Monday, July 30, 2007


Step right up here, young man. Looks like a little off the sides and leave the top? We’ll do it. You can hang your jacket up if you’d like. Might be a bit warm under the apron. Let me help you with it, OK? It’s all right. I won’t drop it. Don’t worry. That’s something mighty heavy in the pocket, there, fella.

My name’s Walter... I didn’t get yours.

So, you’re new to our town or just passing through? Oh, you live up in Johnson City? Sorry, you said Gate City, my apologies. Can’t hear like I used to. Nice place up that way, I guess, can’t say as I’ve ever been to Gate City. That’s in Virginia, right? Too many people for my liking. We got a nice town here. No much happenin’, actually. Many of our youngins are leaving which is sad. Goin’ to the really big cities, I reckon. Charlotte. Atlanta. Chattanooga. Knoxville. My kin are originally from up north, from Carterville, Michigan. You probably never heard of the place. My granddad was a barber, too. Some folks around here say that’s where I inherited my gift of gab. So if I talk too much you’ll let me know, won’t you? My wife says I talk too much and she’s never afraid to tell me so.

Did you hear about our big marijuana raid?

Bill--you want to turn the radio down just a bit, please? Thanks.

As I was sayin’, did you hear about the cops ripping up some guy’s weed patch? Lots of town folks thought that was justice, sort of, but some thought it wasn’t much of a crime, either.
Turns out we’d had a hunter out in the forest scouting for someplace to locate his deer stands in the fall--we do a lot of deer hunting here. Do you eat venison? I love venison. They say it’s too lean for a regular diet but for once in a great while, barbecued, you can’t beat venison--and discovered this marijuana patch about quarter acre in size. Which doesn’t seem like much but I guess it adds up pretty quick. So, this hunter told the sheriff and the deputies staked it out. They had to make sure it wasn’t booby trapped. Growers do that nowadays. They call themselves growers ‘cause it makes them respectable. Like a farmer, you know? Crooks’ is what I call ‘em. I’ll bet it made somebody mad. You bet. And you can bet if some kid tripped over one of those booby traps, we’d find the grower and probably hang him.

So anyway, the sheriff’s deputies make sure there weren’t any booby traps and set up a stake out for a week and nobody showed. The folk around town was speculating that maybe somebody in the sheriff’s office of being a snitch--but you know us small town folks--we talk too much. I didn’t think that a’tall. I knew that the grower wouldn’t come down just every day to check on the progress of his crop. It’s not been raining much this last month or so, so his plants’ take a while to mature. I know this ‘cause that’s what the paper said today. He didn’t appear to irrigate although I thought that mighty bold if he did. Use water from the creek to boost his crop. That creek is on federal land and that’s federal water and that’s what I call ironic. Don’t you? So they staked it out for a week and nothing happened, so the sheriff decided to pull it all up and burn it. Of course, you don’t see no eff-bee-eye out in our woods doing law enforcement. No sirree, the feds don’t go onto federal property until the locals--that’s us--get a leg blown off by a booby trap. The feds like to put an emphasis on the word “booby.” You get my drift? They’re not the ones getting trapped?

Like I was telling Bill, over here, that was that funny smelling fire this afternoon coming from out behind the sheriff’s office. I wondered just how much money was going up in smoke? Boy, that’d make me mad if that was my stuff. Probably got a few deputies high.

A little more off the side? Sure. You just speak up and let me know how want it. Shall I get those eyebrows, too?

A fellow was in this morning, just before eleven, I remember the time because it was just before Paul Harvey came on today--like any other day I ‘spose-- and he was talkin’--Paul Harvey, that is--about how many millions of dollars is spent on eradicating marijuana in the United States each year. We spent some of our tax dollars the last couple of weeks on some tiny chunk of all those drugs running up and down the interstate. On our interstate? A mile from here, that’s how far away they’re from us. It’s disgusting. And here somebody’s been growing this stuff not three miles down the road from here over in the Cherokee National Forest! You’d like to think you could trust one of your own, but I guess not.

But, that--that little piece of it is out of operation. And this fellow I was telling you about, the one that come in this morning, said that he’d heard that Mikey Crystal had been the guy who found the patch. He--this fella--said that he overheard a couple of guys down at the post office said that the guy who found the patch--’cause I don’t Mikey hunted deer--went right straight to the cops. Not that’s he’s a pearly white kind of guy, you know. The guy--whoever this guy is that the fellow had overheard about at the postoffice-- had been busted for poaching deer. The story goes, as I got it at least, the sheriff dropped the charges ‘cause they didn’t have the carcass anymore. Somebody lost it out of a freezer and kind of ruin’t the case. Somebody probably didn’t know any better and ate the thing. Whoever it was that alerted the sheriff, if it was Mikey or somebody else, might have also thought they’d look better in the eyes of the law for doing a good deed. But you never know about justice in this day and age. Somebody’s idea of right is another man’s idea of wrong. This old hat about “Revenge is mine...” just don’t cut it in today’s world. The Law is too slow. Instant gratification, I say, that’s who we are.

But, ol’ Mikey, if it was him, didn’t hesitate or nothing, I guess. Of course, we don’t usually want to put a name to some rumor so don’t you go passing that on, OK? You look like the sort a man could trust. You know?

Brother, I’d hate to be in somebody’s shoes when the guy who owned that patch come looking for me. But I wouldn’t go putting much faith in what I’ve been saying, mister, I’m just talking. You know?


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