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The Headless Horseman

Most Americans know the legend of the Headless Horseman. Most non—Americans probably don’t and it’s just as well. There is no purpose in telling the story again. This is some additional stuff that you may not have heard of.

The Headless Horseman liked to ride around scaring the little kids. They see him and then run home crying and hollering about a guy riding around with no head. to say the least this upset the parents.

“Now, boy, I done told ya not to be tellin no whoppers. This a real whopper. Go wash your mouth out with soap”

“No, paw, it be the truth. I saw—”

“Take a big bite of this here soap”

“But, ugh—”

Then the drunks at the tavern started telling stories about a headless guy coming in and drinking. He’d set at the bar with no head and point to the whiskey. He’d pick up the glass and put it into his little bag. Then he’d tap the bar for another drink. The barkeep didn’t care if he had no head as long as he paid for the whiskey.

The drunks would go home and tell mama about some headless drunk. The wives got real concerned and complained to the preacher. The preacher began a series of hellfire and damnation sermons about demon rum. The drunks didn’t get that one. The headless guy drank whiskey not rum. Still, the pressure was on.

All the local businessmen were upset. This Headless Horseman scaring the little kids and upsetting the wives of the drunks and setting off Pastor Mr. Black was bad for business. They went to the sheriff and complained.

“Let me see if I’ve got this right. There’s a headless guy riding around and drinking in the tavern. You get this from little kids and drunks. Have I got it right?”

“Yes. What are you going to do about it. There’s an election coming up, you know”

That was different. If the sheriff lost the election it was back to the pig farm. He said he’d find the headless guy and do something about it. The business community accepted that. They did say it needed done before the election or else the new sheriff could do it.

The sheriff checked with all the little kids to see where they’d been seeing the headless guy. He watched the tavern, hoping to catch him coming in for a drink. He couldn’t find him. The headless guy must have gone on the wagon. Maybe the sermons got to him although the sheriff thought it must have been hard to hear them with his head in a bag.

As the sheriff was locking up one night he saw the Headless Horseman. There he was riding up the street with no head. The sheriff hadn’t had a drink but wished he had of. A headless guy.

“Hey, you. You with no head, come over here”

“What?.” the Headless Horseman asked the sheriff.

“For starters, put your head on your shoulders when you talk to me. This is creepy”

“There’s no law says I have to have a head on my shoulder. This is America. I’m a free man. I can ride around with no head on if I want. There’s nothing you can do about it”

“Well, yes there is. I can shoot you..”The sheriff pulled out his revolver. The headless guy looked at the sheriff. No, he didn’t. His head was in a bag. He just believed the sheriff was going to shoot him. Reluctantly, the Headless horseman pulled his head out of the bag and put it in his shoulders.

“Why, shoot, it’s you, Pastor”




The Rum Ration

“Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum.” This old English sea chanty is what really made England a world power for two hundred years. There has to be a reason that a small island off the coast of Europe could subdue so much territory. It was rum, just rum.

In order to keep their sailors happy, the British Admiralty issue a daily ration of rum to all it’s sailors. They liked this idea. They hated being in the British Navy, what with the hard work, the lashings, and the being shot at from time to time. The rum was the key.

“Your Majesty.” the councilor said to his regent,“we have not enough men to man our ships. Perhaps if we paid them more, Sire?”

“Your Majesty.” the councilor said to his regent,“we have not enough men to man our ships. Perhaps if we paid them more, Sire?”

“Pay them more? I didn’t know we were paying them. No one ever tells me crap around here. Maybe I ought to cut off a few heads. No, no more money”

“Sire, you are correct, as always, Sire. Perhaps we could give them so other form of incentive?”

“You’re a real suckbutt, you know that? That’s why I keep you around. No, I think we need something to keep the sailors under control. Tell you what, let’s keep them half drunk. Yea, that’d do it. Issue some cheap gin to them. Make it so.”

“Sire, if I might make a suggestion?.” the councilor asked.

“OK, but it better be good. I haven’t had anyone beheaded for a while”

ship

“Sire, rum is cheaper. Let’s make it rum”

“Make it so”

That’s the real reason that the British warships were such monsters. That’s the real reason the wharves were built so sturdy. The British Navy was lucky to be able to put to sea at all. The ship would start to turn into the outgoing tide and bang against the wharf. The sailors would laugh and giggle. The Captain would bellow and fume. The First Mate would scream and threaten and lay about with the lash. The sailors didn’t even care.

Eventually the ship would reach the high seas, so to speak. Now came the adventurous part. The adventure was trying to cross the deck without slipping and falling in the vomit. The sailors were all hanging over the rail hoping to die. The ship would roll, the sailors would barf, and the British Navy was on it’s way to glory.

The daily rum ration would keep the sailors quiet and obedient. It didn’t make them drunk enough to fight. The Admiralty solved this problem by announcing that the pirates kept huge quantities of rum on board. The men could divvy it up. Talk about fighting men! The British sailor was the best fighter in the world when rum was at stake. It got so that the smart pirates would toss barrels of rum overboard when spotted by the Navy. That stopped the chase dead in it’s tracks.

Here comes a single British warship into a harbor in Africa. There they were, 100 sailors. opposed by a million natives. The sailors were drunk as skunks. The natives weren’t. The sailors won every time. The natives never figured it out. They spear, stab, kick, gouge, and generally do all sorts of mayhem to these guys and nothing stopped them. They didn’t know that the sailors were past the stage of feeling anything.

“Say thar, matey, do you know ye have a spear in ye leg?.” one sailor would say to another.

“Well, how do ye suppose that got thar. Would ye like to buy it?”

A woman in every port. So they say. The sailors weren’t too sure it was a woman and, frankly, were past caring. Besides, the women looked exactly like the men in most of the ports. A few additional drinks and it just didn’t matter.

“Say, are you a man or a woman?.” the sailor would ask his companion.

“What do you want me to be?, came the reply.

“Why, a woman, mate”

“Then, I am”

The way to make a British sailor mad was to be a pirate carrying something besides rum. The sailors would demand that these pirates be hanged by the neck until dead. Then, they’d drink the wine or brandy or whatever. They’d drink it but wish it were rum. Stupid pirates.

You’d run into the occasional Captain who was a teetotaler and demanded the same of his men. That would not make the sailors happy. The Captain would announce that,“I don’t care. I don’t believe that a happy ship is a good ship..”Those Captains rarely made it back to port. They simply disappeared some night. Then the men got drunk...to drown their sorrow, of course.

The rum ration made the gunnery officer, Lt. Bingmapton—Smythe—Wellington, have to work a lot harder. He get orders to prepare to engage an enemy ship. He ordered the gun crews to aim for amidships. Then they’d start.

“Which ship, sir?”

“Which one, Lt. Bingmapton—Smythe—Wellington, sir?”

Which one? There only is one. Don’t try that on a sailor in the Royal British Navy. They know there’s more than one. So the guns would fire on both ships. The Captain, looking on from the bridge, would see shots tear into the enemy ship. He’d also see shots see into the empty water fore and aft. Well, the Captain thought, this is one sorry gunnery officer and his report would reflect such.

The first thing the Captain did in the morning was to check to see which way the flag was hanging. Not to tell wind direction. To see if it was hanging right side up. It wasn’t always. The blighters didn’t always get it right the first time. Sometimes, not the second time. The Captain has been known to run the colors up himself.

Run out of rum? You might as well surrender to the nearest enemy ship. The sailors would be on the verge of mutiny when that happened. Many a British warship had returned to port to replenish supplies.

“Aye, Lt., what would ye be needin.” sir?”

“Twenty barrels of rum”

“Aye, sir. What else?”

“That’s it. Twenty barrels of rum and wipe that smirk of your face or feel the lash”

The preachers were opposed to the practice altogether. They ranted and raved in their pulpits against the practice of issuing a daily rum ration. They called it the“devil’s work.” That explains why the British Navy didn’t have chaplains on board their ships. They tried it once and the casualty rate was unacceptable. The few that made it back to port were defrocked for drinking.

The idea of a rum ration came from Christopher Columbus. His men weren’t about to sail off the edge off the ocean. Columbus gave them enough rum that they would not only sail off the edge, they’d try to. That’s how he could stay westward bound long enough to discover the route to India. He didn’t but that’s because he drank rum too.

The Spanish issued a wine ration to their sailors. Wine is fine but rum it ain’t. That’s why the Spanish Armada went down. Wine. Good wine is no match for good rum, or even bad rum. The average British sailor wouldn’t know the difference or care.

The end of the British Empire occurred on April 23, 1943. That’s the day the British Admiralty stopped the daily issue of rum.

 


Crazy

There are people in this world who are just plain crazy. Not locked up in a rubber room crazy. Just plain crazy. They do things normal people don't do. Therapists say ,”What is normal?” Well, if they don't know they shouldn't be in that profession. Right?

Yellow jackets are mean little creatures. It's their nature to be mean. Bother one and it goes and gets all it's buddies and come looking for you. Unlike those sissy bees, it doesn't kill itself to sting you. It stings as many times as it wants too. And it wants to a lot. You don't bother yellow jackets.

Unless you're crazy.

Crazy is finding a nest of them in the yard and bothering them with things like sprays. The spray works as it should. It just doesn't work quickly enough. It works after they sting you. Over and over. Only a crazy person would spray a yellow jacket. Sneak up on them at night with a can of gasoline and a match. Don't use a lighter. Do that and you're going up with them.

Crazy is trying to pet a Rottweiler, even if he's yours. Rottweilers don't have any sense of ownership. They see a hand and they take it off up to the elbow. Take a look around at all the one—armed Rottweiler owners. That's crazy.

Crazy is catching a rattlesnake by the tail and swinging him. Great fun. Don't miss. Miss and your dead. Some people do this as a hobby! Why not just jump off a cliff and be done with it? This is crazy.

Crazy is marrying a woman who bosses you around while you're dating. Marrying her isn't going to change that. Why do guys do this? Yea, they're crazy but they are the very ones we should be locking up. Why would a woman marry a guy who asks if she sure it's his? What does she think he thinks of her? Crazy.

Crazy is thinking you can beat the system. You can't. The system is set up like a Vegas gambling house. They don't care how much you win. They only care about how much you lose, which is everything. You know it and try to beat the system anyway. Crazier and crazier.

The craziest thing is any parent talking to their teenager. In the first place you wouldn't understand a word you heard. if you did, you'd lock that teenager up in his or her room. Not knowing is a lot better. Otherwise you'll end up crazy. that's crazy.




Fetching

”This here be one smart dog”, Paulie told Sammy. ”Watch this. Sit! Sit, dog! Sit!”

”Paulie, that there dog already be sittin'. What be so smart about this?”

”Wahl, he didn't stand up did he? That seem a bit smart to me.”

”Huh? Why, if I was to shoot 'em, he'd roll over and play dead. Wahl, not play, he'd be dead. It'd be his last trick but it would be somepin' to see.”

”What you mean, shoot mah dog. You shoot mah dog, I shoot yourn.” Paulie was gettin' riled up some.

”Ha! I ain't got no dog. Ain't thet much a threat.”

”Yea, maybe I shoot you wife. Not kill 'er just maim 'er a bit.”

”Ha! Agin, ha! She was borned maimed. Iffen yah was to shoot her would make no difference no how. My wife's smarter that thet there dog, I'll tell ya.”

”Yea, can she fetch?” Paulie was gettin more and more riled up.

”Danged tootin'. She fetches me mah supper and fetches me mah beer. Your dog do thet?”

”Wahl, no, he don't. Want to trade your wife for mah dog and, say, one a mah trucks?”

”Iffen it runs.”

”You drive a hard bargain, Sammy. Must be somethin' wrong with your wife. This here dog don't be thet smart.”

”Wahl, mah wife fetches mah supper like I says. Only, you can't hardly force it down. When she fetches mah beer, she drinks half of it first.”

”You tried to con me. No deal.”




Maitre'd

When Jimmy“Little Jimmy.”Colinero was looking for a way to wash some of his hot money he came upon the idea of buying a French restaurant. Who knows why. He wanted a nice place and a no nonsense place. He hired Frankenstein as his maitre’d. There was going to be no nonsense here.

“ Yes, sir, can I be of service tonight?.”Pretty good. Frankenstein had the phrasing down pretty good. He even smiled. It was still the sort of smile that could cause you to wet your pants if you saw him in a dark alley. But here?

“ I have a reservation for four for eight.” the man said.

Reservation for four for eight? This was a bit more than Frankenstein could handle. Math wasn’t one of his strong points. Neither was thinking. No one had run this one past him. So, he fell back on his nature which wasn’t all that good. He looked at the man and calmly told him,“Get out of here before I rip your head off and go bowling with it”

“ Now, see here, my good man, I have a reservation and I—”

“I think I could bowl a 250 with that head”

The fur—laden woman called her waiter over to complain about a fly in her soup. She was indignant to say the least. The waiter decided to call Frankenstein over. Let him take the heat. It was his job. Frankenstein listened to what the lady said. He saw the fly in the soup. He didn’t see the problem. The fly was pure protein. Protein was supposed to be good for you. Added a little different flavor as well. He told the lady all this. She demanded another bowl of soup, without a fly.

“Eat the soup, lady”

“ I most certainly will not, you barbarian”

Oh, oh. Not a smart thing to say. She may be used to getting her own way and talking down her nose at the hired help, but this was Frankenstein. He was really used to talking down to people. He gave the woman a few seconds to reconsider and then poured the soup down her throat.

“Will Madame be having dessert?”

When the waiter brought the bill to the table the guy added it up and calmly told the waiter that they added it up incorrectly. The waiter decided this was a responsibility of the maitre’d. Frankenstein looked at the bill. Math wasn’t his strong point. He decided that the bill was probably incorrect. Darned if he could add it up though. He thought he’d be nice about it. No threats. No violence. Be Mr. Smileyface.

“Pay the bill”

“No, the bill is incorrect. Please have the proper bill brought over, thank you”

The proper bill? What kind of talk was that. Proper. No one actually talked like that. Was this guy making fun of Frankenstein? Was this guy suicidal? Well, he didn’t want a disturbance. He picked the guy up by the throat, picked his wallet out, took a wad of money, gave it to the waiter, and told him to keep the rest as a tip. He gave the guy a glare to prevent any further discussion.

Yes,“Little Jimmy.”thought things were going well. No complaints from the patrons at all. Hiring Frankenstein was a smart move. Guess he wasn’t as dumb as Pop thought he was. Or as he looked. This was a very good idea.

The waiter brought out the Cherry Flambe. It was a chef’s special. The waiter loved this stuff. Holding a flaming tray above his head as he walked through the dining area. All the patrons would look at the sight. It was, in it’s own way, spectacular.

“Fire! Fire!.” Frankenstein bellowed. He panicked and ran amok. Tables went flying and so did patrons. So did the waiter with the Flambe. The curtains went up next. Everyone was moving now. What a mess.

Pop looked at Jimmy. Jimmy looked at Pop.

“Jimmy, you’re even dumber than I thought. You’re even dumber than you look”




Poor Starving Artist

Henny was your typical starving artist. He lived in a cold water flat in Queens. He has two sets of clothes. He wore then both in the winter since the heat was a hit and miss affair. He doesn’t make a lot of money and he doesn’t get a lot of respect as in none. Henny thinks he has great talent. He’s pretty much alone in that thinking.

Henny does have a girlfriend, Susie. Susie isn’t a fellow artist as you would suppose. She knows she has no real talent beyond waiting on tables. She’s very good at that. Her tips make the difference between Henny eating and really starving. Henny is also a leech.

“Henny, don’t you think you ought to get some kinda job?”, she’d say.“Maybe just a little somethin’ part—time like.”

“No. A job would interfere with my creative process. What would I do if I got a good idea and I was working? No, that won’t do. Baby, my ship will come in. You just wait and see”

So far Henny’s creative process had gotten him one, count them, one showing. It was a second rate art galley in a third rate neighborhood. The people in the area didn’t rate at all. Some of them spent their entire lives in a drunken haze. It was that kind of neighborhood. On the other hand it was the only offer Henny had been given. He jumped on it like a fish after a fly. The fish didn’t know the fly was tied to a hook.

“Henny.” the art gallery owner, Fred Dubray, said,“ there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest in your work. Most of these people are my regulars. They aren’t buying any of your stuff”

“Stuff!? This isn’t stuff. This is art. I’m an artist. These people wouldn’t know art from, from their butts”

“Hey, man! Don’t speak of my customers that way. They have the right to be gay if they want”

“Gay? What do I care about gay. They don’t have any taste. Jeez, I can’t picture any guy being attracted to you. I can’t picture a girl being attracted to you either.“

“Out!! Take your junky, worthless, no talent paintings out of my gallery and never darken my doorstep again, you bigot”

Darken my doorstep. That’s how the artsy type talk. Gays don’t talk like that except for the artsy gaysy type.

Henny struggled on with his work. He was determined to paint the perfect picture. He would wow the world one day, if he didn’t starve to death first or freeze to death or get beaten to death by an angry gay man. If any of that happened it’s probably the most famous thing that will happen to Henny.

Henny’s dad was proud of his son. Not Henny, his other son. The one who went to college and learned how to do something useful such as earning a living. Henny mom was proud of both of her boys although Henny did seem to,“make some pretty pictures. It would be a good hobby”

Henny loved his mom but what did she know about art? She has a velvet Elvis on the wall. Now, that’s creepy. Even Henny’s dad thought so. He figured that was where Henny got his cockamamie idea from. That was also another reason that Henny couldn’t talk to his dad. That and him going along with naming him Henniman after his mom’s maiden name. Even worse was calling him Henny.

“Well.” his dad would say,“what can you expect from a guy called Henny”

“Dad, Henny was your idea!.”

“Henny is no name for a guy.” his dad would go on to say.

“Dad! Henny isn’t a name for a guy or a girl or anything else.”

“Yea, it that anything else I worry about the most”

“Jeez, dad, I’ve got a girlfriend!.”

“So?.”

Susie was getting antsy. She didn’t want to wake up some day. past her prime, still with a struggling artist. Susie suspected that Henny was never going to make it. She didn’t want her biological clock to run out. She didn’t want to wait until it was too late to find Mr. Right. She didn’t want to waste her best years. She didn’t want to end up old and poor. She was considering making a move of her own. There was this one guy who came into the diner who could be her ticket out of poverty. He was going to go to California and become a professional surfer. Susie didn’t even know there were professional surfers. He said he’d take her with him if she paid half the expenses.

Susie was seventeen years old.

Henny did luck out with his landlord. The place he was renting was a piece of crap but it was cheap. Cheaper still if you didn’t pay the rent very often like Henny. His landlord was a ninety—two year old woman who was more blind than not. She did like his art. She was fond of colors when they were bright and numerous. That describes Henny’s work to a tee. Bright, very bright.

“You know, Henny.” she told him once,“if I’d known you were a painter I wouldn’t have rented to you. I thought you were a painter painter not an artist. Can’t understand why you can’t sell them with all the colors you use”

Henny feared he would die up there in his apartment. Either he’d starve or he’d freeze. No one would find him for months. His landlord would tell his parents what a beautiful corpse he was, all colorful when he was ripe.

Henny just sighed as he went back to work on his latest canvas,“ Death Visits.” He slapped some black paint on to represent Death and some yellow to represent movement. Then, to make his landlord happy, he threw on some green, blue, and red. Lots of red.



copyright© Don Roble 1999—2015

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