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Gus’ stuff

25 Apr


Weekend at Bernie’s: How I was scammed

20 Apr


Picture this scene: You see an old woman, wrinkled and shriveled up, probably in her 70s, slouched in the passenger seat of a car. Her eyes are rolled back in her head. Her face is contorted. You see crutches in the back seat. She’s got those tube things running out of her nose that people in the hospital have on them for oxygen or whatever. You’re not sure she isn’t dead. It looks real bad.

The son, or so he says, is in the driver’s seat of this old Pontiac. He says his mom just got out of surgery and they are out of gas money. They need to get back to San Antonio.

This is the scenario I found myself in the other day in a strip shopping center close to Jersey Village.

My first thought when they guy pulled up by my vehicle, looking frantic: the old woman is dying, and he needs to call an ambulance. I can’t help but roll down the window and ask what the problem is.

The man explains. Then I start to process the situation.

The old woman looks dead or near death. I don’t think you can fake that look. I’m pretty sure it’s a scam, but it’s the old woman— that lady needs help one way or the other. Dude, she is probably going to die. I hand over some money.

The guy thanks me and speeds away.

Seconds later, I see four Asian women bust through the front door of a nearby nail salon. One of them is yelling: “Don’t give him any money. It’s a scam.”

The guy with the old woman is long gone by now. Maybe he was a NASCAR driver before he started carting around old women.

The Asian women are now at the window of my car, the one lady gesturing wildly and explaining that she was scammed by the same guy earlier in the day. Her voice is high-pitched; her eyes are wild.

“He’s been hanging around here all morning. He took my money, too. That is not his mother. It’s a scam.”

The Asian woman says she is going to call the cops. But she isn’t sure who to call since it’s just outside the Houston city limits.

I take it all in, trying to think if I should have done things differently.

My first thought: Perhaps the old woman was Jesus, and this was a test. Better to hand the money over; otherwise, I might go to hell. Not worth the risk.

Second thought: That woman looked in real bad shape. Even if it wasn’t his mother, she could use some money to buy liquor or chocolates. Perhaps a Red Bull, maybe that would perk her up.

Third thought: I’m glad they didn’t rob me. At least they asked nicely.

Fourth thought: That was the best acting job by an old lady that I’ve ever seen. That performance was worth $20.

Driving home, my thoughts drifted back to the movie, Weekend at Bernie’s.

You can do a lot with a dead body.

The mother of all baby showers

8 Apr

Drawing by Gus Morgan

My neighbors are crazy.

And they are driving me crazy.

It’s approaching midnight, and noise is pouring from the house across the street.

They have been carrying on for hours. They’ve got liquor in them now.

I wish you could hear what I’m hearing.

These are not ordinary noises, but sounds you might hear coming from the deep backwoods of Kentucky in the early 1800s. The noises I hear belong on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre soundtrack.

An animal-like cry just pierced the night, causing my cat to curl into a fetal position.

Now, here is what is even more disturbing.

They posted a sign in their yard earlier today, which said, “It’s a boy.”

I know they didn’t just have a baby. I guess they are hosting a baby shower for a friend.

I’ve tried to put myself in their shoes, to think like them. To outthink the beast, you must become the beast.

Possible thought patterns running through their brains:

“Hey, let’s host a baby shower. Yeah, man, let’s make it go on for hours and hours. Let’s serve lots of liquor. Smoke. Play loud music. And, hey, let’s have it in our garage with the doors open. And, yes, let’s not forget to invite Uncle Buck and Sally Sue. Honey, get the pigs’ feet out of the freezer. I’m going to barbecue tonight.”

Vehicles are clogging the street in front of my house, and the road itself is on the verge of a cardiac arrest. How many people are over there?

This is not how baby showers are supposed to play out.

Maybe if I was at the baby shower, I would have a different perspective on this whole deal.

Maybe I should go over and join them.

My confession: I once owned a lawn mower with three wheels

29 Mar

Drawing by Gus Morgan

Last year’s drought killed huge patches of my lawn. My once lush St. Augustine oasis has been reduced to a patch of weeds, leaving it looking like a dog with mange.

It may never return to its former glory, but I am determined to whip it back into shape. However, there is one problem. I need a new mower.

You see, I buried my old push mower last year. It was time. It lived a long and fruitful life. I bought it 10 years ago for $100. But last year, the back right wheel snapped off, and I was stuck with a three-wheeled mower.

To put it bluntly, having a three-wheeled mower is not good. It’s like owning a three-legged dog (For the record, I have never owned a three-legged dog, but one lives down the street from me. This is not a lie.). And no, I couldn’t just buy another wheel to replace the old one. The metal body where the wheel attached had rusted away. Imagine a mower with leprosy. That’s what I had.

In retrospect, that mower made me famous, or rather the laughingstock of Saddlebrook Village. When I would bring out my mower, my neighbors would stop and stare.

I could feel their prying eyes judging me and my machine.

I know what they were thinking: “There’s Gus again with his three-wheeled mower. That poor son-of-a-bitch. Why doesn’t he just buy a new mower?”

So this winter, I finally trashed my old mower in disgust. But I never replaced it.

And a man without a mower is no good really. To remedy my loss, I began searching for a replacement. I went to Lowes. I went to Home Depot. I went to Sears. At these stores, I would stop in front of the mower sections and look. And look. But I never bought one. Frozen by price shock, I would retreat, thinking I would buy again another day. Nope.

Now, I still have a weed eater, but it is worthless. It’s electric, and, in theory, should handle all the trimming needs for my suburban lawn. I paid $70 for it about two years ago. But the line is supposed to spool easily and it doesn’t. No bumping required it says. Lies. All lies.

It refuses to dispense line correctly. And so I leave it sitting in my garage, a weed eater timeout. But it mocks me from its corner. I’m going to get rid of it, too.

And so, for now, I’ve turned to using a lawn man to take care of my yard. His machines are like rock stars. He has a self-propelled lawnmower, a commercial-grade Honda that cost $1,000. And his weed eater cost him $500, the Porsche of weed wackers.

I’ve been outclassed by my own lawn man. This I cannot stand.

I’m going back to Home Depot today. Probably just to look.

Demons in my walls

28 Mar

Drawing by Gus Morgan

It’s March 28, 2012, and this is a true story.

I’ve got demons in my walls.

OK, maybe they’re mice. I haven’t laid eyes on the beasts, but I fear for the worst. I can hear them, scratching like Freddy Krueger on a chalkboard. I’ll bet they have beady red eyes.

Not too long ago, I watched the horror movie, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” starring Katie Holmes. In the movie, these little gnome-looking creatures live in the basement and come out to kill people. If those things are in my wall, I’ll be dead soon and this will be my last blog.

My two cats believe me. They stare at the walls, listening for the demons. Even the cats are afraid.

The demons are up to no good. I think they scratch to frighten me, an attempt to drive me from my own home. I’m sure they are plotting my death. I know I am plotting theirs.

It’s Gus vs. Demons, the battle of Rollick Drive.

My guess is they will make it look like a freak electrical fire. Channel 13 will play it like this on the morning newscast: “Electrical blaze claims Spring man overnight.” The smiling news anchor will flash on the screen, standing in front of my house, which is a smoldering ruin. The reporter will shove his microphone in the face of one of my bizarre neighbors, who will say in a smoker’s voice: “He kept saying he heard demons in the wall. We thought he was going insane. Poor man. Maybe he’s found peace now.”

How exactly do you wage war against demons?

My brain went into overdrive, and I formulated a plan. Step one: I went to H-E-B and got a nice package of rat poison and some Milk Duds (The Milk Duds were for me, not the demons). I worked hard not to mix up the boxes. Step two: I ventured into my attic, scary as it was, and left my little friends a buffet to die for. And now I’m in the middle of step three: Waiting for the squeals of death.

But here’s the big question: Am I smarter than a demon?

I’m hoping my superior brain power wins out. But I’m not underestimating my opponent. Sure they might have tiny brains, but the beasts are no doubt cunning and ruthless. And they’ve probably got some dreadful disease they would love to give me.

For this, they must die a violent death. The battle is on. I’ll eat my Milk Duds, and they’ll eat their poison. If you don’t hear from me, they won.

Avenge me.


Drawn to the sea

21 Mar

Galveston rocks.

The water is brown, and the city is worn by the sea. But the island oozes character. Picture a hobo surrounded by seagulls. That’s Galveston.

It’s the Hawaii of the Gulf Coast. OK, that’s a bit much.  But Galveston is close by and it is an island. So that has to count for something.

I guess that is why my parents took me and my siblings there a lot. And so I now drag my own family to the island. One day, they too will repeat the process with their families.

What is my favorite part of going to Galveston? I would say it’s the anticipation of seeing the ocean. It starts to build when you head over the giant bridge that links the island to the mainland. The seagulls and pelicans appear overhead, soaring on the wind. Then you see water and boats.

By this time, you’re starting to feel it. You roll down the window and breathe in the sea air. You exit the freeway and head south toward the seawall. In only minutes, you’re at the final traffic light and forced to turn left or right. And there it is. In a heartbeat, the ocean and all its glory unfolds before you, the sights, sounds and smells overwhelming your senses.

Waves, wind, wonder. Your brain takes it all in, and you get a little giddy. The island, as if speaking to you, shouts “Welcome to the party.”

A smile crosses your face, and you start to relax. You now remember why you come back.

Galveston rocks.

Bring in the bomber

29 Feb

I smile every time I hear my old neighbor, a B-17 bomber based at Hooks Airport, fly over my house.

Since my house sits along the flight path into Hooks, I hear the buzz and roar of aircraft all day long. But nothing gets my attention faster than the signature grumble produced by the engines on that B-17. The engines sing their own tune, one that says “I’m old, slow and proud.”

I often run outside or flip open the blinds to get a good look at my favorite plane, Texas Raiders. And what a stunning sight. The bomber is big and lumbers along like an ancient creature from another time. For guys, a plane loaded with lots of bombs and machine guns is, well, the bomb.

I want one.


Via Wikipedia:

Texas Raiders has finished a lengthy and costly main spar replacement project, started in 2001 due to the Federal Aviation Administration‘s (FAA) Airworthiness Directive # 2001-22-06, citing corrosion in the wings. TR was flown to south Houston‘s Hobby Airport (KHOU) where she would be based for over 5 years. After testing, it was determined that Texas Raiders did indeed have corrosion pitting, and cracks on the wing root hardware, so replacement parts had to be re-manufactured. It was further decided that since she would be out of service for an extended period that she should be completely refurbished. This project will have cost well over 500,000 dollars by the time the project is completed.

Texas Raiders returned to flight again on October 13, 2009, and then debuted at her “home airshow”, Wings Over Houston later that month. March 2010 found Texas Raiders relocating to a spacious hangar at the Tomball Jet Center in David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport (KDWH) in Tomball, Texas.[1]

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