On Being Soul Dead With Slippery Pete

On Being Soul Dead With Slippery Pete

A Story by LadyRosaline

For Slippery Pete, wherever you are.


See back in Uppstate, New York in the mid '90s you couldn't find a single oak tree under which there weren't two bums corn holing the ever-loving s**t out of each other. So I had to get the f**k out of the city.


On the southbound train to Hops, Georgia, I sat next to a man named Slippery Pete, who was a nice enough fellow that had a niche for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. He'd been divorced 7 times during the '80s. He asked me where I was from and where I was heading. So I told him, "In the shade of all the oak trees in New York, there are bums corn holing each other. So I had to get out of that city. So I'm off to Hops." Then he told me that there were no oak trees at all in Hops. This came to me as a great shock because I had a traveler's brochure advertising that Hops had an a*s-load of oak trees. It even read on the cover: "Visit Hops, Georgia. We have an a*s-load of oak trees." (There ain't no truth in advertising now just as there never was none.) . So I showed Slippery Pete the brochure, which he read and said that it was bullshit, reiterating to me that there were no oak trees in Hops, Georgia. He said he'd been born and raised there and that he was heading back to visit his aunt-mother Salma and uncle-father Billy-Job-Bob-Carl-Danny-Frank of whom thereafter he referred to simply as "my mammadaddy."


The weird thing is that back then vacuum cleaners didn't come all in one piece; they would come in a box of about five separate pieces: one vacuum cleaner and four extraneous widgets that didn't do a goddamn thing. Needless to say, some assembly was required. When you open the box, the first thing you notice is that the vacuum cleaner is completely assembled and you can use it immediately. That begs the question, why the hell does the vacuum cleaner come with four useless widgets. So you have these four widgets and you have no clue what they're there for and you start wondering if they factor into the price you paid for the vacuum cleaner. Some people would even go as far as to call the phone number of the customer satisfaction hotline on the instruction manual to ask what to do with them. Often the hotline workers would reply, "You can shove each of them meticulously where the grass don't grow and the sun don't shine and the cows don't come home for all we care." No help there. A small sum of the gay community was satisfied with this answer; some other customers confusedly sent their widgets to a coal mine in Vermont, figuring that there was the place where the grass didn't grow, the sun didn't shine, and the cows didn't come home; and as for the rest of the unsatisfied customers, well they had four widgets that they didn't know what to do with.


"You ever notice when you buy a vacuum cleaner it comes with four useless widgets?" I asked Slippery Pete, who wasn't much of a conversationist I could tell, but the train ride had been long and boredom was taking its toll. He looked at me with one blood shot, curious eye. "I was wondering if you know what they're for."


"What's what for?"


"The Widgets."


"What widgets?"


"The ones that come with vacuum cleaners."


Slippery Pete pushed up the brim of his dirty straw cowboy hat from over his eyes and grumbled from behind his bushy handlebar mustache, "What's with all the questions, son? I suppose next you're gunna ask me where all the ducks go when the lake freezes during the wintertime." I didn't know what he meant by this and cared even less about where the ducks go when the lake freezes. He continued, " 'Sides, my family never owned no fancy-schmancy vacuum cleaner; we had a carpet sweeper, though."


"A carpet sweeper?"


"That's what I said." Slippery Pete confirmed.


"With all due respect, sir," I said timidly. "Carpet sweepers don't so much as pick up the trash than they just push it around."


"Hell, I know that!" he said matter-of-factly. "S**t, we had the damn thing for over ten years, it's impossible not to know that. But the best thing about them is no goddamn widgets. Just a good ole s****y carpet sweeper."


He was right, no widgets with the carpet sweepers, but I still wasn't convinced that a shoddy product without useless widgets was better than a modern product with widgets.


"You mind if I smoke?" He asked, twisting up a cigarette with the trained and dexterous hands of man who had been rolling his own cigarettes for years.


"No, sir."


"Good, 'cause if you said no I would have smoked anyway."




Then Slippery Pete told me that Hops was home to the world's largest carpet sweeper. "It's in that brochure of yours there, I bet. You should go see it while you're there." He was right, it was in the brochure:" The Carpet sweeper is over two stories tall and weighs approximately the same as a monster truck and each of its bristles are the size of the average adult. It was built by a retired naval captain sometime just after the great depression.


"But what does anyone need with a giant Carpet sweeper?" I asked.


"Nothing. The town actually tried to give it to Barley, Wisconsin, home of the world's biggest square of shag carpet, but they wouldn't accept it." He explained. The Brochure read, and I'm paraphrasing here, the people of Barley wouldn't accept the gift because carpet sweepers didn't pick up the trash so much as they just pushed it around. Hops took Barley's refusal of the gift as an insult.


"Maybe Alabama has oak trees," I said, thinking out loud. "I guess I'll catch a train heading west, but I'm not sure about the homeless population there or the homeless' willingness to cornhole each other out in public. Maybe I can pick up a brochure in Hops or an almanac, maybe. I have an old college buddy who lives in Alabama, or was it Alaska? It doesn't matter. I haven't spoken with him since leaving college, and besides, I never really liked him anyway. He talked way too much. I wonder if there are any Looney's Pizza restaurants in Alabama. Looney's makes the best..."


"Listen carefully now, son," Slippery Pete interrupted me. Perfect timing too, I might have gone on and on if he hadn't. "I'm gunna learn you a lesson, and it'd do you well to remember what I'm 'bout to tell ya.


"You're soul dead," He said sincerely.

"Soul dead?"


"Sure enough as we're sittin' here livin' and breathin'. See, you're runnin' from New York to Hops for either one reason or others, probably searching for greener pastures. But what you have to understand is, it don't matter if you're in New York or Hops, oak trees or no oak trees, there're always gunna be bums corn-holing each other. You have to realize that happiness comes from within. Once you become happy with yourself, nothing else in the world is gunna matter, not carpet sweepers, not vacuum cleaners, not even widgets. Once you become truly happy with yourself and who you are, hell, you can live out the rest of your days in the lake of fire wearing a big ole smile on your face." Slippery Pete smiled behind his graying handlebar mustache then tucked face into his hat as if to take a nap.


I though for a moment about what he had said and decided he was right, but there was still one thing I had to ask, "Mr. Slippery?"


"What is it, son?" He said, not bothering to take his hat from off his face.


"What should I do with the widgets?"


"Did you call the manufacturer?'




"Well, what'd they tell you?"


"They told me I could shove them up my a*s for all they cared. Not very helpful."


"Well, sometimes you can't find help even in places where it ought to be found, but, listen, you're young and you have plenty of time left on this rock. I guess you're just gunna have to figure that one out for yourself."


I sat contemplating for a moment until I heard Slippery Pete start to snore. I thought I could use a little rest as well.


All the commotion in the aisles of the railcar finally woke me. In a groggy daze, I looked out the window. We'd arrived at Hops. Outside the window was Hops station, mostly empty. There was a grimy sign on the side wall of the station that read, "Welcome to Hops, home of the world's largest carpet sweeper!" and beneath that in large dark bold, angry print the sign read, "F**K BARLEY, WISCONSIN!" In retrospect, the sign was hilarious, and if you're ever in Hops, Georgia, I recommend you go see it; I didn't laugh back then, because I'd just realized that I forgot to thank Slippery Pete for his advice. I turned to tell him, but the chair across from me was empty. I looked down the aisles in both directions for his cowboy hat sticking out above the heads of the exiting passengers, but it was nowhere to be seen.


I never saw Slippery Pete again.


Slippery Pete, if you're out there somewhere reading this story, thank you for the advice. And I think you might be happy to know what I did with the widgets... I threw them away, vacuum cleaner and all.


The End

© 2013 LadyRosaline

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haha you this story had some sheer brilliant moments i got alot of chuckles out of it you seem to have a healthy sense of humor,is this one based on a true story?? o.O

Posted 8 Years Ago


8 Years Ago

no..barley and hops are actually ingredients to make alcohol. It is just goes to show you advertise.. read more

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Added on April 10, 2013
Last Updated on April 10, 2013
Tags: short-story, soul, dead



Read, write, and be read, but always be yourself, for your voice is yours alone and originality can be found within, if no where else... Writing is an expression. I know, I can hardly read that sta.. more..