September 21, 1990
After Bubba Earl bought a white shirt, tie and a pair of green britches at a yard sale in Shongaloo, he announced his plans to become a successful businessman. When he got all dressed up and put his tie on, he looked real nice. Folks around here thought he had gotten the call. Later that afternoon, he washed the pickup and asked to borrow some mouthwash and hair tonic.
With a line of credit from Travis Starr, Bubba Earl hauled a load of peas and watermelons from Travis’ patch to the big oak shade tree near Wallers’ Store and waited for customers. When Bubba Earl made himself comfortable and rested his eyes, he fell from the pickup tailgate and busted a brand new pint of Tichenor’s. There was a bit of knee slapping from the direction of the store where Larry was talking to our local bootlegger, a loafer, and railroad worker who came by to get an oil change for his cap. The humiliation sent our friend back to Brister where he swore all that day and told how he would “whup that Larry Waller, and smash his face so flat he can see his chin.”
The next day, Bubba Earl went into training to become a fighter. He curled a pipe with buckets of water at each end, gave a croaker sack filled with dirt a merciless beating, tried skipping rope with a plow line and jogged a hundred yards. That night, a storm left the back yard training facility in ruin. The croaker sack unraveled, filled our wash pot with mud and the plow line was soaking wet; but Bubba Earl told us he was ready for the fight anyway.
Saturday, Bubba Earl walked out to the pickup with a cheroot in his mouth swaggering his hips like he had a six-gun on each side and told us, “The hour has come.” Billy Joe and I shuddered thinking about the Waller family starving while Larry spent months in the hospital.
We parked the pickup near the street and saw Larry slinging a big truck wheel around like it was a bowl of grits. Then we watched him unload several sacks of cement without breaking a sweat. But, good ole Bubba Earl, being a sensitive man, started feeling sorry for Larry and how he figured Larry meant no harm with his little chuckle and how he reckoned Larry would be too tired to be beaten up just now anyway. The fires of the campaign no longer burned in Bubba Earl.
As we drove back to Brister, the pair talked about the high price of gasoline and the expected big demand for good siphon hoses. So they made plans to buy up a large volume of garden hose as raw material for their latest entrepreneurship and no other words were spoken about Larry.
Mayor Joe Mullins talked to my cousin Billy Joe about the anxiety recent
mechanical problems with the space shuttle that has caused Anita and other
students at Emerson High while they wait to talk to astronauts on a ham
radio hookup. No more trouble
is expected at the Cape since Billy Joe mailed NASA a sack of corn meal to
stop the leaks in the hydrogen tanks and sent them a pair of our best
jumper cables along with a discount coupon on a good battery for a
trouble-free jump start.
Pea Festival &