Posted 07-25-2004 at 08:51:06
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Hi all, Been reading New-Gens's stories about Norm and Cliff and it prompted me to write about a fellow from my past. So, here's my storay about........
Itís way yonder outside of my humble ability to describe Homer. But, Iíll make an attempt. First off, Homer was not an easy man to figure. He was so complex in his demeanor as to defy any of the usual forms of comparison. For, he was everything to everybody depending on his mood at the moment. For, he could be as accommodating as a saint and at other times, he could be as stingy and covetous as a cold hearted banker. But, even on his good, bad or so-so days, Homer always maintained a smile on his face. If he was feeling good, he naturally smiled. And, if he was feeling not so good, he smiled to cover whatever was disturbing him at the time. So, from facial features alone, one could never tell what Homer had on his mind.
Now, Homer liked to play poker. And, when ever it would rain, some of us who were salaried had to stay on the road construction job until regular quitting time. Well, during those extremely boring days, and for want of something to do, weíd play poker as we waited out the clock. Of course, homer was paid hourly and would only receive the standard show-up time of two hours. Sometimes, if the weather was iffy, the Super would hold the men at the site to see if it would clear off. On other occasions, it would be raining so severe as to allow for an early release. When that happened, Homer and the other hourly paid employees could leave almost as soon as they arrived. But, those of us who were considered privileged, had our privilege rammed down our throats and was told to remain in case an emergency came up.
There were things you just had to like about Homer. Manly, he was a man who took pride in the way he dressed, Usually, he wore cotton twill work trousers and cotton print shirts. And, they were always starched and he never wore the same outfit two days in a row. Even in winter he would dress in fresh starched clothes every day. Another thing one was compelled to admire about Homer was that he was always clean shaven. Further, it is beyond me how he managed to accomplish it, but he looked nearly as fresh at the end of the day as he did early in the morning. Whatís even harder to understand was, Homer never sweated. Youíd think that a Grade Checker, working on a highway construction project would naturally get dirty. For, even with a water truck wetting down the grade, the movement of scraper pans, dozers, motor graders and rollers stirred up a billow of dust that could be seen for miles . And, there was Homer, right out there in the middle of all that dust and activity working all day long ahead of the road grader; gauging the depth of the sub grade below the taut string which was pulled across the road bed. And, all the while never sweating enough to cause the dust and grime to adhere to his clothes.
In addition to his appearance, Homer took great pride in his car. He was so concerned about keeping it clean, he would never drive it onto the construction area. Rather, he would park it at the furthest point away from where the work took place. Many times during lunch break, Homer could be seen polishing on his 1963 Ford Galaxy. And, he loved to tell how he came to acquire such a beautiful car. It seems that some fellow had bought it new off the show room floor and took sick and died a year later. Well, his widow left the car parked in the garage for a period of two years as she went through her mourning period. Then, she hired Homer to help her dispose of her late husbands belongings. In addition to payment, she gave many of her husbandís things to Homer.
So, quite naturally, Homer inquired as to what she was going to do with the car. Sell it, was her reply. Seizing upon the moment, Homer asked How much. Now, as it were, the woman was wealthy and money was not a priority with her. So, she said, I donít know, what do you think it is worth. So, Homer with his devious mind and flashy smile lied when he told the woman that heíd seen one like it for sale in the paper and the owner was asking $800.00. The lady, not realizing that the car was worth several times that amount sold it for the aforementioned sum.
Now, to set the scene for what eventually happened, I have to bring on my buddy Richard. Richard worked for me as a survey rod man. And, as help goes, he was a better than fair hand to have on the team. But, some things came up missing at the yard where we worked and Richard was blamed. He denied having any part in the theft and I for one believed him. But, Homer put a bug in the Superintendents ear and while he never exactly accused Richard, he made it known that he had seen Richardís car near the site on the night of the theft. Well, the Super, like most Supers, prompted his brain to spring a leak thereby allowing all sense of reasoning to rush out and dispel in an atmosphere of wrath. So, he ranted and raved and made all sorts of accusations and threatened to fire Richard. Fortunately, another man who worked on the job stepped up and exonerated Richard by pointing to the man that had actually done the stealing. So, the thief was fired, Richard kept his job, the super fell all over himself with apologies, and all was well. Except that Richard never quite forgave Homer for his part in the whole affair.
It was during one of those rain day poker games that homerís other side shone the brightest or dimmest depending on which side of the light you were standing. To better explain, you have to understand the conditions of the time. Now, the way we played Nickel-dime poker, the anti was a nickel and the bet was a dime with a quarter raise. And, each player was limited to only two raises. So, if the first man bet a dime and the second man called the bet and raised a quarter, and each succeeding man raised a quarter, and the raising went around the table twice each time a card fell, the pot would grow. And, when youíre playing seven card, sometimes the pot was worth a righteous amount.
Such was the case this day when about six of us were playing. Homer was dealing and I was holding a winning hand. Of course, I hadnít discounted the possibility that someone might have a better hand but I knew something about the odds and I felt comfortable with the cards I had been dealt. I had the makings for a straight flush showing with the clincher buried. All I was waiting for was the last card to fall so I could do some serious betting. Well, now comes Homer. Mr. meticulous---Mr. no sweat---no dirt---clean finger nails---never anything out of place, Homer. And, what do you think he does? That scumbag places everyoneís card face down until he comes back to himself and he deliberately flips it face up and immediately declares a misdeal. A lot of shouting threatening and screaming followed but the result was that the misdeal stood and the pot remained on the table as the cards were re-dealt. Again, the pot started to grow. But, by the third card I saw that my hand was fast taking on the appearance of a foot so I folded. In the end, Homer won the pot. Now, I could take losing the pot but I had a hard time accepting his remarks that followed. Youíd a had that pot if it hadnít a been for that misdeal he said with a smirk. So, right then and there I decided, old boy, youíre going to get yours. I donít know when, but when it happens you will see who smirks longest.
Well sir, it was during the Christmas Holidays that Richard and I were out riding around one evening. Now as young single men were apt to do in those days, we were on the prowl for women. And, we came across two young ladies at a place called the Big Falls Inn. As the four of us sat at a table drinking beer, Richard said, do you want to have some fun. Naturally, the girls and I said yes. So, he says, come along, well go pay Homer a visit. Homer, by the way was pulling weekend night watchman duties at the construction trailer. So, we left the bar and headed toward the site. As we neared the place we came to a supermarket. Richard told me to pull into the parking lot and he went in the store. After a short while he returned and we proceeded to the construction site.
When we arrived Richard said to me, take the women and go on inside, I have to make a nature call. Once inside, I introduced the girls to Homer and offered him some liquid cheer for the holiday season. He declined the offer by saying he couldnít drink on duty but that weíd all get together before Christmas down at the hotel and have a drink or two. Now, I noticed that Homer was making a hard play to impress the girls and they had been cautioned to beware of his womanizing. So, they played the game to the hilt. They cooed and cuddled him and planted soft kisses on his cheek. By the time Richard came in ole Homer was beside himself as one of the ladies sat on his lap and coaxed him to share a drink with her. And, as I recall, she was a girl any man would find attractive.
A few minutes later, Richard announced that we should leave. That we had only stopped by so he could say Merry Christmas to his old friend Homer. So, we left the place and headed back to the Big Falls. After weíd been there for a while, Richard suggested I call Homer and ask him to come and pick us up. Tell him the car broke down and we need a ride. I immediately asked, what did you do to Homerís car. And, Richard replied, I just forced Limburger Cheese into the radiator of his heater. And, then he laughed. Wait until it heats up and good ole Homerís car will stink to high heaven. Needless to say, I made the call, and Homer said, Iíll be right down. We then load into the car and drove to another bar.
Later, after we had allowed Homer time to get to the Big Fall, look around for us, Scratch his head and wonder, then drive back to the trailer, we called him a second time. When he answered the phone I says, Homer what happened to you? Get on down here and pick us up. Itís cold out here, the girls have left with some guys with a car that runs and they wonít let me and Richard back in the bar cause of a ruckus Richard started, I lied. All Homer said was................you sons of bitches........what did you do to my car?