by Jim Foreman
Betty Ann suggested that Joe Bob deposit at least five thousand dollars from the check he received from the LA Rams into their joint savings account with Fort Worth Savings and Loan. She had already been able to save nearly that same amount from her checks and this would put them a long way toward buying their own house. This was agreeable with Joe Bob because he was certain that he would be hearing from some team in the near future, with an offer which would make a mere five thousand dollars look like peanuts.
He drove down the local Chevrolet dealer in the pickup that Big Bob had bribed him with to go to TCU and drove home in one of their highest dollar, top of the line, everything on it, sport pickups. It was a fire engine red with a step-side sport bed, fuel injected 350 engine, four wheel drive, electric windows, Quad-speaker stereo, leather seats and just about everything else that the dealer could find in his parts department to hang on it. After the six thousand dollars that the dealer allowed him in trade on his old pickup, there was still almost twenty thousand dollars to be financed through GMAC. On the credit application, he gave his occupation as professional football player and the LA Rams as his employer even though he was no longer with them.
He had decided not to put any of his five grand into it, but to keep that as sort of walking-around pocket money until he signed with one of the NFL teams. Payments would run well over four hundred dollars a month, but what's a mere four hundred bucks to a big time, free agent professional football player.
As he drove toward home along Camp Bowie Boulevard in his new pickup, he had the strangest feeling that an off-the-floor pickup just didn't make the right kind of statement for a man in his position. On his right, he saw the answer, Billy Fred's 4X4 Shop. Chrome, chrome, and acres of chrome sparkled in the sun. Almost as if the pickup had a mind of its own, he pulled in.
"Howdy, Joe Bob Puckett is my name and football is my game. What can you do to dress up my new pickup a little?" he asked Billy Fred.
"Depends on how much cash you want to spend on it," replied Guru of 4X4 trucks. "I work on a cash basis only."
"I only got about five grand in folding money on me at this minute," replied Joe Bob. "Might as well start with that."
"Good," said Billy Fred as he picked up a stack of work orders with a glint of money in his eye. "For a man of your status, we got just about everything. First, we'll give it a jack-job and raise the body up off the frame about a foot, then we we'll slap on a set of super-wide mags with raised-letter Goodrich Ground Grabber tires. Then you'll get double shocks all 'round plus steering dampers. While the accessory boys are up in the bed, installing a sliding rear window, sun roof and a double chrome roll bar with six flame thrower off-road lights, the mechanics will be down under it, bolting on headers, glass-packs and chrome side pipes. Headers and pipes will give you another thirty horses and make it beller like a bull when you get after it. 'Course you'll need a side step package with grab handles so those pretty little sweet things, who will be after you like flies when they see your rig, can climb all the way from the ground up into the cab. When they climb into the cab of one of my jack-jobs, they give everyone within a block a free shot of their panties, that is if they are wearing any."
Billy Fred was keeping a running total which was eating away at the five thousand dollars very rapidly. "Gotta have an electric winch and chrome brush guard in front of the chrome tube grill that we're gonna install and then there'll be steel skid plates under the engine, transmission and transfer case in case you want to get with it in the rocks. Might as well figure another couple wheels and tires as spares, along with brackets for mounting them under the roll bars," he continued. "I won't stand for no half-way jobs on this fine truck of yours, Joe Bob."
He hit the adding machine a few more times and said, "That will make you one great looking truck and it all comes to just five thousand, eight dollars and nineteen cents. What the hell, I'll round it off to an even five grand even and throw in a free chrome cowbell to hang under the front end."
"How about a rack across the back window for my guns?" asked Joe Bob, pulling out a large roll of hundred dollar bills.
"Chrome gun-racks usually go for twenty bucks, but for you, Sport, it's a freebie. That exactly burns your five grand. Here are the keys to my pickup which you can drive till yours is finished. It ought to be ready about noon tomorrow."
When he went down to register the new pickup, he wanted to get an ego tag for it. "JOE BOB" had already been issued to some lawyer up in Amarillo, so he settled for "OLD 77".
There is one other thing that every good old boy just has to have on his pickup: the right kind of bumper stickers on the tailgate. To a True-blue Texan with a pickup truck, bumper stickers are absolutely necessary to make the proper statement for him. In the same manner as a hippie would rather be caught dead than wearing a T-Shirt without something obnoxious or insulting printed on it, no genuine Good Old Boy Texan would venture forth in his pickup unless it gave everyone behind him a statement of his feelings and beliefs. The first bumper sticker that Joe Bob placed on the tailgate was one which proclaimed, "ANYONE CAN BE AN AMERICAN, BUT YOU HAVE TO BE BORN A TEXAN". Then there was a warning anyone who might consider ripping off some of the chrome, "THIS VEHICLE INSURED BY SMITH AND WESSON". With the two basics taken care of, Joe Bob could turn his talents to the finer things of life like, "GOD BLESS JOHN WAYNE" and "HONK IF YOU ARE HORNY". Finally, just to be poetic, he filled the remaining space with, "REAL COWGIRLS LIFT THEIR LEG WHEN THEY FART".
For the next three or four months, Joe Bob drove his pickup around Fort Worth, hopping and bouncing from one bump in the road to the next. Whenever he needed a few dollars in the way of spending money, he would run the drips out on Big Bob's lease and dump it off at Bubba Ray's U-Pump-It. All the time, he kept telling himself that the only reason why some team hadn't called with a big offer was because it wasn't football season yet.
One day, when he went by Bubba Ray's to pick up the money for the drip that he had dumped off the night before, Bubba told him, "There was a couple laws from the Texas Railroad Commission out here yesterday asking all sorts of questions, and a lot of them were about you. They said that they were investigating illegal sales of untaxed gas and took samples from all my pumps. I can't take any more drip from you because they would hang my ass right along with yours if we got caught."
Joe Bob didn't think much about what Bubba Ray had said and started checking with several of the other independents out on the Jackboro Highway to see if they wanted to make a few easy bucks by mixing some drip with their regular gas. None of them were especially interested and a couple even told him to get his ass out of their station or they would call the law.
One day when Joe Bob came home, Betty Ann told him, "My kid sister, Jodie, is coming to live with us for a while. She is fourteen and just at that age when girls and their mothers fight all the time about everything. I told her that she could live with us for a few weeks till things cooled off at home."
Joe Bob hadn't seen Jodie since she was ten years old when he and Betty Ann got married. At that time, she was a skinny little thing with buck teeth and bony knees, but My-Oh-My, what those four years had done for her. She now wore a 36-D bra, when she did wear one, and had the kind of figure that stopped traffic, started fights and broke up happy homes.
One night, about a week after Jodie moved into their spare bedroom and Betty Ann had just left for her shift at the hospital, Jodie walked into the living room. She had just gotten out of the shower and was wearing nothing but two towels, one around her hair and the other around her body which she held more or less in place with one hand. Joe Bob was watching the Carson show on TV. The towel was far too small to cover her when she had been a skinny ten year old, much less do any sort of job hiding what she had now become.
Joe Bob did his best to ignore her by concentrating on the first guest on the show, but it was like trying to ignore a stampede when she walked between him and the TV set and said, "How do you like my towel?"
"I think there ought to be a little more of it," replied Joe Bob.
"Like the way that I fill it out?" she asked, pulling it tighter around her waist and turning around to give him a shot at where it failed to meet in the back.
"Jodie, I think that you'd better go to your room and put on a robe," he said.
"Chicken," she laughed as she let the towel drop and trail behind her as she swung her hips out of the room.
She returned in a few minutes, wearing a robe which clung to her body like glue and sat down beside him. She snuggled close and said, "I thought that you were a big macho football jock. Don't girls turn you on? What's the matter, are you queer or something?"
"No, I'm not queer and girls do turn me on," replied Joe Bob.
"Then what's wrong with me?" she pouted.
"It's not you, Jodie, it's the situation; I'm married to your sister and you are only fourteen years old."
"Fourteen year old girls get just as horny as women as old as Betty Ann, possibly even more so," she replied. "Besides, you could say that we would be just keeping it all in the family."
"Jodie, I'm not going to listen to any more of this. I'm going to bed."
"That sounds like the best idea that you've come up with yet, your bed or mine?" she asked.
"You in your bed and me in mine," replied Joe Bob who was having a most difficult time refusing such a tempting offer.
Joe Bob had barely snapped off the light in his bedroom when he heard the door open. A soft, warm naked figure slipped between the sheets and cuddled close to him. Her erect nipples pressed against his back as she nibbled at his ear. Then she lifted her leg over his body and began to stroke him with the inside of her thigh.
"Oh Shit," he moaned. "As the old saying goes, a stiff cock has no conscience."
Three hours later, it occurred to him to set the alarm for six in the morning to be sure that he was awake and had Jodie back in her own bed long before Betty Ann got off work.
Jodie visited his bed almost every night during the next couple months with sexual demands which he never knew existed in a woman. Even though Jodie kept him physically whipped, he always made sure that he kept his regular three times a week lovemaking schedule with Betty Ann, lest she notice his loss of enthusiasm and suspect something. With Jodie in the house, the Wednesday mornings after Betty Ann got off work had to be moved to the weekends and her nights off.
One night, Betty Ann was mopping the kitchen floor before she left for work and Jodie came into the living room, dressed in cutoff blue jeans which were so short that it was obvious that she wore no panties under them. She was wearing a T-Shirt which was fully two sizes too small, and no bra on under it.
"Where do you think you're going?" asked Betty Ann, coldly.
"Down to the Ace Drive In," replied Jodie.
"In the first place, you aren't going anywhere near the Ace. That is where that bunch of drunken bikers called the Hairy Bastards hang out, and second, you aren't setting foot out of this house dressed like that," replied Betty Ann.
"Motorcycle riders are fun," said Jodie.
"Bikers are a bunch of thugs and junkies," replied Betty Ann. "I see them come into the hospital all the time, so stoned out of their heads that they don't even know that they've been shot of knifed."
Joe Bob tried to ignore the argument between the two sisters and concentrate on his favorite TV show, "The Fall Guy".
"Some of them are real nice guys, and what's wrong with the way that I'm dressed?" shouted Jodie. "Joe Bob, is there anything wrong with me going out like this?"
"Leave me out of this," he replied. "The way that you dress is between you and your sister, and she is the boss while you are living here."
"I thought that you liked the way that I dressed," she said.
Joe Bob knew better than to get involved any further in this discussion so continued to watch the TV.
"I can dress like this if I want to," shouted Jodie. "Boys like it because it's sexy and I like it too."
"No woman who thinks anything of herself or her reputation would be seen in public dressed like that, much less a fourteen year old child," said Betty Ann. "Now go to your room and change into something descent if you intend to set foot out of this house tonight."
"I may be fourteen, but I'm a hell of a lot more woman than you will ever be," shouted Jodie. "I've gotten Joe Bob up as many as four times in one night and I'll bet that you never did that."
"Oh Shit, here it comes," thought Joe Bob as he tried to sink deeper into the couch and disappear.
"What do you mean that you have gotten Joe Bob up four times in one night?" shouted Betty Ann.
"What the hell do you think that we do every night while you are emptying bedpans; play monopoly?"
Joe Bob had always heard that the worst possible woman in the world to have an affair with was your sister-in-law. She and your wife are bound to get into a fight some day and the first thing she will do is tell your wife all about it. He ducked and headed for the door as the wet mop hit him over the head. A lamp crashed against the door as it slammed shut behind him.
Joe Bob stopped at a bar out on the Jacksboro Highway where the main entertainment, other than occasional fights with broken bottles, was mud wrestling and Wet T-Shirt contests. He had a few beers while he tried to think of some logical explanation that he could tell Betty Ann. He had so much on his mind that he couldn't even enjoy what was going on in the quagmire. When the place closed at two in the morning and he had to leave, he just mostly drove around Fort Worth and thought about the situation.
"Well, first," he decided, "I'll fix Betty Ann a good, big breakfast of Jimmy Dean Sausage, eggs and whomp biscuits and have it ready when she gets off work. That woman does love her Jimmy Dean. Every time that we have had a fight, good old Jimmy Dean has come to the rescue. Then, I'll tell her that I am only human and that a man can resist just so much, then I'll beg her to forgive me and that I'll never touch another woman as long as I live," he thought as he drove. "She'll probably send Jodie packing and cut me off for a week or so, but things should get better after a while."
It was getting gray in the east when he stopped by a Circle-K, picked up a pound of Jimmy Dean, a dozen eggs and a can of Pillsbury whomp biscuits.
When he turned the corner onto his street, he saw a car parked in front of his house. It was a dull green four door Plymouth Fury, no chrome, blackwall tires, small hubcaps and three radio antennas sticking out of the trunk lid. Even though it had regular Texas tags on it, the car was so obvious that they might as well have painted "COP" on either side in big letters. Skidding to a stop, he dropped the pickup into reverse and backed around the corner. Once out of sight of the house, he drove a block away and hid his truck behind some trees in a vacant lot.
Sneaking down the alley behind fences and bushes, he got close enough to the house to see that the police car was gone. Tapping softly on the back door, he whispered, "Jodie, you in there?"
She was dressed in a robe but wide awake when she came to the door. "That was a cop car out front, what did they want?" he asked.
"They were here after you," she said. "They were some sort of special state cops and had a warrant for your arrest. When I told them that you weren't here, they shoved me aside and came on in and searched the house anyway. They said something about you were wanted for selling gasoline or something like that."
"How about Betty Ann? How mad was she over what you told her?"
"She yelled at me for a while after you left and then she went to work. She called just before the cops came and told me to tell you that if you were here when she got home from work, she was going to have you arrested for statutory rape, that is if she didn't decide to cut your nuts out instead. She said something else that I didn't understand. She said that Jimmy Dean will never make enough sausage to get your ass out of this jam."
"Why in hell did you have to tell her about us for?" asked Joe Bob.
"Well, she wouldn't get off my case and made me mad and it just sort of slipped out," replied Jodie.
"Boy, am I deep shit," said Joe Bob.
"Yea, and besides all that, a guy from the finance company came by just after you left last night and said that you had till closing time today to get the three delinquent payments caught up on your pickup or they were going to repossess it."
It took Joe Bob only a few minutes to gather his clothes, camping gear, guns and guitar and get them loaded into the pickup.
"Where are you going?" asked Jodie.
"Mexico, probably," replied Joe Bob. "I gotta get out of sight till things cool off."
"Take me with you," said Jodie.
"Not on your life," replied Joe Bob. "I'm already in enough trouble without hauling a minor across state lines."
"How about a little going-away piece before you leave?" asked Jodie. "We got time."
"Hell No! You and your hot pants have me in enough trouble already," replied Joe Bob.
"Please take me with you, Joe Bob. Betty Ann will probably make me go back home and I hate living with my bitchy mother."
Joe Bob just shook his head and walked to his pickup. He was gone a good half an hour before Betty Ann was due home from the hospital.
Realizing that every cop in the state would probably be looking for his ego tag, he drove by Bubba Ray's place where he knew several wrecked pickups were stored on the back lot. He pulled some current tags off one of them and put them on his pickup, tossing "OLD 77" under the seat. Then he waited around, staying out of sight, until the savings and loan place opened so he could get his money.
Joe Bob signed the withdrawal slip and stood there looking at the balance in the passbook; it was just over ten thousand dollars. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders, wrote in five thousand dollars and took it to the window. After the teller had counted out the money and entered the withdrawal in the passbook, he handed the book to the her and said, "Would you please mail this back to Mrs. Puckett."
Joe Bob Puckett pointed the custom grill of his pickup to the west, flipped on his Fuzzbuster, switched the CB to Channel 19, dropped a Willie Nelson tape into the stereo and leaned back to let the concrete of Interstate 20 roll by under his wheels. "Mexico, here I come."