Trevor’s doings: Chapter One – Dogpatch

Trevor Youngblood turned onto the Cross-town express way, heading east, out of Tulsa  shortly after moon-rise pulling a brand-spanking new Airstream trailer behind his also brand-spanking new Chevy Suburban, a catalogue case filled with neatly banded $100 bills on the floor in front of the passenger seat and covered with the quilt his grandmother had given him for his first camping trip as a boy.

It was a bright night, three days before the full moon, the reflection of light from the off-white concrete of the interstate and overpass abutments created a soft ghostly light almost, but not quite, bright enough  to drive by.

His escape had been clean.  No one, not his best friends, not his neighbors, not even his favorite bartender – which in Trevor’s world was a closer and more respected confidant than the best priest was to a penitent Catholic – knew he was leaving, and yet, something bothered him.  It came from everywhere, and nowhere – perhaps from the moonlight softly falling on the blanket, making grandma’s patchwork almost glow. It was imagination only, the fear of some little detail forgotten which, when Sherlock Holmes views the scene, is so obvious and apparent as to defy reason how it could have been forgotten. But Sherlock Homes was a fiction of Conan-Doyle’s imagination and so far as Trevor knew, such powers of observation existed only in contrived and carefully-written Hollywood scripts.

He shook himself and watched the Admiral Drive-in slide by on the left, and then he was past the airport and Highway 169 and out of town, on the way to Arkansas.  He pulled over and got out of the car, the crisp air blowing across his face and he looked west and then east – the past and the future. Just a few days from the vernal equinox, Ostara was primping for her annual night with the sun and Julius Caesar was doing his “et tu, Brute!”, the Indian Flowers were just beginning to pop their heads up.  Life was everywhere, beginning growing and prospering, Caesar was dying, and Trevor was taking his French Leave of Tulsa.

And while the precise destination was not clear in his mind as he left the art deco buildings of downtown behind, he knew he was headed for the remote northern counties of Arkansas in the Buffalo and White River watersheds.  Not exactly the end of the world, but close. His father had taken him there as a kid, where he and one or another of the assortment of friends would spend days roaming the hills and exploring the myriad caves above and canoeing on the white waters of the Buffalo.

***

The trailer’s final resting place, north of Jasper, near Dogpatch, was determined not by choice or planning but, as are most of life’s most difficult decisions, by chance.

A narrow road, a sharp corner and too much speed had resulted in the skidding off the highway of a truck stacked high with crates full of chickens on the way to their final resting place – the Banquet Facility in Batesville – moments before Trevor rounded the same tight corner, also driving faster than he should have been. Slipping around the sharp corner, he was blinded almost immediately by the swirling cloud of feathers from the jettisoned chickens and, trying to avoid the whole mess, drove his truck and trailer into the ditch along the highway between Harrison and Jasper. When the dust settled, the trailer was at a ninety-degree angle to the Suburban rocking uncertainly on the top of a small pile of brush, mangled chicken crates and  the huge granite boulders lying half buried along-side the road.

Chickens roosted on top of everything in sight – rocks, crates, low-lying tree limbs, the trailer and one on the hood of his truck bounced back and forth from one foot to the other, smart enough to keep her feet moving in an attempt not to get burned and dull enough not to know all she had to do was hop off the hood and onto, well anything else would do.

The chicken truck driver, covered in a combination of sweat and what Trevor hoped was dirt, but was more correctly a mélange of dust, chicken droppings, corn feed and straw, which perfumed the air around him, made his way to Trevor’s truck, using a handkerchief to wipe  a clean spot across his forehead and holding a battered straw hat in his hand. Putting the hat back on his head and the handkerchief into the top of his boot, he put both hands on the window, peered in, saw Trevor lying on the passenger floorboard, arms wrapped around the catalogue case, opened the door and reached in his left hand to offer assistance. “You ok there, fella?”

Trevor looked up, “Yeah.  Think so.” He grabbed onto the outstretched hand and pulled himself up onto the seat and looked around at the chicken carnage surrounding his rig and hopped out of the truck.

“Greg Summerhall,” the chicken driver said, extending his hand. “Sorry about that there You sure you’re ok, now?”

Trevor sat on an outcropping of granite, watching the dust, feathers and other components of the thick air settle around him and shook his head sharply back and forth a few times. “Yeah, fine.” Looking at the trailer and truck, he whistled and said “gees, what a mess.”

“Hang on jus a sec,” Summerhall said and made his way to the chicken truck, returning with a two-gallon Coleman water carrier half filled with ice and water, and handing it to Trevor.

Trevor raised it, pushed the spot and let the water flow into his mouth for a few seconds before lifting it above his head and letting it run down his face.

They sat together on the outcropping watching the chickens run into the woods, get lost and enter the road again, trying to figure how to right the truck, clear the whole mess out of the way and go on about their lives.

After a few minutes, two middle-aged women wearing floppy hats pulled up from the south, stopped their car, got out and began to survey the confusion, waving funeral fans quickly in front of their faces. Then three guys in an old Chevy pick-up pulled off the road, and , dragging a jug of moonshine into the shade, sat on the remnants of a guardrail, and passing the jug among themselves,  watched as Trevor fiddled with the trailer hitch.

Then came a logging truck, a Volkswagon Thing and a powder-blue Ford Fairlane, each taking their spot along the road. A couple of teenagers wandered out of the woods and sat, playing Mumblety peg, and half a dozen kids whom had seemingly materialized out of thin air chased the chickens and, while they had little hope of catching them, did alarm them enough to raise the noise level to an almost unbearable level.

The trailer’s rear axle was broken, but the trailer was off the road, so with the help of Summerhall and the three guys drinking shine – who  Summerhall explained were Bud, Jimmy-Fred and Gaylord LePonce, and who were beginning to sound like the Gloom-Despair and Agony-on-me trio – the  truck was unhitched from the trailer and parked in front of it.

Summerhall and Trevor tinkered with the axle the better part of three hours, alternating between ad-hoc repairs and shooing and wrestling with the chickens before achieving some minor level of repair, sufficient to at least move the whole mess a little ways away from the road.  There was a small dirt road, actually more of a trail than anything else, which led to a small opening under a thick canopy of pines and kudzu less than two hundred yards off the road, where Trevor was able to pull the trailer, with almost all the assembled crowd helping in one or another way, until, with a sick groan, the left wheel of the trailer fell off and the trailer settled in what was to become its final resting place.

When he wandered back to the road, knocking thistles and pine needles off his shirt and pulling them out of his hair, he was offered a pull on the jug, which, after a moment of hesitation – which drew a few sidelong glances – he decided the best course of action was to accept and, wiping the spout off with a sweat-soaked undershirt almost brown with caked dust, took a long draught, coughed loudly as the liquid burned its way to his stomach, handed the container back to the guys, waved his hands to indicate gratitude, and sat on the edge of the road to talk and cool down and wait to see what was going to happen with the chicken truck, which was on its left side in the ditch across the road.

The Sherriff from Jasper cruised to a stop in front of the group with the jug, rolled down his window, pointed at the jug and said “that what I think it is?”

“Yessir,” Jimmy-Fred said and, grabbing the jug, walked to the car so the Sheriff could take his draw.

“Who’s responsible for this mess?” he asked, and the one with the jug pointed to Summerhall, who just shrugged. “Shoot, boy, ain’t you learned yet how to handle them chickens?” And taking another slug, he rolled up the window and drove off, setting the jug in the seat beside him, shaking his head and laughing.

“Now what, nimble toes,” Summerhall said to no one in general.

Jimmy-Fred just shrugged, lifted a blanket in the bed of the truck and retrieved another small jug. “Abe’s special a’ the month,” he said and sat between his brother, who began to rock slowly back and forth.

Eventually someone came by with a winch on the back of a flat-bed GMC and they were able to right the chicken truck and the assembled crowd of locals lost interest and started their trucks and a drove off or wandered back into the woods, almost immediately vanishing in the dense tangle of grapevines and blackjack, scrub oak and grass until there was just Trevor and one other man – an old man he had not noticed before, wearing overalls without a shirt and worn-out ropers – who was chuckling softly to himself and  alternating between taking short pulls of a small brown bottle of what Trevor assumed was more moonshine and spitting tobacco juice onto the road, an oral dance so complicated Trevor was amazed the man could keep straight when to swallow and when to spit and – more to the point – how he could keep the two liquids from mixing into what would have been a particularly noxious substance.

After a few minutes of watching each other, Trevor starting to softly scratch many of the itches he had from thistles and insects, the old man alternating between pulls of liquor and expulsion of tobacco juice, the old man looked down the trail Trevor had dragged the trailer over and said, “Happy with your new home there?”

Trevor looked over his shoulder at the dirt road and back at the old man, who was now grinning slightly, rubbed his eyes and said, “Your land, right?”

“Not rightly. Nope, not mine really. Not no more. Belongs to Dogpatch, but I wouldn’t let it cause you no never mine, they’s about belly-up anyways.”

Trevor looked at the small bottle, wanting another shot, but doubtful the liquid fire in the old man’s bottle was not infected with the juice of the tobacco plant, didn’t want to ask.

“Name’s Isaac Jones, but most folks ‘round these parts call be Abe. You thirsty?”

“Yeah.  But no more shine – Jimmy-Fred had plenty. There any water around here?”

“Yeah. They’s a nice cold crick just down the road you pushed your rig onta, I was just headed that ways myself. You kin fallow along if’n ya’ like.”

Abe got up and slowly shambled down the road, his over alls dragging the ground and getting caught under his ropers and he walked with a gait that included a shiver of the calf every third or fourth step in an attempt to free his pants leg from the boots. The sun was angling down and the light dappled the road with light, the beams of light through the trees seemingly alive with the hum and verve of noseeums and precocious mosquitoes and dust and pollen, and he followed behind.  He was stiff, his joints sore from the harsh stopping of the truck and the exertion of moving the whole mess to its resting place. He caught Abe at the point in the road where he had slid the trailer to the north behind the cover of the ever-present kudzu.

“Reckon I oughta show you the rest of the way,” Abe said and started down an almost invisible path through the undergrowth, stopping under a shelf of crumbling limestone and sitting down in front of a shallow cave, out of which steam slowly boiled. A creek bubbled out of the cliff and pooled at its base before making its way south-east down the mountainside. Abe pointed at it, “Best water you will ever taste.”

Trevor looked at the shallow cave, the sweet scents of burning hardwood and corn mash drawing his attention, before smiling, squatting down and taking the water in his cupped hands and drinking.

“Here’s my problem Trev. You’se squatted awfully close to this.  And there just ain’t a whole lot I kin do ‘bout that now. But I don’t hafta like it. So, we got a little problem, me and you, and that ain’t a good way to start off no nothing.”

Trevor motioned to the still, “any there ready to drink?”

“What, you ‘scared that I mighta mixed both juices in this here bottle?” Abe laughed.  He looked at the jug, with a brown crust around the top, and said, “Reckon you might be right.  Sit here a bit.” Trevor sat, took off his boots,noticing the deep scratches in the new and expensive leather, dropped his feet in the cold creek and laid back.

He closed his eyes and listened to the woods, the flies and the mosquitoes, the occasional skitter of a squirrel, the rustle of ground-animals.  The air was warm, but not overly so – not like it would be in a few weeks, he knew – and moist.  His feet in the cold water of the spring began to tingle and he took them out, letting them warm a bit. He slit his eyes open and watched the sway of the trees and the movement of the pollen and dust and noseeums in the air – the sun was leaving and soon, they would be in the prime of their day. It was hypnotic, a change so vast from the concrete of Tulsa, it belonged to another world.  He listened closely and heard nothing not born of the earth or a creature – nothing mechanical, nothing man-made, except for the occasional gurgle from Abe’s still in the darkness of the cave, which itself was a sound as old as man himself.

He was almost asleep when Abe lightly kicked his shoulder and held out a pint-size bottle, dusty, but corked and clean.  Trevor smiled, opened and sipped.

Rowdy negotiations began, made more interesting, bizarre and rambunctious by the enormous quantities of moonshine provided by Abe and consumed by both. Abe resembled the Li’l Abner character Joe Btfsplk in every way that mattered, including moonshine production and consumption.  His left eye was never looking where the right one was and this caught Trevor’s attention, and, as much as he tried not to, his eyes were drawn to it. Every time he looked, Abe was looking at him. Abe would laugh and Trevor would look away, blushing, which made Abe laugh all the more.

Abe explained the nervousness he had with outsiders coming too close to his production site and Trevor allowed that he understood, but things being what they were, the trailer wasn’t going to move anytime soon and it seemed like a pretty good location for it, all things being equal.

“You got a story to tell’s, what I figure,” Abe said.

“I’d say both of us.”

They negotiations began to resolve around Trevor providing Abe with certain amounts of split wood which Abe would use to heat his ramshackle house and fire the still, and Trevor’s promise to  stay away from the still unless he was with Abe. But, then Trevor wasn’t really on Abe’s land,  and Abe was just as much a squatter as was Trevor, and every time Trevor tried to summarize the arrangement, Abe would change one or another terms, until finally, they got tired and just agreed to work it out at some point to be decided later. In other words, they just got comfortable with each other.

***

  As a place to disappear from the world, Dogpatch, the mythical home of Kick-A-Poo Joy Juice, was without equal.

An amusement park set up to cash in on the popularity of the cartoon strip “L’il Abner”, Dogpatch was a sort-of hillbilly heaven. Seeing as the characters in the cartoon considered Dogpatch to be the worst place on earth, Al Capp had to wonder if the developer had ever read the strip. And it was within shouting distance of the trailer’s final resting place.

Arkansas people have split personalities about hillbillies, and the deeper in the hills one goes, the more distinct the split.  For an outsider to have come into the state and set up the park, which was essentially a send-up of everything hillbilly, would have been unthinkable and, in the end, impossible.  But when one Arkie sold the land to another Arkie for the purpose of creating an amusement park to suck money out of the pockets of tourists, well the entire state was amused.  Many of the houses inside the park, if they can be called houses and retain any sense of meaning, were actual hillbilly cabins uprooted from the surrounding hills and reconstructed in a hollow not far from the fifty-five foot Marble Falls, the site of much of the marble used in constructing the Washington Monument.

Trevor fit right in.  He had found his place in the world, never mind he had been involved in high-level business deals – of legal, quasi-legal and yet-to-be-determined status – in Tulsa, Minnesota and Philadelphia.  An Okie from southeast Oklahoma, but with family from the deep center of middle Arkansas hillbilly country in Yell County a hundred miles or so south, Trevor found kindred spirits in the hills just north of Jasper.

***

After a full day of wandering the hills, taking pictures of the Buffalo River and its attendant waterfalls and cliffs, Trevor found himself sitting on the porch of Abe’s house, as had become his habit, sipping moonshine, watching fireflies and solving the world’s problems.

The house had been built by Abe some thirty years before and was typical of the shacks in the hills, with uneven flows, clouded window panes and unadorned with paint, its wood plank siding aged and silvered. It was perched on the top of a hill, the whole thing held up by an assortment of bricks, rocks and hydraulic jacks under various floor-joists, which resulted in a creaking floor of varying degrees of levelness.  What it lacked in structural soundness and what snooty-nosed big-city real estate agents called “curb-appeal”, it more than made up for in view:  sitting on the porch in the evening, with the sun setting over the hills and the crisp water of the Buffalo River reflecting the fading amber light in the distance, Abe had never once considered moving away.

“Trev, why don’t ya make yar way to the root house and git us another jug o’ shine. Thisun here’s ‘bout gone,” Abe said.

Trevor lumbered up off the rocker, and ambled down the path behind the house, past the outhouse and opened the door to the root cellar, an underground storage which had been built primarily to keep the vegetables which had been “put up” by one or another of Abe’s friend’s wives, but the fruits and vegetables had, over the years, been crowded further and further into the darker recesses of the cellar until, now, Abe was considering having Trevor dig him another one.

Abe had not held a job for more than three months since his wife died of influenza in 1968, supporting himself by poaching deer and trout for protein and keeping what he called a garden, but which Trevor saw as a small farm.

He grew more than he could eat or effectively give away to relatives and locals, and to make traceable and taxable money to pay for the electric bill used to run the three lights, the one black and white television he had owned since 1963 and the enormous window unit air-conditioner, he sold produce in a roadside stand on Highway 7, mostly to “city slickers” from Harrison, who, more and more, wanted fresh, organically grown vegetables, but didn’t have or take the time to do it themselves.  “If’n they only knowed how much cow pie was on them veggies, they’d nevah be back.”

And, in his humble opinion, he made the best moonshine in three counties, which in north central Arkansas is quite a boast.  He laughed, taking the glass container from Trevor, twisting the top off the quart mason jar using a dilapidated cloth he kept in a pocket of the seen-better-days overalls he wore almost constantly, and pouring each of them another slug into porcelain coffee cops.

Trevor’s eyes had wandered back to Abe’s left one.  Abe laughed and said simply “Ask me.”

“OK, OK, best get it over with.  What’s the story about the eye?”

“Injury during the war.  I looked when I should have had my head down and something, some piece of flying metal hit me.  And well, that’s all she wrote.

“Can’t remember if it was at Bull Run, Ypres, Midway, Pork Chop Hill, or Hill number whatever near Saigon.”

“Uh huh.” Trevor squinted directly at Abe, trying to see all the lines in his face, the spots on his skin and the hair on his ears. Indeterminate age, is what he decided.  “Well, I doubt Bull Run or Ypres. If you had been there, my guess is Hitler would have gotten drunk on some form of shine you were making then and stumbled down a hole and died. Would have saved the rest of the world a whole lot of trouble a few years later, too.”

“Just drink boy. Just drink. All that other don’t matter nohow anyway.”

Trevor’s mother had warned him about the evils of Moonshine when he was sixteen and going to stay with her parents in Little Gravelly, Arkansas for the summer.  His Pa Turner had acquired a Jake Leg from drinking an illegal alcohol concoction, which is not technically moonshine, called Jake.

Made in Jamaica from grain alcohol and a ginger extract, Jake made its way to the United States about the time of the Civil War as a patent medicine distributed by the well known and notorious, but not quite ubiquitous, traveling peddlers out of the back of the wagons in which they moved about the country.  It was cheaper than whiskey, due in no small part to its skirting of liquor tax laws, and had a much higher alcohol content, approaching 150 proof.  Combined, these two factors created a robust market, allowing consumers to “take medicine” instead of simply getting plowed, and cheating the government out of tax dollars, which has always been one of the greatest of American pleasures.  And, because it was not marketed as alcohol, no matter how many Abolitionists insisted it was in fact the very same evil substance, it flowed, well, like wine, during Prohibition.  The odd thing was Jake sold during Prohibition was essentially safe to drink, it wasn’t until the spring of 1930, when, the manufacturers of Jake decided to add a new ingredient to adulter, or water down the Jake, an industrial chemical called tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate, that the problems started.  The new ingredient, added to tame the Jake and thought to be essentially harmless, was eventually found to be highly toxic, especially to the spinal cord, creating either a temporary or permanent partial paralysis, the extent of which was determined by the quantities consumed or simple bad luck, and consigning the sufferers of Jake Leg to walk in a high-stepping, foot-slapping style that quickly became a part of the culture and fabric of Southern Life.

In reality, Jake was probably not the cause of most of the Jake Legs in the south; the true culprit was probably poorly made moonshine, which, when not made correctly can cause, in addition to blindness, the same partial paralysis.  But, moonshine was without question illegal and when the symptoms occurred, they were generally blamed on the quasi-legal Jake.

And, probably because his mother had raised his awareness with information—how many times well-intentioned parents and adults aroused a young boy’s interest in vice by warning against it probably exceed by several orders of magnitude the times boys heeded the advice—Trevor had his first taste of moonshine that summer.

It happened on a “wolf hunting” night.  Fred Potter, his second or third cousin thrice removed or something—the only thing he knew for certain was he was related to literally everyone in the valley—had stopped his truck in front of his grandparents’ home one hot July evening as the daylight was on the verge of flickering out for good on Highway 28 and shouted for him to get in.

Wolf hunting, at least the way it is practiced in Fourche Valley, consisted of four or five guys in the cab of a pickup truck driving through the hills on logging roads, rifles hung on the rear window rack, and a jug of moonshine on the floorboard.  Wolves are peripheral.  If a wolf is somehow seen through the glazed and drunken eyes of the people on the hunt and if the rifles can be grasped and if the shells can be chambered and if the truck can stop and if someone can aim the rifle and pull the trigger, then perhaps a wolf might be shot at—shot at, but in no danger of being hit except by accident, the only serious risk being to the participants or the fenders of the truck.  But not from gunplay, because often the guns, or at least the ammunition, were left at home, but from the moonshine and its affects.  After one taste of the shine, provided by Fred from places uncertain, Trevor decided one taste was enough and he took over the driving, while every one else proceeded to swill and hang out the windows until Trevor had decided enough was enough and he drove back to his grandparents house, leaving everyone asleep in the truck on the highway, where it was the next morning when he was roused by an angry Gran.

Gran was angry not because of the truck in the road, because as things went, Highway 28 was not so much a highway as a meandering country lane, but because of the four hung-over boys sitting on her porch asking her to make biscuits and sausage gravy for them, which, of course she was doing.

And while he had consumed several times his share of alcohol in the intervening years, he had not tasted moonshine since that day in Fourche Valley until the day he drove his truck off the road.

Abe had poured him a glass of his “Special Select”, which was as far from what he had tasted as a boy of 15 as Château Lafite Rothschild is from Mad Dog 20/20.

“So, wherin’d you get to today, boy?”

“Hemmed-in Hollow.”

Hemmed-in Hollow, on the north side of the Buffalo River, about eight miles west of Dogpatch, is best seen by hiking the mile or so from the river through a narrow box canyon which opens up to a cathedral to nature: trees, ferns, moss and a two-hundred foot waterfall, said to be the tallest between the Appalachians and Rockies, which serves as a primitive and effective air conditioner in the hot summer months of north central Arkansas.  The river, which winds its way over 130 miles through the Ozark Mountains before emptying into the White River, is the only National River in the country.  Pristine water and towering cliffs are the main attractions, with Hemmed-in Hollow at the top of the list.  Trevor didn’t want to leave.

“How’d ya get there?”

“Drove into Camp Orr and followed the river.”

“See them there yippies perched atop the falls?”

“Saw a bunch of kids.  Not sure what you mean by ‘yippies’.”

“Well, outsiders, you know what I mean.” Outsiders, non-hill folk, from Little Rock or St. Louis or Fort Smith or anywhere outside of Newton, County. “Whole area started to got to pot when that Camp Orr opened in ’55 and all them city kids started thinkin’ the river belonged to them. Ain’t been the same since.

“Then they’s the bunch of guys whose plantin’ pot all through the hills, bringin’ all the DEA types through here, lookin’ for it.  Makes keepin’ the still hid a real problem.”

“Hmmm.  I’d have thought Dogpatch pretty much ruined the area.”

“Well, it didn’t do it no good, I tell you what.  I think it’s what killed my Connie, tell the truth.  She died about three months after it opened.  Went there on opening day and just couldn’t believe them outfits.  They was this girl played Daisy May Scragg. Beautiful long blonde hair, barfoot, wearin’ a polka dot low cut tight blouse and a pair of shorts so tight and short, wall, I think Daisy Duke would have been too shy to wear ‘em.”

A bell on the porch tinkled three times, startling Abe.  “Trevor, why doint’ you go and fetch me one of them gallon jugs from the root cellar.”

“I just got you a quart.”

“Yeah, but I got me a customer.”

After a run-in with what he called “revenuers” some twenty years ago over lack of payment of taxes on his moonshine, Abe had set up by word-of-mouth a new system for delivery of his product, forever abandoning the bootlegging of it around the area.  Behind his fruit and vegetable stand, in a small grove of trees was an old abandoned wood-shed.  To order, the customer would go into the shed between dusk and midnight, locate and pull the string once for a quart, twice for a half-gallon, three times for a full gallon, then wander around a little bit, out of sight, while Abe retrieved the correct bottle and placed it in the shed and collected his money. If there was some issue they needed to discuss, such as buying one of Abe’s special blends or larger quantities, they would ring the bell four times and hang around until Abe meandered his way to the shed by way of the stand on the highway, making sure the vehicle was not owned by the state or federal government.

As a general rule, it worked pretty well, unless Abe was in the garden, asleep, drunk, or, on occasion, doing something productive.  Soon enough, word got around how everything worked and when Abe had gotten hooked on “In the Heat of the Night” in 1988 and ignored all comers during its airing, word got around about that too, and everyone learned to stay away while that show was on.

Trevor made his way to the porch, holding the gallon jug of slightly amber liquid in his hands.  “Damn near dropped it coming up the steps,” he said.

“Good thing you didn’t.  Now why doint you take it down to the woodshed and pick up my money.”

Trevor smiled and shook his head.

“Now don’t be doing that,” Abe said.  “I got a tech of the rhematiz.”

“Just wonder what you did two weeks ago before I was here to serve you.”

“I just hobbled my own self ‘round and did it.  Now get a move on.  They’s a waiting’ and I gotta get another belt of my medicine.”  Abe poured another slug of shine into the cup, slammed it back, and while swallowing, put the cup upside down on top of his head and smiled.

When Trevor handed the ten-dollar bill to Abe, retrieved from the shed, Abe leaned over, opened the top of an ancient wooden box he kept under a table on the porch and slid the money in.

“Crazy old coot,” Trevor said. “Well, I’d best be getting back, we are hooking up the water tomorrow, right?”

“Yessir.  Got them LePonce boys comin’ out to dig you a hole for a septic tank first thing, since you ain’t wantin to use no outhouse.”

Trevor smiled and left, walking through the woods to his trailer, the fireflies still blinking in the trees.  It wasn’t Tulsa, and really that was the best of it.  But it wasn’t home either, but, he thought, could feel like home soon enough.

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