Here's my "All Over the Map" for the 12.01.10 issue of Arkansas Weekly:
Some of you may remember my good friend from a previous column, Vurl “Buddy” Reeve. It had been a few months since I last had contact with him, so when I opened my front door in the middle of the night last week and saw Vurl standing there clad in hunter-orange coveralls, one of those fur hats with the floppy ears, a large rifle and his trademark scowl, I was obviously taken aback.
“Vurl,” I said, “it’s 4:30 in the morning. What…why are you here?”
“Get dressed,” he said. “I’m taking you to the deer woods.” He looked to my Bruce Springsteen t-shirt I was wearing.
“And get that Springstein shirt off before you go,” he told me. “Heard he supported Obana. I won’t allow any type of Obana supporters imagery on my land. Might jinx the hunt.”
“It’s Springsteen and Obama, and -- wait a minute,” I said as I was still trying to figure out why I was standing there having this particular conversation. “What’s going on? Why are you here? You know I don’t hunt.”
“I got the feeling you need to be schooled in how to be a real man, and huntin’ is the first step.”
“Real man?” I asked. “What are you talking about?”
“Just don’t argue with yourself,” he said. “Get into some jeans, ‘nother shirt. Get on a Lee Greenwood shirt or something like that. That’d be better than that communist shirt. Anyways, meet me in the truck in two minutes. Gonna show you how real men operate.”
Reluctantly, I got dressed and headed out to Vurl’s truck. As I crawled into the passenger seat, I immediately started complaining.
“I really don’t understand why you’re dragging me out…” I stopped and looked to Vurl. He was sound asleep, but mumbling to himself.
“Gov…Gover…Governor…,” he groaned. Even in sleep, he wore the scowl. But, as I briefly watched him, he started to smile and then chuckle. “Tickles. It tickles. Gov. Palin, stop!”
“Vurl!” I shook his shoulder, and he jumped awake.
“Vurl, what are you doing?”
“Told you I was taking you huntin’,” he said with his scowl now back in place. “Something your daddy shoulda done a long time ago.”
“I’m 44, Vurl. And I’m all man, thank you very much. I certainly don’t know why you’d think different.”
“I read your WD-40 column last week, Rob. You really didn’t know about WD-40?”
I paused and looked at him.
“Do I get a rifle?” I asked.
“It’s in the backseat.”
Thirty minutes later, we were sitting on some rickety stools in his enclosed deer stand. A little propane heater was warming the space as the eastern sky turned purple.
“Ain’t this peaceful, Rob?” he asked. “Look how pretty. Makes you wonder how all these communist liberal atheists think there ain’t no God. Only God could create something this prettyful.”
“Well, yes, but just because one might be a bit liberal doesn’t mean they don’t believe in God.”
Vurl harrumphed. “Sure thing, Jethro. Next thing you’ll fall for is them liars who think pro-wrestling is fake. Here, hold my hand.”
“Don’t be a sissy! Take my hand!”
Not knowing what to expect, I slowly held out my palm. Vurl snatched it and shut his eyes.
“Let us pray,” he said.
I closed my eyes, feeling a tad uncomfortable.
“Lord,” he began, “thank You so much for the prettyful morning here in my deer woods. Thank You for allowin’ me to take this sinner here who voted for Obana, this sinner here dear Lord with hands that are really soft and not rough and manly like mine and who doesn’t know what WD-40 is…Lord, thank You for allowin’ me to be a shinin’ example of what a man truly should be for this soft-handed, possibly Hell-bound individual.”
He stopped. I looked over to him. One of his eyes was open, looking at me. He shook his head slightly, closed his eye and started back.
“Lord, I pray that You open his heart not only to Your word, but to the word of Glenn Beck and Fox News and, our next leader, Gov. Sarah Palin, who will take us out of this Obana-nation. Lord, we’re gonna be losin’ billions and trillions of dollars on Obanacare. Don’t know how we’re gonna pay for it. Lord, we’ve got Obana stormtroopers gropin’ our women’s privates in the airports and expensive scanners that can see through our underwears. Don’t know how we’re gonna pay for it. Lord, our country’s been given over to Obana and Joe Bider and Keith Olberbobermen and other communist socialist agnostic atheists, and all they want to do is spend and look through peoples’ underwears and build Muslim churches. Don’t know how we’re gonna pay for it. But Lord, You know how we’re gonna pay for it. You also know how You’re gonna allow me to show this girly individual how not to be girly. You’re gonna show him how to be a man like me. And Lord – OH SWEET MAMA MERCY IN A CAR WASH!”
My eyes sprang open. Vurl was stumbling off his stool toward the stand’s opening. He grabbed his rifle, looking out with a crazed face into the pasture below.
“IT’S A DAMN 12-POINT!” he screamed. And without even looking through the scope, Vurl started blasting shells. The enormous antlered animal bolted and sprinted toward the woods as bullets exploded all over the pasture. “STAY STILL! STAY STILL, YOU GOSH-DANGED DEER! STAY STILL!”
The shooting stopped, but Vurl kept squeezing the trigger of his now-empty rifle. “Stay still! Stay…no…please! No! Twelve point! No!”
I put my hand on his shoulder as he finally dropped the butt of the rifle to the floor. He turned and collapsed into my arms, sobbing
“Waaaaaahhhh!” he sobbed. And yes, it was actually Waaaaaahhhh – as if he was a little boy who had just lost his most prized baseball. “Waaaaaahhhh! Twelve-point!”
“Vurl,” I said. “It’s okay. You’ll have another chance for the big one someday.”
“Really?” he asked, sniffling now a bit.
“Really. And Obana won’t be our president forever.”
“Really. We’re a great country, and we can all come together and get out of any mess.”
Vurl wiped his eyes with his orange sleeves and composed himself. “You know, Rob. I, uh, wasn’t crying or anything. I now and then get a reaction to some medicine I been takin’ for my gout, and uh, it sorta causes a short circuit in my brain. Makes me do some crazy things sometimes. Heh.”
He looked at me and the scowl returned.
“Real men don’t cry,” he said. “You hear me Obana boy?”
“Good. Now that that’s straight, let’s go eat some breakfast. I know a place that serves quiche. That’s about your speed, I bet.”