C hilly rain slapped the windows of Doreen’s 24 HR Eat Gas Now Café. The sound evolved into sharp cracks, and the Hunting Club members in the round corner booth ogled in all directions to look out, reminding me of baby birds in a nest.
“Hail.” Doc turned back to his coffee.
“Y’all watch your language over there!” Doreen flapped a stained dishcloth in our direction. “You know I don’t put up with no cussin’!”
Woodrow sighed. “You’re losing your hearing, girl.”
Jerry Wayne adjusted the volume of the hearing aid in his right ear. “That cracking sound goes right through my head,” he said.
“The cracking sound of what?” Woodrow looked up from his newspaper and shook it. He’s the only one who still reads a physical paper.
“The hail,” I replied, shaking a few grains of salt into Doreen’s unusually strong coffee.
“I said y’all quit talking ugly, or I’ll kick you out.”
Doc raised his voice. “It’s hailing!”
The door flew open and Delbert P. Axelrod rushed inside like a linebacker, clutching something in his shirt. He dodged around tables full of customers, spraying water like a sprinkler.
“I’m on deadline!”
Several large drops splashed into Harlan Conway’s coffee cup and he absently stirred it in, trying to avoid his wife’s incessant conversation.
I wondered if he’d turned his own hearing aids all the way off.
Harlan once joined us at our booth while Miss Clara was talking. She never stopped, thinking he and the boys were interested in what she was saying. At one point in her dialogue, she insisted that she’d taken over most of the household duties because Earl was deaf and couldn’t understand her orders.
Harlan caught my eye and winked, and I knew the old boy was just fine. His hearing loss was nothing but self-defense, and I realized the 92-year-old was brilliant.
Delbert shoved his way into the booth, and we adjusted accordingly. Wrong Willie pointed at his damp shirt.
“What are you hiding under there?”
He revealed an iPad. “I’m a blogger now.”
I raised an eyebrow. “So that’s what you meant when you said you were on deadline.”
“We don’t have anything to log around here.” Doreen arrived to refill our cups. “You have to go to East Texas, though Bud Dallas’ll cut some of your trees if you don’t watch out.”
“He said he’s a blogger,” I said, hitting the letter B hard and moving my hand out of the way lest she scald it again. Doreen’s bad about spilling.
Doc studied the iPad’s bright screen as Delbert poked at it with two fingers.
“What do you have to say?”
“A lot! I already have more than a thousand subscribers here in this area alone.”
We waited for him to explain the subject of his blogs while hail continued to rattle the windows.
And we waited some more.
“Uh, Delbert.” Doc frowned at Delbert’s screen. “You didn’t answer. What are you blogging about that so many people are interested in?”
“It’s a secret.”
I could feel the top of my head flying off. “Blogging isn’t a secret! You put your thoughts and ideas out there for others to read.”
“Well, I don’t want to tell you guys. You have to read it, but I’d wait until next week, so you can see the comments.”
Wrong Willie leaned back. “The idea is to read your thoughts and then check back to see other people’s comments. Now, what’s it about”
Delbert paused, “Our outdoor adventures.”
“Rev already does that,” Jerry Wayne said. “He’s been doing it for nearly thirty years.”
“Right, and I’m kind of an amplifier. I take his stuff, add my own ideas and opinions, and send it out.”
“I figured it was something like that,” I sighed. “It’s called plagiarism.”
“No. I’m re-writing it like we did in high school and adding my own ideas.
The hail slacked off, and the rain increased, running in rivulets down the glass. I sighed as Delbert tapped the screen. It was time to change the subject before I throttled Delbert.
“You guys realize that at the end of this month we don’t have anything to hunt until spring turkey season.”
Wrong Willie shook his head. “We can go down to South Texas for the tail end of goose season.”
“We don’t have to go that far,” Doc said. “I know a secret place out by the lake where the snow geese are so thick, you don’t have to aim. I’ve kinda kept the field a secret until now, but it looks like the right time to go.”
“Where is it?” Jerry Wayne chimed in.
Doc explained exactly which cove he was talking about.
“We can drive over there in the morning and get our limit. No guide fees, like down in South Texas, no crowds, and we can hit that same place a couple of times before the birds move, because there’s only a few of us.”
We huzzahed and high-fived.
We made plans as Delbert finished his blog. He punched at his screen.
“There. Another successful blog that’s completely original. You guys inspired me.” Delbert hit the send button and leaned back. “I wrote about goose hunting in Doc’s secret spot.”
“What!!!???” Wrong Willie spilled his coffee. “Did you say where it was?”
“Sure. I had to write 600 words, and his description helped.”
I resisted the temptation to pour coffee all over Delbert’s iPad. “Now there’ll be a hundred people out there in the morning, if he’s right about his numbers.”
Keeping up his charade, Old Bud’s loud voice cut me off as he spoke to his son on a flip phone. “Yep, just found out for you. Get your boys out there, ‘cause the snow geese are thicker’n fleas right now in that secret field I just heard about. It won’t be that way day after tomorrow.”
Woodrow sighed and held up his cup. “Doreen, you missed me.”
She didn’t hear him, because she was on the phone, ordering a hearing aid.
Email Reavis Wortham at [email protected]