“Big Ben” blasted into the early morning calm. The scent of motor oil permeated throughout Cletus’s 8’x12’ RV. To most people the sound of the alarm going off in the morning is an unwanted experience. For Cletus, “Big Ben” is a companion that has been with him for right at 40 years. Back then he worked for a guy who installed septic systems. One day he and his boss were removing the old broken tank lid to replace it with a new one. His boss moved the back hoe into position and Cletus hooked the chain to the tank lid. Cletus was supposed to guild the lid as his boss pulled it up. Everything was going good until the lid finally cracked in half. The chain hurled around and slammed into Cletus’s right shoulder and knocked him into the exposed tank.

On his way down, he banged his head on the overflow pipe. His boss watched in horror as Cletus disappeared into the murky mess. By the time his boss got off his back hoe and hurried over to the edge of the tank, Cletus had resurfaced. His boss went to his truck and retrieved a rope. He tossed the rope in and told Cletus to tie it around himself. His boss pulled him out and laid him in the grass. After hosing Cletus down, his boss could see a big gash on Cletus’s head. His boss told Cletus to get in the back of his pick-up truck and he rushed him to the hospital.

Cletus had to stay in the hospital for a few days. Every morning this nurse with a very irritating high pitched voice would come in at 5 am sharp. “Cle-e-e-tus.” Cle-e-e-tus.” “Wake up Cle-e-e-tus.” “It is time for your medication”. “Can you hear me Cle-e-e-tus”? For a long while after Cletus got out of the hospital, he could hear that nurse screeching his name.

One day soon after, he drove his bike up to the Wal-mart for some beer. As he was passing through the isles he noticed “Big Ben”. This day had changed his wake-up call forever. For all the years since, his day has started with his “Big Ben”.

Cletus sat up and tapped Big Ben on the head. When he got to his feet, he looked down at his bed and noticed the oil stains. He thought, “I should have hosed off last night. Maybe that oil on my canvas tarp will dry ok if I hang it outside for the day.”  With that thought, he grabbed the canvas tarp and hung it from a long since broken TV antenna that is still attached to the side of the RV.

After a trip to the outhouse, Cletus returned to the RV. He looked into the mirror and barely recognized himself. Not because of the oil. He was used to that. He noticed lots of white dots where those fire ants got him. He had heard somewhere that butter works well on things like that. He didn’t have any butter so he rubbed some potted meat juice on those spots instead.

Cletus started thinking about those bees again and was wondering if they were still there. He reached and grabbed a can of “Chef Boyardee” off the shelf for breakfast. After he finished his breakfast, he hurried out the door.