ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT
AND SOME THAT AIN'T
Howdy folks! This here's ol' Pete and Rosebud comin' at you again!
Well, we had a little excitement up here in Gump Holler this week. Had a fire right down the road from where me and my mule Rosebud lives at, between here and where ol' Denver lives. It wasn't very far at all, maybe half a mile.
There wasn't much damage. Well, I take that back. It was one of ol' man Ledbetter's hawg sheds that caught fire and it burned to the ground. It was a goner before anybody seen it was on fire and it was plum burned up by the time the fire truck got here. But it wasn't worth nothin'. It hadn't been used in years. It was all growed up with bushes all around it and was about to fall down anyhow. So it wasn't no great loss. Still and all, it's a shame that it burned down thataway.
The mystery is, there don't nobody know how it caught on fire. Like I said, it was standin' there empty. There wasn't no 'lectric lines to it. That's the first thing I think about when somethin' like that happens. Rats is bad about gnawin' on the 'lectric wires in ol' sheds like that. They get to chewin' on 'em and they short out and cause a fire. But since there wasn't no 'lectric to it, that ain't what happened this time.
People has got their suspicions about how it started. Most of 'em think it was them two ol' outlaw boys that lives up here, Jesse and James Frank. Oh, they wouldn't do it on purpose. That ain't their style. They ain't real outlaws. They just think they are. They're just a couple of overgrown dummies that like to play like they're bad. People think they was prob'ly usin' it for a hideout and messed around and caught it on fire. I don't know myself. There ain't no way you can ever know what happened for shore, but that's what the talk is. That's what everbody thinks. And it does sound like somethin' they'd do. They're always huntin' up a new hideout. Not that they need one. Ain't nobody after 'em. But ever now and then their mama gets tired of 'em layin' around the house watchin' TV all day and runs 'em off. That's when they go hunt up a hideout. Then they'll set around and plot their next crime.
Their savin' grace is that they ain't got gumption enough to do anything real bad. The worse thing I ever remember them doin' was that time they broke into the Holiness Church over at Possum Trot. That almost done 'em in. They found a winder-lite somebody had left open and crawled inside to see what meanness they could get into. They stumbled around in the dark 'til they tripped over a big wooden box. It was nailed shut and settin' in front of the pulpit. Surely, they thought, there's somethin' worth stealin' in it or they wouldn't have it nailed shut like that. Well, they was wrong on both counts. They didn't know this was a snake handlin' Holiness Church. Somebody had caught a dozen or so copperhead snakes, put 'em in that box and nailed it shut to keep 'em in.
Ol' Jesse and James spent the rest of the night draggin' that big boxful of snakes back to their hideout, a tumble-down chicken house up behind their mama's house. They was gonna get it up there, open it the next mornin' and divide the loot. That's where the law found 'em after they'd tracked 'em down. Which wasn't hard. It looked like they'd been tryin' to leave a trail where they'd pulled and shoved that big ol' box along the ground. As soon as the preacher discovered the missin' snakes, he called the law and the deppity-sheriff that come up there to check on it drove along the road, keepin' his eye on the trail the box left, and follered it right up to where they was holed up.
Later, the deppity was tellin' everbody about it down at Silas's store. Said he throwed open the chicken house door and ol' Jesse and James was both perched on top of that snake box, afraid to get down. They'd prized off the lid, turned it over on its side to dump out whatever was in it and, when them snakes come tumblin' out, they jumped up on top of the box to get away from 'em. The deppity said the snakes had 'em surrounded. Said ol' Jesse and James put him in mind of ol' Gen'l Custard at Little Big Horn.
Up to now, if you don't count the snakes, the outlaws have been more pesky than anything else. But if they did mess around and burn that ol' hawg shed down, and I ain't sayin' they did, that goes a good ways past pesky. What if it had been a barn or somethin' like that? What if somebody had got hurt? What if one of them firefighters had got hurt tryin' to put it out? Fire ain't nothin' to fool with. If them two done it, they need to be jerked up by the shirt collars this time.
Well, I guess that's enough of that. There ain't nobody knows what happened. Not for shore. But the law is lookin' into it. They're checkin' it out. And if they find out anything, I'll let you know.
(And maybe next time I'll know somethin' for shore)
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