LIFE & TIMES | RUSTY MITCHUM

Auctions bring out high roller in Rusty

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Awhile back, I had the hankerin’ to do something different. Usually my wife Janet and I just sit at home and watch a movie, read, or somethin’ like that. I really didn’t want to do that again, so I made a suggestion.

“Hey, it says here in the paper that there’s an estate auction goin’ on tonight. What do you say we go?”

“Rusty,” she said, as if talkin’ to a child. “Do you remember the last auction we went to?”

“Not really,” I said.

“You don’t remember getting into that bidding war with that man over that wooden box?”

“If you remember,” I stated, “that box was full of valuable stuff.”

“It was full of light switches.”

“Do you know how much light switches are now-a-days? Anyway, I couldn’t let that guy out bid me.”

“Why not?” she asked.

“Well,” I said, as I thought of an answer. “Well, uh, it just ain’t American,”

“Oh brother,” Janet replied.

“Come on.” I whined. “Let’s go to the auction. There might be some good stuff.”

“OK,” she said. “But promise me you won’t bid on any moose heads or anything.”

“I promise,” I said.

As we walked into the auction house, I was amazed at all the stuff I saw.

“WOW!” I said. “Man, we could refurnish our whole house in here.”

“Don’t even think about it,” said Janet.

“Would you look at that old portrait,” I said. “That would look good over our TV.”

Janet looked at me like I was crazy. “Are you nuts? Look at what the frame is made out of.”

“What?”

“It’s the seat off of a toilet.”

“Oh yeah,” I said. “That’s pretty cool.” Janet rolled her eyes.

“You know, I don’t know how anybody could get rid of this stuff.”

“They didn’t,” said Janet. “They died. This is an estate auction, remember? The dead person’s family is getting rid of all this stuff, just like your family is going to do when you are gone.”

“Why did you smile when you said that?” I asked.

“Was I smiling? I didn’t mean to smile.”

“There you go again. You’re smilin’.” She turned and walked away.

“Hey Rusty,” she said. “Here’s a gun.” She knows I like guns.

“Let’s see,” I said, as I walked over to where she was standing.

“Boy howdy,” I said. “A bolt action 16 gauge shotgun, with a Polychoke. They don’t make those anymore.”

“Why is that?”

“Cause nobody bought ‘em back when they did make ‘em. I bet it won’t bring 10 dollars.”

“Come on,” said Janet. “They’re about to start.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I just love to listen to auctioneers. Back when I was a kid, I’d go to the sale barn with my dad and the sound comin’ out of the auctioneer’s mouth would mesmerize me.

I’d go home and practice, thinkin’ that someday I too would be up there callin’ bids. Anywho, this auctioneer Janet and I were listenin’ to was really good. He was a spittin’ and a sputterin’, and it was wonderful.

First off, he started with some little stuff. You know glasses, vases, and junk like that. It always surprises me that people actually buy that junk. Then he got to the good stuff.

“I have here a horn off of a cow!” the auctioneer hollered. “What am I bid on this item!”

“Wow,” I said. “That’s a nice lookin’ cow horn.”

“You’re not serious, are you?” said Janet.

“Hey, I’m not goin’ to bid on it. I just said it was nice lookin’.”

“Am I bid 25 cents? Give me 25, make it 25,” the auctioneer sang.

“Wow,” I said “Twenty-five cents. That’s a bargain.”

“Don’t you dare,” warned Janet.

“I ain’t,” I said.

“Twenty-five cents!” yelled the auctioneer as someone bid. “Now, do I hear 30?”

“Thirty!” I yelled.

“What!” said Janet.

“Was that me?” I asked.

“Yes, that was you.”

“Goin’ once. Goin’ twice. Goin’ three times. Sold to the man beside the pretty woman.”

“Heck,” I said. “I thought for sure I won.”

“You did, you idiot. The man beside the pretty woman is you.”

I looked on the other side of me and no one was standing there. I looked back at Janet. You mean he was talkin’ about you?” She gave me one of those half eyelid “I’m gonna knock the snot out of you” looks.

“Cool,” I said. “I won.” Janet was still lookin’ at me.

“Hey,” I said, thinking quickly. “I bought it for you.”

“Right,” she said.

“Honest. It’ll look good on the kitchen table. You can stick flowers in it or somethin’.”

Silence.

“Wow,” I said. “A man can’t even buy his wife somethin’ without gittin’ in trouble.”

“I have here,” the auctioneer hollered, “a 16 gauge bolt action shotgun that belonged to a man who went to prison for stealing a cow from a state senator. Am I bid 50 dollars?”

“Did you hear that?” I said. “Only 50 dollars.”

“You said that it wasn’t worth 10 dollars,” said Janet.

“Well, that was before I heard who it belonged to.”

“You don’t know who it belonged to. He didn’t say who it belonged to.”

“Yeah he did. You just weren’t listening.

“Fifty dollars,” I yelled.

“I’m bid 50 dollars. Do I hear 55, 55, make it 55?”

“Fifty-five!” someone across the room yelled.

“Did you hear that,” I said. “Somebody is tryin’ to out bid me? “Sixty dollars!”

“Rusty, I’m going to kill you. Do you understand? You are going to die, right here in front of everybody.”

“Not now Hon,” I said. “That guy just outbid me. 70 dollars!”

“Seventy dollars!” yelled the auctioneer. “Do I hear 75?!”

“Seventy-five!” yelled the other bidder.

“Eighty-ummph…” Janet had slapped her hand over my mouth. Then she put her arm under mine and dragged me out of the auction house.

“Sold, for 75 dollars!” I heard the auctioneer cry as I exited the building.

“Heck,” I said as soon as Janet removed her hand from my mouth. “You made me miss the deal of a lifetime.”

“Rusty,” Janet said. “Listen to me. You are a sick man. You need help.”

“Hey Mister!” someone yelled. I turned and it was a young man from inside the auction house. “You forgot your cow horn.”

“Oh yeah,” I smiled. “I forgot about it.” I turned to Janet. “Hey Hon, you got 30 cents I can borrow? I’ll pay you back. Honest.”

“Idiot,” she sighed.

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