Sierra R. - 12/30/2006 3:03 PM ET
"Eb Bodeen!! Git out from under thet comforter. Ye promised ye'd git to that corn field today. Careless weed agittin so tall you can't see what's left of the corn".
"Aw Becky", groaned Eb,"I'm afeelin a mite peckish today. Belly all riled an head about to bust".
"Wal iffen ye wants the how comes I kin tell ye. I heered ye rattlin round that root cellar last night. I swear come a tornado we won't have room to cram our own selfs in there for all thet home brew ye got stacked up"
Becky turned back to the stove and rattled the grates furiously, then began stirring the gravy in the pan like she was whipping cream.
Eb rolled out of bed on his hands and knees and crawled over to the wash stand. Hauling himself to his feet he began pouring water over his head with the dipper.
Without even looking, Becky swung a backhand with the gravy ladle, leaving a streak of gravy on the baggy seat of Eb's long Johns. "I didn't fetch thet bucket a water all the way from the spring jest sos you could clear the likker fumes", She shouted.
Eb tried to get the conversation back to more comfortable ground. "Whuts fer breakfast"?
"Biskets an gravy with grits", she sniffed , "Not much meat in a lazy man's cabin".
"Thet so? Whut ye call this yere"? He stumbled over to the tow sack in the corner and prodded it with his foot. It commenced squawking and flapping all around the cabin.
Becky sniffed again, louder this time. Becky could crowd more into a sniff than the preacher could get into a sermon. "Tell me agin. Mebbe I kin believe it this time. Jest whar you say you got them two fat hens"?
Eb suddenly got very interested in a fly on the wall. He stared at it like he'd never seen such a sight. Over his shoulder he said, "Tole ye. I found 'em in the woods last night".
"Two fat ol'hens jest awanderin around in the woods in the middle of the night? An no coon er bobcat er owl had the good sense to gobble 'em up"?
Eb turned around and drew himself up to his full height,"Now you lissen yere. I gotta go check the still this mornin. Time I git back I spect I'll find them two hens plucked, cleant an ready fer the pot. Ye hear me woman"? His speech was spoiled when suddenly a stricken look came over his face. "Could be thet last batch a brew were a mite green". He made a dash for the back door.
Becky waved the gravy ladle over her head like Moses urging on the Israelites. "Vengeance is mine. I shall repay, saith the lord", she shouted as Eb dashed for the outhouse.
"Lafe!!! Ye agonna lay abed all day? Sun's nigh over the ridge".
"Aw Edna. You know me n Revalation didn't git home till nigh sunup. We brung you a nice fat possum fer dinner."
" An whilst you an thet ol' houn dog was roustin around the woods, somethin got inta the hen house agin. Two a my best layin hens is gone".
"We'll circle round thar tonight. See kin we pick up a trail. Some kinda varmint likely".
"An we both know what kinda varmint it is too. I wanna see him shot an his hide nailed onto the shed fore the night's out"
Eb poured a cup of coffee and sat down at the table. "Whuts fer breakfast"?
"Ye know the only way we gits things from the store is tradin my eggs. No eggs, no coffee, ner flour fer bisquits ner gravy ner bacon to go with them there eggs yere gonna be gobblin up an' if all them hens disappears won't be no more nuthin." She set each item on the table as she named it, slamming them down so hard Lafe expected to see the old plates break.
"Now Edna ye know ol' Trap-toes don't take a hen less he's really hongry. We'll roust him good tonight an he'll leave us be fer quite a spell"
"Ye're bad as yer pappy with them crazy names. Trap-toes HUMPH an whilst we're at it whut kinda name is Revalation fer a hound dog"?
"Pap almost caught thet ol coon in a trap one time but he got out of it an left two toes behind. Slowed him down jest a mite so's he has to use all his tricks to git away. Mighty handy critter to train a hound on. An I call thet ol dog Revalation cause any time a critter tries to trick him he sets down till he has a revalation an away he goes on the trail agin".
"Ye got any egg credit down to the Gen'l store? I need me some more 22 shells. I mus be agittin' old. It took me two shots to knock thet ol' possum outa the tree, even with the moon behint him"
Lafe shone his lantern onto the edge of the branch. There in the mud was the track he knew so well; a right hind foot with two toes missing. Old Trap-toes for sure.
That had been hours before and the old coon was still running Revalation a good race. He managed to get him to false tree twice and lost the old hound several times with his tricks but Revalation was still on him. Lafe had been back and forth across the branch so many times his brogans were soaked and once his foot had slipped on a rock and he sat down hard in a pool. Bit his tongue a good one too when he hit bottom. He leaned against a tree as he tried to catch his breath. He was scratched head to toe from greenbriars and his shirt was tore. Becky was gonna let him know about that. Lafe was having the time of his life. You just couldn't beat ol Trap-toes for a good run.
They had gotten so far out this time Lafe could barely hear them but now the hounds voice was slowly getting louder as Trap-toes circled back to his home territory. Lafe knew the old coon had to be getting tired by now. Pretty soon he'd have to tree. There it was!!
"Treed by dang!!" Lafe shouted out loud. By now he was all turned around. He knew the directions from the moon but danged if he knew where he was. He couldn't spot any familiar trees or rocks.
He stumbled toward the sound of the excited hound barking treed for all the world to hear, managing to get himself into a bramble patch this time.
"Whar in Tarnation am I?", Lafe muttered. At least he was getting closer. The baying was durn loud now. He took one more step and was hit in the face with something that pricked and stung at the same time. Cautiously he reached out and his hand closed on something that felt like a pin cushion full of needles.
"Careless weed by dang !". Now he knew where he was. This had to be the edge of Eb's corn field. Nobody else let the careless weed get this tall. He chuckled as he thought of Eb and Becky trying to sleep through all this ruction.
He stepped into an open patch and there they were. Revalation was bouncing up and down against a big dead tree and baying loud enough to wake the dead.
Lafe lit the carbide miners lamp he wore on his forehead and shined the light up and down the snag. There was a hollow almost at the top and he caught the shine of a pair of eyes just as the coon ducked out of sight. Lafe knew this old coon well so he just kept the light on the opening. Sure enough a bandit face slowly raised back up.
"Allus gotta take a secont look don't ye?" said Lafe as he raised his rifle and took aim right between the eyes. He held his bead for several seconds then slowly lowered the rifle to his side.
"Now ye listen yere." shouted Lafe, "By rights I oughta kick thet rotten mess over an shoot ye as ye crawl out. I know ye been in Edna's hen house an hits gotta stop. Now we been friends fer a lotta years an we allus had lots of fun together but unless you start showin some neighborly tendencies I'm agonna have to do somethin' we'll both regret".
Lafe called Revalation off and they started for home.
"CREEEEAK", the outhouse door slowly opened and Eb looked out cautiously. Once he was sure that Lafe wasn't laying for him he hitched up his britches and went into the cabin. Becky watched from the bed as he sat down in the old rocker. He rocked for a bit, then reached down and picked up the jug that he always kept next to it. He pulled the corn cob stopper and raised in on the edge of his arm. Becky heard it gurgle as he took a healthy swallow. He took one more, replaced the stopper and turned to her.
"B'lieve I'll take some shine down to Rufus at the Gen'l Store an trade me fer a nice ham. We'd ought to invite Lafe 'n Edna over fer dinner this Sund'y. Time ye started showin a few Neighborly Tendencies".
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