Book Wins Award
At the 67th Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Society of Historians in Hickory, North Carolina, on October,13, 2008, John W. Miller won the prestigious Clark Cox Award for Historical Fiction for his book, "The Curse of Satan's Collar."
This story's dialogue written in mountain dialect, does not obey the rules of grammar, punctuation, and the narrative written in standard retorical language . Read at your own risk. JWM
Willy Moons Newspapermen
It was late Thursday afternoon, almost dark, when Dad penned up his bear dogs for the night. Willy saw something, but the family didn’t. We were in the kitchen and missed it. We were still trying to figure out howthe newspapers acquired all the information about Willy.
Out at the front gate, two newspaper reporters were down on the ground trying to crawl under the gate’s bottom rail. One had a long-range telescope. Willy saw them earlier among the gawkiers, yaps, and out-of-town curiosity seekers. And like everybody else, they couldn’t open the lock. That’s when they decided to try crawling under the fence.
Unfortunately, two ladies tried to hold them back. The ladies thought that maybe it was for their own good. However, rescuing folks that didn’t want rescued sometimes got them in trouble.
Maude Myrtle Crabtree, alias Madam Broadbottom, had advised the two crawlers to stay put. “Sonny, you’uns doesn’t knows what you’uns is gettin’ into. Them Heinsel-Millers has some bad, bad bear dogs. They will tear you’uns britches off. Ain’t that right, Bessie Mae?”
Bessie Mae McCracken, alias Lady Do’Wagger, nodded her head up and down, bent down, and tried to hold on to one of the newspaper reporter’s arm. But that didn’t work. So she did the next best thing and sat down on his legs. But he kept squirming, wouldn’t stop.
So she smacked him on his head with her pocketbook. “Be still, you dummy! That shore is right! Maude Myrtle is givin’ you’uns good advice. Our beloved preacher-man, Clive Hammer Floorstomper, bless his heart, were over here yesterday. He were tryin’ to find out what in the world was goin’ on out here. And they sic the bear dogs on him. Our good Reverend Shoutover had to shout fer his life, ‘Help, Help! Call them dogs off!’ Now, would you’uns like for me to repeat what I jest said, or does you’uns understands the first time?”
Maude Myrtle also made use of her excessive asset and perched her broad bottom on top of the other newspaperman’s shoulders. And for the moment, he wasn’t going anywhere.
A heavy groan came from one newspaper reporter. The other said, “Madam would you please get off my legs before they are crushed. I am trying to crawl, as you would say, under this here fence.”
Then Bessie Mae got down real close to his ear and shouted, “Listen hears sonny, you’uns got the wrong name. I’m Lady Do’Wagger. The other lady over there is Madam Broadbottom. We are’s jest tryin’ to save you’uns lives, but you’uns are’s jest plain rude!”
The first reporter still pleaded, “Well, whatever is your name, please get off me. You are about to smother me to death! We don’t want to be saved! Do you people ever talk or speak plain English?”
That was a bad move by those reporters. Both of our refined Christian ladies just kept jumping up and down.
They started kicking and shoving the two reporters under our fence, shouting, “You’uns furiners ain’t gots a bit of manners, jest plain rude! If you’uns wants to get you’uns britches bit off, then have at hit!”
Then they pushed both under the fence.
Willy knew those two ladies even if he didn’t know anyone else in the crowd. They are at every meeting, rooster fights, church meetings, and whatever. The newspaper ought to put them on their payroll.
A curious thing about the crowd was that Willy didn’t see any of the relatives or friendly neighbors. He wondered if they had judged him already. His conscious had begun to bother him and he wondered . . . What could they be thinking about me for what I’ve done? How is this going to affect my family? I didn’t mean to hurt my family in the eyes of the neighbors or Merryville. We have always been very respectable in the past. But, since these reporters want to talk to me, I’ll jest let them get a little closer, and then I’ll give them a surprise.
When they had crawled under the gate and reached what Willy thought was close enough, he turned his backside toward the two newspaper reporters, pulled down his bib overalls, and mooned the surprised pair.
Then he ran to the backside of the tree and shouted, “Get’um, George Washington!”
And the newspaper reporters with their telescope got a good look at Willy’s backside. But at the same time, George Washington reared up a mouth full of teeth and took off after the two newspapermen.
The crowd had seen it all and let out a roar. “Run! Run! If them dogs don’t get you’uns, that mule will!”
They ran for their lives. But the newspaper reporters didn’t quite make it to the fence gate. That’s where George Washington embossed his teeth prints on their rears, as they scrambled over the fence gate.
Our two notorious spreaders of gossip shouted with glee. “We told you’uns if them there dogs don’t get you’uns, George Washington wills!”
Outside the fence gate and safe, one newspaper reporter asked the reporter who had the telescope, “Did you get a good look?”
The other newspaperman smuled and said, “Sure did! He has hair all over his backside. Looked like a grey-haired, ugly faced billy goat!”
Mountain folks call mooning a social justice, born out of contempt for someone. Anyway, Willy thought the newspapermen earned it.
Willy laughed and leaned back against the trunk of the Chestnut tree.
He looked at George Washington. “You got’um George Washington, and it serves them right tryin’ to crawl under that there gate.”
Rifle Packing Mama
The newspaperman had committed the most unforgivable social error of the mountains: don’t look at our women, never ever ever never. This very important mountain custom was the supreme final word for outsiders. But now these newapapermen had looked at Mama's daughters and had to pay the price.
For such an act men are shot. In fact, you didn’t dare talk to a mountain girl if she was alone. And she wouldn’t talk to you, a furriner. She would wait until another mountain girl came up and stood beside her. Sounds strange, but it was the custom. No doubt, he wasn’t from around here.
Mama put the evil stare on that man like an executioner. “Look at me, little man! When I crack your head open, there isn’t anything that’s going to fly out of your head but questions! Absolutely void of brains! Don’t you ever put your lusting eyes on my daughters again! Hand me my rifle, Jon.”
How she knew I had that rifle in my hand I will never know.
“I’m going give you ten seconds to jump that gate. Don’t try to climb over it or open it. You will be too late! That’s five seconds more than I gave that last stranger. Do you understand, Mr. Newspaperman?”
Then Mama stomped her right foot with authority, stuck that rifle up in the air, and pulled the trigger. The man didn’t run, but leaped from the sound of that shot. He leaped like a frog, backward. It took him every bit of five seconds to clear the top of that gate.
Then Mama completely shifted back into our homegrown language, laughing, “I were wrong, hits easier to run off a newspaperman than teach an ill-tempered husband anythin’.”
David cried out, “Mama, you gave him too much time. He could have done hit in four seconds.”