Rusty Mitchum

Rusty Mitchum

The other day I was an hour or so early for an appointment, so I stopped in one of those high-dollar coffee places to kill some time. Now, I know that coffee in those places is priced too high, but man is it good. Anywho, the line to get your coffee was pretty long, and I don’t like standin’ in line, but I wasn’t in any hurry, so I did like the other sheep and waited my turn. I was daydreamin’ about somethin’, when I felt a presence behind me. I turned and there was a young man standin’ in line behind me, and he had a pin with a BB on the end of it stickin’ out the side of his nose, a safety pin stickin’ through his eyebrow, what looked like a little bitty barbell stickin’ through his lower lip, and a big hole through each of his earlobes. He had on some baggy ol’ britches that were hangin’ down around his hips and his underwear was showin’.

Now, seein’ a sight like that while you’re daydreamin’ will sort of startle you. Well, at least it did me.

“Whoa!” I exclaimed. “What happened to you? Were you in a hardware store explosion?”

The kid looked at me sort of like my wife looks at me. I know you’ve seen those looks before. Their head sort of tilts to the side and they look at you with their eyes half closed with their lips pushed together like they’ve been suckin’ on a lemon or somethin’.

“Funny,” the kid said.

I turned back around smilin’ to myself. Everyone in front of me must have heard our conversation, because they were all turned and lookin’ at me. They were all givin’ me one of “those looks,” too.

“What?” I said. They all turned back around.

Finally, I got to the counter.

“Let me have a small cup of coffee and ….”

“We do not have small cups,” the little hippy lookin’ girl behind the counter interrupted.

“You don’t? Then what’s that,” I said and pointed at a cup.

“That’s a tall,” she said.

“That tall is kinda small for a tall,” I said. “Most talls are tall, not small.”

“Hurry up, Dr Seuss,” said a lady in line a couple of people behind me.

I turned and looked at her. Boy, what a sour lookin’ woman. “Somebody hasn’t had their coffee this morning,” I said. Then I whispered loudly to pin-headed kid behind me. “Hey Buddy. I’ll buy your coffee if you’ll sneeze hard enough for that pin in your nose to blow out and pop that lady.” You guessed it, another look, from both of them.

“Sir,” said the coffee lady. “Your order?”

“Uh, well I guess give me a tall, and give me one of those apple pies there.”

She looked to where I was pointing.

“Empanada,” she said.

“Gesundheit,” I said back to her. She gave me another look.

“It’s called an empanada,” she said through gritted teeth.

“Looks like a fried pie,” I said.

“Well, it’s not.”

“Does it taste like a fried pie?”

“It tastes like an empanada.”

“What do they taste like?”

“Tell him they taste like a fried pie, so he’ll get through!” exclaimed the sour-faced lady.

The counter girl rolled her eyes. “They taste just like a fried pie,” she spit out.

“Groovy,” I said, which got me another eye rollin’.

I got my coffee and fried pie and looked around for a place to sit. The place was full. I headed outside and found one empty table and sat down. In just a minute ol’ pin head walked out. He looked around and saw that all the tables were occupied, and then saw me.

“Sit down,” I said pointin’ at the other chair. He looked at me, sighed, sat down, and started lookin’ at a book.

“What’cha readin’ about?” I said.

He sighed again. “Philosophy,” he replied.

“Really,” I said. “I’m a Baptist myself.”

He looked up at me like I was from outer space.

“Just kiddin’,” I said. “You need to lighten up kid. So, why philosophy?”

“I’m looking for the truth,” he said.

“What truth?”

“You know, the truth.”

“There’s a lot truths,” I said.

“Really,” he said and closed his book. “Why don’t you tell me one?”

“OK,” I said, and took a bite of my apple pie. I chewed a second while ponderin’. Finally, I swallowed and looked at the kid.

“Beans will give you gas,” I said.

“What?”

“You heard me.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I just told you a truth,” I said. “You eat beans, you’ll get gas.”

He just looked at me. “Are you for real?”

“Sure am,” I smiled. “So, what’s with all the hardware, anyway,” I said, pointin’ at his face.

“Do you have a problem with it?” he asked defensively.

“Heck no,” I said. “You can stick a firecracker up your nose and dance the jig for all I care. I was just wonderin’ why you did it.”

“I’m making a statement,” he stated.

“A statement? What statement? ‘How many more holes can I put in my head?’”

“You wouldn’t understand,” he said.

“Probably not,” I said. “So, do you set off the metal detectors at the airport?”

“What? Why are you asking me all of this stuff?”

“Just tryin’ to be friendly,” I replied.

“I have no friends,” he said.

“Not even a girl friend?”

“They are not attracted to me.”

“Well pull those blamed nails out of your face, get you some britches that fit that don’t show your drawers, and I’ll bet you can find a girl.” I said.

The kid just looked at me.

“Hey,” I said. “You wanted the truth.”

The kid closed his book, stood up and left. I guess it’s like Jack Nicholson said. Some people just can’t handle the truth.

Rusty Mitchum lives in New Harmony, Texas, where he writes a regular column for The Lindale News and Times. He says the only reason he writes is to keep the voices away.