by Larry Brody
Time now for an update on what’s happening in Paradise. I like to think of this kind of reportage as a kind of blind gossip column but without the blind “Guess who,” bit, because I’m so bad at coming up with clues.
Here’s the nitty gritty:
The Good News: Long lines for the cashiers at the Paradise Walmart seem to be a thing of the past.
The Bad News: Business in Paradise is down, down, down. Trucks picking up and delivering at the goat milk company near the Town Square no longer inconvenience other traffic because there isn’t any other traffic.
The Latest Cloud Creek Ranch Groundskeeper
The Good News: Billy Morningstar has moved in with Buck the Ex Navy Seal and Delly the Interstate Trucker. That means he lives right next door to us—only a quarter of a mile away—and has been taking excellent care of the grass, flowers, and weeds that sort of look like grass and flowers here on The Mountain all summer.
The Bad News: Billy is Delly’s ex, which sets some folks to wonderin’. Gwen the Beautiful’s analysis boils down to “People are always saying, ‘Why can’t we just get along?” Billy and Buck and Delly prove that at least some people can.”
The Old Billionaire
The Good News: The O.B. is still very much alive and, for the most part, alert. He and his wife Nettie have settled back into the loving life they led for so many years.
The Bad News: The O.B. Himself acknowledges that it’s his meds that keep him from getting too angry for those who love him to bear…and his fridge and the sticky notes he’s put on it are what enable him to remember far too many things that used to come to mind automatically.
The @#%$ Chicken-Killing Weasels
The Good News: Decker the Giant Hearted is feeling proud as punch after killing two of the varmints who made the mistake of coming in through the dog yard fence onto his turf. “I’ve redeemed myself!” he barked joyfully after dropping the last weasel onto the porch.
The Bad News: Cloud Creek Ranch remains chickenless. Because Ole Larry B is too chicken to risk more heartbreak if the weasels who haven’t faced off with Decker return.
The Good News: Burl Jr.’s father’s health has improved, and he’s able to do more work on the farm.
The Bad News: Burl Jr.’s recording studio in the Town Square was broken into and his recording equipment was taken although his recordings and demo tapes were left behind. “Burl Jr.’s analysis is “Paradise people don’t understand the finer things in life. Am I doomed to be yet another artist unappreciated by those closest to him?”
The badder news: “I think we should go back on the road, honey,” said his wife Tara, “so we can go to a more sensitive place where they’ll appreciate your work enough to steal you blind.” And, according to Burl, Jr., she means it.
Doug the Dog Breeder
The Good News: Doug the Dog Breeder and his wife, Anita, have a new trailer, a cozy place for humans in love to nest in and regain the vigor of youth.
The Bad News: For all practical purposes, Doug’s out of the dog breeding business because of the economy, although he’s still open to those who need a clean, healthy place to board their pets.
Larry B and Gwen the Beautiful
The Good News: We’re still here. Together. Enjoying life and feeling fulfilled by its mysteries. The specifics:
Gwen the Beautiful
Gwen has discovered the value of hope. The peace that can come from peering into the future and knowing that with a little tweak here and maybe a twist there she can make tomorrow shinier and warmer and more filled with satisfaction and love than yesterday.
The Wind and I are into a heavy conversation about whether reality is real which is delightfully compounded by the fact that we can’t even agree on whether or not our conversation is.
Oops, here’s some Sudden News: Right here, right now, “at this very moment and I mean it,” Gwen wants us to go outside and fill the bird feeders. And even I can tell that she’s running out of patience.
In other words, looks like this update is just about done. And, frankly, as Elvis sang on his first LP, “That’s all right, Mama.” The truth is that here at the top of The Mountain Bad News always loses because like another song on that album put it, “Any place is paradise when I’m with you.”
And I mean with all of you.