Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Tommy walks. He strolls from one end of this city to the other and back again, and this city is large. He's tireless. Tommy is short, stocky, and was put on this earth about sixty years ago. Today his dress is of vintage Levi jeans, with well worn jacket and a wool watch cap. From the moment he walks thru the shop door he talks a mile a minute.

"Stephen what 'ya got for sale I want a twenty-two rifle and a pistol and ammo too if 'ya got it where's your list of stuff for sale 'cause I want a gun and I really want a rifle for hog hunting and I need that pistol the last one you sold me my son took it home and didn't even ask me for permission....." Like that.

Tommy has lung power.

This morning, "Stephen I really need a twenty-two." I reach into the cabinet and grab a Marlin model 60 dressed with a cheap Tasco and hand it to him. It barely touches his hand when he said, "I'll take it."

Me, "Want to know the price?"

"How much?" I smiled at him. He's a figure in fidgety. Dances from one foot to the other. Reaches for a coffee cup and pours six sacks of sweetener into the brew, bounces towards the head and closes the door but continues his conversation over the sound of his tinkle, "I don't care the price but you know me I've always felt you're fair and I like you and you know me too. So how much is it?"

"For you, Tommy, one hundred dollars." It's a pretty little rifle, darn near new.

He shakes, washes his hands and steps back into my office. His brown line etched face a study in thought. Tommy scratches his butt and leans forward and taps me on the shoulder with, "Stephen I just gotta have another pistol, I mean I really need me a good pistol and a holster too if'en you gots one. You gots one, Stephen, a pistol?"

What he means is - have I one in stock cheap enough. Tommy doesn't work. He rides the government handicap system. Don't ask.

"Sure, Tommy," I reach for the pistol. "How's about this one." The handgun is a revolver, vintage, probably built back in the thirties. She's a .32-20. Nice old firearm. I give it over and Tommy snatches the pistol like a long lost lover and immediately tucks it into his jeans. Then, "Yes sir're this'n is fine and it feels good tucked under my sweater. I'll take it."

He sips a bit of coffee. I wait. He waits.

The phone rings. While I'm tied to it Tommy plays with the pistol. He twirls it, slips into a back pocket, swings out the cylinder and glances inside, snaps it back into place and aims out the back window. I replace the phone and said, "Want to know the price?"

"Sure. But, it don't matter 'cause I wants it." Really, this is Tommy speech.

I gave him a price. Even at Tommy's deep discount I'd normally stand to make a fine profit. I'm always careful with my 'Tommy prices.' He's special and if I give him any price above a hundred dollars he reacts as if bitten by a snake. Then, "You serious. That all. Hell yeah, I'll take it. Sold." He dances a bit and fist pumps. His little display of joy made my morning.

"Tommy, what are your plans for the handgun?"

"Hogs. I'm gonna shot me a hog. My friend Elmer and me is gonna have a hog roast up there in Callahan and we're gonna eat like pigs." I laughed and told him a story of a fella I knew that stood guard over a fire and pig for most of a long night. The next day when it came time to carve the pig the center was raw. Tommy near peed himself with laughter. "Well, when we roast a hog that sucker stays roasted. I bet that feller was a city boy."

He was.

I set a box of ammunition for the handgun on my desk and we agreed on its price too. You don't just run to the local Wal-Mart for .32-20. He again dances for joy. Then, "Hey, Stephen, listen here. Can you hold these for me until the third of next month when my government check goes into my bank? Ugh, can you? You know me, Stephen. I'm good for it. I really am. You know me, now don't 'ya.?"

Yes. I know Tommy. We've had this song and dance hundreds of times. I'll take the time to write out a slip for him with a total and the date of purchase and promise to hold the firearms just for him. Then, I'll shake his hand and place the items back into the cabinet and walk him towards the door. He'll hand me his empty coffee cup and then Tommy will always reach and give me a big hug. He's a sweet man that way.

The third of next month will come and depart and Tommy and his money will never arrive. Which is fine.

Tommy will be happy as he strolls the streets of this city with visions and dreams of his new firearms. His thoughts will be filled with a far away hog hunt with his imaginary friend. I sincerely hope he walks with a smile.


Nah, Tell Me It Isn't So

The Great Recession is over, or so they tell us.

Don't believe the happy talk coming out of the White House, Federal Reserve and Treasury Department when it comes to the real unemployment rate and the true “Misery Index.” Because, according to an influential Wall Street advisor, the figures are a fraud.


Save your pennies, folks. The road ahead isn't smoothly paved with gold.


Cold Morning Coffee

Sorry I didn't write yesterday. Between yard work and my business and this and that my life is, at the moment, hectic. As it stands today seems like a repeat. I feel like an old dog in the endless chase of its tail.

Our weather has turned cold. My old floppy and worn thermometer reads thirty degrees. Wind chill is down there a ways....

Please forgive me if I've failed to leave a comment at your blogs. Trust me, I read. I just haven't the time, of yet, to finish my rounds. So many good blogs and me with only twenty four hours in a day.

Today I poured my first morning cup of coffee just after I unlocked the shops door. Placed it on my desk and when I returned the cup and liquid inside were slap-assed cold. Tried again. Distraction took place. Customers like to talk. Went in search of my second cup. Cold. I sat and drank the third. I'm mean without caffeine.


Had a silver expert come into the shop yesterday. I know he was a silver expert because he told me. Said he was now to be considered the guru of all things shiny and silver and the 'go to' guy for advice on investments in the slick and wonderful metal. I asked how he gained such a formidable education as I knew him as a real estate salesman.

He puffed his chest and said he'd taken a three week crash course on silver and silver investments and did I have any questions as he was standing by to give his wondrous advice. I replied, "No, I've piddled with silver for over thirty years, kinda hit and miss, but thanks."

"Well," He said, "I'm an expert."

I reached into my pocket, easy and casual like, and took out a coin, placed it in his hand, and asked, "Think this is worth collecting?"

With barely a second glance he said, "Nah, these old silver rounds aren't worth much."  I smiled, took back my 1880 Morgan dollar and told him to have a great day.

It wasn't worth it....