Read the first part of The Feds They’ll Be A’Comin’ (a selection from Trophy Hunting)
The Feds They’ll Be A’ Comin’
Freddie Stultz knowed everyone’s business in Boone Holler. Mostly, on account of all the hours he spent on Main Street, rockin’ in the glider while waitin’ for customers.
And then one day that great big black Studebaker rolled up the red bricks of Main Street and parked smack dab in front of his post office. Changed over from the old boarding house, it did, to accomydate this modern world, goin’ to hell in a handbasket. Still had its hitching posts out front. Freddie’s glider creaked to a stop.
It was a Friday. Middle of October.
The kind of day that brings folks outside, rakin’ and burnin’ leaves, sharin’ yarns. Do they got enough pickles put up to get through another winter? And oh my, do you reckon the first storm o’ the winter can be on its way so soon with a sky like a robin’s egg? Freddie reckoned the storm was a’comin’, all right. Why, just that very morning Lulu and Florence and Jake – all three of ‘em – they was up here, standing in line waiting for their mail. Lulu never got none ‘cept for her you-tility bills, and Florence, she had herself a mail order busyness sellin’ her homemade jams mostly up north, and Jake, he had a sister married the dentist over yonder in Greenv’ll, wrote ‘im oncet a month and on birthdays.
Anyhow, Freddie heard the three of them complaining. All about the aches and pains in their joints. Took ‘em twice as long to walk the block or two uptown to fetch their mail today, it did.
You jest check in the Farmer’s Almanac and see if it ain’t so. You could set your calendars – clocks too (heeheeheehee) – to folks’ aches and pains, yessir. Freddie knowed that for a fact. As well as he knowed that old Pete Alligate preferred orderin’ his new overalls from Sears & Roebuck whilst George Amole ordered his’n from Montgomery & Ward. Yessir.
Only thing Freddie didn’t figger on was that the storm would come in the shape and form of a great big black Studebaker.
Folks around here, they usually drive their Johnny Deeres. Old Doc Shoemaker, he had hisself a Studebaker oncet, but it was green. That ain’t black. Nossir.
So Freddie figgered that there great big black Studebaker belonged to someone that wasn’t from these here parts along the river valley.
And he was right.
He could tell right off when the driver’s door opened and out stepped some dandy wearin’ a Zoot suit. Who-o-o-ey. White patent leather shoes and a fedora to boot, tilted off to one side like he thought he was the cat’s meow. Freddie seen the likes of that in the catty-logues. Oncet in the moving pictures. Never in real life. Closest he ever come to that kind of finery was when his nephew Herbert went off to state college wearin’ a hat like that. But that was different. Herbert had earned hisself the right ‘cause he was goin’ away to college up in the city. Only one of the family so far went on like ‘at. Most folks, they ain’t got no use for fancy learnin’. They got too much work to do with their hogs. Or their corn. And their ne’er-you-mind busyness. Freddie got hisself a nice cornfield up on the hill where he liked to go ‘cause it was halfway to heaven, an’ it’s just him and the black snakes and mebbe a fishin’ pole in the pond up there.
Anyhow, Herbert, he’s real smart. Al’ays been at the top of his class, that boy has. Yessir. First one to leave home. Darned better be the last one, too.
Freddie didn’t figger no one new would come to town. What had this joe gone and done? To wear that there fancy finery? What did he think he was gonna do? Rob a bank?
So, next thing you know, t’other door opened up on t’other side of the great big black Studebaker. And out popped a lady. Only, she warn’t no real lady, Freddie reckoned. No decent gal was gonna dress up like a kewpie doll an’ let her kneecap show, not out in the middle of Main Street in the middle of Boone Holler in the middle of a bright and sunny October Friday day. Not with a storm a’comin’. Nossir.
But none of that was what made Freddie suspicious. He knowed sumthin’ warn’t right in the land o’ Dixie. See, no one ever could get nuttin’ past Freddie Stultz. That’s why no one ever could best him at a game o’ hearts. An’ this time was no different. He knowed the fancy folks in that there great big black Studebaker was up to no good. Mebbe it was on account of the two growed men in the jump seat. They didn’t budge from where they sat, but Freddie could see clear as day that they was dressed in Zoot suits, too. Just like the first feller.
Din’t know ‘bout the shoes, though.
So anyhow, the kewpie doll she sashayed her way over to Freddie’s post office, where Freddie pushed his weary bones out of the glider and stood there on the porch, jest chuckling away, amused as all get out at such a sight. That kewpie doll swingin’ her hips and swingin’ her beads and marchin’ straight over to Freddie’s post office.
Freddie hitched up his overalls an’ wished they wasn’t a patch in one knee, never mind that his woman Birdie done a right fine job of patchin’ it.
“Hep you?” Freddie said when the doll got close enough to hear ‘im good and he was done wheezin’ on his chuckles.
“Yeah,” she said. “See, me and my friends, we’re lost.” She let go of her beads and pointed to the great big black Studebaker.
The dandy propped one of his patent leather shoes up on the fender and smoked a cigarette. He pinched it between his thumb and forefinger like it was a dart, and he was gettin’ ready to pitch it. Mebbe ‘cause he only had a stub where he shoulda’ had a pinkie finger. But Freddie thought it was on account of him bein’ so mad. Yessir, he was real mad. Freddie could see it the way his jaw muscles worked, like a cow chewin’ on her cud. Only he was no cow. There was spots of gold here and there, pokin’ out all over the land o’ Goshen from his Zoot suit.
“I reckon you ain’t lost no more, ma’am,” Freddie said. “I found ye.” Heeheeheehee!
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