Last Sunday we drove up to Rainbow for breakfast at the Rainbow Oaks. As we neared Rainbow on Rice Canyon Road Nome began to fidget.
“You took the back roads so you could stop by The Rainbow Computer Emporium and see Cactus Jack didn’t you.” She said pointing an accusing finger at me. I shot her a surprised look.
“Why I hadn’t thought of it but that’s a great idea.”
Nome looked disgusted. “ I don’t understand your fascination with that drunken old reprobate, he reeks of tobacco and whiskey, never bathes, he’s rude, crude and profane, has no respect for women, cheats his customers and you can’t believe a word he says.”
Nome was right of course. Jack is all those things and more, but to today’s domesticated males, Jack is a throwback to the days when men were men. A wild mustang free as the air and not a care in the world. It is hard not to be just a little envious. Nome continued but her voice trailed off as we turned into Jack’s parking lot. There were over twenty cars on the gravel and a half dozen more on the grass. Jack was rocking on the porch.
“I’m not getting out of the car” grumped Nome, arms folded tight “hurry up, I’m hungry.”
Jack squinted wordlessly as I climbed the porch steps and took the rocker next to his. “Howdy flatlander” he said with a tobacco stained grin. He took a swig on his Jack Daniels bottle and passed it over; I honored his hospitality with a two swallow tug and passed it back remembering that real men never wipe the mouthpiece when sharing
“You got a lot of cars in your lot today, whose taking care of the customers inside” I asked.
Jack grinned “.Them ain’t customers, them's employees. Welcome to PARTNERSFERPROFIT.COM” Jack waved his hand toward a maze of phone lines drooping from the road to the top of his store. “We done just passed FARMERSONLY.COM as the third biggest matchmaking site on the Internet. Jack pointed through the window into his store where rows of men and women babbled into headsets in the bluish glow of computer screens. “I done cleared out all my computer inventory and chucked em the barn. Don’t reckon I’ll ever need it agin.”
I stared through the window at the frenzied activity. “Who are you matching up?” I asked.
Jack hooted, “The hottest thing goin, same sex marriages.”
I stared at Jack in disbelief, “I had you figured for a homophobe Jack, and now you’re arranging gay and lesbian weddings?
“What,” said Jack, “are you crazy. I don’t care nothing bout them homos. They get hitched for love, sex and stuff like that. Our couples marry for money; it pays better and lasts longer.” Jack laughed at my puzzled expression, took another swig out of the bottle, wiped his mouth on his sleeve and passed it over to me.
Cactus scooted his chair closer to me and said “Charlie and George is a perfect example of how it works. Charlie was an 85 year old widower with prostate cancer and a year to live. He worked in construction all his life, his Social Security was two thousand dollars a month. Charlie had a few things on his “bucket list” but with no savins, he couldn’t do em. George never could keep a wife or a job. He got $250 a month Social Security when he turned 62 and his kids figured they’d have kick in at least a thousand dollars a month to support him for the rest of his natural life. It could cost em near a quarter million if the critter lived another 20 years.”
“OK” I said “they both got a problem. How are you going to fix it”
Jack put his hand on my shoulder. “Last year ole President Buttcrack Obummer done fixed it for them and me both. He told them Social Security folks to start treatin same sex marriages just like all the normal marriages. Now I match em up and get rich in the bargain.”
Jack continued his explanation. “Social Security survivor’s benefits allow the surviving spouse to keep their own benefit plus one half of the deceased spouse benefit. We married Charlie and George over the Internet last year.”
“I can see how that would be great for George but why would Charlie do it.” I asked?
“Money” said Jack “George’s family was happy to pay $50,000 up front to guarantee that they would not have to support him for the rest of his natural days. Half went to Charlie and half went to PARNERSFERPROFIT. George got a lifetime guaranteed income, Charlie got the money for his bucket list and we got $25,000 fer doin a good deed
An employee handed Jack a stack of papers. “Wedding licenses” Jack belched, “I witness every one of em and it gits me an extra $25 fer every weddin.”
“That’s an amazing story Jack. Did everything work out for Charlie and George” I asked.
“Better’n anyone imagined” grinned Jack. “Turned out that the last thing on Charlie’s bucket list was skydiving. He never even opened his chute and went clean through the roof of a chicken house. They say he was laughin all the way to the ground.”