I hear a lot of folks were disappointed that the end of world hasn’t happened yet. ‘Minds me of the story they told on old Cooter Hatcher. This young preacher came prospecting around looking for – well, to tell the truth he was looking for folks that would drop pictures of Lincoln or Jackson in the collection plate every Sunday. But he said he was looking for souls to save.
This feller, I don’t remember his name, was called on to preach on the courthouse lawn one first Saturday. He called on himself, of course, like most of the self appointed preachers I have known. And every one of the bunch could could blow up a blimp by themselves between breakfast and dinner.
This jackleg starts his trade day sermon with “I’m just a poor country preacher” and Mrs. Jackson Willets hollers out “I know you are. I’ve heard you preach.” Which cracked up the crowd. They had heard him preach too!
But anyhoo, this shirt tail preacher pulls up in the Hatcher yard, hops out, and without as much as “Howdy” comes right out and asks Cooter if he’s lost.
“Why, no,” sez Cooter. “I been living right here more’n forty year.”
“I mean, have you found Jesus?” sez the Bible thumper.
“I didn’t know He was lost,” sez Cooter. “My Bible sez He’s up in Heaven until He comes agai
“No, what I mean is, are you a member of the Christian Band?”
“I don’t play no pianner nor nothin’,” Cooter orates, “You must be lookin’ for that fiddle playin’ Charlie Christian that lives third house the other side of the forks.”
“No, my question is are you ready for the Judgement Day?”
“When is it?” asks Cooter.
“No man knows. It might be next week or it might be next year.”
“Well, when you find out let me know. The old woman might want to go both days.”
Yessir, no man knows the day or the hour. But if there’s a nickel to be made some sharper will claim to know. And there will be fourteen hundred more standing with their hands out following him.
But that Cooter Hatcher was a cutter, a hard worker, but he was bad to drink and generally a mess – and all sixteen of his boys were just like him. I remember when his youngest, Coy, came walking down the main drag all dressed up like the guest of honor at a ten thousand dollar funeral. Except Coy’s pants didn’t have the hind end cut out of them like those funeral home suits do.
But anyhoo, Cleveland the grocer asks Coy where he’s going.
“Oh, I’m going over to Joplin,” drawls slow talking Coy. “I’m gunna visit me one of those sporting houses where they got all them good lookin’ women, you know.”
“Well, hayell,” sez Cleveland, “Why are you all duded up just to visit a sportin’ house?”
“If’n it’s as much fun as they say it is,” drawls Coy, “I figured I might just as well stay over Sunday.”
But speaking of funeral home pants reminds me of the time ‘Ol Cooter got potted and came wabblin’ out of the alley, there was only one alley in town, wabblin’ like a model T Ford with a flat tire, and almost run over Father Fitzgerald.
Cooter takes one bleary look at the padre and busts out with “My God, man, you must be drunk! You done put your shirt on ass backards.”
“No, you don’t understand,” sez the padre in his rich Irish brogue. “I’m Father Fitzgerald.”
“Well, heyell, I got sixteen boys myself and I don’t wear my collar ass backard.”
“No, you still don’t understand me,” sez the Padre. “I’m the father of thousands.”
“Heyell, man, you don’t need to wear your collar backards,” slurs Cooter. “You need to wear your pants backards!”
Which, speakin’ of Father Fitzgerald, somebody asked the Padre what the difference was between Lutherans and Catholics. “Me bhoy,” sez the Padre, “Lutherans sin just like Catholics. They just never learned to enjoy it.”
Now – speakin’ of Cooter Hatcher and his boys, Cooters wife bought two identical big letter Bibles, not the regular King James version but some sort of revisionist Bible, from a travellng salesman one time. She kept one and gave the other to Brother Henry, the preacher at the Hatcherville Baptist.
Brother Henry was almost blind, so the gift was much appreciated. But two of Cooters younger boys got to going through their mama’s Bible and noticed something real interestin’ about the way Noah’s flood described. And when the word got around that Brother Henry was going to preach on the Flood – the boys slipped into the church and cut one of the pages of the gift Bible out.
So come Sunday, Brother Henry started reading out of the Book and sez “Noah took unto himself a wife and she was,” and he shifts the Bible where he could start at the top of the next page, “Three hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide and fifty cubits high.”
All at once he breaks off and very obviously goes back to the bottom of the previous page. You could see his lips move as he read the passage over again.
Then he starts to take up his sermon again, starting out “I been reading this Bible over 80 year, man and boy, and they’s parts of it that’s mighty hard to believe.”
But I got Leroy Van Dyke singing that “Auctioneer” song on the radio. Now that brings back memories – of fifteen cent quarts of milk, dime loaves of bread, fifty cent a pound sirloin with a big hunk of suet thrown in to cook it in, and a whole bunch of good times. I had a lot of fun in those days even if I almost starved to death. Broke – more’n somewhat – most of the time.
This world has improved a bunch since those days. But one thing is just the same as it’s always been. You got to be careful, and you got to be smart, and you always have to consider the consequences of everything you do, just to get along.
Like that story about Joe, a Cape Cod lawyer who figured he was just about at the end of his rope. His addition showed it would take a cool million to pay off his loans and let him eat off the interest for the rest of his life. Two million would let him live in the style to which he had accustomed himself. And being broke and hungry and sleeping under the dock – he didn’t see how he’d ever survive.
So he hikes down the beach, figuring he’d find a nice deserted place to start swimming for Europe. Not that he expected to make it, but he was going to swim as far as he could before he drowned. But anyhoo he’s strolling along the beach when he comes across an odd looking ceramic jug with a funny looking lead seal on top of a cork stopper.
Being the very model of a thoroughly modern College Man, Broke Joe had never heard of the Seal of Solomon. So he does not know what he is looking at. And if he did he probably would have figured he had nothing to lose and gone ahead and indulged his curiosity.
So he pulls the cork, there’s a cloud of smoke, and a Djinn appears. A Djinn being the right name for what TV calls a Genie. Except that a Djinn is the real McCoy and has powers to read minds and manipulate time and matter that TV never thought of – and the manners and morals of an eight year old brat.
Which is why Solomon, Son of David, imprisoned them in clay jugs, amphoras rather than bottles, one to a jug, put an impenetrable seal on them, and threw their prisons in the sea about 3200 years ago. Naturally, quite a few of the Djinn have gone off their rockers in those thousands of years of solitary confinement, so breaking Solomon’s seal and uncorking a crazy Djinn is taking your life in your hands.
But this Djinn smiles at our bankrupt hero and sez “Yes, to thank you for rescuing me from my prison, I really will give you any three of your heart’s desires. You have only to ask and you will receive. But let me warn you that I was the chief judge among the Djinn, so what I grant to you, I will grant to every other lawyer in the world, in double measure. Choose carefully, for whatever you wish for, every other lawyer will have two of.”
“Sounds Jake to me,” sez Broke Joe. “I can’t afford to worry about trifles like that. First of all, I want two million dollars American in hundred dollar bills.”
“Done,” sez the Djinn, as box after box of U.S government issue paper money appeared in front of Broke Joe. “But remember, you have two million dollars but every other lawyer in the world has four million.”
“That’s OK,” sez Nouveau Riche Joe. “I can’t afford pride, and I never begrudged anyone anything. But I have always wanted a Rolls Royce limo to carry my money in.”
“Done,” sez the Djinn with a smile. “And every other lawyer in the world has two. And what do you want for your third wish, my friend?”
“Well,” sez Joe, “I always liked to help people in need and I can spare a kidney….”
And with a gusty laugh, the Djinn left Joe to load his newfound wealth in his limo and contemplate a brighter world…..