Have you ever put something away in a safe place and then when you really needed it again you couldn’t find it? Well the older I get the more it seems to be happening to me. In our house, Vanna has a corner of one bedroom sort of sectioned off as an office. There is a desk with a computer, shelves and a small file cabinet. This is where we keep all of our important papers. The shelves have all my study books for work, my shooting and fishing catalogs and Vanna’s Sue Grafton novels. There are family pictures on the wall and a sheet full of phone numbers hung up for easy access. Vanna tries to keep things very organized but she says I’m a lost cause. She’s right. When I find what I want I usually just leave it on the desk. If I get a new receipt, letter or document it usually just gets dumped on the desk for filing later. Later never seems to come!
I heard Vanna come in the back door and say “Hon, I could use some help with these groceries.”
In my state of frustration I slammed down a folder and headed to the kitchen. “I’m comin’.”
I was carrying bags of groceries and said something obscene when I almost dropped the milk. When all was unloaded Vanna and I were scurrying around the kitchen sorting things out to the pantry, shelves and frig. I’m sure I had that Clint Eastwood ‘mad’ look on my face and I was only talking in one word sentences too. Vanna knows me all too well because she said “Okay, why are you so pissy-wissy?”
When she uses those exact words they come out with a certain tone that translates to “Now, I’m mad at you for being mad.”
“I’m not really mad just really frustrated at myself. Chugger called and he wants to buy my boat again.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?”
“Well if you remember about a year ago, I offered to sell him the jon-boat for $150 and we had a deal. I drug it out, cleaned it up some, found the title and was ready for him to come pick it up. When he showed up he said he found out his kid needed braces so the deal fell through. I told him he could take the boat and pay me when he could. Chugger is not that way and I respect that. No biggie, so we shook hands and had a beer with no hard feelings. I remember that I decided to put the title away in a safe place because it is important. Now I can’t find the dang thing! I know it is in the office somewhere, but I’ve been shuffling through everything with no luck.”
Vanna just smiled and said “Don’t worry we’ll find it.”
We walked over to the office together and when Vanna saw the mess I had created she was no longer smiling. She said “Geez-us! Look, just leave this alone for now and I’LL find it.”
I could tell she was pissy-wissy.
I decided to go over to The Wet Spot and see what was happening and get a biased news report on local activities. It was a bit early in the afternoon, but when I arrived the parking lot was getting pretty full. When I walked in I realized why. Perkins was at the bar buying drinks. I joined Uncle Albert, Stinger and Bad Ken at our usual round table. As I sat down I said “Well I guess Perkins and Witcher brought in a well today.”
Perkins is our local well digger. When he first started his business, he set-up and ran the drilling rig himself and used part time helpers as needed. He use to hire Witcher for $50 to find the best place to start drilling on a property. Witcher would straighten out a couple coat hangers, bend the ends down for handles and walk around watching for them to start moving and cross. Perkin said that at some locations Ol’ Witcher would say that the ‘water feeling’ was so strong he could just feel it through his feet without the wires. He would just walk around and pick the strongest spot. He claims that paying Witcher was the best money he ever spent and it established him as the best water well digger in the county. As his drilling business grew, he eventually hired Witcher full time and taught him to run a drilling rig. Now a days, Perkins has three rigs going. There is a corridor from Spicewood to Fredericksburg where folks are buying up land and planting vineyards with the dream of making fine wine right here in Texas. But to grow grapes you need water. Lots of water. Perkin’s reputation is that he can not only quickly and successfully drill a well, but it is that he can drill a well that can deliver a high volume on the first attempt. Growers tell each other nightmare stories of going bust after buying land that cannot provide enough water or having to pay a driller for three or more holes before any success. Whenever Perkins completes a successful well, he brings Witcher to The Wet Spot to celebrate.
Witcher is sort of strange in looks and personality. He claims to be half Cherokee Indian and half Swiss. He’s tall and lanky with a ruddy complexion and reddish brown hair. It doesn’t matter what season it is, he is always wearing a T-shirt. Strange T-shirts. The first time I met him he had a radio station shirt from somewhere in Nebraska. The next time I saw him he had a Def Leppard Tee on. When asked about it he just shrugged and said he gets the one off the top out of the drawer each morning. He is about the shyest, quietest, meekest guy you could ever meet. But when Perkins brings him to the bar and gives him a drink or two, he definitely becomes a happy and talkative guy! Today Witcher was wearing a red Tecate t-shirt.
Stinger spoke up “Ol’ Witcher’s gift has definitely made Perkins a lot of money. I hear that other drillers have asked to hire him but he is so dedicated to Perkins he won’t water-witch for anyone else.”
Uncle Albert replied “I like Witcher and I’m glad Perkins gave him a good job, but water-witching is a myth.”
Stinger kind of crinkled up his face and said “Perkins almost never misses and they’ve been comin’ to celebrate like every other week lately. What do you call that, luck?”
“Yep, pretty much. Water-witching, more appropriately called dowsing, started centuries ago in Germany. Modern testing and research on the subject says the action of rods crossing or a forked stick bending are due to something called the ideo-something-or-other effect. This just means that the brain subconsciously causes your hands to roll or bend what is in your hands ‘cause your brain wants ‘em to. The same way your mind makes a Ouija board spells out stuff. It’s got nothing to do with water being nearby.”
Of course Bad Ken had to throw in “I don’t know. I hear Witcher’s whole family has the ‘touch’. His wife is a psychic or something and the daughter is pretty odd too. I’m staying clear of him. It’s not natural.”
Just then I heard Hilde yell across the room “No, I said clear table three. And take a mug over to D.R.”
I looked over and there was Ol’ Bird Dog, wearing a long apron putting down a tub of dirty glasses and fetching me a mug, double time.
“Here you go D.R.”
“Thanks Bird Dog. What are you doing?”
“Hilde gave me a job and she is training me to help out around here. Enjoy your beer, I gotta hustle.”
I kind of laughed and said “Geez-us, what’s up with that?”
The whole table started chuckling and Stinger said “Apparently Hilde and Bird Dog are an item these days.”
We all had a good laugh. Then I heard someone call my name and I saw Perkins looking my way and motioning for me to come over to the bar. I picked up my beer and walked on over.
“Hello D.R. You know my good buddy Witcher here, don’t you?”
“Sure we’ve talked before.” I held out my hand and said “How you doin’ Witcher?”
He took my hand and gave me a good firm handshake without saying a word. Perkins spoke up “Go ahead Witcher ask him what you want.”
“Mr. D.R. I hear you know a lot about computers and I was wondering if you might help me.”
Computers have become a hobby for me mainly because people are quick to throw them away. When they fritz out or get real slow they say it’s time for a new one and they head to Walmart and buy one. I take the old ones and salvage the parts and often make one good working PC by switching parts around. Once I get one going again I donate it to someone that may need one. Most regular folks just do email or browse the internet, so an older PC works just fine for that. The word has gotten out I get calls from folks that need a little help once in a while when they have a computer problem. It’s a fun hobby and I’ve met a lot of nice folks. Vanna got a little jealous for a while when the Widow Greene would call me every other day with a mouse problem, email problem or something. But I was real surprised when Witcher asked for help. He definitely did not seem like the computer type! By the way, Widow Greene could sure bake a good pecan pie before I was put on restriction!”
“I wouldn’t say I know a lot about computers, but of course I’d be glad to help out if I can.”
“Mr. D.R., it’s not for me. I don’t use the computer but my daughter uses the computer a lot and it’s important to her and my wife.”
“I’ll do my best and see what I can figure out. When is a good time?”
“I work all day, but my wife and daughter are home just about any afternoon that may suit you.”
Perkins broke in “Witcher is renting my old house next door to the Exxon station. You know the house, right?”
“Yep, I do. I’ll try to stop by tomorrow. Witcher, tell your wife and daughter to expect me.”
Perkins spoke up “See Witcher that wasn’t so hard. I told you D.R. was a good guy! Here let’s have another beer.”
“I’m good, I just started this one” holding up my mug.
We all shook hands and I went back to the round table. When I got to the table Stinger was quick to ask “Well what did they want?”
“Witcher wants me to go by his house and help his wife and daughter with a computer problem.”
“You’re kidding right? Witcher doesn’t have a computer. You’re not going there are you?”
Bad Ken spoke up “That whole family gives me the creeps. There is no way I’d go there!”
What they said kind of surprised me but I replied “Witcher was very nice and gracious about it. Of course I’ll help out a neighbor if I can.”
With a serious tone Bad Ken said “Well it was nice knowing you D.R.”
Of course Stinger egged him on some by saying “Yea, you better wear some garlic and take some silver bullets with you, and I don’t mean Coors Light!” At that we all laughed.
Uncle Albert spoke up “You guys are all too superstitious and gullible. I know Witcher’s wife claims to be clairvoyant and may even believe it herself. I’m sure she has a few people duped who visit her regularly for predictions and advice. But I don’t think she charges much and nothing bad has ever come from it. Again, there is no such thing as a psychic and her act is probably just simple parlor tricks and mumbo jumbo.”
Bad Ken, still being serious, says “I’m sorry Uncle Albert, but I’m not so sure about that. There are still many things in this world we don’t understand and they shouldn’t be messed with. My wife was helping her friend Connie at her garage sale last week when Witcher’s daughter and wife stopped by. She said the daughter just kept going through all the t-shirts picking out all the new looking ones in size large. Meanwhile the mother just kept starring at Connie. Suddenly, out of the blue, she tells Connie ‘Millie will be a beautiful baby girl.’ Connie almost fainted. She had just had a sonogram and found out the baby was a girl. She hadn’t told anyone yet, not even Hank. In her excitement she was already thinking of names and Millie was her favorite! Witcher’s wife just gave out an odd laugh and told her daughter to pay for their things so they could hurry and leave. She said it would be raining soon. It wasn’t in the forecast, but sure enough it started raining about an hour later and the garage sale had to close up.”
After a brief silence, Stinger said “Yeah, it was nice knowing you D.R.” Everyone chuckled.
When I got home, Vanna had straightened out the office area, but she still hadn’t found the boat title. I told her about seeing Witcher at The Wet Spot and that I agreed to help with a computer problem. I also told her about being razzed by the guys and Bad Ken’s garage sale story.
Vanna spoke up “Yes, I’ve already heard about Connie’s garage sale shocker, all the girls are talking about it. Mary Ann added that she was at the HEB meat section buying for an evening cook out when she noticed Witcher’s wife watching her. Suddenly, the woman spoke out ‘You need more hamburger, there are many young mouths to feed.’ You know Mary Ann, she just paid her no mind and laughed. She thought to herself just another nut job on the loose. When she got home she found out that their son Kie had invited two of his football team buddies over for dinner and one asked if he could bring his girlfriend too! So Mary Ann had to go back to the store for more groceries. Coincidence? I don’t know, but Witcher’s family is pretty weird D.R. so be careful.”
The next afternoon I loaded up my box of extra parts and cables along with my bag of tools and headed over to Witcher’s house. It is small house and a bit run down with a picket fence in front. There is a sign in the front yard where Perkins use to advertise his well drilling business but it was covered over and it had a Christian fish and cross symbol on. All the windows had closed curtains. There were vines and weeds where flower beds use to be.
When I first pulled up a nicely dressed woman about 30 was coming out of the house at a brisk walk. I didn’t recognize her but I could tell she had been crying. She was smiling and sniffling so I guessed it was good crying. I walked up to door and knocked. There was no answer so I knocked again. Then the door opened about a foot and a teenage girl said abruptly “Yes”.
“Hello. My name is D.R. and your father asked me to come by and see if I could fix a computer problem. Is this a bad time?”
She said “Just a minute.” and closed the door. I could hear muffled talking inside and the door open partially again. The girl said “Okay.”
I stood there a second then said as polite as possible “Well, can I come in?”
She swung the door open and said “Mama is in her room over there” and pointed with her finger.
The room was a little dark with all the curtains closed but there were two bright tiffany lamps lighting things up. All the furniture looked antique with claw-foot legs. There were religious statues and pictures everywhere you looked, along with a row of books neatly soldiered between two bookends. The woman was sitting on one side of a small sofa. She had jet black hair without a single gray hair to be seen. But the lines on her face betrayed her age which I guessed to be about 50. She spoke up in a gentle voice.
“Thank you for coming. Please Mr. D.R., come sit next to me.” She patted the sofa next to her. “That is my daughter Thum.”
Just then the daughter abruptly said “Without a ‘b’.”
“Thum please get our guest some tea.”
As I sat down I said “Thank you for the offer ma’am, but I’m not thirsty.”
The woman reached out and said “Please give me your hand.” At that she took my hand and clamped it tightly between both her own.”
“D.R. you are a good man and you have a good heart. I’ve heard it and now I can feel it. I know you’ve been told to fear our family, yet you still came to help us. Thank you. Do you read the Bible?”
Her tone and demeanor had put me at ease, but with some embarrassment I replied “Well, not as much as I should.”
“All things are answered in the bible. I know you’ve been told about my gift. I’m like you. I like to help people. I give them hope and faith. When they begin to believe that there is something bigger and greater in this world than themselves they have made the first step. If they have faith and believe in a new realm, a good realm of mystery and magic on this earth, they can more easily accept the true realm, God’s realm. This is what I give people. A transformation of faith and belief. I’m sure you understand this.”
Well I didn’t have a clue about what she was saying, but somehow she had put me into a state of complete ease and peace. I felt like this woman was sincere and there was nothing to fear.
She continued “I am going to give you something special today for helping us. I’m going to give you good luck. Let me tell you what that means. The only way to give good luck is through prayer. What happens on this earth is really out of our hands, but just think of what good luck it is for someone to pray for you. How powerful that is. That you have made a mark in this world that someone wants to talk to God about you. With this gift I give you, I also would like to ask a small favor from you. What you see today is just between us. I know you will understand. Thum will show you to the computer.”
At that she released my hand and Thum lead me to a locked door. She slipped in a key and opened it. When I entered the room I was astonished!!
There in front of me was a long table of monitors connected to what looked like a rack of servers. Besides PC’s, he rack held a multi-port high speed switch, along with several other devices I did not recognize. Each monitor screen had multiple windows opened and they were all slowly refreshing. One screen had Facebook running. Another had multiple Twitter feeds, yet another Instagram, Linkedin, Google+, MySpace, and Yahoo Answers. There was also a real time weather monitor wired separately with connections running through the wall. I’m not sure but it looked like one of the monitors was rolling chat sessions from cell phones. This set-up would have made the NSA envious. There were several note pads laying on the tables where Thum had apparently been making pages and pages of notes.
Thum spoke up “The problem is in the communications link. The telecom modem only functions intermittently. For a temporary fix I hacked into the neighbor’s Wi-Fi, but the speed is way too slow and the bandwidth is way too narrow to meet our demands.”
I was stunned, as some of this equipment I have never seen or heard of before. I studied things for a bit and reminded myself to stay focused and expect a simple problem. I asked “What do you mean intermittently?”
Thum showed me the rack mounted modem, at least that is what I think it’s called. It had a blue cable connecting it to the switch. “It worked off and on for a week and then it stopped all together.”
“Maybe it’s just a cable gone bad. I brought a spare we can try.”
“Don’t bother, I already tried two different ones and I couldn’t get it to work at all.” Thum said.
I unplugged the cable from the modem and the switch and examined it carefully. I held the two ends side by side and studied the connections. “I think I see the problem. One of the pin connections looks broken. Besides that, this is definitely not a standard cable. It looks like pins 6 and 9 are switched. Let me write the configuration down and I’ll replace the bad end.”
Using a tool I brought, I cut the bad end off about an inch back and carefully installed a new snap with the proper wire crosses. I powered off the modem and the switch then installed my new cable. I turned everything back on and told Thum to check it now. She got behind the keyboard and started typing away. I could tell by her smile things were starting to work again.
“It’s working!” Then she yelled out “Mama, it’s working!”
Thum was very happy and her fingers were clicking away on the keyboard like a machine. I was happy too, especially since it was an easy fix on something that looked so complicated. I packed up my tool bag and said good bye.
The woman met me at the door and held out her hand. Again she clasped my hand between both hers.
“Thank you Mr. D.R. and enjoy your special luck and always remember what we talked about today.”
“Yes ma’am, I understand and I do respect your privacy.”
“Mr. D.R. always remember, the answer to everything we seek can be found in the Bible. Read your Bible and live long with your gift of good luck through prayer.”
I left the house happy because I had fixed the problem and the woman’s mesmerizing words and voice made me feel very much at peace. I was beginning to understand what she had said and why someone would regularly visit her in search of advice. I pretty much figured out what was going on there, but still I wanted to believe in her.
When I got home Vanna asked “Well, I see you’re still in one piece, how did it go?”
“It went well, the problem was minor and I fixed it pretty quickly.”
“I knew you could fix the computer problem, what I was wondering what was the house and the folks like? Did they have a séance going on? Did Witcher’s wife tell you something mysterious?”
“Nope, nothing like that. Kind of an old run down house but clean inside with old furniture. The wife and daughter seemed a little different but not much from most of the other oddballs running around this town.” At that we both laughed.
Then Vanna said “By the way, I’ve got some good news! I found the title! Dummy, you put it in the Bible. I decided to start paging through books looking for it and sure enough the Bible was the first I picked up and there it was. Please, next time just put things back into their proper folders!”
I walked into the office and there on the desk was the Bible opened with the boat title just tucked in there. It was opened to Luke 15:9
“And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and neighbors together, saying ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost!’”
I’m either lucky or blessed or both.