It's Storytime. Once upon a time, long ago, a country club way out in the boonies--where Dad was the Pro/Supt/GM--held a combined Halloween golf tournament/debutante ball and squirrel cookout. As Dad was usually reluctant to attend such glitzy affairs, I was instructed to represent him. Since I wasn't old enough to drive yet, Dad left me behind to close up the pro shop and the maintenance barn--it was an actual barn--plug in the carts, clean the pool and keep an eye on things. His exact instructions were: "Call me if things get out of hand--and avoid the FHA." *
*Note: The FHA was our acronym for the "Four Horses' Posteriors", a regular foursome of recalcitrant members who often required referees, rulings and the occasional ambulance.
After cleaning the pool, I positioned myself on overwatch above the parking lot and immediately, the action began. Handsome Harry, the club champ, rolled up in his Cadillac, tossed the keys to the valet and made his usual grand entrance into the bar. I was not surprised to see the valet take off in the Cadillac, headed for town, because we didn't have valets. What we did have was a redneck family who lived in a shack across the highway and who had apparently acquired a white shirt and red vest for one of their progeny.
As the Coupe' de Ville roared down the highway, Sparky Todd, the senior member of the FHA, appeared in his Ford F-100. (His formal town truck.) Sparky didn't need a valet, he parked the truck his own self, one tire on the practice green. I did not protest, because Sparky was the BOD president and also, his daughter Cheylene was smokin' hot. Sparky staggered inside and told Handsome Harry that his Cadillac was last seen racing toward town at high speed. This prompted Harry to run outside and begin kicking the ceremonial pumpkins lining the walkway, while yelling about what they used to do to horse thieves.
About this time, my co-worker, Blue Sky Willie, had quietly eased up and plopped down in the passenger seat of my golf cart. Blue Sky was a tall, very thin black man known for carrying a straight razor and getting struck by lightning on clear blue sky days.
"My girlfriend Odessa", Blue Sky muttered, "says Mr. Harry there is a pretty man who gets his power from his looks and his money. You know what would happen if you or me stomped them pumpkins?"
We watched in awe as Harry brutally murdered all the pumpkins, save one, the ceramic pumpkin on the front porch. That one busted something in Harry's foot, causing him to scream like that girl in the shower at the Bates Motel. As this point, Blue Sky fell out of the cart laughing and crying, which made me nervous. Odessa said folks that get hit with lightning out of the blue sky are often living on the dark side. (Willie was first hit while working on a church steeple.)
Zoober, our local sportswriter, who kind of looked and dressed like Liberace
While I was watching Blue Sky Willie hyperventilate, Zoober Heflin, the third member of the FHA showed up. Zoober, our local sportswriter, who kind of looked and dressed like Liberace, arrived in a taxi with his date Lola Deane, the town's surgically altered librarian. Surveying the situation, Zoober loudly pronounced his next article would feature the latest sport of Pumpkin Stomping.
Not known for his sense of humor, Handsome Harry took offense and began chunking pumpkin remains at Zoober. One large piece of pumpkin shrapnel hit Lola, crushing her carefully constructed Alabama cheerleader "big hair" hairdo.
In the True South, throwing pumpkins at a man's date, especially on debutante' night, is just not done, so Zoober leaped upon Harry using the martial art known as "Open Hand", which we just called "Slapping". It was at this precise moment that Dewayne Puck, the last member of the FHA, whipped into the parking lot and saw Zoober sitting on Dewayne's best friend Harry, administering a savage slapping upon Harry's face.
. . . like watching somebody try to shove a watermelon down a commode.
Before we get to the next part, I have to tell you, Dewayne was a big man. Just watching him try to exit his Buick 225 was real entertainment. Blue Sky once said it was like watching somebody try to shove a watermelon down a commode. When Dewayne popped out of the Buick, we realized he was wearing a Halloween costume, possibly either a pirate or perhaps a one-eyed sissy, but it didn't matter because Dewayne was intent on saving Harry from Zoober.
About now, I was concerned Blue Sky Willie might be dying of oxygen starvation, but when I looked back to the altercation, Dewayne had Zoober by the scruff of his neck, suspended in the air, and was kicking his buttocks with his farm boots. (Pretty solid impacts, too. Made that sound a roast makes when you drop it on the kitchen tile.)
Sparky emerged from the bar to see a giant pirate or possibly just a guy in a frilly shirt and an eyepatch, violently kicking his best friend Zoober in the buttocks. Forthwith, Sparky threw himself into the fray, indiscriminately kicking everyone his short legs would reach. Sparky kicked Dewayne in the ankles and then he kicked Harry in the Jimmy and when he kicked Lola, her bustle came loose from her taffeta party dress. Harry, from a fetal position on the lawn, challenged Sparky to a duel, screaming, "If I had my car, I'd get my gun and shoot you dead!"
In one of those odd moments of synchronicity, gunfire erupted in the distance and there was Harry's Cadillac, stuck in a ditch by the highway, with a kid in a white shirt and red vest shooting a pistol into the air. Unlike up North, where folks are smart and take cover, down in the True South, gunfire lures folks outside to see what is happening and maybe participate.
As the entire party poured out of the clubhouse led by the debutantes', the more whisky-challenged in the crowd slipped on the pumpkin corpses, ruining taffeta, big hair-doos, evening gowns and Halloween costumes. Blue Sky fell into a coma and that's when Dewayne noticed us. He deduced that we were somehow involved in the melee' and this caused me to run off into the darkness, where I was safe on the golf course.
About midnight, Dad came to get me. He stood and looked at the carnage for a few moments, studying what resembled the aftermath of a pumpkin volcano, Sparky's truck on the practice green and a small fire burning in a barrel out on the parking lot. He turned and looked at me.
"Dammitboy, I told you to call me if things got out of hand."
"Well, it wasn't near as bad as The Fourth of July," I replied, with great confidence. Dad shook his head, "Son, what did you do? (It was a reasonable question, given my history.)
"I'm telling you, Dad, it wadn't me. It was them rednecks over yonder cross the road. That little hellion they're raising was dressed up as a valet and . . . " It was at that moment, I was struck by a life-changing epiphany: It felt good, for once, not to be the little hellion in question.