What is the Bumpy Log Social Club?
A very different sort of place. Technically, it’s not a managed club. The owner really only provides the facility and most of the furniture and conveniences. The regulars know where stuff is and how to fix drinks and food if it’s not already available. Imagine in your own home a huge living-dining room with a big kitchen and restrooms attached. One of the first things you’ll notice on entering, besides being asked if you know the secret password, is the décor. It features lots of rough cut, gnarly, burly, knotty woods. That’s where The Bumpy Log gets its name. The origin of The Bumpy Log Social Club is sort of a fun story.
Ever since Desert Storm, Ezekiel Dossett had shied away from people. He became almost a recluse, yet he loved friends and family. He was in a rough spot. He loved to talk to new people, but he was anything but a social butterfly. You probably know the type. You might even be that type.
Ten or so years ago, EZ, as Ezekiel’s friends called him, was out cruising the yard sales for treasures for his flea market booth in Warrensburg. He’d dreamed of one day owning his own second hand store. EZ drove up to the intersection of two roads he’d never before traveled. He spotted beat up, weathered, barely readable “For Sale” signs on opposite corners of the intersection. In his imagination, he saw the rainbow ending right over that junction. He even thought he heard harp music. Ezekiel knew these places were meant for him. The junction already had his name on it: County Road E and County Road ZZ –E-Z’s.
EZ got the places for about the price of a new car. Both needed paint, but got vinyl siding instead. The place that became The Bumpy Log had to be re-roofed after replacing a few boards.
It turned out EZ got more from the deal than he expected. He thought he was buying just the two corner lots, but they happened to be part of a 160 acre farmstead within which lied his intersection. He owned all four corners and down the road a bit all four directions.
Ezekiel set to work clearing brush to make his new buildings more visible and in doing so, uncovered old signs at three of the four approaches which read, “Nowhere.”
“Oh great!” he thought, “I bought business property, but in the middle of Nowhere.” So he set out to discover that story.
Long ago, while the settlers were still picking out plots of land, a largish family came through the area. Dad finally got fed up with the kids’ fussing, “Are we there yet?” He stopped the wagons and yelled, red-faced and spitting out the very deliberate words, “NO! WE ARE NEVER THERE! WE WILL NEVER BE THERE! WE ARE ALWAYS HERE! WE WILL ALWAYS BE HERE! NOW HERE! NOW HERE!” And Dad muttered loudly as he yanked a top sideboard off a wagon and scrawled a sign saying, “NOWHERE” and drove it into the ground. The kids and the rest of the people stared in silence. The dog wasn’t even sure how to respond.
Of course, we know original records to places in Donowutt County got lost in Quantrill’s courthouse fire, so we really don’t know how true all this is.
The woman who previously owned EZ’s new property died and willed it to her nephew in Kansas City. He found ownership irritating so he jumped on the $50,000 Ezekiel offered in jest, rather than keep “those two run-down buildings in the middle of nowhere” insured, mowed and taxes paid.
It was a burden off the nephew and a dream come true for Ezekiel. The store boasted a wide roofed porch on both road-facing sides and an old general store inside. There was even a small apartment upstairs. EZ moved in there from Holden, MO, after a couple years’ work on the junction of E and ZZ. The two places became EZ’s Treasure Shop and The Bumpy Log Social Club.
You’ll find all kinds of people at The Bumpy Log. You’ll find passing hikers and homeless, County Judge and Sheriff, business owners and preachers. It’s even been said Mr. A, or the author, pops in from time to time.
Donowutt County Judge Noyugo likes to spend a good deal of time at The Bumpy Log, and is usually quite eager to explain how things are. We’ll let him explain some background on the county, itself.
“Greetings, I’m County Judge, Noyugo. Mr. A tried to explain all this to me. I know and undertstand what he said, but I’m having a hard time making it all work out in my head. He makes it sound like we’re real, but not really, but sorta, but only when… Argh! Maybe I don’t need to know how it all works, but just that it does.
Anyway, here’s his story. It’s weird. Back in prehistoric times for Donowutt County, sort of outside our plane of existence, Redtail MacSumpneruther, the Scotsman was born because a red tailed hawk died. It doesn’t sound like it makes lots of sense, but bear with me. Time and events can be somewhat screwy here. Mr. A’s got this life outside our plane and he was out driving and spotted a roadkilled raptor of some sort. Mr A’s got a special liking for birds of prey, so he felt a need to know what it was, because it looked different from the norm. So he hunted, researched, asked, but didn’t feel good calling it a red tailed hawk. His reluctance stemmed from his belief the bird was too small, too pale in color and the fact that the bird was too frozen for him to spread the wings properly, which made them look too pointed to be a red tail.
After a while, he gave in to the evidence and likelihood of variances from the norm. Mr. A settled on his bird being a juvenile, small, pale red tailed hawk. He pondered how some folks often take a couple features and jump to making an ID like he just did to resist making an ID. Mr. A likes to teach folks about wild edibles and knows the importance of proper identification. He thought of a prop for his programs: a doll he’d call a Scotsman, even though it obviously wasn’t. When people would deny it’s a Scotsman, he’d say, “Well, there’s a plaid skirt and a bagpipe. What more do you want? Scotsman!” He named his Scotsman after the roadkill and Redtail MacSumpneruther was born.
I touched on our convoluted time reckoning earlier. Mr. A hadn’t begun authoring on our Donowutt County plane of existence yet, so, technically, Redtail is even older than Mr. A. As Mr. A [I’ll still call him that, even though he hadn’t yet become “A” or author.] pondered his program prop, he wondered how such a character would actually exist, and the backstory came into existence.
What all that boils down to is we’re story characters and not real, yet, here we are at The Bumpy Log Social Club and I’m telling you the story about how we’re not real. Make sense of that!
Oh, here’s something to make you think. Probably all of us can relate to this. You know how when you walk into a room you sometimes forget what you’re going there for? It’s because we’re all characters in a book and that’s where the author is backspacing.
Hey, Redtail, you’re the oldest person here, at least in our self-aware plane. Why don’t you give a stab at explaining.”
“OK,” said Redtail, “but I think you or Mayor Douglas or somebody more official should be explaining stuff.”
“If it weren’t for you, none of us would exist. You’re pretty important here, if not the most important of all of us. Give yourself some credit,” said the Judge.
“I’ll give it a shot,” said Redtail. “We sort of live in three planes. Plane One is the ‘real’ us. It’s where our lives unfold for you readers (It’d be cool if it’s plural readers). Plane Two is a place Mr. A likes to use where he hashes out ideas through us, I think, just for fun. It’s kind of like where we can look at ourselves from the outside. Wouldn’t it be cool if y’all could really do that? Might even be scary to see how others see you.
You might think Plane Two is weird, but Plane Three is the strange one. It’s really all fake. I, for instance, I mean the real me, am NOT a Purple Top Made-to-Move Barbie. Those things you see in an illustration, are only fabric and plastic and stuff, manipulated into something that visually resembles what’s real. The real us are in Plane One and sometimes in Plane Two. Plane Three is only an attempt to visually explain Planes One or Two.
So we’re not like actors playing parts. I’m still Redtail, whether I’m only dancing prettily in your head (Ain’t it cool how I can do that?) in Plane One or talking to you about it in Plane Two or even simultaneously in Planes One and Two while you’re looking at a representation of me from Plane Three. That photographic representation made from action figures is as much me as if a kid from church was to draw a picture of me. The drawing might even be closer, since we really do our living in your heads.
Was that OK, Mr. A?”
Mr. A said, “Potentially confusing, but pretty much what I’d have said.”
Judge Noyugo rolled his eyes and put his head on the table. He lifted it and with a grin and a head-shake, said, “’Pretty much!?’ More like exactly what you’d have said.”
*** *** *** ***
Out at The Bumpy Log
“The Bumpy Log Social Club is located in Nowhere –in the middle, actually, which, in the tradition of some Missouri place-name pronunciation, like Versailles and Nevada, is “Now-here”. Just about anyone involved with Donowutt County might be found here from time to time. Even the author, known to the locals as Mr. A., frequents the place,” explained Donowutt County Judge, H. Noyugo.
Judge Noyugo continued, “This is a rather important event in my life. The earlier introductory narration marks the first time I’m documented in this monumental Donowutt County project. You’ll remember Mr. A. made me call the project “monumental”. He might be elevating his recreational endeavor above reality.”
“Oh, c’mon, Judge. I’m just havin’ fun,” said Mr. A. “Actually, I came here to think.”
The judge put his head in his hands and sighed, “Mr. A’s topic, though potentially offensive to many readers, is not meant to offend nor antagonize anyone. Please, either bear with it or ignore it.”
Mr. A broke in, “Let’s just get on with this. You guys are getting a break today from story lines and county histories but I didn’t feel like ignoring you altogether. That’s why I dropped by The Bumpy Log. I’m pondering societal messages like bumper stickers, slogans and such that preach tolerance, political correctness, humanist and secular messages. ‘COEXIST; My God is Too Big For Just One Religion; Do What You Will, Harm No One; the Darwin Fish; A loving God wouldn’t…; If God Created all Things, then He Created Evil; You Can’t Know God; Science and Christianity are Mutually Exclusive; The Bible’s Full of Contradictions; The Bible’s Just a Book of Myths; If It Can’t be Proved Scientifically, It’s Not Real; Your Religion is Faith-Based and Mine or Lack, Thereof, is Based on Experience.’ --and that’s just for starters.
The Judge said, “I’m one of the thought that without a creator God, the creator of a moral standard that transcends mankind, we would necessarily have to live in and accept without question, pure anarchy, not to mention, I’d be out of a job.”
A guy sitting in the dim corner spoke up. “You know, Hugh’s right. If there’s no creator, we’re all accidents of the Universe with no value. Who’s anyone to say someone else should abide by anyone else’s morality? Hey, what’s right for me might not be right for you, and what’s right for you might not be right for me. If I don’t like you, I should then be able to remove you from my discomfort. After all, to say otherwise is to impose your valueless morality on me. What makes any law created by worthless accidents of the Universe binding on any other worthless accident of the Universe –no matter how many worthless accidents agree? That’d just be adhering to ‘might makes right,’ or ‘survival of the bully.’ And by the way, like Judge Hugh, I too, am making my first entry into this ‘Monumental undertaking’. I’m Darrell Cord, police chief for Thistle Dew. You’ve already met my patrolman, Frank and dispatcher, Sarah. Yeah, I gotta agree, there has to be a moral standard that transcends mere humanity, or by reason of relative Atheism, no law can be binding on anyone.”
A Discussion on Plane Three Issues
“OK, folks, this’ll be different,” began George. “I don’t really know how we’re gonna do this except to just get started. So how many ethnic or manufacturer groups have we got here? I know Frank and I, and some others, have G.I.Joe background and Redtail and Linda-Jean used to be Made-to-Move Barbies. Of course, Linda-Jean had a head-swap.
A character-unassigned (CU) girl spoke up. “We were Chinese immigrants from AliExpress.”
A CUguy said, “Yeah, heads sold separately.”
Frank chuckled, “And there’s those guys in the back.”
“Oh, stop it, Frank,” said Lena, his wife.
“Yeah, Frank, we’re just a generic crowd to be assembled as needed. We can’t help how we look.” And the crowd of ping pong ball heads erupted with laughter.
The long-nosed dog even laughed, saying, “Don’t I know it! I’m not really a dog. I just play one in Donowutt County illustrations.”
George continued, “We’ve even got former Disney princesses.”
Chloe’s mom said, “Yep, Disney princess one day, and sweet little Chloe’s mom the next. Then I got to be a home school mom in the Relics’ co-op, so really, I got a whole bunch of kids. It’s a whole lot more exciting than living in a palace looking pretty waiting for the ball –over and over and over…”
George said, “Anyway, the reason we’re all here is to get some advice from the Other World.”
One of the younger CUgirls asked, “You mean, like a séance?”
Redtail spoke up. “No, not a séance. These are real people. Mr. A wouldn’t allow that, anyway. These Otherworlders are Mr.A’s little sister and niece. They’ve got years of experience with our kind.”
Rick said, “I’m sure lots of us have questions about our new identities and lives.”
Linda-Jean broke in, “Would you mind elaborating on that?”
Rick looked puzzled and asked, “What? Like explain old and new identities and stuff?”
“Sure,” said Linda-Jean, “Because some of us here and even readers might not get it.”
“OK,” began Rick. “I hope I don’t put anyone to sleep, but there’s going to be some philosophy here. So when Mr. A bought us, we ceased to…”
“What!?” interrupted the Scotsman. “We’re bought and owned like slaves?”
Sarah tried to explain, “You’re probably the oldest of all of us. You came before the whole Donowutt County back-story. You’re what inspired Redtail. Your job is simply to wear a plaid skirt, carry a bagpipe and look un-manly while being called a Scotsman. That’s probably closest to a manufacturer doll…”
Gus broke in, “Action figure.”
“Oh, OK,” whined Lena, “manufacturer action figure as any of us get. Barbie’s obsessed with fashion. G.I.Joe fights Cobra. Disney princesses sing and go to the ball, and you, Redtail MacSumpneruther, are the Scotsman who obviously isn’t. Manufacturer dolls… er, action figures pretty much serve one very shallow purpose. But you’ve at least got a back-story that helped create all of us!”
Rick took over. “So when Mr. A acquired us, our manufacturer role was over and we began new lives as his story characters –or at least the Plane Three visible manifestations of them. I ceased to be Ken and became Rick. Honestly, I find Rick to be lots more interesting.
The Scotsman said, “So really, all I am is for visual effect and Redtail is my stunt double?”
Redtail cut in. “OK, it’s more complicated, yet at the same time, simpler than that. We Redtails are one. I’m you and you’re me. You just don’t have to change clothes to be me. You might be older than I am, but I’ve been in more stories and been allowed more time to ponder questions like that.”
The Scotsman pondered, “So I’m…” and with a whisk of the pen/font/what-have-you, Mr. A convinced the Scotsman and assured Redtail they were perfectly content with their lives –not without questions, but content.
Lena asked George, “So, questions –since I’m the Area Patriots Recon Leader, and we’re about to enter some new territory, can I assume the moderator role for a bit?
George said, “Shouldn’t you ask your commander something like that?”
“Yeah,” said Lena, “but Mr. A hasn’t felt a need to give me one yet.”
Larry, Thistle Dew’s mayor, said, “Quit givin’ her a hard time, George. Just let her get on with it.”
Lena gave George a harrumphing so-there-then look and a head-shake –good-naturedly, of course, because Mr. A likes it that way.
Dave asked with a sneer, “Who’s this Mr. A that keeps popping up? Why do we hafta do things his way? It’s like, his-way-or-no-way. If he don’t like it, we can’t do it. Blah blah blah.”
Lena broke off Davy’s rant. “Mr. A is our author. Sarah started calling the author “Mr. A” a few writings ago and it sorta stuck. Without Mr. A, we can do nothing. Without him, we just vanish into a void-like nothingness.”
Pastor Tix shook his head and laughed, “No, I’m not laughing at you guys, nor at Mr. A, but I’m starting to see so many theological parallels. God is often referred to as ‘the Author’…”
Mr. A broke in adamantly. “I’m not God!”
Pastor Tix rolled his eyes and said with animation, “Oh yeah! I know that! Of course, I couldn’t even have thought that had you not willed it.” He laughed, “Calvinism versus Arminianis…”
Lena interrupted, “Back on track here. That could be quite an interesting sermon topic, but not here. So, to Mr. A’s sister and niece, are you game to answer us a few questions --aside from confirming Mr. A is, in fact, NOT God?”
Dave sat slumped in his chair muttering about black holes of non-existence and how he’s really just a lifeless glob of plastic without Mr. A. Redtail gave an exasperated look. “Drop it already, OK?”
Instantly, all agreed to get back on track –even Mr.A.
“So,” restarted Lena with a sigh, “what do you want to be called? Until we hear otherwise, we’ll be calling you Sister and Niece.”
Linda-Jean said, “Since I heard we might get to talk to some consultants, I and several occasional library patrons have been working up some important questions.”
Lena leaned in and gave a serious look, “Questions which have weighed heavily on the minds of humankind since… OK, our kind anyway, since, I guess, the beginning of our consciousness.”
A CUgirl asked, “How come so many of us walk on tippy-toes all the time, yet aren’t up nights walking off cramps?”
Another answered quickly, “You ditz, we’re plastic, that’s why.”
The younger CU girl asked, “Where do I find kids my age? I know I can look for Skipper and Midge, but how ‘bout boys?”
Sarah said, “I think I come across as lots younger than I am, but I really want to look my age. George got to have his molded hair filed some and painted and got some facial hair glued on. How do I make my hair grayer? Can I gently brush bleach through it without ruining it?
Lydia and Chloe said, “We’re 6 or 7. Shouldn’t we be a little taller?”
Both giggled and Chloe whispered, “We said that at the same time,” and they both giggled again.
Redtail spoke up. “I’d really like to see Kevin, Jerry and Mike figures. I like those kids.”
Lena said, “Sarah mentioned hair-color. How ‘bout getting it to behave the way it should? Besides wrapping our heads in plastic when we go to sleep, what can we do? Does hair spray work on us?
A CU guy said, “How can I get my body color to more closely match my head? It’s bad enough having a longish neck, but this body’s pale enough to have been in a cave or even grave for years. I like the body’s range of motion but the color feels weird. The heads that are in this body color looked like little boy heads with girl make-up. At least these heads look like men, even with the long necks. Mr. A filed and cut off as much length as he dared.
Lena reviewed out loud, “Let’s see. Age groups, skin color, hair color and styling,” she glanced at CU girl and smiled, “cramps.” Then Lena turned more attention to Sister and Niece. “Clothes and accessories, to include furniture, vehicles and specially cooking, camping and institutional stuff. A bunch of folding metal chairs would be great. Logs, stumps, benches and pews are OK, chairs are nice from time to time. And about clothes, we can get decent enough T-shirts and sweat pants from T.D.Fera. That’s OK, but there’s more to life than that kind of casual. And yes, we know about all that glitzy formal/party/beach/hedonistic-self-centered-lifestyle stuff Barbies and princesses all seem to come with.”
Sarah said, “I’ve got a Curvy Barbie body. You’d think I could find ‘normal’ clothes that weren’t always baggy, but no! By the time this gets photographed and in print, we law enforcement types might be in black shirts and blue slacks, but we’re sure not at the time of this draft.”
George said, “I’m not much of a wardrobe consultant, but I think most of us guys are fine with T-shirts. My T and G.I.Joe camo pants do me just fine most of the time. They still feel kinda funny at church, so options would be nice.
(One of the CU girls became assigned during this writing, when Mr. A used the word ‘glitzy”) Glitra, who owns Glitra’s House of Fashion, Fabric and Fun, craft store in Higginsburg said, “I know we stock lots of felt and old T-shirt material and even a decent amount of plaid flannel.”
Chloe’s mom said, “I’d never heard of Glitra’s. Where in Higginsburg is it?”
Glitra said, “It’s so new we don’t even know its exact location yet. We’ve only been in operation for a couple paragraphs now.”
Chloe’s mom and Glitra continued their chat. They both smiled and waved as the sound of their conversation faded into soft background noise.
Lena said, “Wow, that was cool. I didn’t know my moderator power included that! Sister and Niece, do you know any pattern sources for clothes, backpacks, tents or any 1/6 scale accessory patterns or inexpensive accessories can be found? I work at T.D.Fera and know the conversion formula is fairly easy. If a character’s 6 feet tall, it’s 6x2 and the Our World figure should be 12 inches tall. So a 9’ ceiling becomes 18” for Our World. I mean, we can build most of what we need at T.D.Fera, but ready-made patterns, kits or even actual stuff could make life easier. And clothes that fit, between lounge-around-the-house sweats and formal wear would be great. I know Redtail would love a nice plaid shirt, jeans and tennis shoes.
Redtail said, “Yeah, and then I could get back into that Scottish theme.”
The Scotsman said, “That Scottish theme –I seem to have misplaced my original bagpipe, and Mr A took me to a program but couldn’t set me out because I couldn’t find it. Well, he made me another one. Oh, sorry. I’ll shut up now.” She gave an insincere apologetic look --with a hint of self-satisfied mischief hidden in her eyes.