Sunday, December 23, 2012

Delivering the Goods, Again

My friend Kris Kringle is very busy this time of year. I offered to help.

“Some of those homesteads up in the mountains can be hard to find,” I told him, “but I know where most everyone lives within thirty miles of here. I might be of assistance.”

Kris allowed as how he could stand to shave some time off his schedule. He asked me if I’d be willing to take a sack to the Hardin boys up in Woody Gap.

“I always get lost looking for them,” he said, “probably because I don’t go out there very often. They’ve been just good enough this year, though, to tip the scales in their favor. Now I’ve got to bring them something.”

I said I’d make the delivery for a new pair of gloves and travel expenses.

“I can get to the Hardins, but my mule Bleb likes alfalfa, and it’s a little pricey right now.”

Kringle agreed, and handed me a sack.  Payment would come after the delivery was made, he said. I set out promptly, and had no trouble until I met up with Hiram Hardin.

“What’re you doin’ out this way?” he asked me.

“I’m helping my friend Kris Kringle,” I said. “He wanted me to deliver this to you and your brothers.”  I handed him the sack.

“Kringle, you say?” said Hiram. “I’ve heard of him, but ain’t never seen ‘im. He ain’t stopped by our place in a coon’s age. Is this what all he owes us? Hoyt and Lucius was hoping for some ham.”

“I don’t know what’s in there,” I said.

He peered inside.

“Well look,” he said angrily, “--  three measly little candy sticks and two pair of mittens!” He waved some wool socks. The Hardin boys weren’t known for following fashion. “You maybe taking a cut in this here delivery? Where’s the rest?”

“That’s a good haul!” I cried. “And those aren’t mittens, they’re filters,” I told him, “to improve your liquid corn product.”

“They sure are shaped funny,” Hiram said.

“You attach each one to the end of the coil,” I said, “and let them filter the product as it drips out. It makes for a smoother drink.”

“Really? Well,” said Hiram. “But that’s it? No coffee or chewing tobacco? No ham meat? We gonna have to threaten Widow Eula again to give up a couple pigs to get us through Winter?”

“Of course not,” I said hastily. “Kringle also wanted you to have this.”  I handed him a bottle of Wizard Water©.

Hiram laughed. “We make our own, thank you.”

“Not like this, you don’t,” I replied. “One drop of this diluted in a bucket of water will peel the shoes off your horse. Two drops will double your corn output in less than two days.”

“Pshaw,” he said.

“Truly,” I said, “but you must not use more than two drops per gallon of mash. Trust me, it will more than double your product. Now if you will excuse me, I have an appointment in town.” I left before he could do the math.

On the evening of the 25th, Kringle stopped by a saloon where I was conducting business.

“I’ve been expecting you!” I cried. “I made your delivery and then some! This calls for a bonus!”

“ ‘And then some’ is right, Doc,” said Kringle gruffly. “What do you know about these?” He threw two mangled socks on the poker table.

“That depends,” I replied. “Where were they found?

“Buried about three inches deep inside Widow Eula’s bedroom wall. They lodged there after shooting through two doors. The doors were closed, by the way. They are the same socks I gave you to deliver to the Hardin boys.”

“Are you sure? I asked.

“I’m sure,” he said. “I know my product. Or I thought I did. My socks do not travel nearly as fast.”

“I made the delivery. Hiram can confirm it.”

“Hiram was last seen somewhere over Gainesville.”

“Well I know nothing about the extracurricular proclivities of your merchandise,” I said. “They were not in my care at the time. Take that up with your craftsmen.”

“I will,” said the old man. “Your mule’s alfalfa has already been delivered, but I’m afraid that will mean no time to make your gloves.”

I figured as much the moment he threw the socks down. Next time I’m asking for payment in advance.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

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