Call Me – Wally

Wally drives like he’s flying a sofa. Left arm punched out, hand draped over the wheel. His right arm’s always dangling, swinging full length between the seats. That’s so he can talk at you—point, emphasize, exasperate—it’s like having a man sized cellphone strapped to your head. Just make him watch the road.

I wish he’d call first. No, he just shows up with a six pack and a long face sneer, a regular cat on patrol.

“Let’s go,” he says.

“I just woke up.”

“C’mon,” he rips a tab and blow farts the foam off a can, “Bears.”

My wife’s hanging out the window, without sympathy, even though I’m pleading for any excuse. ‘Shopping?’ my eyebrows perk.

“How’s it goin’, Wally?”

“Hey, Deb, lookin’ good. You lost weight.”

“Yeah, right,” she cackles.

Doesn’t matter what she thinks, Wally’s paid his ado’s and acknowledged the herd matriarch. He figures he’s doing me a favor, dragging me off to see bears, instead of following Deb around with her list of projects.

She agrees.

“Have fun. Don’t get eaten.”

Wally doesn’t live here, but he knows the area better than I. Something calls him back just to wander the trails, visit friends, party at the pub. He told me that he gives women on PlentyofFish extra marks for living in this town. Yeah, he’s a cruiser, too. Maybe three a week. Today, mid afternoon, when the sane siesta, Wally wants to plod up the same back roads we always do, drain a couple brews, and vent off his social life. Why do I consider this charitable work?

“Looks like you’re workin’ out.” I said it because he has been working out. That was blatant. He’s grinning at me, puffing out his muscle t, looking fairly mean and lean. You know those bare knuckles wiry guys that do internal damage to someone’s face and spleen? That’s Wally when he’s primed. He looks like a nasty son of bitch.

“I know! And my legs—ten miles a day—on my bike.” He’s trying to twist off the brake pedal so I can appreciate the sculpting on the back half of his ham bone.

“Road, dude!”

“This whole divorce was the best thing, ya know,” he glances forward to the gravel switchback.

“You happy?”

“Totally—oh man, you gotta see this one on Friday—”

I can feel the yawn building. I’ve been married a thousand years and listening to Wally continually flaunt pre-love jitters—with parades of nubile thirty-year-olds—gets depressing. I seriously want to see the bears.

“Yeah, what’s she like?”


There’s reverence in his voice like he’s tapped the golden lotus.

“Great shape, man. Just beautiful, smart—owns her own place downtown—”

“What’s her name?”

I know I’ve broken the code, but I want to slow him down on the exploits. Hometown boys have weird voodoo about names, as soon as there’s a name, she’s yours—and vice versa. Same is true of stray animals.

“Lynne—Leanne,” he’s between sips, checking to see if I’m watching. “Bullshit,” I’m thinking. He wouldn’t tell me anyway.

“You’re a regular rooster.”

“I know, I know, I’m sick,” his grin’s wide enough that I can see his teeth are zoom bleached, “but I love it.”

“There’s your flaw.”

“Whaaat? You don’t approve? Too cozy back on the farm with wifey making you smarten up and mind your manners?”

“You don’t ‘love it’, you just get a thrill—then back to the hunt, always searching. Searching, searching.”

“No way man,” Wally drains the can and motions a full one to me.

“No, thanks.”

“I got it figured out, sworn off marriage. That bitch did me—I mean if I meet someone and they’re nice, sure I can be exclusive—but no more living together. No more knots.” Wally’s spare right hand slices the air with flat finality. Funny, he doesn’t say her name anymore, either. How many loves are you supposed to have in a lifetime? I wonder.

“Just up here,” Wally straightens on the wheel, craning to see over the shoulder into the adjoining creek.

“I think we’re early.” I’m trying to sound enthusiastic.

“No, no. They were here. Yesterday.”

“You were up here yesterday?”

“Me and Ross. There were two big boars—huge!” he sweeps his right hand, signifying a great barrel chest. This gravel road is Wally’s circus—off-chance spotting of a meat eater four times his own weight—there’s always healthy, latent danger. He probably burned Ross out, too, talking about dating exploits. Poor Ross is in the doghouse on a disorderly from six weeks ago. His wife probably scheduled playtime with Wally specifically for Ross’ benefit. Clare would see Wally as lost and lonely—without the nurturing provision of a well timed todo list. She probably reviewed the lesson when he got home, “Now, did you see how miserable Wally is?” Poor Ross. I guess he decided to stay home. I knew I was doing charitable work today.

Suddenly, a thought, “Hey, you know what a ‘Mashie-Niblick’ is?”

“No.” Wally’s oblivious. Women would call him pig headed. I just see him as intensely focused on self.

“It’s an iron headed club with a generous amount of loft.” *

He’s still not listening, maneuvering his van into a narrow pull-off. The road’s wide enough that if ‘Backcountry Bill’ comes flying around the corner, he’ll have time to see us and correct.

“You don’t golf.”


“Some dude wrote that on a writer’s forum this morning. Reminds me of you.”

“I dunno,” Wally’s already stepping off the rocker panel, grinning, free, skidding down the embankment to the woodland stream. The birds are livid. Their chatter is incredible–there’s not a breeze, sun’s out, and the water’s sending up serene piddling sounds. It’s cool up here. A chore deciding to go, but once you are here—I just nod my head, “I told you, there’s no bears. We’re waaay to early.”

Wally smiles back, trooping across rocks lining the salmon tributary, “Does it matter?”



Here’s a story with Wally called Call Me...

One Response to “Call Me – Wally”
  1. curly says:

    “…the water’s sending up a serene piddling sound…”

    “You don’t golf.”


    “There’s reverence in his voice like he’s tapped the golden lotus.’ ~G

    Northwest defined. And good anywhere. Thanks man. Laughed my ass off.

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