Colter Wayne Hobbes

“And the Lord vomited people like Colter Wayne Hobbes out of his mouth and into Hell.  Amen.”  And so it was, my uncle was laid to rest.  My family, as you might assume, wasn’t too pleased with this conclusion.  Cousin Johnny nearly cleared the pulpit trying to get a hold of Reverend Sneed.  As rumor had it, my uncle had gotten a hold of Mrs. Sneed many times before; he’d always been a bit of a lady’s man.

My point, however, in beginning with my uncle’s end is to give you an idea of just exactly what kind of man Colter Wayne Hobbes had been. Take into account, his middle name - Wayne.  Every great criminal in the past hundred years, particularly in the south, had been christened thus: Micheal ‘Wayne’ Sears, Dale ‘Wayne’ Eaton, Ricky ‘Wayne’ Brown, Micheal ‘Wayne’ Fisher, Bobby ‘Wayne’ Swisher, and now Colter ‘Wayne’ Hobbes.  From the Calvinist perspective, I suppose my uncle was damned from the beginning; with his seat in sin confirmed, there wasn’t much more he could do other than continue on exactly the way he did.

Those who knew him personally understood Colter Wayne was a funny man; though he’d inherited a slight mean streak, supposedly from his Cherokee grandma - Eatsie.  As a boy he used to hold my father Hoarse, younger by three years, in a head lock, forcing him down so that the family’s two big German Shepherds could lick his face after eating the kitty litter tossed out back.  By high school, though, Colter had advanced himself towards more lucrative means.  As I mentioned with regards to Mrs. Sneed, Colter Wayne was always a bit of a ladies man; so it surprised no one when he took a job working as the bouncer at a strip joint outside of town, nicknamed the Beaver Hole.  The owner at the time was an ornery little man referred to by most as Ol’Brown.


“Ol’Brown, he nobody’s fool.  No sir.  No, I’m telling you, listen here.  Pay attention now.  I may be old, but I still know how know my ass from a hole in the wall.  Now you sign this line,” Brown said.

“So this means I’ll own the place?” Colter said.

“Now don’t you worry about that.  But yes, on paper you’ll own the Beaver Hole.  You need to understand, you outside the law.  Cherokee Nation, Geronimo, and shit.   Listen here.  With that tribal license, and this being tribal land, you can run this sort of joint.  Gambling, hookers, you just call it native culture. Whereas, Ol’Brown?  Ol’ Brown is seen now as a white man, a Cubano imported, pale faced citizen of America’s Great Society, laid down and stomped on now by state law.  To me, last state session, the senators’ say ‘no thanks’ to my Beaver Hole.  So before the deputies make their way out here, I need your signature and a copy of that tribal card.  Damn it, Colter, just sign here and keep your job,” Ol’ Brown said.

“Yes, Sir,” Colter said, signing his name.

Something happened to Ol’ Brown around closing time that evening.  County Coroner’s report suggested it was either his heart or his lungs.  Colter said the old man was in the middle of receiving a lap dance from his favorite girl, Cheryll, when he keeled over face first, dead set smiling, into her freckled endowments.  Most suggested Ol’ Brown finally let himself go, dying happy knowing he’d found himself a son in Colter – someone to take over his girls, his business, and his trouble.  Seems just a few years before his doctors had proclaimed Ol’ Brown some kind of medical miracle, as he’d continued living at only fifteen percent lung and thirty percent heart capacity.  Ol’Brown cited his success to be the result of his Cohiba’s.   An avid cigar smoker, Ol’ Brown insisted his life force came from the noxious fumes of his three-a-day cigar habit, sent to him by way of a cousin Johnny, still living under Castro. Hence, at eighteen with two years experience under Ol’Brown, now dead and burried, Colter Wayne inherited the Beaver Hole, a cigar habit, and a new Cousin Johnny


Before the Beaver Hole, no one in our family had ever officially owned anything except the clothes donated from the Church of Christ Charity.  Even our house was rented, though it had been in the family nearly three generations by this point.  I guess the church figured no one else would want our place, a little shotgun shack, share croppers’ home; it was rented first by my grandfather on my mother’s side, when he and his family had come to pick cotton during the Great Depression.  Now the same brown paint he’d added still remained, peeling off the back and flaking, gathering in the pot holes where the dogs liked to dig to stay cool in the summers.  Supposedly, back when my grandfather found it, the place hadn’t been so bad, but after fifty plus years it wasn’t so great either.  In fact, after the Church of Christ had bought up the land from farmer Bunce, who’d sold the it to Reverend Sneed as a means of saving his soul in return for a home and desk job in Albequerque, the Reverend had conceded to continue allowing our family to rent the house from his parish at a hundred dollars a month, in part because it would have cost him more to tear it down.

Thus, upon Colter’s inheritance of the Beaver Hole, his first month’s profit was used to complete Ol’ Brown’s plan to bring Cousin Johnny over.  Since his own father had passed away somewhere back in Korea, Colter and his siblings had been left alone with their mother, making Colter the man of the house.  Ol’ Brown had been the only older man in his life.  With only a snapshot remaining of his father in uniform, the image had hung together in a small wooden frame with the issued American flag sent to his family by the army above the hearth, all faded with age.  Directly beneath it, tacked to the wall, was a clipped bible verse - David and Goliath - hanging with a pair dog tags.  The parable had been Grandfather Hobbes’ favorite; my grandmother had found the remains of the yellowed sheet stuffed into an old shirt pocket, when taking up the sleeves for Colter’s high school prom.

Colter had always considered the verse.  From what he could tell, Colter figured Grandfather Hobbes had never been a large man; the biggest thing on him had been his nose.   He’d grown up the son of Irish immigrants.  Escaping the steel slums of Scranton, Pennsylvania, he’d driven south to New Mexico, where he’d met and married my mother at sixteen, following their two week courtship.  During this time, Grandfather Hobbes had slept in his truck, washing up at the filling station, before coming in at lunch to order chocolate egg creams from Grandma Eatsie, just a mile from the little brown house.  By the time Grandfather Hobbes had been drafted, they’d already had two with another on the way.  Thus, he left Colter at three with nothing but a snapshot and the bible verse to relay to him what it meant to be a man.

While Ol’ Brown had been Colter’s boss, he’d filled in where the picture above the hearth had remained silent.

“Women in the family always need help, as for the men – they should be fine.  Always look out for your own,” had been one of Ol’Brown’s many sayings.  The wisdom Ol’Brown provided for Colter extended further into the idiosyncrasies the two came to share.  Ol’Brown had shown Colter how to roll his own cigarettes, licking the brown paper slick, before mashing it smartly between your thumb and forefinger.

“A real man roll his own.  You get quality that way.  No one ever cheats themself,” Ol’ Brown would say.

On Colter’s seventeenth birthday, Ol’ Brown lent him Cheryll.

“Since here you have no uncles.  I be your uncle.  There are things men should know.” he said.

Colter’s decision to make sure Johnny made it over to the states was the one thing he felt he could do to repay the old man.  This event was something Ol’Brown had been working on the past two years, following his disgust over Che Guevara’s assasination; Ol’Brown believed the spirit and prospects of the revolution died back in Bolivia, 1967.  With most of the paper work involved complete, it was just a matter of Colter sending off the final forms and the money to Johnny for the ticket first to Miami, then on to Albequerque, where he’d meet him in the pick-up.  To guarantee Johnny a green card, Colter had promised the authorities his new cousin would own a share of the business, providing him with a steady daily income.  The two figured this would have to do until something better, more permanent, might be worked out. 

When Cousin Johnny arrived thee months later, only two years older then Colter and five years ahead of my father, he immediately took the position as their older brother, an indistinguishable member of the family; a year later, when he married my Aunt Winnie, he officially became a Hobbes and an American citizen.  The three men, brothers, all wore their jet black hair waxed slickly behind their ears; hawk eyed and olive skinned, each had a lean, raw-boned build, a quick wit and an easy temper, though Colter Wayne remained the thickest of the three. 


Colter had begun lifting his father’s old iron weights at thirteen, with the intention of eventually rivaling the Sneed twins who lived up the street; these two were big boys, with piggish features like their reverend father.  Always squinting through watery pale eyes across the bridge of each runny pug nose, the two Sneeds had pink splotchy skin that turned various shades of purple upon excitement or exertion.  Although, the Sneed brothers were a touch asthmatic, always wheezing before doubling over when forced to run in gym, none of the kids ever laughed at their spectacle for fear of condemnation to hell, or if you were smaller, you ran the risk of being sat on and smashed beneath the seat of a Sneed. 

As their family lived just up the road from our own, my father and his siblings had become particularly familiar with the Sneed brothers; they often hid on the side of the road, snickering and playing card games amongst the weeds, waiting for passing kids to torment.  The Sneeds’ favorite trick was to push their victims into muddy ditch along side the road, telling them they now looked as filthy as the lives they lived.  After this exclamation, the two brothers would bump bellies, then chase their victims off into the opposite field, filled with cat’s claw and sticker burrs.  Despite the extent of their grievances, because of their father’s position as the town’s Church of Christ minister and our family’s unofficial landlord, even when his fat sons tore my aunt’s dress and made my father roll in the mud, forcing him to squeal and call himself ‘a hog’s hoof,’ my grandmother said nothing, leaving the Sneeds’ infallible, saved by God and their father’s position.  

As Colter however, continued increasing in size, he developed a plan.  So by the time he ran out of plates, adding bags of red sand for extra weight gathered from a bare patch out back where the dogs liked to dig, Colter knew what to do.  Though his was more of a fast, sinewy strength, it could easily overcome the slow rolls of a Sneed boy.  The problem was that Colter had to contend with two of them.   After months of observation, Colter noticed a pattern emerging.  Every afternoon, on their daily jaunts to the local pool, Mathew Sneed would trot just ahead of his brother; at the park the two would sun themselves pink, snapping passing victims with their towels, before returning home for lunch, and later to their weedy lair.   Since our house was the midpoint between the pool and the Sneed’s home, the gap between the two provided Mathew just enough space and time to race ahead, to allow Colter the opportunity to pin him down before his brother Ryan could intervene.

“Hey Sneed, just sit here for a moment.  I’ve got something for you,” Colter said.

Mathew lay in the weeds, face down, with Colter perched on his back.  His assailant pulled one chubby arm tightly behind him, while dangling a jar containing a large striped, hairy, spider near his watering eyes.  Mathew squinted at the jar, trying to move away, as Ryan came chugging up towards them yelling, in between wheezes.

“Get the hell off him Colter,” Ryan wheezed.  “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m showing your brother something,” Colter said.  “ The closer you come, the closer I’ll let him look.”  Colter began unscrewing the jar.  Mathew squealed at his brother to get back.

“Man, what do you want,” Mathew asked. “I’ve got a candy bar in my back pocket, and some snack cakes wrapped in my towel.  You can have them if you like?”

“No, I don’t want anything of yours,” Colter said.  “I just want you to say something for me.”

“What do you want us to say?  ‘I’m a hog’s hoof.’” Mathew said.  “There you go.  Now let me up.”

“Let him up, he said what you wanted,” Ryan huffed.

“No,” Colter said. “I want you both to say something else for me.”

“Fine.” Mathew wheezed.  “What do you want us to say.”

Both Sneeds’ peered at Colter, a bit annoyed, and slightly confused.

“Say, ‘My head hurts, my feet stink, and I swear on my own chunks, I don’t love Jesus,’” Colter said.

Mathew squealed, “We can’t say that.  You know who our father is.  C’mon, let me just say ‘I’m hog’s hoof.’”

Colter shook up the jar and Mathew squealed again, watching the spider dart against the glass. Colter began unscrewing the lid. 

Ryan started, “If we say that, you can’t ever tell anyone.”

“Yeah,” Mathew said.  “If we say that, you can’t tell anyone what happened here.”

“Alright,” Colter said.  “First, say it.  Then if I’m satisfied with your enthusiasm, I might let you go without saying hello to my friend.” Colter tilted the jar towards Mathew, who squealed.

Ryan scowled down at Mathew.

“We have to say it together,” Mathew said, rolling one eye upwards.

“I don’t know,” Ryan said. “What if dad hears about this. You know all those stories he’s always telling us about His tests.”

“This isn’t His test, it’s just Colter.  Say it so I can get up.  I think I’m starting to get a rash from the grass,” Mathew said.

“You boys better begin before I count to five, or Mathew’s going to get to— ”

“Fine.  ‘My head hurts . . . My feet stink . . . And I swear on my own chunks . . . I don’t love Jesus,” Mathew and Ryan said together.

Both were quiet as Colter climbed off of Mathew, still holding the trapped spider

“You’re not going to say anything about this, are you?” Mathew said.

“No, probably not,” Colter said.

“ I mean it, Colter.  You’d better not breathe a word of this,” Ryan said.

“Sneeds, you boys need to remember your manners,” Colter said.  “So long as you do, your secret remains with me.”


In a plaque hanging above the men’s urinal at the Beaver’s Hole, there’s a picture of a red-nosed bum, sitting with a beer in each hand, belly hanging over his pants waist, with the words, “My head hurts.  My feet stink.  And I don’t love Jesus,” printed beneath.  It was clear the bum’s state was what arrived him to the point where he sat.  Though clearly meant to be comical, this little decal seems to have caused a bit of a stir.  Following the trial, someone had scrawled ‘Sneed,’ across the bum’s ass.