Friday, July 17, 2015

Uncle Pinchy Calls

Spoken at 
Stardust Cafe Open Mic Night 
June 10, 2015.

   I got a telephone call from my Uncle Pinchy last night. 
   Pinchy Pliers, my great uncle. I’d rather you didn’t ask me how he got this name. I’m sick of explaining it and besides it happened a long time ago, before I was even born. 
   Uncle Pinchy is the Pliers family historian. 
   Meaning that he likes to gossip, and has a lot of free time on his hands.
   He knows I’m a writer always on the lookout for a story and that I’m not too proud to use my family. 
   “What’ve you got?” I asked him when the niceties were over.
   “Well, I’ve got a French war hero or a Texas horse thief. Which do you prefer?”
   “Gimme the horse thief,” I replied.
   “Good choice!” he said.
   Then my Uncle Pinchy told me the story about my Great Uncle JB, just as I’m telling it to you now.
   JB was still young when his father went out one day to get a packet of cigarettes and never came back. His mother passed away soon after. Life was hard without parents, but JB grew up and proved himself to be a shrewd man of business. 
   With pride it was said that he was the first of the Pliers family to accumulate a little wealth in America. 
   It is also said with less pride that luckily he was able to do this before he was hung for being a horse thief.
   That was in 1927, a little late for horse thievery in historical terms one would think. 
   "Wait a minute!" I interrupted my uncle. 
   "Yes?" said he.
   "Nineteen-twenty-seven?" I asked. "Why didn't he steal a car?"
   "You'll find out," replied my Uncle Pinchy. "Be patient."
   Uncle Pinchy continued his story.
   One odd thing about it, if you’ll pardon me for being a name-dropper, is that a popular Texas singing cowboy was involved. A very famous singing cowboy. 
   It was his horse.
   Due to its scandalous nature the court case was held behind closed doors, but the speedy verdict was unanimous. 

   People came from all around to see the hanging. 
   They’re like that in Texas, real friendly. 
   The day was as festive as a church picnic when JB appeared at the door of the jailhouse, his head downcast and his hands tied behind his back. The crowd hushed expectantly. JB was led down the street and up the scaffold steps, a praying preacher following behind. 
   At the top of the scaffold, they stopped beneath the hanging rope. The preacher kept praying as the hangman placed the rope around JB’s neck. A soft, dark sack was slid over JB’s head. The noose was tightened against his throat. 
   The hangman stepped back and nodded. 
   The preacher stopped praying and nodded.
   At a sign from the sheriff the famous singing cowboy, after smiling for the cameras and waving to the crowd, personally pulled the lever that opened the hatch that dropped JB down into the afterlife.
   JB dropped and kicked some, then went still. 
   “Hooray!” went the townspeople. 
   They’re like that in Texas, real friendly.
   The singing cowboy’s hand released the hangman’s lever and he stood back, staring at JB dangling there. He heard the crowd shout hooray and he smiled to himself. 
   When he thought nobody was looking he spat with disgust upon the ground. 
   It is said that the singing cowboy pulled that lever on JB not as punishment for horse thievery, but in coldblooded revenge.
   Coldblooded revenge for an affair of the heart.
   An affair of the heart involving himself, his horse and my Uncle JB.

   A man, a horse, and a man, that worst of romantic triangles!

   For those of you with strong stomachs and an enquiring mind, I offer a link to the video of Rusty reading this at Stardust in Orlando. Rusty Speaks! Uncle Pinchy Calls. 

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