Monday, January 16, 2006


"Two girls fight, pulling each others' hair"

From the tomb of Menna
Superintendent of the estates of the King and Amun,
Scribe of the estates in the North and the South
(mid 18th Dynasty)

In this age when only IRS agents and mothers can always tell fact from fiction, the following disclaimer seems in order. This story is roughly, very roughly, based on a real life experience. Some facts have been fictionalized to, with luck, make it a better story. Names and such have been changed to protect me, the writer. Everyone else mentioned in the story is more than capable of taking care of themselves.

By the way, it wasn't easy finding some semi-appropriate image that was neither fuzzy nor porn. Those wanting to find out more about old Menna and his cohorts should check out: "Egypt: Land of Eternity" at,

Bayou Bill


Fighting for a Valentine
by Bill Fullerton

It was a real hair-pulling, clothes tearing, head knocking, rolling in the dirt, screaming and hollering catfight between two high school girls. At issue was which one would get to be the, uh, let’s just say, the Valentine of a guy by the name of Sonny Barnhill.

At least it’s what they thought. That’s why, even as I enjoyed the show from my front row seat, I kept worrying about what might happen afterward.

Now some of you may be wondering what in the name of Tom T. Hall was a card-carrying Boy Scout, former youth revival pastor at the Rock of Ages Baptist Church, and lowly tenth grade dweeb like me doing at such a unique, rowdy, some might even say, risqué event. A few might like to know why I was worrying. But for most folks, the important question is how I managed to get that front row seat.

Well, let me tell you, it was like this. That year, I rode to school with seniors Billy Ray Jenkins, who drove, and his twin sister. That would be Brenda Jenkins. She always sat beside him because, as she explained to me in a whisper, he was prone to epileptic seizures. There were no seats in the back of Billy Ray’s station wagon, so I sat next to Brenda.

Except for the part about Billy Ray possibly throwing a fit, he never did, most of that info is important. You see, the fight took place right after school and the same Brenda I sat beside twice a day constituted one-half of the main event.

Riding with them was a very interesting experience—even before the fight. Billy Ray was the big, well-muscled, quiet, blue-eyed, blond Aryan type. So was Brenda, except for the big, well-muscled and quiet part. There was nothing special about her looks. She was a dishwater blond, neither tall nor short, with a big smile, a nice enough figure, and eyes that might have been pretty except the dark plastic frames of her glasses hid them.

Still, she enjoyed a high--in fact, very high--level of popularity, at least among guys. For Brenda was the area’s free spirit, love child years before that came into fashion. In short, she was easy.

More than that, she was a relatively happy lay. While I can’t personally testify to this, by all accounts, Brenda enjoyed sex. Whether involved in a one-on-one encounter or a many-on-one gangbang, she liked being the one. Maybe it was an act, but having a “reputation” didn’t seem to faze her. That could have been because she planned on leaving our rural outpost the moment she graduated.

Before you ask, I’m not sure why my parents, make that my mother, agreed to my being in the same car with Brenda twice a day, five days a week. Perhaps she could find no better way to get me to school. It was outside my home district and there was no bus service. Whatever her reason, I’ve always had a hunch she knew I’d never have the nerve to try anything with an “older woman” like Brenda. It’s a wise mother who knows her own son.

Brenda and her reputation had no trouble sexually intimidating me. The quiet, looming presence of Billy Ray, the twin brother with all the muscles, added more than enough physical intimidation to keep my normally riotous hormones cowering in abject passivity.

Waiting for Brenda on that unseasonably warm afternoon was the formidable Erlene Warmack. While not unattractive, she was built along more robust lines than the shorter and slimmer Brenda. Seeing her brought to mind images of hearty, female Russian shot-putters. Erlene also possessed a deadpan expression and a glare that caused brave men to remember other things they had to do while mere male mortals just fainted dead away.

To make Brenda’s situation even worse, Erlene had managed to acquire home court advantage. The fight would take place at a clear patch of ground along the one paved road in her rural community. Since everyone out there was related, one way or another, it meant she’d have the crowd on her side. It also meant she got to go home first and change from school clothes into a form-fitting, short-sleeved shift that she wore like a suit of armor.

So Brenda, wearing a blouse and skirt, would be facing a bigger, stronger and, judging by appearances, meaner opponent dressed in fighting togs, and doing so on that person’s home turf. A logical question would seem to be, why? The illogical answer, at least to me, was Sonny Barnhill.

Sonny was the school “outlaw.” At least he dressed the part. Tight T-shirts and faded blue jeans were his ensemble of choice. The thing is, Sonny didn’t act like a tough guy. With his build, he didn’t have to. In fact, he usually went around laughing and joking like he didn’t care if gravy went up to a dollar a sop. But he wore his dark hair in what was politely referred to as a “duck tail.” He also smoked, chased women, drove at drag races, and hunted out of season.

With the prelims over. Brenda and Erlene prepared to meet on Erlene’s home field in a toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano, no hold’s barred, after school fight for the right to be Sonny Barnhill’s Valentine. And since I rode to and from school with Brenda and her brother, I would be there.

When we arrived at the field of honor, Erlene was waiting, hands on hips, glower on face. Like a perfect southern gentleman, I got out and held the door while Brenda emerged to face her foe, Then, like a perfect sophomore wimp, I hustled back inside and closed the door, placing several inches of solid Detroit steel, plus Bondo, a cracked side window, and several layers of chipped paint between myself and the impending combat.

While a fight involving women can differ in some ways from those involving men, there are similarities. Both start with a session of circling and glaring. What’s now called “trash talking” is optional. The crowd watched in silence. Most of them were young kids who kept at a safe distance. No grown-ups were in evidence.

This pre-combat period marked the high point of the fight for Brenda. She had shoulder-length hair, which put her at a distinct disadvantage versus the shorthaired Erlene when the hair-pulling began. Being near-sighted, she was at an even greater disadvantage after having her glasses knocked off by a solid slap to the face. Moments later, a violent tug had her staggering across the field of honor with a totally de-buttoned blouse (her bra was white).

By some wordless, mutual agreement, the two combatants now paused. As the unscratched Erlene stood nearby, glowering as always, and barely breathing hard, Brenda appeared to be evaluating her situation. She had lost her glasses, one shoe, and all the buttons on her blouse. She was, therefore, standing slightly off-balance with her bra on public display while licking at a busted lip and squinting toward the fuzzy outline of her untouched opponent.

As I’ve mentioned before, Brenda was, at least by reputation, a good-time girl who had reportedly sampled the charms of many men. No doubt calling upon that experience, she seemed to decide that all tomcats were about the same shade of gray in the dark, so to speak, and that if Erlene wanted Sonny that bad, she was welcome to him. So Brenda retired from the field scratched, exposed and a bit bloody, but only slightly bowed.

The catfight was over. To the victor go the spoils, right? Erlene got to be Sonny’s Valentine and all that implied, right? And all my worries were over, right?


It seems neither Erlene nor Brenda had thought to consult with anyone, including Sonny, about his status as a post-fight prize. That was a mistake. The weekend before, at the local hangout, The Wisteria Café, Motel and Truck Stop, I’d introduced Sonny to Francis Brown. She was an old friend who went to the school I attended until my mother got into a fight with the principal.

The possible fall-out from that introduction is what I worried about during and after the fight. How would the winner react if they learned what I’d done? In the unlikely event it was Brenda, I didn’t think she’d sic Billy Ray on me. But she might not let me back in the car. If so, how would I get to school? Of course, Erlene won. But I did my best to avoid thinking about what she might do.

Either of them would have had good reason to be provoked. After all, Francis was serious competition. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, with her big blue-eyes, dark wavy hair, and a mouth-watering bosom, Francis had a lot to behold. She also smoked, liked guys chasing her, loved drag races, and was a crack shot. That made her a perfect match for Sonny. By Valentine’s Day, they were going steady. That summer, I took pictures at their wedding.

Erlene and Brenda graduated in the spring without having inflicted any pain and suffering on me or taken part in any more catfights. Both were no-shows at the wedding. I was relieved. But sometimes tells me many members of the congregation were a bit disappointed. After all, it could have made for one very interesting reception.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

IN THE BRIAR PATCH - short story

"It was a big boar, a wild woods hog. Around here folks call ‘em piney-woods rooters or tusk hogs due to their long, sharp cutting tusks. They call ‘em razorbacks up in Arkansas."


In The Briar Patch
by Bill Fullerton

Youth was not being served on the chessboard. It took a call from the hospital to halt the onslaught by the forces of Dr. Robert Miles, his grandfather. There’d been a bar fight. The loser was waiting in the emergency room. Having just finished his first year of medical school, Eli Stuart went along to watch, and maybe help, the man who’d gotten him interested in medicine.

Now he put a cup of black coffee from the nurse’s station in front of his grandfather and sat down to wait. The gray-haired man sitting behind the plain, cluttered desk nodded his thanks. Paperwork finished, he picked up the cup, leaned back in his chair and studied his grandson.

“What did you think?”

“That was a pretty bad beating. Broken nose, fractured ribs, possible concussion, plus the lacerations and abrasions. With all that, especially the ribs, I thought you might want him kept overnight for observation, in case there was internal bleeding.”

Dr. Miles nodded at this second-guessing of his decision. “Good. That’s what the book says to do. But this is where it helps to know your patients. He’ll be too sore to go anywhere tomorrow and his mother will make sure he comes in on Monday for a check-up. As for the ribs, the x-rays indicated they’re just cracked. With someone young like that boy, the bones still have some give. The sort of lick he must have taken would damn near kill an old coot with brittle bones, like me.”

The medical student smiled. He’d passed tonight’s oral exam. “According to that group with him, it was a kick, not a lick. Which reminds me, who were they?”

“Eli, I believe you’ve just had your first encounter with the Rhodes family. Let me see, there’s Rocky, Dusty, and Mac Adam. The tall girl with them was their sister, Connie Creek. The patient was a cousin, I think.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Nope. Their father’s real name is Rufus, but he’s always been called, Rough. That inspired him to name his kids after roads. If he’d had anymore, there might be Muddy, Rutted, and Asphalt running loose.”

“Why do you know so much about them? They come in all the time?”

“It’s a small place. Word gets around. No, the whole family must be healthy as horses. I delivered all of them. But I’ve only treated one. He’d gotten torn up by a hog.”

“A hog? Okay. You’ve got me hooked. What happened?”

“I never thought you’d ask.” His grandfather’s long face broke into a grin. “Rough and his tribe live way back in the middle of nowhere. Around there, people let their pigs run free. In the fall, folks use hog dogs to round ‘em up for butchering. To mark ownership, they notch the pig’s ears in a distinctive way. Kinda like branding cattle.”

He paused to light his pipe, then continued. “Rough has a reputation, well deserved I’m told, for pig stealing. During the summer, he’ll lure or chase young pigs onto his place, trap ‘em, and then re-notch their ears so it looks like his mark. Sometimes the rightful owner will notice this and, I’d guess you’d say, re-re-notch the ear. There’ve been some hard words over Rough’s habit. But so far nobody’s been shot, at least not that I know of. People say that by the fall, some of those poor porcines have nothing but stubs where their ears should be.”

The old doctor sipped his coffee and seemed lost in thought. The young man knew to wait. “It must have been about ten years ago when Rough and that brood of his came in here. He and his boys had been out “looking for strays” as he calls it. They’d almost chased a young one into some sort of holding pen, when it dodged into a thicket. The whole group went high-tailing after it. They came out on the other side just in time to see the hind end of something disappearing into a big briar patch.”

“Kinda of a Brer Rabbit type briar patch?”

“That’s it. Now I’m told that once a pig gets in one of those, you’ve got limited options. You can try to burn it, but you might set the woods on fire. If you’ve got a dog with more courage than common sense, you can send it in to do the job. In case your dogs are smart or absent, you can send somebody in to spook it out. Of course, you can also give up and go home. That’s the best choice. But Rough wasn’t about to let some pig best him.

“They didn’t have dogs?”

“Nope. I’m sure you can understand that “looking for strays” requires a certain degree of stealth. So Rough had left his pack of worthless hounds at home. However, he did have three half-grown boys with him. He decided one of them could crawl in and flush out that pig while he and the rest waited.”

“I take it there were no volunteers.”

“None. So Rough looked around and the first kid he saw was, Mac Adam, who had the disadvantage of being both the youngest and smallest. Now I grant you it’s not saying much, but even back then Mac Adam was about the smartest one of that bunch. He proved it that day by telling his daddy he didn’t believe going in after that pig was such a good idea. Said he’d had a pretty good look at whatever it was that ran into the briars and that to his way of thinking, it was a lot bigger than that shoat they were after.”

“You’re telling me Mac Adam is the Rhodes’ scholar?”

“In a manner of speaking. But don’t let that go to your head. You could end up walking home. Anyway, that’s when Rocky messed up. He’s the oldest, biggest and, in my opinion, dumbest of those boys. Maybe the kid’s name doomed him. Rough wanted a fighter. So he named the boy Rocky Garaziano. But he misspelled the great middleweight’s name, added an extra ‘A’ between the ‘G’ and ‘R’.

“Well, Rocky started ragging on Mac Adam about being a sissy who was afraid of going in after one little pig, and calling him a little baby and, well, you can imagine the scene. My guess is Mac Adam just waited until Rocky paused to catch his breath. Then he said something like, okay, Rocky, since you’re so brave and all, why don’t you go in there and show me how it’s done? That sounded good to Rough. He didn’t care who went in just so long as someone did. Before Rocky could think of something to say, Rough ordered him to crawl in among the briars and chase the pig out into the light of day.”

The doctor sat his pipe in an ashtray and started closing folders. “Now even though Rocky’s dumb as his namesake, rocks not the fighter, I don’t blame him for not wanting to crawl into a briar patch. For starters, it’s a hot, sweaty, slow job. You have to get down low and no matter how hard you try some briars are going to scratch you and catch on your clothes. Besides the ticks and red bugs, there’s always a chance you’ll come across fire ants or a snake. And once you flush the pig, you’ve still got to get out of there.”

“You’re almost making me feel sorry for Rocky.”

“Yep, the old Rock had talked himself into the deal and couldn’t figure out a way to talk himself out. So armed with his daddy’s snake stick, he started crawling in. The ones left outside say they could follow his movement by all the noise and cussing.”

The doctor paused to finish his coffee and turn off his desk lamp. The grandson felt a prompt was in order. “So what happened?”

“Turns out Mac Adam was right. What they’d seen going into that briar patch wasn’t the young pig they’d been chasing. It was a big boar, a wild woods hog. Around here folks call ‘em piney-woods rooters or tusk hogs due to their long, sharp cutting tusks. They call ‘em razorbacks up in Arkansas. No matter what the name, they’re big, mean, and dangerous. And young Rocky Garaziano Rhodes had just come face-to-face with one of them deep inside a briar patch.”

“How’d he get out?”

“Luck, although by the time he managed to escape, that hog had worked him over pretty good. And I suppose it might have killed him except for his one bit of good luck. When the hog charged, Rocky jabbed it in the eye with the snake stick. That must have made the hog even madder but it stopped that first charge. Before it could get back in gear, Rocky somehow managed to turn around so his boots were toward the hog.”

The two men walked out into the antiseptic smelling hall. Dr. Miles stuck his head into the nurse's station to say something, then they headed for the exit. “When they brought Rocky in, he was cussing and squawling and bleeding all over the place. Everybody there had to help hold him down so we could get him cleaned up. I decided to give him a sedative, can’t remember what, along with a tetanus booster. I’ve got no idea how many sutures I used on that boy. And all the while Rough’s complaining because the pig got away.”

“Makes tonight seem pretty tame.”

“Oh, yeah. What’s a bare-knuckle bar fight compared to a run in with a wild boar hog in a briar patch? Now tell me the truth Eli, are you sure you still want to be a country doctor?”


note: This story first appeared in USADeepSouth
USADS has a lot of other short stories, plus articles, memoirs, essays, even some poetry, and it's all better reading than this, honest. Check it out. bb

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