Max Yoho 

This story appeared first in the 
Sunday, April 4, 1999 Topeka Capital-Journal, p. 1-E
© 1999 by MaxYoho
 

Some things a man just needs

    Great Uncle Jack removed, grudgingly, the clay pipe from his mouth long enough to kiss Tildy, his bride.
    The pipe had been his companion much longer than Tildy. 
    My father claimed Uncle Jack was no different from other men who lived on the Kansas side of the Oklahoma border in 1901. He would as soon go without his pants as without his revolver. He coexisted peacefully with scorpions and rattlesnakes. It was the cockroach which Uncle Jack considered an abomination and an insult to mankind. 
    Three days after the wedding Tildy pronounced a fearsome judgment on the pipe. It had to go. Uncle Jack took the news stoically.
    The first day without nicotine went fairly well. The first night was bearable. On the second morning Uncle Jack searched out three rattlesnakes and stomped them to death, fired four rounds from his revolver at their only laying hen, and tore off a recalcitrant shed door with his bare hands. The part I tend to disbelieve is that he ate one corner of it.
    Aunt Tildy placed his lunch before him and Uncle Jack lurched backward, knocking over his chair. My father told me that on the plate was a cockroach about the size of a 1923 Dodge touring car. Uncle Jack pulled his smooth-oiled revolver and plugged that cockroach right between the fried potatoes and the fried salt pork.
    Tildy led him to a rocking chair and handed him his pipe and tobacco. 
    --On the advice of his doctor, Jack Freeman forswore tobacco on his 83rd birthday. He died the following Monday.

The characters and setting of this short-short story were incorporated into Yoho's 2002 humorous novel, Tales from Comanche County.
See details at Dancing Goat Press.


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