Fat Billy Enjoys a Kip
Fat Billy Enjoys a Kip

Stubbs was skinny. It is said that Fat Billy ate all the food when they were children.  In spite of his name, Stubbs was tallish and had most of the hair in the family.  Long, greasy, matted, dirty blond hair, covered in part by a cap with the Harley Davidson emblem.  He probably would not have been bad looking, just dull and slothful, had it not been for his complexion.  His face had the texture of an old lemon and the same sallow pallor.  It has been rumored that he ground his face on the gravel surface of Seven Mile Hill Road several times racing home on stolen motorcycles and once on a lawnmower.  I have stood close to him, and I believe I could see small bits of gravel imbedded in the subcutaneous layers of his face.  On one occasion, Stubbs is known to have worked.  He picked cherries one June during the harvest.  Apparently he considered it a good opportunity to practice his Spanish on the Mexican migrant workers.  He shook their ladders and yelled, “Yariba, yariba, ya buncha Mescans!”  He may be the only picker ever fired during a labor short harvest of Mosier cherries.

It was an extremely hot July day during a heat wave when opportunity presented itself to Stubbs.  He had hitchhiked to The Dalles with a hangover and no money.  He was waiting out back of the Spillway Tavern, hoping the bartender would place a case of empties on the porch, which could be cashed in at the nearby Albertson’s Market for at least two cold beers.  It was so hot that Stubbs lay on the asphalt in the shade of a parked car and was breathing slow.  He also did not want to be seen by the bartender with the hoped-for empties.  It got hotter.  104º.  Stubbs had a singular vision, almost an hallucination.  It was a frosty glass with beads of condensation forming and dripping down the outside, filled with a perfectly poured cold beer topped with two inches of rich foam.  Stubbs could see that beer hovering in the hot air in front of his dull eyes.  He could smell the hops and barley malt.  Feel the cold liquid being soaked into his dry mouth and tongue; the remaining trickle running down his parched throat.  He could almost feel the effect the 3.2% alcohol would have on his injured nerves.  He prayed for a beer.

When he was done praying, Stubbs began to rise.  He propped himself up on his elbows.  Nothing would satisfy him except a cold beer.  And a beer he would have.  It was his right as a tax-paying American Citizen!  It would not be the first time he had stolen one.  The trouble was he was known at every store in two counties as a beer and cigarette thief.  Even where he was not known he was generally scrutinized.  His clothing posed one more problem.  Wearing a vest with no shirt, he was underdressed for shoplifting.

Stubbs turned his sluggish head up toward the loud noise of providence in the form of a refrigerated Budweiser delivery truck.  He watched the Budweiser patch on the back of the truck driver’s uniform disappear through the back door of the Spillway.  Stubbs sized up the situation with all the cunning of a hungover, dumb thief for about two seconds.  “Now this is opportunity,” thought Stubbs.  “Seize it!”  He had waited years for the right time and place to think those thoughts in those words, ever since he had heard them in a television cartoon.

Now, some men, when they get a powerful thirst for beer on a hot summer day, might do anything for a beer or two.  Being without funds, they might even steal a six-pack or two.  A true hankering for liquid refreshment might lead a broke beer lover to take a case or a keg.  That would be enough for most men.  But Stubbs was not most men.  He jumped up into the cab of the still-running diesel rig, released the brake, ground it into gear and headed west onto Interstate 84 – toward Mosier, of course.

There are two roads in and out of Mosier once a motor vehicle is off the interstate.  One leads up to Seven Mile Hill Road and the other leads up Mosier Creek Road and most of the cherry orchards.  In those days the population of the town was 342, many of whom had little to do except pull their curtains aside every time they heard a motor vehicle pass by.  None of them had ever seen a red and white Budweiser truck go by before.  An hour and a half later, when the Wasco County Sheriff  and the Oregon State Patrol came by, most witnesses, which is to say most residents who were home, found it easy to remember which direction the truck had gone.

No helicopters, dogs, or infrared scopes were needed.  Stubbs was located up on Old Man Brown’s cherry orchard, the top of the truck visible through the rows of trees.  Against one of those cherry trees Stubbs was leaning, passed out amidst a mound of empty beer cans and bottles.  He did not resist arrest, which was the only thing upon which his court-appointed attorney could build a case.

There were a few less thefts of motorcycles, lawn-mowers, roto-tillers, chain saws and pot plants around Mosier for the next six months.

David Glanville, originally of Tuscon, Arizona (and Hawaii, and Oregon, and Alaska, and California) currently lives Santiago de Atitlán, Guatemala.  He is the owner, with his wife Susan, of the Posada de Santiago, which in our humble opinion is the best hotel on the lake.  Period.  He is currently working on a novel which will piss off his guests.

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