“Uh, oh,” said Doreen.  We looked toward the front door.  Earl and Wynona Grubbs left the summer heat and entered Doreen’s 24HR Eat Gas Now Cafe the way they usually do. They were arguing.     

            Now most married couples argue, especially those who have been married for over fifty years like Earl and Wynona. In fact, they’ve been married so long they’re on their third bottle of Tabasco. But it isn’t the arguing, it’s the way they do it.

            Wynona is hard of hearing. It’s so bad Earl has to virtually yell every time they converse. To make matters worse, Earl has hearing problems of his own, so Wynona has to shout back since she can barely hear herself talk, even though she shouts more than she needs to. After a while they become so frustrated with each other, regular conversations turned into arguments.

            Their conversations are virtual scream-fests.

            They took the only available booth, beside us and near the jukebox, which was booming at full volume.

            “What do you want to eat!!!???” Earl asked her.


            “I said, you want something to eat!!!???”

            Wynona held out her hand toward Jerry Wayne. “Of course he looks like someone I should meet.  HELLO YOUNG MAN!!!”
            Earl shook his head in disgust.  erry Wayne, ever the gentleman, gently clasped Wynona’s hand. They’d known each other for years, but her memory wasn’t what it was either.

            “You already know him!!!”

            “I DO NOT…”

            The fight was on. We tried to ignore what was happening, but they were actually drowning out the jukebox. Trixie came over and talked to them for a while to settle things down. She flashed Earl a smile and I worried about his heart. Then she hugged him and I was sure it was all over. When she left I turned around to face the elderly couple.

            “What are y’all gonna do this summer?” I asked.

            “WHAT DID HE SAY!!!???”

            Earl sighed, answered her, and then turned his attention back at me. “We’re going to visit Wynona’s relatives up in Oklahoma.”

            “WHAT DID YOU SAY!!!???”

            Earl shouted back. The Hunting Club members pasted on tight smiles and tried to endure the conversation.

            Woodrow had never met Earl and Wynona. I introduced him, just to stir things up for grins. “Y’all need to meet Woodrow. Woodrow, this Earl and Wynona Grubbs. They’ve been married over fifty years.”

            “WHAT DID HE SAY!!!???” 

            “He said this is Woodrow and we’ve been married a hundred years!!!”


            Earl rubbed his forehead to ease the tension.

            “I used to,” Woodrow answered. “But the last time I was there I somehow made a woman mad. She laid her ears back and ripped me a new one. Said all of us Texans need to stay on our side of the river. She chewed on me for ten minutes. That ugly old woman was meaner than a snake and had an attitude like an old sore-tailed tomcat. Wasn’t much to look at, neither, kinda sickly looking with yellow eyes. Had bad teeth. I bet her tongue was forked. I’d hate to run into her again. You know…”

            “WHAT DID HE SAY!!!???” Wynona interrupted and shouted across the table.

            Veins popped out on Earl’s forehead. He looked at her for a moment, trying to contain his blood pressure, then answered her. “He says he met you once before!!!”

            She got mad.  “I heard what he said and let me tell you something Mister Earl Grubbs…”

            We escaped out the door and went fishing.  One hundred degree heat with matching humidity was a blessing.  It was quiet.


About reaviszwortham

Reavis Z. Wortham is the author of The Red River Mysteries from Poisoned Pen Press, and the Sonny Hawke thrillers from Kensington Publishing. Book 7 in the Red River series, Gold Dust releases September 4, 2018. Book 2 in the Hawke series, Hawke's War, releases May 29, 2018. The Humor Editor for Texas Fish and Game magazine, he's also a columnist for a number of newspapers and is a frequent contributor for magazines. For more fun, visit his web page at for photos, appearances, reviews, and a little look back into history with a glossary of east Texas words used in both books. Happy Perusing.
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