1. Feel the swell things
2. Worst mistake of my life has been haircuts
3. Our earth is a tomb
Roger Foley looked at me over the edge of his John Deere coffee mug.
“Worst mistake of my life?” he repeated. “A haircut. 10th grade, Mrs. McCauley’s class. Jack What’s-his-name came in with one a them buzz cuts and all the girls went giggly for him, so I decided I’d do it too. Took me nearly a year before that patch behind my right ear grew back.” Roger took another gulp from the cup and issued a loud belch. Brew in a coffee mug. Roger always did have class.
“What about you?” he went on. “Let’s hear your worst mistake.”
I didn’t have to think too hard about that one. “The house on 37th St.” I said, and Roger smirked and nodded at me as if that were the only possible answer. Maybe it was.
“I told you so. I said you’d be sorry if you bought that thing.”
He was right, of course. He’d done everything he could to talk me out of putting down a deposit on the decrepit hulk of Delaney’s place but I knew from the minute the sign went up that I had to have it. If I’d been able to see the future I might have given it a whole lot more thought, but in the end, I think I’d have done everything just the same.
Sitting here now with the newspaper between us, I could see that old Roger was remembering that time the same as I was. The paper’s latest contest was for an essay on “The Worst Mistake of my Life”, winner to get two free dinners at the Texas Retro Steakhouse, drinks and apple pie a la mode included. We’d already come up with several possibilities for a topic, but we were getting down to the nitty gritty now. I could agree that Roger’s high school bald spot had remained a topic of hilarious reminiscences over the years, but we both knew the Delaney house caper topped the list.
“Okay, that’s it,” I said, as I pulled out a tablet and a pencil with a good eraser. “I’ll dictate and you write, and in a week or so we’ll be scarfin’ up sirloins and apple pie on the house.”
“On the Times-Telegraph, actually,” Roger snickered. He settled himself at the kitchen table, having first refilled the John Deere mug, and we started on our latest quest for contest gold.
We’d been through this often enough before to have the procedure down pat. With a contest every week, we managed to get free eats, free movies, and even a few bucks once in a while. Damn, we were good at this. We hoped the Times-Telegraph never stopped.
“Okay,” I started. “It was in 1996 that old man Delaney—no, make that Mr. James Delaney—put his mansion—no, property—on the market. It was a big place, with wrought iron fences all around