This story appeared first in the
Sunday, April 4, 1999 Topeka Capital-Journal, p.
© 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
and setting of this short-short story were incorporated into Yoho's 2002
humorous novel, Tales from
See details at Dancing
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