A couple of weeks ago I was in the woodlot sawing up an oak that had recently pitched over. I brought Fred and his pack saddle to help carry firewood to the truck I’d left nearby. He was a little nervous, being away from the other mules, and proceeded to try and rub his panniers off against the nearest available tree. I’d brought a bucket of sweet feed and other mule treats along. These calmed him while he was horfing them, but as soon as he’d finished, he was back to crying for the other mules and pacing back and forth on his lead.

I fought him long enough to get two loads of firewood back to the truck, and was unloading the third when one of the homunculi from nearby Slough of Despond Mobile Home Park began shooting at something with a black powder rifle (a snake? a spouse? one of those monsters that pushes itself out of the toilet and staggers onto the bathroom cubicle floor to help you finish drinking an economy sized bottle of Listerine Blue?).
Fred decided this was just as good a time as any to run screaming in terror back to the other mules, transporting me and a couple of small logs part of the way with him. I let go of the lead before I got dragged through the blackberry canes. Fred’s pack saddle had worked halfway around his belly, interfering with his gait and adding to his discomfiture. I watched him disappear over the hill, looking like an artillery draft cut loose in the middle of a rout.

I turned in the direction the shot appeared to have originated, and shouted, as I always do,”For God’s sake put the barrel of that gun in your mouth, you God-damned fuckbubble!” and some other things.

I returned the truck to the house, where Fred was already at the round bale of hay, eating with the other mules as though nothing had happened.

Except for some reason he had all this dumb stuff strapped to him.

It was this incident that set me looking for an electric tractor that could be trickle-charged with a solar panel. I was surprised how many folks are making electric ATVs and UTVs, right here in the US. I read the customer reviews on several of them, but the biggest determining factor in my selection was local availability. Once we settled on the type we wanted, we drove to the South Boston dealership to ask them a few questions.

This particular brand is made in a plant in Georgia, on the site of an old Boeing facility, and I mentioned that to the dealer as one of the reasons my wife and I were interested in the vehicle. It is my personal belief if Americans are at work, they are less interested in the stupid shit on the radio. Hell, I even listened to Rush Limbaugh when I was delivering mail; as a diversion, and as a preparation for whatever theater of cruelty awaited at the holiday dinners with my Reagan-poisoned genetic cohort, and it didn’t hurt my feelings any more than driving around in the prolapsed asshole of the United States like some doomed, shit-gobbling, jeep-mounted paramecium.
The dealer was a nice southern gent. A truly affable man. And like many affable men, he was haunted.
He was haunted by the guy who showed up as we were in the process of making an inquiry a business transaction. I knew him as soon as I saw him.
Every retail outlet I’ve been blessed to work for in this great land has to have:
a.) Three fascists on board
b.) One in the parking lot.
Parking lot fascist didn’t start his anti Obama riff until I mentioned that some hunters had spooked my mule and nearly caused the loss of pieces of one of my forelimbs.
This struck him as justifiable cause to launch his repetition of some talk radio shit about Obama restricting hunting on public lands and gutting agricultural subsidies- IF white people are foolish enough to stop him from getting reelected in 2012!
It’s moments like these, public moments, where I might wind up in a clumsy fight with another old fat dude, I turn my face to the ground and examine the patterns in the asphalt.
My wife, on the other hand, starts sniffing the blood in the air with her Gallic nose and proceeds to exercise the acerbity that seems to foam up deadliest from ovaries.
And that’s another reason I find myself analyzing asphalt. Stupid and evil as the poor fucker was, I knew what his ass was in for, and I pitied him for it, in a way.

I would recount the crucifixion blow by blow, but the stories of crucifixions are nearly as common as stories of pure goddamned idiots being run off a parking lot by pussy logic. And what I’m trying to do here is talk up American products, not vilify simple beach campers who have latched on to a business to haunt to destruction because their lives are spectacularly barren, ugly, and sad.

Which brings me to another part of this epic, because any time I venture outside of the family compound anymore it’s fucking Ulysses. Maybe Joyce was unconsciously describing a similar agorophobia. At least he was getting delicious tranquilizers for his brain syphilis. I’m left to wonder whether I’m a full paranoiac or my countrymen have abandoned every civil protocol in favor of the perfect cheese injected doughnut.

As we were driving through South Boston on the return home a lumpy gray motorist at a stoplight leaned out of the window of his 73 Cutlass and asked us,
“If you don’t mind my askin’, how much you pay for that buggy?
If you find yourself in Southern Virginia, and someone prefaces any question with “if you don’t mind my askin’?” Go ahead and remove your transom mounted shotgun and point it at them: or if you don’t have one, just point your finger at them and mock clicking off a shot while imagining yourself to be a freshly paroled Charles Manson.

We purchased the vehicle, as you can see here. One of these days I am going to shave again.