Willy Eugenes Pet Bull by Gary Benton
“Ya know, there just ain’t much a redneck doesn’t know something about!” My Uncle Andy said as he picked up his coffee cup and took a good swig of the thick hot liquid.
We were all seated at the big booth in Uncle Andy’s restaurant having breakfast. The time was early, or way before the rooster crows, and along with breakfast we were having us a serious discussion. We always stopped to eat at Uncle Andy’s in the early mornings before we went hunting or fishing. It was located in a small hole in the wall next to the bus stop, which had closed back in 1968.
This morning the group was made up of Bubba, William Robert (Billy Bob), Uncle Floyd, T-Bone, and me. Of course, as soon as we were seated, Uncle Andy joined us at the table.
I am constantly surprised that anyone can drink Andy’s coffee. He completely amazes me when he gulps it the way he does, since its thick enough to tar paper a roof with. He claims it was his time in the Navy that taught him to make good coffee. He further states that after drinking his coffee a person develops a deep appreciation for only the best. Well, I can tell you for sure, that much I can agree with. Seems right after I tasted his coffee, I developed a deep appreciation for good coffee as well and any coffee is better than Andy’s! But, the man can cook!
“Well, I ain’t so shore I agree with ya one hun’ert percent on that Andy, but ya always been a bit on the dumb side. Heck far, most the time you don’t know come heah from fetch.” T-Bone said as he took a big bite of biscuit and gravy. The bite was so big it made his right cheek bulge like a chipmunk storing food for the winter as he chewed. He and Andy were about the same age and size, which means old and fat.
“Bullchips! You know and I know, that we both know, that everyone else knows, that all of us know, just what we know. And, YOU know it! You know what I mean!” Andy continued, but he had changed from sippin’ coffee to eating his grits.
“Uncle Andy? Uncle Andy? Listen to me here. I ain’t got no idea what in the tar-nation you are talkin’ about. What is all this, you know and they know garbage? You sound like a hungry Yankee used car salesman. You’re makin’ no sense to this country boy at all. You’re talkin’ just to hear yourself talk.” William Robert spoke as he leaned forward and waved a gravy-coated spoon under my Uncle Andy’s chin.
For a few minutes nothing was said at all. You could feel the tension in the air and we all knew my uncle was mad. Andy, obviously upset at first because we didn’t agree with his views, finally realized we didn’t even know what his views were. He had not done a very good job of conveying his thoughts, nor his strong opinions. So, he shoveled the grits in–quickly. I watched him eat two bowls of them.
I hated watching Andy eat grits. See, he put syrup on them, butter, ketchup, and then ate them with a spoon! AND, from a BOWL! Way I figured it; he should have been arrested for improper ingestion of the national Southern breakfast dish. It’s sort of a capital crime against Southern culture. And all of you rednecks know what I’m talkin’ about! Ya just don’t eat grits with a spoon and for sure not out of a bowl.
Finally after a few very long minutes Bubba stood up and yelled, “Nurse! We need some coffee over heah!” Every head in the place turned to look at this loud mouth redneck dressed in bibs, flannel shirt, boots, and ball cap. Yep, you guessed it; he looked like all the rest of us. Be hard to pick him out in a police line up if we were with him. Well, maybe not that difficult since he is a fairly big boy. As soon as Nadine Lucille turned and started toward our table Bubba sat back down.
Andy just shook his head and looked to the heavens. Way I figured it he had no reason to call upon the heavens, since all the folks at the table were his kinfolks. Andy could always blame a few ancestors, but not heaven for the mess he had on his hands. When Nadine arrived at the table with the coffee pot, Andy got up and walked off toward the kitchen mumbling to himself about rednecks. He had taken to doing that every time we stopped by for a visit.
“Bubba,” Nadine said as she bent over and poured his coffee, “What is all this shoutin’ about a nurse?”
Bubba gave her a big crooked grin and said, “Well, when I was hurt in the Vee-it-nam war, the only way I could get what I needed in the V.A. hospital was to scream for a nurse. It’s an old habit.”
“Oh, you were a war hero Bubba? I didn’t know that.” Nadine leaned forward until her face was almost touching Bubba’s as she spoke. I know he could feel her breath on his cheeks.
I watched in anticipation as white pepper gravy ran off of Bubba’s lip and down the right side of his cheek. It took a few seconds before Bubba was able to speak, but finally he said, “I twernt no war hero Nadine Lucille. I was just a common soldier doing my duty. I just got hit by some shrap-nails from an explosion once.”
Nadine raised her right hand and wiped the gravy off of Bubba’s cheek. She gave him a big smile and a sexy wink. Nadine then stood straight, put her hands on her wide hips and said, “I don’t agree with you at all Bubba. I think you were a hero and you’re just too shy to admit it.”
I suspect she was going to say more, but the small bell mounted above the door jingled and an older couple entered. Nadine gave us a big smile and said, “But, I can’t argue with you over it right now Bubba Lee, because here comes Mister Johnson with his old lady. You boys need anything, give me a yell. See ya all later.”
As she turned and walked over to the table were the Johnson’s had seated themselves every head at our booth was on her. She was a mighty nice looking woman.
As if he could hear my thinking, Billy Bob said, “That is one very nice woman. Not only is she very attractive, but she is an intelligent woman too. The man who catches her will be one lucky man. She can burn the biscuits at my house any time.”
“Well, my biscuits ain’t exackly a burnin’ right now, but they sure enough be smokin’ a little,” Bubba said as he looked over at Nadine.
“Speaking of luck, did ya all here about what them tore-nad-ders did to Willy Eugene’s place when they blew through here last week?” Uncle Floyd asked.
I took a sip of my buttermilk, wiped off my mouth with the back of my hand and said, “Nope. But, I thought everyone was safe. I didn’t heah of nobody a-gettin’ hurt.”
“Nobody hurt, but Willy lost his mobile home, a chicken house and a pretty long stretch of wooden fence line. It’s likely to take him a spell repairin’ it too. They are still finding chickens in the woods and from different directions for miles.” Bubba added.
“I heard his rooster crows at odd hours since the storm and he told me it crowed a little after midnight the other night. He said he didn’t know what time hit was, so he got up and headed to work. Willy said he was half way to work before he realized his rooster had gone psycho on him,” Billy Bob stated flatly with a voice of knowledge.
“Cycle? You mean he’s taught that rooster to ride a bicycle? Now, that would be a thing to see wouldn’t it Mule?” Bubba asked me with a grin.
“Did his live stock get out of it? They all make it?” I asked as I scooped up the last bite of my hot pork sausage on my fork. I ignored Bubba’s question on purpose.
“Bubba, you quit now. You know exackly what I meant. You’re just being stupid.” Billy Bob said with a voice that shook just a little from frustration.
“Everything, but one of his dawgs. His bagle and his puddle are ok, but his pet bull didn’t make it. Right now, everybody is livin’ in the barn. They’ll be there at least till Willy can get a new used double wide mobile home back up on the cinder blocks.” Added Floyd as he looked around the table.
“He had a pet bull? I didn’t even know he had a bull. Of course everybody knows he’s got a few head of old milk cows.” Billy Bob commented as he put his coffee cup down and pulled out his pouch of chewing tobacco. He filled his right cheek with chew and worked the cud until it felt right to him.
Uncle Floyd pulled out his old brier pipe and stuffed it. He lit it and puffed a few times before he continued his story. “Not his pet bull, his pet bull. You know his dawg. His pet bull.”
“Floyd, they are called pit bulls, not pet bulls.” Billy Bob said.
“Pit bull, pet bull, it don’t pay me no never mind. Y’all know what I am talkin’ about. I am a-talkin’ about dawgs. You know, a pet bull is a dawg with a permanent case of PNS,” Floyd said with a tone of deep frustration in his voice.
“He had insurance didn’t he? And that is PMS, Floyd, not PNS.” Bubba said as he lit one of the huge cheap cigars he smoked.
“I cain’t see what he sees in them pet bulls. They are about as friendly as that big city Yankee divorce lawyer Bubba’s wife had durin’ his divorce.” T-Bone said with a grin.
“Nope, he had no insurance at all. His mobile home was a gift from his momma-in-law and it wasn’t insured at all. And, Bubba, I don’t care if it is PMS…. and not PNX. It don’t matter none to me, because you knew what I meant all along,” Floyd commented between puffs on his pipe.
“Yep, pet bulls are just like Yankee lawyers…they both go for your throat and then the kill.” Bubba interjected quickly.
I looked at my watch and realized it was going to be daylight in less than an hour. I wanted to be on the lake way before then and ready to fish at first light. I stood, finished off my coffee, placed the cup on the table, and said, “Well, at least Willy’s still got his bagel and the puddle. That bagel is a good rabbit dawg. Actually, one of the best I have ever seen. But, personally, I don’t see what him, or his woman, see in them puddles. Some kind of French breed, ain’t they? I hate that little ball of cut fur it’s got on the tip of its tail.”
All of us picked up our bills and headed toward Nadine Lucille at the cash register. In a few minutes we would all be on our way to a full day of bass fishin’ and fun in the sun. Our conversation in Andy’s restaurant would soon be all but totally forgotten by us. Besides, it didn’t make no never mind. See it was just another cool and early summer morning in the backwoods of Southern America, the birthplace of a great nation. All in all, today it was just a normal mornin’ in Dixie Land.