Friday, April 25, 2014

Drama

Here it is Friday and I haven't even posted about last week's training. Two reasons: I've been writing some narratives, and we are coming down to the end of a semester. The wrapping up of a school term always brings with it a business that is a bit overwhelming. I'll make this short:

For the week of 4/14-3/20, I

swam 11,962.64 meters,
ran 15.92, and
walked 2.27 miles.

Not good numbers, I know, not the kind I need anyway. Last year at this time I was going crazy because winter wouldn't die and the water temps were still in the low 60s preventing me from swimming really long. This year we have a spring and the temps are fine, but I'm going crazy because my body is not sound and, in the water, I am about 60 miles behind last year's languid training pace.

Sigh.

I have had some issues with my right pectoral muscle which have plagued me since I swam my first 10K of the year in early April. I hate drama but it seems I can't escape it. Internally I am full of doubt, frustration, and turmoil.

The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi put up and event page, The Chicot Challenge III, two days ago and that is both exciting and intimidating to me. It is now on the line, it is public, there is no hiding. I have to come through or fail in front of everyone. That's OK, and very motivating IF my body would just cooperate.

If you are a praying person, please say some for me.

Thank you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Beets vs Hodge Cancelled


Beets Hodge Showdown Off
By Jay Unver
The long awaited salt water battle between Randy “Butt Beets” Beets and Zane “Pain” Hodge was cancelled today when Hodge officially withdrew from the Pensacola Bay Bridge Swim. Citing Beets’ Big ASS suspension, Hodge noted that “it’s just not the same. There’s no point. I’m not driving all the way to Florida if I can’t battle my nemesis.”
When asked about the possibility of a showdown with newbie Justin Nunnery, Big ASS’s latest contract athlete, Hodge repeated, “It’s not the same. It doesn’t have the appeal to me that a sanctioned battle with Beets does. That’s not to put Mr. Nunnery down. But I don’t have to go all the way to Florida and spend money I don’t have to beat him. I can do that in the State of Mississippi.”
“What about Annabel Lavers?” I asked of another recent addition to the Big ASS’s growing stable of endurance athletes.
“Bel lives in the UK, and she’s not planning to come over.”
“You do understand,” I asked, “that with you and Beets both out, Nunnery will win the first ever Three Mile World Salt Water Championship by default?”
Hodge looked stunned at the revelation and was silent for a moment. “Well,” he finally spoke after taking a sip of his coffee, “I’ll just have to let him have it.”
We were in Hodge’s MDCC classroom where I found him between his first and second period classes. I had only a few minutes to get his thoughts so I stuck the microphone I front of his face and said, “Tell me everything you want to say in twenty-five words or less.”
“Fewer.”
“Huh?”
“Right now and through June the 14th, the most important thing on my mind and in my schedule is the Chicot Challenge. Pensacola is not good for that. The goal this year is to swim seventeen miles. Last year I struggled with sixteen, and the last time I ran the numbers, I was over fifty miles behind last year’s totals. Fifty-miles. I can’t go to Florida and race Justin Nunnery. I just can’t.”
Students were starting to filter into the room, and I knew my time was almost up.
“Is Beets still part of your Chicot Challenge crew?” I had always wondered how the tall guy could crew Hodge without murdering him. “Isn’t it dangerous to have him in a kayak with a paddle in his hand while you are face down in the water?”
“Yes, it is very dangerous. That’s the reason Robin Bond asked to work the first swim. She was afraid Randy would kill me so she kept her kayak between him and me the whole swim. She probably did save my life.”
“So they are both working the next Chicot Challenge? And when is it?”
“Yes, they are both still working. The date is June 14th. We also will have more people observing, which should deter violence from Beets. I hope to have a pontoon boat so the crew can swap out and they won’t have to be in a kayak for over ten hours. Also, I think Justin Nunnery is going to work the swim. I’m hoping for a good day and both Justin and Beets will be able to do some swimming with me.”
“Is that allowed since this is a Big ASS World record attempt?”
“Yes. We are using English Channel Rules and under those guidelines, you can have people swim with you during portions of the swim. I don’t know off hand how much of it you can be accompanied in the water. We’ll check that out. But it should make the latter parts of the swim a lot easier for me, and I hope it will be some fun for Justin.”
I noticed he didn’t mention Beets when he hoped it would be fun. At this point, the room had filled with students and it was time to start class. I took my recorder and left.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Me 'N Poot Get Mopeds


When I started the seventh-grade, Dad promised to buy me a Moped if I could make it to Christmas without the school calling him one time, or somebody’s daddy calling on account of me whipping a boy, or if I didn’t get caught smoking, or chewing tobacco, or sneaking out at night, or setting something on fire. I think he also said something about disturbances in Church, passing gas at the supper table, and low grades. I can’t remember everything, but the gist of it was I wasn’t supposed to have no fun at all until Christmas.
Why was he always against me having a good time? I never understood that. He had fun when he was a boy. I know because one summer we went fishing in Louisiana with my uncle CD. While we were out in the marsh trying to catch a red fish, Dad and CD got to talking about when they was boys. Gosh, they had a whole lot of fun. They snuck out at night, smoked cigarettes, robbed a store, pushed a car off into a thirty-foot ditch, got into fights, stole a car, and made home brew when they was eight years old. They stole and resold chickens to finance their home brew operation, and one time they sold scrap iron, then stole it back and resold it to the same man they first sold it to in the first place.
They even put a bucking saddle on a heifer and rode her, hunted on posted land, and did bad stuff at school like peeing on the radiators and flushing firecrackers down the toilet. CD said he got suspended from the 4th grade because he wouldn’t shave. I don’t know if that really happened, but that’s what he really said. Did they forget I was in the boat and could hear everything they said? Heck, compared to them I ain’t never had no fun at all.
The way I figured it, since we didn’t have no lions to shoot or Indians or Yankees to fight in the war, the only way a boy could really have fun now was to fight or fish or tear something up. I was aiming to do me some tearing up if my friend Poot would help me.  
        Dad saying that about me setting stuff on fire had hurt my feelings. I hadn’t done that in a couple of years and it was an accident then. But Dad acted like I done it on purpose and like I done it every day. I burned up the front yard one time, just once in the winter. Since the grass was dead anyway, what was the big deal? To Dad it was a very big deal.
Anyway, right before the Christmas break, me ’n Poot was playin’ with matches in the back yard. Dad kept several bales of hay, which he used for his bird dogs’ houses, stacked against the storage room. Poot was sitting on the hay and holding his hands with index fingers together and thumbs pointed upwards creating a goal for me to thump burning matches through. I had already scored several field goals and was about to win the Super Bowl when I sailed one wide left.
We didn’t get too excited when the hay caught fire. We figured we had plenty of time and the water hose wasn’t too far away, but by the time we started squirting water it was already too late. And by the time the fire department got there, all that was left for them to shoot water on was a heap of ashes. The storage room and everything in it was totally destroyed.
Up in smoke was a lawn-mower, a boat motor, several coolers, camping equipment, tools, saw-horses, bicycles, a chain saw, fishing poles, tackle boxes, lawn chairs, a couple of basketballs, fishing rods, trot-lines, Christmas decorations, boat seat cushions, hip boots, hunting clothes, dog-leashes, some mattresses, garden chemicals, and some scrap wood.
I already knew what Dad was going to say before he whipped my butt. It would start with him yelling, “Why in the Sam Hell. . . ?” One time Poot heard him say that, and he liked to laughed himself silly. He said it was supposed to be ‘Why in the Sam Hill?’ but for Dad it was ‘Sam Hell.’
Anyway, I remember all the stuff I burnt up ’cause Dad wrote it down on a poster board and nailed it to the wall on the doorway between the kitchen and the den. That way I had to look at my “sins” every time I went into the kitchen. He said I might have to work the rest of my life to pay for it but by golly pay for it I would.
And I did pay for a couple of things. With my allowance and yard cutting money that I kept in a jar under my bed, I had bought a used lawn mower, two fishing poles, and a cooler. That’s when Dad took the poster board down and gave me the lecture on grace. He was marking my account paid just like God did with our sins because of Jesus. I was so happy, I almost got saved. I even got my allowance back. Since then, I always liked girls named Grace.
Then he told me I could still get the Moped if I didn’t get in no more trouble. I don’t think it’s possible to make you understand how bad I wanted the Moped. Many a night, I lay awake in bed until the wee hours of the morning, thinking, day dreaming in the dark about a Moped. My fame and glory from the sixth grade had worn off. I was just another kid now, and in my mind nothing was worse than being ordinary. Once you have had fame, once you have been a hero, it is difficult to have to go back to being normal. A motorcycle would set me apart not only with the guys, but the girls would stand up and take notice too.
I pictured myself riding down the road in front of all the babes who went to our school. They would notice me, wave, and want to go with me, to be my girlfriend. If they had nice legs and wore shorts, I would give them a ride. I have always admired nice legs on girls.
It was that school year when a few of the girls started sprouting boobs. This drove a lot of the guys crazy. I didn’t understand. The boobs didn’t do much for me, but the legs sure did. If a girl had good legs, she had everything I wanted. Besides a Moped.
You might need to know that in those days a Moped was not one of these sissy scooters they are today. Back then they was real motorcycles with gas tanks on top, a 50cc two-stroke engine, and a three speed transmission that you shifted on the left handlebar. They would go fifty-miles an hour, fifty-five if you had a tail wind, and for a nickel’s worth of gasoline you could ride all day.
A motorcycle not only meant cool, it meant freedom. I really thought I was going to get on my Moped and ride to Africa where I would get a job as a white hunter and shoot stuff and kiss my clients’ wives.
I had read every book in the Bankston Elementary School Library about hunting in Africa. That was one of my dreams. From one of those books, I got the idea that the white hunter often smooched on the clients’ wives if the client was foolish enough to bring her on the safari. One hunter even had a special double-sized cot in his tent so he could accommodate wives visiting him in the night. Did the teachers know this good stuff was in the library? Hot dog! Riding Mopeds in Africa, shooting lions and tiger and bears, wives with pretty legs!
With all the thoughts about Mopeds and Africa and legs, I hardly ever slept anymore so I always felt bad, didn’t want to eat, and had no energy to get into trouble at school or church. Instead of being happy, Mom was worried sick and was always asking me to tell her what was wrong, what was bothering me.
Then she started giving me worm pills. When that didn’t help, she shoved a thermometer up my rear end and gave me something nasty to drink and made me go to bed. So this is what happens when you don’t get into trouble. You get promised a Moped but really you get a foreign object shoved up your butt, made to drink oil, and banished to your room. Parents. Jeez.
When all of that didn’t work, she took me to the doctor, a fat man in a lab coat who listened to my heart, made me cough, stuck a needle in my arm, and asked me a bunch of questions. I finally let it out that I was always thinking most of the night about motorcycles and stuff like that. I didn’t say nothing about Africa or legs. He and Mom had a long talk in another room and we left there and went to a drug store and got some pills. I had to take one every night before I went to bed. They must have been anti-motorcycle pills ’cause I didn’t think about motorcycles very long after taking one of them pills, but slept all night and peed on my leg the next morning when I got up and stumbled into the bathroom.
Well, to make a short story long, I got my Moped the day after school was out. The Delta Motorcycle Shop was downtown on Howard Street and Dad took me there and he and the owner went behind the counter and did some talking. I can’t remember the owner’s name, but after he and Dad talked, the owner showed me how to crank the motorcycle and how to shift gears and then I was off on my way home. No helmet even.
It’s hard to believe that now but that’s how it was in small town Mississippi in 1969. Sensibilities about so many things were just different then. Some of those differences were good and some of them not so much.
When I got home, I rode around to the back and parked on the patio. Momma came out and she even had a smile on her face. “It’s pretty,” she said reaching out and touching the red gas tank. I had never been happier in my life.
Two days later, Poot’s dad bought him one just like mine. I didn’t need nobody to tell me this was going to be a special summer.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weak Week

You who read this blog know that all I write about is my training. I NEVER touch politics and don't respond to anyone else's political posts. Not that I mind political posts of whatever persuasion. I just make it my personal policy to remain nonpolitical on the Internet. I have my reasons.

Lately, however, I have done something different: I have posted some stories. If you like that, good, if not, fine. Still, I will primarily write about training, but occasionally you can look forward (or not) to a narrative, some true, some not so much. I'll leave it to you to decide what is fiction and what is creative non-fiction. Soon I will introduce you to a brand new genre, one that I created myself and have authored all the pieces that make up its canon.

My last post introduced you to my good friend, Poot. I plan on letting you know more about my little buddy. We have a long and interesting history. He revisits me from time to time. I suppose he is the reason for the selections I made Saturday when my wife and I eagerly attended the Greenwood Leflore Public Library's Book Sale. Held in the old library building, the one I visited as a kid, I found myself strangely attracted to the kinds of books I read as a boy of  twelve, thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen years of age. I bought a whole box load of them and am almost finished with Wild Bill Hickok. I not only bought books like the ones I read as a boy, I actually found one I did read in my youth: Kit Carson, Boy Trapper. Just looking at that book makes my heart do something funny.

They say when you get old, you relive your childhood. It must be true because that pretty much sums up my reading habits of late, my thoughts, my dreams, my hobbies, and now my writing even. I'm reliving a childhood that was, I am beginning to realize, a lot more free than we realized at the time. My generation likes to look back and talk about how strict our parents were. Truth be told, I had liberties my two kids never had. All the people I grew up with in Greenwood, Mississippi will tell you in a heartbeat that they would never allow their kids or grand kids to do many of the things we did. Just one example: I can remember about an acre of my classmates and myself walking home from the Little Red Schoolhouse when we were in the first grade. Not only did my children not want to walk, their mother and I would NEVER have allowed it in the first, second, third, or fourth grades. We were just too protective, too worried something might happen to them. Apparently, so were all the other parents. Things have changed a bit.

So much for that.

Swimming wise, last week was not a good one. Already I have forgotten why I didn't swim Monday, but I got in a short run of 3.15 miles. That was all. Tuesday I took a little 4.25 mile run before making my way to DSU. Since I was late getting into the pool, I only did 1,000 meters of warmup. The practice was pretty easy, and after the main set, for some reason, Cagri talked to us a long time while we got cold on the wall. When he left, I had gotten cold and just didn't feel like swimming, so I did a short 200 and got out. The day's total was only 3,300 meters.

Wednesday I went to Twin Rivers. The water, which was a perfect 69 degrees last Friday, had cooled to 65. For the uninitiated, that might not sound like much of a drop. I can swim all day at 68. Literally. At 67 I can last around an hour to an hour and a half before I start going hypothermic. Every degree makes a huge difference. To me at least. I got 1,700 straight and then walked to work and carried my running clothes with me. After night class, (we watched Cool Hand Luke), I changed clothes and ran 3.13 miles home. It's not that far to the house, but I ran that far home. I slept well.

Thursday I took my longest and best run of the week, doing 6.63 miles with some multi-pacing. I then decided to stay in town and go for my second 10K of the year in the Twin Rivers pool. Not driving to DSU saves me two hours behind the wheel, thus giving me plenty of time. I took my wetsuit although I started the swim without it. I did 2 X 500 before I had a stick between my toes. When I first started swimming in cool water, I once stopped two times during a swim because it felt like I had a stick between the fourth and fifth toe of my left foot. The second time I stopped, I actually climbed out of a catfish pond to look at my foot. No stick. I now know that my first symptom of my body losing too much heat is the stick between the toes. I can keep swimming after that, but the irreversible process of me getting too cold is well under way when I feel like I need to stop and remove the stick.

I put on my wetsuit and started back. The stick was gone, but I was still cool and my right pec started hurting. It has given me some trouble lately. Instead of attempting to push through, I tapped out at only 1,900 meters. I decided then to take the rest of the week off from swimming. I hate to do so little, but I can still recover from a light week and be ready mid-June for my long swim. I can't get injured and take a full two or more weeks off and come back from that.

Friday and Saturday I only did a little running and no weightlifting. I'm letting the pec rest. For the week, I

swam 6,900 meters
ran 22.35, and
walked 3.9 miles.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Friend Poot

She was as mean as a coyote with his tail shot off but good-looking, and she filled our minds with thoughts straight from hell. Even at that young age, we knew she was a little trashy and inheriting the class consciousness of our town, we felt her beneath us in some way. She hated us all and we returned the favor good measure, pressed down, and shaken together. I wanted to bite her ankles.

Poot said she was a Yankee from a poor family. Since his dad worked at a bank, I thought maybe he knew. Once, in one of her lighter moods, she told us she came from Ackerman. But Mike Rose had a cousin in Ackerman who told him that she and her husband were there only a year and had come from somewhere out of state. He also said they were “non-renewed,” but we didn’t know what “non-renewed” meant.

Mrs. Sylvanus was a tender looking woman with lovely hair, a pretty face, and legs I wanted to be taped to. But she was vicious and unpredictable and quickly became as detestable to me as a mangy dog. Still, though, she was as hot as lava, and she’s the reason I got imagination today. I used to picture her lying nekkid on my mother’s dining room table. She would have donuts speared on her boobs, and I would eat my breakfast cereal off her belly while she begged me to do grownup things to her. I always said “no” cause I was hateful and she gave me bad grades. In my dreams, she promised an A, an A forever. In my dreams. In real life, she hated me.

Her husband, Coach Anus we called him, was a huge hulk of an ugly man who taught football and P. E. He was always angry and had a fetish for his whistle which he wore with a matching goofy scowl. He loved that whistle and blew often with great authority. He was also fond of screaming at us and calling us names like roody-poop, skinny boy, and sissy. Me he called Jane. He held a special place in my heart.

Things could have gone better for her, though. I had never been a good boy, but somewhere inside of me was one wanting to come out. I heard the speech at the end of my fifth-grade year about the boy who could have been president but wouldn’t do his homework. Over the summer I had also heard a lot of sweaty preaching at church about repentance and such as that. By golly, I repented and was going to be a good boy who did his homework and helped old women across the street and always said “Yes Ma’am” and “No Ma’am.”

Then on the first day of school, Mrs. Sylvanus walked up to my desk, bent over, and looked me right in the eye. “I heard about you Zane Hodge,” she said through big teeth that lay behind red lips. My face burned with embarrassment at being singled out. “You’re not getting away with anything in this class.” I saw her titty-tops peeking out of the slit in her frilly blouse while she bent over before me. It was my first dose of strong lust, and I drank the whole bottle. The thoughts of the dining room table started soon after. More dreams followed. A whole library of them.

That year she destroyed the entire male population of the sixth-grade at Bankston Elementary. This was Mayberry, or so our parents thought, and people would move their families hundreds of miles just so their children could go to school at Bankston. But that was before the Anuses came. She was a smart aleck, and way strict, a hynie-pie from hell. He was just a goofy dumb ox. Often she would sit on top of her desk, wearing a dress. She always wore a dress. With legs crossed she would dangle a shapely foot in and out of a high heel shoe. Or sometimes, the shoes would be under the desk and I would stare at her nekkid feet for as long as she sat there. She had a nice arch, a stunning instep, and painted toenails.

We loved it when she wrote on the board. Especially when she wrote up at the top and had to reach a little. Her skirt would ride up and tighten over her hinder parts. If her shoes were off, she would rise up on her toes, muscling up the calves. Sometimes she wore stockings with a line up the back. I never slept the nights she wore them kind of stockings. It was a good day when she wrote high on the board. All the guys would leave her room with books covering their groins.

But she knew we had filthy minds, and she hated us boys, but was sugar and spice to the girls. We resented that, of course. Like most kids, we had a super-sensitivity to justice or the lack thereof. Frequently, she sent us to the office for the most minor of infractions. Sometimes we really didn’t even know why. Our claims of ignorance only infuriated principle Bailey, a roaring moron who was always feeling around our underarms. He was creepy and made me sicker than the flu. He paddled me often and, and my butt got really tough that year before all this correctness and self-esteem invaded the schools.

Her worst offense, however, was to take things out of boys’ pockets. All it took was an accusation, which anybody could make at any time. Usually a girl. Sylvanus would make the accused stand before the class, and then she would reach into his pocket and retrieve the contraband. In those days, contraband was things like rubber bands, cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, notes, snuff, marbles, and pocket knives.

After a few days, she brought in a glass box that had a lid with a padlock on it. All of our confiscated goods went in the box which sat on her desk to remind us of our “sins” as she termed it. Slowly the box filled with the most amazing collection of sin that could ever corrupt a boy’s soul. Except her. Before the month of September had passed, my pocket knife was in that box.

It was Poot who told Mrs. Anus that I had the knife. I wasted no time in beating the snot out of him. I caught him in the bathroom and told him he had to buy me a new knife, that I ordered that one from the back of a magazine with money I had made mowing a yard. When he refused, I told him to put up his dukes. He raised his fists, and I hit him with two left jabs and a right cross. He started bawling like a little girl, but that didn’t stop my revenge. I pushed him against the block wall with my left forearm under his neck and was punching him on the side of his head with my right fist when Mrs. Tubbs came in and dragged us both out by the ears. We were in her homeroom class, and she didn't send us to the office or nothing. But she did make us stay in after school and at recess for one whole week.

She made us stay after school one hour a day for a week. But she didn’t send us to the office, and she never treated me like I was a bad boy just ’cause I got in a fight. She was different that way. I got in more fights that year, and Mrs. Tubbs broke them all up. When she died thirty-five years later, nobody ever knew it, but I got alone and I cried real hard for a long time.

But Mrs. Sylvanus? I declared my own personal war on her. That October, Dad and I did a lot of squirrel hunting. We would dress the squirrels on the patio behind the house when we came home from hunting. I started stashing away some of the heads. I would sneak out at night with my wrist-rocket and take the squirrel heads and make my way to the home of the Anuses. Since I lived on Harding and they lived on Montgomery, I could be there in ten minutes. Cloaked in darkness and dressed in camouflage, I would hurl a barrage of squirrel heads at their front door and windows with the wrist-rocket from the alley across the street. Then I would sneak home and eagerly await school on Monday, sure I would hear a tirade about squirrel heads. But she never said a word even after three straight weekends of her house being battered by bloody heads. So I had to come up with another strategy. War is like that.

I ran into Poot one Saturday at Gibson’s. He was wary of me, but I was nice and told him he could work off the knife, and I wouldn’t whip him no more. When he asked how, I told him to meet me at Bankston School at midnight. Friday I had left three windows unlocked, and I told him which ones. I didn’t expect the little sissy to show up so I went on in through the boys’ bathroom window. I made my way to Mrs. Anus’s room and then heard a racket. I thought I was caught for sure and would spend the rest of my life in Parchman and send my mother down to the grave with weeping. I peeked out the door into the hall. My heart was about to beat out of my chest. I got week-kneed when I saw a shadow move down the hall coming my way. I was about to pee in my pants, but then I saw who it was. It was Poot. By golly, the little turd did it.

“Hey Poot,” I almost yelled grabbing him by the shoulders. “You made it.”

“What’s the plan?” was all he said in return.

We went into Mrs. Anus’s room and just stared for a while at the glass box that had my knife and all the other good stuff in it. There was just enough moonlight coming through the window for us to be able to see a little. “You want me to bust it open?” Poot asked.

I thought on that for a long time and then said, “Naw. She’ll know I done it.”

“What then?” he asked.

“Let’s tear this place apart.”

And we did.

We turned over desks, girls’ desks and kicked their books and notebooks all over the place. Then we thought that looked too obvious so we turned over a boy’s desk. It was Tommy Sayle’s. Not that we had anything against Tommy, just that we wanted the wreckage to look general and not like one of the boys done it. Then we both peed on Mrs. Sylvanus’s chair. It took a long time to get it out with us standing there seeing each others pecker. But finally the flow started and we soaked it really good. After that we drank a bunch of water from the fountain in the hall so we could have some pee for the radiators in the bathroom. We found the janitor’s closet unlocked, and armed with brooms, we knocked the bulbs out of every light in the whole building except the office where we couldn’t get in. We did the deed to the radiators, turned over more desks in other rooms, ripped down all the bulletin boards we found, emptied the fire extinguishers, and I even managed to squat and lay a big doo doo on the floor just outside the school office. I was real proud of that.

When we climbed out the window to leave, I told Poot I was sorry for whipping him and that he didn’t owe me nothin’ and that if he ever had any trouble just come and see me. I also told him we had to get home without talking to no police. If they stopped us, they would ask if our parents knew where we were. We could lie and say yes. I had done it before. But if they wrote down our names that we was walking the town on Saturday night, and then got the call the school had been destroyed, well even Greenwood police could figure that out.

Bankston School is on the north end of Grand Blvd so it is pretty well lit up. So we detoured one block south on Popular and then crossed the Blvd to Clarico Park which offered us some darkness. The next obstacle was getting across Park Avenue. We made it without seeing a single set of car lights. We went down Walnut Street until we got to Harding where we split up. You can’t be seen by the police I told him. If you see car lights, you got to hide in the bushed till they pass.

Poot made it home with no police, and Monday morning at school was glorious. Our invasion had an effect. The entire student body was ushered into the auditorium while the police investigated and the janitorial crew cleaned up. Our principle, Mr. Bailey, addressed the student body and used big words like “debauchery” and “vandalism.” His hope was that no one of us had done this “dastardly deed.” We thought he had cussed when he said that one. Even the ancient shuffling Mr. Wilson, our Assistant Principle, went to the microphone and actually said a prayer that it wasn’t one of us “lambs gone astray.” Bailey later came back to the podium and asked for the person or persons responsible to come forward. Yeah right, I’m just going to walk forward, like at church, and say I’m a sinner. Bailey went on to say the police were taking fingerprints and setting up lie-detector machines. Like Achan, the guilty one or ones would be found out. I remembered the story from Sunday school. Would the earth really swallow us up?

I was powerful scared for a while. In my mind, I could see my mother weeping violently while the police led me out of the courtroom bound in chains headed to Parchman. But the talk of the lie-detector machine was a lie. I never understood grownups that way. They were always telling us not to do stuff and then doing it right in front of us. After an hour or so, they turned us loose to go to class. Nobody could sit still all day. That night the Greenwood Commonwealth ran a scathing editorial denouncing the “uncivilized, sorry-no-good, headed-for-Parchman-Penitentiary-person who did this cowardly deed.” Cowardly deed? It was my finest hour, and they called me a coward. Whoever wrote that ain’t never broke into no school at night.

For the rest of the week, all the guys wanted to know who-dunnit. They asked me if I knew anything about it, and I lied like a governor. When Friday came and went without Poot even lettin’ it out to the guys, I started eyen’ him different.



Christmas break came and every time the phone rang I thought it was the police calling to tell my dad to turn me in. I couldn’t enjoy my time off for jumping whenever the telephone or door bell sounded. I just knew the police were about to come at any second to take me to Parchman. And at church, I blushed ever time the preacher even looked my way. I was sure he could see my sins which had to be as scarlet. But when the break passed and the police never showed up to take me away to prison, I started thinking I just might get away with it.

And as far as I could tell, Poot never did tell nobody. He was a delicate looking runt with a touch of sissy thrown in so he had always been a target for wannabe tough guys. But all that changed after we got back to school. I whipped Sanford Thomas and Mike Moses on back to back days because they tried to mess with Poot. My grades even came up those six-weeks not because I had repented again, but I spent so much time after school in Mrs. Tubbs’ room that I actually studied some. Word got out, though, that if you messed with Poot, you had to fight me. I wasn’t the toughest kid in the sixth-grade, but I was one of them. At that age, the boys didn’t know how to fight. My dad had taught me how to box, and it didn’t take much to whip the average eleven year old.

Although our destruction of the school was a major victory, I wanted more. I wanted a more personal and direct victory over Mrs. Sylvanus. It took a long time, but finally I hatched me a plot. I knew this one would get me in serious trouble maybe even sent to Parchman so I mulled it over for almost a month. Finally, I couldn’t hold back no more.

I told no one of the plan, not even Poot although I needed him to pull if off. I went to school on Monday prepared for my victory, but I became so nervous I got the trots. I planned again on Tuesday, but once more I lost my nerve. Wednesday I did it.

“Poot,” I whispered to my buddy while we sat in Mrs. Sylvanus’s class. “Tell her I got something in my pocket.”

He just gave me a funny look. He didn’t understand.

“Poot.” I said again. “Do it. Please.”

He raised his hand.

“Yes Robert?” Mrs. Sylvanus asked.

“Mrs. Sylvanus, uh, Zane, uh, he got something in his pocket.” A hush fell over the room. Her eyes glowed like a werewolf as she rose up to confront the situation.

“Zane. Get up here,” she barked.

I slowly walked to the front of the room, stiff with anticipation.

“Let’s see what you have this time,” she said as she reached into the right pocket of my jeans.

When she grabbed it, she didn’t know what she had.

“What you got in there? That a toad frog?” she asked suddenly devoid of all teacher talk and sounding trashy like we knew she was. I looked up and saw confusion on her face.

She was feeling it, trying to figure out what it was, and trying to pull it out all at the same time. But it wouldn’t come out. When she realized what it was, her face changed all at once. Jerking her hand out and wiping it off on her dress, she gave me a look that could have killed a potted plant.

“You nasty little boy,” she snarled, grinding her teeth while digging the fingernails of her left hand into my shoulder. It’s funny how she never was pretty when she was mad. She stormed out of the room and slammed the door so hard the bulletin board fell off the wall.

“What you got in there?” Poot yelled out after she was gone.

“I cut a hole in my pocket and run my pecker in.”

The room erupted in laughter. The boys started cheering.

I was a hero; I had made contact.

I basked in the glory of my victory.

Until Bailey showed up. 




He didn’t say a word. He just stood at the door and motioned for me to come to him.

If they did today what they did to me then, they would be more than fired, more than sued, more than charged, more than jailed: they would go to prison. To Parchman for a long time. Bailey beat my butt until he couldn’t anymore. Even the ancient Mr. Wilson took a couple of swipes until he almost fell down on his old geezer face. And of course that ape, Coach Anus, had to come and defend his wife’s honor. He hit my butt so hard that I was driven forward and banged my head into the block wall.

They even let the school secretary, Miss Turnbull, a fierce woman who chain-smoked and always smelled like wet dog, paddle me. It was like a gospel meeting. Whosoever will, let him come and whip of this butt freely. And all the teachers for several halls came by to gaze upon the boy who would do such a thing. They looked at me like I was the worst sort of trash.

They called Mom, of course, and she picked me up early. She didn’t say nothing except to instruct me to wait in my room till Dad got home. After about two years of waiting, Dad burst into the room in a fury and wanted to know “Why in the Sam Hell” I had done “such a dumb-ass thing?” I told him ’cause she was “an evil bitch from hell.” He exploded at my language and yelled, “That ain’t no damn way to talk!”

He made me pull my pants down and was going to whip me himself until he saw the blueness that ran from my buttocks to just above my knees. “They do that to you?” he asked. I told him that every teacher in school whipped my butt and that Bailey was on the phone calling around to other schools trying to get some more teachers to come over and whip me cause they was all wore out at Bankston. He put his belt on and left the house and was gone a long time. Neither he nor Mom never said nothin’ about it no more. After a week of suspension, which amounted to a week of plotting revenge, I was allowed to go back to school.

I was a rock star.

All the guys wanted to be my friend. They followed me around like they was my shadow. But I made sure everybody knew Poot was my number one buddy.

But before I could actually go to class the first day back, I had to go to the office first thing and apologize for “the incident.” It was a gathering of eagles as Bailey, both Sylvanuses, Old Man Wilson, and the secretary Miss Turnbull were all there like it was a ceremony or something. They all lined up and Bailey said I could go ahead and speak. When I told Mrs. Sylvanus I was sorry she grabbed my penis and started pulling on it, you’d a thought I hit a wasp nest with a rock they way they scattered and turned red and began making noises.

Miss Turnbull poked a bony finger in my chest and told me I had better sit my “b-u-t-t in that desk over there.” She said I was the worst they ever had seen and was headed for Parchman or hell if either one of them would have me.

When Bailey got his eagles back together, they went into his office, closed the door, and talked a lot real loud. When he came out he told me to go straight to class and never mention either “incident” to anyone again. I couldn’t believe they didn’t have more fun on my b-u-t-t. I guess they was still wore out from last time.

And Bailey even changed rules and regulations because of me and “the incident.” I’m real proud of that. There was no more going in a boy’s pockets. Ever. If an accusation was made, the boy had to turn his pockets inside out in front of the teacher and a suitable witness. And the janitors were required to check every window every day at the end of school. They knew I done that one too.

Bailey had questioned me about the break-in. But I had got real good at telling lies. I told him if I had done it, I would’ve got my knife which was still in the case last time I checked. And besides, I said, I was plum tuckered out from hunting with my dad all day that Saturday. There was just no way I had energy enough to do such a thing. He come out of his chair at that one and wanted to know how I knew the school was broken into on a Saturday. That had me looking for words a few seconds and I could feel my face turn red. But I said I figured it was a teenager who done it since only a teenager would have the nerve and they all had dates on Friday night. A girl would never go along with such as that and even if she did and sat in the car while he done it, she would tell if he ever broke up with her. He sat back down and eyed me for a long time. He knew I had done it, but he didn’t have no proof and that chapped his butt.

And Mrs. Sylvanus, she couldn’t never make eye contact with me after “the incident.” I kept a constant mild grin on my face while in her class, and although she never looked directly at me, I knowed she could see me out of the corner of her eyes. My demeanor irritated her real good. Coach Anus didn’t want to see me at all, so I spent the rest of the final six weeks in the school office doing chores during the P. E. hour. That meant I had to smell Miss Turnbull who always looked at me with fight in her eyes. Mrs. Tubbs, however, she never treated me no different.

At the end of the year, I picked up my report card from Mrs. Sylvanus. I made a D - -. That is D minus minus. I guess she didn’t want to fail me considering “the incident.” She asked me if I wanted my knife back. I told her she could keep it to remember me by. For the first time since “the event,” she looked at me. I winked at her as I turned and walked out the door. If looks could kill, it wouldn’t of done me no good to be a cat.

And me and Poot, we spent the summer fishing Fobey’s Ocean and hanging out down on the river. We would ride our bikes over the Tallahatchie bridge and take the turn row to the swing where we would swim and whole gangs of kids would gather and beg me to tell them how I hatched the idea and what it felt like to have Mrs. Sylvanus’ hand on my goober. That whole summer, they never tired of hearing the story or of giving me stuff to win my favor. But I never let nobody give me nothin’, not a cigarette, not a dip of snuff, not a soda pop, not nothing unless they also gave the same thing to my friend Poot.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Finally a Sentence

The Sentence Comes Down
By Jay Unver

The roosters were still crowing on the outskirts of town and the old men in overalls were just finishing their coffee and starting on tobacco when Dr. Timothy Nomann, President and CEO of Big ASS Endurance, kicked open the door of his chambers in the Old Opera House in downtown Lehrton, MS. He walked out this Saturday morning while the air was still cool and the regular crowd was starting to mingle in once more, waiting, wondering when it would all end. The Trial of the Century, the disciplinary hearing of distance swimmer Randy Beets, it appeared, was at long last about to be over. The fat lady was starting to sing.

If Nomann has a game face, he was wearing it as he made his way to the bench, sat down, and took a quick swig of coffee. He called the session into order and sternly warned the crowd against emotional outbursts of any kind. In attendance were a number of locals, some of whom had been there all day all week. Robin Bond, who had capably represented Beets the previous five days, was on hand dolled up in a red dress cut low in the front, high heel sandals, and black stockings. Did she think that would help? Zane Hodge sat in his usual spot in the second row of what looked like old church pews which provide the seating for spectators. As normal, he drank coffee and ate mysteriously and vigorously from a brown paper bag.

An informal survey of the crowd revealed a pretty equal divide in their estimation of and desire for an outcome to the proceedings. Some wanted Beets, who had been found guilty on three counts, to be defrocked and banned from competition forever. Others desired to see the tall but troubled swimmer, who had been found not guilty on seven counts, come away with a warning at most feeling that the trail itself had been punishment more than fitting the crimes, so to speak. Hodge himself, a self professed Beets hater, had testified on Randy's behalf the day before during the pre-sentencing hearing.

Reading from a prepared statement, Nomann cleared his throat and began:

For as much as no organization is stronger than its weakest link, and for as much as Big ASS Endurance has embraced and benefited from Mr. Beets, his personality, and his rivalry with Zane Hodge, it is incumbent upon me that justice is done by this court and the results here speak clearly, unambiguously, and forcefully to all who have followed this trial or will study it in the future. In light of the testimony and findings of this court, I sentence Randy Beets to forfeiture of one can of potted meat from next year's salary, loss of expense refunds for Swim the Suck Ten Miler for the year 2014, and suspension from competition for 37 days beginning today, Saturday April 12th. During these 37 days of suspension, Mr. Beets may compete but is ineligible to win or place in the official rankings of Big ASS or any of its sub organizations. To members of the popular Facebook group Vicarious Butt Beets, you may continue to beat his hinder parts during this suspension. Our long ASS nightmare is over. I pronounce these proceedings closed, and under Big ASS bylaws no appeal is permitted.

And just like that it was done.

The crowd's reaction was surprisingly subdued. Nomann just slapped his gavel, got up and walked out. I looked around for someone to interview, and I saw Bond Robin sitting with legs crossed on the front row. I tried to snap a photograph but she saw my devices and stood, ruining my view. When I walked towards her hoping for at least a comment, she just stomped out and beat it to the parking lot where she got in her big white Dodge truck and drove away, tires squealing on the city street.

Then I turned back inside and saw Zane Hodge.

"What do you think?" I asked. He seemed amazingly nonchalant.

"I think I need another chicken gizzard," he said reaching back into his paper bag.

"I meant. . ."

"I know what you meant," he snapped. "I can't believe this. I actually feel sorry for that sorry son of a Sasquatch. Dude, a can of potted meat! That Nomann really knows how to hurt a guy."

"What about the suspension?" I asked.

"That's nothing," he said reaching into his bag and pulling out another gizzard. "I mean not much is going on this time of year. Our big race is in October. And late May. I have to sit down so I can get my ketchup out."

He sat down and tore a piece of his paper bag and placed it like a plate on the pew. After pouring two packs of Heinz ketchup on the paper, he dragged another gizzard through it and ate like he was tasting truffles. Then he got his phone out and I could see he was looking at his calendar.

"The next thing up is Pensacola Bay Bridge Swim. That will be the first Big ASS 5K World Championship. Hey, he said 37 days. I bet that ends the day before Pensacola," he said while chomping on a gizzard.

I could see him mouthing the numbers as his index finger traced the days from April 12 until May 16. He stopped chewing and his eyes got big  Real big. He counted again then he exploded.

"OH MY GOD!!"

"What?"

"OH MY GOD!!"

"What?"

"OH MY GOD!!" he yelled and began pacing.

"What?"

"Beets suspension ends the day AFTER Pensacola. OH. MY. GOD!!!" he shouted with little pieces of chicken gizzard flying out of his mouth.

"What's the big deal? He can still swim. You can still beat him."

"But it's not the same. He can swim, but he can't officially compete. If I can't beat Beets for the World Championship, I'm not going."

"Really?"

"Really. I'm not going. Pensacola is off. I can't believe Nomann did that to me. Instead of punishing Beets, he punished ME!"

Then Hodge picked up his gizzards and left. I followed him outside but didn't know what to say, to ask. He walked rapidly to his truck and climbed inside his black 2005 Nissan. I watched him tear off another piece of his sack and place it on his dashboard. He popped two Heinz ketchup packets onto the paper. I saw him dip another gizzard and then he drove off chewing rapidly like he was mad at that gizzard. When his truck hit the city street, like Bond, his tires squealed and he ran the stop sign leading out of town.





Friday, April 11, 2014

Pre-Sentencing Hearing

Pre-Sentencing Hearing
By Jay Unver
 
First, the sentencing of Randy Beets was postponed from Thursday until Friday. Then what was expected to be Judge Nomann's final words on the trial, turned instead into a pre-sentencing hearing. Appearing before Nomann and a packed house were Robin Bond, counsel for embattled Randy Beets, and Billy Boy Sharpy, legal counsel for Big ASS Endurance and Special Prosecutor for the Beets' Trial. Hodge was in attendance sitting in the congregation sipping form a large cup of coffee and eating our of a brown paper bag. Big ASS Endurance has its own rules and eating and drinking in the courtroom are not only allowed but encouraged. Conspicuously absent from the proceeding was Randy Beets.

Robin Bonds was allowed to plead leniency on Beets behalf. The false documents charge on which that Mr. Beets was found guilty, she said, was nothing more than a growing young man who didn't know how tall he was. It's a moot point, she added, and unworthy of punishment. After all, we all now know how tall he if. If his height changed again in the future, it is only nature and nature can't be controlled.

Sharpy countered that Beets had continually lied about his height for the three years that he had been an ASS and that rules are rules.

Moving to the cyber-bullying charge, Bond reiterated what she said in the trial, that Beets offenses were far less than anything Hodge had done and that turn about must be fair play or Hodge himself should face dozens of charges.

Sharpy's response was that he had accepted the not guilty finding on four of the charges. That he said sets the legal precedence that ASS athletes can taunt and harass one another with impunity. However, the guilty finding involved the special case of Beets making fun of Hodge's weight. That can't be allowed since both of these men came from the Fasttrack Fatties and have overcome fat at great cost to themselves and their families. They have been an inspiration to untold thousands of lard butts across the world. If they are allowed to poke fun of one another over that, it could have life threatening consequences to other pork butts.

Moving to the conduct unbecoming charge, Bonds continued to maintain that the whole incident should never have resulted in a charge. Sharpy countered that a near-death experience cannot be overlooked as a 'wardrobe malfunction.'

At the point, Nomann became frustrated and yelled at both parties. "Neither of you have said anything that you didn't say in the trial. Do either one of you have anything new to add? I am weary of the same arguements repeated and repeated until I have them memorized!"

Bond offered that she had something new. "I want to call a witness to plead for a light sentence," she said.

"Call your witness," Nomann responded.

'I call Zane Hodge."

Nomann pounded the gavel until he broke into a sweat trying to calm the courtroom. No one could believe their ears, and Hodge looked as surprised as everyone else. He choked on his coffee and blushed until he looked like a ripe tomato.

Rising form his seat, he walked slowly towards the bench, and was sworn in. Then MS Bond began to question him.

"Mr. Hodge, would you describe your relationship with Mr. Beets."

Sharpy objected saying this was not supposed to be a retrial, but he was overruled when Bond explained she was only setting Hodge's future comments in their proper context.

"Proceed," Nomann ordered.

"Answer the question, please Mr. Hodge."

"Well, it's pretty simple. We hate one anther. We hate one another a lot. We can't stand each other. We have fought several times. We are competitors, and each of us wants to destroy the other. Not only that, but we don't like each other."

"OK. What do you think should be Mr. Beets' punishment. No, let me rephrase that. As his enemy, what do you want to happen to Mr. Beets?"

"Well uh, maybe a small fine. Maybe, uh, what do you call it when you don't go to jail but you sort of have a jail sentence hanging over you? What's that word?

"Probation."

"Yeah, probation. That's what I want to see happen to him. Probation."

"Since you are enemies, why do you not want him suspended from Big ASS competition?" Bond queried.

"I don't want to see him suspended," Hodge answered, "because essentially that would punish me. I wouldn't have him to beat, and beating Beets is my chief joy in life. Why should I be punished for his wrong doing?"

"I have nothing further to say," Bond said and walked away from the witness stand.

Nomann ended the hearing and once more retired to his chambers for deliberation.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Verdicts

The Verdicts
By Jay Unver
 
Wednesday morning a small but nervous crowd gathered in the foyer of the Old Opera House in downtown Lehrton, MS for the second day in a row. Some chatted about the weather. A few talked about farming and gardens. One old man in overalls told another old man in ragged overalls how to spray his yard to keep out rattlesnakes. I think it involved sulfur. But for most of the pins-and-needles crowd, there was constant speculation about the verdict and the sentence. For many, for Zane Hodge himself, the reality that Randy Beets may face suspension and thus kill a world championship showdown between the two at the Pensacola Bay Bridge Swim was stunning, sobering, frightening even.

The seconds ticked by like a loud clock on a B Horror movie. "What is taking him so long?" was the mantra that circled and circled the room over and over like a bad song stuck in one's head. The Trial of the Century had ended at 5:05 pm Monday afternoon. It was now Wednesday morning and already, Dr. Nomann, who was deliberating with himself in his chambers, had sent out for an extra pot of coffee. A bad sign all agreed.
Randy Beets praying for his acquittal.

Thirty minutes later, at precisely 8:30 am on Wednesday morning, Judge Timothy Nomann, clad  in his judicial robe and looking haggard, like Merle himself, opened the door to his judge's quarters and stepped out. Without saying a word, he made his way to his seat and getting comfortable, cleared throat and simple said, "We have a verdict." An audible gasped seemed to suck the air out of the room. No one sat, but all stood in a nervous silence. Nomann cleared his throat again.

"On the charge of filing false documents with the Association of Sports Swimmers, count one: not guilty."

Someone clapped and somebody else yelled, "Injustice!"

Nomann pounded the gavel. "There will be silence in this courtroom. Until all verdicts are read, you will hold any demonstration of approval or disapproval. If there are any more outburst, the bailiff will remove you from this building. Is that understood." It wasn't a question.

"Count two, false documents: not guilty."

"Count three, false documents: not guilty,

"Count four, false documents: not guilty,

"Count five, false documents: guilty.

"On the charge of cyber-bullying, count one: not guilty

"Count two, cyber-bullying: not guilty,

"Count three, cyber-bullying: not guilty,

"Count four, cyber bullying: not guilty,

"Count five, cyber-bullying: guilty.

"On the charge of conduct unbecoming an ASS: guilty.

This concludes the trial. Tomorrow I will announce sentencing."

The room errupted into a buzz that sounded like 10,000 bees. Once more, Hodge left the courthouse without comment.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Beets' Trial

The Trial of the Century
By Jay Unver

The much anticipated trial of embattled ASS Randy Beets began today at the old Opera House in downtown Lehrton, MS. On hand for the bench trial were prosecuting attorney for Big ASS Endurance, Billy Boy Sharpy, counsel for Mr. Beets, Robin Bond, and Zane Hodge, star witness for the prosecution.

Dr. Nomann, serving as judge, called the proceedings into order at 8:00 am sharp, and read the charges which were: five counts of filing false documents with the Association, five counts of cyber-bullying, and one count of conduct unbecoming an ASS. Bond immediately filed a motion for dismissal with prejudice based on the contention that the charges themselves were a de facto judgment, that Beets, consequently, had been punished enough, and the charges themselves were nothing more than a spurious vendetta by Hodge attacking his chief opponent. Nomann rejected Bond's motion, and the trial promptly began.
Billy Boy Sharpy, ASS prosecutor

The prosecution immediately started its case on the false documents charges. Convicted last September of the same offense, Sharpy said Beets "continues to lie about his height. In initial documents filed with Big ASS," he said, "Beets listed his height at 6'6". After Hodge's complaint, Beets admitted to being 6'6 and 1/2" which resulted in subsequent charges and a finding of guilt. Beets later bragged of being 6'7" which indicates he is sill duplicitous concerning his elevation," Sharpy added.

Bond objected to Sharpy's use of the term "elevation." She was overruled.

Bond then countered that "Beets' height changes throughout the day. He doesn't measure the same thing at different times," she pleaded.

Nomann at that point stopped argumentation and ordered Beets to be measured on the spot. The results showed Beets actually to be 6'7 and 1/8".

'Now," Nomann said, "we have that matter settled, I hope for ever."

The prosecution then moved to the other four counts of false documents which involved graphs Beets posted on Facebook. "The numbers the defendant uses in these graphs," the prosecutor said, pointing to a PowerPoint presentation on a whiteboard, "are the same ones he turned in to Big ASS as part of his weekly filing. The numbers for Hodge are wrong as indicated by Hodge's own filings and also as verified by eyewitnesses to some of Hodge's training. Since Hodge's numbers are verifiably wrong, it stands to reason that the numbers Beets claims for himself are also incorrect."

Bond countered that Hodge's numbers on the graphs "were made up for the purpose of making Hodge look bad, but that Beets' training numbers were in fact correct and that eyewitnesses could collaborate some of his workouts."

At that, Sharpy went wild claiming Bond had proven the next set of charges and that Nomann should render an immediate finding of guilt. Bond objected and was upheld.
Bond, Beets, and Hodge in happier times

One count of cyber-bullying involved a photo-shopped picture of Hodge making him look huge fat. "Seeing that both Beets and Hodge came to endurance athletics because of weight issues," Sharpy added, "this stunt is far less than appropriate." In response, Bond only reiterated that it was all in good fun and that Hodge himself had little to say in response to the photo when in appeared on Facebook.

The trial then moved to the next set of charges with Sharpy again stating Bond's admission that Hodge's numbers on Beets' graphs amounted to an admission of guilt of the five counts of cyber-bullying. Bonds countered with the contention that only four of the bullying charges involved graphs and that compared to what Hodge had done to Beets over the years, Beets' graphs were less than unfriendly in comparison. Bonds then went on to do her own PowerPoint presentation that showed pictures, and disparaging articles written by Hodge about Beets over the past three years. Her presentation was compelling and went on for an a solid two hours before Nomann finally stopped her and said she had made her point and made it well.

The trial was then adjourned for lunch to reconvene at 2:00 pm.

Reconvening, the trial moved to the final charge: conduct unbecoming an ASS. To this point, the exact nature of this allegation was unknown. Most thought it somehow involved Beets activity towards Mr. Hodge. However, as the trial revealed, this charge actually stemmed from an incident at the Morganton Aquatic Center in Morganton, NC. where Beets allegedly mooned a group of church ladies who were doing water aerobics in the pool while Beets swam laps. Bond claimed the whole incident was "an unfortunate misunderstanding resulting from a wardrobe malfunction." According to her, the back end of Beets jammer "blew out while he was doing a flip turn in the shallow end near the ladies," one of whom fainted and had to be defibrillated by paramedics. In fact, she claimed, the failed jammer had been a gift from Hodge himself who possibly created the whole disaster via trickery.

Upon direct questioning, Hodge denied any knowledge of gifting Beets a jammer. "Heck," he said, "we never give each other anything except a hard time." Under cross examination by Bonds, Hodge admitted it was possible he had given Beets and faulty jammer but, he really didn't remember doing so. Asked by Sharpy under redirect what percentage of certainty Hodge had that he did not give Beets a jammer, Hodge's reply was "99.99999."

In her closing arguments, Bonds repeated the veracity of Beets numbers concerning his own training, pointed to the now settled status of Beets' height, and highlighted the mild nature of Beets' teasing of Hodge, who in her words deserved much more. After all, she said, turn about is fair play, and "he has dished out more dirt than a worn out dump truck." She reiterated her contention that the whole jammer failure was an unforeseeable accident that could happen to anyone at anytime. After all she asked, who hasn't split a pair of pants?

And with that, the Big ASS Trial of the Century ended at 5:05 in the afternoon CST. Dr. Nomann then retired to his quarters to begin deliberations with himself.

Hodge left the Opera House without comment.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Worrying about Randy, but Training Hard

Randy Beets' Disciplinary Hearing is coming up next week, and it's been on my mind a lot. I'm afraid he will be suspended and fined, and his mother is going to blame me. What to do?

Anyway, it was a pretty good training week. With the Twin Rivers Pool up, I have had reasonably good access to water. I had to put in a lot of useless time at school working registration so that cut into training a bit. I have to do the same next week even though it is a proven fact that our students don't sign up until the week before and the week of school. Monday I had just enough time to get in the pool and swim a straight 3,500 then get out and go to work. I stay with Mom on Monday nights so after work I went to her house and then took a little 2.06 mile run. I hate leaving her alone, and I hate running that late, but when you work all day AND night, you either get fat or do crazy stuff like that. Registration is not fair to people who teach night classes. We wound up working WAY more hours. Maybe I need to do like all the other full-time teachers and refuse to teach at night.

Tuesday, I decided not to go to DSU but to stay in town and swim at Twin Rivers and try for 10,000. I took my wetsuit to the pool and started swimming skins. The water was 68 and felt OK except when I did flip turns and then the colder water farther under the surface hurt. I did the first 2,800 without my suit, but I started getting cool and knew I would never make 10,000 without some warmth so I put the suit on and finished my first 10K of the year.

Wednesday, I was back at Twin Rivers. The water was 69 and oh what a difference a degree makes. Not only was it warmer, but it was way less stratified and didn't feel bad when I did my flips. In fact, I could be happy if the water stayed 69 year round. Again, I was pressed for time and just did a straight 3,700 meters. I took my running clothes to school and after my film class, I changed clothes and left the campus running. I did 4.05 miles before going home to crash.

Thursday, I decided to go to DSU because I thought I needed the sprint work Cagri, the Mad Swimming Scientist, always makes us do. After I warmed up with 1,200 and 600, we did

8 X 50 @ 1:30 as 25 fast/25 easy
4 X 150 r :20 with a floating 50
4 X 100 @ 3:00 with a floating 25
8 X 50 @ 1:30 as 25 fast/25 easy.

I cooled down doing 600 with medium paddles for a total of 4,200 meters.

Since it rained big Thursday night, Friday I couldn't go to my beloved D 6 so instead I went to B 12, the pond Randy Beets never knew. The water was 70, and it made me want to scream for joy. I remember when I thought that was cold, and even though I didn't do as much cold water swimming this year as last year, it seems what I did do had an effect. I was hoping to swim at least nine laps, but I had a mild twinge in my right pectoral muscle so I tapped out after just four circles. I didn't feel too bad about that because I already had a 10K under my belt and a pretty good total for the week. Not being able to swim, I ran for 4.22 miles. All in all it was a pretty good workout.

Saturday was a bit cool, so I went for a run and for the first time since December 17th, I felt like a runner. The pace was still way slow, but it was a little quicker, my breathing a little more controlled, and I felt a lot better.That afternoon I lifted weights and did some gentle walking.

For the week, I

swam 25,248.97 meters.
ran 16.36 miles,
lifted weights one time, and
walked 3.52 miles.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Beets Facing New Charges

Beets Facing New Charges
By Jay Unver

Disgraced distance swimmer Randy Beets is in trouble again. Last September, Beets was charged with and found guilty of falsifying documents filed with the Association of Sports Swimmers. In short, the Big ASS Endurance Disciplinary Hearing found Beets guilty of lying about his height. Although being tall is not against any rules or bylaws of any of the numerous ASS groups unified under Big ASS, falsifying documents with the athletic organization is a serious offense.

Disgraced ASS Randy Beets
It was Zane Hodge, Beets' arch rival, who filed the height complaint last September that led to Beets' first run in with the organization's hierarchy.

As a result of the guilty finding, Beets was sentenced to one hour roller blading in Arizona, a fine of an undisclosed amount, and official supervision at the Swim the Suck Ten Mile race.

This time Beets faces an embarrassing array of charges which include cyber bullying, falsifying documents with Big ASS Endurance, and conduct unbecoming an ASS.

When asked to comment, Hodge responded, "He's guilty, guilty, guilty. He's gone nuts. Right now he is as coo coo as Coo Coo Puffs."


Hodge was also queried about his role in the charges. "I said nothing. I filed no complaint. He is so out of control right now, I think Dr. Nomann filed the charges himself," he said referring to Timothy Nomann, President and CEO of Big ASS Endurance.

Dr. Nomann, President of Big ASS Endurance
Once he started talking, Hodge, the three time Big ASS World Champion, couldn't stop. "At the last Suck," he volunteered, "it often takes time for the paddlers to meet up with the swimmers. As a part of his sentence, he had to have an official observer at that race. It took the observer four miles to find Beets. He was ahead of me for four miles. Coincidence? As soon as somebody was watching him, I caught him and passed him. What does that tell you? He is as crooked as he is tall. And we still don't know how tall that is."

"What is likely to happen to him if they find him guilty again?" I asked Hodge.

"Heck if I know. Since it's not a criminal matter, they can't put him in jail, but that is where he needs to be. Really, have you ever seen anyone so out of touch with reality? Where is his mother? Where is his dad? Where are his brothers? He needs them right now. He needs an intervention in the worst sort of way.

"If they fine him, they can't get much. As professionals with the Association of Sports Swimmers, we receive $20.00 per year and one can of potted meat in addition to any awards we might win. For Beets that's twenty bucks, a can of potted meat and nothing."

"Twenty dollars is all y'all get?" I asked incredulously.

"I know it's not much, but it's better than a poke in the eye. Besides, it gives us professional status and that helps us on our taxes. We get deductions for our travel expenses to and from our competition. I probably saved $30 or $40 on my tax bill last year," Hodge added.

"Do you know what the false document charge is about?" I continued to pry Hodge.

"Our contract says we have to log our training each week with the Association. They keep check on us to make sure we are working hard and are worthy of the money they pay us. He's gone crazy with these graphs that are obviously false. Telling lies to your boss is never a good idea."

"And the cyber bullying?"

"I think that involves me, stuff he's been putting on Facebook. But really, I wish they would drop that. I can take care of myself. I just enrolled in self-defense classes, and I bought a can of mace."

"And the conduct unbecoming?"

"Being seven feet tall and acting like a badly behaved child, would be my guess. Dude, you don't want someone like him representing your organization."

"What do you think set him off?"

"Getting beat like a red-headed step child by me over and over can't be easy to take. Last year, he had Brian Ott and the whole team at the Greenville Y all worked together to train him to beat me. He still lost. Then there was the awards banquet. Jeez Louise. At the time, I thought it was pretty funny. But when I thought about it a bit, I actually felt sorry for him," Hodge said seeming to somber in his mood.

"What happened?"

"Everything. His mother fainted, he fell down, he spilled his food on the floor and in his lap. I won most of the awards. He was named 'Tallest Momma's Boy of the Year.' I believe it was just too much for him. I think I may have even taunted him a bit. I regret that now. He left the State of Mississippi shortly afterwards, and all that anyone around here has heard from him since then has been nonsense."

Hodge grew quiet for a moment then added. "It's sort of sad. I hope they don't suspend him. I wouldn't have anybody to beat. And I just keep thinking, Where is his momma?"