Native Son: Just Another Tall Texas Taylor
It was about Noonday. Neil Sperry and I were somewhere between Abbott and Zunkerville on our drive across Texas, when we had a Blowout. Neil looked at the Flat Tira and said, “We need some Air.”
“We just passed Ayr,” I said, “Back there by that Walnut Grove.”
Neil seemed Uncertain, so he looked around. “I see a Flower Mound, a Corn Hill, a Moss Hill…and there’s a Cotton Patch…but I see Notrees.”
I pointed West. “See that Vineyard…the one just past Grape Creek?”
Neil grunted, “I don’t see any Grapevine. I see some Greenvine…and a Grand Prairie…over past that Round Rock. Oh! There’s a Punkin Center.”
“Are you blind, man? Let your eye follow that Garden Ridge to that Flower Grove…right on top of that Flower Hill…it looks like a big Blooming Grove.”
Neil did not look Happy. “Don’t be a Podunk! All I see is some Flat Prairie.”
I started to get a little grumpy myself, so I pointed toward the Eastland. “Look right there. See that Oak Hill? You know, the one with the Oaks on it?”
Neil said, “Well, Fry my Furd. They look like White Oak to me…maybe Post Oak…could be Red Oak…or Pin Oak.”
I was getting frustrated. “What difference does it make? They’re five miles away!”
Neil suddenly got all misty eyed. He said quietly, “It’d make a difference to you if you were a Lone Oak…lost in the Oak Grove…surrounded by those mean ol’ Seven Oaks…Bevil Oaks, Hudson Oaks, River Oaks, Sandy Oaks, Shady Oaks, Briar Oaks, Live Oak…
“Neil! You sound like Forrest Gump!”
“…having all the other Oak Point…and calling you Little Elm…”
It became clear to me that Neil had lost his Noodle. In fact, he’d gone Oaky. I’ve only seen this once before…when Chickenfeather Charlie checked in to the Cheeseland hotel on Chalk Mountain…so I had to quickly reassess the situation. Naturally, I called Greg Grant.
“Greg! Chamblee here. I need some help.”
“Hey, Ding Dong! Whatcha need?”
“I got a Flat, out near Oak Ridge North…I think. And Neil’s gone Oaky.”
“Okra? I love me some Okra…great with Catfish…Pumpkin pie…”
“Hey, Nockernut…I said Neil’s gone Oaky.”
“Oh, that’s not good. It happened to my Aunt Violet, and her sisters, Viola and Verbena, over there in Myrtle Springs…which was named for my great aunt’s Twin Sisters, Idalou and Imogene. They were from Gardendale…Garden City…something like that…before they married Floyd from Floydada and a fellow named Frisco from Frognot…or maybe it was a fellow named Frognot from Frisco…I get confused.”
“What’s any of that got to do with Neil?”
“Nothing. I just like family. Did I ever tell you about Josephine and Joshua from Justin? They had three kids, Jean, Jewel, Joy, and Jud. Jud just showed up one day and wouldn’t leave. That there boy could eat.”
“Have you lost your Marble Falls?”
“I’m Okay, Stevens. You are the Loco Dumas trying to write a cute little garden-themed story using Texas town names. Seems you’re the one who’s wandered off the Wayside…Slidell’ed off into Mudville…took a left Loop off to Looneyville… Who’d Thought It?”
“Any ideas of what to do for Neil?”
“I’m Nome help to you, so I’m going back to my little Humble Homer in the Placid Wildwood Yellowpine Forest of The Big Thicket.”
“Actually, ‘The Big Thicket’ isn’t a town.”
“Well, bless your Hart…and you can Kit my Grit, Groom my Blum, and Dimple my Decker! Better go get help him yourself.”
I hung up the Telephone. Greg was Wright City. I looked over at Neil…his Iris’es were still Black and his eyes all Glazier’ed over. Worse yet, he wore that Longview expression, and he was still mumbling something about Oakland. I put a Blanket over him and began to Leggett down the road toward a Burning Bush in the distance. Figured it was a sign from Godley…
Just around the Bend, I found the Oasis Gas Station…what a Welcome sight! They had everything. I got me some Goodrich Coffee at the Coffeeville bar, Cherry pie at the Dehli, Coldwater and a Coke from the Cool Boxwood. Even got me a Bug Tussie and a floral arrangement of Crabapple, Rosebud, Magnolia, Shamrock, and Winter Haven Wheat…and paid for it all by dropping some Cash in the Old Dime Box. I was on my way in no Time in a Tow truck with an Orange-flavored Electra elixir from Wizard Wells for Neil.
When I first saw him, he looked like Deadwood. But after pouring a big Bucksnort of elixir into him, he looked a Lott better. His skin quickly changed from Lily White back to his usual Pancake color…but it took a few minutes for him to lose that Sour Lake smell, even after I covered him with the bouquet. Suddenly, he opened his eyes, got all Smiley, and Yowell’ed loud enough to be Heard all the way from Conroe to Copenhagen, “Diddy Wa Diddy! I can Seymore!”
I sighed heavily, “Holly Helotes! He Speaks!”
About that time, my cell phone rang…it was Lynn Sperry, Neil’s wife. “You Boise alright? I thought you’d be Homer by now.”
I hated to Lilac to Neil’s Bonny lass, but it seemed like the Best thing to Dew. “We’re Okay. The trip’s kind of Dull, so we pulled over to Dozier for a while.”
She saw right through my Bull City blather…and she was Hot! “You Nimrod! If Neil’s hurt, I’ll get my Razor and Gunsight, and Cut & Shoot you to Gun Barrel City! Let me speak to Neil right now or I’ll kick your Buda!” (Sorry to interrupt the story, but if you knew Lynn, you’d realize just how funny that was. Let’s continue…)
Problem was, while Neil was a Damsite better than half an hour ago, he was still a Big Lump…talking to Bigfoot out loud and singing the Belcherville anthem every few seconds. He rolled his head over toward me and said with a Wink, “If a Hackberry…burp… a Mulberry, and a Thornberry all…buuuuurp…all graduated with honors from School Hill, would they be De…burp…DeBerry Best?”
Panicked, I hung up the Telephone. There was Little Hope left for us, unless I could rouse Neil from gardening in his Babylon Dreamland. I looked over at him…he was chewing on an Oak Leaf. I mumbled, “I Needmore help.”
Boom! Suddenly, I got an Ideal! I’ll take Neil to Kokomo Joe Lee over at Toadsuck, Texas, ‘bout halfway between Telegraph and Turpentine. He was a Good Neighbor and Fairlie good Medicine Man. I once saw him poultice a Pony into a Buffalo. I hit the Gasoline, spun around, and drove like the Windthorst…until I got to the Zigzag. I couldn’t make the turn.
We hit The Ditch and went up a Big Hill, then right off the Cliffside. Funny thing…the old Ford didn’t crash, but flew. We flew over Apple Springs, Lime City, and Orangefield. We flew over Pear Valley, Peach Tree Village, and Plum Grove. I could tell by the Rising Sun of Dawn that we were headed Northrup. We went over Orange Grove, Pecan Mill, and Cherry Spring. I could see Meadow Lakes, Rose Hill Acres, Magnolia Beach…maybe even Paris in the distance. Let me tell you, friend, seeing Texas from a flying car is Eden…Paradise…Utopia.
Just as sudden, the car fell from the sky. We plowed through a Pecan Gap in a Pine Forest, mostly missed a Maple, and grounded out on a Grassland…Neil’s Lawn. Two minutes later, Neil was napping in Comfort on a Couch in a Cozy Corner…and Lynn had parked the Sherman tank back in the garage.
As for me, I did a turnaround at Turnertown and went home…to a little place called…Nameless.
I need a road trip! Let me know if you’d like me to come and speak to your group sometime. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and you know I like to go just about anywhere. No city too big; no town to small. Just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work something out.
Come out and see me at Chandor Gardens! Located in the heart of Weatherford’s Historic District, Chandor Gardens is the perfect place to get away and enjoy the simple pleasures of life that can only be found in gardens. Call 817-613-1700 or visit www.chandorgardens.com for details.