Crickets chirped in happy unison. It was a pleasant summer night. Elmer was oblivious to it all. They’d watched spaghetti westerns together for hours. Lee Van Cleef was her favorite actor–or was it a lie? …Along with the other lies.
“So, you’re a painter?” Luann’s mother asked, when they first met. “You’re not a frustrated artist are you–like Van Gogh?” “No ma’am, Elmer answered. “I paint houses and buildings. It has ups and downs, but I’ve never been tempted to cut off one of my ears.” It was funny then, but not anymore.
Luann wanted a handsome prince to sweep her off her feet. What she got, was Elmer, the frog prince. Their relationship was doomed from the start. After eighteen short months, Bobby Ray Tompkins came along and spirited her away. Closer in age at twenty-two, he had swagger–knew the right things to say. Bobby Ray personified bad boy mystique, with slicked back, dark hair. There’d been a few minor scrapes with the law.
Elmer suspected something was wrong. It was much too late. They were probably both laughing at him. What a stupid little man–she’d say. Yeah, what a dumbass–Bobby Ray would answer. After downing a fifth of Jack Daniels, it made complete sense. His face flushed an angry beet-red.
The showdown happened later that night at the Wrangler Bar-T Truck Stop and Cafe. Elmer found Bobby Ray–leaned over a diesel truck engine in the service bay. Elmer grabbed the back of Bobby Ray’s shirt from behind. Bobby Ray swung around off-balance. He thought it was a prank at first. Elmer got in a few jabs-then a respectable left-hook.
“I know who you are. You’re the cheatin’ S. O. B. that took my Luann away. And I’m gonna’ make you pay!” Bobby Ray deflected most of Elmer’s punches. “Elmer, you’re stinkin’-ass drunk. Why don’t you just go home? She doesn’t want to be with you anymore. Get it through that thick skull of yours!”
Bobby Ray held Elmer at a safe distance. His arms flailed helplessly–like a whirling dervish, until the Sheriff arrived. “Let me loose! I’m not finished with him yet!” Elmer screamed as he was handcuffed and escorted to a squad car.
Elmer calmed down on the ride home. “Elmer, you and me go way back. Why did you go and pull a crazy stunt like that? You’re lucky Bobby Ray didn’t press charges for assault. Do something stupid like that again and you’ll spend the night in jail!” Elmer knew the deputy was right. “Stay away from Luann and Bobby Ray. If Luann doesn’t want you–you’re better off without her. Do you understand? Because I’m only sayin’ it once!” “Yes, Sir,” Elmer answered. Elmer was the first and only person banned from the Bar-T Truck Stop.