A neighbor of mine named Aubuchon Connery publishes a newspaper all about Maine called The Rumford Meteor. It’s a daisy.
The Rumford Meteor is full of interesting facts. The fact that the facts ain’t factual never puts him off the scent. He seems to get to the facts no matter where you bury them. He’ll dig through a ton of manure to get a turnip, that boy. He’s as honest as the day is long. You can tell from his handshake, which is firm, and smells a bit like turnip, and something else I can’t quite put my finger on. No matter. That boy’s not half bad I tell you what.
When we see Aubuchon commuting home from the Meteor office to his yurt on his recumbent bicycle, we always water the soup and invite him in to join us for dinner. He’s deuced quiet, that boy. Doesn’t like to talk about himself. You could tell he had a sad tale to tell, and one day when the soup ran out, he mentioned how he ended up all alone in this world.
Every year Aubuchon and his wife, Large Marge, would go to the East Lebanon County Agricultural Fair, Tractor Pull, and Fashion Show. He’d look at the tractors and inquire from the owners how much they thought each was worth, and where exactly they kept them at night. I’ve always found Aubuchon to be very solicitous in such matters; it’s a sign of his innate goodness, I think, to worry over other people’s possessions like they were his own.
While he was doing that, Large Marge would go to the fashion show to see what kind of waders were in that year, and to see if her Craftsman lingerie had come in by mail order yet. Then Aubuchon and Marge would get in a terrible row, I tell you what. Every year it was the same thing. There was a man with a cropduster biplane with two seats, and he sold rides for $5, and every year, Aubuchon wanted that ride so bad he would have sold a kidney for it if he had one that worked. Marge said, “NO!,” every year, and for the same reason each time. “Five dollars is five dollars, Aubuchon,” and that was that. It was logic as impenetrable as Doomsday, and there was no hammer lane around it. “Five dollars is five dollars!” can’t be reasoned with, and it can’t be bargained with.
After five or ten years of hearing Aubuchon plead and Marge say, “Five dollars is five dollars,” the pilot of that crop duster felt sad for Aubuchon and saw an opening with Large Marge. That woman had a prodigious piehole, and he knew it. He made them an offer.
“I’ll tell you what. You two take the ride together, and if you can both keep absolutely silent for the whole trip, I’ll give you the ride for free. If either of you say a word, you pay me five dollars.”
Marge jumped at the chance, but Aubuchon looked cagey about the whole deal. Still, it was his only chance, and he took it. That pilot sat up front with the joystick and the dials, and Large Marge and Aubuchon packed themselves in the back seat like peas and carrots I tell you what. That pilot had a black heart and an empty wallet, and he was determined to get that five dollars. He took them up to treetop level, and gave them what for. He did barrel rolls, outside loops, and tickled the tops of the blue spruces with the landing gear. Not a peep. He upped the ante. He choked the engine into a stall, and plummeted toward the earth like a stone until he got nervous, and then pulled out. Not a whimper. He knew he’d been bested.
They landed, and the pilot fiddled with the knobs and whatnot that pilots fiddle with. Aubuchon was standing next to the plane, and tapped him on the elbow.
“Thanks for the ride. It was everything I’d hoped it would be.”
“How did your wife like it?”
“Well, I don’t know. She fell out about a half way through.”
“SHE FELL OUT? WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SOMETHING?”
“Mister, like Marge always said, five dollars is five dollars.”
Read the The Rumford Meteor. Do it for Marge