It’s not like I’as actually usin’ it. At least, not that I’d noticed, ya feel me? I mean, what do ya ever really do with a soul, anyway?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I ain’t sayin’ I hated muh life. Lookin’ back on it, act-shly, I guess I had it purdy good. Married muh high school sweetheart, as folks ’round these here parts do. Renee’s a helluva woman, I’ll swear by that . . . she genuinely loved me — was good to me. Gave me 2.5 kids ’fore the end. Devin an’ Lucius was a handful, sure — I’d guess they’d be somethin’ wrong with them if they wasn’t. But they was mine, an’ them’s good boys, I still say . . . don’t ever let nobody tell ya no different.
The 7 – 3 grind ain’t the most glamerus a’ lifes, but I’as never really one fer the 9 – 5 type. My pappy’as a workin’ man, an’ his afore him . . . we’s all been brung up grunts, an’ ain’t nothin’ wrong w’that. A hard day’s labor’s what makes a man respect-able, muh daddy tol’ me, an’ lets him know the meanin’ a’ thangs, the value’v honest livin.’ The fact’ry let me be home for muh boys when they needed me, an’ that’s important, ya know . . . having a daddy you can count on, an’ all that. Course, drivin’ a loader sho ’nuff ain’t nobody’s idea uva dream job, but it was steady work I never had to bring home wimme, an’ the union made dang sure it kep’ the lights on an’ the roof from cavin’ in, kep’ the boys in shoes that fit an’ the town doc in his place . . . an’ padded the family’s spare tires all around — packin’ on a few here’n there every year.
An’ we weren’t set up in no castle in the clouds, lemme tell ya. But what we had was ours. There was milk from the cow, eggs from the coop, an’ greens’n beans from the land.
Yep, mine was a purdy good life, all right.
I guess I shoulda jes’ left well enough alone, I see that now. But, you know, there was sump’n in me . . . sump’n bigger, sump’n special . . . sump’n jes’ dyin’ to get out, an’ ain’t no way it was ever gonna see the lighta day with a noose a’ “normal-like” stranglin’ the everlovin’ love-a-life outta me, an’ on a everyday kinda turntable, too, so’s I never had any kinda reprieve from the unrest of uhv’it.
I s’pose, lookin’ back on it, I prolly knew him as soon as I seen him.
I’ve had some time to think things over from here amidst all this heat — an’ jes’ what the heck IS that smell, anyway? — an’ I can see where’s I went wrong. I shoulda jes’ left him there, where I found him. I shoulda paid him no nevermind, an’ went on muh merry way, back t’the humdrum life uhva downhome, Southern country boy — jes’ a hardworking,’ blue collar nobody. But he knew all the right buttons to push, ya know? Really got under muh skin, askin’ what he could do to make muh life complete. Guess that’s why he’s so good at what he does. An’ that Charlie Daniels feller had gone an’ given me the impression that maybe I’d even get a gold fiddle outta the deal, so, I figured, eh . . . what the hell.
What the hell is right, I reckon.
What could be done to better my sitchy-ay-shun, he wanted to know. What could be done, indeed. Well, I let him know, I did. I tol’ him I’d been dreamin’ muh whole life a’ one day writin’ the world’s best ever Country music song. And, I wanted t’be rich an’ famous, too. He tol’ me that weren’t no tall order, it were a pisa cake, then he snapped his fingers, an’ said, “Done, and DONE.”
Now, I can’t say as I knew what I were expectin,’ rightly, but I know’d I didn’t think he was gonna tell me to jes’ go on home an’ wait. I don’t know what I’as supposed tuv been waitin’ fer, but it were an awful frustration, all that waitin.’ In time, it began to take a tol’ on me. I hung out at the bar after work more off’n then not, started havin’ fitful nights a’ tossin’ an’ turnin.’ Had a hard time gettin’ up in the A.M., an’ started to come in late fer work on more than a few occasions. Purdy soon, I lost muh job. Then muh kids started actin’ out in school, cuz’ they wasn’t afraid I’as gonna whup ’em no more, cuz I jes’ stayed in bed sleepin’ all the time. Muh wife tol’ me she’d had it, said this weren’t no way to raise up a family, an’ she took off to her mother’s place, an’ took muh boyz wither. Wit’ no one else to look after him, muh hound got tired a’ waitin’ too long in the morning fer his breakfast, so then the dog done up an’ run off too.
I was so down in the dumps over everthang about muh state-uv-affairs, I went out one night with a 6-pack in me, an’ went an’ wrapped muh pickup ’round a telephone pole. I thought I’as a gonner then, fer shore, but that’s when he showed up again.
By that time, I’as in no mood fer his shenanigans, an’ I had ’nuff mind ta tell him so. But he jes’ laughed, an’ asked what I thought he’d been doin’ in muh life this whole time. I had no way to know what to say. He tol’ me ev’ry artist has got to suffer fer his work, an’ how’d I expect to write great Country music when I’d always had it so dang good? He tol’ me all he’d done was plant the idea in muh head that I needed sump’n mor’n what I had, an’ purdy soon, I didn’t know what I had anymore, an’ I threw it all away. He said that was all on me. But then, he said, now, I had ever’thang I needed to write the world’s best Country music song, so what was I still doin’ hangin’ ’round there fer, when I should be gettin’ to it. He tol’ me to go on home an’ do what I had in me, an’ he’d take care a’ the rest.
That night, shore ’nuff, I went home an’ crawled into a bottle, then turned it upside over an’ poured alla muh heartache outtuv it. ’For long, whooda thunk it, but I’d gone an’ written the world’s greatest Country music song. And then I promply passed out, an’ drooled on muhself the rest a’the night.
After that, I got muhself cleaned up, got some confidence in me, an’ went back in to get muh old job, an’ tol’ them they ought to take me back. Good small town folks, they said they’d give me another chance, an’ brought me back on as a maintenance man. It weren’t as much dough, but I’as in no place to argue.
I started workin’ again that afternoon, determined to take that song t’the local Country music makin’ man in town as soon as muh shift ended, hopin’ I could get me a reference to sumbody with some pull in Nashville, or maybe even Branson. I jes’ knew I was gettin’ muh life back on track. Soon, there’d be wealth, an’ stardom, an’ ’fore long, I could see usin’ both to get muh family all together again. Things were finally startin’ to look up. The world’s greatest country music song down, step one, now, fame an’ fortune, here I come.
I could hardly wait fer the whistle to blow.
But, as fate would have it, I ended up “gettin’ mine,” even before quittin’ time was upon me. Yep, jes’ like I wanted, I’as famous, all right. Got muhself landed in a book of records . . . for the craziness that was my one-in-a-gazillion misfortune uhva accidental, haphazardous departure from this plane.
As I understand it, some random rusted out bolt in a one-ton fact’ry robot arm had become loosened by a unnoticed steady drip a’ oil directly on it. The loose joint knocked the dang thing jes’ 3 degrees off its platform, which is not so much that you’da seen it wi’the naked eye — lessen you’da happened to’ve been lookin’ right at it jes’ then — but jes’ enough to set it to goin’ caddywhompus from its intended course. The misdirection compounded upon itself as the motion picked up steam,’til over time, the dang thing had swung a full 8 inches off track. It was that last half a centimeter what done me in. The arm got hung up on a fire extinguisher mounted t’the support beam — readily available there in case’a fire, a’course — but in jes’ that moment, that particklar safety device became stuck — getting’ itself smushed, in fact — ’tween the arm tryin’ t’do what it wanted t’do, an’ that support beam, what weren’t goin’ nowhere. Now, you try tellin’ a one-ton factory robot arm that it can’t keep doin’ what it was built t’do, an’ yer gonna be on the losin’ end’a that argument. It jes’ kep’ on hitting that flame snuffer, buildin’ up extra pressure on that pressurized container, ’til the poor doohickey jes’ went off like a bottle rocket.
So, if that were the whole story, I’d jes’ leave it there, an’ be happy to say that I’as beaned in the head by a flyin’ fire extinguisher, an’ maybe be okay with a somewhat noteworthy demise, but that ain’t what act-shly happened. No, my ending was a little less distinguished. You see, as that bottle rocket went flyin’ overhead, dousin’ everything in its path with flame retardant foam — muhself an’ the floor around me included — I jes’ happened t’be in the process a’ changin’ a light bulb in the break room. The missile finally crashed into the wall a’ the break room, right against the light switch. That alone wouldn’ta been so bad, ’ceptn the mess on the floor had caused muh footin’ to slip, an’ I’d accidentally stepped backwards, landing with one hand in the break room sink, where there’as a leak comin’ from the faucet, while muh other was jes’ screwin’ in the bulb, when the light went on. Then, with a loud pop! an’ the smell a’ sizzled fangers, it was lights out for me.
I guess I’m only the second person in history what got himself killt whilst tryin’ to change a light bulb. I s’pose there’s a bad joke in there somewheres.
(At least I weren’t standin’ wi’muh feet in the tub like the first guy.)
An’ after that, would’nchya know it, I ended up rich after all. The factory paid out a huge settlement t’muh family to keep thems from suin’, an’ to cover up that whole mess best they could. Course, ya can’t really keep somethin’ that crazy a secret for long, ’speshly in a small Georgia town. These days, you can find my name listed on the interwebz somewheres, along with a long list a’ other crazy ways to die.
I guess I should jes’ be grateful muh wife is gonna be able to bring up muh boyz — an’ that new baby on the way I ain’t ever gonna meet now — without havin’ to worry fer nuthin.’ It’s enough to fix the truck... hell, it’s enough to buy a new one, pay off the house, an’ send all three a’ the kids to college, so’s maybe they can have a better life than I did.
An’ I even hope that ol’ dog finds his way back home fer them, one a’ these days.
I know ya can’t really expect to hold Ol’ Scratch accountable for givin’ a false impression, seein’ as how that’s purdy much the business he’s in, an,’ he certainly can’t say I didn’t get eh’zackly what I wanted, if’n maybe not eh’zackly in the spirit a’ what I was thankin’ uhv. But we did in fact have a few choice words ’bout the manner in which the first part came about, seein’ as how he were the one himself what pointed out he didn’t act-shly have to do nuthin,’ coz I jes’ did it all muhself. So, I challenged the deal, an’ said I do believe he didn’t live up to his part. He grudgingly had to gimme that.
Oh, Ima still be here fer a bit... he don’t much like the notion a’ sumbody gettin’ the better a’ him, least off sumbody as lowlife as me, but, he’s gonna have to let me go here in another century or two. I’da hoped it’d be a bit less, but, apparently, he's got a powerful aversion to paperwork, so, seems Ima jes’ have to sit tight fer a spell. Until then, guess I’ll jes’ have to hold muh breath an’ make the best uhv’it.
I jes’ hope, whenever I get around to comin’ back, that they still have Country Music.
LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 22 - Topic: SWEEP THE LEG
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