Lonnie, Me, and the Hound of Hell
When Tiny’s best friend, Lonnie, blows up his shed in an attempt to trade two minutes’ worth of his soul for a long-shot winner in the Kentucky Derby, both men wind up with more than Lonnie bargained for.
Lonnie picked up a chunk of wood from the debris pile and chucked it at the mongrel.
The dog caught the chunk. Then, real slow, he shambled over to Lonnie and dropped it.
Lonnie goggled at the wood, then at the dog, then at me. He pointed a trembling finger at the dog’s toothmarks. “Lookit that! Scorched!”
I looked. “Lonnie, damn near every piece of wood that’s left outta that shed is scorched. What are you saying?”
“I’m saying the Devil had this big mean grin just before he blew up my shed. Tiny–I believe he left this dog on me. I mean, look at that dog! Sweet Jesus!”
Lonnie, Me, and the Battle of St. Crispin’s Day
Lonnie and Tiny go to festival in their old neighborhood and run into trouble from their past.
Leona opened the back door before I knocked. When I asked her where Lonnie was, she grinned like a polecat and pointed toward the living room.
And there he sat, holding some kind of little something in his long skinny knobby hand and poking at it with one finger, looking as serious as if he was working.
“Hey, buddy,” I said.
He jumped so hard, the thing flew up out of his hands and tumbled through the air. He snatched at it but missed and the thing landed plump on the couch cushion beside him.
“Dang it, Tiny!” He grabbed the thing and rubbernecked between inspecting it for damage and glaring up at me. “I coulda broke my smart phone!”
I would have thought giving Lonnie Carter a smart phone was about like giving a banana to a cat….
Lonnie, Me, and the Junkyard of Forbidden Delights
Lonnie sneaks a “potion” from a local junkman/herbalist and gets all kindsa happy.
“The point is, Scrappy’s a whatchacallit.”
“No, that thing Leona’s so down on.”
“Drinker? Dancer? Gambler? Unitarian Universalist?”
“Dang it, Tiny, be serious! Like Harry Potter.”
“Young? English? Wiseass?”
Lonnie’s scrawny chicken neck got red, so I knew he was about to lose his temper. That’s no fun, so I put half my coffee cake on his plate and said, “Give me another hint. I’m not a very good guesser today.”
“You know: a guy that does magic. And don’t say magician, ’cause that ain’t it.”
“That’s it!” He slapped me on the shoulder with those long, bony fingers hard enough to raise welts. “He’s a warlock.”
“You sure you don’t mean, like, a Mason or something?”
Lonnie, Me, and the Ugly Dog Contest
Tiny enters Homer into the library’s fund-raising contest, but finds he has some competition from the little boy down the street.
Blaine said, “We’re in the contest together.”
“The ugly dog contest.”
“Now, how is that possible,” I said, “when you don’t have an ugly dog?”
Truth is, Blaine had a dog so ugly, it looked like a burlap bag full of knuckles. I think it’s half toy pitbull and half Gollum with a side of bat. Blaine’s mom, Ella, found it dumped outside the warehouse where she’s night watchman and brought it home, and Blaine and it latched onto each other. It always made Blaine fighting mad if anybody remarked on her appearance – Lucy the dog, I mean, not Ella – so I was surprised he had entered her.
“You’re just being nice,” he said, like he was saying tormentful in place of nice. “Everybody keeps telling me how ugly Lucy is, so I’m entering her in the contest. Maybe I’ll get her a trophy and some special treats and get me some free books.”
Lonnie, Me, and the Resurrection Eggs
Lonnie makes the world’s worst deviled eggs.
I picked one up and bit into it. It tasted like nothing on Earth, and I don’t mean that in a good way. It was hard to tell, with all the flavors whupping the tar out of each other, but I would take an oath in court there was some kind of fish in there. Sardines? Anchovies?
Lonnie popped one in, managed to chew it up and swallow it, and looked at me all sorrowful and betrayed, like I had made the damn things.
I apologized to my stomach and swallowed my bite whole. For a few seconds, I thought Lonnie’s Resurrection Eggs were going to live up to their name and rise again.
Lonnie, Me, and the Block Party BBQ Cookoff
Lonnie’s hot sauce is maybe a trifle too hot.
Lonnie was in his element, fussing with his coals like he was the guy who invented fire.
Like I said, Lon’s good on the grill, but I wouldn’t be trying any of his ribs today.
“Some folks like it hot,” he’d said, “and I’m just the boy to give it to ’em. I’ve been experimenting with this new hot sauce, and it’ll take the top of your head right clean off.”
“I’m kind of attached to the top of my head,” I’d said. “It keeps my brains from getting the inside of my hat all gummy.”
He had a sign on the barrier in front of his grill that said, WARNING! HOT! HOT! HOT! EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Lonnie, Me, and the Reptiles of Tybee Island
Lonnie, Tiny, and the wives visit Tybee Island. Will Lonnie get a tattoo? Will he wrestle an alligator? They’re both in his plans.
“Look, Tiny! Alligators! I told you there’s alligators in Georgia! Told ya so! Told ya so!”
Outside the restaurant, they had this big cage with pools and plants and stuff, with signs all over it like, “Feed the alligators!” and “Live alligators!” I trailed Lonnie like a barge following a tug, knowing without being told that he was circling the cage hoping to find a way in.
He said, “Betcha I could wrestle me one o’ them bad boys.”
I snorted. “How ’bout that one? The one the size of a Cadillac El Dorado?”
“I seen ’em doin’ it on YouTube. You just gotta know how.”
“And do you know how? No, you don’t.”
Lonnie, Me, and the Loaded Lady
When a roughneck kid claims there’s a loaded lady outside the church, does he know what he’s saying? Yes and no.
Lonnie Carter is my best friend in the world, but he’s a certifiable fool. That’s just something you got to accept about Lon and then go on from there.
For instance: Him and Leona always have a real tree instead of an artificial one, so driving out to Leona’s cousin’s in the country to cut one is a yearly adventure. Lucky for me, it’s kind of a personal thing with them, or Mary Lee and me would get drug into it, and Lonnie in the woods with an ax is an experience I am absolutely not wanting to have.
Lonnie, Me, and the Ugliest Couch in the World
Not even moving furniture is a simple thing, with Lonnie in the mix.
At the gas station, Lonnie got out to pump and I heard him hollering at somebody. I scrooched around to see if I knew who it was, but it was a guy in a van with out-of-state plates on it.
Lonnie bawled, “I want you to come over here and look at something. I ask you, is this the ugliest couch you ever seen, or what?”
The guy whistled and said, “If that was my couch, I’d shoot it in the head and bury it after dark.”
“I thank ya, sir, that’s all I wanted to know.”
When he got back in, I told him I was disappointed in him, subjecting an unsuspecting visitor to that couch, and it wasn’t showing our state in a very good light, but Lonnie didn’t care.
Lonnie, Me and the Blowed Up Santa
Lonnie Carter and a giant, inflatable Santa. What could possibly go wrong?
I told Mary Lee later that I truly thought his having to go first would kill the idea, and he’d settle for leaving the thing on the ground. But I had miscalculated how deep into pig-headed territory Lonnie had gone. Turns out, he was flat-dab determined, and nothing but Leona could have possibly stopped that runaway freight train, but Leona was all for it.
“Okay, come on,” he said. “Let’s get this done while we still got some light.”
It was light enough, even though the clear skies meant it was as cold as a brass monkey.
Lonnie took the rope from me and paid it out while he ooched up the ladder, not looking down as he went. His and Leona’s roof wasn’t as steep as some, but I thought Lonnie was gonna go onto his belly before he got to the ridgeline. He threw a leg over the crown so he was sitting astride it.
“Whoo! Man, what a view! Come on up, Tiny!” His voice was about an octave higher than normal, and his Adam’s apple was bobbing so hard I could see it from the ground.
Just by way of a friendly kind of meanness, I said, “You got the anchors up there already?”
And he said, “What anchors?”
Leona, Me, and the Laundromat of the Holy Spirit
The wives get their own story.
When we were still new brides, we lived in neighboring apartment buildings so cheap they didn’t have laundry facilities. The boys worked Saturday jobs so we could save up to buy houses, and on Saturdays Leona and I hauled dirty clothes down the street to the Bubble White laundromat.
One Saturday, we were passing the time by talking and laughing, as wives do, about the things our husbands did that made us crazy. After some particularly Lonnie story, I made the mistake of saying, “Well, you married the fool.”
She didn’t talk much for the rest of the day, and she avoided me all week. The next Saturday, she said she was going someplace else and all but shut the door in my face.
I cried so much and felt so bad, I’d have forged Lonnie’s name on a PhD if it could have made it up to Leona for what I’d said.
After another week of the cold shoulder, Tiny said, “I asked Lonnie what’s the matter with Leona, and he said she said Brother Pike said you’re a bad influence and a tool of the devil and you’re trying to break up her marriage. She’s going to some church laundromat.”
“Some church laundromat? What do they use for detergent, the blood of the Lamb?”