Sunday, December 27, 2009

Year-End Accounting

The end of the year is a good time to review the accomplishments of the preceding 12 months and develop plans for the future. This past year I achieved the following:


- Learned how to run backward while carrying a case of Wizard Water©.
- Increased my poker game stakes limit so I don’t gamble in excess.
- Memorized the names of all the sheriffs and judges within 50 miles of
    Binkleman, Nebraska.
- Developed enough self restraint to withhold criticism of mother-in-law
    after her second visit of the year.
- Acquired a new grey coat and top hat.
- Practiced not singing when humans, mules or dogs are present.
- Ate fewer beans before shows.

Charitable Work

- Donated a free sample of flea cure to my mother-in-law.
- Gave mother-in-law the benefit of the doubt on two occasions
    that involved food poisoning.
- Gave wife a new apron and iron stewpot.
- Did not sue the Binkleman, Nebraska merchants’ association members
    for attempt upon my life.
- Gave the Binkleman county, Nebraska road crew a discount on a bottle
    of Wizard Water in exchange for help removing a shackle.
- Taught Bleb basic accounting, not only to assist with my business,
    but also so he has a source of income when he retires.
- Encouraged Bleb to eat fewer beans before shows.
- Gave full refund to two dissatisfied customers outside of Dahlonega,
    as well as three silver dollars, my pocketwatch, hat and boots.

All in all, it has been a productive year, but there is always room for improvement. I plan to work on mind-reading and faster methods of travel.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

p.s. Speaking of Dahlonega, I will be visiting that fine town again on the second day of January to host the Mountain Music & Medicine Show. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Delivering the Goods

Kris KringleKris Kringle and I have a friendly rivalry regarding who is the better distributor of goods. Recently I bet him a 20-dollar gold piece that I could transport 50 cases of Wizard Water© from Atlanta to Nix’s grocery store in Dahlonega before he could. He agreed to the challenge and the next day we both set off from from Piedmont Park with 50 cases in each of our vehicles. Well, even with shortcuts it took me a week to reach the mountains of Lumpkin County. When I finally arrived at Mr. Nix’s store, there was Kringle sitting by my cases on the front porch, strumming a mandolin.

“You’re late!” he boomed. “I’ve been waiting here for six days!”

“The roads were icy,” I replied, “but it looks like you beat me here, fair and square.”

“You don’t seem very upset,” said Kringle.

I shrugged. “Well, Mr. Nix told me last month that a patent medicine agent from New York City would be at his establishment this week. He’s willing to pay $20 dollars a case for my wondrous Wizard Water, if the agent can get 100 cases by today. The wagon will only hold 50 cases, though. I’m sure glad you took me up on that bet.”

I paid Kris the gold piece and wished him a good day.

I expect to get another bag of coal this year, but the old guy never brings me the trick dice I ask for anyway.

* * *

Dedicated to Tony and Ann.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How To Get Rid of Fleas

fleaRub yourself all over with Wizard Water©, including your scalp. In a few minutes the fleas will grow so large you can knock them off your body. Have a pistol handy to dispatch them quickly.

Be careful, though, to use just enough Wizard Water to dampen your skin without getting soaked. I knew a fellow who filled a washtub with my elixir and immersed himself in it. The tiny vermin grew so large that they filled the tub, and he was squashed to death.

You may ask, “Why don’t the people who take this flea treatment also experience a spurt of extreme growth?” The answer: Because fleas are so much smaller than humans yet unable to shut their mouths, they ingest far more Wizard Water per body weight than any human can hope to swallow. The flea’s metabolism, already rapid, accelerates at an abnormal rate, enabling easy disposal for those with good marksmanship.

If you abhor violence but are good with a rope, once these pests have grown large enough you can also lasso and sell them. Some cowboys prefer to practice their bronco-busting on oversized insects and will pay good money for a herd. Do not expect help from your dog in this matter, however. Dogs trained to herd cattle pay no mind to fleas.

* * *

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Surprises

They say that animals talk on Christmas eve, and if you happen to be nearby you can hear them speak. Well, about midnight one December 24th a few years ago I was bringing Bleb into the barn, when suddenly he asked me in plain English for ten dollars. He went on to explain that he wanted to enter a mule race the next day, to impress a certain lady mule he knew.

"What?!" I cried.

"Are you shocked to hear me speak? asked Bleb.

"No, I just didn't know that someone was holding a race on Christmas day," I replied. "Thanks for the tip."

I entered Bleb in the race, but I bet on another mule. Bleb lost, I won, and he hasn't spoken to me since.

* * *

Speaking of surprises, I'm preparing one for my wife this Christmas. I've been feeding whiskey to her prize milk cow. Any day now I expect it to start giving eggnog.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Cure for Youthful Exuberance

Unruly children are the bane of many an adult. Where an adult sees challenges that must be dealt with in a sober manner, a child often sees an entertainment opportunity. There is a cure for this disparity of viewpoints, however. With a little ingenuity, there may even be some profit.

For example, the next time you see a youth using a cat to whitewash a building, stop him immediately. Lecture the child sternly and take the poor animal from him. Find a safe place for the creature. At your next show, display it as a rare albino racoon (for a fee, of course).

This will teach the youth a valuable lesson – never paint a cat without a marketing plan.

There are many more ways in which you can turn mischief-makers into useful citizens – as drink caddies, poker chip manufacturers, card sorters and lookouts, to name a few. Merely show them how much one can gain from a constructive activity, and reap the benefits.

* * *

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Advice for Lighthouse Keepers

I once briefly served as a lighthouse-keeper. I applied for the job because the work, I heard, entailed little beyond cleaning the lens and making sure the signal lamp was lit at dusk and extinguished at dawn. This suited my lifestyle at the time, as I was quite a “night owl” and I believed that the tower could double as an exclusive gambling house to men of means. The facility would be open when the beacon was lit and closed when it was not, and I would be assured of a double income – that of a government employee and of an independent businessman.

The isolation of the lighthouse proved a perfect place for gentlemen who desired the privacy necessary for serious betting. Business was so good that I had to expand to the keeper’s quarters and still lacked space. Finally I decided to make room for additional tables in a fuel storage building several hundred yards from the other structures. I took care to move the barrels of coal oil outside, placing them along the exterior wall of the tower so they would be handy when the signal lamp needed refilling. I left empty barrels in the storage building so that customers might have some place to put down their drinks and cigars.

I still believe all would have gone well had the barrel-maker done his job properly. Due to shoddy workmanship, some oil must have leaked out. Otherwise, one of the empty barrels would not have exploded so easily, and a line of fire would not have extended to the tower.

It always amazes me how high flames can reach. The barrels packed along the tower wall produced a billowing, Vesuvian effect. All the customers were able to get out before the roof blew off, but in their haste to escape many left their winnings behind. I told them to seek justice from the barrel-maker, but they did not see it that way.

This is why I say: Safety First! Before you ever conduct business near water, you should learn to swim. Swimming is a healthful activity. It can also provide a refuge from wildfires and, when done at the proper depth, from bricks and bullets.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Treatment for Indigestion

pickling cucumbersEat two large dill pickles, one after the other, then take a half-gallon of boiled cider followed by 10 or 12 sausages and a plateful of fried potatoes. Get on your horse and ride several times around your house at a gallop. When you dismount, eat some hot Indian fry bread, a pound of sauerkraut, and wash it all down with at least a quart of buttermilk. This treatment will definitely give you indigestion.

* * *
p.s. I don’t know who would want indigestion, but you never know what your audience will find useful.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Mountain Music & Medicine Show - November

Buzzard Mountain BoysThe sheriff allowed me into Dahlonega yesterday, and this time I was joined by the popular music groups Mist on the Mountain, the Gentleman Jack String Band, Jim Wood, the Camp Creek Committee and, unfortunately, the Buzzard Mountain Boys. Jim-Bob and Joe-Bob of Buzzard Mountain are mighty fine musicians, but don't ever go hunting with them. If you were at the show, you'd know why, and if you weren't, just listen to the rebroadcast on Georgia Public Broadcasting on November 21 or December 19 to understand what I'm talking about. All I'll say right now is that finding the bear is not the problem. If you want to see more of the Mountain Music & Medicine Show, visit my photo album.

* * *

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Ghost of a Gambler

old playing cardsI was playing cards with some acquaintances at a hotel in Nuckollsville the other night when the lights began to flicker. “Oh that’s just Old Joe,” said one player. “He used to gamble here, but he died a few years back. His widow Miss Sally works as the hotel cook to make ends meet. Her little boy washes the dishes.”

“Why don’t you invite Old Joe to play?” I asked.

“’Cause he don’t have nothin’ to bet with,” said another fellow.

Well the lights continued to flicker, so I finally called out, “Joe! Come sit down! I’ll stake you!” Then I dealt another hand at an empty seat and added a few of my chips. My fellow players were not amused.

“How will he bet?” said one.

“How many chips do you want to bet, Joe?” I asked loudly. The lights flickered twice. “He’s in for two dollars,” I said, and moved a couple chips out of his pile. “And so am I,” I added.

Well we played like that for a while, Joe indicating how he wanted to bet with the help of the gas light fixtures. The other gentlemen were annoyed at first, then taken aback when he started winning.

“Just how,” one of them finally asked, “will he collect his winnings?”

“I think,” I replied, “that his wife can use the money.” I looked at my hand, and pushed my remaining chips to the center. “I’ll see your bet, Bryson,” I said, “and raise you ten.”

“Hmph,” said Mr. Nix to my left, pushing a stack of chips toward the center of the table. “You’ll have to do better than that.”

“I’ll see that, and raise you another ten,” added Emry Adams. And so it went, around the table.

When Old Joe’s turn came, everyone glanced at me.

“Well Joe, what do you want to do?” The lights became extremely bright.

“Put all his chips in the middle and don’t give him any more cards,” I said. “And I fold.”

There was silence all around.

“Too rich for my blood,” said Bryson.

“Me too,” said Nix, disgustedly.

“I think I’ll quit while I’m behind,” said Emry, folding.

“Looks like you win, Joe,” I said, pushing the chips toward the empty chair. “And since it’s getting late, I think I’ll call it a night.” I got up to leave.

“You’re not going to see what kind of hand he had?”


“Well I don’t think he’ll mind if I look,” said Nix, and he flipped over the cards.

“A two, a five, a seven, a nine and a king! Dang,” said Bryson, incredulous. “Now I KNOW that wasn’t Joe playing.”

“What makes you say that?”

“’Cause he was a TERRIBLE bluffer.”

They all looked at me.

“Gentlemen,” I said, “Perhaps his facial expressions would give him away. I advise you to be more careful when playing with him in the future. Somebody tell Miss Sally to come collect his chips.”

My wife complains that I play cards too much and don’t do enough charitable work. I tell her that you can be very charitable when playing cards, if the spirit moves you.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Followup

I regret that due to unforeseen circumstances I was unable to appear at this year's Cowboy Festival & Symposium in Cartersville, Georgia. I was not only looking forward to seeing old friends, but also to hearing famous cowboy poet and humorist Baxter Black in person!

Photographs of this year's Gold Rush Days festival are now on display, however. I look forward to seeing everyone at both events again next year!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gold Rush Time Again! - Part 2

I had a great time at this year's Gold Rush festival in Dahlonega, Georgia. The weather started out a bit damp but that didn't discourage the crowds, especially at the parade. Bryson Wilkins and Loretta Grizzle were crowned king and queen of the festival, respectively, and for some reason I was named Grand Marshall!Doc Johnson

Miss Maggie Dyer won the buck dancing contest (beating out last year's winner, the ever-enthusiastic Sadie Bafile), and Chris Smith and Steve Shaw once more took home the title for fastest crosscut sawing. They even beat their own time at an impressive 26.6 seconds.

There was plenty to see and do; I enjoyed some hot sweet potato biscuits and my wife made sure to bring home several jars of fig preserves, chow-chow, and pickled tomatoes.

Many thanks to the Dahlonega Jaycees who make this event such a great success!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gold Rush Time Again!

Well folks, it seems the sheriff and the mayor of Dahlonega have gotten over the chicken incident and I’ve been asked back to once more emcee their annual Gold Rush Days next weekend. There will be music, food, art and craft booths, demonstrations of talent, contests of skill AND a parade. And many of these won't cost you a nickel, courtesy of the Dahlonega Jaycees!

I'll be on the public square hosting the hog calling contest, as well as other competitions: crosscut sawing, pipe smoking, wrist wrestling, clogging, beard growing and telling tall tales (better known as the liar’s contest), to name just a few.

Will Miss Sadie win the buck dancing contest again this year? Will the Lingerfelts still have any pickled green tomatoes for sale? How fast can an unoccupied wheelbarrow go? Learn the answers to these and other important questions on October 17 and 18. Get to town early to find a good spot to park your buggy!

* * *

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Practical Advice of a Wide-Ranging Nature

Never clean your boots with kerosene if your wife is prone to drying them near the fireplace.

Ladies, if you need a safe place to keep your grocery money when you go to town, consider hiding it in your bustle. Wrap your coins well, though, lest you rattle.

When feeding chickens in the winter, add a little sulfur to the meal. This will liven up the birds and help keep their eggs warm. Do not try this on your mother-in-law.

Always compliment the cook, especially if there is no doctor in the vicinity.

Vinegar, pepper and salt mixed together makes a good gargle for a sore throat, and whatever is left over will preserve vegetables.

Travel light - a man should be able to survive with just a pocketknife, a steel flint, and a canteen of water. Or a bagful of treasury bills.

A penny saved is a penny you can spend on candy.

Keep your gunpowder dry, and far away from the pepper grinder.

When gambling, do not bet with bullets, wedding rings, or dairy products. If possible, use mining deeds, treasure maps or Confederate money.

Always have an escape route.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Partial Cure for Baldness

I have been working on a hair restorative to aid the follicularly challenged. I have not found a definitive cure, but can report with certainty that the following treatments do not work:
  1. Cold baths. A cold bath will reduce blood flow to the head and strangle the hair roots.
  2. Hot baths. This opens the pores and causes the hair to fall out.
  3. Vinegar baths. This causes the skin to wrinkle and the hair to be sucked into the scalp. It is, however, good for temporarily avoiding a visit to the barber.
  4. Salt water baths. Turns your hair white.
  5. Vigorous rubbing. This further encourages hair removal.
  6. Beef jerky. If you eat a lot of beef jerky over a two-week period, hair loss will slow. If you continue to eat nothing but beef jerky, however, hair loss will accelerate.
  7. Hard work. Perspiration from hard work acidifies the scalp and promotes greater hair loss than any of the above methods. If you wish to preserve your remaining locks, then whatever you do, keep labor to a minimum!
cudgelSometimes a sudden shock will initiate a spurt of hair growth. Once I was hit on the head by a falling tree branch, and noticed a week later that a fresh patch of hair had sprouted in the area where the branch had struck. Inspired, I cut a thick staff of oak and bade my wife to apply it firmly to another bald spot. She did so, and sure enough a few days later, after the swelling had gone down, there was a fresh shock of bristles covering the bruise.

This is not a pleasant cure though, and I will continue to look for something more practical. However, those of you who have just a small bare spot may want to consider using this method. For one dollar, I can even provide customers with a finely sanded oak cudgel that will not leave splinters in the skin. When you see me, just ask for “the hair club for men.”

* * *

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beaversharks and Rope Serpents

riverI must warn strangers to the Southern Appalachians about some of the native wildlife here. Many of you know to beware of bears and angry groundhogs, but there are other dangers not as well known.

Beaversharks, for instance, inhabit the mountain lakes and the larger rivers. They resemble small sharks, with very sharp teeth and powerful jaws, but possess large, flat tails. They only hunt at night, in packs, lying in wait in quiet pools of water for unsuspecting skinny-dippers. The would-be swimmers hear the loud slap of the beavershark tails and assume that a harmless beaver dam is nearby. They are mistaken, however. Those who jump into water inhabited by a pack of ravenous beaversharks will leave little for their relatives to bury.

Far more insidious is the rope serpent. The rope serpent, as its name implies, resembles a plain piece of rope. It is most often found lying near a body of deep water. When an unsuspecting hiker tries to pick up the “rope”, the rope snake wraps itself around the hiker and pulls him into the water. The hiker drowns and then the serpent, like a python, eats him whole.

The best way to protect yourself from beaversharks is to avoid skinnydipping at night. The next best thing to do is to toss a few cans of pork and beans into the water before you go swimming. If the cans disappear, you know that beaversharks are nearby. If you toss enough pork and beans into the water, the beaversharks will eventually develop gas and float to the surface, where you can pick them off with a rifle.

Do this from a distance, though, and only if the moon is full. I knew a man who tried this method but used a shotgun while hunting by torchlight from his rowboat. He got within ten feet of a large pack of beaversharks and began shooting. The creatures he hit sprang leaks and were propelled upward by the escaping gas. They reached their zenith at about 30 feet up and started falling back -- into the boat. The remaining gas ignited as the fish successively fell past the torches. Folks on shore said it reminded them of Gettysburg. The hunter survived, but will not admit to any error in judgement and blames his missing ear on General Sherman.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Mrs. Doc reminds any children preparing reports for school that Doc gets all his facts from The Barnum Book of Natural History & Electrical Engineering.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two Cold Cures

I once fell sick with a bad cold while visiting an old medicine man who lived alone up in the mountains. He taught me to do the following:

  • First eat a large quantity of fried ramps for breakfast. Ramps are greens similar to leeks, but have a strong garlic odor. They cleanse the blood of impurities.
  • Next mix wild garlic in bear fat, and rub it across your chest. This breaks up congestion. If you wrap yourself in a blanket, you will heat the mixture and increase its effectiveness. However, your family will start to avoid you.
  • Lastly grate a large quantity of wild onions and take a tablespoon every hour. Bad spirits will not stay in a body full of onion juice. Your loved ones will go live with relatives at this point until you make a full recovery.

Onion juice is hard to take straight, so I added a shot of whiskey each time to mask the flavor. After several hours of onion juice and whiskey, I fell into a deep sleep. I awoke two days later and my cold was gone! However, I now needed a cure for a headache. When the old fellow told me it involved chewing tree bark, though, I decided to forgo the inconvenience of pulling splinters from my teeth.

The most valuable thing I learned from this experience was why native prescriptions are not more popular. Even after a hot bath, I had to wait an extra two days before Bleb would let me near him.

I have since adjusted the above cold cure into the following treatment: when sneezing and congestion set in, take one ounce of whiskey with a drop of Wizard Water© once every hour. Do this until you cannot feel any symptoms of illness. This may take several days, but when you are feeling better at least your mule won't disown you. Keep the original cure in mind if you ever ask advice from a medicine man who lives alone.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Mrs. Doc hastens to remind readers that any “cures” Doc describes are to be taken with a grain of salt -- but not literally.

Copyright © 2009 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tips for Gathering Honey

groundhog photo by Jacob DingelOne way to stretch a household budget is to gather your own honey. If you live outside a city, this is usually a matter of patience and common sense. Just keep an eye on what’s blooming in your garden, then follow the bees who visit to their hive. Wear heavy clothes and gloves, put netting over your hat, and near the hive entrance create a fire that is more smoke than flame. The smoke will drive the bees away or stun them, and then you can collect the honey.

Should you ever try to smoke bees out of a dead tree, first make sure there is no animal burrow at the base of the tree. Also – and this is especially important -- make sure that said burrow is not connected in some way to the tree’s hollow trunk. As the trunk fills with smoke, the bees will seek every exit they can find, and if such a connection exists they will swarm through it. This will cause whatever is living there – such as a groundhog -- to leave in a hurry. He will express his anger about it with anything nearby, including a human trying to collect honey.

In such situations, if the groundhog’s jaws happen to lock onto your boot, do not be alarmed. Just let him chew on the hide as you extract your foot. If he decides to chase you, don’t try to climb the tree from which you’ve been collecting honey, as this will only agitate the bees that have not been stunned. In cases like this, it is best simply to leave the honey for another day, and hope you can outrun both the groundhog and the bees while wearing just one shoe. Whatever you do, don't step in the fire with your bare foot.

* * *

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Advice for Fiddle Players

Fiddle music is very popular, and some of us even aspire to play this fine instrument. Some things to remember if you want to play the fiddle:

1. Practice, practice, practice! If a note is off-key and sounds like a finger scraping across a chalkboard, play it over and over and over and over and over until you get it right. Do this in a church if possible, where folks are less likely to kill you.

2. No matter how tight you are for money, do not substitute pig gut for catgut strings. It not only doesn’t sound right, but when the fibers heat up they tend to curl.

3. Never use your bow to play fetch with your dog. The slobber will affect the sound quality, as will attempting to play with any other object he chooses to bring back.

4. You will learn to play faster if you butter your strings.

5. A good way to get a job is to get to know all the fiddlers in your locality, then hide their instruments.

6. Once you start getting jobs, always dedicate one song to the wife of your host. Be sure it isn’t about murder or unrequited love.

7. Another way to earn money is to find a sponsor and play his theme music wherever you go. You will either be paid by the sponsor for advertising his product, or by your listeners for agreeing to play elsewhere.

8. A fine, sustained note impresses a crowd, and when done right can also kill flies.

9. Do not wink at anyone while playing. It will either earn you a black eye or extra helpings of Aunt Verna’s prune cake.

10. And last but not least: Always ask to be paid in paper bills. One is not weighed down with bags of coins and can run more quickly if need be.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Gravity is comprised of two states: lightness and heaviness. Most of the time heaviness outweighs lightness, but sometimes a great enough volume of sparse matter can overcome a concentration of weight. You have seen this when balloons carry baskets into the air. The principle applies equally to humans and animals in other situations.

For example, Bleb and I were once ambushed by a pack of wolves, and we tried to escape by outrunning them. We came to a cliff and Bleb kept going, albeit in a somewhat downward direction. “Whoa!” I cried without thinking, and so Bleb halted -- just a few inches from the ground. From there we were able to safely step off and continue on our way.

We could not do that today, as both Bleb and I are weighted down with a heavy knowledge of the laws of physics. At the time, though, we were mighty ignorant. Ignorance is bliss, and bliss lightens your load considerably. The wolves, as you may guess, were smarter and therefore had to take the long, slow way down, by which time we were far afield.

This is not to say that I’m against education. You can earn much more money with a good vocabulary – otherwise I would not be able to sell Wizard Water©. I’m just saying that ignorance also has its uses.

As for gravity, good humor also helps to lift any weight – that’s why humor is also called levity.

* * *

[Note: Others have claimed to escape danger in the same way as described above, but none to my knowledge have explained as I have just how it works.]

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Hazards of Crop Transportation

Whiskey still-West Point,Durham,NCI have just returned from a trip to the small settlement of Swallow Creek in north Georgia, where I observed an interesting method of shipping produce. The roads to this place are so steep and narrow that the farmers can’t export their crops by wagon. They therefore don’t grow vegetables in any commercial quantity, with one exception: corn. Farmers up there have learned to convert most of their corn to liquid. Since unhusked corn can go bad quickly, they take the added precaution of fermenting it for preservation purposes. They then make use of the natural forces of gravity by pouring it off a rocky granite outcrop from which it falls to a large vat in the valley far below their settlement. The owner of the vat pays the farmers for their crops by weight.

For this reason, people in the area measure the land in gallons, not acres.

I discovered all this accidentally when attempting to refill my water supply from what I thought was a pure mountain waterfall. It was dusk, and in order to see better I carried a lantern. Well, I stumbled and dropped the lantern. Imagine my surprise when the waterfall caught fire. Not only that, but the flame appeared to travel both up to the source of the stream above, and also down the mountainside. I looked over the ledge I was on as far as I dared and watched the flame as it ran downward until it reached the valley, where it ignited a large pond. The pond stayed lit for some time.

When I reached Swallow Creek the next morning, the farmers were in a sad state. It seems their entire season’s yield had been consumed by fire the night before. Upon learning the details, I decided that further enlightenment from me would not help matters. I mentioned, however, that the ancient Romans faced a similar problem and solved it by transporting their water via aquaducts. The farmers got rather excited about this. The last I heard they were planning to construct something which they were calling an aquae-vitae-duct.

By way of making amends, I also left a bottle of Wizard Water© to help speed production of their next crop. With luck, they might fit another season in the next week or so. I just hope they get the produce bottled before storm season sets in. The lightning strikes around here don’t need any augmentation.

* * *

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Perpetual Motion Machine

I am working on a perpetual motion machine. Some people think such a thing is not possible, but I have heard women discuss men’s faults and know this is not so. If we can only harness the power of dissatisfaction we might be able to replace horses and mules with personal vehicles whose only maintenance requirements are hot air and a list of chores that need to be done.

I have invented a device that almost works. It uses a combination of naturally generated friction and hot air that can be found in any state capitol. In fact, it once ran for 18 months on little else, but then the legislature stopped arguing and passed the bill. I am currently pursuing a way to attach the device to lawsuits.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

howling dogThe hottest days of the year are upon us, and as many of you know, the danger of heat prostration vastly increases during this time.

What many people are not aware of is the increased danger of spontaneous internal combustion.

As the sun draws closer to the earth, it warms the blood to dangerous levels. This warmth increases bacterial fermentation within the body. It is a well known fact that the process of fermentation generates gas. During long spells of hot weather the gas buildup can be considerable within the bloodstream, and the least exertion can cause a resounding discharge.

The newspapers do not like to report such matters, as they either discredit them, or fear alarming the public regarding something for which they believe there is no cure. The danger is real, however, as is the treatment.

I knew a circus performer who stood six feet six, weighed over 200 pounds. He prided himself on his strength and endurance, and so he would continue to work in hot weather when all others fell back to await cooler conditions. On one such occasion he was wrestling a pair of elephants when he suddenly burst into flames. He might have survived had not the elephants, in panic, stamped him out.

Don’t let this happen to you! Drink plenty of cool liquids to keep your blood temperature down, stay away from magnets (they excite the iron in the blood, which can initiate deadly sparks), and always apply a dose of Wizard Water© daily per the directions on the bottle.

Wizard Water© is guaranteed to prevent spontaneous internal combustion or your money back. If you use it as directed and find yourself in a state of conflagration, return the bottle in person and I will happily refund your money – and in coins, not paper.

* * *

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Corn cob
My father’s father was a farmer and a frugal man. One year it got so hot that his corn started popping off the stalks right out in the field. They popped with such force that the kernels blasted holes into the sugar cane crop in the next field. His sugar cane then started to leak sap at a steady pace. He was in a quandary. Crows were feasting on the corn, but in the time it would take him to gather up the corn, his cane field would become a mass of syrup. Which crop should he save? He couldn't afford to lose either one.

He solved his problem by sweeping all the popped corn into the cane field and then rolling the corn in the syrup. It gradually formed a sphere the size of a barn. Folks came from miles around to gawk at the giant popcorn ball, and he began to charge a fee for samples. He finally sold the thing to a circus sideshow for twice what the separate crops would normally bring.

From this he taught us two valuable lessons:

• Never overlook the possibilities for any product, and
• Never walk through a corn field on a very hot day without some kind of head protection.

(Some of my family call my grandfather “granddad”, but to me he’ll always be “grandpop.”)

* * *

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chased by Indians

I was chased by Indians once, and found another use for Wizard Water©. I discovered that I could use it to dilute my shadow to such a degree that it turned into a thick fog. The fog slowed my pursuers down for a while and I almost escaped. They were persistent though, so I tried to fool them by running backwards. That didn’t do the trick, and in desperation I finally started picking up my tracks as I went. The tracks got heavy though -- as you might imagine -- so I dumped them in the first creek I came across. My footprints washed up all along the shore for several miles downstream. This threw them off the trail and I got away.

* * *

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thoughts on Economics

One way to save tax money – fire Congress. There’s three-quarters of the government budget right there. We have enough laws as it is.

For instance, there is a national law that prohibits the printing of money by any agency other than the federal treasury. Now what kind of law is that? If every man could print his own money, there would be no poor people. Everyone would be a millionaire.

Another ridiculous law – individuals cannot make their own treaties with other nations! If you should want to export Wizard Water© to Moose Jaw, Canada, for example, and drew up a document exempting your elixir from United States export tariffs on medicine, the federal border patrol agent who inspected your elixir would not recognize your treaty. He would charge you the full export tax, AND fine you for impersonating a government treaty-making agency! This is a serious impediment to international trade.

Another law we can do without -- the federal tax on alcohol. Proponents of the temperance movement believe this discourages drinking. In fact, some members of Congress have the dangerous idea that all forms of liquor should be outlawed. This will never pass, however, because without beer and whiskey, how can you influence votes? The people of Moose Jaw, I might add, entertain no such impractical notions.

* * *
If we can’t do away with Congress entirely, it should only meet every ten years, just to make sure we don’t need any more laws like the ones I’ve mentioned. Or they should only meet during the hottest months. This would encourage our representatives to deal with the most important issues, like reelection, and then quickly adjourn.

* * *
If I was in Congress, I would only concern myself with one issue: the gold standard versus the silver standard. There are good arguments on both sides, but our lawmakers cannot reach agreement.

To break the deadlock, I propose that neither gold nor silver be used. Instead, the national treasury should back our currency with Wizard Water©. Like gold and silver, it has practical applications apart from that of currency. What’s more – and what can’t be said of those so-called precious metals – Wizard Water© improves the health and well-being of its owners without delay. You must take gold or silver to a doctor to pay for his examination, then take more gold or silver to the pharmacist who fills out the doctor’s prescription. With Wizard Water© you need neither doctor nor medicine, for you have both at hand in one bottle. This saves tremendously on travel and medical costs.

I am willing to help the nation establish a more sensible and economical monetary standard by providing the government with enough Wizard Water© to replace the metals currently stored in the federal treasury. As a patriotic gesture, I will even replace them with Wizard Water© myself. I will only do so, however, if there is no export duty on transporting gold to Moose Jaw.

* * *

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Words of Advice for the Fourth of July

anvilIt is a well known fact that here in the North Georgia mountains we celebrate our country’s founding with the blasting of a blacksmith’s anvil into the air – the higher the better. I have witnessed many an anvil shoot and so give the following advice:

It is not wise to drink beer or any other alcoholic beverage when loading gunpowder into the base of the anvil. Drinking more than one pint of beer, certainly if followed by more than a glass of whiskey, weakens one’s judgement and makes it easy to miscalculate the amount of powder required to elevate this heavy implement. Celebrating our much-valued freedom with a toast or two is appropriate, but do not join your friends in individually toasting every signer of the Declaration of Independence. Such patriotism can cause you to think that filling just the hollow base of the anvil with black powder and lighting a fuse could not possibly provide enough power to lift a 100-pound cast iron weight. You may be tempted to make certain that an impressive height is reached -- and proper tribute is paid to our Founding Fathers -- by instead setting the anvil on a 100-pound keg of powder partially buried in the ground. Do not give in to this temptation. If you do, do not plan to return the anvil.

* * *

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mountain Music & Medicine Show at Athfest

Sunday: I'm hitching up Bleb to the wagon and heading for Athens, Georgia to host a special production of the Mountain Music and Medicine Show tonight. The "pre-show" starts at 7:30 p.m., and features 92-year-old fiddler Earl Murphy (who I believe is a medicine show veteran himself), and the duo known as Hawk-Proof Rooster, who count Mr. Murphy among their musical influences. Between them and The Solstice Sisters, the Packway Handle Band and other special guests, you can bet there will be some mighty fine music filling the Morton Theater tonight! Since the show runs until after 10 p.m., I'll likely be home too late to post anything here. Check back Monday or Tuesday for an update (better yet, come to the show if you can)!

Packway Handle BandTuesday night after the show: The show went well and everyone had a good time, despite the heat. It was at least 80 degrees Farenheit inside the theater, but cooler than outside the theater! The sheriff kindly let us get a running head start as we left town, once we promised to go by way of the river road. This would help us to avoid running into all the traffic on the main highway, he said, as well as the town council that pays his salary.

Maggie HunterBuzzard Mountain BoysMany thanks to all the folks who helped out and worked so hard! My wife took some photographs, and this time managed not to ignite the stage curtains with flash powder. I look forward to the next Mountain Music and Medicine Show in September. In the meantime I plan to catch my breath, feed Bleb and dry out the wagon.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Doc Visits Athens (Georgia)

The evening of June 28 I will be hosting a special production of the Mountain Music & Medicine Show. Normally the show is held in the Georgia mountain town of Dahlonega, but next Sunday night it will be held about 60 miles to the south in the historic Morton Theatre in Athens, Georgia, as part of a music and arts festival known as Athfest. [Note: The Morton Theatre is not be be mistaken for its famous and unfortunate uptown neighbor, the Georgia Theatre.]

Musical guests will be the Packway Handle Band, the Solstice Sisters, Beverly Smith and Carl Jones, Hawk-Proof Rooster and old-time fiddler Earl Murphy. Get there for the 7:30 p.m. pre-show to catch 92-year-old Mr. Murphy, who can still wear out younger fiddlers! (Be prepared for spontaneous buck-dancing to erupt in the aisles!) Of course, Mr. Nix and a few Dahlonega folks will also tell a few tales and share a few laughs.

Tickets are $10, or $5 with the purchase of an AthFest wristband. Advance tickets should be available through the Morton Theatre box office (Weekdays 10am-1pm and 3pm-6pm, phone (706) 613-3771).

* * *

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wizard Water© Helps Church Sing-along

Speaking of music, Wizard Water© can also aid performances.

pump organA minister told me his biggest problem was keeping his congregation awake during the service. “My sermons are quite lively,” he said, “but the music director insists on choosing slow, solemn songs. She claims our old pump organ is too stiff to handle anything energetic, and so plays everything at a snail’s pace. As a result people drop off to sleep – even during ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’!”

“Put a a few drops of Wizard Water© in the instrument,” I suggested, “and stand back.”

He returned a week later to report success.

“I must apologize for doubting you,” he said. “You were right. I sprinkled quite a bit of Wizard Water© between the keys and in the pedal mechanism and other interior parts, and when the organist began to play, her speed more than doubled. We had the liveliest renditions of ‘Bringing in the Sheaves’ and ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ that I think I’ve ever heard. In fact, hymns that normally take about ten minutes each instead took about two minutes total. Everyone was quite out of breath by the end of the songs.”

“If only the service hadn’t been a funeral,” he continued. “Several attendees were unable keep pace through all ten stanzas of each hymn and collapsed. The organ also caught fire, and the music director developed blisters that now impede her playing. Somewhat understandably, I have been asked to look for another flock.”

So those of you who wish to pick up the pace of your musical endeavors, consider applying a few drops – a very few -- of Wizard Water© to the instrument of your choice. Choose your moment carefully, though.

* * *

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A New Musical Instrument

I’ve invented a new musical instrument, a combination of bagpipes and banjo. The “Baganjo” is a wind-string instrument that should fit in well with both military processions and front porch picking sessions. It will appeal to the frugal who are musically inclined, because it combines two instruments for the price of one.

It will also appeal to merchants seeking to identify folks who are willing to buy just about anything.

It takes certain skills to play, however. You need good coordination to pluck the strings that operate the chanter pipe-holes. Also, musicians of these instruments must sometimes resort to threats of nonstop performance in order to assure payment. Therefore, you will need strong lungs to keep the bag inflated while you stay ahead of an angry mob.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Well-Constructed Well

Early in life, I tried to dig wells for a living, but nature conspired against my success. A farmer hired me to dig a well on a hill, where he thought gravity would allow him to run the water easily down to crops and cattle and to his cabin.

I figured the easiest way to construct the well would be to pile a lot of potholes on top of each other. As it turned out, potholes are quite slippery. During my first attempts at stacking them the well tipped over several times. I finally anchored them with a good straight posthole through the middle, and wrapped them together with a ditch. The whole thing (or should I say "hole thing") filled with water, and for a short time the farmer was happy and I was very proud of that well.

Unfortunately, a tornado came through and blew the hill away. It left the well about 100 feet in the air.

Of course, all the water fell out and the farmer demanded his money back. I pointed out that he picked the location and I was not responsible for acts of God.

Not long after that, I decided to look for another line of work. The well is still up there, but so is that angry farmer, so I don't point it out when I'm in that part of the country.

copyright ©2009, 2011 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mule Camp Revisited

Two cowboys watching Doc
CowboysI made a stop at Mule Camp this week, since enough time had passed since my last visit to warrant a renewed need by its residents for Wizard Water©.

Pouring Wizard WaterMy clientele in this part of the country are mostly composed of hard-working cowboys ready for some form of entertainment. This describes my medicine show perfectly. They were amazed by the silver linking rings, amused by the jumping silks and awed by the properties of super-saturated Wizard Water©.

Curly surprised by air-snake These boys don’t get to town much, though, and I should have taken that into account when presenting one particular illusion. When I produced a colorful paper streamer from my mouth, some of the less sophisticated members of the crowd mistook it for a deadly, writhing air-snake.

Many ran, paying no particular heed to the store windows that obstructed their retreat. Those who did not run began shooting at the streamer. I had to end to the show abruptly and make a hasty exit towards the hills. Since the streamer was attached to me, however, many earnest cowboys followed, guns blazing, in an effort to detach the beast from my person.

Jim DunhamI later learned from Jim Dunham that this was less due to concern over my welfare than a desire to be the first cowboy to possess an air-snakeskin belt.

Luckily, I was able to safely divest myself of the streamer, and when the ruckus died down I returned to the wagon. Since I hadn’t reached the sale portion of the show and was badly in need of funds, I prepared to perform again. Several shopkeepers whose windows and merchandise had suffered from the fracas however, kindly took up a collection in my name. They presented me with a handsome sum and urged me to take the show to Tascosa, where they said they know of certain other merchants in desperate need of a medicine show.

I should reach that town sometime tomorrow.

* * *

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mule Camp

Cowboys at Mule CampDoc will be at Mule Camp May 21 - 24 near Covington, GA, demonstrating the virtues of Wizard Water© to one and all. Mule Camp is sponsored by the Single-Action Shooting Society, an international organization of members who share an interest in the 19th century American West. You don't have to be a member to attend, however! Come by and enjoy demonstrations of expert marksmanship, fancy gun spinning, cowboy and cowgirl attire, and Western music!Doc Johnson and Devon Dawson

Pictured here: some cowboys being entertained by Doc, and Doc introducing cowgirl Devon Dawson to his wondrous Wizard Water©.

Gun Fights

Lately I have been thinking about self-defense. I do not like using firearms, as my sense of self-preservation tends to interfere with my aim. Many fellows, when called out in a dispute, will rashly face their opponent. I think it is wiser, if running is not an option, to shield oneself first and then use a pistol to convince your opponent that you are not worth the trouble. The direct method has the advantage of ending disputes quickly. My “safety first” method results in less personal injury, but tends to take longer because it is harder to aim convincingly while ducking behind a horse trough.

Accordingly, I have developed a gun which can shoot around corners.

It requires only:

1. a mirror tied to a metal rod for looking over or around obstacles,
2. steel bullets, and
3. the ability to attach a very large magnet to your opponent without being noticed.

I am still working on how to overcome the latter challenge.

* * *

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Proper Accounting Skills

The efficient management of any mercantile business depends upon good bookkeeping. It is, however, a tedious, mechanical act which anyone with the proper training can do. Since my wife usually remains at home while I am on the road, I determined to train my assistant Bleb, who accompanies me on business trips, in the basics of math and record-keeping. This would enable me to make the most of my valuable time in other lucrative pursuits.

At first I tried to teach Bleb using stones as counters, but he would not respond. After switching to corn, however, a light seemed to dawn and he quickly learned his tables. He seemed to like addition and multiplication the best, with somewhat less enthusiasm for subtraction and absolutely no tolerance for simple long division. This suited me fine as I’m not so fond of even splits myself.

Bleb’s final hurdle was learning to tell coins apart. He had no problem determining the difference between copper pennies and five dollar gold pieces -- both are small coins but of different colors. Denominations between those gave him pause, however (two-cent and three-cent pennies sometimes confused him, as did dimes and silver half-dimes). He developed a two-part method to overcome any problem: first he would eye the coin, and if he knew the denomination he would push it off the table into a sack and record the amount with a hoof mark in the dirt. If he was uncertain, he would lick the questionable coin and thereby ascertain its true value. He was quite accurate, though my wife complained of having to wash our income before she could pay for groceries.

Things were working out well until the day I decided to put all our profits in a new hiding place. Bandits had been holding up coaches and lone riders alike on a long stretch of road we had to traverse to get home, and I was afraid that the usual spot was too obvious. I was right in that respect. When several masked men stopped me outside of Dahlonega, the first thing they did was search the wagon bed for a hidden compartment – which they found right away. It was empty, however.

I protested that I had lost all my money in a game of chance the night before, but the bandits refused to believe I had nothing (one of them insisted he had lost all his money to me at that same game). They tore the wagon apart, then ripped up my coat and pants, looking for hidden linings. They found nothing. Finally, after much cursing and smashing of Wizard Water© bottles, they left in disgust. I heaved a sigh of relief, and removed Bleb’s feedsack, which he had been quietly munching on through all the ruckus. At the bottom of the sack I had buried about a pound of five-dollar gold coins. Unfortunately, it was empty, too. Bleb had eaten all his feed, and being rather hungry that day, the gold as well.

From this I discovered that it is possible to develop a taste for accounting, but there’s still no accounting for taste.

Luckily, I was able to get Bleb home to the barn before that costly meal worked its way through his system. My wife will never forgive me, though, for the cleaning job she had to do on our income that week.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nutritional Advice

Lots of folks who are vegetarians don’t realize that it is okay to eat meat. Meat is just processed vegetables. Cows have a diet of grass, grain, or corn, and then process them for you, which saves your body the strain of digesting a raw product.

Likewise, when you drink beer, you are getting concentrated grain. Beer for breakfast is perfectly acceptable and a quick way to get your daily dose of grain if you are in a hurry. Whiskey is even better for you because it takes the essence of corn and distills it down to its basics in a super-concentrated form. Alcohol does kill brain cells like you’ve been told, but it only kills the weaker ones, leaving the stronger cells to flourish. So a bottle of whiskey not only nourishes and strengthens you, it makes you smarter as well.

Donuts, cake and cookies are also all made from grain, and they contain sugar, which is known to give you energy. Some physicians advise against other stimulants such as chocolate and coffee, but bear in mind that chocolate and coffee are both made from beans. Beans, as anyone knows, are the chief component of our army’s diet, and if beans can keep a soldier strong, they can keep you strong, too.

So my advice is that you have a breakfast consisting of the following: coffee, bacon, whiskey, sausages, beer, donuts and chocolate chip cookies. You will probably live longer, or at least in a considerably happier state.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Cure for Snoring

People often ask me, “Doc, is there a cure for snoring?”

“No,” I tell them, “but if you sleep in another room, you might not hear yourself.”

When that doesn’t work, I advise the use of Wizard Water©.

Keep two bottles of Wizard Water© by the bed, preferably near the side of whoever is awakened by the snoring. When the snoring commences, remove the corks from the bottles and stick one in each ear. I guarantee a full and restful sleep.

* * *

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Fine Art of Misdirection

hand pointing leftA customer once told me that to deliberately mislead people is a sin. I say misdirection is a skill that can save your life. Some years ago I was on the road home after having sold my entire stock of Wizard Water© when I was suddenly struck with a high fever. It was so severe that Death showed up at my wagon, telling me it was time to go.

Now I had had a few brushes with Death before. I knew he had to have authorization before he could collect a soul. So I asked to see the authorization. After perusing it, I handed it back to him.

“You’ve got the wrong fellow, sir,” I said, “This is for a woman!” Well he looked at the paper and scratched his head. “I could’ve sworn it had your name!” he said, puzzled. “Do you know where this Miss Lydia Pinkham lives?”

“Massachusetts,” I replied. “Best hurry.” So he rode away.

Some of you folks might think it unseemly to direct the Grim Reaper to an innocent woman, but Miss Pinkham was in the patent medicine business, too. In fact, she was once in a similar situation and told me how she got out of it.

"I simply asked to see the authorization,” she declared. “And luckily, I had one of your Doc Johnson advertising sheets on hand. It matched the size of the paperwork exactly. When you deal in mass quantities, you don’t care for details. All this fellow wanted was a name in print.”

Her resourcefulness led to several close calls for me. Luckily I’m pretty resourceful too (and good with a deck of cards). Since hearing her story I also make sure I always have the advertising fliers of my fellow patent medicine sales folks on hand, just in case. I’m not too worried about what will happen when Death catches up with them due to a little misdirection on my part. They’ll think of something. Their instinct for survival likely explains why Death comes back knocking at my door so often. Either that or he just likes a good game of poker.
* * *

Sunday, April 12, 2009

New Product Meets With Publicity Setback

* * *

Let it be known to the good citizens of Blairsville that the chicken mull explosion at the First Baptist Church last Saturday was not directly my fault.

It is true that I sold many packets of my new, concentrated Powdered Wizard Water© in town earlier that day, but I warned one and all of its potency. I certainly should not be held accountable for the actions of whoever poured six bags of it into a kettle of chicken mull at the Smith-Thompson wedding reception.

(Do not worry – Judge Thompson is leading volunteers from the Men’s Prayer Group in removing stewed tomatoes and crackers from the rafters. The burn marks are also mostly erased from the walls, and they expect to have the hall ready in time for Wednesday night choir practice.) I am sorry that this Sunday’s service had to be held outside the church, and the weather did not cooperate.

Although I have been called away on urgent business in another part of the state, be assured that I will return to Blairsville at my earliest convenience, whenever that may be.

* * *

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Powdered Wizard Water©

Wizard Water© is a wonderful product, but it does have one drawback –- it is heavy to transport. One glass bottle full of Wizard Water© is no burden, but several cases are too heavy for a man to lift, and a wagonload, well…Bleb now refuses to move up hill when the wagon is full. There are many towns in the mountains where people have never even heard of Wizard Water©, just because I have been unable to reach them! This is wrong. It is unfair to deprive anyone of the Wonder of the Ages.

Accordingly, I have devised a much more lightweight version of my product: Powdered Wizard Water©. It is the same as regular Wizard Water©, but in a concentrated form, and comes in a genuine brown paper sack instead of a glass bottle. All you have to do is add water and voila, you have the product that has cured grown men of unbearable thirst, aided digestion, encouraged crop growth, cleaned hair, reinvigorated insipidity, and on the whole helped tens of thousands of people live healthier, happier lives. I plan on taking a batch with me to Blairsville this week.

* * *

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Medicine Show Music

A lady came up to me the other day and asked why I never included any tuba music in my show. I want to, but my banjo player doesn’t know how to play one. He keeps asking “What’s a tuba for?” and when I tell him “Oh, about one-and-a-half inches by three-and-a-half inches,” he walks away.

I’ve considered using the bagpipe to attract a crowd. Nothing sounds quite like a bagpipe, except maybe a cat caught in a wheat thresher.

I think I’ve found the perfect instrument to accompany a medicine show, though: a cannon. It doesn’t sound like any other musical instrument. It can be played at large events, and is heard quite clearly over a crowd. It tends to discourage hecklers. Also, the fines are no worse than for an unlicensed accordian.

* * *

[*Doc thanks whoever thought of the tuba and bagpipe jokes, and Mrs. Doc for the cannon fodder.]

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hard-Won Wisdom

When I was younger, before I’d discovered Wizard Water©, I thought I’d seek my fortune by hunting gold. Panning in rivers was too cold and wet, though, and mining was too full of rocks. I settled on looking for buried treasure.

Rumor had it an old miner who’d died up in the hills had buried all his gold in a box somewhere near his cabin. Well I made my way up there, and noticed a big oak tree in a field within full view of his cabin, so that’s where I dug. Before long, my spade hit something hard. Just then I heard a loud snort, and felt hot breath on the back of my neck. I turned around to see a bull as big as a locomotive looking down at me.

I threw a spade-full of soil in his face, then lit up the tree. I reached safety, but that spade-full did nothing to improve the bull’s mood. He stood guard by that oak tree for the next three days and nights. I survived on bird’s eggs, acorns and rainwater. The bull pawed the ground around the tree so much that he exposed most of the buried box. Finally, a traveling preacher happened by. I promised him a hefty donation to his church if he’d help out. He ran to town, but the help he brought back also required payment. When I got back to town with the box, the sheriff reminded me of some fees I owed. So did the county judge. There was barely enough gold left to replace the pants I ripped when climbing up the tree.

So I learned a hard lesson: There is no quick way to riches – you always have to deal with some bull.

* * *

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Bandit

banditI was robbed once out West by an outlaw known as the Curry Creek Kid. He was a deadly shot who’d held up many a stagecoach and was feared across three territories. I didn’t have much cash at the time, just about 25 cents, but I gave it to him. “You can have it all,” I said, handing over the coins, “Just don’t take any Wizard Water©.”

“What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s the most potent thing in the world,” I said, “but it can be quite dangerous unless you know what you’re doing with it.”

“Like Nitroglycerin?” he asked. “I could use something like that. There’s a bank I’ve been thinking about visiting.”

So he took the wagon and all the Wizard Water©, too.

When he got to the next town, the sheriff spotted my wagon. Now that sheriff had bought some Wizard Water© a day or so earlier and wanted to discuss some legal aspects of the product with me, so he headed toward the wagon with a couple deputies.

Then he recognized the Curry Creek Kid driving the wagon.

“Put your hands up in the air!” cried the sheriff. “I don’t want a gunfight with you!”

“You won’t get one!” shouted the Kid, “I’ve got something better!”

-- And the Kid threw a bottle of Wizard Water© at the sheriff. The bottle missed and broke in the middle of the road. The sheriff quickly rode in and arrested the Kid, who looked mighty surprised.

A day later I walked in to town and claimed the reward money.

“What reward money?” said the sheriff. “I caught the Kid.”

“Arrest him, too, sheriff!” cried the Kid from behind bars in the next room, “For lying about that there Wizard Water©! He told me it was dangerous, but it didn’t explode or nothing when I threw it! Put him in here with me! I’ll save you a court case! Someone will have to pay for a coffin, though!”

“The Kid could have drawn his gun,” I pointed out to the sheriff. “Instead he tried using a bottle of Wizard Water© because of what I told him when he held me up. If he’d started shooting, you might have had a different ending.”

“-- And I never lie about my product,” I called to the Kid. “I said it can be dangerous unless you know what you’re doing with it. That was quite true in your case.”

“By the way, sheriff,” I added. “I’m sorry about the tree sprouting up in the middle of the road like that. Don’t try cutting it down until a few rains have diluted what’s in the soil. Otherwise it’ll just keep sprouting back up.”

The sheriff paid out the reward money, on condition that I leave town without making any more sales.

copyright ©2009 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.