Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Quick Remedy ...

It's once again that time of year when students all across the country are anxiously preparing for their return to school, and for some classes have already commenced ... reminiscent of a tale I heard a good while back about when Grandpa DooLittle was just a young feller, and how he hated school so bad that each year he would feign some type of life-threatening, albeit overtly suspicious malady such as pseudo injury or phony illness in order to delay his inevitable return to academia ... Grandpa's scheme that particular year had been to take a branch full of ripe elderberries the very day before school was to begin for the year, and to slap those purplish-black berries all across his bare skin thus leaving purplish-black splotches from front to back, head to toe all over his pale, lanky body--the results being something which vaguely resembled some exotic and severe rash ... the mischievous lad then splashed warm water on his face and forehead, and dampened his stringy hair so as to make it appear that he was running a high fever ... then he jumped into bed, pulled up the covers and feebly called for his mother.

Upon discovering her son's abrupt and potentially debilitating condition there was but one thing to do ... she sent word and summoned "Doc" Spencer ... now Doc Spencer was one of those old-fashioned country doctors, as a matter of fact, Doc Spencer was the only doctor for miles around ... he had been doctoring in those parts for decades and had delivered several generations of folk during that time ... and besides being the only physician, Doc was also the only dentist, the only veterinarian and the only funeral director in the area ... if one were to require any of the four services provided by Doc Spencer, he could usually be found at home in his office or barn diagnosing some disease, repairing some injury, pulling some teeth, shoeing some horse or preparing some body for burial ... and if for whatever reason one was unable to come to Doc Spencer, then Doc Spencer would come to them--unheard-of these days, such response was commonly known as a "house call" back then ... Doc usually rode an ol' mule named "Molly," with his huge, black, leather satchel strapped to her side which contained all necessary "doctorin'" instruments and elixirs, often riding for days to reach some of his less than ambulatory patients ... Doc never got in a hurry neither, he figured you would eventually fall somewhere within one of his four specialties no matter the condition he might find you in ... so Doc Spencer headed over to the DooLittle's place ... and Grandpa was none the wiser!

Upon the doctor's timely arrival, Grandpa's mama met him at the gate and began describing the symptoms of her piteous son's sudden onslaught of unwellness as she hurriedly led him to the beguiling yet suddenly thunderstruck bluffer's bedside ... the old practitioner stooped down and gently felt the lad's damp forehead with the back of his leathery hand and found it to be surprisingly cool to the touch ... then he pulled down the bed covers so as to inspect the alleged rash ... as he rubbed that same hand across those purplish-black spots they seemed to miraculously disappear right before his eyes ... he brought his hand up to his nose for a quick, educated whiff and strangely caught the tangy aroma of American elder ... by this time Grandpa's mama was beside herself with worry as she nervously enquired of the good doctor "are you going to be able to help my son Doc?" ... "oh I imagine so ... 'tain't nothing fatal" he assuredly replied ... then slowly unlatched his black "doctorin'" bag, opened it wide and began digging around inside until he retrieved a large bottle of castor oil and a thick razor strap ... "now I want you to give the boy four tablespoons full of this here castor oil at least twice a day, also take him out to the woodshed at least once a day and use this here razor strap on his behind ... then I think he'll have a speedy recovery" he prescribed ... Grandpa DooLittle's mama was quite confused by these unusual orders so she politely asked "Doc are you sure that is the correct and proper remedy for a simple rash?" ... with the amusement of the situation clearly showing on his weathered face Doc Spencer exclaimed "oh it's certainly not for any rash madam ... that there remedy is for bald-faced lyin'!" ... needless to say the next morning Grandpa DooLittle was up bright and early, dressed and ready for his first day of school!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

High Suspense ...

It's that time of year again that county and state fairs along with various carnivals of all sorts can be seen all across the country ... which reminded Lamar Beefeater of an experience he and his lifelong pal Luther DooLittle had at one such carnival many years ago when they were both just young lads ... seems the odd couple had earned a few extra dollars doing odd chores for Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt and Grandpa DooLittle that summer, and those dollars had been burning holes in their britches ever since ... so what better way to spend ready cash than at a carnival?

So here's the story as recounted by Lamar Beefeater ... the boys had eagerly climbed out of their beds early that morning and headed out toward the carnival which had just set up at the town square, just as waking roosters began sounding their familiar alarms at the rapidly rising sun ... their plan being to spend the entire day getting rid of every cent they had by ravenously consuming every snow cone, big drink, hot dog, corn dog, candy apple, cotton candy, pop corn, buffalo wing, peanut, ice cream cone, elephant ear, honey bun and bloomin' onion they could get their hands on ... whatever time they had left had been designated for playing games and winning prizes on the midway, and then riding the less than lethal kiddie rides such as bumper cars, the merry-go-round and maybe even a turn on the frighteningly high, double Ferris wheel ... so Luther and Lamar straightaway commenced to partake of the festivities at hand!

To make what could potentially be a drawn-out story somewhat less monotonous, the enthusiastic pair's plan had been carried out just as originally designed ... they had unashamedly devoured every beverage and food item from their list, some more than once ... they had participated in every game found on the midway resulting in Lamar winning a rabbit's foot and Luther a yellow, rubber, bathtub duckie ... and they had ridden every kiddie ride except for that double Ferris wheel ... seems Luther had abruptly developed some trepidations as to this contraption's extreme height after giving it a bit of closeup, visual scrutiny, and had arrived at the wholesome conclusion that the only way he would climb on that thing was if he was tightly blindfolded ... so Lamar blindfolded Luther with his handkerchief and they got in line to board the towering ride ... now Lamar's intentions were to sit in the same seat with Luther so he could keep an eye peeled on him during the ride ... unfortunately just as Lamar climbed into the basket a small boy pushed his way ahead of Luther and jumped right in beside of Lamar just as the attendant secured the restraining bar ... before Lamar had time to produce any protestations the impatient attendant had advanced the baskets so as to load the other remaining wheel with anxious passengers thus sending Lamar and his new friend ahead to the highest apex ... now having nobody to assist, Luther just stood there as everybody quickly boarded that last wheel ahead of him ... finally there was but one empty basket remaining ... "ain't you gonna ride or not young feller? ... and why you got that bandanner coverin' yer eyes? ... how you gonna enjoy this here ride like that?" asked the nonindulgent attendant as he firmly grasped Luther by the back of his neck while forcefully thrusting the confused boy into the last seat all by himself ... "cause I'm scared half to death, that's why!" countered Luther ... "so why you gonna ride it then?" added the now slightly amused attendant ... "cause I don't want no folks thinkin' I'm a danged chicken, that's why!" retorted Luther ... "well then hang on boy!" exclaimed the now extremely bemused attendant as he slammed the bar down on Luther's basket with a loud clank and revved that rusty, old wheel up to full speed!

Luther could hear the other riders laughing and screaming as the mammoth machine made its grand revolutions round and round, higher then lower ... he couldn't see anything, but could sense the various changes in altitude as the giant Ferris wheel spun through the muggy, summer air ... after some time, Luther got so accustomed to the wheel's steady movement that he could hardly tell whether or not he was riding high or low ... and it really didn't matter either, the warm summer breeze felt good on his young face as he imagined what it must be like to be a bird flying effortlessly across the azure sky ... all of a sudden, Luther thought he could feel the huge wheel grind to a screeching halt as the dutiful attendant's voice cracked like a bolt of lightning which immediately retrieved Luther from his state of blissful wonderment back to stark reality ... "Okay folks, ride's over ... please be patient until everybody safely embarks" cried the attendant ... now Luther didn't know much of anything about embarking, all he did know was that the ride had stopped and he wanted out of that hard, metal bucket ... so he flung open the safety bar and stepped right on out ... only trouble was, the basket that he had been riding in had stopped at the very topmost point of the ride, and Luther was unaware of that fact because he was still wearing that blindfold ... but by the grace of God ... Luther's suspenders got snagged on a protruding bracket as terrified onlookers watched in horror ... Luther sailed up and down like a yoyo on a string as the elastic in those suspenders stretched a bit more with each descent thus inching the dangling bruiser closer and closer to the ground each time ... strangely enough ol' Luther wasn't making a sound, no screams or anything ... upon seeing Luther soaring up and down from the top of that Ferris wheel, some late arrivals thought the carnival was offering bungee jumping and began forming a line to join in ... eventually the elastic in Luther's suspenders stretched so far out of shape that finally his feet gently touched the ground as Lamar and the now totally befuddled attendant grabbed hold and cut him loose amidst the crowd's roaring applause ... Luther immediately jerked the thick handkerchief from his eyes then sheepishly proclaimed "that sure was some fun ... but I'll tell you fellers one thing ... the next time I go to the carnival, I'm gonna enjoy the rides first, then eat ... cause as soon as I stepped out of that bucket it seemed like I was flyin' weightlessly up and down through the air like a yoyo for the longest time ... and I know that just ain't possible ... must have blacked out fer a couple of seconds ... I reckon it could have been that danged bloomin' onion!" ... Lamar Beefeater has yet to this day told Luther DooLittle any different ... and just as well I suppose ... Luther likely wouldn't believe him no how!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Madness Of The Prophet ...

Here's a little story about one of my very distant relatives who was one of the most loyal, obedient, trustworthy and God-fearing critters to ever bear the sore encumbrance of transporting a human being upon her strong back, a fellow by the name of Balaam, a prophet as a matter of fact ... now it was in no way a noteworthy feat that this faithful Equus asinus was the chief mode of transportation for this particular prophet, seeing that us beasts of burden have toted about all manner of folks from common peasants and paupers to royalty such as queens and kings, including our Lord Jesus Christ as he entered Jerusalem  ... no, the remarkable thing about this donkey was that she could speak with a human voice ... and speak she did! 

The account goes as such ... there was this king that resided happily alongside of a river ... all of a sudden a large throng of folks came up out of the land of Egypt and pitched their tents on the plains right beside of this king ... so many folks that they seemingly covered the face of the entire earth ... this distressed the king immensely because he had heard that these people were fierce warriors who had destroyed just about everybody they had encountered along the way ... and he had sense enough to know that he could not whoop them with what little help he had around there ... so he forthwith sent word throughout his kingdom to beware of his new, unwelcome neighbors for he feared they would lick up everything in sight as an ox licks up the grass of the field ... then the king remembered that there was a certain prophet by the name of Balaam dwelling in the land that whomsoever he cursed was cursed and whomsoever he blessed was blessed, so he sent some messengers to go fetch this prophet and have him come curse the fearful multitude now abiding next to him.

The next day the king's messengers gathered gifts with which to entice Balaam the prophet, and upon locating him they explained the king's conundrum along with presenting his request ... Balaam told the messengers to remain there with him that night and he would give them his answer first thing in the morning as to whatsoever the Lord should command him to do ... that night the Lord came to Balaam the prophet and enquired as to what these men were that were lodging there with him ... so Balaam recounted the men's request and purpose for being there ... the Lord's command was for Balaam to not go with them, and to not curse those folks that had came up out of the land of Egypt--for they were blessed ... well the next morning Balaam gave the king's messengers his answer, and told them to get on back to where they had came from ... when the messengers reported back to the king he was more than a bit disappointed, and called for his more honourable princes to go to the prophet Balaam with the promise that he would be promoted to heights of great honour if he would let nothing hinder him from coming to curse those dreadful people ... Balaam's reply to those princes was that he could do no less nor do no more beyond what the Lord had commanded him to do, even if the king were to give him his house full of silver and gold ... so Balaam told the king's princes to stay overnight until he could again hear what the Lord might command him ... that night the Lord commanded the prophet Balaam to go with the king's princes ... but to not curse those people who were blessed.

Now here's the part pertaining to my distant kin ... the next morning Balaam the prophet saddled his ass ... ass being his donkey ... my kin ... and went with the king's princes along with two of his own servants, evidently with the intention of cursing those folks who were blessed ... this angered the Lord greatly, and so an angel of the Lord stood in the way as an adversary against Balaam the prophet ... now Balaam didn't see the angel standing in the way with sword drawn ... but my relative did ... and turned aside into a field out of the path so as to avoid the angel, to which Balaam smote my relative and turned her back in the way ... but there stood the angel of the Lord in a path of the vineyards with a wall being on each side ... again Balaam did not see the angel ... but again my relative did ... as she thrust herself against a wall thus crushing the prophet's foot, and he again smote her ... so the angel went further, and stood in a narrow way where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left ... this time when my kin saw the angel of the Lord she just fell down under Balaam as he mercilessly smote her with a staff.

And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, "What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? ... And Balaam said unto the ass, "Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee." ... And the ass said unto Balaam, "Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee?" and he said, "Nay." ... Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. And the angel of the Lord said unto him, "Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times, behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive." --Numbers chapter 22 ... well ol' Balaam continued on the way with the king's princes, but to the king's dismay he ended up placing a blessing rather than a curse on those blessed folks that came up out of the land of Egypt ... and Balaam's actions now greatly pleased the Lord ... I reckon there are countless messages contained within this story, and just as many opinions that could be formed ... that's for the reader to decide ... one thought that keeps jumping out is that it's no more astounding to me that a donkey should speak than it is for a man!


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sleepwalking ...

I probably ought not be spreading gossip as it pertains to Grandpa DooLittle ... but Grandpa had developed an unenviable sleep disorder ... noctambulism ... somnambulism ... or simply put, habitual sleepwalking ... Grandpa would on occasion unexpectedly arise from bed about an hour after falling asleep, exit the house and walk out of DooLittle Hollar barefooted in the pitch-black darkness all the way into town ... asleep! ... his first stop was always the All-Nite Convenience Store where he would buy himself a big 40oz. Nehi Orange fountain drink to sip on before making his way back home ... he would then upon arrival climb back into bed beside Grandma DooLittle and sleep for at least another hour before arising for the day completely unaware of his nocturnal adventures.

Now Grandpa had always slept in what is commonly called a union suit ... one-piece, long underwear consisting of up to a dozen buttons running down the front which can be fastened through buttonholes all the way from the neck down to the legs ... with a button-up flap in the rear often called an "access hatch" ... "drop seat" ... or "fireman's flap" which comes in extremely handy whenever nature comes a callin' ... that union suit was the only thing Grandpa DooLittle had on when he did his sleepwalkin' ... so anytime Sheriff Clarence A. VanMeter or his cousin and Deputy Sheriff Cletus A. VanMeter would spot Grandpa DooLittle walking around town in his underwear, they would promptly wake him up, load him into their patrol car and deliver him back to his house ... Sheriff VanMeter thought it atrocious and shameful behavior on Grandpa's part to wear such inappropriate attire out in public ... the last time the Sheriff caught Grandpa so lightly dressed he sternly warned the old man that if he continued to walk around town wearing only that union suit he would have no other choice than to toss him into the county jail ... asleep or not!

A couple of nights later Grandma DooLittle was awakened some time around 1:00 A.M. by the loud jingling of the bedside phone ... she yelled at Grandpa to answer the annoying thing, but there was no response ... Grandma then reached over to shake Grandpa and rouse him so he might answer the urgently beckoning ring, but Grandpa was nowhere to be found ... now alarmed Grandma rolled over, picked up the receiver and upon answering immediately heard "collect call from Mister DooLittle at the county jail" as some female telephone operator announced in the usual monotonic tone ... "oh I reckon so" replieded Grandma as a quivery male voice on the other end cut in "Ma this is Pa, go git fifteen dollars out of the cookie jar, hitch up the mule and bring that money down to the jailhouse to bail me out" Grandpa hesitantly demanded ... "what are you doin' in jail ol' man?" asked Grandma ... "well Sheriff Clarence warned me that if I didn't quit walkin' around town wearin' my union suit that he would be forced to arrest me" proclaimed Grandpa ... "then why in the world didn't you heed that warning?" Grandma angrily enquired ... the phone fell silent for several seconds before Grandpa DooLittle finally exclaimed "I did heed the Sheriff's warning ... tonight I went to bed NEKKED!"


Monday, August 2, 2010

A Road Less Traveled ...

Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt and Grandpa DooLittle were sitting on the porch at the general store deeply engrossed in a manifestly contentious game of checkers ... the old pair had sat there motionless for so long that neither could remember exactly who's move it was ... suddenly a bright red, convertible sports car came sliding to a precipitous halt casting plumes of powdery dust all over the place ... when that dust cleared there stood an inquisitive looking fellow dressed in what would be considered around those parts as a Sunday-go-to-meetin' suit ... "excuse me gentlemen, but if one were to travel on up this road, would it take one to the local post office ... and if so, could either of you kind gentlemen advise me as to the most expeditiously direct route thereto?" ... Grandpa DooLittle then asked "ain't you Birdie Mae Poteet's distant nephew what lives in the city ... don't she get her mail delivered right to her house?" ... a bit taken aback by Grandpa DooLittle's overbearing curiosity the young man answered "well if you must know sir, my Aunt Birdie Mae ordered a very expensive new hat C.O.D. all the way from Chicago, and simply doesn't entrust the local mailman with the delivery of such a valuable item ... so she has asked that I go to the post office, retrieve the hat myself and safely transport it to her post-haste and unscathed!"

Before Grandpa had the chance to again speak Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt chimed in ... now Uncle Virgil had dealt with Miss Birdie Mae in the past when he confused her front door with that of the Widow VanMeter's during a failed date thus bringing a sour dose of embarrassment upon himself ... but what goes around sometimes comes around ... "in answer to your enquiry young man ... why yes ... if one were to continue on up this road it would lead one to the post office ... however, the route is quite involved" ... the lad at once encouraged and in high spirits replied "great! ... allow me to grab pen and pad with which to notate your directions" ... then Uncle Virgil began "well you need to go on up this road for about five more miles until you see a big, red barn with Mail Pouch Tobacco painted on its side ... hang a right just beyond that barn onto River Road and keep going for about ten miles ... you'll see the river running the entire length of that road to your left and the swamp and woods to the right ... when you come to a huge oak tree on the left hang an immediate right through a gate marked "no trespassing" onto Cow Pasture Lane ... you'll stay on Cow Pasture Lane for at least ten miles until it intersects with Route One ... I don't think you'll have too much trouble making it through Cow Pasture ... just take it easy across the mud holes, ruts and washouts ... when you come to the end of Cow Pasture Lane you'll hang a right onto Route One ... Route One is a fairly smooth road, but it's narrow and crooked with no guard rails, if you would happen to plunge over the embankment you'll plummet at least a thousand feet before you stop plummeting ... stay on Route One for about ten miles until you intersect with the Main Road ... hang a right onto the Main Road and go about five miles until you see a large wooden structure on the left ... you'll find a United States Post Office just inside of that building" ... the young man thanked Uncle Virgil, climbed back in his car and forthwith hurried on his way up the road.

At once remembering that it's his turn, Uncle Virgil declared with a smirk "king me!" as he jumped two of Grandpa DooLittle's pieces and the game resumed ... well, the afternoon passed with little fanfare ... both Virgil and Grandpa each made at least one more move at checkers within that four hour period ... until out of nowhere came a convertible sports car skidding to a rambunctious stop nearly striking the wooden porch and sending clouds of choking dust all over the place ... its make, model and color all undistinguishable as it was covered with dirt, dust, mud and other various and sundry globs of goo ... when that dust settled there stood an angry, disgusted looking form nearly as begrimed as his filthy automobile ... those Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes now unfit for even a late Saturday night ... "you purposely sent me on a wild goose chase ol' man ... I've risked life and limb, gone full circle and came upon no post office!" he seethingly declared ... as that smirk grew wider Uncle Virgil responded "oh the post office, well it's right here inside of the general store" ... Aunt Birdie Mae's distant nephew was now beside of himself "why didn't you just tell me that right in the beginning you old coot!?" he demanded ... "well boy, you didn't ask where the post office is ... your question was ... "if one were to travel on up that road, would it take one to the local post office" ... I do believe that I answered your question precisely and exactly!" ... by this time Grandpa DooLittle could no longer contain himself bursting out into an uncontrollable belly laugh as the furious and bedraggled young descendant of the storied Poteet family stormed into the store in search of the package containing Birdie Mae's new mail order hat ... and I reckon those ol' sayings of "what goes around comes around" and "be careful what you ask for, you just might get it" rung true that day all around DooLittle Hollar!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dancin' With The Devil! ...

Grandpa and Grandma DooLittle had just finished eating supper, so while Grandma was busy cleaning up the mess, Grandpa decided to ease on out to the barn and "sample" a bit of his homemade, hard apple cider that he kept hidden between a big pile of straw and stacks of baled hay ... he found one of his jugs, removed the cork and drizzled a stream of the delicious concoction onto his eager taste buds and down his gullet ... "across my teeth and past my gums, look out belly here it comes!" ... oh that stuff was good, and the more he "sampled" it the better it tasted, no sense stopping now ... so before Grandpa realized it, he was starting to feel his oats ... his ears began to ring ... his face heated up, and sweat began popping out all over his body 'till his clothes were drenched ... his eyes got blurry and his head went "round the bend" ... so he corked up his jug and sat down for a little spell.

The next thing Grandpa knew, an enormous, dark figure stood before him as pitch black as midnight at the height of a new moon ... his sinister eyes glowing like hot coals in a raging blast furnace ... long, pointed tail ... sharp, curved horns protruding from his wrinkled forehead ... a sizzling poker in one hand, a four-pronged pitchfork in the other ... when he spoke, a thick vapor of vile smoke spewed into the evening air ... "Old man! ... Old man!! ... why are you drinking from my jug?" ... poor ol' Grandpa DooLittle was nearly speechless, but managed to ask the beast his name ... "Why I'm Lucifer! ... and you've been sipping from my jug ... you owe me old man ... and now you must pay!" ... "but how?" begged Grandpa as the Devil roared in hideous laughter ... "Why you'll dance with me old man, you'll barn dance ...and if you don't dance, and dance well ... you'll go with me, you'll go with me back to Hell! ... now rise to your feet and follow along!"

Grandpa slowly stood up and began to dance as best he could, and as Lucifer called out the dance he took turns poking the piteous, old drunkard in the gut with that blistering poker and cracking him over the head with the pitchfork handle ... "dance old man ... faster, dance faster ... if you want to avoid your fate, get yourself straight ... better not wait, best not be late ...swing your partner, swing me hard ... allemande left in your own barnyard ... right and left all around that hay ... meet your partner, meet me halfway ... keep on dancin' 'till the break of day ... swing that jug way up high,swing that jug way down low ... now turn that jug loose, and I'll let you go! ... now you're straight ... you're free to go and do-si-do ... stay out of my jug ... if you want to stay out of my Hell! ... Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa!!!"
Grandpa DooLittle woke up lying face down in the middle of that big heap of straw shaking all over like a leaf in a wind storm, still clutching his now empty cider jug in his trembling hand ... his head was throbbing something awful, and his stomach burned like fire ... he sat up and looked all around, then cautiously called out "Lucifer ... where are you Lucifer?" ... but there was no reply ... nobody else was there ... just Bessie the milk cow chewing her cud as she stared at him in a state of wonderment ... as soon as Grandpa was certain Satan had gone, he sprang to his feet, slammed that jug against his big iron anvil shattering it to pieces, then ran like a scalded rabbit toward the house ... by this time Grandma DooLittle had gone to bed, knowing that Grandpa was most likely outside sipping on those spirits ... he tried to sneak into the bedroom, but Grandma was wide awake and waiting for him as usual ... "where've you been old man, you've been gone for hours?" she inquired ... "oh, I just went for a walk out by the barn, that good supper made be sleepy, so I took me a nap in the hay" he said ... Grandma knew all the while where he'd been and what he'd been doing and so replied "Sure you did! ... but if you don't quit your lying, and stop drinking that cider ... one day you'll end up dancin' with the Devil!"