By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
I’d been helping Chip round up his small herd of Hereford heifers who’d found – or made – yet another hole in their fence. I don’t ride a horse, and I’m not much of a cowboy on a four-wheeler, either, but I can stand by the fence and holler and wave my arms and stomp the ground with the best of ‘em.
We stopped off at Chip’s house to bandage the worst of his scrapes and scratches from going through the woods at night and an ice pack where one beef with a beef against him had registered her opinion as a swift kick to Chip’s left thigh.
As his wife, Nan, was doctoring him, he started telling me about Otto’s new old vehicle.
“It’s a 1965 International three-quarter-ton,” Chip said. “Like him, it doesn’t hit on all cylinders. I call it his hiccup truck.”
Chip had found that Otto was planning to use the truck, newly fit with a lift gate, in a new venture – a route of soft drink machines in workplaces, sharing a part of the proceeds with the business owner. One line of dispensers would be built to normal standards, while another would be virtually break-in-proof.
“I helped him pick his company name,” Chip said.
I was contemplating a matching swift kick to Chip’s right thigh but let him say what he was bound to say.
“It’s ‘Popportunity,” he said. “And the theft-proof line is ‘Popportunity Knox.’”
A few seconds later, Chip started telling me about his latest plumbing repairs as though he thought I might actually be interested. The external lever that activates the flushing mechanism on his toilet had broken, and rather than spend $10 and 10 minutes on a new kit, he spent hours trying every clamp and every adhesive he could think of. Finally, Super Glue did the trick.
“That stuff was the handle’s messiah,” he said.
I tried to leave, but Nan needed my help to hold the last bandage in place while she went after some more Super Glue – er, first-aid tape.
The room was silent for all of 4.7 seconds before Chip started relating another recent excitement at his house. Nan had been taking care of Otto’s nephew Oliver one afternoon while Chip was out running errands, and when Otto called to check on the boy, Nan reported that the child had had an enjoyable playtime and was now sleeping.
Otto saw Chip a few minutes later at Arthur’s and mentioned Oliver’s rest, but his statement spurred Deputy Dave, who was sitting at the table, to call for backup and to head, lights ablazing and siren screaming, toward Chip’s and Nan’s.
I hated to encourage him, but curiosity compelled me to ask what Otto had said to raise such an alarm.
“You know how literally he thinks,” Chip said. “It never occurred to him there could be a problem saying in the presence of law enforcement, ‘There’s been a kid napping at your house.’”
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at firstname.lastname@example.org.