Hank, Hogs and Hearts
Hank was wiping up the last of his pan gravy with his biscuit. He always ate a good, satisfying breakfast. Farming wasn’t meant for skimpy eating in the morning. He went out and looked around the farm as was his usual morning routine. Nothing was ever out of place but he looked anyway. Always good to know if a fox got into the hen house although a farmer usually heard the commotion when that happened.
While Hank was a farmer he wasn’t some country yahoo, some country bumpkin. At night, he watched TV like most people. It wasn’t only the Cartoon Channel. He liked the Discovery Channel and loved the doctor shows. He knew from watching them he was a probable heart attack waiting to happen. He knew about fat, trans-fats and cholesterol. He knew he didn’t eat as healthy as he should or healthy at all for that matter.
He had watched the vegetarians come on and preach about the evils of red meat and how everyone should eat only vegetables. He knew that was as dumb as it was wrong. If we should only eat vegetables why do we have canine teeth? Why were our teeth so thin? Why were these vegetarians so thin? Hank couldn’t always tell the boys from the girls. Of course, now-a-days, he thought, that wasn’t uncommon. Still, he knew he was primed for a heart attack.
He was looking at the pigpen when that thought came to mind. Big, fat hogs. Bacon, fatback and country ham on the hoof. Really good eatin’. It then occurred to him that if he had a heart attack he hoped it wasn’t in the pigpen. Those hogs would eat anything. By the time Ma thought to look for him there wouldn’t be any him.
Ma came out the door and called Hank for lunch. She had made BLT’s, Hank’s favorite sandwich. When he didn’t answer, she went to the barn and hollered again. Still no answer. She looked across the hay field and didn’t see him. He wasn’t in the cornfield either. That wasn’t like Hank. He never missed a meal.
She called Pete from the next farm to see if Hank had gone over there. He hadn’t. She called the farmer on the other side and he said the same thing. Ma was getting a little worried. A few minutes later Pete drove up followed by Tom, the other neighbor.
“Why, he may have fallen. We’ll take a good look around. It ain’t right him not answering ya”, Pete told Ma.
“Yea, we’ll find him for ya, sure as shit. Oh, excuse my talk”,Tom added.
They didn’t find him after a good search. They told Ma that maybe she needed to call in the sheriff on this. She thought they were right and called 911 and told them what had happened. The sheriff came out with a couple of his deputies. He knew Hank well enough to know that he wouldn’t just disappear; not with a meal ready. He sent his deputies to look around.
“Well, now, Sheriff, we looked everyplace ourselves. Hank ain’t in them places. We ain’t here to play hide‘n’seek”, Pete said to him.
“Yea, Sheriff, we got farms of our own to work. We ain’t here to play, umm, shoot”, Tom started to say.
“Yes, well, that’s all fine and dandy. You didn’t find him now did you? Ma, I know this is going to sound bad but is it possible Hank has a, uh, you know, a girlfriend.”
Ma absolutely cackled at that. Pete and Tom Laughed so hard they could hardly keep from falling down. “A girlfriend? Hank? Are you smokin’ somethin’ ya shouldn’t oughta be smokin’? Hank with a girlfriend? My God, I wouldn’t sleep with him if I wasn’t married to him. That man is one ugly man. He smells bad all the time. Girlfriend. Jeez.”
“Boy, Sheriff, that was one funny story. I can’t wait to tell that one down at the Grange”, Pete said.
“Well, after we find him, you mean”, Tom said.
“Well, yes, of course. Wouldn’t be fitting to tell it with him missing and maybe -”
“Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here”, the Sheriff said. “I’m going to call in the rest of my men. I’ll call the volunteer fireman to come help. If you two know anyone else that can help, call them.”
Eventually the Sheriff had a good number of men to use. He wanted to star with the hay field. While you could see a man if he was standing you might easily miss one who was lying there. He lined the men up a few feet aHankrt and got ready to comb the field. The man were willing enough but weren’t happy about this idea. Hay fields would hide a man lying there as well as a snake lying there. There aren’t too many people who want to walk where snakes live. Certainly none of those kind were here.
Ma was one of the people who preferred to avoid snakes. She said to the Sheriff, “Hey, why don’t you get one of those helicopters to fly over. That way, you can look straight down and we don’t have to walk through here.”
“Well, Ma, I don’t have a helicopter for one thing. I don’t know where I could get one for another. We want to find him or not?”
Well, yes, they did, snakes or no snakes. They traipsed across the hay field slowly so as to not miss Hank or a snake either. Nothing, there was nothing found. The Sheriff announced he was going to put a missing person report out. That was about all he could do.
The volunteers began leaving reluctantly but knowing they had done all they could. Pete and Tom were standing with ma trying to console her but not knowing the right words. Tom looked at the hogs abs said to Pete, “Pete, do those hogs look funny to you?”
“Huh? Whatta ya mean by funny. They look like any other hogs, fat and fed and watered.”
Ma got a crazy look on her face and quietly said, “Oh, God.”
“Hank! Hank! You alright? You were starin’ off inta space.”
Hank shook himself out of the daydream. He looked at those hogs. He now knew that hogs looked at him the same way he looked at them.
Whispering Sam Gets A Hearing Aid
Whispering Sam got his nickname from the fact he was near deaf and either didn’t know it or wouldn’t admit it. He was famous for yelling, “Why are you whispering?” He was famous for a few other things as well. He ran shine and once set himself and his car on fire. Mostly, though, it was his deafness.
Even in his presence people would talk about him in a normal tone of voice. They thought badmouthing someone in that way was hilarious. They eventually started badmouthing Sam right to his face in a normal tone of voice. Then they’d laugh. Sam didn’t get it, not the badmouthing or the joke. People can be really ignorant especially in a bar and when drunk.
“Say there, Sam, you are really ugly ya know that?” This was from Pete, Sam’s biggest tormentor. It was like a hobby to Pete. He wasn’t really ballsy enough to do this but he knew Sam couldn’t tell what he said.
“What? Why are you whispering? You got something to say, why, jus’ say it. Don’t be a chickenshit about it.”
“Chickenshit? Who ya calllin’ a chickenshit, you old bastard?” Pete knew Sam couldn’t hear that either.
At that point the bartender would usually step in. “Pete, you started this and I don’t need the Sheriff comin’ round. Now, you shut your trap and move down the bar.” Since the bartender was sober and bigger than Pete, Pete would walk away.
Sam would look at the bartender and ask, “Frankie, why are you whispering? Why does everyone whisper? How’s a fella supposed to hear anything when everyone’s whispering?”
“Sam, you need to do something about your deafness. You ought to try getting a hearing aid.”
“Whadya say? Speak up.”
Sam finally decided the problem may be him. A lot of people would “fun him” for a cheap laugh but not his mama. She told him repeatedly to go to a doctor.He didn’t think the Sheriff, who he had met a couple of uncomfortable times, would make fun of him. The Sheriff was a straight shooter. The sheriff told him he was as deaf as a rock. Yes, the problem may be him.
He went to a hearing specialist to find out if he was “a little deaf.” After a yelling match at the front desk, Sam was placed in a room. He had never been in a doctor’s office. He looked around. He thought the bed he was sitting on was a bit short and narrow. He hoped he wouldn’t have to stay the night here. There were some machines sitting around. There was a smell to the place. It wasn’t a really bad smell like an outhouse or himself, to be honest, but it was strong.
After twenty minutes the door opened. Sam wasn’t looking that way and turned to see a man standing there. He jumped.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t men to startle you. I’m Doctor-”
“You didn’t startle me.”
“No? Okay. I’m Doctor Wayne David. I’d like to have my technician test your hearing so we know where were at. Okay?”, the doctor said very loudly.
“Okay.” Sam knew where he was. Things seemed a bit off here. Still, he promised his mama he come in. He was also curious.
After another twenty minutes or so a young girl came in and waved for him to follow her. They went into a room that had a booth. The girl said, loud enough for Sam to hear, that she was going to place headphones on him to test his hearing. She told him to put a finger on the headphone when and in which ear he heard the sound. Sam thought that was stupid. How was he supposed to hear with headphones on when he couldn’t hardly hear without them? Well, okay, he did promise mama.
Strangely enough, Sam did begin to hear sounds. It surprised him to no end. The he heard the girl tell him, “Now I’m going to say some words. I want you to say them back to me. Okay?”
“Yea, Whatever you want.”
When she was done with that she told him the doctor would be in to see him but he looked like a good candidate for hearing aids. Candidate? Sam preHankred himself for another twenty minute wait that lasted forty-five minutes. The doctor showed up, told him he was a good candidate for hearing aids and his technician would be right in to take care of him. Forty-five minutes for that? Sam wondered how long he would have to wait if he was bleeding?
The technician came in with a small box. She placed the hearing aids in Sam’s ears and plugged then into a machine. She asked Sam some questions. As he answered them she fooled with the machine. Eventually she unplugged the aids from the machine, adjusted them in his ears and asked, “How do they feel?”
“They feel- hey, you’re not whispering.”
“No sir, I’m speaking in a normal tone of voice. The hearing aids are working. No more whispering for you. Congratulations.”
Sam went outside and stood there for a while. He was listening to things he didn’t recognize. It was sounds he had never heard before. Someone walked by and said hell to him and he heard it!
He went over to the bar. It was dark in there and the hearing aids didn’t show very much. Pete spotted him and waited until the bartender wasn’t looking and said to Sam, “You’re as ugly as roadkill.”
Sam punched him in the mouth. Pete started yelling and the bartender came up. Pete said Sam had punched him. The bartender believed it but thought Pete probably was making fun of Sam so to hell with him. He said so to Pete.
“You know, I heard all of that. I got me some hearing aids and I can hear now. There something I don’t get.”
“What’s that, Sam”, the bartender asked him.
“Why is everyone yelling?”
The Rob Saga is available as an ebook and in paperback.. It is available at Createspace and Amazon.
There are people living on the edge in what is called Appalachia. They're called ridgerunners, rednecks, hillbillies and backwoods mountaineers. No one thinks of them very often. They don't earn much to society's standards.They stay where they are because they love the area. They are hard workers when they have work and self-sufficient to an extent not known to "outsiders." They are also very funny; they have a great sense of humor about themselves.
They are the salt of the earth and the backbone of America. Their stories are America's stories. These are the stories Of Appalachia.
Book is available as an e-book or in Paperback.
More stories of the people of Appalachia.
More of Joe Bob, Bubba and Earl, Mosh Henry and all of the rest of the good folks in Wabash County.
Book is available as an e-book or in Paperback.
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