Trappin’ Entra-manure by Gary Benton
Bubba was sitting on the front porch of his mobile home when I drove up in my pick-em-up. He didn’t get out of his old rocking chair as I parked and made my way to the porch. As soon as I had stepped out of the truck I was surrounded by a pack of mixed breed dogs. It sounded like they had something treed as I cautiously stepped up on the first step of his porch, noticing it gave a loud pop. A second later it let out a few slight snapping sounds as my weight distributed evenly on the step.
“Howdy Bubba. What’s goin’ on heah? Carol Lynn done told me y’all called and wanted to see me. She said is sounded like one of them emergencies and I need to hurry on over heah.”
“Gary, would ya like a cup of coffee, glass of ice tea, cola, or a beer?”
“Coffee would be great Bubba, since it’s about eight in the mornin’.”
“Maude! Maude!” Bubba yelled into the air. “Yea, Bubba?” I heard Maude’s voice answer from somewhere inside the mobile home.
“Gary’s out heah, can y’all bring him a cup of coffee? Please?”
“Sure, be right out!”
“So, Bubba, what is so important you needed to talk to me about?” I asked, and knowing Bubba, it was something strange. It always was. Nonetheless, I suspected it had to do with either camping or fishing, since his whole life evolved around those subjects.
“Well, I done got me an idea on how to make a bundle of money. I need a partner and you were the first person I thought of.” As soon as he had spoken, he gave me a crooked grin, leaned over the railing on his porch, and sent a brown stream of tobacco juice onto the head of a sleep beagle.
“Watch out.” I said to myself as soon as I heard Bubba’s comments, “there’s more to this.”
The door opened and out came Maude with a cup of coffee in each hand. Like many southerners, the coffee cups were sitting on plain white saucers. She handed one to me and one to Bubba, and then she said, “Did ya tell ‘em yet, Bubba Lee?”
“Hill far woman, I ain’t had time to say much of nothin’ yet. You know when men talk business we have to feel the other feller out a bit first. Ya don’t jess jump right in and start askin’ questions and dee-mandin’ answers.”
“Sorry, Bubba, I’ll leave this heah business talk to you fellers. I have some ironin’ to do anyways.” Maude had a silly grin on her face as she turned and made her way back into the mobile home.
“So, Bubba, what is this business you are a-thinkin’ ‘bout?” While I was speaking I leaned forward with both elbows on my thighs, coffee cup in my right hand, and my left hand was holding the saucer. I made eye contact with him to show he had my full attention, but inside I was concerned.
Bubba looked me in the eyes, took a sip of his coffee and then screamed like an insane man, “Maude! Maude! Y’all get back out heah! We need to talk.”
Instantly the door swung open and Maude stood in the doorway with her eyes wide and her mouth open. Bubba, took his cup of coffee in his right hand, extended it over the porch railing and dumped it all. I silently hoped the beagle had gone else where by now.
“Maude, this is instant coffee! I can’t stand that garbage! I thank instant coffee is right up there with instant grits!”
“Bubba, sweetheart, we are out of ground coffee. All I had was the instant. I told you three days ago that you need to go to the store for us and pick up a few things.” As soon as she had stated her view of the whole shooting match, she turned and went back into the mobile home.
Bubba raised his large behind, reached back, and pulled a pouch of tobacco from his right rear pocket. Opening the pouch, he took a large wad and placed it in his mouth and then handed the pouch to me.
I took a wad of the damp dark tobacco and placed it in my right cheek. As I worked the cud, Bubba started speaking again, “Anywho, I got me an idea on a business from watchin’ some feller on the telly-vision. Seems he grows rabbits and sells ‘em to the stores and such. He has made millions of dollars offa rabbits. Heck far, he even sells the skins to them coat makin’ cump-nees and such. I figured if he can do hit, so can me and you. What you say, you in with me on this thang?”
“Bubba, it is the “such” I worry ‘bout. We can’t jes’ go off half cocked and start us a rabbit breeding firm.” I was feeling a bit uneasy about the ease Bubba approached any business. He liked to just jump right in and start kickin’ and that always created problems.
“Look, Gary, me and you are the best rabbit hunters round heah. You “know” that. How hard would it be for us to set out some rabbit traps and catch a few? Then, we put them in cages and they have litters. Nothin’ to hit at all.”
“Bubba, we don’t have living cages, we don’t have rabbit food, and we don’t have a vet to give ‘em shots and to check ‘em out for us.” I leaned over and made a deposit of brown tobacco juice in the dirt near the porch.
“We can build the cages, feed the rabbits carrots and tater peelin’s and why do they need shots and checkups for. We are gonna sell ‘em for eating, not take ‘em to a rabbit show.” As he spoke, I watch him scratch where it itched.
“Bubba, any food has to be checked fer diseases and such. We can’t jes’ sell the meat. ‘Sides, we ain’t even got a freezer to store the processed meat in.
This ain’t gonna work a-tall Bubba.” I leaned back in my chair and worked my chew to the other side.
“Me and you was raised eatin’ wild rabbits and squirrels. You mean to tell me, they have to be inspected before we can sell ‘em? Shoot, wild food is the healthiest food out there for man, woman, or beast.”
“Bubba, I ain’t real sure, but I think we have to have cleanliness inspections, medical inspections on the critters, a business license, tax things done, and some other details finished for we can go into that kind of work.”
“Hogwash. We will jes’ set ‘er up and go into business. That was how this great country of ours started. This free enterprise is what its all about! That’s why them pilgrim folks came heah to start with.”
Just as I was about to confront him with the real reason the pilgrims landed in America, I was saved by the mailman. I grinned as I saw the small box shaped truck pull up to Bubba’s mailbox, because I have always thought the trucks looked stupid. Bubba and I watched the mailman open the door to the rusty mailbox and slid some mail inside. He then closed the door to the mailbox, put the truck in gear, and puttered on down the road to the next neighbor.
“Maude, the mail is heah! I’ll go a gidit fur ya.” I jumped a bit as Bubba yelled to his wife. Just once, only once, I wished he would talk in a normal tone to someone instead of screaming all the time.
We both got up and made your way to the mailbox. I noticed grass was about a foot tall under the box and the area was littered with rocks of various sizes. Bubba slowly opened the door to the container and pulled the mail out. I saw he had five pieces of mail.
As he sorted them in his dirty hands he spoke, more to himself than me, “Junk mail, electric bill, insurance bill, flyer from the hardware store, and…oh, my, what is this one?”
I looked at the envelope he had in his hand. One the front it stated, very clearly in red ink, “You have already won $10,000,000.00!” I knew the company, Publishers Clearing Barn, and knew it was junk mail. But, Bubba, stood there in total shock. For many long minutes he didn’t speak.
“Gary! I done won ten million dollars! Gary! Gary Lee! I am a rich man! Now I can get a new doublewide mobile home, a new 150 pick-em-up truck, and take Maude on a vacation to the Animal Kingdom Campgrounds! I am RICH!” Bubba did a little jig dance in front of the mailbox as he screamed.
I waited for the screamin’ and dancin’ to stop before I said, “Bubba, you didn’t win a thing. It is all a trick to get you to buy magazines.”
“Horse feathers! See, right heah it says, ‘you have already won ten million dollars!’ I already won it son!”
“Bubba, read the rest of the papers. It will state, somewhere in there in small print, if you are selected as our grand prize winner.” I let loose a stream of tobacco juice as soon as I had spoken. I thought he was lookin’ like a fool.
“Gary, you jes’ ain’t got no faith in your feller man. It says I won the money! Let me open this thang up and show ya!” Bubba tore into the envelope, moved the contents around a bit, and then screamed once more, “Dang! Dang! Looky heah, I even got me a check for ten million dollars! Maude! Maude! We are rich girl!”
Before I could respond, Bubba tore off for the mobile home. I watched as he ran up the steps of the porch, and flung the door open so he could enter at full speed. I knew that further conversation with Bubba was over for the day. I put my hands in my pockets and made my way to my truck. It was people like Bubba, Maude, and my old momma that gave that publishin’ company their business. No, most likely, Bubba would order a bunch of magazines he would never read. As I got into my truck, I realized in his way of thinking, he thought had the money to pay for the readin’ material, after all, didn’t he just win ten million dollars.
I started up my truck and went home.
Four mornin’s later I was at Bubba’s at ‘bout nine. As soon as I pulled up into his driveway I saw him and Maude sitting out on the front porch. I made my way to the porch and took a seat on the top step.
“Well, Gary, you was right. That check wasn’t no good at all.” As Bubba spoke, I knew how much it hurt him to admit defeat. He is a proud man, like most men.
“Bubba, did you finally read the small print after I left?”
Bubba didn’t speak for five long minutes and finally Maude said, “No, he didn’t read a dang thang. He took the check down to the Flat River County Bank. The idiot thought they’d jes’ hand over ten million dollars in cash. The feller down there said the check wasn’t…wasn’t…how did he put it Bubba?” Maude looked over at Bubba with confused eyes.
“He said it was non-nee-go-she-ble. He said it was one of them fax-sim-a-lee’s and not a real check. He showed me where it said all of that on the check. It was way down on the bottom and the print was smaller than a skinny fly’s behind. What kind of trash is all of that? Huh? I ask ya Gary?”
“Bubba, it is all done to get you excited and make you thank you are gonna win the big money. Do you honestly think if you won ten million dollars, the notice would come in a letter? Do you thank they would send the announcement through the mail system? Do you think they would ask someone who jes’ won that kind of money to buy magazines? Heck far, son, they would be heah with the television folks, newspaper fellers, and the whole world, if Bubba Lee won ten million dollars. Look on the bright side though you didn’t lose in money in the deal.”
“Yea he did. He done ordered twenty-six magazines from the company that sent the check.”
Bubba gave a sheepish grin and then lowered his head so we could not make eye contact. He rocked in his rocker for a spell, then raised his head and looked around the barnyard. I could see he was deep in thought.
“Well, not ‘zackly. I called that there magazine company and told ‘em I can’t read, so they canceled my order. But, since I was already on the phone, I did some business.”
At that exact moment two large eighteen-wheeler trucks pulled up on the road next to Bubba’s mobile home. I watched as a tall man, packin’ a huge beer gut, get out and made his way up to the porch. He looked at the metal clipboard in this left hand and scratched his head before he asked, “It is Bubba Lee Claremore’s place?”
“Hit shore is. Y’all got my order with ya?” Bubba rose from his chair as he acknowledged his name and I could see the excitement in is eyes.
“Ok, we found ya. It took us a while to find your place. We’ve been looking since about six this morning. How many Claremore’s on this road anyway?”
“Bout forty of us and all kin. But, your heah now.” “Ok, Bub, where do you want us to unload?”
“I guess the barnyard heah will do for now.” Bubba said as he put his hands in his soiled jean pockets.
“Buddy, I can’t turn fifteen thousand baby chicks loose in a barnyard.” The big man spoke with a look of surprise on his face that Bubba would even suggest that.
“Don’t worry ‘bout it. Me and Gary Lee will start buildin’ some chicken houses soon as you are done unloadin’. Won’t we Gary?”
I didn’t say a word. I just turned and walked away. I still have no idea what happened to the chicks, but I know the plans to trap rabbits died. And, do you know something? I don’t really care. Bubba is one strange cousin.
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