Ricky Harpole column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ms. Rita remembered as member in good standing of Bohemian Society

(Editor’s Note: Panolian columnist Ricky Harpole today writes about his good friend Rita Laughter Brooks, who passed away on March 2.)

I have to tell y’all about Ms. Rita Jean. A few of her misadventures have been documented here, but I’ve been sittin’ on this one for a spell, and its time has come.

Some of y’all will recall the episode where she recommended to a Yankee couple the best way to fertilize and raise kudzu (as  a form of Southern revenge).

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She could be a mean heifer on occasion. She ventilated a roof not long ago in an aborted attempt to silence a TV that had proven itself to be an intolerable nuisance.

When I met Ms. Rita Jean it was about 1974 on the old Northwest campus. We met through a like-minded set of bohemians who not only played folk music on the steps of the Union Building, but were also fond of playing practical jokes on each other as well any unfortunate authority figure who happened to get in our way.

A certain member of our outlaw congregation had a well-deserved grievance against a campus policeman who had flunked out of the Boy Scouts and thereby qualified for “campus cop” status. Needless to say, that rascal also qualified for the “Psychology 901“ graduate term study for behavior modification and secondary employment status, which covered broader repercussions than the Mississippi penal code at the time.

The “Bohemian Society,” with the help of Ms. Rita, saw justice done.

On one dark night while officer Paul (the punk) was loafing at an off-campus eating establishment, with his over-marked cruiser, one of my bohemian accomplices disconnected the drive shaft bolts, which connected a really high powerhorse engine to the “Tiger Paw Rubber,” while Ms. Rita kept ol’ Paul distracted with her southern charm.

That part of the mission accomplished, yours truly did a good ol’ redneck burnout in Ms. Rita’s 396 Rally Nova while she feigned panic and told ol’ Paul that her car was being stolen. Since I was the getaway man, I didn’t get a chance to witness the carnage personally as it happened, but the official report to the campus authorities was that a NWJC officer was calling from a disabled cruiser while on duty and out of his jurisdiction.

No customer or employee would confirm any part of his story. Ms. Rita’s Rally Nova was parked in her driveway. She appeared to be rudely awakened. Her car keys were in her china cabinet.

Engineer Davis had cooled the engine compartment that contained that frisky motor with a pack of dry ice so it appeared not to have been used recently.

 That was ambush number one on the character of a mis-hired public servant.

He somehow managed to convince the fools that hired him to begin with that he was competent to perform his duties, despite the fact that the repair job on the cruiser equaled  about two months of his salary.

It appeared that we were to remain stuck with that badged and armed idiot for the duration. That’s when Ms. Rita Jean rose once again to the occasion.

“He is the epitome of incompetence,” she stated, “and all we have to do is amplify it so that it even a blind administrator will be forced to see a rectifiable mistake and fire his sorry (unprintable). And this is how we’ll do it.”

Well, to make a long story more interesting if not shorter, the truth must be told.

Ms. Rita acquired a pair of guitar strings, a couple of clothes pins, and two large russet potatoes which when properly rigged will disable the breathing mechanism of the engine of a high compression motor. She managed to shut that jackass’s car down twice and thus rid the campus of a fool with a badge and a gun and pedophile tendencies.

I don’t know where he went from there, but he was gone and good riddance.

Thank you, Ms. Rita, for the brilliance of your plots and schemes. Your advice and vices will always be welcomed at the Bohemian Board Meetings at the Moccasin Bend Revenge Social Club.

In the meantime, rest in peace Rita Jean Laughter Brooks, 1951-2012.

(Contact Harpole at www.facebook.com/harpolive or www.colespointrecords.com)