The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Luna(r) Cycle

"I said that you don't have to believe me, and I certainly wouldn't...if I were in your shoes. But I can show you..." I repeated to the officer a second time, but gave up mid-sentence.

He continued to stare at me with blank, expressionless eyes.

I sat on the rickety, old picnic bench, at the entrance to the State Park. My appearance was very disheveled, bruised, and muddy. The abrasions on my wrists from the just removed handcuffs were sore and uncomfortable.

“But if you’ll just let me go to my truck and show you....” I started again.

“No!” barked the officer. He shined the light of the flashlight in my face again. It was harsh and bright. “We are not going to do that at this time.”

A sudden “squawk” came though the microphone that attached to the epaulets of his uniform. He reached up and pushed the button, turning slightly away from me.

“Dispatch, I have a male here, mid-to-late 50s...” he began,

My body started to quaver.

"Was I being arrested? What would happen?" these and other fearful thoughts washed through my mind.

With his having turned away from me, I could not concentrate well on the words that the officer was saying over the radio, and the fear was overwhelming my ability to think.

Without thinking, and with a shaky hand, I retrieved my tobacco pouch and pipe from the pocket of the jacket I was wearing. Reflexively, I filled the bowl of my pipe with the loose crumbles of rum-tinctured burley leaf. I then reached in my other pocket and retrieved my Zippo Pipe Lighter. With my thumb, I pushed open the lid, it made its distinctive, metallic clink.

The officer abruptly wheeled around. The look on his face showed a fierceness I would never be able to forget, and his hand was atop of his butt of his sheathed revolver.

I dropped both my pipe and my lighter. They clanked and clattered onto the concrete pad . Involuntarily, I wet myself slightly.

“Hands where I can see them!” he said harshly.

“Please, officer....” I stumbled over my words. My mouth was as dry as cotton bating.

He turned away again, and went back to talking on his radio.

* * * * *

My wife had gone to her sister’s earlier in the day and was staying with her overnight to help her as she recuperated from a minor foot surgery.

When I got home from work, I remembered that she would not be home. At first, I felt lonely, wishing she were with me. But then I thought, “Hell, I guess I’m going to be on my own tonight. I might as well have some fun.” and I grinned a wide, furry-faced grin.

After packing a few “supplies” for the journey, I hopped into my truck, and started the hour long drive across to the far outskirts of town. Reaching into the cooler sitting beside me, I untwisted the metal bottlecap off the ice cold, glass, amber-colored bottle, tossing it onto the floor, and took a long, deep drink, polishing it off in four swallows. I let the empty roll off the seat and onto the floor of the truck as I quickly reached for another.

“This ought to be fun!” I thought to myself, “Haven’t done this since I was a kid.”

It was already nearly dark when I reached the parking lot just off the road at the entrance to the State Park. Stepping out of the cab, I went to the back and took a kerosene lantern out.

“I ought to take one with me for the ‘road’ so-to-speak.” I thought to myself, knowing it was a long trek to get deep enough into the woods.

I opened the passenger door to my truck, and as I did so, the unmistakable sound of breaking glass was heard. One of the bottles I had tossed on the floor rolled out and shattered onto the pavement of the parking lot.

“Dammit!” I cursed under my breath. Yet, I didn’t want to let broken bottle destroy my mood.

“I’ll sweep it up when I get back.” I thought, and looked at my watch. “I better get moving!”

Very quickly I grabbed another of the long-necked amber bottles from the cooler. With a fresh beverage in one hand and the lantern in the other, I walked over a mile until I found myself deep in the forest. Lighting and hanging the lantern from a branch from a dead tree, I started back to my truck to get the other items I would need.

My mind was swimming. Memories flooded back to me of long, long ago.

I was just about back to the parking lot near the edge of the forest. I was tilting the bottle upward to drain the last drops of the beautiful fluid into my upturned mouth, when suddenly, I found myself sprawled onto the ground. I had tripped over an errant edge of a tree root along the dirt path. I cursed loudly from the pain, having wrenched my knee in the fall.

After a few minutes, the sharpness of the pain in my knee reduced enough, that I sat up and tried to look around in the rapidly-growing gloom of the early evening. The bottle I had been carrying had hit a boulder and the bottle broke, with the bottom 1/4th shattered. The rest of the bottle remained intact. With a groan, I eased myself up onto my feet and gingerly put weight on my knee. It was still sore, but fortunately I did not appear to do any permanent damage. I tried to wipe off as much of the dirt and mud from my clothes and face as I could, and then I picked up the bottle by the neck and pointed the broken end of the bottle away from me so I could throw it away when I found a trash can. I hobbled out of the forest into the parking lot.

Next to my truck was a police vehicle. Its siren was off, but the blue and red light bar atop the vehicle were flashing. The officer was looking at my truck and the broken glass near it. As I reached the pavement, I made a scuffing sound with my shoe because of the slight limp due to the soreness of my knee.

The noise made the Officer turn rapidly in my direction.

“Hold it right there.” was all he said, as he then aimed his flashlight towards me.

The Officer’s flashlight was exceptionally bright, as my eyes had grown accustomed to the gloom. Instinctively, I brought up my hands to shield my eyes from the harsh light.

“What is going on, Officer...” I begin.

The light glinted off of the broken bottle I still had in my hand.

“Put the weapon down, very slowly.” said the Officer in harsh, forceful voice.

His harshness startled me, and I let go of the broken bottle. It fell onto the pavement and shattered, splaying fragments of brown glass in all directions.


As he said that, the Officer quickly approached me and grabbed my arms and twisted them around behind me. The sound of the cuffs going around my wrists sent fear up my spine.

“Please, Officer, I can explain....” I stammered.

“Be quiet.” he growled.

He quickly frisked me, and finding nothing of interest, he told me to sit at the picnic table. He took the cuffs off of my wrists and instead put a larger ring around my ankle and around the leg of the picnic table as I sat. He then went back to his vehicle.

“How could I explain this to him?” I thought. I have to show him the equipment in the back of my truck.

Yet the fear that flooded through me helped me to realize how preposterous my story sounded, even to me. But it was the truth. I was out here, drinking root beer, and hunting for an elusive Luna Moth. I was in the same park that I had spent countless hours during the Summers when I was 11 & 12 trying to capture each and every species of moth I could find. I was here reliving some my youth, but it seemed so preposterous and foolish.

"If only I could get him to look in the cooler in my truck, he would see I had root beer, not beer. And if he would look into the back of my truck, he would see the insect nets and the other materials I had to collect moths." I thought.

But then, I groaned inwardly. "A lot of good that will do me. He'll think I'm even more of a lunatic if I tell him that." But I had to try.

The Officer slowly walked back towards me.

"I don't expect you to believe me, Officer, but..."

* * * * *



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tuesday, 27 April, 2010  
Blogger austere said...

Solid flash. You've made his helplessness believable.

Wednesday, 28 April, 2010  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I don't know whether this is fiction or true (although I suspect the former), but you've told it well in either case.

Wednesday, 28 April, 2010  
Blogger chad rohrbacher said...

Interesting twist -- best part of story was from "without thinking..." to "wet myself slightly". Concrete, simple and very human.

Two small suggestions, if you're open to them. Most times your descriptions are fantastic, and then sometimes they are almost too much -- for example, " Reaching into the cooler sitting beside me, I untwisted the metal bottlecap off the ice cold, glass, amber-colored bottle, tossing it onto the floor, and took a long, deep drink, polishing it off in four swallows." I really like when you focus and keep it simple, it's more elegant and flows better.

The only other thing I wuld recommend is tell us the rootbeer thing once, or, better yet, let the cop exclaim: "You're drinking root beer!?" :)

I hope you don't mind my meager suggestions.


Wednesday, 28 April, 2010  
Blogger PipeTobacco said...


Thank you for your suggestions! I agree with you. The story is my meager effort, and with all the other hassles with work at the U this time of year, my story is a very rough draft. If I were to edit the story, I would want to pare down in much the way you suggest.


Wednesday, 28 April, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are both very good. Writing is your path, but you know that.

Thursday, 29 April, 2010  
Blogger David Barber said...

Pipe - Another great tale from you. You really can tell a story, but as Chad says, a little less is sometimes a lot better. It's the old don't tell. I really do enjoy reading your stories, mate.

Regards, David.

Thursday, 29 April, 2010  
Blogger BBC said...

For the life of me I can't understand why folks bother to write fiction. Besides, I find non fiction strange enough, and pretty damn interesting also.

I expect my death to be interesting, being as it's the last thing I'll be doing here as Billy. In fact I demand that my goddman death be interesting.

Thursday, 29 April, 2010  

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