The Billings Outpost

Cadillacs, derringers both have their place

The first three times I went mudslinging with my brand new-20-year-old Ford,  gumbo grabbed my wheels and held me prisoner.

The first time, my brother saved me, pulling me out of the mud with his V8 Dodge. The second time I lifted the car out of the mud with a jack and a half-dozen sandstone pavers.

The third time a combination of corral poles, barbed wire and a shovel liberated my old Ford.

At that point, I was ready to buy an old Cadillac that was for sale. My brother warned me that a single tire for the pride of General Motors would cost me more than the car itself.

Big brother was more than a little disgusted when I ignored his warning and bought the Caddy. I couldn’t help myself. I wanted that car, needed that car and bought that car.

I learned a second lesson much sooner. The Caddy guzzled gasoline like a camel too long on the trail. Even with gas at two bits a gallon, it ate me alive.

I was between cars when I visited my brother in Portland, Ore. We went downtown one night for a bit of innocent fun and serious drinking.

We pub crawled from tavern to tavern. I hardly noticed that our wandering took us closer and closer to Burnside Street. Burnside was definitely not in the high rent district.

Burnside was the city’s old Skid Road, used to skid logs into the mills along the waterfront. It was so tough the sparrows sang bass. I wondered, where was my brother taking me?

My brother was much better behaved than yours truly.  He wasn’t as bright but had a better knack for avoiding trouble. He was no brawler. Yet, he seemed to be leading me into the heart of fistfight alley.

That night, I learned how and why. As we got ready for bed, he pulled a tiny pistol from his pocket and laid it on the dresser. A derringer. My bro carried newfound courage packed in a brass shooting iron.

A gun had escorted us into territory we would not have entered without a gun.  It was like driving an old Cadillac into gumbo country.

My brother with his tiny weapon had caught a case of the stand your ground fever. He wasn’t afraid of any place or anyone as long as he was armed.

He later shot a man with his derringer. Shot him right in the shoulder during a party at my brother’s house. Brother yelled at thy guy to shut up and go home or he would shoot. The party guy didn’t and my brother did.

My brother was arrested, jailed and tried for shooting the guy. The jury found him not guilty. Later, his victim threatened to sue my brother. My brother protested that the jury had let him off the hook. The guy continued to threaten to sue. Brother asked for my advice. I told him he ought to shoot the &%$#* (rhymes with dastard) again.

Later that summer my brother received a summons to report for jury duty. The call to serve mystified him. He had just been tried and they wanted him to try someone else.

I said it was no wonder he was on the jury list. He had experience. His fellow jury members elected him foreman. They thought he was a jolly good fellow and might have taken him pub crawling –- an exercise I would never try again.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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