Folks always claimed ‘Buck’ Granderson got his nickname because he still had the first dollar he ever made. It wasn’t true, at least not the part about his name. I had it on very good authority that his parents, two otherwise sober and responsible individuals, named him Buckalew Lavelle Granderson. While few knew about his full name, those who did all agreed it must have been a long and very difficult birthing for a momma to do that to her firstborn.
That rumor aside, the odds were pretty good Buck really might have the first dollar he ever earned. in a time and place where parsimony was an honored way of life, even Buck’s friends considered him a tightwad’s tightwad. Those not among his inner circle or who had come up short in some deal with him were more likely to use terms such as ‘cheapskate’ or ‘skinflint’ followed by a string of cuss words.
At the moment, Buck was sitting with three other local ‘characters’ at a small table toward the back of Harvey’s Bar playing Moon--a variation of dominoes that included some penny-ante betting. I was making myself as inconspicuous as possible, waiting for a break in their game, and shooting snooker. There were also two pool tables, but they were so off-level playing on them was a nightmare exercise in geometry if not applied physics or supernatural luck.
So like I said, there I was, inside Harvey’s on a cold, rainy February morning,shooting snooker and sucking down Coca-Cola’s in his beer joint located across the intersection from the First Baptist Church in our small oil-patch town while waiting for a couple railroad tank-cars to finish filling with crude.
That was my Saturday job, and it may be the easiest I ever had. Once things got going, there was nothing to do but wait about three hours then cap and seal the cars. The problem was the oil belonged to Buck’s which meant I was working for him which meant my getting paid could be a chore.
Needing to kill those three hours, along with wanting to catch some of the ‘Wide World of Sports’ on the semi-reliable , 19-inch Philco black & white TV, usually explains why I was once again at Harvey’s on a Saturday morning.
But the biggest reason today had to do with Buck being notoriously averse to paying what he owed. That unfortunate character trait could spell trouble for me. A year earlier, a certain brown-eyed girl cut me out of the herd of unattached, good old boys at our high school. By now she had me pretty well trained and had recently shared her most definite ideas about how Valentine’s day should be observed, especially when it came to corsages.
My meditations were interrupted by a shout from Buck. “What ya want, boy?”
I laid down my cue stick, and turned to face the challenge of getting my back pay out of Buck’s wallet and saving both of us a lot of tribulation. “Well, sir, it’s like this. If I don’t come up with the cash needed to pay for the fancy corsage I ordered for my date to the ‘Love & Affection’ Valentine Banquet over at the First Baptist Church, both of us could be in a world of hurt. At least that’s what my date and her mama have said.
”So you’re saying, that if I don’t shell out some of the pay you claim I owe you, both my daughter and wife will open a serious can of whup-ass on me?”
“Make that on both of us, sir. But that’s about the way things were explained to me.”
“Damn if I know what that gal of mine sees in you,” Buck grumbled while fishing out my pay.
“Me neither, sir,” I said, pocketing my twice-earned wages. “But you gotta remember she is the smart, good-looking, brown-eyed daughter of her mama, the smart, good-looking brown-eyed lady who married you.”