Amos and Rocky
by Paul H. Yarbrough

This isn't such a bad story if you got time to listen. Anyway, most of the guys down at the seed store are always trying to get me to retell it and retell it. It's about my old friend Amos and his cousin, Rocky. They weren't such bad guys, just that they were a bit nutty lots of the time. That is, Amos and Rocky, not the guys at the seed store.

Anyhow, one summer about five years ago, Amos and Rocky decided they'd start a bed and breakfast. It seemed to be the rage, as Rocky's bartender, Rayette, had told him; and the two boys could start without almost no overhead. And she told them they ought to make a fortune, as there wasn't any local competition. The only motel in Toxicburg had burnt down five years before after lightning struck the propane tank.

Amos and Rocky decided to call their bed and breakfast the A&R, B&D.

It never occurred to them that the reason no one ever rebuilt the motel was that there weren't no customers in the first place. And the previous owner, a lowlife from Red Oak, Alabama, hadn't been seen since he collected his insurance money. Personally, I was always a bit suspect of the lightning claim, especially since that Red Oak immigrant was a retired doodlebugger and had been accustomed to handling explosives most of his life. But I'm gettin' away from the story.

Anyway, Amos and Rocky bought an old double-wide, cleared out the innards and put up some dividers, making separate rooms, and they filled them with a dozen army cots they bought at the war surplus store over in Newton. They took apart and reassembled a picnic table they had stolen from the National Park over in Scott County for the breakfast table. They then painted the whole dang place Mississippi State Maroon and White and put up a life size cut-out of Dolly Pardon in a bosom-bustin' blouse out by the interstate. They printed two words, “exit” and “here” on each of her endowments. Amos said it didn't have nothin' to do with breakfast or beds, but he thought it added a little class. And also, it should get the truck driver traffic.

Rayette offered to moonlight in the day as sort of a manager, and suggested Amos act as a concierge. That would leave Rocky to the cooking duties. Course, Rocky nor Amos neither, for that matter, could cook dirt in a microwave oven without screwing it up. And I don't know if I mentioned; that was the entire kitchen for the A&R,B&D, a microwave oven.

“When do you think we'll get our first customer?” Rocky said. “Ain't nobody come off the interstate all mornin'.”

“I don't imagine you see much checkin' in in the morning,” Amos reclined in one of the lawn chairs they had set up on the front of the double wide. He reached into the cooler and took out a Miller Lite. “Yeah, we don't need to start really lookin' 'til after noon. But you need to be thinkin' 'bout what the menu'll be this evenin'. After all, Rayette'll be tendin' bar after five o'clock. She won't be here to help out. And the Dutch Bar don't let her go til midnight.”

Rocky took on a puzzled look. He, himself, reached for a Miller, full strength. “Well, this ain't a bed and supper, it's a bed and breakfast. Besides you're the con-see whatever. You need to be findin' them places to eat at night. That's what that book Rayette got us says. You know, Bed and Breakfasting for Dummies. ”

“C-O-N-C-I-E-R-G-E, you dumb ass. She shouda got you the Bed and Breakfasting for Rednecks.

Rocky took a pull on his Miller with one hand, and with great smoothness and aplomb, with the other, shot Amos the bird.

“Well, I'll take care of the concierging, you just take care of the cookin',” Amos said.

About then, Rayette came waddling up to see if the boys were all set. Now, Rayette wasn't such a bad looker in the dim light of a bar at night with some bright red lipstick and four or five pounds of rouge. And she always had her hip hugger jeans riding low enough to reveal her tramp stamp tattoo of a mushroom--Lord only knew why she made such a selection--but in the daylight, in her pull-over, tent-like, day dress and her hair in curlers she wasn't gonna win any beauty prizes. Fact is she's lucky she didn't get shot. But again I'm getting' away from the story.

“Now I heard you boys fussin' all the way across the highway. Now you don't wanna scare your customers off with a lot of bickerin'”

“Hell we ain't got any customers yet. Anyway, this dumb ass ain't got anything planned for supper.” Amos took a pull on his Miller then dropped a light belch. In deference to the lady in attendance, he didn't want to drop one of his thunderbolt belches.

“I ain't supposed to. I'm just supposed to fix breakfast. And, double dumb-ass to you.” Rocky was what you'd call adamant!

Now I need to move the story along a bit, I suppose. Too many details are liable to clutter it and some of them get a little sticky as far as crudeness is concerned. And I've told it so much I get bored with the details.

Now, Rayette was having what they call an ulterior motive for pushing success on Amos and Rocky and their B&D. She had been married three times, none of which had been any great achievement. Her first husband was shot over in Meridian for trying to hold up the Piggly Wiggly. Her second was run over by a moonshiner when he was crossin' the highway one night, and the third just took off for parts unknown. Some say he was so glad to get away from her that he may have even run off to Arkansas. She had now pinned her hopes on the A&R,B&D being a huge success, and she could retire from her bartending duties and move to her trailer down on the Chunky River and live in peace and style.

But the upshot for the afternoon was that Rayette needed to work out a compromise so the boys didn't get drunk and screw the enterprise before it got started. Therefore, she proposed for any new customers, that Rocky fix a nice supper the first night, and after that only breakfast.

Well, I gotta tell ya'll that Rocky remained stubborn at first. However, after about six Millers and Rayette smoothin' him out with her wiles, which she seemed, to Rocky, to have after six beers, Rocky said he would go for the compromise: a single supper for a new customer.

Long about five o'clock, up along the gravel driveway came the sheriffs car with its big whiplash antenna a swayin' and a swingin'. Lenny, the deputy, was always forgettin' to tie it down. Or so he said. I think he just thought it looked important. Anyway…

Lenny got out and opened the back door for a highly polished and finely dressed couple, the woman of which was wearing a diamond ring about half as big as a cell phone and the man wearing a Rolex that reflected more sunlight than the moon. Lenny walked in front of them up to the stoop. “Got a couple of customers for you boys.”

Amos and Rocky looked at each other. They knew that they were in the right business now. Cliental like this had to be high-toting, money-fied, rich people. They surely must have heard about the A&R,B&D. “Well welcome, welcome,” Amos said, unable to suppress a light belch.

“Yes ma'am and yessir, welcome,” Rocky beamed.

“Well, Lenny it's pretty darn good of you to recommend our little bed and breakfast to these travelin' folks,” Amos said. He leaned into Rocky with his elbow and whispered something. Rocky looked down. “Aw, scuse me, folks.” He quickly zipped his pants

For folks on vacation and looking for a place to spend the night they seemed to have the well-known scowl-look. “Well, boys they don't have much choice. They was passin' through on the old highway when some drunk at the Dutch Bar spun out and ran slap into them. Tore that Lexus a new…excuse me folks…tore the fender up so bad the wheel won't move. Had to have it towed over to Bubba's body shop. Gonna take him a couple of days to get to it. I told the Van Asstons here, this is the only place to stay for the night.”

“Well folks come on in. We got a fine section for you. And you can each have your own cot.”

“Cot?” the lady asked.

“Oh, yes ma'am. We feel like anything that was good enough for those boys in Korea is good enough for the A&R,B&D We're gonna make you feel right at home. Yes ma'am, right at home. By the way, where is home?” Amos really laid it on thick.

“Fifty year-old cots?” the gentleman asked.

“To answer your question we are from Santa Barbara. We thought we'd take a cross country trip to our other home in Florida, when we were attacked by some drunken fool in a red pickup truck. A Ford at that,” Mrs Van Asston said.

“Florida huh? Bet y'all are going to Panama City. Me and Amos got a friend over there. Rides on a big Harley. Y'all oughta look him up. Name's Henry. Just ask anybody in Panama City for Henry. He'll show you the best places to go. Boy, he is a hell raiser!”

The two looked at each other like Rocky had farted at a Paris art show. The lady finally spoke. “No, we were going to Palm Beach.”

“Uh, Rocky why don't we get them inside and we'll get 'em something to eat. They're probably bushed a bit,” Amos said.

When the Van Asstons got inside, Amos sat them down at the picnic table and proceeded to offer them a pre-meal wine and snack assortment.

“Now, y'all just set here and enjoy and I'll get some clean sheets for your cots.”

Rocky popped the cap from another Miller and sat down at the end of the table, having placed a dip and platter of crackers in front of their guests. Mrs. Van Asston looked at the presentation as if she were looking at her first cow patty. “Excuse me. What do you call this? It looks like melted butter with flies in it.”

Amos stopped, sheets draped over his arm and smiled, as if he were fixin' to reveal a gourmet delight. “Why that's Rocky's famous mustard and chocolate-chip dip--and the saltines is what you scoop it up with. We got the saltines at the Dollar Store on account of they was past the date-to-be-used. This is a way of cuttin' costs to our special customers.” He beamed. She didn't.

“I see,” Mr. Van Asston said. “And we are, of course, special customers?”

“You bet! Say, Rocky why don't you twist that cap off the wine and let Mr. Van Asston sniff it.”

Before Mr. Van Asston could protest, Rocky had that cap off and under the nose of Mr. James T. Van Asston, III from Santa Barbara, California. His eyed widened like a flashbulb had been shot a foot away. “Well, no doubt about it,” he bellowed. “That's Thunderbird!”

“Now y'all dig in. I just put some sheets in your room. And I put a can of Lysol on top of 'em. Y'all might wanna freshen up.”

The Van Asstons turned to one another and stared.

Now most of the information I got for this story is first hand from Amos and Rocky. But sometimes the passer of information passes it in a way more or less favorable to himself, depending on circumstances, of course. Nevertheless, you can bet the glances the Van Asstons exchanged weren't about honeysuckle happiness. And their glances an hour later didn't improve much at supper when Rocky laid out his microwaved plates of butterbeans and hot spam. The truth is, spam should be placed in a frying pan and cooked at about 15 minutes on medium high. When you microwave it, it kinda curls up like one of them Dutch shoes, and the edges get black. He did give each a Milky Way for dessert.

Sometime during the middle of the night the Van Asstons, apparently, decided that they needed to get on over to Florida. Lenny told me that he found them down at Bubba's, about 2:00A.M., Mr. Van Asston using a ball pin hammer to knock the fender away from the tire. Since it was his own property Lenny couldn't arrest him for nothing, and had to watch the old Lexus pull off into the night, sort of limping on one side.

Rayette was hotter'n a pistol when she drove up to the B&D the next mornin' “You two lame brains let your first customers get away? Are you crazy? Them kind of people that have cars like that got big money.”

Both Rocky and Amos were a bit red-eyed. They had not only finished every Miller in the cooler, but had polished off the Thunderbird. “Well, maybe this isn't our callin', Rayette. By the way, what happened to your truck?” Rayette's pickup truck, red, Ford, had a crushed front fender and smashed out headlight. At least Bubba would make some money on this little adventure.

“Hit a deer.”

Rocky and Bubba took off a few months later. Last I heard they were a few miles outside Chattanooga. Rayette moved to Red Oak and made the low life her fourth husband. She probably's gonna nag him into retiring to the Chunky River--if she don't shoot him first.

Rocky and Amos had taken the insurance money and set up a road-kill taxidermy business. They figured that people who didn't eat what they ran over might want to have it stuffed and saved for their friends. But they didn't want to stay too close to Toxicburg in case some insurance investigator came around curious about two propane explosions caused by lightning in spots so close to one another.

My personal opinion is maybe if the insurance people had done some investigating as to how Toxicburg got its name in the first place, they might not sell insurance here anyhow. But that's another story.

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