Short Cord & Fang

Today, as I was writing a chapter for a new novel, I remembered one of the favorite people who I met many years ago. Although I don’t remember his name, I do remember his story. For now, let me just call him Woody.

He was in his early twenties; a rough-hewn man living in one of the premier surfing towns in southern California. His dress was usually just a matter of dirty worn jeans and a sports themed tee-shirt. In colder weather, a vintage leather bomber jacket was thrown atop his lanky frame. Brown hair, longish and tousled, was partially hidden under a Caterpillar ball cap. Dental hygiene was not one of his highest priorities. Please don’t let my physical description of this man throw you off. He was very intelligent and well spoken with a smile that promised laughter would soon be heard.

We met in the coffee shop where I took my meals back then. Being a counter sitter as opposed to a booth or table guy, I often would have company on either side of me. Woody was my dinner company on many occasions over the years. During meal-time conversations with him, I learned much about his life and the work that he did. He was married, no children. He and his wife ran a firewood business from up in the nearby mountains. He had obtained a permit to take wood from a federal forest area and then he sawed and split the logs into fireplace sized pieces. These he trucked down to the local homeowners and a few beach town businesses who sold wood for the fire rings on the beaches. Woody’s wife usually stayed up at their mountain place when he came down with a truckload of wood. One day as I was having lunch at the counter, Woody came in with a woman and introduced her to me as his wife. Again, I have no idea what her name was, but I sure remember her appearance. She was dressed almost exactly like Woody – Raggedy Andy and Ann for sure. Her hair was long and tied into a ponytail held in place by a rolled up checkered bandana. Even their ball caps were the same. They looked alike in many ways, except for one glaring feature. Woody’s wife had only one tooth visible in her mouth and it was right there in the front. As hard as I tried, I could hardly stop myself from staring as they sat down next to me. Woody told me that his wife came down with him to help with some “make good” wood deliveries. He explained that he sold firewood by the cord, but since his truck only held about three-quarters of a cord, each delivery was about a quarter short of wood. He would then have to make several trips to deliver the remaining wood to his waiting customers. When I asked him why he didn’t just sell by the load instead of the cord, he told me that he just couldn’t make any money by selling in smaller quantities. I was astounded by the logic of his answer.

Our relationship continued for almost a year. During that time, I can honestly say I was amused, informed and genuinely entertained by his stories. Maybe I should include the characters Short Cord and Fang in one of my own short stories.

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