Official Montana 500 Website

The Box

By Tom Carnegie
With thanks to Phil

Butch hears his mother's voice. "Pancakes are ready!" Butch awakens on a Sunday morning. Nearly every Sunday after Butch has eaten breakfast, he goes down to Pinto Bean Lake. If the water is warm he might take a dip. Today Butch isn't planning to go swimming, as it is pretty chilly. As Butch stands on the edge of the water, he spots a box floating a few dozen yards from shore. With the aid of a long pole, he retrieves the box. When he opens it, he finds one of the best examples that he's ever seen! He is pretty excited at this point and decides to take it to Mr. Harris' second-hand store, as he is sure that Mr. Harris will buy it from him. He is feeling cold, but he notices that he has a blanket with him. He wraps himself up in it.

Butch loads his treasure into the seat next to him and heads into Baton Noir. Mr. Harris is not in his shop as it is Sunday and the shop is closed. Butch knows that Mr. Harris lives above the shop so to get his attention he tosses a couple of pebbles against the upstairs window. Mr. Harris comes down the outside staircase dressed in his trousers and undershirt. "It is brrrr-ER-er outside today," says Mr. Harris. As Mr. Harris says this, his head tips back a little more with each er-er. If Butch thinks this is a strange way to say that it was cold outside he doesn't acknowledge it, except to pull his blanket a little higher around his neck. He is still cold. Just then he realizes that his blanket is really just a sheet. Butch and Mr. Harris enter the shop. Butch sets his box down and opens it with a flourish. He is startled and displeased by Mr. Harris' reaction. "Get that out of my shop!" Butch hastily complies. "I wonder if Joseph is at the Model T Garage today?" Butch, along with Hayes and Jesse Olson are employed by the Laydon Garage, which is known locally as the Model T Garage. Joseph is the manager of the Laydon Garage and sometimes goes to the shop on Sundays to catch up on paperwork. On the way to the shop Butch drives past another garage operated by the Medere brothers.

Butch is surprised as he sees Joseph and Hayes and what appears to be Jesse's feet sticking out from under a Model T Runabout. As Butch walks in, Jesse gets out from under the car and they all proceed to sit in a semi-circle around the potbelly stove. Butch is somewhat curious as to where the Medere brothers are and why the crew of the Model T Garage is there on Sunday, but doesn't ask. Jesse then pours everyone a cup of coffee. For some reason, Joseph is holding a piece of twine, which is tied to the leg of a rooster. Every once in a while the rooster lets go with a crow. "Er-er-ER-er" Butch is mildly puzzled by Joseph's pet rooster, but rather than ask him about it, he decides that this is a golden opportunity to try a little joke on the guys. It is a little trick that someone had pulled on Butch a few days ago, and he has decided to pass it on.

The way it works is to ask someone which hand that they used to stir their coffee. When they answer "right" or "left", you say "that's funny, I use a spoon!" "Hey, Hayes, which hand do you stir your coffee with?" Without batting an eye, Hayes grabs a greasy, rusty screwdriver off the floor of the shop and says, "I don't use my hand, I use a screwdriver!" At which point Hayes sticks said screwdriver into his coffee, and calmly begins stirring. Jesse then pipes up, "I don't use my hand, I use a pistol!" Jesse then reaches into his overalls and pulls out a revolver and begins to stir his coffee with the barrel. Butch is resigned to the fact that his joke has gone hopelessly awry so he heads out to get his treasure to show to the guys. He drags the box in and sets it on the floor. With a big smile, he opens it.

The room falls silent. Jesse's face is one of horror. Hayes', one of disgust. Joseph's, one of grimness. Joseph breaks the silence. "Butch, on Monday I want you to gather up your tools and take them and your box and don't come back. You're fired!" Butch is numb and he stands there dumbfounded. Joseph's gaze is such that Butch fears it may burn a hole through him, so he says nothing, picks up his box and leaves.

He drives home. When he shows his parents what he has found, he gets a strong reaction. "Son, I think it is time that you moved out - and I mean today." Butch listens to his father's words, then looks to his mother for help. She says nothing, but the look in her eyes tells Butch that she is in full agreement with her husband.

Butch lugs his box back to his car. He cranks up his T, then sits in it with his head leaning on the steering wheel. He isn't sure what to do next. Suddenly the motor makes a strange squalling sound, the likes of which Butch has never heard a motor make before. "er-er-ER-er" it goes. Maybe the fan bushing? No, maybe something in the transmission? Butch hears his mother's voice. "Pancakes are ready!" Butch awakens on a Sunday morning.

(end of story)

The Montana 500 is Sanctioned by The Montana Cross Country T Association.