Calloustown

Free Calloustown by George Singleton

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Authors: George Singleton
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flown away via tornadoes. Pick two things, pay what he asks, go home, and call somebody to install a home security system. Call up Rachel and tell her I’m not planning any surprise trips to Raleigh, should she worry, unless a knot of ukulele troubadours request some specialized instruments worthy of viable amplification.
    I looked back at my truck to make sure there wasn’t a visible bomb strapped to the undercarriage. And then I turned my head to inside the trailer: stuffed bobcats, coyotes, wild turkeys, hawks, owls, coons, skunks, a river otter, maybe a badger, groundhogs, one small pony, a nutria, foxes, two armadillos, and coiled venomous rattlers roamed the floor. I’m talking, again, that this was a sixteen-by-eighty-foot trailer. Mounted heads of deer, wild boars, one moose, and a two-headed calf adorned the upper parts of the walls. I looked in between and saw no ukuleles, for one, or anything else I might be interested in transferring to my own living conditions. I should say that in between there were stacks of popsicle-stick baskets, tools, single- and doubletree yokes, a history of the boom box, and enough vacant wasp nest stucco apartments hanging from the ceiling to satisfy a homeopathy-leaning Chinese woman masterful in ancient reliable tonics and salves.
    So I ventured over to the next trailer—a perfect Airstream—and looked in to find plastic bins of ashtrays, bottle caps, rocks, peach pits, and car cigarette lighters, among other things. Hubcaps covered the walls.
    I thought, you need to call up that TV show where pickers come in and relieve people of their relentless habits before they end up on that other TV show that delves into people who won’t ever discard anything, including trash.
    â€œYou found anything yet?” Ruben Orr yelled from the doorway.
    I jumped in a way that didn’t make me proud. I might’ve blurted out, “Not now!” or “This isn’t how I’m supposed to die!” like that. I said, “Man, I’ve never seen anything like this. Do you have a website? You need to have some of your stuff listed on eBay, or Craigslist, or something like that.”
    Ruben Orr handed me a delicate glass with a slice of orange hanging on top. He said, “What?” He held out his own glass to clink. “Now, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill Old Fashioned.”
    I waited for him to drink first, of course. I even thought to ask that we switch glasses, seeing as mine might be poisoned, but then I remembered a psychology course I took one time. Evidently people can smell paranoia, and they hold poisoned drinks in their own hands knowing that they’ll be requested to switch.
    My own ex-wife Rachel said that I let off distinguishable pheromones right before I admitted how I never wished to move out of Calloustown, work a regular job, have children, vote Republican, join a gym that offered spin classes, and promise that we’d one day own a timeshare in Myrtle Beach. That “vote Republican” part seemed to be what ended our marriage. Listen, I could’ve gone into the booth, come out, and lied, but it didn’t occur to me until she’d already settled down doing whatever she found necessary.
    â€œCheers,” I said, and we drank simultaneously. I took one gulp, and Ruben drank his. I didn’t care that I might be poisoned, understand. Indeed this drink wasn’t the traditional Old Fashioned I’d ever read about. I said, “Goddamn, Mr. Ruben Orr, what is this?” for I’d never tasted anything such.
    â€œI normally don’t tell people my secrets,” he said. “Hell, I’ve had Worm offer me thirty-three dollars for this recipe, but I wouldn’t give it to him. I might have to in time, what with my financial state, but not so far.”
    We stepped out from the Airstream and moseyed over to one of the gutted buses. From the opened door I could view what looked like an entire

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