James M. Flammang, author of 30 books (including
six for children), is at work on several more,
including the title described below.

An independent journalist since the 1980s, Flammang
specialized in the automobile business. During
2016, he turned away from cars and into more vital
topics: work/labor, consumer concerns, and especially,
the emerging outrages of the Trump administration. His
website, Tirekicking Today (tirekick.com) has been
online since 1995.



Untied Knots

Tales of Travel and Back at Home

by James M. Flammang

Ready? Go!

Ruth Ann was nuts. Crazy. No question about it. Anybody who knew her, knew that she was.

I knew it only too well, having spent plenty of time among crazy people. Sick, troubled people. Including a stint in a mental institution, a few years earlier. As a patient, albeit voluntary – not an employee.

This was the mid-1960s, a couple of years before the counterculture became the big thing in much of the country. Ruth Ann was well ahead of them, in terms of living life as an outsider. Way outside. What they might call an outlier in today’s fancier times.

Why had I taken up with her? Mainly, because she was there. She was no great beauty, too skinny to attract a lot of notice, but cute in an oblique way. Bright red hair. The kind you hardly ever see. Sometimes, I could hardly take my eyes off it. Never seen a woman quite that redheaded, before or since. Red “down there,” too, I learned before too long.

Ruth Ann didn’t care much for sex, but gave in now and then. Bed sessions were nothing to get excited about, and didn’t necessarily take place in a bedroom, except during periods when she was living at home and her parents were out for the day. Some grappling took place in whatever car she happened to own at the time, you probably won’t be surprise to hear. Trouble is, she always drove small cars, and often had a dog along. The limitations were obvious.

Still, I’d had so little experience with women, and even less good experience, that time spent in her company – with few clothes present – was good enough for me.

When we had sex, which wasn’t often, she would insist that coupling not be quite complete. That way, she could tell herself that she hadn’t really had sex at all. Hadn’t quite gone “all the way.” Just the preliminaries.

I went along. Going part of the way (nearly all, truth be told) was enough.

She could have been called “frigid,”I suppose. Worried about her reputation. Which was odd, because not long before we met, she claimed to have been “run out” of the small town she was living in, supposedly because of some altercation over somebody’s boyfriend. She practically bragged about having been tagged as unwanted, shunned, and ultimately ousted from that community.

If her story of expulsion was true, I don’t know how that concern about reputation came about. Didn’t make sense. Of course, with Ruth Ann, not much did.

“They ran me out of town,” she said one evening, recalling her previous residence. Like I say, odd, especially since she seemed prone to putting herself, at least occasionally, into position for serious misbehavior. Who were “they,” anyway? No telling.

Weird as she was, Ruth Ann changed my life. Over a couple of years, in our sporadic, tense, even combative, ostensibly boy/girl relationship, I went from someone who rarely left my neighborhood, to a virtual vagabond. By the time we split up for good, I’d turned into someone who was always ready to head out to parts unknown, at a moment’s notice.

It didn’t last all that long, but the vagabond nature remained as part of my psyche for the rest of my days, even though most of those days would be spent right at home, or close by. ...

Note: This story is intentionally incomplete at this point, intended to serve as a sample.


Click here for Contents of Untied Knots

Click here for Introduction to Untied Knots>

Click here for excerpt from Night Train Out of Queretaro

Click here for excerpt from Desk Duty

Click here for excerpt from Bad Sports

Click here for excerpt from Whites Only '59

Click here for excerpt from Scandal In the Dayroom


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