by Rocky Macy
I have a menagerie of friends here in Sprung Hinge, and sooner or later you’re going to meet them all. People are just naturally drawn to me, a fact that Judge Rufus T. Redbone blames on my “unmitigated gullibility.” When there’s a dirty job to be done, the word goes out to call Rusty - he’ll help. You’re putting together a goofball scheme, and it’s one goof short – call Rusty. If somebody’s breaking into your house in the middle of the night, it’s Rusty to the rescue!
So with my history of being the town’s most helpful citizen, it was not surprising when Heck Frye showed up on my doorstep last Saturday and asked me to take him to an estate auction over by the county line.
Heck is a retired railroad worker who lives down the lane from me. He is also one of unhandiest individuals in these parts. Heck explained to me that he had been changing the oil in his truck last night and ended up with parts left over. I told him that after the auction I would drive him home and put his truck back together!
(My old pickup, the Rust Bucket, has spun the mileage meter around so many times that I quit counting. Unlike Heck, however, I understand the basics of vehicle maintenance, so the Rust Bucket and I should have many more happy days bouncing along the back lanes of our quiet little community!)
I have two best friends. One, of course, is Heck. The other is Esther Pearl, the owner of the biggest junk store in Sprung Hinge, aptly called “Esther’s Pearls and Swine” because in addition to her endless stock of junk (her “pearls”), Esther also sells smoked hams and Razorback paraphernalia. Esther is the second best fisherman in Sprung Hinge. Modesty prevents me from mentioning the first best!
We had been at the sale long enough for Heck to wander off in search of some wayward waitress. I found an unoccupied lawn chair at the back of the crowd and had just gotten into the rhythm of the auction when I spied Esther working her way toward me through the crowd. She wasn’t too hard to spot, what with a nekkid lady mannequin over one shoulder and a pile of ladies’ clothing over the other.
“Rusty,” she said. “I need you to look after Sue for me. Truman’s been trying to ask her out.”
“Howdy do, ma’am,” I said, tipping my ball cap to be extra polite.
“Shut up, you old fool!” Esther snapped. She put her wide brimmed hat on Sue and began to cover her with the clothing that she had snagged off of a bargain table. “There! That should be enough to keep the drooling fools at bay. I’ve got to get back up front and bid on the costume jewelry and a couple of boxes of dishes.”
“Do you need any help getting your stuff back to the store?”
“My car is getting filled up. Would you mind giving Sue a lift?”
“My pleasure, I'm sure. But…she will have to ride between me and Heck.”
“Sue’s not that kind of girl!” Esther snapped. “Just put her in the back of the truck – by herself!”
As Esther turned and started to make her way back through the crowd, she must have caught one of my errant brainwaves because she suddenly turned and bellowed, “And don’t you even think about tying her to the hood, Rusty Pails!”
Some people just don’t want anyone to have a little fun!
Auction Tip: Set a limit on an item before the bidding starts and then stick with it. Don’t let the excitement of bidding lead you to a purchase that you can’t afford.