Key West author Reef Perkins shares more of his hilarious book,
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Granny “Floy” Fracas lived on the Fork-Q ranch out east of Pinhole near the end of Old Boheel Road. Granny was eighty-two and had spent her entire life on the Fork-Q. She inherited the spread when her dad died.
Granny remembered a hard life, full of hard hardships and harder hard hardships. When she was young her dad made her walk to school. There was no school.
By the time Granny was twelve, the family owned forty acres of arugula, two chickens, a worm farm and one cow. Then, in 1952, grey wolves were seen in the area. Her dad, old Jumpin’ Bob Fracas, set ten ACME animal traps around the pasture to save their cow. The cow got caught in trap #2 and the wolves, even the old gimpy ones with no teeth sauntered over and gummed on Bessy. Jumpin’ Bob was pissed and, even worse for the wolves, Jumpin’ Bob was a crack shot with a .306.
Granny always told folks how the family ate wolf meat for the next six months. ”Why, me an’ daddy Bob got a lot more meat offa them gamey wolves than we could’ve from that skinny-ass cow.” It was one of her favorite stories and the one she told Blu and Beth when they arrived at the Fork Q, looking for a place to stay while they figured out what to do.
Granny liked the couple and informed them that staying on the farm entailed some work, work that included milking cows.
“You ever milked a cow, son?” Granny asked.
“Yes ma’am, I milked on one of them tits once when I was at a 4H show. It’s where I lost my ear.”
”Oh, you poor thing, let me see.”
Blu leaned forward. Granny grabbed his remaining ear and took him to the floor without getting off of her rocker. It was over before it started.
“You fuck up at Granny’s, you go down. Read me punk?”
“Yes ma’am” Blu tweaked from the dank carpet.
“All right then, Blu, you need to get up at four a.m. and go out and milk them cows. Then we’ll talk about money.”
Granny put them up in the barn and gave Beth an alarm clock and a breath mint. The barn was dark and smelly. The high-pitched noise of fast predators echoed in the dark rafters.
The alarm clock went off at four a.m. Blu got up, brushed some hay off Beth’s tongue, pushed it in, and went to find the milking machine. There were no lights. He worked by feel. It was hard work. It was the Yunger way. Granny said she had six cows. Finally Blu got the rig hooked up. Only five more to go, he thought and flipped the switch. A moaning, like neither he nor anyone else had ever heard, rumbled from the barn. Blu ran outside. A great beastly roar echoed from within, then silence. There was no smoke or vibration.
Granny showed up in her flannel nighty, carrying a 12-gauge shotgun. Beth showed up in her underwear with sling backs on. The trio moved closer and looked inside the barn. They saw a large animal. It was not breathing. “Oh no! That’s Lloyd, my prize fucking bull! Oh no!” Granny screamed. The bull was laid out flat on his back, all four legs in the air. With his head upside down, it looked like he was smiling, his lips were in the dirt. The milking machine sucked uselessly nearby.
“The milking cows are in the back barn, you freaking dip stick! You’re outta here!” Granny roared and fired a warning blast into the air that blew the rooster wind vane off the porch.
It was morning. No place to go.
At the edge of town they flipped a coin, spent twenty minutes trying to find it in the dirt and then started walking eastward along the nearby railroad tracks. Beth’s s made for slow going. After an hour, with the town still in sight, they came across a herd of bony range cattle munching near and on the tracks. The space between the rails held the greenest grass. Blu knew why.
Toot! Toot! Blu and Beth turned to see an ancient locomotive approaching from the west. It was heading for the herd. Ten odd-looking boxcars trailed behind.
Steel wheels squealed and pistons pissed as the old rig lurched to a stop twenty feet from the munching bovines. The famous, low pressure East Coast Raspberry Steam Whistle, bleated wetly for the hundredth time. The cows moved away slowly, but the rude whistle set off a chorus of screeching and hooting inside the fourth car back. Blu looked, “The fourth car is full of monkeys!”
“Stanks, don’t it?” Beth chimed. A hand-painted sign on the side of the boxcar read “Big Mama Dingling’s Fat Ass Circus.”
They looked at each other and simultaneously blurted, “It’s our way out!” Blu said “blurted” nine times; he liked the word’s action, then grabbed Beth’s hand and headed for the caboose. The train began to pick up speed. Blu could see Beth was not going to make it. Damn sling backs! He picked her up and ran toward an open door. With a tremendous heave Blu tossed Beth into the ninth car. He made one last effort to save himself but ran into an iron signal post.
He grasped, gasped and looked up from the painful cinders. The last he saw of Beth, she was being pulled gently into a silver back gorilla’s cage. The silver back eyed a sling back.
“Fakyah!” Blu screamed at the train’s smoky ass. His girl was gone.
Face down in the dirt, Blu remembered the buzzards, old One and Two. He knew it was time to grow up. “Think I’ll take a rain check on that idea,” Blu said quickly to counter the heinous reflection. Suddenly, alone and confused, Blu struggled upright and, after testing the wind, headed east on foot. He reached into his front pocket and patted the remaining wad; we must assume it was the wad, of cash. A small smile escaped his dry Yunger lips.
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About the Author
Captain Mark T. “Reef” Perkins is a marine surveyor with a colorful past. From commanding a 150-foot 300 DWT US Army diving ship off Vietnam to smuggling in the Caribbean, Reef Perkins has become a living legend. A graduate of both the US Army Engineer Officer Candidate School and the US Navy Salvage Officers School, he’s a man comfortable in or out of the water. Raised in rural Michigan, Reef now lives in Key West where he can get his feet wet. He is the author of the bestselling memoir, Sex, Salvage & Secrets.
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Screwed, Blu’d and Tattooed copyright © 2013 by Reef Perkins. Electronic compilation/ print edition copyright © 2013 by Whiz Bang LLC.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. While the author has made every effort to provide accurate information at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their contents.
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