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Bubba Fashions a Meatchopper


ubba Whartz hadn’t been around The Blue Moon Bar at all since he had gotten back from an impromptu outof-town trip with exotic dancer Trixie LaMonte following a debacle at the Sarasota Christmas Boat Parade of Lights in December. I had seen Trixie myself a couple of times where she worked, in a gentleman’s club of some local repute, and had inquired about Bubba’s whereabouts both times. “He’s working on a project,” Trixie replied. “You want a lap dance?” I demurred both times. I wonder where the courage came from. It could have come for financial reasons. Lap dances, however, seem to transcend economic rationale, as if there is another dynamic, entirely, at work. Still, I remained stiffly steadfast in my position. Finally, it was Doobie, the bartenderette at The Blue Moon, who told me that Bubba’s project had him occupied at a warehouse off 12th Street in Sarasota. She gave me the address, so one day, when my journalistic load was light, I drove over to see what Bubba was up to. The large, sliding door to the warehouse was open, and I walked through it into an amalgamation of jigs and molds and cans of strange chemicals spread all over the floor. In the middle of this mélange was live-alone, liveaboard sailor Bubba Whartz, a red baseball cap on his head. The place smelled like PVC glue, only more toxic. My eyes watered slightly. And because the sun was coming through the sliding door, I cast a long shadow, which Bubba noticed immediately. “You’re not the police are you?” he asked me. “Of course not, Bubba. It’s me,” I replied. “Oh,” said Whartz, recognizing my voice. “With the sun behind you, it was hard to tell at first. How you doin’?” “Fine, Bubba,” I said. “What are you up to? Trixie said you were working on a special project, but she never said what it was.” “Meatchopper,” was Bubba’s singular answer. When one wants information from Bubba he can turn positively monosyllabic. It is sometimes maddening. “What kind of a meat chopper?” I inquired, with a slight tension in my voice. “M2BMG,” Bubba offered tersely. “Dammit, Bubba,” I snapped off, “I am asking you for answers and you are giving me nothing. What’s wrong with you? “Need-to-know basis,” Bubba said, walking out into the sunlight for a few seconds and squirting some Red Man


February 2010


tobacco juice in the direction of a feral cat. The cat hissed at Bubba and skittered away to hide behind some trash barrels. “Need-to-know basis, my foot,” I scoffed. “I know so much about you already from the years I have been hanging out with you, it would make a book. Or a long entry into the NCIC database.” “Is NCIC some sort of famous sailors’ registry?” Whartz asked. “It’s the National Crime Information Center,” I responded. “Oh,” Bubba replied, weakly, his attitude changing like a dirty diaper in the hands of a strict governess. He was not going to offer any more resistance, I could tell. “What is an M2BMG and what does that have to do with chopping meat. You opening a hamburger stand?” “An M2BMG is a .50 caliber Browning machine gun. Back in World War Two, when they were mounted on halftracks in multiples of four, they were used against advancing infantry and that’s how they got the name ‘Meatchopper.’ It must have been pretty messy,” Bubba offered, pausing to spit again. Then he continued, “The M2BMGs were actually mounted in pairs, one over top of the other, with another similar configuration right next to the first. The rig had what were called ‘tombstone’ ammunition boxes attached to each machine gun, and each held 100 rounds. The M2BMG was designed to shoot down planes, but it found its niche in shredding enemy infantry.” “You are not making one of those things, are you?” I asked, while looking over my shoulder in case an ATF SWAT team was coming. “Nah,” said Bubba. “They are expensive to own, because of all the licensing requirements, and they cost a Bill Gates fortune to shoot. I am making a prototype replica of a Meatchopper, four guns and all the accoutrements, that will look exactly like the real thing. But it will only weigh, the whole thing, about 40 pounds. It is being made of carbon fiber and some fiberglass. The barrel of a real .50 caliber BMG weighs 28 pounds all by itself. The gun is 85 pounds, so four of them hooked up together would weigh 340 pounds, exclusive of the weight of the quad mount and the ammunition. Small wonder that they were mounted on vehicles.” “Why are you doing this? It won’t shoot. It’s not real. Why would you want to have something like a Meatchopper?” “It’s a business opportunity,” Bubba replied instantly.