The Story of ole’ Bud!

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Rex’s Story

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The Saga of Rex Smith


Steve Erdmann

Copyright, C, 2021

Another version of this article can be seen at Rex’s Story –


Here’s to Rex Smith –

One hell of a man –

He could beat you at Checkers –

With one tied hand –

He knew every red space –

Every black square –

And spot –

And if you thought you could beat him –

You’d have to learn more than –

A lot.


But life was not his checkerboard –

Please crown him now King –

The moves he made while living –

Required a few more things –

His cluttered, dirtied apartment –

Did not royalty make –

And iced and strewn sidewalks –

Threatened his lower flank.


Still Rex –

(Some called him, Bud) –

Persisted to lavish his friends –

And those befriended –

(And quite sure he took with him –

Fond memories of men –

 And those left unattended –)

With his love for Virginia –

Not much stronger then he –

And by her side did stand –

Undauntedly vigilante –

Till she crossed into that –

Spiritual land.


I remember the time –

He and his girlfriend did not speak –

Two weeks without discourse, phone, or gram –

Rex would be seen on porch –

Vodka in hand –

I’d swear if he would not be there –

That tiny porch would collapse –

But often he’d stand there –

Heavy thought –

And time passed.


Heavy breathing –

And drinking –

And talk about friends –

Family and happiness –

Shuttered the man –

As girlfriend Virginia passed away –

His Security Check in hand –

And some token appreciation from a widow’s providence –

Bud still took care of Virginia – and Virginia them –

Without a whimper –

A fight for survival –

Followed the man.


“Stop tht damn drinking –

“My neighbor and friend.’’ –

His double-chin would wobble –

Cigarette in hand –

A twinkle in his eyes, he’d muster –

His rough texture would past –

“Do you give a damn about me? –

“Will your friendship last?’’


Did I or didn’t –

Rex’s health had laid plans –

“Would you come to visit at Piggott?

‘‘There’s a grave in that land –

‘‘It’s held in reserve by family and I –

“And it’s there in that plot –

“That I’ll soon see Arkan.”


I knew Rex was no daisy –

Or flower in full bloom –

But you’d take him for granted –

Like an old tavern spittoon –

He’ll always be here –

That old buzzard and friend –

He’s had a few good years –

If no real wins –

But extremely lonely –

He’ll keep that inside –

But you could tell by his demeanor –

He needed allies –

And he was willing to pay –

A price, a ransom –

To always hold hearts –

To treat people as grandsons –

To wish for fresh starts –

His choice, his selections –

Left much to be mentioned –

Some were drinking buddies –

And some were just spies.


But it became clearer and clearer –

His contribution to time –

His presence on sidewalks –

Cooking, coffee –

Taking rides, sweepstakes tickets—

Baseball and rhymes –

His kitchen window, aglow –

A beacon in the night –

All these contributions did Bud –

Towards life, make a strike. 


These things and places –

Bud would make sight –

Kitchen-window, I can see it from here –

A harbor spotlight, you knew he was there –

Sitting at his table, fumes in the air –

Watching his TV favorite, ear glued to the phone –

While his voice somewhat quivering –

Would tell his sis a poem –

His humor, his wisdom –

Reflected his line –

And he became as one with cantor –

Ribald jokes and rhyme.


And then there was the night –

The old country-boy departed –

For weeks on end, no whiskey or drink –

Did his weaken frame sorted –

But rather, a quiet burden –

A silent  contention –

Seemed to muscle his humor –

And one night early –

Rex became broken hearted –

No longer a rumor.


Outside the Quick shop, he grunted and groaned –

“Are you all right?” —

 “Hell, yes but let us move on!” –

But he wasn’t, tears in his eyes –

But he need not, should not have lied –

Back in the car, drops in his eyes –

His breathing did fly –

Cold sweat descending –

“To the hospital old boy!” –

“No, no, no, to my house let us drive!” –

His eyes ten-feet tall –

“Are you sure?” His lungs filling with fluid –

“No, I am really not sure at all!”


Back on the driveway –

I rushed inside, while Bud assured me –

It would all subside –

A cigarette he lit as if nothing was astride –

But he could not speak –

With the fury he hid inside –

Within minutes I assembled three neighbors –

To observe, but believe I would not –

A strange fate was to occur – I’ve never seen –Sickness come so stalking –

And envisioned a good bath and rest –

On clean sheets –

Would put Bud tip-topper –

And suited for health the next day –

Or the next –

But no more of this stealthing.


Call 911, a neighbor instructed –

“No, oh no, you won’t!” –

Bud suddenly interjected –

Listen, we told him, you go now –

Or go later –

I will not –

He murmured and mumbled –

And continued to argue –

With ambulance coachmen –

I stood by the tele –

Waiting a call from his dear sister –

When his buddy, George, said ‘head on’ –

“Go Take him, he’s acting peculiar’’ –

“He’ll willingly go with you –

“And none other.’’

“This time he’s not lying.”

The ambulance driver would follow—

To swerve and park –

If Bud looked like dying.


Bud wanted to know if the ambulance followed –

But at the hospital entrance –

The coffer-driver departed –

A wheelchair is needed, Bud instructed –

An attendant emerged, “be careful of his polio leg.’’

The ole’ boy even smiled as he rolled down the corridor –

His last –

Never to smile –

As he did in the past.


They all knew Rex down in Piggott –

By his casket, they did bow! –

The checkerboard was now closed –

And shelved –

The game over and gone –

Not another significant sound  —

From the ole’ hound.


Another version of this article can be seen at Rex’s Story –

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