Note: I persist for now in posting these bi-directional creations (‘PALs’) not from any illusion that they are the next ‘War and Peace’, (though a perfect one, I dream, could help to prevent the former), but because they always inspire deeper thoughts, and research in sadly-overlooked corners of knowledge.
If an over-paid motivational speaker can make mega-bucks telling executives: “Always ask yourself, in board meetings, where a giraffe fits into the picture!” well, I got plenty of giraffes to Google lately. Oh, and snakes. Meanwhile, this one is more down-to-earth. (Except being 80% fictional. Hey, my ‘real life’ lacks circus animals, sue me.
PA Route 22; far enough east of Pittsburgh that the locals haven’t yet decided whether they’re cowboys.
Whatever they are, ‘Laverne’ Hollyfield is a real piece of work!
Owner, chief (only?) mechanic, he sits there at a greasy desk ‘between jobs’. That is to say ‘most of the time‘.
In the 60s we used to call him ‘VHF’, for ‘Very Frequently High’. Nowadays, ‘Vertigo Vern’ is the more common nickname. His frequent ‘lost in space’ episodes are a legend; you can be discussing ring ODs, glance down, and find him holding a piston-ring in two outstretched hands, staring through the thing with an infinite-focus, transfixed gaze.
“Just goes on and on,” he mutters. “Internal!”
“Eternal?“, you offer, helpfully.
“No, I meant ‘external” he snaps, gruffly, and, back home safely, adds “Yeah, .’.20 over’s a safe compromise, after I bore the cylinders.”
‘Welcome back, cadet’, you say to yourself.
Hey, it’s genetic. His twin daughters, Gwendalynn and Mandolin both show early, but unmistakable signs of the same chromosomes.
Right next door, they run ‘Vox-haul Audio Inc.’ The sign, once illuminated, until the ‘Winter of ’94’ (or the Johnston Flood?) boasts: ‘Loud Speakers: When you need your Voice to Carry!’
I greet them with warm, yet careful, hugs, then ask ‘Where’s Monte?’
Frank Montecello, the real reason I’d braved the cold without a heater in the old Vaux, was supposed to meet me here. A retired elementary-school teacher, he had ‘pull’ up at the ‘Epson Center’ on the hill coming into town, there near the giant ‘Valhalla, Home of the Gods’ sign we’d all used to confirm, to our dazed ‘Bacon sizzling in a skillet’ minds-on-drugs’ that, yup, we’d made it home. For now…
‘Cello’ was actually waiting, drinking coffee, in a back-room. Glad I hadn’t called him ‘that old fart’.
And at least he remembered why I was there.
But first, a ‘pop-quiz’? Seems like he’s kinda ‘having what I’m having’. Lately, and frustratingly, I remember only the skeletons and routines of past events.
And so I patiently complied with his impromptu 2nd-grade spelling test, perhaps expecting a hilarious joke as a punch line:
“Spell HAT” he demanded.Followed by ‘BAT‘, then the tough one:’ CAT’. Think I got at least a ‘B’, but, for my efforts, I then learned mainly that he’d quit working up there. And in a huff.
Bummer. I’d have to change clothes somewhere and talk to ’em myself.
Meanwhile I jotted down in my diary:
NEW GENRE: VALHALLA: MET ‘CELLO’, CONTACT ABT A HALL. EPSON? ‘NO, SPELL A ‘HAT’, ‘BAT’, ‘CAT’ (?) NO, COLLECT ‘EM ALL: LAVERNE, GWEN…
So I’m now thinking to stay on my side of the Susquehanna River.
Still I wish em all the best, ‘out west’. Probably something in the water there. And with the EPA slated for de-funding, it’ll be even more ‘entertaining’ to visit next trip.
And here is the ‘correct’ text: Thanks, Tim for the proof-reading. Mine is apparently ’80 Proof’, ha
NEW GENRE: VALHALLA: MET ‘CELLO’, CONTACT ABT A HALL. EPSON? ‘NO, SPELL A ‘HAT’, ‘BAT’, ‘CAT’ (?) NO, COLLECT ‘EM ALL: AH,