by Newt Harlan
Willie Ray Ramsey, a local barber and resident of Bracero Villas, the mobile home section of Basura Blanca Estates, made an appearance on the six o'clock news on TV last Tuesday.
As we all know, this is the time of year we are visited by those pesky tree roaches a lot of us refer to as "bull cockroaches." Willie Ray, being a bachelor, isnít overly fond of washing dishes, taking out trash and doing those other household chores necessary to maintain a house relatively free from these pests. He figured since the clutter didnít really bother him, his once a week visit from the cleaning lady was sufficient.
This line of thinking, combined with the natural attraction for roaches of the remnants from his hobby of making home brew beer and moonshine whiskey, created a nirvana for bull cockroaches and Willie soon found himself overrun with the critters. The last straw was when they started eating the Milky Way candy bars he kept for snacking during the wrestling matches.
Monday morning when his barbershop was closed, he went down to "Huberís Hardware" to load up on exterminating supplies. Hubie told Willie that it wasn't necessary to buy a bunch of chemicals, that there was this new "Bug Bomb" that would rid him of roaches in one easy application. Together they read the directions that said one container would do 700 square feet. Doing a little calculating, they determined that Willie's 14x70 mobile home would need two bombs. After a momentís thought, Willie Ray decided that he had an extra heavy infestation and since he really hated those damned bugs, he'd just take a dozen cans and do a really good job.
Willie went home and spent the rest of the day moving furniture, sealing windows with duct tape, opening cabinets and drawers, and getting everything ready for the big extermination day. After finishing all his chores, he ordered in an extra large, super-deluxe pizza and spent the evening eating pizza and watching the wrestling matches.
Up bright and early the next morning, he strategically placed his bombs, set them off and quickly exited the house. He stopped at the corner store for his morning coffee and went on down and opened the barbershop. Judge Alvis Porter, the regular first customer every Tuesday morning, had just settled in, and Willie Ray was lathering him up for a shave.
All of a sudden there was a tremendous explosion. The shop windows rattled and bottles on the shelves clanged together. The judge jumped from the chair and ran to the door saying, "Ohmigod, it's the terrorists." Willie Ray ran after him and they got outside just in time to see a mushroom cloud rising over in the direction of Bracero Villas.
The judge wasn't real familiar with the emergency band radio in his car, but he and Willie fiddled with it while they waited for the train to pass. They heard snippets of conversation between the emergency crews -- "everything's gone" --"hope no one was home" -- "man, look at all that stuff hanging from the trees."
After what seemed an eternity, the eighty-seven cars of the freight train, moving at 30 miles per hour, finally passed. As soon as the last car passed, the judge had the car in gear, drove around the gates, and they were on their way again. They could see all the red lights flashing up ahead and Willie Ray remarked, "That's mighty close to my place," and as they pulled up to the scene he said, "Hell's bells, Judge, it looks like that there's my place."
As they jumped from the car and rushed to the perimeter of the scene, Willie Ray discovered that it was his place. Where his mobile home formerly stood was an area of scorched ground about 30x80 feet, surrounded by smoking remnants of things that faintly resembled refrigerators, washing machines, TV sets and other appliances. The storage shed containing the brewing and spirits operations had completely disappeared.
The fire chief, sheriff, and county arson investigator, trailed by newsmen and cameramen, walked up to Willie and the judge. They questioned Willie about the blast, and Willie told them about setting off the "Bug Bombs" before he left that morning. That was all the arson man needed to hear. He asked Willie, "Did you remember to turn off the pilot light on your water heater?"
That night on the six o'clock news on both stations, there stood Willie and the judge, who still had the barber's cape around his shoulders and traces of shaving lather here and there on his face. Willie Ray looked somewhat shell-shocked as the talking heads stuck their microphones in his face and asked the standard question, "How does it feel to lose everything like this?"
Willie Ray scuffed his toe in the dirt, spat a little snuff juice, and said, "Well, I hate like hell losing my place, but it's insured, and at least I'm rid of them damned roaches."
Newt tells us about himself:
I was born, raised and educated in Texas. With the exception of a few brief sojourns and the 4 years during the Vietnam Era that I spent riding around on airplanes courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, I've spent the more than 65 years of my life within spittiní distance of the place where I grew up. I managed to cram a four-year college degree into nine years and by virtue of that remarkable feat, I am a former student of six different schools, which sure helps the odds of rooting for a winner in sporting events. The academic standards committee had a moment of weakness and I was the fortunate recipient of a degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
I've been married for 30-some odd years and have beaucoup kids and grandkids. I'm now retired after having spent the better part of the past 37 years traveling around Texas, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast areas of Mississippi and Alabama, trying to sell steel products. My hobbies, in no particular order, include writing, grandkids, hunting, fishing and visiting the local watering hole to swap honest lies and research material for stories.
Want to read more of Newtís stories at USADEEPSOUTH? Click these links:
Olí Red and the Armadillo
Telephones and memories
Tastes like chicken
That's Entertainment . . . Fifties Style!
Belly Waddin' Lunch
Read many more great stories listed on our USADS Articles pages.
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