Monday, December 14, 2015

The Hunt for Cross Toed Joe
By Fletcher "Butchwax" Ferguson

Climbed up, Monday night, into the ladder stand that overlooks the Christmas tree plantation at Sugar Bay for an evening hunt. Had had seen tracks of a buck that had eluded me for three years. His tracks are distinct as his fore feet have crossed toes. My buddy Scott wanted to move the stand but I resisted because I knew Cross Toed Joe was using that area. Old crossed toe had done over twelve thousand dollars in damage to the Christmas tree farm. Time for him to go. He has a nice copper colored helmet. Only an eight point. This was no trophy hunt. I was going to get no matter what it took; didn’t tell Scott any of that. Told him I wasn't moving any more stands.  He could move it if he wanted to, knowing he wouldn't want to do that much work. Besides, I didn't want to tip my hand as to what I was on to. I study these deer, their movements their patterns, identify them by their chest patterns and face markings. I study their sign all year long. Scott thinks I am full of it, accuses me of not shooting deer because I got them all named. I am just a little picky. 

At five o'clock he comes straight at me from the west, stopping behind one of the Douglas firs he has nearly rubbed to death and raising his nose. The wind was 15 mph out of the south. He must not have liked what he smelled and took off to the southwest at a quick trot. I shot him with the bow at 40 plus yards. I thought I had gut shot him on his left side just back of the ribs, not leading him enough. I looked and looked but could not find the arrow, I knew I had hit him. Went back to the bunk house for an hour and a half, got out of my gillie and loaded up on flashlights and batteries. It was going to be a tracking night.

The deer had bolted back to the west towards the bass pond after I let the arrow fly. I went in the timber on the west side of the tree lot where I had last seen him. No blood. Worked systematically for an hour and a half finding just a single drop of blood.  To my surprise the deer was just the other side of a little quarter acre opening comprised of tall native grass where on the south edge is a small silt ATV trail to the north. He jumped out of a dense thicket, bounding back west towards the base of the bass pond. I waited another hour, standing still in the dark, taking good measure of where he had jumped out from.

Started the search again and found where he had been standing in a thorny thicket. Good blood pool there.  Searched and found a blood trail. It wasn't much of a trail but I was on it. The blood trail was hard to follow because old Cross Toed Joe was really moving but by 8:30 I had tracked him to the west side of the middle pond where the water backs up to the base of the bass pond dam. Lost the blood trail. I kept looking for sign, tracks, and disturbances in the leaf litter anything that might point me in his direction. Then I found my arrow, all covered in blood at the base of the tall fence that runs north and south between the two ponds. It was missing two of the razors from the broad head, I pondered how the arrow got worked out.  Did he jump this fence? Lost the blood trail again.  I went back to where I had last seen blood. Studied the blood drops closely. I could tell that direction of the splatter meant he'd back tracked. On the trail again until 9:30, hunger took over. I stuck the yellow and red arrow in the ground to mark the spot and went to eat.  After a venison burger I started up tracking him again. The deer took me through more thorny thickets, under low hanging cedar limbs and heavy buck brush. Stayed on him until 12:30 AM and quit. Just too tired to continue, started back to the bunk house. Suddenly, I saw him, still standing, at the edge of the middle pond. He had been leading me around in circles.  I had slipped up on him while he was taking a drink.  He bolted again, this time with a series of warning snorts. I don't know if he was warning me or something else. In the dark I never saw him, nor heard him moving around as I tracked him. I figured I would find him in the morning. I was dead tired and dripping with sweat.

I suffered from severe leg cramps overnight.  It scared me. Miserable pain due to all the walking, squatting and contorting.  Thought about calling 911, as the cramping had spread to my gluts and abs. Cramps stopped about 4 AM. Slept till 7 the next morning. Normally I am up at 5. Not this day. Ate a bite then set out to find him. Looked all over for him thru the morning. At 12:30 PM I was about to give up when I saw him, he was still alive standing in an area east of the middle pond dam. He had been ducking me all morning as I had searched that area twice. Alive but barely strong enough to stand much less run.  He just stood there frozen with anxious, labored breathing. I had out lasted him.  I was twenty yards from him. He finally just died, died on his feet, and then fell over.  Dandiest thing.  He gave up at 1:00.  Truth of the matter was I shot him low in the neck. The arrow had not passed through but had eventually worked out of his neck.  I guess because of the distance and because he was moving away from me the arrow did not pass through like it should have. Must have barely clipped his neck artery. I could see only a trickle of blood coming from the wound but he had been bleeding for nineteen hours. Most of the blood I had seen before I found my arrow, had drained down the arrow. 

Hung him in the barn. His name was Cross Toed Joe, A.K.A." The Christmas Tree Villain."  Wanted for destroying Christmas trees and doe harassment. Been after him for three seasons.  What a great hunt and a thrilling tracking adventure. Bounty paid in back straps and summer sausage.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Hey there ladies and gentlemen!

       Anchor Leg Press, LLC is pleased to announce and provide access to our beloved homegrown story about Charlie the Hat, and his adventure that taught him the life lesson of self worth! Join us on this awesome journey that will warm the heart of adults and children alike!

If you are a Kindle user and/or amazon shopper, we have our ebook for Charlie the Hat FOR SALE NOW!   Copy and paste link below to get started!

For more on the author, S.E. Hicks, visit his author page on amazon as well by copying and pasting into your browser!!

Anchor Leg Press, LLC is still in its beginning stages but we are excited about what we have going for us now! The official website right now is

Additionally, visit Charlie the Hat's Facebook page for new deals and specials for this holiday season at

NOTE: The Stories further down the blog are all but a taste of S.E. Hicks' writing and future publishing goals for Anchor Leg Press, LLC. READ AND ENJOY!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Last Race

The Last Race
Written by Fletcher “Butchwax”Ferguson

Track and field was, next to baseball, a sport that I  had relative good success with. Relative in the sense that the small college I attended was an NAIA school which competed against a level of competition that wasn’t much better than some of the  high school aged competitors I have coached. Having been burnt out with baseball, I turned down a Division II school's offer to play ball  and accepted an offer to run track and cross country at the small college.

During our first indoor season I was fortunate enough to set an indoor school record in the 440 that stood for twenty years. That aside, I had the pleasure of being the anchor leg of a mile relay team that established itself quite a legacy. With the exception of one race our freshman year we were undefeated in that endeavor for the four years we competed.

The one race we lost was at the Heart of America Conference Track and Field  Outdoor Championship our freshman year.  The meet was a close one and the mile relay had to win the race if the team was to be crowned champions. The mile relay was comprised  of “Smokin” John Lafferty, “Mighty Mouse”  Bob Mac Pherson, “Trucker” Bob Sloan, and of course yours truly. As the race developed we ran from behind the other seven relay teams in the race. Smokin John  came in off the lead off leg a very close seventh as the teams made the exchange. There was not a tenth of a second between John and the first place runner.   Mighty Mouse held his own and gained a place before giving the stick to the “Trucker”.   Then big Bob Sloan closed the gap and moved us into a solid third with not more than a step between us and the leaders. When I got the stick it was three abreast for four hundred and forty yards each runner inching in front at one point or another.  It was an exciting race to watch according to those that did. We were nipped at the tape and beat by an eyelash taking second in the race and second in the meet.

As a group of four we made a vow to each other and the rest of team, that was never going to happen again. Our relationship was a brotherhood we ate, slept, drank, dreamed and trained together with the goal to never be second again. We adopted a philosophy. “There are those that will and those that won’t, we were four that will.” We were a bit sullen after that race and took the blame for the team’s loss. Everyone said it was the greatest, most exciting race they had ever witnessed. They said at least you  guys tried.  That statement stuck in our gullet. Those that just try never win. You never hear a winner cross the finish line and say “Well I tried.”

The next two years afforded many dire case scenarios where we had to win the relay to win the meet. It was a team effort but in some very close races when the meet was on the line I had to come from behind in order to win. I was real good at it, but only because of the efforts of those that ran before me. Sometimes I would purposely allow a few runners to take the lead only to blast a round them off the final turn leaving them behind down the stretch. I would always feel the pressure and pleaded with my team teammates to just keep us close. They always did, more often we were in the lead when I received the baton. Each one of them doing the extra to enable us to keep the streak alive.  The togetherness and the confidence we had in each other was like no other relationship.

We were a tight foursome.  All four of us felt the pressure of the undefeated streak. Every team in our limited competitive neighborhood was after us.  Putting up countless challenges.  We were all some times just plan sick with nerves over the ordeal. Time and time again, race after race we were put in the position of having to win the mile relay to win the meet. The whole track and field team would line the track barking and screaming encouragement as the foursome dealt the competitions another loss. The big discus thrower was especially animated as he lurked around the area of the last turn where I usually made my then notorious move of blasting around the other runners, finding another gear and racing towards the finish line. He put the fear of God in all of us as we rounded that corner of the track.

At near the end of our senor season we had maintained the undefeated mile relay streak and set the school record many times over. We had participated in our graduation ceremony and were still hanging around campus for the last meet, the NAIA District Sixteen Track and Field Outdoor Championship which we had won  as a team the last two years. John and I had appointments in Columbia. Mo. at respective areas of study for graduate work. We were to drive to Columbia on the Friday morning before the meet, visit with the grad schools and then drive to Branson, Mo. To compete in our last race.

On our way to Branson John’s car and old Volvo had a fan belt bell housing crack and we were stranded.  These were the days of no cells phones. We pushed and coasted our way to Osage Beach, Missouri where we scoured the yellow pages for a mechanic, a parts store or somebody who could get us on the road again. Foreign car parts were hard to come buy in the big city much less the little rural community of Osage Beach. Mo. We finally connected with a buddy who bought the part and drove to Mobley where the parents of another buddy relayed the part and tools we needed to fix the Volvo.

We had been told that there was a guy by the name of Gary Mueller that worked on foreign cars in the Ozark area. He was elusive. Every place we checked for him he had either not been seen or had left.  He was a phantom mechanic.  Years later I called John out of the blue and said I was Gary Mueller returning his call.  We had a good laugh.

John and I sat by the side of the road. Out of dimes and out of time. Night fall was upon us. We had left a message at the front desk of the motel we were to meet the team at, hoping that the coach would come rescue us but he choose not to as he was put out with us for not traveling with the team in the first place.

Thinking that all was lost we got into the beer we had brought for the trip home. By nine p.m. we were good and drunk. That’s when the part showed up. We fixed the Volvo thanked the good people who made the delivery and raced to Branson. The beer continued to go down.

When we arrived in Branson we went to the front desk and located Coach’s room where we thought he had a room for us. He didn’t. I’m sure he could smell the beer on us but said nothing.  Not having a room John and I were forced to sleep in the same king size bed with the old cinder boss. We about got in a fist fight over who had the middle.Both John and I had to pee real bad but neither of us wanted to risk letting on a hint that we were beer drunk. What a miserable night.

At the meet the next day John and I had less than banner efforts in the open 440. I finished seventh and John a close eighth. The School of the Ozarks finished one, two, three, four sweeping the event. Their runners posted 440 times faster than any one on our team had ever run. The mile relay streak was in serious jeopardy.

Long before the race the four relay members made a group decision,. In an effort to keep our undefeated streak alive we would not run the relay,let the freshmen run it and went to the parking lot, fired up the hibachi and got into the beer, again. After several beers and an a couple of bratwurst, “Mighty Mouse’s” mother came out of the stands in a fury.  She kicked over the hibachi, knocked the beer out of our hands and scolded us with extreme prejudice.  Full of guilt, we relented and got warmed up for the last race of our lives.

We started the race more relaxed than ever. We knew we were gong to be beat. “Smokin” John ran the race of his life, besting his previous best mark. We were still a distant third. “Mighty Mouse”  also posted his fastest split ever closing the gap a bit but we were still third. “It was the performance of  “Trucker” Bob that put us within striking distance. His effort was both thrilling and exciting as his long and strong legs churned up the crushed brick track with a two second best effort split. S-of O’s anchor leg was three seconds better than I had ever run. I WAS PETRIFIED. As “Trucker" blasted through the exchange zone, S-of O highly regarded anchorman muffed the exchange and gave us all that we needed to finish the race in first, win the meet and maintain an unbelievable streak of undefeated mile relay races. We were champions to the end. We set another school record that day, despite bellies full of brats and beer.  The streak was what had mattered most to us. We owe it all to a mother.

The Lord's Cathedral

The Lord’s Cathedral

Then the Lord God seeded the earth
   With His mighty hand  He formed it all,
And  caused His Angels to watch  instead
    All that’s green to be man’s bed.

No nearer to heaven than in His Heart
   Beset the eagle to fly with the lark,
Grow oaks that hold  the vast and blue
   As grass comb breezes on the hue.

Made white waters to lick the soil
   And charged the rivers to create a roar,
For thunder speaks the mind of peace
   He sent the elk to kiss the meek.

Sensing the Spirit’s shining force
   The sun does lighten the garden’s course,
No nearer to God can one man be
   Than nestled in the woods near lasting sea.
                                    S.E. Hicks

Big Boy

Big Boy
Written by Fletcher “Butchwax” Ferguson

Bow season was rapidly approaching. I could barely contain my excitement for another chance to match wits with the wise, old,  gray muzzled patriarch of the woods that had eluded my arrow these last few years. On several occasion I could have shot him with a rifle but the challenge of getting him with my bow was more appealing.  I took a shot at him last winter, but he blocked my arrow with his antler. It was a thrilling, heart pounding hunt that December morning but it was the last time I had seen any sign of him.

In late July, after a considerable dry spell, we had two weeks of on and off heavy rains. The wet ground afforded the chance to study the deer tracks left behind in the mud. While doing my chores I would take time to take a gander at the tracks, making a mental note of new tracks and patterns the resident does left for me to conjecture over.. Big Boy left a unique print. His front right foot was a tad larger and the outside toe was turned in.  There was no sign of him.

As things dried up I had a task of cutting down some undesirable hedge trees and an old storage shed that was nothing more than an eye sore. We excavated a big pit, filled it with the trees and the remains of the shed for the purpose of burning. Once covered with dirt, it left a large area of bare ground. After a light rain one night, I found a clear series of  fresh tracks stretched out across the mud over the pit. The tracks belonged to Big Boy.  He was back. Lord only knows how old he was. Heck, he had to be nine maybe ten years old.  I had been hunting him going on five seasons.

At the start of bow season, it was just plan hot. Way to hot to consider hanging a deer, so I used the warm weather to scout and study patterns. Changing weather conditions alter deer behavior, as does the lunar cycle. The time of day the doe hit the food plot varied, and needed to be mentally recorded.  Where there are doe, a buck is surely lurking somewhere. The goal was to use the food plot to attract the doe, use the doe to attract the buck, then shoot the buck.

One cool morning I climbed up into the tree stand that over looked the food plot.  For the first time in six weeks I saw not a single doe. Something had changed. This outing coincided shortly after the spotting of Big Boy’s  tracks. While in the stand I noticed a bare spot on the opposite edge of the food plot.  Upon closer examination it was in fact a scrape that reeked of urine. Cool. Big Boy was working the night shift.

A week later one of the Christmas trees we had planted had been destroyed by a buck. Big Boy’s track was clearly visible. He was staking a claim. That evening, while in the stand, a single mature doe came into the food plot. She was acting weird. Jumping around, kicking up her heels like a playful cotton tail does. She suddenly bolted from the food plot, cleared the fence to the west of the food plot and darted out into the middle of the freshly seeded winter wheat field. Out of a cluster of wild plum came Big Boy. The doe clearly was glad to see him, as was I.  Big Boy, without any foreplay mounted her. The rut was on. Despite my rattling,  use of my doe bleat and a grunt tube, the old buck just sundered off to the south with a satisfied stride.

I saw him again a week later. He had all the doe rounded up and corralled down in a little area I call twin fawn valley. It is a  heavily timbered area with a thick underbrush of gooseberry, buck brush and a little creek. A day later, to my surprise, there was a new buck with the doe. A rather handsome ten point with good size. Big Boy had lost his harem over night, never to be seen again. This ten point looked haggard and was not in the best of shape. Big Boy must have given him a good fight.

The doe pattern had not changed much, but they did start coming into the food plot from a different direction, out of range of my bow. The new buck was always right on their trail. Sometimes there was only two or three doe, other times as many as a dozen. The ten pointer kept out of range. I decided to relocate a stand from the other side of the property that was not in a productive spot. As I was hanging the stand, which I did at a time when the doe typically where not around, here they came. Trailing them was a different buck.  A smaller eight point. Evidently he was working the day shift. This buck chased thirteen doe off the property. Great, all the work, all that time scouting, all that effort and this non shooter had ruined the weekend hunt.

Two weeks went by before the doe returned to the food plot. The ten pointer had been spotted clear on the other side of the property a couple times by duck hunters. He had abandoned the doe in the valley and was working another small group of three doe that resided in the timber north of our marshes. I was determined to get him. As I had no stand in that area, I planned to set up a pop up blind and use the old shot gun loaded with a slug to get him. He was usually seen in a cluster of willows at the edge of the marsh between eleven o’clock and two. I figured with it being rifle season,  I would hunt the food plot in the morning and then move to the pop up blind down in the marsh.

I was a little late getting into the stand up on doe ridge that Saturday morning. I had barely got settled when a group of six young bucks came into the food plot. One buck looked like the ten pointer I was seeking. I thought it weird, all those bucks together. I suppose they were about to settle their differences. I was just about to raise my shot gun and take the ten pointer when a truck load of duck hunters came down the gravel road towards the marshes. The noise of the truck rolling over gravel spooked the bucks and they scattered. I was a little pissed. These guys were not supposed to be down there until next weekend, or so I thought.  I was wrong.

As I sat in the stand and fumed over the circumstances, I just could not make up my mind what to do. I just sat there in the stand with shattered hopes.  Thirty minutes later here comes the triplets. Two year old doe I had actually touched when they were still wet from birth. I was not about to shoot one of them. Then here comes the twins, right on the same game trail. Two of the prettiest doe you ever did see. The darn things looked like they wore make up. Can’t shoot them either. Then a mature doe came up the trail with twin button buck yearlings. She was a big doe but I felt she should have the chance to give those two boys a fighting chance over the winter. So I passed on her.

The  button buck yearlings had come in sight first, followed by the doe. She stopped just at the edge of the food plot where the timber was just starting to thin. She raised her head to sniff the air. I was busted. She snorted the alarm call, raised her tail and bolted. At the same time she does this, a huge buck came to a dead stop back down the game trail. He was forty yards back still in the thick of it. My heart started pounding hard. I had never seen this buck before.  He was huge. His antlers were hidden from me due to the thick brush. All I could really see was the base of his white neck. He was facing me. I did not hesitate, raised my trusted thirty five year old shot gun, put the bead of the open sight right on the base of the buck’s neck and pulled the trigger. The slug found it’s mark, dropping the buck instantly. He did not even twitch.

I waited a few minutes in order to collect myself, then I climbed down still shaking from excitement a bit. I could not believe my eyes as I stood by the big white tailed buck. His antlers where spread wide apart. Only six  heavy beamed points. The brow tines, both of them broke off. That was a real shame, he would have been a mountable  Boone and Crocket trophy had it not been for that.  I did not want to field dress him right there, as it might effect future hunts, yet another tag to fill. I tried to drag him out of the thicket. He was way to heavy  for me to drag. Maybe in my younger days I could have, but not now.

My middle son was clear on the other side of the property hunting with a recurve. I went to fetch him.  He was none to happy to be pulled from his roost. He gave me the business about shooting a deer I could not drag. “What’s the matter old man. Can’t reap what you sow cause you’re to old and feeble?“  I told him to wait and see if he could drag it. He could not. Together, we struggled to drag this buck out of the thicket. What a job. We could not begin to lift the thing into the cargo bay of the ATV. So we tied him to the trailer hitch  of the ATV and drug him up to a clearing where we could field dressed him without compromising the killing field. I had to go get the tractor and load him into the bucket in order to get him weighed and  hung in the barn. After much effort and two failed attempts, his field dressed weight was two hundred and twenty seven pounds. Biggest bodied buck I had ever shot. He had thrown his weight around for the last time. Too bad about the brow tines.

Panty Hose

Written by Fletcher “Butchwax” Ferguson

One would think, having been married for some thirty five years, that I would be an unmitigated expert when it comes to pantyhose. Quite the contrary, I know very little about the topic. About all I can tell you is where they are and where they have been, and I really don’t want to know that much.

What I do know is pantyhose can be found everywhere. No woman is ever without several pair, in different colors. What is really scary is the sizes they come in. What is a plus size any way? What exactly does control top control? It certainly does not control where they have been, where they are or the behavior of the one that has them on. It certainly has no effect on what comes out of the wearer’s mouth. At my house they have been found in some of the darnedest places.

Floor space at my house is at a premium but there is plenty of room for pantyhose. That said, there has not been a square inch of flooring where a discarded pair of pantyhose has not been found, either by me or the dog. Why the wife does not find them is a mystery. Besides the floor, they are found on chairs, every chair at one time or another, in my blue jeans, in my dress shirts, inside the pillow case, in my sock drawer, on top the computer and on the dinning room table. Yes where I eat, or rather where I used to eat. Why don’t they disappear like socks? Evidently the dog has grown tried of the things and has taken to burying them in between the sofa cushions and pillows.

I like many other men, have had to wade through them on the way to the shower. Once hung to dry, they are like a polyester forest. I have found them soaking in the kitchen sink, the tub and the bathroom sink. I have found then on a towel on the back deck drying in the summer sun. Tripping over them in the dark one night, I thought I was being attacked by the “Thing!”  I believe one time I found a new pair still in the egg…  in the refrigerator . It seems one of my sons thought they were the off spring of an alien life form, a real egg and should be in the frig. Well, that’s where all the other eggs are kept. I asked him, “Did you think we were going to eat it!“  He just looked at me.

The used variety do have some use, but telling your wife to save a pair so as to be cut up in order to slop some homemade catfish bait into and tie on to a fish hook, which by the way did not work, only encourages a women to not throw them away. There are hundreds of them in grocery bags in my basement. Nobody, I mean no reputable trash service,  recycles them and you really should not send them to the land fill as they do not degrade. Even though they smell like they should. Now there is a million dollar idea, bio-degradable pantyhose. Save the planet, to order yourself a pair, dial 1-800-bio-hose.

One time, while on a trip, I lost the fan belt on the old truck I was driving. The wife had the only solution to the problem. Only problem was, she was wearing the answer, and would not take them off.  Here we were miles from anywhere and she would not take her pantyhose off for me in the truck. (She used to.) Finally, after much debate, she parted with them fully confident that they would not serve as an emergency fan belt. She was wrong, didn’t slip a bit. Besides those two functional uses and the fact they do improve on the over all looks of a women’s legs, I don’t like the damn things.

The very first reason and one that at this point is of no concern, is they got in the way of things. As a older teen, as I was exploring the birds and the bees, pantyhose were an impenetrable  fortress. They were an impossible barrier and became a real turn off. I hate the way they feel. I won’t touch them. Today I use a special pair of salad tongs to pick them up off the floor.

Finding a discarded pair under the sheets really angers me. One reason for that is that my wife would wear them to bed during a certain time of the month. She explained in way to much detail, how pantyhose helped hold her pad in place.  She then of course wanted to cuddle and would throw her pantyhose covered leg over mine. I could not sleep until it was removed. Finding a wild pair under the sheets makes a fellow wonder what else may have come loose.

As result, the sight of used panty hose disgusts me. A reaction that has given me a label. I am considered a panty waste. I suppose it was for that reason the term was developed in the first place. Tough rugged men that fear pantyhose. Pantyhose obviously are not my favorite thing. I would much prefer a woman in silk nylons. O baby now there is a accessory. Pleasing to the eye, and really nice to touch.

 I am currently meeting weekly with a men’s support group to discuss how pantyhose has affected us. We go fishing.  Yes I have PHDD. That’s pantyhose disgust disorder. There is no known cure.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Spud Gun Follies

Terms of Potato Gunnery and Ballistics
Written by Fletcher “Butchwax” Ferguson

It seems only appropriate that the definition of terms used for Potato Gunnery be written down simply to enhance communication. It should be agreed upon that all such terms listed are in fact open to consternation and further review.

Other names of the Potato Gun: Side Order Arm, Lunch Launcher, Spud Gun, Tater Tosser, Tuber Cannon, Root Rifle, Irish Whistle, Idaho Bazooka, RPG (red potato gun), Yukon Loader and of course the Russet Rocket.

Terms listed are not in alphabetical order.

Spud slug: Term used to describe a chambered potato.

Spent tot: Term used to describe a spent spud slug.

Wig burner: Term used to describe the aftermath of a spent tot when too much propellant was used.

Fried potatoes: A collection of spent tots that missed the target.

Hash: The remains of a properly loaded spud slug.

Chive: Bits of spud slug remaining in the barrel after a potato gun was fired.

Tater cheese: A gummy substance found in the barrel or chamber of a spud gun after it has been shot.

Fixings: All the necessary parts needed to make a potato gun.

Sliced potato: Term used to describe the trajectory of a propelled spud slug that misses the target.

Spam: Term used to describe proper spud gun etiquette.

Potato Au Gratin. Term used to describe rotting, stinky, spent tots.

Seed potato: A potato to small for the chamber.

Butter: Lubricant for the spud gun.

Dinner plate: The center of a target shot with spud gun.

Potato bar: The ram rod used to load a spud gun.

Twice baked: A term used to describe a loaded spud gun that has required more than one effort to fire.

Waiter: The guy next in line to shoot a spud gun.

Chef: The guy that applies the propellant.

Potato eyes: Witnesses to a fired spud slug.

Potato skins: Guys that shoot spud guns.

Yam: The title given to the eldest most experienced member of a spudroon.

Your skin: A phrase used to announce the turn of a second spud shooter.

Mashed potato: A term used to describe a failed attempt to load a spud into a spud gun.

Dauphinoise: French term describing an unexpected result of a potato gun misfire.

Gunny sack: The scrotum of a spud gun shooter.

Launch box: The gas holding chamber of a spud gun.

Sparking: Firing a spud gun

Sparky: The name of a spud gun trigger.

Diced potato: The term used to describe a spud slug that falls apart in flight.

Curly fly: Term used to describe the trajectory of a spent spud slug that follows a knuckle ball like

Cooking: The short period of time necessary for propellant expansion just prior to sparking.

Menu prep: Term used to describe the patterning of a spud gun.

Spud range: The direction or place where a spud gun is fired.

Boiled potato: A spud slug fired at a fish that misses the target.

Bus boy: A guy who thinks it necessary to find, pick up and retrieve a spent tot.

Potato bruise: A mark left on a unintended target.

Harvest time: A time set for a spud gunning outing.

New potato: A first time spud gunner.

Left overs: Any undamaged part of a target.

Potato bin: Afro-American phrase i.e. “ That potato bin in the air a long time.”

Spud blight: A term used to describe the situation when the shooting of the potato gun has to stop do to
                  a lack of ammo. (the term “86” is sometimes used in these circumstances.)

Candied yam: Refers to a gay spud gunner

Spudroon: A spud gunning team.

French fingerling: An unusually shaped potato set aside for use in the bedroom.

Spud roast: A term used to describe a conversation about historical spud gunning events.

Peruvian: A term used to describe the act of firing a spud slug so far in a southerly direction the bus boy
               can't find it.

Caramelized potato: A term used to describe the result of firing a spud at close range into a mud bank
                               resulting in great splatter.

Spud runner: A term describing a person who illegally uses, sells, or transports a spud gun. i.e. the use of a spud gun in a game of Polish Frisbee.

Sweet potato: A term used to describe the the result of a perfect long distance spud slug shot that
                      knocks over an obnoxious little kid ridding a tricycle.

Harpooning: A term that describes the act of using a spud gun under water for the purpose of culling
                    commercially tank raised fish that have been affected by high levels of ammonia.

Spuddering: A scientific term used to describe the process used by the chef when applying propellant
                   into the launch box.

Potato wedge: The intense training program offered to all new would be spud gunners that covers all
                       aspects of spud gunning and spam.

Kerpluncking: The acting of using a spud gun to take fish while riding in a moving boat.

Dehydrated potato: A spud gunner in need of another beer.

Instant potato: A term used to describe an impromptu spud gun challenge.

Whipped potato: The loser of a instant potato.

Tater tube: The barrel of a spud gun.

Tater cloth: A rag used in spud gunnery to swab the launch box and the tater tube.

Tall potato: A blatant out and out lie about a spud gunning achievement.

Graffiti: The result of hitting a moving train with a spud slug.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Three Dogs, A Cat and A Bird Feeder

Three Dogs, One Cat and A Bird Feeder
Written by  Fletcher “Butchwax” Ferguson

It was a warm early spring day. Blue skies and light frost had greeted me that morning,  spring baseball was in the air. The plan was to get the route done early in order to be home in time to catch the one o’clock pitch but as luck would have it, traffic delays, an emergency call and a couple add ons put me on the road home in the bottom of the seventh, score good guys up six to three. It was not an especially interesting game as we started off with a six run first, which I missed. Now, the opposition was creeping back into the game with two on and a quality batter at the plate. Crack, the game was tied and I was home.

Between innings I changed into a pair of faded blue jeans and sneakers, grabbing the last micro out of the fridge. Along with the dog and a bag of mostly fractured chips I headed for the rocking chair on the front porch. While the radio broadcasted between inning commercials I cleaned the mud off the boots I had worn that day and Sadie did her business. When the top of the eighth rolled around I was done with the boots, had my feet propped up and the dog was posturing for a seat in my lap to get what she felt was a well deserved head scratching. I concurred and allowed her to take her place. It was time to unwind and forget about life’s troubles. Poised comfortably in the rocker, a game on the radio, my faithful companion in my lap,  a half bag of chips and a cold one in my hand, I was set.

Three up and three down went the good guys, then a little trouble in the bottom half as they gave up a non scoring  lead off triple.  Three straight put outs by the agile young shortstop put an end to the threat. The top of the ninth gave me some encouragement, as we got the lead runner on and the next three batters where first year players last year that could really swing the bat. That is when it started.

Sadie’s ears  alertly perked up as she stared  intently down in the direction of my neighbors house. We lived just south of a pair of duplexes that had a two foot concrete retaining wall across the front. At the base of the wall, running it’s length was a  neglected flower bed with last years ornamental grasses still standing. What had got Sadie’s attention was the big black Persian tom cat from down the street which was inching it’s way along the top of the retaining wall, eventually slipping into the flower bed at a stealth hunters leap away from the base of a bird feeder my neighbor had made. The feeder sat in concrete, had as a base, a fairly stout spring to which he had welded a double shepherd’s hook. Hanging from the hooks was a suet basket and a seed dispenser. The cat was stalking the birds  as they were taking dinner. Chick-a-dees, Finches and a flashy Cardinal were working the feeder. Cool, a nature show.

Distracted  from the game and recognizing that Sadie might bolt as the hair on her back had started to rise, I slipped a finger under her collar to prevent a potential stand off. That is all it ever amounted to but I really didn’t want to have to get up and chase the dog. When the tom cat made his move, he did so successfully capturing the Cardinal, rendering it mortally wounded. That is when my neighbor’s dog Moose, a Great Dane/Bull Mastiff cross leaped off the porch. Moose at nine months old was a horse of a puppy. He had been sleeping in the warm sun with his front legs dangling down and over the first two steps of the porch when the cats action jolted him awake. Moose was tethered to a little to long of a cord, anchored at the other end to a corkscrew  in ground stake. Now the wise old tom knew precisely the length of the Moose’s reach, having ventured into the yard before,  he  quickly carried the still flailing Cardinal just out of harm’s way. Driving Moose out of his ever loving mind.

All this activity happening in a split second,  gained the attention of  my neighbor’s neighbor’s dog, an overly attended to, artistically groomed, pristine white toy poodle with pink ribbons tied in the tufts of fur on it‘s ears. Mistakenly, the tom cat had in fact, breached the poodles territory and was blind sided by the over matched  but foolishly courageous little dog. Reacting, the cat dropped the bird, raked it’s claws across the poodles face  a couple times then jumped with in range of  Moose. Moose then awkwardly began another attempt at the smart old tom cat which in turn swiped at the surprised  Moose, backing him off momentarily. The cat thinking quickly, avoided Moose’s second effort by dashing around the bird feeder. Moose gave  an uncoordinated chase entangling not only himself but the toy poodle as well. Around and around the bird feeder they went. The old cat baiting the two dogs towards a tangled mess,  all the while shortening the tethers.

The old tom cat knowing full well the dogs were hung up, refocused  his attention to the injured Cardinal. Pausing for a moment of satisfaction. the cat calmly strode over, picked up the bird, then paraded itself to the top of the retaining wall. Moose however, was not going to give up the chase, giving every effort to reach the cat he pulled his cord against the spring based bird feeder bending it over. When the spring recoiled it pulled Moose back and  up went the mud covered toy poodle, hung up in the shepherd’s hooks. Over and over the poodle was tossed into the air, yelping to beat the band. I sat in the rocker trying to get an idea of the action of the game hanging on to my barking dog. Seems somebody hit a double, two on first and third. Who hit the thing? I questioned as I strained to hear the announcer that was silenced by the barking dogs, I took a swig of beer.

The young house wife heard the commotion and came out dressed in white exercise leotards and a bright yellow t-shirt. She was a tiny thing, barely a hundred pounds.  No match for the huge Moose. Moose was going crazy, darting back and forth, he was….. out of control! As the young mother tried in earnest to untangle the two dogs, she herself became tangled about the ankle and was pulled to the ground abruptly. Moose finally busted the spring on the feeder and pulled up the stake he was tethered too, dragging the young house wife and the toy poodle with him  eventually busting the poodles tether.  The reader should understand that due to my neighbors heavy work and school schedule he had never, not once in six months, removed the plethora of extra large, extra moist piles of dog shit that littered his yard. She was mortified.

 “And that is it from Surprise, Arizona , tune in tomorrow at …Eeeek.... Came screams from the neighbor lady.  What had happened to the game?

The little women, Moose, and the toy poodle all covered, I mean covered in wet stinking to high heaven dog shit sat  all together on the side walk. She cried as Moose, calm now the cat was gone, sat cocked headed and wagged his tail with enthusiasm. Dog shit was in her hair, smeared on her face,  all over her leotards and all over both dogs.   The poor poodle still hanging from the shepherds hook.  In the midst of it all she had lost both sandals and had dog shit between her freshly still wet from polish toes. Had she only kept her mouth shut, she would not have got dog shit in her mouth.

 Later that night, hubby was at work in the yard with a shovel, a broom and a hose. As I watched him work, I wondered to myself…. What did she tell him? Did he kiss her when he came home? Yuk!

 I just really wanted to listen to the game. I missed the ninth inning all together. The good guys apparently won after all. Thank goodness there is always another game.

Friday, April 22, 2011

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Catharsis by S.E. Hicks

Written by Fletcher “Butchwax” Ferguson

I have had the pleasure of meeting a large number of truly unique individuals in my short time on this earth. As a personal trainer I learned very quickly that we are all so very different and excepting a person’s distinctive personality quirks comes with success in the service industry. The first three customers that came to my fitness studio were gay men. When the third gay male walked in dressed in flaming gay attire I immediately pointed him towards the door. Big mistake as I soon realized gay folks have money too and if you just take time to get to know them, their sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with why they sought fitness advice. Once this was realized I overcame my homo-phobia and over the course of eighteen years developed professional relationships with both gay and lesbian clients some of which I could easily label as good friends.

Aside from getting to know great people, one of the most satisfying aspects of the field of personal training was helping a client reach their fitness goals. Helping diabetics reduce or even eliminate their insulin use or helping a stroke victim regain use of their arm and walk again are achievements that surpass all the athletic achievements by a long shot. One young boy whom had Hydro Encephalitis as a baby was probably my greatest challenge and the most rewarding relationship I have ever experienced. The young man at the age of eleven walked with a severe gimp and had a nearly useless left arm that he carried drawn up toward his chest. What made his case so difficult was his endocrine system was compromised and he had a very difficult time sweating which drove him crazy with over stimulated surface nerve activity that caused him to itch like he had a bad case of poison ivy. His Dad had been a university level back up quarterback to a fellow that is now in the NFL Hall of Fame. Pretty tough for a kid to be like Dad. His Dad was great however and gave his son nothing but praise for his effort at overcoming this affliction. When the young man was eighteen he could bench his weight for fifteen, run five miles with out a hitch and could sweat with the best of them. He went on to enroll in the Air Force Academy where I understand he flies drones. What a great achievement for him and his family and an extremely satisfying, rewarding result for me.

One day I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman who was quite disparate from most of my clients. Roger was a classic example of a guy tired of getting sand kicked in his face by all the bullies of the world. He was a very small man weighing in at maybe a buck and a dime. Standing only about 5’6’ he not only was weak and frail but had very poor self esteem. Roger however, was a very pleasant man with a spark in his heart and gleam in his eye. He said all he wanted was to be strong enough to left the heavy luggage in and out of the trunk of the limo he drove but what he really needed was a shot of confidence and a self esteem boost. He worked his ass off in the gym. He ate like I told him and did all the little things necessary to gain muscle weight. Two years later Roger weighed in at 132lbs of lean muscle. He could do things with his body he never thought possible. The guy walked with confidence and carried himself with great pride.

One day Roger came in the gym and informed me that this would be his last workout for a while has he had either been fired as a limo driver or quit, he wasn’t sure which. When I asked what happened he told me. For several years he had taken a older woman to the airport once a month and would pick her up when she returned. Roger described her as a bitter old crabby bitch who verbally abused him at every turn. During the most recent trip she mouthed off to Roger one too many times and Roger slammed on the brakes of the limo right in the middle of the bridge that crossed the Missouri river and promptly tossed her over packed high price designer luggage into the Missouri river. Roger was quite confident of himself now and nobody was ever going to kick sand in his face again.

I got a degree of catharsis from Roger’s story as I had heard the stories of this woman’s verbal abuse many, many times. Wish I had been there to see her face, she also happened to have been a one time client of mine and had verbally abused me a time or two. Good for Roger.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Acute Flatulent Technique by SE Hicks

Acute Flatulent Technique
Written by Fletcher “ Butchwax” Ferguson

Having a reputation for processing a skill is one thing. Consideration as a talented athlete or craftsman is a note worthy honor. Rising to an elite or professional rank puts one in the highest significant percentile. If in fact, farting was a professional sport, I would have been inducted into the hall of fame long ago. In my minds eye, I should have been and according to those who have a nose for such skill admittedly agree. I am or was a professional farter. A skill, that unlike most older men, has dissipated with age. Primarily due to a trendy change to an almost ubiquitous organic diet including the drinking of raw milk. This diet change has permanently placed me on the disabled list and forced me into early retirement.

Holding a social faux pas world record carries with it an automatic degree of respect. I am the only person known in my wide circle of influence to have cleared out an entire section of spectators at an outdoor, open air, division one football game. Unfortunately, there was no wind that day. Had there been just a gentle breeze the devastation would have spread around a good third of the lower level. Twice in an outdoor setting, I have induced asthma attacks in previously undiagnosed victims, at a world record distance. You got to catch the wind just right in those circumstances.

In order to be considered a pro, one must be able to fart on demand. Not always for entertainment sake, but for the cause and effect results a well timed fart can have, say… during an argument with you wife for example. Another classic skill is to fart with directional auditory volume and skillfully blame it on someone else. Kind of like anal ventriloquism. Like the time I was in line behind a troublesome older female customer at the grocery store. “God lady change your diaper.”

Crowded parties are my favorites. Mingling in an uncomfortable social situation puts my game in high gear. Not only could I saddle up on a unsuspecting sole, I could change flavors and cause a multitude of suspects to be considered. On one occasion there were so many different retched plagues released from my sphincter, the caterer was blamed, for it was concluded by the many guests that the food caused the malady.
Quality farts when used to entertain or torture my three boys should not go without mentioning. After saying prayers and a sincere good night hug and kiss. There’s nothing like hearing the combined complaining laughter heard after closing the door behind a loving wisp of methane. They would be forced to get up in the dead of winter open the windows and turn on a floor fan they kept handy for just that sort of bed time story.
Hall of fame farts, I have had many. The three epic farts that I care to share with the readers of this manuscript credit me as Worlds Greatest. Each of these single efforts have unique features to them and could be classified as new life forms do to their residual residency.

Several years ago I was asked to be a stand in for a buddy who had entered a drawing for a brand new Chevy Malibu. The catch was that he had to sit in the car with six other people until only one person remained, resulting in that person winning a new car. My friend needed a car badly and was acutely aware of my rare skills. I sat in the back seat with three woman. I just had to out last the other contestants. There were no bathroom room breaks allowed.

I sized up my competition. One of the women, a house wife and mother of three, had experience with diapers which gave her a strong tolerance of odors. The practical nurse might be able to with stand a certain amount of methane, but the female mortuary employee looked to be the toughest of the three women.
The other male competitors, sitting in the front seat consisted of an elderly gentlemen of eighty some. A Mexican American plumber, and a male librarian.

My pre game meal was comprised of a couple of healthy stewed cabbage quarters, some raw broccoli, a refried bean dirty rice pilaf, six pickled eggs, followed up by a quart of milk. The milk was a risk, as bladder concerns might cause me to exit the car prematurely. I didn’t think it would take me that long. We were in the car a good hour when the build up of methane began collecting in my descending colon. Now an average person can produce one to three pints of methane a day. I could hold better than a pint in my colon and release all of it at a given moment. I had to time this perfectly. I needed to release the effort right after one of the other competitors slipped one out that got the attention of the olfactory senses. I waited for just such an opportunity. As the amateur’s methane caused some mild discomfort and before the affected could recover I passed a pint or better. The competition was over as my six competitors fled the scene due to their inability to breathe.The only real draw back of the strategy was that my buddy’s wife could not deal with the remaining odor the car held. Thus, he was forced to sell it at far below the market value for the same odd reason.

The second world class effort occurred at a poker tournament in Reno, Nevada. I was a member of a professional business organization that held a yearly poker game for charity. The 700 members stayed at a large high rise hotel. The entry fee was one hundred dollars. Each player had fifty dollars in chips to start the tourney. The game was Texas Hold-em. There was a simple elimination process. After two hours at a table who ever had the most chips advanced to the next round. That winner took every one’s chips at the table with him. The place winner’s received the proceeds in the form of a tax deductions to a charity of their choosing. All in all a fun weekend.

On this particular year I had managed to make the quarter final round. During the games when the appropriate number of competitors were reached the ante went up as did the maximum bet. Now at the end of the time period, the top three at each table plus the best fourth in the bracket, advanced to the semis. The time limit was strictly enforced. Maintaining a constant vigilance I determined that I was in the top three positions and easily made it to the semi final. In the semi’s I was again successful achieving top three status and I advanced to the final table. At the final table I had to fall back on a very devilish tactic. I had won a pot that put me in the chip lead, when it was my turn to deal and the bet came a round to me I went all in and before I could be called by any other player, I immediately farted, clearing the room. The room remained void of any players other than myself, until the time period elapsed. The judges adhering to the rules were forced to award me the winning hand and thus the tournament.

The two prior efforts were deliberately planned premeditated acts, executed with perfection. The last hall of fame effort I am sharing with you was purely an accident, having not intended to be the cause of the utter chaos that followed my ill timed release.

The personal training client I was seeing was the most high and mighty of all the residents in a 36 story condominium that was home to a collection of retired multi-multi millionaires. She was the matriarch of the building. Of course any one that she used as a personal trainer would in fact be the “must have” if nothing else than for a one up’s on the person they were bragging to. Accordingly, I was well known through the building and I knew most of the residents by their first name.

On this particular morning I had finished with the old she boar and was making my way down the elevator. I had been holding in the plumes of methane that collected during the course of the work out. Because it was early and I never ran into any one at this hour say for the security guard Gary who was most likely at his post and due to the fact that I had reached my storage capacity I released the beast. Just as I had completed the lengthy project and as I was just catching a whiff of what appeared to have been a real paint peeler the elevator door opened.

To my surprise there stood the old Korean women with her walker. The old Korean woman was a very nice lady that lived with her daughter and son-in-law who was a famous cardio vascular surgeon. They lived in one of the four, three floor penthouses the building had. The old girl got in, just smiled at me as I quickly exited the elevator. About the time he door was closing --it hit her. I could hear, as well as Gary the guard, what sounded like muffled but displeased Korean poignant commentary. Keen eyed Gary caught my grin and asked what was so funny. I told him. He was laughing and drawing the possible domino effects that might result, i.e. someone else is getting on the elevator thinking she did it-- when the phone rang at the front desk.

It was another resident of the penthouse cluster that had discovered the fainted old Korean woman on the thirty-fourth floor. Her comment to Gary over the house phone was, “we need an ambulance and a maintenance person up here.” It seems there was an awful sewer gas emitting from the elevator and Mrs. Wong had passed out.” Gary, barely able to control his laughter, looked at me and said you better go and you better be glad that the old women can’t speak English. I left thinking proudly of the two milestones; a fart that caused a woman to actually faint and the fact it had traveled thirty-four floors and still packed a punch upon arrival. Worthy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Peeping Park Techs by S.E. Hicks

Peeping Park Techs
Written by Fletcher “Butchwax” Ferguson

I was twenty three, in grad school and in need of a good summer job. When told of an opening at Lake Perry for a park technician I applied and was granted an interview with the Colonel Joseph M. Millencamp a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer full bird. He was the commander of the lake and park operations. He lived on site with is wife of 35 years. The Colonel commanded a staff of three full time personnel and three seasonal park technicians. The second in command was a park ranger of notable character. Mobe Wilson was six foot nine of well groomed officer, the epitome of park ranger professionals, a beast of a man. Mobe unfortunately had a deputy ranger Travis Craig who was by all definition a cross between Barney and Gomer but a tireless worker nonetheless. Maggie a full time park technician was the most intelligent of the bunch, a friendly kind person whose love of wild things was beyond reproach. Then there were the three seasonal summer park techs. Nash a fifty five year old teacher/track coach from Topeka and Benedict also a teacher/track coach who was old as the lake itself. It seemed Benedict and Nash had been working for the Colonel since they had started teaching. They were great guys and a real pair, full of tom foolery. When I was hired there were now three track coaches on the staff. Turned out the Colonel was an ex track star himself. He claimed to have been a hammer thrower back east some where, prior to the Korean war. Thus his partiality towards track coaches.

The job was a breeze. All I did was drive around in a little pick up truck and collect camping fees from the campers. Of course there were a lot of pubic relations, an occasional request for directions to stores, gas stations, liquor stores, bait shops and the like. There were fringe benefits, left over fresh cooked fish, of course cold beer and great scenery. It was not all fun however. Once we had to drag the lake for a drowning victim. The fifteen year old Mexican kid had been under a hour or so before we started the dragging. I was volunteered to man the drag connected to a wench mounted on the stern of Mobe’s Park Ranger boat. The drag had several large treble hooks on it strung from a piece of heavy five inch angle iron about eight feet long. When we hooked him and winched him up, the hook was set in the soft place behind the victim’s Achilles tendon. The first look at a drowned corpse caused me to puke and I dropped the drag. Mobe who was driving the boat caught me as I had turned white and nearly fainted. I got the kid but not without a military style ass chewing by the Colonel and Mobe.

The next day, a slow Monday, I took a lunch break and fished at the mouth of a little stream where the white crappie were spawning. I caught my limit (50) in thirty minutes and brought the creel to the Colonel who was fond of the taste of crappie. By the time my shift was over the Colonel had them filleted and mostly fried up. We ate good that night. The Colonel had a new appreciation for me, all was forgotten.

On weekends I was usually paired up with Nash as the camp sites were too full for one man to cover by himself. Benedict would take the small camp sites on the other side of the lake. Occasionally there would be a bathing beauty that warranted a shared observation. Due to the fact that we used a two way radio that was monitored by the Sheriff, Mobe and the Colonel, code was used to notify each other of the various locations of such beauties. Now Benedict and Nash were both dirty old men but harmless other wise. They just enjoyed a peek at bikinis just like any other red blooded American boy does. Once the beauty was located a call went out for everyone to come look at a fisherman’s legal stringer of fish. Over the course of our shift we would venture over and take a gander. Legal meant over eighteen. Nice little stringer meant possible under age or small in size. You know what I mean. A big pair of catfish meant the obvious, with lbs of fish referring to over all estimated size i.e. 40lbs. etc.

Well, one particular Friday afternoon the lake was not so busy. Nash and I were collecting fees together and came upon a couple, naked in a lawn chair doing the herty gerty. As the lawn chair collapsed at the surprise of our arrival there were port holes and elbows frantically trying to cover up. We politely said we would come back, did so in a few minutes and collected the fee. Then a call went out over the airways to Benedict who was on the other side of the lake. He was told to bring his car jack as we had a flat tire--code for peep show in progress. Benedict was there before we told him where we were. Spotting scopes and binoculars were used to view from a safe spot the goings on in the back of the van. It was my idea to sneak down a deep grass covered ravine and get a close up. Well the boys were in the ravine before I completed the suggestion.

After using great stealth we were perched no more than fifteen yards from the couple with the back end of the van fully open. They were really going at it. We each took turns with a high powered binocular and got way to close a look at the details. This went on for some time. When Benedict said he could see the sweat dripping of her----nose. We laughed a little to loud. Suddenly the biggest dog in the world came boiling out from under the van. It was the biggest Saint Bernard I had ever seen. Really big because it had teeth, was roaring like a lion and was on our asses. Adrenaline charged flight was the urgent result. Thank God for track training and the gift of speed.

Still being fleet footed at twenty three I out ran the old guys like a mountain goat evading a cougar and beat feet all the way up the steep ravine. At the top of the grass covered ravine was a steep bare slope that was covered with a thick thicket of wild plum. When I grabbed for a hold on one of the trees to pull my self out, to my surprise, I grabbed Mobe’s leg. He then grabbed me by the collar and yanked me out of the thicket. He started laughing and I turned to watch Nash struggling up the hill with the 275 lb 65 year old plus Benedict right on his heels plowing through the buffalo grass, as was a dog the size of a dinosaur. Nash tripped over a sapling that sprung back up and hit Benedict square in the nuts, knocking him down. The dog was then seen licking Benedict, mounting and humping him like the big puppy had two peters. That’s when the Colonel who was still in Mobe’s truck busted his gut laughing. I can still hear the Colonel’s deep throated belly laugh.

The Colonel had a pair of binoculars hanging from his neck, as did Mobe. They had seen the whole thing. “Let’s go Mobe. Fun’s all over,” said the Colonel. It seems our code was busted and so were we. They gave us the business for the rest of the summer.

Last Batter by S.E. Hicks

Last Batter
Written by Fletcher “Butchwax” Ferguson

It is a well known fact that I love baseball. I loved playing the game, watching the game whether on television or live at the stadium. I loved listening to the game on the radio. When I was a kid and I was sent to bed before the sun was down I would plug the ear piece into my little transistor radio and lay awake tuned into the old Charles O Finley owned Kansas City A’s, a franchise with a dubious historical won loss record. As bad a team as they were I would be listening intently to every play by play segment the announcers voice would carry across the air waves. It seems that as the years went by, baseball announcers began to lose the art of painting the picture of the game. Their announcing techniques have definitely degraded and they have filled the experience with unrelated gibberish that I find distracting, uncomfortable to listen to and an over all disparaging insult to the sanctity of the game I hold in high regard.

I couldn’t do much about that as I didn’t have any influence over Major League Baseball. Where I did have influence was coaching my middle son’s T-ball team. As it happened, the Dads that had historically coached the little league teams had jockeyed for positions to coach their sons and I was politically denied the opportunity with my oldest and youngest boys. The opportunity presented itself with my middle son due to the fact that I bought the franchise, e. i. sponsored the team. I bought all the necessary equipment bats, balls, catching equipment batting tees, helmets and designed the t-shirts and hats the five year old T-ballers would wear. The Fifty-Ninth Street Gym Trojan Big Dogs (The name the kids came up with, it barely fit across the tiny shirts) was our name. The T-shirt had a rendition of a muscle flexing body builder with the head of a dog.
When I went to the preseason coaches meeting I was shocked that there was no coaches education program to arm the well meaning Dads with a minimum of education relative to the coaching of elementary age boys and girls. I had a four year degree devoted to the five sciences of teaching physical activities. Most of the coaches were just frustrated ex-players and uneducated Dads without a clue has to how to develop young tender-hearted athletes. I suggested a coaching education program but the board of the youth sporting authority was comprised of men and woman of lesser intelligence than the would be coaches. I also asked a very poignant question,” Why are we keeping score for T-ball?” It seemed to me that if everyone who played the game left it thinking they were winners, it would aide in developing positive self esteem. Ten years later they woke up as did the nation of T-Ball and those very ideas became part of the game, but my ideas at the time where not well received, probably because they weren’t “their’ ideas.

My son had the pleasure of going with me to purchase all the equipment and was infatuated with the catching equipment, something T-Ballers didn’t need as the only job of the catcher was to place the ball on the tee and cover any plays at the plate. Nonetheless he was going to be our catcher, face mask and all. He wore the mask all the way home and seldom took it off except to eat. He would save his milk for a straw which allowed him to wear the mask and drink. The chest protector offered great protection from his older brother who liked to give him a pink belly from time to time, which he didn’t care for.

We practiced three days a week in the early spring and had good success teaching the sleepy easily distracted five year olds the fundamentals of the game. Hit the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball, run the bases, that was our mantra. My middle son had the benefit of having access to the batting tee all day every day. Consequently he became quite good at hitting the ball off the tee a country mile, figuratively. We would play nightly in the back deep lot of our yard, and hit ball after ball. I would then time him to see how fast he could run and pick up the two dozen balls we had. We had a blast, but the exercise was not without purpose.

According to T-ball rules every player batted every inning regardless of whether or not they were playing in the field (good rule) and no matter how many outs there were. The players hit the ball off a tee, no pitching, hence the name. Actually there was only one out that mattered, the last batter. If he was out or safe the inning was over. As a result of this rule the last batter’s goal was to run the bases Katy-bar-the-door until he reached home plate or until tagged out. During the course of the inning when the pitcher stepped on the rubber with ball in hand, all runners must stop at the next base. Only the last batter had a different rule to play by. If the ball was thrown to the catcher and he stepped on the plate the last batter was out and inning was also over. So being the last batter and the catcher was a very critical position in the game of T-ball.
It was important to me that each player took a turn at each position so to enhance their over-all understanding of the game. My son didn’t like giving up the catcher’s mask. He wore the mask despite the fact that the mask was unnecessary and not required by the rules. He would continue to wear the mask at every position he played, denying the new catcher the mask. There was no point in fighting him. Before long I had several players wearing catcher’s masks and by the start of the season they all wore one, at every position mind you. After the first game when the other team made a joke out of it most the guys dropped the mask. Not my son. He was going to wear it regardless. He would even wear it when he went to bat. Obviously, my coaching and parenting philosophy was one of responsible freedom. The mask wearing habit eventually waned.

As the last batter, my middle son would stroke the ball and run until he hit the plate. He was as exceptional at it as a five year old could be. He especially enjoyed the receptions at home plate his teammates rewarded him with after he slid into home plate whether he needed to or not. He didn’t knock a home run every inning but darn close. On one occasion, after the cry of LAST BATTER resonated across the field and with the bases loaded with Trojan Big Dogs my son hit a shot into deep left center (85 feet). The ball ricocheted of the home run fence sending the defenders scrambling after it. My son got confused after hitting the ball, having spun completely around in the batter‘s box. Instead of running to first base he ran to third passing our player who was on third coming home and then passing our players that were on second and first respectively. He ran for all he was worth with the biggest of grins on his face. When he got to first he realized his mistake. Thanks to the corrective screams of supporting coaches, he ran back the way he came. All the while the opponents were still chasing after the elusive ball he hit. Safe at the plate he was. Grand slam the hard way. The laughter and cheers from the crowd only added to his enjoyment. He took a bow, tipped his cap, went into the dug out and put on the catcher’s mask.

The Emperor's New Fishing Tackle by S.E. Hicks

The Emperor’s New Fishing Tackle
Written by Fletcher “Butchwax” Ferguson
We had moved into a little three bedroom bungalow of which was located in the heart of suburbia. My first born son was at the ripe age of two and a half, just out of diapers. A crossroad that holds special significance for dads across the globe. It means several things. It’s the third and last step in becoming Dad’s fishing buddy. If you are keeping score, walking and developing some language skills are the first two steps.

Once I was convinced that my offspring could use that degree of self control, I took him to the near by lake for an afternoon of wonder. The excitement and anticipation of the event are far more fun for me as the Dad than the actual act of fishing. Something my wife didn’t understand. As I would purposely tell the boys we were going fishing hours before we left for a number of calculated effects.The kids would go out of their minds with the thought of going. This had the desired effect on my wife’s overall attitude about the things that men do. The boy’s resulting banshee like behavior caused my wife to encourage us to leave and supported future excursions of a similar vain. This delay tactic also insured me a quality nap before hand. The wait was shear torture for the boys and an admittedly crafty self serving behavior on my part. All with a designed outcome. The boys loved to fish and the wife loved to get them out of her hair for a --little girl time. A valued psychologically manipulated learned behavior. Aren’t I special.

On this occasion I skipped the delay and just went fishing. We packed a lunch, filling the cooler with all kinds of goodies, drinks and the like. I left the wife at home with a big hug and kiss. We sang camping songs all the way to the lake. What a blast. Me and my boy. When we got to the lake the expedition began with the search for the perfect place to set up our base of operations. Each space we looked at required considerable discussion with probing questions directed to my son for his valued opinion. It had to be secluded, it had to be fishable, and there needed to be shade. The other feature of the search was the need to be close to a privy. Teaching the boy to free fall after struggling to get him to use the seat was not a risk I was ready to take. I knew a guy once who taught his toddler the trick of shitting in the woods. The lesson had back fired as the child figured if he could do it in the woods, why not on his big sister’s white bedroom carpet. A practice he continued to employ on an as needed basis after his sister’s emotional reaction pleased him, further reinforcing the new learned behavior. The last time it happened, the boy treated his sister to a steamy treat the night of her Junior Prom. The well placed stool was in a pair of shoes she was intending to wear that night.

After a complete search of the lake I left the judgment to my son giving him the decision making power of which toilet he would prefer to use in the event the urge struck. He made his choice and we started the process. Folding chairs were set up, a brand new bright red life jacket was securely placed on my most precious belonging. We ate a bite and the fishing lesson ensued.

I had bought a child’s rod and reel for the boy, a device of which proved to be too complicated. Too ambitious a step. So I strung up a stick with a little bit of line fixed with bobber, weight, and hook. At the time, my boy had a clear understanding that if I told him something was going to “hurt baby,” it was going to hurt. I mentioned this to him about the fish hook and carefully showed him how to care for and handle the hooks without getting stuck. He readily listened and clearly understood. I realized his complete understanding and his beautiful innocence as he cried --oh so hard --when the first worm was threaded on the hook. The surprising behavior dramatically touched my emotional buttons in a way only a father would understand. So much so, that I shed a tear as well, my tears caught my young son‘s attention. The tears streamed down my face causing my son to stop and tell me that “ it would be ok, the worm would be ok, I can fix it! “ We fished with wormless hooks that day.

As the day wore on the bait less hooks caught no fish. I tired of the activity as did my son who was busy throwing things in the water. I gave up on the bobber rig and switched to a favorite top water lure I had in the tackle box. I had a fine collection of tackle. Some of the tackle had been my great uncles and were close to becoming collector items. Now, why a guy packs a tackle box full of all kinds of fishing treasures he never uses can only be explained by the fact that once you’re married it is the only place that a man’s wife is forbidden to enter. I think this is why man invented stink bait. Women hate the smell thus avoid the tackle box ( it sure doesn‘t catch fish.)The small little case carries the only remaining shred-of-a-remnant of man’s prior independence. Its like Superman’s castle of solitude, only smaller and smelly. It was the last remaining collection of toy-like ideology. Anyway, the tackle box is a special thing, very special.

As I fished, repeatedly casting the lure, I kept an eye on the prodigy. He was blissfully tossing rocks and things into the water. I am certain there was some fascination with the observance of the circular ripples of which the objects’ impact created on the surface of the water. My son was busy and content with the task as if he was on a “save the world” mission. After a good hour or so of this activity, my son had an announcement to make.

He approached me from my right side. I looked at my cute-as-a-button son. My heart throb. He stood holding his arms out to his side, palms up with bent elbows, shrugged shoulders and a puzzled tilt to his head with the most serious expression on his face, eyes sparklingly a satisfied innocence, “Daddy, the fish won’t come out,” he said just as resolved as a man could be.

The remark was so emphatic and eloquently stated that I was taken by surprise absorbing the inimitable moment. That’s when I realized the apple of my eye had completely emptied my tackle box---- one lure at a time. Every hook, every weight, every bobber everything had been tossed in to the lake. I mean everything was gone! Three hundred dollars of my man toys, my most valued trinkets, memorable, intelligently engineered pieces of eight, all gone.

The feeling that hit me, I suppose, was close to the emotion of being ship wrecked. I fought back tears and anger as I looked at the now invisible tackle, my amphibious treasures gone. I was filled with anger, disappointment and felt abandoned, which was weird. The reality of the course of events set in as I sat cross legged near the empty treasure trove. He was just doing what I was doing, fishing, with my lures! My son said nothing, as he looked at me clearly scared and confused by my silent reaction. When my tears flowed it was the confirmation that Daddy was sad. “It’s ok, I’ll fix it,” came the most tender of voices. As I started to laugh and hug my boy, my son joined in. We laughed so hard. I laid back on the ground and sat him on my chest. The noise we were making forced us to eventually pick up and leave as we were disturbing the other fisherman on the lake. We laughed all the way home. My wife didn’t get the laughter as she knew the value I placed on the tackle. She could muster no more that a questioning smile as I told her the story. I ‘m certain she thought--I had lost it.

Until I could afford to begin replacing my tackle we fished in our back yard with invisible gear for a few weeks and had just as much fun.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Lasting Effects of a Full Moon by S.E. Hicks

The Lasting Effects of a Full Moon
Written by Fletcher “Butchwax” Ferguson

If you are thinking this story is my theory of how the moon effects the psycho-social behavior of man you would be incorrect but only from an astronomical perspective. Nor is the title eluding to my theory of how the moon was created or about lunar phases. The story is more precisely referring to the act of mooning and it’s effects on women,  a particular woman.

As we go through life we are all benefited by the wisdom of others in positions of authority whom have as their job either by proxy, job description or self appointment the need to review our work. Parents, spouses and friends not with standing we get critiqued by others whether we want it or need it. Teachers have done it and just like basketball players there are good ones and bad ones. The better the teacher the better the instruction, the less harsh the criticism. A lot of critics just like to point out to us where we went wrong, at least in their opinion, offering no positive suggestions. Spouses give you their two cents worth mostly out of an act designed to either boost your ego or deflate it. Friends offer their opinion mostly out of the need to run their mouth and voice how they would have done it, usually after the mistakes where realized. The police are quick to point out our driving mistakes and mostly assume we did what ever it was on purpose. "Well yes officer, I should have seen the change in speed limits but I didn’t. I did not intend to speed but I did go faster than the posted limit. That should be the end of it but no you got to pay for your mistakes, intentional or not.

Some employers are among those that for the most part look for all the things you do poorly and are very quick to point out mistakes only for the purpose of keeping you from earning more than they think you are worth. Building inspectors have a job to do when they point out the errors of construction but a lot of the rules that apply to construction are in place because some bureaucrat who has never lifted a hammer has decided it is necessary. Not unlike the neighborhood covenant police that require wooden shake roofs which in turn invite squirrels and silverfish into your home, don’t hold water very long, are designed to look nice for only a short while, force us to pay for constant repairs and are a guarantee that if there is a fire, the house will burn much better.

Any way there is always somebody checking on us. Our tax filings are checked on by the IRS. This happened to me. I have to say that the process of an audit is not fun, extremely stressful and demands a great deal of time costing major money directly and indirectly. The year I was audited came on the heals of the loss of two businesses directly caused by the government. One business, a mobile blood chemistry lab was bankrupted over night after a certain U.S. Senator made a nationwide press release stating that we were unregulated along with a lot of other lies. My first gym was bankrupted due to an announcement that a street was going to be put right thru the building. After that hit the paper I could not give a membership away. Eventually I received Right of Way money that afforded a move but bankruptcy was still the result. A year later came the audit.

When I received the Right of Way money it came with a copy of the Federal Register that specifically stated that the money was non taxable and that when I filed my taxes I did not have to claim the money. Well I lost that publication, some how. When the audit began, the prune faced old bitty that conducted the audit used intimidation, scare tactics and threatened me with jail time if she found anything. She did.

The agent claimed that the Right of Way money was taxable and I was in deep shit. She verbally abused me day after day. I contacted the Right of Way office and they said "yes, that money is taxable." I hired a high dollar tax attorney who said “yes, that money is taxable” and sent me a $1800 dollar invoice. Three weeks of hell later I received in the mail a copy of the Federal Register I had requested six months prior. Low and behold I was right the money was not taxable. I send a copy of the publication to the tax attorney with an invoice for $1800, he never paid me. When I showed the IRS agent the publication she accused me of forgery. That’s when I lost it, dropped my pants and mooned her from across the desk and left the office. She called two days later offering no apology but asked instead for my wife to come to close out the audit. It seemed after hundreds of auditing hours, we owed the government 37 cents.

Twenty years hence we have not been audited again. I guess one look at a full moon can change even the government’s perspective.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tits and Tires by S.E. Hicks

Tits and Tires
Written by Fletcher “Butchwax” Ferguson

When a young man turns sixteen a whole new world opens up to him. He can now legally drive a car. Dad said, “if you want to drive, buy your own car and pay for your own insurance.” It would have been nice to have known that when I was three so I could have saved up for the big event but no, he made that little announcement on my sixteenth birthday. At the time 1971, we had but one car, a 1960 Chevy station wagon that drove like a truck. No power anything. The thought of taking that gun boat on a date was less than appealing. So I went to work mowing lawns and what ever I could do to make a buck.

In addition to the lawn mowing, I had an opportunity to shovel the lead out of water traps for my Dad’s employer. The gun powder manufacturing and distribution company he worked for owned and operated the only indoor shooting range in town. The water traps were four feet deep, six feet wide, better than 100 feet long and there were two of them both needing to be emptied of lead. I was hired to clean them out. When I say something is heavy as lead I know what I am talking about. Once the traps drained I shoveled the lead from gazillions of spent rounds into buckets and loaded the very, very heavy buckets into the back of the station wagon. I was going to smelt the lead and make bullets in the basement. I worked two long days at “getting the lead out.” I also know the true meaning of that commonly used phrase. All totaled there was over 3200 pounds of lead.

Over the next several months I smelted lead and formed bullets in our basement. I made mostly .38 caliber bullets but did make a couple hundred pounds of .45 caliber. Even made some with brass jackets. All that lead, poured into bullet molds and sold back to the shooting range for the avid shooters that reloaded. Six months later I had enough money for a cheap car and enough for the insurance. Only I had to take a driver education class first and that fee set me back as did the need to replace Dad’s old Briggs and Stratton lawn mower, that I had totally used up. Dad was tough.

Then there was the realization that girls cost money. Fortunately, the folks grew tired of shuttling me and my dates so the old man coughed up the insurance fee and I was going to start driving. A second fortuitous wind fall occurred that winter as Dad was given a 1964 Lincoln Continental as a Christmas bonus. Hot damn charley I was picking up my dates in a Lincoln. She was jet black in color (the car that is) with 450 cubic inches of tire squealing power. The Lincoln was equipped with an over drive transmission that made ninety effortless. The song “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen was released the same week I was to drive the car on my first date. Get this, the song was originally written in 1955 by Charley Ryan, the same year I was born. It was destiny that I was King of the world. Everybody knew Butchwax was driving the “Hot Rod Lincoln.” When I cruised through all the teenage drive in hangouts, heads turned and people talked. The soft leather seats and the power windows made dinning at the drive-in a unique pleasure as well. I was the envy of every kid I knew. At first I was way too stupid to take full advantage but I would quickly learn the effect a fully loaded Lincoln sitting on tires had on the accessibility to tits. By the time I graduated high school I had seen more, fondled more tits than could possibly be imagined. I am in the union you know.

Unfortunately, there were those dads that felt I was a bit to rich to be associated with their daughter so dating was often times an act of futility as I was rejected at the door simply because I pulled up in a Lincoln. We were so far from rich it never crossed my mind I would be thought to be from money. Heck Dad barely made twenty grand a year and we ate liver and onions once a week because we had to. There again there were other parents who mistakenly thought I came from wealth and encouraged their daughter to…… “best be nice to that boy his Ma and Pa’s gots bucks.” Bras came off pretty enthusiastically on those dates. Older more worldly chicks became the focus.

The drive-in theater offered the Lincoln a chance to help the effort of bra removal; my move. I had the move down to a smooth flawless motion. Once parked at the weekly outdoor feature I hit the power seat control and reclined those soft leather seats to an irresistible romantic posture just as the first kiss was placed. The bra came off so easy it was like a hot knife though butter. My dates just couldn’t help themselves. It was then that I drew the connection of tits and tires as a combination that was made in heaven. The girls were swooned by the luxury and apt two fingered bra unhooking talent. That was the case until my head was fully connected to my neck.

You see anything with tits or tires is going to cause great strife in a man’s life as both cost large quantities of money to maintain, bring great heartache, result in frustration and may very well be the root cause of the all trouble the world over. I trust I don’t have to explain the obvious, wars over oil, fights over women, divorce lawyers and all. The two items are man’s greatest conundrums and they both drive world economy, think about it. They do.

It isn’t just oil, the world has a tit based economy as well. Just think of all the money associated to tits just in the medical related industries alone, not to mention magazines and what about how tits effect the insurance premiums we pay. Oh my god, let me not forget mentioning the advertisement industry and the products tits are used to sell. Tits are used… to sell tires. Radio is even benefited by tits, as man’s imagination runs wild at the sound of the female‘s voice which is attached to a pair that need to be tuned in. The list of linkage to cleavage is endless and exhaustive. It may have been unavoidable but how tires and tits were put together is something that primitive man didn’t worry about… I have to and wish it was not so.

As I have grown older I put less energy into tires and even less into tits as they both go flat after while. The one you drive comes with a radio, the other drives you and comes with a mouth you have to listen to. I like them both as necessary evils. What they independently do to me/ for me is unparalleled by any two other unlike objects in the universe and yet, they always seem to be connected some how.

I need them both terribly. I sometimes resent that fact, wish I was blind and rode a horse, completely eliminating both from my life. No fun in that, I guess I will have to take the good with the bad. Tits and tires, a guy can’t do without either and why should he.