Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A Cell Phone for Cougar Jack

Old Cougar Jack was an occasional drinking buddy of Latigo Flint's, even though he was nearly 40 years my senior. Last year Cougar Jack died alone in a cheap motel room just outside of Bakersfield. That's just background information though.

Cougar Jack refused to buy a cell phone. He always claimed that while convenient, the portability and ubiquitous nature of cell phones also ensured that from time to time someone would be forced to listen to a loved one's slow, agonizing death - and he damn sure didn't feel like doing that.

In the fall of 2003, Cougar Jack's estranged daughter sent him a package. It arrived six days after his birthday and eight days before hers. (They were both Scorpios, not that Coug' knew or would have cared if he did.) The note simply said: "Happy Birthday to both of us Dad. This makes 10 since we last spoke. I love you. Jen." A phone number was written at the bottom. For over a week Cougar Jack kept that cell phone on the bar stool next to him. He came close to tossing it away at least a couple times a night. On the tenth night he asked Gus the Bartender to show him how to "work the dang thing".

Jen was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway when Cougar Jack's call came in. The five minutes father and daughter spent talking after years of mutual silence were the happiest either could remember. The sixth minute, not so much. Jen downshifted with her right hand, held the cell with her left, steadying the wheel with her knee. Then she hit a pothole and flew off the road. Cougar Jack sat on his stool in the deserted bar and alternated between hysterically screaming her name and listening as she died horribly, trapped in her burning car.

When Gus the Bartender returned from his break, he found Cougar Jack on the employee side, methodically pouring himself shots of Everclear. Tiny pieces of the cell phone covered the length of the bar.
"Twit knew I hated cell phones. She shouldn't never have sent it no-how." Gus just shrugged in reply and kicked him out for the night. Gus didn't know the whole story and Coug' never told him, Coug' told only me. And it made me so darn sad I hiccupped for like 15 minutes straight. For a gunslinger, quickest draw ever, that's a positively pathetic display of emotion.


At 8:48 AM, Blogger darthmoridin said...


I guess she had it coming, then. Damn.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Gil The Carnie said...

Don' mind me as I slit ma' wrists. Geeze gunslinger.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Blog ho said...

But what did she really get him? A number's kinda cheap, if you ask me.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Kilroy Trout said...

We perceive this story to be tragic and unfortunate, but of course it was only one of a kajillion possible outcomes. With several billion people on the planet, no doubt hundreds these stories are unfolding every second. We can all find some comfort in this.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

I got a little teary-eyed reading that tragedy. It's like William Shakespear meets the Old West, then fast-forward to modern-day.

You're the consummate cowboy, LF. Right down to the romantic legends.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Latigo Flint said...

D. Mor: Well not exactly, but then again maybe. I guess it all depends on how you look at it.

Gil: Sorry 'bout that my fine carnie friend.

I see your point BH

Kilroy, that's exactly what I was trying to infer.

You're my favorite one of all LBB. You get me man, you really get me. (It's suddenly become a little misty in here right about now.)

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Myster said...

If she'd been in New Jersey at the time the cops on the scene would have written out a citation for improper use of a cell phone while driving. Then they would have stapled it to her toe tag and sent a carbon copy to her next of kin. And probably charged a processing fee.


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