It was Tuesday afternoon, and as usual, we gathered at Derby Brown’s place to catch up on the news and see who was still alive. Over the hottest part of the summer, we’d taken to getting together at the Alpine Tavern, but an unfortunate eruption on the part of Alvin Taylor’s dog, Mitt, put an end to that. Al tried to explain that ol’ Mitt hadn’t been feeling well recently, and that he’d pay for the piece of besmirched carpet.
In the end, they had to replace the carpet and a fair-sized piece of flooring as well. It took nearly a week to air the place out, and business had sorta tapered off to zero. Al was right. That dog wasn’t feeling too well.
So, there we were, hunkered around a small fire, each staring and spitting into the flames. One of the Dabney twins pulled a pint bottle out of his back pocket, gulped a snort, and passed the bottle on. One-by-one, each of us snorkeled down a taste, and passed the bottle on.
It wasn’t long before we all began to sweat. Always the calming voice of the obvious, Dexter Green observed, “Boys, it’s August.”
We were all watching Dex, struggling to glean the nugget of truth he was offering. “It’s August, it’s 94 degrees, an’ we gots us a fire going.”
We knew we could always count on Dex to think his way through a problem. The man had smarts.
A discussion broke out over who the better quarterback was—Johnny Unitus or Peyton Manning. Things were heating up, when a chime-sound noise erupted out of Scooter James’ shirt pocket.
A chime. Really, a chime.
A cute, little sissy-sounding chime.
We’d grown accustom to hearing odd noises emanating from Scooter, and as a precaution, everyone took a step backwards. He’d usually blame my dog, Snorp, but Snorp wasn’t here today, and I can vouch for the fact that the dog had never once chimed in his life.
Dex cast a doubting eye on Scooter. “What the hell are you, Scoots? Some sort of microwave oven or something?”
Scooter retrieved what looked like a flat, black piece of plastic from his pocket. “It’s my new cell phone, boys. The missus got it for me at Walmart.”
We cautiously leaned in to see what the hell Scoots was talking about. He flipped it open and said,"Call home.” We heard the ring, and ol' Scoots oldest son, LaVar’s voice filled the garage. “Hey, Pa, how’r ya doin’?”
Dex’s face paled. “Scootie, you do understand the Man can track your every move with them damn things, don’t you? Hell, I header on the tv that them damn things can read yer mind, then ship the whole thing off to the Feds. ” Dex had long ago drawn a hard line on cell phones. He contended they were expensive, obnoxious and invasive. None of knew what invasive meant, but were pretty sure it had to do with their chime-ring sounds.
Scooter’s smile was the proof of a lifetime of oral hygiene gone wrong. The seven teeth he had left were the color of the oranges you could find in the dumpster behind Safeway. Pretty much the same texture, too.
“Hell, Dex, most everyone has one of these. They're handier than an ax handle in a knife fight. I can make a phone call, send a message or even update my Twitter, whenever I want to.”
We was all staring at our boots, dribbling a little spit, and sneakin’ peeks at Scooter.
Derby was the first to find his voice. “Scooter, I sure as hell don’t want to know whatever of yours you went and nicknamed ‘Twitter”, but I’ll thank you not to update it, or do anything else to it, in my presence. Hell, man, where’s your dignity?”
The conversation dwindled, then died, and within minutes, six old pickups left in four different directions, with all but one of the drivers mulling over in his mind, what-the-hell’s-wrong-with-Scooter, and when did he change?