stop the press!

dad_relaxing_in_a_hammock_on_fathers_day_0515-1005-1302-0828_SMU_thumb.jpgThe sun was just peeking over the pines when I turned into the drive at Headquarters of the World Problem Solution Society and Coffee Klatch. The windows were down and my foot was tapping to some serious Southern Gospel on Sirius XM 65. All was right with the world. Until I pulled into my parking spot.

My headlights blinded ol’ Walter just as the screen door on the bunkhouse flew open and I saw a wad of bread dough fly through the air and catch Walter smooth in the middle of his forehead. His head went south, his feet went north and he fell to earth with a mighty thud.

That throw would have made Nolan Ryan proud. I’d swear that I saw a bit of a dip and a touch of curve before it plowed into his skull. If it had been anything other than bread dough we would be calling for Life Flight and a Level I trauma center.

All of a sudden Lurlene Sue came charging off the porch in a rage. I threw back my jacket and put my hand on my gun and screamed, “STOP! Don’t make you shoot you, Lurlene Sue. You know the only way to stop a stampede is to shoot the lead cow!”

Her dainty ropers left furrows as she skidded to a halt. She turned to face me, pulled herself up to all five foot two and put her hands on her hips.

“Are you callin’ me a cow, Yakdriver?”

Her voice sucked all of the warmth out of the early morning air.

“Why, no, Lurlene Sue. I’m just sayin’ you’re a one woman stampede just now and I ain’t wantin’ nobody to get maimed or killed.”

She gave me the squint eye and said, “Yak darlin’, I want you to take this fool down to the stock tank and drown him for me while I whip up some more bread dough to make breakfast. Now, run on and do what Lurlene Sue done told ya.”

I took my hat off and said in my most obsequious voice, “Yes, ma’am.”

Walter was still laying at my feet cackling hysterically. I reached down to help him back to his feet. He was still having trouble catching his breath.

“You better come with me, pard. Let’s make it look like I’m at least gonna take you down to the water and minister to you.”

I knew that Lurlene Sue was really ticked when she referred to it as a stock tank instead of a water feature. Her genteel veneer had peeled back to reveal the scrappy east Texas girl she is at heart.

When Walter had calmed down a bit we walked back to the fire ring and sliced us off a cup of his infamous cowboy coffee. We settled back into our chairs and I said, “You want to ‘splain to me what that was all about?”

He had settled from cackling into an occasional giggle and hiccup. He leaned over in a conspiratorial manner and laid it out for me.

“We was vistin’ her folks in Pluck yestiddy and she wanted to stop at the Walmart in Livingston on the way home. While we was there Lurlene Sue found her a big ol’ tortilla press and decided that was just the thing for turnin’ out tortillas when she’s feedin’ the whole bunch of us. So we got it and brought it home.”

“Uh, huh,” I said, feeling that there was more. “That can’t be the whole story.”

“Yak, you ‘member that gal at Villa Sandrino when we wuz in Nicaragua? The one that always sold us the tacos al pastor?”

“You mean that big legged gal with the dirty ankles?”

“Yep, she’s the one. ‘Member how she used to pat out them tortillas on her thigh before she put ‘m on the griddle?”
I remembered that this girl used to push her cart into town from somewhere out in the countryside. She set up her cart in the plaza and made quite a display of raising her multi-colored skirt just a bit to pat out the tortillas on her ample thigh. I always told Walter that we should wait until later in the morning to get breakfast because the first customers would get all the road grime and us Norteños could get a relatively safe tortilla.

“Well, Yak, I went and told Lurlene Sue that story and told her we coulda saved a passel of money if she would just apply that technique when she was makin’ tortillas for us.

“Then she goes and gets all in a huff and asks me if I was sayin’ that she had fat legs. And then she goes and gets all squinty eyed on me and I run out the door. And, well, you seen the rest.”

I did, indeed, see the rest.

A few minutes later Lurlene Sue came out carrying a huge plate of breakfast tacos with all the trimmings. She had frijoles topped with bacon, egg and potato. There was sour cream, guacamole, jalapeños, onions and pico de gallo on the side. In the other hand was an icy glass of orange juice.

She handed me the juice and said, “Yak, honey, are ya feelin’ a bit hungry after yore drive this morning? Lurlene Sue’s done fixed you up a nice breakfast to get yore day off to a good start.”

I gave her my best puppy eyes and said, “Why, thank you, darlin’. I am feelin’ a mite peckish this morning. Thank you for thinkin’ of me.”

“Not at all,” she said. “If that ain’t enough I’ve got a bit more on the stove I can get for you.”

She turned and walked back to the bunkhouse, never making eye contact with Walter.

“Aw, sugar,” he wailed. “Ain’t you got nothin’ for yore ol’ Walter?”

A heavy silence followed the clap of the screen door.

Being good guest, I started spooning all the goodies into my tacos. Walter sat there drooling like a hound dog after a biscuit.

“Ain’t you gonna share a little of that with your pard?”

I looked thoughtfully at him for a minute and then said, “I ain’t the one that said she had fat legs!”

I resumed my work on the tacos.

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