hold with liquor at all. I thought he saved most of his drinking for the State Capitol?. He wouldn’t have been so bad by himself, but George Sommerfied came in right behind him. George is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, but we don’t discuss religion or politics in the It’ll Do.

Flogg had to go over and say hello to Mavis, the librarian, and Old Man Williams. While Sen. Flogg was holding forth, George Sommerfeld went right behind him and sat down on the only stool next to Mr. Robbins.

Other than them, there was only Orville and J.C., that’s all. They’re both pool shooters, so they were playing a friendly game. Everything was friendly like it usually is in the It’ll Do. I had this feeling it wouldn’t last: it didn’t.

George Sommerfeld turned around to the Senator and said, “Hey, Senator. Got any…(he paused for a few minutes) legislation going? I heard you was going to introduce the Total Prohibition Bill? any truth in that?”

Now Sen. fLogg doesn’t get too hot under the collar by anyone rousting him out—he’s used to that kind of thing. Hell, he may even like it. But he was just close enough to the trouble-maker that I didn’t like it. At the moment I had a few other things to look after. Naturally, I was looking out for Marty Robbins. But it got a little harder when the little girl yells, “Up your’s, Bull-Hockey Whimp!”

That was the start of the gully-washer. This boy, Albert, just reaches over and as cool as you please—would you believe it?— rips the shirt right off this little girl. She should have been wearing a bra—but she wasn’t wearing anything. She didn’t have, so to speak, much to cover up. But one hand was covering for all-hell, while the other one was working over Albert’s hair. She should have stayed all covered up for all the damage she was doing to Albert.

Both J.C. and Orville have some sort of Macho thing. Orville was closer to the dance floor. He hauled off at Albert—he should have remembered to bring his pearl-inlaid pool cue with him. He didn’t get more than the first shot in the war—and got about what the South did when they fired on Fort Sumpter; he ended up over in the booth next to the door. Then J.C. waded in, but he ended up in the same place after a few fancy flips.

While I was on hold for the police I heard Old Man Williams excuse himself from Mavis; Old Man Williams doesn’t get up from his bar stool very often and when he does it’s to take a piss. He weighs in at a good four-hundred pounds, not more than a hundred of that can be the dark beer I’ve been serving him. He smiled as he made his way over to the Dance Floor.

“TOOT,” I said over the phone to our local cop, “I need you.” As I looked up the Senator and Sommerfeld were wrestling and rolling over toward the pool table in a serious political discussion. I don’t know why. They looked fair like they were going to go the distance. “Toot, I really need you!”

Now, while I was waiting for Toot, the little girl forgot her modesty and aims a good kick at Old Man William’s crotch. She didn’t know Old Man Williams; you couldn’t find his crotch with a witching-stick.

Toot, God bless his empty heart, took them all away. but not before Old Man Williams went over and put a quarter in the juke. He played Merl Haggard’s “Big Butter And Egg Man.” Mr. Robbins got slowly up off his stool, went over to put a quarter in too. It wasn’t until after he’d paid for his last beer and left that it came on: “Among My Souvenirs”.

It’ll Do – A Family Bar

25 Oct
A Family Bar

It’ll Do – A Family Bar

It’ll Do

24 Oct

THE IT’LL DO

by Peyton Breckinridge & William J. Conaway
Copyright William J. Conaway, 1989

Episode I – A QUIET FAMILY BAR

The bank, my partner John McGinty, and I own the It’ll Do Bar. John and the bank put up the money. My contribution is what they call sweat equity. There isn’t very much sweat connected with running a neighborhood bar where the locals mostly take care of themselves.

After I went over to the door and flipped on the neon, I looked around the It’ll Do—just three at the bar and another two playing pool in the back. The booths were empty. Most of the hay slingers were likely over to the Cattail in Thorton.

What did McGinty, the bank, and I get, right, Cherryville’s most distinguished. I walked back behind the wooden bar, eased myself onto a three cornered stool, and dried some more Coors glasses. The It’ll Do is a quiet sort of place, but I like it that way. Even the juke box is turned down low so you can talk. Most of the time no one bothers to play it.

By eight, almost all the regulars were there and more were drifting in, including Thad Holtzer. He came in for a short one during the day if he happened to be in town. Usually he was too busy running the family farm east of Cherryville. He came in pushing a lady ahead of him, over to the first booth, where he slid her over to the middle and sat down with one long leg hanging sideways into the aisle. I didn’t have to, being a counter service kind of bar, but I went over.

“Hi, Mr. Sully.” he reached up and gave my hand a good hard shake. “You don’t know my wife, Berenice. Do you?”

I didn’t. She looked to be about the same age as Thad, in her early twenties. She had a pretty face that had a tad too much make-up on it. Nice light auburn hair cut short and practical. When she walked across the floor I judged her to be not more than five-foot
three or thereabouts. Like a lot of short girls, she filled out her skirt and blouse pretty well. Not too bad, I thought. No wonder he stays home nights instead of chasing skirts.

Not that many of my customers will pester a girl, except passers-through. They don’t usually get to first base. This is a family bar, sort of….

From time to time Thad came up for refills; sometimes only for a single. I didn’t pay him or her much mind. They were just sitting close and talking. You can do that at the It’ll Do.

Finally I started hearing their voices. They had moved a little farther apart and I saw his leg go back to the outside edge of the seat.

Pretty soon he came back to the bar. “Just one,” he said as he pulled up a stool on the other side from the taps.

“Your Berenice want something?”

Thad’s grin had disappeared. The beer never had a chance to feel the oak top of the counter. He downed it in two swallows. In a lower voice when he got his breath back, he added, “Matter of fact, would you mind sweetening it some for me this time? I could sure use it.”

I didn’t say boo. All the regulars know I keep some emergency rations under the bar. I don’t mind handing out a dollop here and there as needed. Just so long as it doesn’t become a regular thing. I never serve strangers and I never have trouble. I threw in a slug of Jim Beam. Most of my customers call it dark beer.

Every time I came over to draw a beer Thad had some comment. All of them were about the mystery, the out-and-out snaky unreasonableness, of the human female. About any hour of the day I could have found something in what he was saying, but he didn’t need help and I didn’t need trouble.

“Mr. Sully, could I please have another beer?” Berenice’s tone was about three shades too friendly to suit my taste. She had raised both elbows to the bar next to her old man and she hunkered her shoulders forward until a gap kind of folded out in the scallop top of her blouse. She bent down to make sure I got a good look. Short as she was, she had to work at it. To tell the truth, you could have stretched that girl another foot and she’d
still have had enough to go around.

“Why sure, Mrs. Holtzer.”

“And you, Thaddie?” She swiveled around to give him a view too, although the Good Lord knows he didn’t need one, except for reminders.

“Are you going to swill that down and have another? Same as you do every time you come to town?” What she said worked wonders on Thad. He unslumped himself and finished off his glass in smart fashion.

“Sully, my friend, I do believe I’ll have one more of the same.” Well, I thought, one more dark beer probably won’t hurt him and it just might settle him down, seeing as how he’s not used to them. So I ducked down, my back to Berenice, and came up with a fresh one which I put on a dry coaster. Jesus, I hate to see husbands and wives go to cutting each other up.

Berenice had turned back around, eyes front, and was kind of pulled up and over the bar counter again. I didn’t know if that was for my benefit or if she was curious about my magic act. Maybe both.

“Mr. Sully? Would be all right if I called you Sully—it is Sully, isn’t it?”

“Oh, sure,” I replied. I’m not a bad conversationalist, when I put my mind to it.

“Well, Sully, why don’t you take this here beer and give me one like ol’ Thad, there, has?”

“Now, Mrs. Holtzer, I don’t know…” and my voice just kind of petered away.
“It’s O.K. Mr. Sully. Back at A&M she used to drink plenty of them—without the beer.”

I poured because I saw my salvation coming in the door. It was Toot, our local cop. I set her dark beer on the bar and she got it down in two long pulls. Thad only needed one. Their glasses hit the counter with one whack.

“Another,” they said in unison. There’s really nothing like a nice quiet, fun night at the
It’ll Do to make everyone happy.

“Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Holtzer, maybe later.” I shrugged my head over at the door. Toot was still standing there trying to act like a cop. When he was a highschool senior he made All-Conference tackle because he was big, fast, and just bright enough to follow directions. The same held true when he applied for a job with the city. He picked up the name Toot because as a Junior he used to run around the practice field yelling ‘toot sweet’ to all his buddies—something to do with the French teacher at school, I suspect.

Anyway, Toot saw us looking at him and strolled over, plunked a hand on the bar and scraped back his hat. We exchanged some pleasantries, as usual. I poured him a beer. Berenice drifted back to her booth.

When Toot left she popped right up again—It was round two—and cutting off their dark beer didn’t help Thad’s or her mood any. It was then that they started getting louder and I called a halt. They were, I said, disturbing the customers, and why didn’t they make up or go on home? I never like doing that. They weren’t so much disturbing the customers as they were disturbing me. I’ve always liked a peaceful bar.

They were very sorry, they said, to cause problems, but they would appreciate another draw.

“Yes, sir.”

Then Berenice hops over to the pool table, beer in hand, to watch J.C. whip the hell out of Prom Puckett, who just never will learn. Thad maneuvers to his right to where Gloria Huntley was nursing a red beer and talking with her friend, Susan what’s-her-name. I overhead him asking the both of them something about Berenice. Susan and Gloria and Thad have their heads together. I’m busy—it being Saturday night and business is picking up.

The pool table laughs are getting louder. Prom comes up for three more, and change. When all of a sudden Susan goes to the head. Thad puts his arm around Gloria, and she returns the favor.

Lord save us, is what I’m thinking. J.C. on the break jumps the cue ball so hard it bounces off the masonite paneling and rolls back under one of the bar stools. No one laughs.

Susan is back, and she has her arm around Thad, who is still hanging on to Gloria, who is still hanging right back. Prom orders another three, and change.

Berenice and J.C. are hip-to-hip while he demonstrates some of the techniques which he used to be famous for. I hear Thad inviting the girls over to the pool table.

“Maybe we can team up against them three? he said. J.C. isn’t shooting pool, but he hasn’t put his cue back into its custom case either. Nobody is laughing, but Old Man Williams down at the end of the bar is just grinning away.

Under the counter is a phone. From the front door of the It’ll Do you can see the rear entrance of City Hall, which the police use. I had seen Toot go inside just a while ago. When I got him on the line I seriously invited him back for another round. I had to invite him twice before he said yes.

You would have thought it was one of those New York plays that they turn unto movies.

When Toot showed up the pool room was full, and in the middle of the near side you can see the love birds with their beaks maybe one inch apart, shouting, and the decibels were steadily rising.

“Toot,” I said. “Before you have your beer, would you be kind enough to break up that little get-together at the pool table? Not that I can’t, understand, but you’ve sure got one hell of a way with people. Please?” Toot smiled. I smiled and nodded. People bunched up like that and getting mad—with sticks handy—gives me indigestion.

When Toot walked over the two of them were just finishing their warm-up and the chorus had started to fill in. When they saw Toot they fell to studying the lie of the balls on the table. The Holtzers gave Toot one look and began escalating the commentary—like they knew they had to quit pretty soon and wanted to be sure their barbs were in.

The Language Department at A&M must, I figured, be pretty progressive. Toot just extended his arms, like he was getting ready to dive off of the side of a swimming pool. Berenice and Thad retired to their separate corners.

I went over to the juke box and punched in “I Don’t Think Love Should Be That Way”, by Reba McEntire.

Toot waved the two of them back together. Before he could say more than “Now, Sully here runs a quiet…” Thad reached for Berenice’s hand, then her waist too, and gave her a good kiss and she kissed him back. It must have been the best speech poor old Toot ever made.

“Mr. Sully,” Thad took time off to shout, “a round for everybody! And one for you, too. Right, hon?” Berenice smiled and nodded. I smiled and nodded. Toot just nodded and chugged his beer.

“I guess we owe you an apology,” Berenice told me later.

“Well,” I said, “at least Officer Theobald got himself a free beer and no damage done. So it’s OK—as long as you all have everything lined out.”

“That’s just it,” she said hugging Thad.

“Come again?”

“Yes, sir. I…we…well, we had kind of a bet.”

“It was Berenice,” Thad offered. “She kept going on at home about my drinking, and about bars and such. And I told her she knew I just stopped off at the It’ll Do now and again, and every one knows this is one bar that’s quiet, almost a family bar.”

“I told him any place that serves liquor is liable to get rough once in a while. He said ‘no way’. So we made a bet…”

“I told Berenice there was no way there would ever be any trouble at the It’ll Do. She said she’d damn sure bet a year’s egg money against a new GE washer and dryer that we could start a brawl right here—if I’d help, and promise to play fair.”

“You both feel real proud? You come in here, a nice quiet bar, and you…and you…” The Doc says I shouldn’t get excited. “Thad, you take that egg money to some other bar. This is a family bar, sort of, but not for your family, understand?”

“Wait one minute,” Berenice interrupted. “Wait just one little minute! He doesn’t have any egg money! Why, you saw it yourself, Mr. Sully. That policeman HIT me. Isn’t that what you call rough?”

“Now, honey, all old Toot did was come over and shove us apart, besides he’s the law.”

“Shove? He hit you too, you whimp!”

“Are you trying to weasel out of a bet? I played fair, didn’t I? That’s pure chicken-shit, that’s what.”

“Were you too busy groping on those whores to notice that HE HIT ME?”

“Your heart was going pitty-pat from slutting around with J.C., how would you notice?”

“Listen, you son-of-a-bitch…”

I picked up the phone. “Toot,” I asked, “how would you like another beer? Yes, I know you are pretty busy. I won’t forget it and Toot, bring some cuffs with you, all right?” But the last part was wasted; Berenice and Thad were already through the door.

It’ll Do –

23 Oct
It'll Do

It’ll Do – Tales from the It’ll Do, a Family Bar

Publicaciones Papelandia Catalog

22 Oct

A Gringo Guide to Mexican History
Available for download on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.

Papelandia Publishing Catalog

Gringo Guides
A Gringo Guide to Living in San Miguel de Allende – A complete 150 page, perfect bound book a guide, and advice for living and enjoying San Miguel de Allende as a resident or a visitor. A fun filled, Cartoon illustrated day-to-day guide with stories chronicalling the authors «Early Years» in San Miguel. Even long-term residents are guaranteed to find information they never knew before, supplied by a 50+ year Bilingual/Bicultural American resident of San Miguel. GG-101 – $20.00 plus $12.95 International S&H. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com.

…to Mexican History – A 354 page, complete History of Mexico with historic pictures. An easy read to learn the incredible history of the Republic from the Conquest until Today. The places, events, and the characters that played out their roles in one of the bloodiest histories ever recorded. Interspersed throughout are accounts of events taking place in the U.S. and the rest of the world simultaniously to give one a sense of the time. GG-103 – $24.95 plus $19.95 International S&H. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com at a considerable discount.

…to the Mexican Revolution – A 56 page, coffee table style book with the complete, bloody history of the Mexican Revolution 1910-1921, with lots of great historic pictures. GG-105 – $16.95 Plus $6.95 International Shipping & Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

…to the Cristero Rebellion – A twenty-eight page book with the complete forgotten history of the Rebellion against the Calles Administration 1926-1930 in which the Pope closed the Mexican churches, and the government waged modern warfare against their own people over religious differences. hundreds of thousands of people died and a half million people migrated to the U.S. GG-106 $14.50 Plus $6.95 Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

…to Witchcraft – A 30 page booklet about the practice of witchcraft in Mexico now and in the past. Implements, herbs, and spells used in Mexican witchcraft told by a 50 year resident. GG-108 $7.95 Plus $2.95 International S&P. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount (Includes the following book in the same download)

…to Pulque, Mescal, and Tequila – A 30 Page booklet about these spirits from production to imbibing. The History surrounding the discovery and modern production. GG-109 $7.95 Plus $2.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com at a discount. (Includes the previous book in the same download)

…to a Bullfight, a Mexican Rodeo, and a Cock Fight – A twenty eight page book that serves as your personal guide to these Mexican sports events. Describing the tradition, the culture, and the mechanics of the events to promote understanding of them. GG-107 $14.50 Plus $6.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

…to a Mexican Kitchen – A full 200 pages of time honored, traditional Mexican Recipes, with food and food preparation glossaries. Hundreds of Full-Color pictures, and it’s spiral bound for the cook’s convenience. The book Includes Party Snacks, Gala Banquets, and Mexican Adult Beverages too. GG-102 – $24.95 plus $18.95 International S&H. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, for a considerable discount.

…to: Salsas y Chilies – A 28 page booklet with everything you should know about chilies, and naming the most popular Mexican variaties. Including how to prepare them. Seventeen delicious recipes for Salsa with full-color pictures. GG-102-A – $7.95 plus $2.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com.

…to: Mexican Beverages – A 28 page booklet to Non-alcoholic, and alcoholic beverages alike. Recipes from teas; coffee; hot chocolate; punches; egg nog; cold thirst quenching, cooling drinks and fruit ades to 27 different, popular, alcoholic ones. GG-102-B – $7.95 Plus $2.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com.

…to Soups and Salads – A 28 page booklet wth 10 delicious recipes for popular Mexican soups and 11 scrumptious Mexican recipes for salads including full-color pictures. GG-102-C – $7.95 Plus $2.95 Internat. Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com.

…to Mexican Desserts – A 24 page booklet with 20 fabulous recipes for some of the most popular and delicious recipes of Mexican desserts. GG-102-D – $7.95 Plus $2.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for $9.99

…to Throwing a Mexican Fiesta – A 24 page booklet with 5 delicious Mexican recipes for appetizers, botanas; 11 great recipes for Mexican dips and spreads; and 8 wonderful, time-saving recipes for Mexican microwaves treats. GG-102-E $7.95 Plus $2.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com.

Walking Tours
Walking Mexico’s Colonial Heartland – A full 123 pages of History – Legends – Step-by-Step Walking Tours of the world famous Spanish Colonial cities of: San Miguel de Allende; Guanajuato; Querétaro; and the history of Mineral de Pozos, the Ghost Town. These are 450 + year old cities protected and preserved in the Spanish Colonial style of the XVII and XVIII centuries. They are living, breathing cities, full of life and culture, but mysteriously silent about their history and legends. With this book you will appreciate fully your visit to them. WT-101 – $10.00 plus $12.95 International S&H. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com.

Walking Tours of San Miguel de Allende – A 30 page book of the History, and Step-by-Step instructions for touring this 460 year old Spanish Colonial city, a National Monument. The booklet has a four-color, slick cover suitable for saving as a souvenier, and includes lots full-color pictures. WT-102 – $16.50 Plus $6.95 International Shipping & Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

San Miguel’s History – A twenty-four page booklet of the history of San Miguel de Allende from the settlement through the War for Independence with historic pictures. WT-101-A – $7.95 Plus $2.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com.

…of Guanajuato – A 30 page book of the History, Legends, and Step-by-Step instructions for touring this 460+ year old Spanish Colonial city. The legends are authentic, and have been handed down generation after generation.The booklet has lots of historic and full color pictures, and is suitable for saving as a souvenier. WT-103 – $16.50 Plus $6.95 International Shipping & Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

…of Santiago de Querétaro – A 30 page book of the History, and Step-by-Step instructions for touring this 460+ year old Spanish Colonial city. The booklet has lots of historic and full color pictures, and is suitable for saving as a souvenier. WT-104 – $14.50 Plus $6.95 Int. Shipping & Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a big discount.

…of Morelia: The City of Music – A 30 page book of the History, and Step-by-Step instructions for touring this 460+ year old Spanish Colonial city. The booklet has lots of historic and full color pictures, and is suitable for saving as a souvenier. WT-105 – $14.50 Plus $6.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble at a discount.

…of Puebla de Los Angeles – A 30 page book of the History, Legends, and Step-by-Step instructions for touring this 460+ year old Spanish Colonial city. The legends are authentic, and have been handed down generation after generation.The booklet has lots of historic and full color pictures, and is suitable for saving as a souvenier. WT-106 $14.50 Plus $6.95 Int. Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

…of Taxco de Alarcon – A 30 page book of the History, Legends, and Step-by-Step instructions for touring this 460+ year old Spanish Colonial city. The legends are authentic, and have been handed down generation after generation.The booklet has lots of historic and full color pictures, and is suitable for saving as a souvenier. WT-107 – $14.50 Plus $6.95 Intnational Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

…of San Luis Potosí – A 30 page book of the History, and Step-by-Step instructions for touring this 460+ year old Spanish Colonial city. The booklet has lots of full color pictures, and is suitable for saving as a souvenier. WT-108 – $14.50 Plus $6.95 Intnational Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

…of Zacatecas – A 30 page book of the History, Legends, and Step-by-Step instructions for touring this 460+ year old Spanish Colonial city. The legends are authentic, and have been handed down generation after generation.The booklet has lots of historic and full color pictures, and is suitable for saving as a souvenier. WT-109 – $14.50 Plus $6.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

Driving Adventures:
Day Trips From San Miguel – A 56 page coffee table style guidebook to easy one-day trips with historic and full-color pictures. Visit Acambaro, Guanajuato’s oldest city; Dolores Hidalgo, the Fountain of the Independece movement, La Luz, Guanajuato’s Other Ghost Town; Cerro de San Pedro, San Luis Potosí’s Ghost Town, and Jaral de Berrio, the ruins of an historic Hacienda. DA – 102 – $16.95 Plus $7.95 International Shipping & Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

…Hidalgo, and the Ancient city of Teotihuacan – A 56 page coffe table style guidebook with the history of the State, and instructions for driving around the state of Hidalgo with stops in: Huichapan, Alfajayucan, Zimápan, Ixmiquilpan, Tula de Allende, Teotihuacán, Pachuca, Mineral del Chico, Real del Monte, Atotonilco El Grande, Metztitlan, Molongo de Escamilla, Tlahuitepa, Huazalingo, and Huejutla de Reyes. with lots of full-color pictures. DA – 104 – $16.95 Plus $7.95 International Shipping & Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a big discount.

…Mexico’s Colonial Ghost Towns – A 56 page coffee table style guidebook of the history and legends of: Mineral de Pozos, Gto.; Mineral La Luz, Gto.; Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí; Cerro de San Pedro, San Luis Potosí. This book contains lots of historic and full-color pictures of these XVI, XVII, and XVIII century Silver and Gold mining cities. DA – 101 – $16.95 Plus $7.95 International Shipping & Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a big discount.

…Michoacán, Touring the Tarascan Empire – A 56 page coffe table style guidebook with the history, and instructions for driving the state of Michoacán with stops in: Ihuatzio, Tzintzuntzan, Santa Clara del Cobre, Pátzcuaro, Janitzio, Zrahuén, Santiago Tingambato, Uruapan, Paricutín, and Paracho with lots of historic and full-color pictures. DA – 103 – $16.95 Plus $7.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a big discount.

…in Mexico’s Huasteca – A 56 page coffee table guide book with a complete driving tour of the Adventure and Ecotourism Paradise that is the Huasteca area of Mexico. Includes areas in the Mexican states of: Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, Hidalgo, Puebla, and Veracruz. Includes information on White water Rafting, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Swimming, Spelunking, Hunting, Fishing, Hiking, and Camping. With lots of historic and full-color pictures. DA – 105 – $16.95 Plus $7.95 International Shipping & Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

Adventure and Ecotourism
…in the Copper Canyon – A 38 page coffee table style guide book with the history, accomodations, and tours of the entire Copper Canyon System located in the State of Chihuahua. Lots of full-color pictures and Driving Adventures down into the depths of the Urique and Batopilas Canyons. AE – 105 – $16.50 Plus $7.95 International Shipping & Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Barnes and Noble.com a considerable discount.

…with Mexico’s Glittering Monarchs – A 38 page coffee table style guide book with the Complete story on the migrating Monarch butterflies. Where they are, how to get to them, and how they were found. A Driving Adventure loaded with full-color, full-page pictures. AE – 106 – $16.50 Plus $7.95 Int. S&H. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a big discount.

…in San Miguel de Allende – A 36 page coffee table style guide book with the Complete possibilities for Adventure and Ecotourism sites to visit while you’re in San Miguel de Allende with lots of full-color pictures. Includes Horseback riding, ATV Rentals, Hot Air Baloon rides, Mountain bike tours, hiking tours, touring the Botanical Gardens , and the Cañada de La Virgen pyramid. AE – 107 $16.50 Plus $7.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

…in Edward James’ Surrealistic Garden, Las Pozas, Xilitla – A 28 page coffee table style guidebook of the Surrealist Sculture garden of Edward James with lots of full-color pictures and a map of the complete site. AE – 101 $16.50 Plus $7.95 International Shipping and Handling. Order by email: wjconaway@yahoo.com, or download from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com for a considerable discount.

All of these books are available in the San Miguel de Allende Library Gift Shop, the Casa de Papel Card Shop, Garrison & Garrison bookstore, La Deriva bookstore, and for downloads Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com. Follow the author on Twitter @williamjconaway, and Facebook/williamjconaway. Join and comment with him online at: http://www.williamjconaway.com

 

Guanajuato, La Basilica

20 Oct
Guanajuato, La Basilica

Guanajuato, La Basilica

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