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A Thousand Hungry Clocks*


Always a reminder to check the NASCAR Schedule

Ah, lets’ see , where was I?   I think I had promised last week that I would  finish up the Story of Miss K.   Best to get after it.

I trekked  over to New Braunfels as requested to meet face to face with Miss K.   I am a punctual fellow to a fault and I missed my designated arrival time by a good half hour; not my usual nature at all.   She had called to ask my whereabouts and I had mumbled something about getting a late start or traffic or some such.  Truth be known I was sitting at the Valero a few miles from her house and had been for a good thirty minutes.  I will admit it.  I was being a vacillating little puss.

When the GPS had signaled a right turn into the county road that led to her mother’s house a scant 2 miles away, I had turned left into the Valero.  I could not make the right turn,  not yet anyway.  Pacing the Valero parking lot and just knowing  if I ventured down that county road, something was going to happen.  I could feel it;  the trepidation in my bones and the uncertainty in my mind.  Her phone call forced the decision-  I could either beg off and disappear into the woods of Central  Texas or I could buck up and jump.  The scene from Butch Cassidy where they leap off the cliff into the raging river jumped unbidden to mind.  I told her I would be there in ten and I swear every hair on my body stood straight up.  In for a penny; in for a pound.

She will tell you that I roared up her long driveway and got straight out of the Suburban with no hesitation and she found that intriguing.   True fact;  I intended to make a forceful entrance and set the tone.  She met me half way across the yard wearing a top that looked like a NASCAR checkered flag and fit every curve of her body like an insane wetsuit.  The metaphorical significance of the finish line flag was not lost on me. It was just the beginning of the mental sparring where no actions are without meaning that continues unabated to this day.

Miss Kathy and Tuco the Dog - 2012

The next few hours were more conventional – a typical first date.  She cooked stellar chimichangas and had cold beer at the ready,  the first sweet kiss was exchanged in the rocking chairs on her mother’s front porch and soon enough it was time for me to get out of there.  High time as a matter of fact. Extricate myself.  Beat feet. Clear my mind on the drive back to the job site outside of College Station, Texas.

Good byes exchanged, a quick kiss.  Seat belt on and the turning of the key in the ignition.    The passenger’s door opened and she leaned in ‘I don’t want you to go.’    All 497 cubic inches of the big block in the Suburban were ticking over in slow cadence  ‘I have a job gal.  I can’t stay here with you.’   There was no inkling of any pity party in her voice; just a quiet resolve  ‘You can’t leave yet because I am not done with you.’  Absolutely out of the question; she was spooking the horses now. Was this going to be some sorta nasty train wreck?  Was it going to degenerate to harsher words spoken?  Fisticuffs?  Gun play?  Would we be on the Evening News?    ‘I will call you later I swear but right now I have to head back to the job’  as the Suburban clunked into reverse gear.

‘Take me with you.’


Miss K - 2012

I gave her my most fearless Stinkeye with Flying Daggers look and she didn’t back off.  Clint Eastwood would have withered under my stare.  My glare was returned with a level look of resolved assurance and a slight smile at the corner of her mouth.  Who IS this woman???  I stammered  ‘Out of the question! I have known you all of what- 5 hours??? What is your Mother going to say?’  Why oh why had I not flipped a U-ey at the Valero a few hours back?  I could have called and told her my cat was sick and headed back to College Station and been home by now.

‘Doesn’t matter what my Mother says or thinks.  You are not falling in love with my Mother.  Take me with you and do not look back.’

You ever been at a true cross roads?  A life changing situation and you damned well knew it in an instant of crystal clear revelation revealed?  I have.  Standing at the head of an aisle with a preacher at the other end,  signing a piece of paper that only made sense to a lawyer but you knew in your heart was bad juju,  drawing a gun with dark work at hand,  saying words that could not be taken back,  turning right instead of left at the Valero…………    Never in my life was a more clearly defined fork in the road presented for scrutiny.

‘How long will it take you to pack a bag?’   Nah, I just didn’t say that did I? No way! Christ on a Cracker!  WTH was I doing?

Miss K heads out the door to check in a truck

2 years later, the union still stands strong.   Crises with family and kids have been averted and resolved.  Personal altercations which are unavoidable and ridiculously predictable when you spend day after day within 32 feet of the same human melt away with resignation and heartfelt words of remorse.  She has managed to temper my bullheaded black and white view of the entire world and everybody in it.  Nothing is black and white; it is all shades of gray even though my ingrained OCDness still screams ‘It can’t be so!’  She restored my passion for life that I believed abraded away during my Corporate Years decades prior.   No small feat in itself as I had become an avowed curmudgeon as the years rolled away.

Most days I revel in her mental acuity and admire her kind nature. I never tire of  stealing a long and lustful look at her.  Some days I wish the union had occurred 5 years 15 years earlier when I had more line left on my reel. Yeah, that would have been something.  Back when I had the sexual prowess of a jungle tiger and a pocket full o’ money to lavish on a love.  Achh!  The thoughts of a silly old man married to a beautiful younger woman.  Predictable and hackneyed and best not dwelt on overly long.

Then there are the  days she wakes up after a night of fitful sleep, her body wracked by pain and her face lined with pure hurt.  I watch the silent tear roll down her cheek as the near unbearable pain washes over.  Tuco the Dog stays close on these mornings, laying next to her feet on the floor.  She knows as I of the quiet struggle going on to push back the hurt and live through another day. The first pain pill of many this day is washed down.  Tuco and I know that we are seeing the very private side of Miss Kathy, the part of her that is just a scared little girl down deep.  Our job is to stand by with quiet assurance and support.

Relaxing under the palapa

I leave you today with one last picture taken during a recent trip to Terlingua.   Miss Kathy has wished for but one thing over the last twenty years — a piece of land and a little casita that was her’s and not the bank’s.   I introduced her to Terlingua on our very first road trip in the Old Girl.   My hope was she would like it as well as I.   My concern was unjustified.  If anything, she loves it out in West Texas more than me.  With my full approval, she decided her Desert Refuge would be in the Terlingua Ranch area of Big Bend.


I just hope I have the years and the grit left in me to give her the dream she wants.



End Note: Rock and Roll Woman by Stephen Stills from the Live at Shepherds Bush CD.

‘Tis what the cat bones throwed down this morning when the Zune fired up.


*   “sounds of life and movement, people getting ready and people giving up, the sound of hope and the sound of hanging on, and behind them all, the quiet, deadly ticking of a thousand hungry clocks…”   — Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary

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A Thousand Hungry Clocks*, 9.6 out of 10 based on 30 ratings
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7 comments to A Thousand Hungry Clocks*

  • Joel

    Nice. Long life and good health to you both.

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  • I enjoyed your story…brought back similar decisions when I was dating my wife. You know they are catching you but you can’t run….ha ha!! I think Miss K still has you running around the barn yard.

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  • Richard

    No, I’m not crying, it’s just some darn dust in my eye. The heart tells it best.

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  • What a great story and very well said. My wife and I had a real long courtship, about 2 months and she hooked me… damn that woman can run!

    I didn’t have any tears either, Richard is right, some dust is flying around and thats what did it… yeah thats it. 🙂


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  • David


    Thank you for sharing. As per Erik and Richard, a number of your posts seem to have stirred up some dust.

    Thanks again,


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  • Vince

    Two very fortunate people to have found each other. As are my wife and I.

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  • Maura

    What a great story, it had me laughing so hard. I guess it was your curmudgeon way of telling a love story which is why I am sure it put some dust in the men folks eyes. Sorry to learn it ended but perhaps you have another wrangle coming!


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