She'll keep ya afloat, and buoy yer spirit, aye!
Aarrghh is a small community located on one of the coastal islands.
You can only get there by boat.
Proposals are afoot to build a roadway to the mainland, and vice-versa.
The versa part is what's gotten everybody up in arms.
"Those folks could drive here," became the battlecry.
This was usually said while gesturing all crazy-like toward the mainland.
Efforts, among Aarrghhites, to resist the causeway/bridge combo are strong.
Bubba awoke one morning to a vision of this ugly concrete and steel erector-set spanning the three miles of tidal marsh, separating Aarrghh from civilization.
Not one to pass on a clear vision, Bubba set to work preventing the apparition from coming true. He sure as hell weren't havin' no such thing loomin' over Aarrghh.
Fred, down at the barber shop, was a big reader. Bubba went to Fred's to discuss the future of Aarrghh.
Fred recalled something about Riparian Rights. This was an old set of laws, regarding what could, or couldn't, be built along navigable, inland waterways. Aarrghh was not exactly inland, but, in the minds of those at Fred's, the mainland was. The marshland was considered brackish, so perhaps fresh water rules could be deemed to apply.
Aarrghh wasn't even really an island. It was a naturally occurring mound of sand which the tide moved around. Theoretically, the water running between the mainland and Aarrghh is a Tidal River. The 'enviros' will surely pipe up with something.
These thoughts got the ball rolling.
Bubba immediately adopted the Riparian Rights concept.
He became 'Bubba the Riparian', Defender of the Sovereignty of Aarrghh's Shoreline.
The discussion, at Fred's, went round and about the topic for several days. Much was also said at Bubba's Bait and Tackle.
Along with selling fishin' gear, and doin' mechanikin', Bubba sold fuel, was the dentist, and, when Fred was in jail that time, Bubba took over the barberin'.
Oddly enough, the time when National Geographic did the photo shoot, was during Bubba's barberin' tenure. All the pictures of Aarrghhites, in their rural nonchalance, show folks with Bubba barbered hair.
No wonder those on the mainland wanna come to Aarrghh so badly. With dental work, and hair, by Bubba, Aarrghhites are a wild lookin' bunch.
Tourists would feel like they'd done Appalachia, South Florida, and half the Banana Republics, with a trip to Jamaica thrown in along the way.
It was a tough decision for ol' Bubba. All those tourists would surely make him a rich man.
While there was only one liquor license in Aarrghh, owned by the VFW, Bubba had always held onto a little Rheumatiz Medicine, which he sold in case of ‘emergency’.
Bubba's Bait and Tackle would make one hell of a saloon for the tourists. Bubba already knew the procedure to claim rights to the next license.
Even though his liquor sales had always been illegal, he was next in line due to Grandfathering. Laws are weird, but they work, if understood.
He could see the greenbacks floating off into the sunset as he began the 'Bubba the Riparian' campaign.
Truth be told, Bubba already was rich. Hell, he'd just recently buried the third of those stainless steel suitcases full of loot. His storage unit held untold value. And, there wasn't but a few tourist dollars in the whole mess.
Bubba had an amphibious Duck.
He drove it to Alacort, the closest shore community, two, or three times a month, carrying passengers, contraband, and who all knows what else.
Bubba often made $500 for the three mile drive to shore.
Sometimes, the ride back would pay even better.
If Bubba knew what you were up to in Alacort, which he usually did, and, if what you were up to left you holdin' extra cash, the return fare could double.
This was the money Bubba buried. There was over $100,000 in cash, and the stuff at the storage facility would easily bring in that much again.
As the days passed, Bubba began to think about the fact that almost all the cash and other loot he'd accumulated came from folks he knew.
Laura, who had lately, begun asking around town for loans, credit, and any other assistance she could get, had given Bubba at least $20,000 over the years.
In her day, Laura ran with a pretty wild bunch. They paid handsomely for a few days on Aarrghh.
They called it ‘chillin'. Bubba dropped the crowd off at Whitney's Salvage, gave ol' Hugh Whitney a bottle of Jack, and $50, and told them he'd return in 72 hours.
Whitney's had been there forever.
Situated on the bluff, overlooking the marsh, it was a very elegant junkyard.
The visitors stayed in old trailers and campers, which were electrified, comfortable, and facing the most gorgeous sunset alive.
The hulks of some very classy old Detroit Iron were positioned carefully about the property. Barbecue pits were tended constantly, and there was a wooden walkway which led out to a tidepool.
Hugh Whitney tossed an onion bag filled with gurry and a few large rocks into the pool each day, at first high tide.
By low tide, when the water was only a few feet deep, and easily accessible, visitors waded in the tidepool, gathering crabs, fish, lobsters, and other goodies.
It weren't much, but Laura's crew loved it.
Laura wasn't from Aarrghh.
She'd simply stayed behind after one of the outings with her wild bunch.
Folks figgered that if she'd been smart enough to find Aarrghh, bring nice folks to spend their money, and then just send them away, so she could stay in peace, she must be O.K.
She was, for several years.
Then, as sudden as suddenly, she stopped being industrious, let her appearance lapse, and began performing the role of Village Beggar.
She never asked for much, but it had to come from the in your face, hand-to-mouth method she'd adopted.
Bubba decided that whatever she was up to, it was intentional.
She never asked him for anything. And she knew that he had taken quite a bit. Laura was about something.
Bubba was certain. It drove him batshit, not knowing what it was.
After stopping by the shop for a bracer, Bubba drove the ol' Chevy Pickup to Laura's shack.
The shack stood just outside the perimeter of Whitney's Salvage.
Ol' Hugh was too territorial to let her squat on his land, but, she had the only reasonable access to her place over his turf, and it set up a little higher, so the view was even better than that from the trailers.
Bubba drew alongside Hugh's porch, gave him the obligatory Jack and $50, and passed toward Laura's without exchanging a word.
Hugh was living in his own private dementia, and that was that.
Someday Bubba, or someone else, would drive up to the porch and Hugh would be Post Mortem in the rocker.
At least, if it happened today, he'd go with a smile on his mug, and half a yard in his pocket.
Laura was outside, bundled into piles of coats and sweaters, wearing several pairs of sweatpants. She was barefoot. It was about 40 degrees. There was mud and slush everywhere.
Her look, when she recognized Bubba, went from a purely joyful grin to a confused scowl, almost instantly.
Sadly, her face froze into the scowl before she could allow the joy to creep back in.
"Whatcha want, Bubba?"
"Hey now, Laura. Ya'll know anything about promotin' concepts? I recall hearin' you sayin' sumthin’ about promotin' concerts. That anything like the same?"
Laura laughed out loud, right through the scowl.
It seemed to startle her when she heard her own laughter.
Bubba looked straight into her eyes.
Ooops! He caught Laura looking girlish and happy.
This was either a great new beginning, or the continuation of extreme confusion. Only time would tell.
For today, Laura's discomfort at being caught in the act of joy, had ended any hope of furthering the Riparian Rights issue.
Bubba simply said, "Nice ta see ya'll. I come by to look in on ol' Hugh, and you were nearby. Later.", as he drove slowly away.
Laura returned to her scowling and puttering.
Her mind was racing, her heart aflutter. But, she let Bubba go.
He got back to the shop and asked Ernie if all was well.
Ernie responded in the affirmative.
The place could have been vanishing, board by board, in a hurricane, and Ernie's response would have remained positive.
Bubba often wished he could attain Ernie's state of mind.
While most considered ol' Ernie to be a little slow, and 'tetched in the haid', Bubba valued the composure with which Ernie faced life.
He was also a great dock jockey. Ernie invented Dinghy Dancin'.
Bubba had a few floats in the water, leading to the gas dock. The walkways and railings, heading to the floats, were surrendering to nature.
Ernie made his way out to the dock by stepping onto the siderails, and into several small dinghies along the way.
These narrow fishin' skiffs were as tippy as all get out. Ernie was a big guy.
The Dinghy Dance became a famous Aarrghh event, as others tried to walk the walk.
There were a few young kids who made it look like X-Games. But, Ernie was still the undisputed 'Stay Hi-Stay Dry' champ.
The kids splashed water everywhere.
Ernie barely allowed the boats to move as he skipped from rail to rail.
Plus, he was the only one Bubba allowed to touch the gas pump. So, he had a form of job security. Bubba felt that Ernie was a guy you'd always want on your side.
Bubba could feel the thinkin' come on.
It was so totally un-natural, and un-necessary to waste one precious moment lost in thought, while living in Aarrghh, that actual, essential thought, for a purpose, was almost painfully startling.
The brain would come back on, but the reception got fuzzier and fuzzier, more and more difficult to tune in.
There was little to be said for thinkin' among Aarrghites.
Right about then, Bubba decided to drive back out to Laura's. She could do the thinkin'.
Bubba figgered, "Being from 'away', she might still have the knack."
Laura did still have the knack.
In fact, she'd been doing the Village Beggar act in hopes of someone asking her to come up with a plan, rather than skulking around town, in tatters.
Bubba was unaware of Laura's exact intent, but he'd sensed something.
When he returned to the astounded Laura's shack, she was drunk on half the Jack Bubba had left with Hugh Whitney.
This time, she couldn't hide her joy.
She tossed off all but the ‘glued-on by bodily secretions’ T-Shirt, and a pair of silk Long-John's. These were pretty much a second skin on Laura.
Bubba gasped at the perfectly adorned body, actually blushed, and sat back onto his seat. Right there on Laura's front lawn.
He was floored.
Laura giggled, threw back her hair, and fell to the ground beside Bubba. She laughed outloud until every molecule of her being tingled.
"Concept Promotion, huh? What do you know about concept?"
Bubba grinned, and said, "Heard the word a few times. I know it means projecting thoughts into the public consciousness. Whatever that means."
Laura sat up, crossed her legs in front of her in a lotus positon, and slapped her hands on her thighs. "Can I do anything with a concept? Huh! Where you been hidin', Son? Hell, we bin' knowin' each other for over twelve years, never so much as beyond Hi, Fine, Nice ta see ya. Now were gonna do concept. Don't get a nose bleed over rushin' into things, Bubba."
"My good Lord, Laura, you are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. You'll have to excuse my stammer. I need to concentrate for a few seconds.", Bubba stammered.
Laura had the bottle of Jack, with two good swallows left. She pretended to slug one down, but just took a sip before handing the rest to Bubba.
He drank it, and asked about Hugh.
"He's in happy-happy town, sleeping peacefully. We talked about the time I brought those bikers, with their Harley's, and a noise abatement rule got passed over Labor Day weekend. Hugh loved that one. He's dreaming about the babe we hooked him up with, trying to sway his vote. S.O.B. wouldn't play along, though. He resisted the unabashed, never challenged, Queen of the Trailer Hitch. Good ol' Hugh", Laura responded.
Bubba thought about Hugh's dream for a moment, and returned his attention to Laura. "Have you heard about this roadway to the mainland?", he asked.
"Yeah, if you folks don't get organized pretty damn quickly, we'll be fightin' over parkin' spaces within a year, or two. I don't want that, Bubba. I've tried to keep a very low profile here, but, in case ya'll didn't notice, the Beggar act started right about the time those suits came for a look-see. I been tryin' ta be among ya'll, lissenin."
"You're among us all, Laura. No-one considers you an outsider. What do you think would work?"
Laura scrunched up her nose, and said, "Well, I heard about the Riparian thing. Legally, you'd be makin' law. That's always tough. But, with you as 'the Riparian', and me as the spin doctor, they'll never get past the test borings. By the way, why are you the only person, other than Yours Truly, on this entire sandbar with good teeth? And, we'll talk about my outsiderness later."
Bubba chuckled and said, "I can't work on myself. I go all the way to Richmond twice a year for my dental work."
He then thought even more about the fact that he was the rich guy, with good teeth, a business, a valuable piece of property, and now, possibly, Laura as his...dare he think?...girlfriend.
Without further consideration, Bubba announced to Laura that she was in charge.
He would perform the role of 'Bubba the Riparian' exactly as she directed.
He said, "Girl, I have over $200,000 in liquid assets. There are 120 people livin’ out here. I'm going to give every single one of them $1000, even those in favor of the road gettin' built. That leaves me with $80,000, plus, the business, and the value of the property. If the road gets built, the property value will skyrocket. I'll sell and go lookin'. If it don't, I can still live here forever. I'm goin' whole hog for the not gettin' built plan."
Laura had a Big City flashback right then.
Was Bubba too good to be true? Or, was he as fake as the big time Wall Street/Rock 'n Roll guys? She thought, "Nah. I believe in the guy."
Laura asked, "What's this I hear about a causeway?"
To learn more about Bubba, and his crew, stay tuned...
Author's Note...there are four more completed segments following the one above. The five pieces, combined, are an intact piece. The current conclusion leaves a number of choices open to expand, and extend the tale ad infinitum.
ASAP, I'll put up a separate blog, with the complete text. Links will connect the two.
Try this. Editing in progress...