Human quilt (second square added)

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 26, 2007

…but Hazel certainly maintained control over her husband, a small, beady eyed gentleman who just happened to be first cousin to “Charlie Boy’.”

Charlie Boy was a confirmed bachelor of 45 years with whom the local matchmakers had encountered little success. This was particularly frustrating to Louise Harris, who had single-handedly succeeded in bringing four couples down the aisle of matrimony.

She had an uncanny sense about detecting when a relationship was about to falter and quickly came to the rescue.

Which is more than can be said about her close friend, Nelda, who just talked about it.

To anyone that would listen. When she lowered her voice and whispered the latest gossip, the recipient felt honored that Nelda had bestowed upon them the latest news.

She loved to start her discourse with “Just between you and I…”, or “I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me sharing this with you…”, or “I wouldn’t want this to get out, but…”.

She was one of those people with whom it seemed impossible to share ‘new’ news.

It was no wonder that she was the first to hear about “Hummer”, so named for two reasons.

He was incessantly humming, and his real name was Horatio, which no one wanted to say.

Hummer usually got cars about fourth

hand that smoked and ticked at idle and squealed like a hog when started. The headliner was falling down and the windows whistled and you could spot him coming down the road, for the whole car tilted to the left, for no other reason than Hummer was a tad overweight. Just a tad.

Hummer drove to Norfolk one Saturday night and had transmission problems. It turned out his car would only go in reverse. Hummer commenced to backing home. All fifty miles. He probably would have made it had he not backed through a 25 mph zone going 45 and a policeman ticketed him for speeding. Going backwards.

This news was just too much for Nelda and it seemed everyone knew before Hummer got home. The guys at the store the next morning got a kick out of it. Especially G.R, who loved good stories, including those he could tell. G. R. was heard telling a friend that he had caught 28 fish that morn in the Blackwater River. Fifteen minutes later, he shared with another that he had caught 30.

When questioned about the discrepancy, he replied, “You ain’t much of a fisherman if you can’t catch two fish in 15 minutes.”

That store once closed on a Wednesday and Thursday because the owner drank a little too much Tuesday night and thought it was the weekend.

But people who knew him did not judge too harshly for they also knew his wife, a small but fierce species of the feminine gender. Her complaining started two days after the honeymoon and lasted for 30 years.

One, long, unending complaint about her husband and her husband’s family and her husband’s inadequacies. And through the years, because sporadic peace was better than constant warfare, he gradually surrendered his manhood and turned to his solace, his friend, and eventually his mistress.

For he found no better remedy than the bottle.

Which, unfortunately, gave his betrothed more grounds for disagreement.

Why, she could be heard on a calm night clear across the Souki field at Rufus McCoy’s place.

Now there was an interesting creature, for he….

Rex alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His e-mail address is