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Short Stories

by Bett Butler

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Highway 16 from the border to San Antonio Tiny cities skitter by on little possum feet Crawling through the speed trap past the Freer Buckaroos Then Tilden, Cross, Jourdanton, and sweet Poteet I’m on my way to god knows where Don’t ask me what I’m doing there Lengthy explanations are a bore But I’ve ended up at Bubba’s Inconvenience Store. In my limited experience down deep South Texas way I’ve added these two pearls of wisdom to my repertoire It is not a good idea to pick the prickly pear bloom and if you hit an armadillo, it can sure screw up your car I find a phone and dial away Thank the lord for AAA They’ll take a couple hours, maybe more to tow my car from Bubba’s Inconvenience Store. There are plastic picnic tables, so I settle in to wait with a bottle of Ozarka and a candy bar My attention wanders to the people who are passing through and the vehicles outside that dwarf my tiny car It’s just a minnow in a sea of pickup trucks and SUVs a guppy gasping on the sandy shore beached and bummed at Bubba’s Inconvenience Store. The cashier gets to talking to me, asks me where I’m from says he went to court reporting school in San Antone With three months left to graduate, they shut the sucker down Now the state says he still owes them for his student loan He’s worked here almost half a year But there’s really nothing for him here He’s twenty-two and ready to explore the world beyond old Bubba’s Inconvenience Store. So he’s marking time and working hard and saving all his dough He wants to get the proper training for a serious career What he really wants to do is be a stylist to the stars and Beeville Beauty College ain’t too far from here. All day long he dreams of hair He wants to be José Eber Own his own salon and maybe more far away from Bubba’s Inconvenience Store. We hear the diesel engine rumbling, pulling up in front is the biggest flat-bed tow truck I’ve ever seen The driver does his magic, now my tiny car looks like a Tonka toy perched atop that big machine. Soon I’m on my way back home to do some dreaming of my own holding to my heart forever more the dreams that pass through Bubba’s Inconvenience Store. Sometimes God just slows you down tucks you in some tiny town frees your flights of fantasy to soar on wings you buy at Bubba’s Inconvenience Store.
You know I love you, baby. You know you mean the world to me. But we gotta learn respect for one another even though at times we disagree. Some hurtful words were spoken here, and now they’re hanging over us like the branches of some evil tree. ‘Fore you walk out that door, let’s talk it over. It’s not an easy thing to live a life together. We’re just trying hard to find our way. Sometimes we stumble, we make mistakes, we say things we didn’t mean to say. Now maybe both of us were wrong, or maybe both of us were right, but either way, ‘fore you walk out that door, let’s talk it over. Our love is like a fragile flower with tender care it grows and opens to the sky. Now, we can work together to make it strong, or we can both just walk away and let it die. You know I love you, baby. You know I do, without a doubt. A little patience, a little understanding— after all, isn’t that what love is all about? If we could both just give a little, and meet somewhere in the middle, I know that we could work it out. ‘Fore you walk out that door, let’s talk it over.
Baby, something’s wrong here For a long, long time, you just ain’t been yourself You’re body’s here beside But it’s plain to see your mind is somewhere else In the little things you do each day I can see the signs that something’s wrong Won’t you look me in the eye and tell me what it is that’s going on? I tried to shut my eyes to all the things I noticed going down I tried so not to listen to all the gossip and the rumors going ‘round But now, when you make love to me, you try to hide it, but I can see the thrill is gone Won’t you look me in the eye and tell me what it is that’s going on? I didn’t want to ask you I hoped and prayed that it was just a passing thing I didn’t want to know the truth I knew what misery the truth could bring But now I know that it’s not right for you to still be here with me when your love for me is gone. Won’t you look me in the eye and tell me what it is that’s going on? Won’t you look me in the eye and tell me what it is that’s going on?
In the lesson of love, there’s a lot to learn, and everybody’s got their long, sad story. A little heartbreak, a little heartburn— these things come with the territory. But when it’s all said and done, I got no regret. You wanna learn how to swim, you gotta expect to get wet. I won’t even remember your name a hundred tears from now. Well, I was just another toy for your affection, just another sucker for a phony valentine, just another doll in your collection, just another psyche on your disassembly line. You broke my heart, you did me wrong. I may be devastated, but not for long. I won’t even remember your name a hundred tears from now. Soon you’ll be yesterday’s news, and I don’t dwell in the past. I’ll just chalk you up to experience. You weren’t my first, you won’t be my last. You gotta kiss you some frogs before you find you a prince. A heart too eager to hope offers no resistance. A heart too eager to love tends to romanticize. But now I see you more closely, from a distance— To tell you the truth, you ain’t no big prize. To lend perspective to this melodrama— in the book of love, you’re just a comma. I won’t even remember your name a hundred tears from now.
I saw you on the street today I don’t know why, but I followed you for quite a way Trying to decide if I should call your name I don’t know why, but I didn’t You stopped outside a small cafe You went inside, and as I watched you through the window I don’t know why I had a feeling I should walk away I don’t know why, but I didn’t She was waiting at the table, starry-eyed And I saw the way you looked at her, so satisfied I saw the way you touched her hand Didn’t take a genius to understand And so when you come home tonight Don’t look for me, because I won’t be there I’ll be somewhere else, I don’t know where Or why it turned out this way, I only Things will never be the same Since I say you on the street today
It’s four in the morning, you ain’t home yet— you’d like to worry me to death. You come slinking in like some sleazy little weasel. I can smell the whiskey on your breath. You tell me you been partying with your best friend. You say that he’ll confirm your alibi. But how can I believe a single word you say if you can’t even look me in the eye? (Chorus) I want you to come over here and swear it on the Bible swear it on the Bible swear it on the Bible that you ain’t runnin’ ‘round on me. It’s not that I don’t trust you, but I ain’t stupid, and something tells me you been runnin’ round. Maybe it’s that hair I see clinging to your shirt. That hair is long and blond—my hair is brown. That lipstick on your collar, it ain’t my shade of red. That cheap perfume I smell, it ain’t my brand. And I can’t help but wonder why your shirt’s on inside out— answer that one for me if you can. (Chorus) Shame on you for lying to me, and shame on you for all the wicked things you do. Shame on you for behaving like a fool, and shame on me for putting up with you. (Chorus)
Angels 05:00
As a child, you could see them with your mind these gentle creatures, easily befriended But as we grow, we tend to leave such things behind Even so, they never leave us unattended The times you stumbled to the edge didn't have a clue of how badly you need protection You almost tumbled off the ledge Came out of the blue a gentle nudge in the right direction I knew a man who once fell down the stairs He says he felt them there, acknowledged but unspoken He told me that they caught him unawares He was only slightly bruised, nothing broken He said, after such a fall He shouldn't still be there at all (CHORUS) But if you still your heart and listen deep within You may hear the whir of tiny wings like a hummingbird Or feel the subtle brush of feathers on your skin Or hear a whispered word of love, better felt than heard And that is when you'll know that they've come through The angels who are watching over you As a child, in your innocence you know that the borders of your being are misleading If you can find the truth you knew so long ago you may find you always get just what you're needing. The bumps and bruises of the soul, time can kiss the hurt away but the deeper wounds need addressing Sometimes the journey takes its toll, and these weary feet of clay need their comforting and caressing. The damaged spirit wanders in the dark, lost in deep despair, alone and brokenhearted, Then somewhere, a gentle touch, and then a spark and in some little hidden place, the healing's started. But that is nothing new That's just what they do (CHORUS)
I could see the dark clouds gathering when you dropped out of sight Keeping up appearances was too much of a strain And the people close to you, well, they had no way of understanding Folks tend to get uneasy in the face of so much pain But please don’t try to go away again And now I’m speaking purely from a selfish point of view It’s just that I never really had a lot of friends So I can’t afford to lose a friend as beautiful as you CHORUS How special are the few that get a second chance Who jump into the pit and somehow land upon their feet And walk the long way back with courage and a tender heart And find that life ain’t easy, but it sure is sweet Who would have thought that the answer was so simple A little axle grease, the wheels are running smoothly now We’re all such complex pieces of machinery It’s a wonder any one of us can function anyhow But please don’t try to go away again Cause Lord knows endings, well, they all come soon enough Maybe it was fate that brought you back, my friend, And then again, maybe it was love. CHORUS
Down So Long 03:27
Since my baby left me, I been underneath a curse Think I hit the bottom, ‘cause things couldn’t get much worse But I ain’t gonna stay here and wallow in my misery ‘Cause I been down so long, it looks like up to me Just when I been thinkin’ I can’t go on any longer Little voice tells me, what don’t kill you make you stronger So I guess I turned the corner My luck will change, just wait and see ‘Cause I been down so long, it looks like up to me Life is never easy, it’s full of pain and sorrow But if you can make it through the night, you’ll see the sun come up tomorrow So I guess I’ll just keep on living, and when the blues come on, just let them be ‘Cause I been down so long, it looks like up to me
Do It Right 03:23
My momma used to get up early every Sunday morning, a big old pot of big red beans been soaking overnight. She’d set those beans to cooking, chop her up some onions, green peppers, and some garlic, She’d fry ‘em up just right. I’d head down to the kitchen, my stomach start to growling. Just smelling all that food, I’d worked up quite an appetite. I’d say, “Momma, ain’t it ready yet?” She’d say, “Hon, how quickly you forget. You gotta take your time to do it right.” As she’d set the rice to boiling, she’d say, “Good things can’t be hurried. Just look outside the window at that tree, so big and fine. If it had sprung up overnight, it wouldn’t be so big and strong. But God knows how to do things right, and God, She takes her time.” She’d laugh, and then she’d hug me. She’d say, “Honey, just remember that good things come to those who wait. So, Baby, just sit tight. Whether cooking up red beans and rice or raising kids to grow up nice, you gotta take your time to do it right.” Now many years have passed since those early Sunday mornings. I grew up and married, have a family of my own. The world’s so fast a place today, it almost takes your breath away. Before you know it, your hair’s turned gray and all your kids are grown. But we’d take the time to listen, take the time to smell the flowers, ‘cause Momma’s words stayed with me like a bright and shining light. In life and love and beans and rice, I take my momma’s good advice, “You gotta take your time to do it right.”
Butterfly 04:10
She was always so good but life threw her a curve Seems like folks never really get what they deserve Do you know what it’s like? Have you walked in her shoes? When you start with so much, it’s so much harder to lose But what can we do but stand helplessly by And watch as she turns into a butterfly We can stand by her side or we can hope from afar afraid she’ll remind us how fragile we are No miracle cures No easy answers Between hope and frustration, she battles and dances But she keeps her chin up, she holds her head high And we watch as she turns into a butterfly Life goes on somehow, somewhere Her memory is strong even if she’s not there Little by little She’s obscured from our eyes A shell, spun and silken, becomes her disguise It will crumble to dust with the passage of time In a bright burst of color, she leaves it behind On an uncharted course through infinite sky She sails with the wings of a butterfly Life goes on somehow, somewhere Her memory is strong even if she’s not there


released September 1, 2000


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Bett Butler Texas

Songwriter, piano player, storyteller.

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