Tater's Stories
Tater got him some stories. Some of em are pretty good, and some of em are true.


Bertha and the Jaws of Life

Bertha McCrullers used to be a big ol sourpuss, and a pinched face busybody, nosin into folks readin habits and holdin em over they heads. You see, she's the libarian over to the Lumley Readin Outlet, which is a sort of second rate libary in Lumley. It really is a book depository, where they got all the old books don't no one want to read no more, but Jurry Toller got him a bee in his bonnet about the name "book depository" on account of his ma had the maiden's last name Kennedy, and it reminded him of the big assassination down in Dallas. So Jurry got the town council to approve a $1500 a year position of libarian and rename that book depository the Lumley Readin Outlet in exchange for he aligns all the council's car wheels for free once a year.

Now, it ain't a proper libary, on account of you can't take them books out of the buildin, but you can check em out of the stacks and take em to a table and read em there. Still need you a libary card to do it, so Bertha she got the power to give you that card or not, and look at what you're fixin to read, or what you're wantin to get sent down from the libary up in Turley. So you got to have you a real address, like 132 Right Hand Road, not "third trailer on the left after the gulch if you're headin north", and you gotta put your church on there as a reference, so those what don't go to church, or Lutherans, is out of luck if they want to read anything but the "Guns and Ammo" over to the barbers.

Anyhow, Bertha is as busy a body as they come, and she always gossipin down to the Miss Binky's Beauty Saloon on what folks is readin. So she gots her a bad reputation and the power to give you your books or not, and it ain't no surprise that when she got caught with her britches down, folks stopped what they was doin and took a good look.

Bertha, for all her supposed learnin ain't too good at figures, so when she goes out shoppin for control top stockins she takes Susie along with her. Susie runs the radio shows over to WREK, got a real popular one "Bob"'s Slacktime Funhouse, and she'd real goods with charts and graphs and numbers on account of she got to fill in all these time cards and such when the show started and ended and when they said the call letters and such. Anyways, her and Susie was up in Humbert pickin out some of them Eggs for Bertha and ... well, let's hear it in Susie's own words:

"I am pretty advanced for these parts, numberally speaking. Other ladies trust me to translate those height/weight/size charts on the L'eggs pantyhose--although I read one wrong one and almost gave Bertha McCrullers the librarian a case'a the strangulated innards. If she'd just shut her fat yap about it, I'd have a clean record. So they had to use the Jaws of Life on her."

That's right -- they had to pry her out of her stockin girdle with the jaws of life on account of she wriggled herself in them things in the mornin before work, then had her a plate of grits, black eyed peas and fried chicken over to the Chik'n Fry for lunch. The grease from the chicken and the gas from the beans, combined with the grits down there in her guts to make a sort of gas infused concrete that bloated her out and made her guts hard as a rock. Couldn't squeeze that gas out for nothin, and it weren't but 2 in the afterlunch before she got so distressed from her condition that she called Doc Warner over to the libary to have a look at her. Doc gave her a quick examination, and allowed that weren't much he could do for her. She'd just have to wait for that lump to digest natural, but Bertha weren't havin none of it. She was in a panic, and she thought she could see her belly swellin up bigger and bigger. She commenced to moanin and screamin like she was havin her a baby right there in the lobary, so Doc called the paramedics up in Humbert to get on down there and see what they could do.

Them boys from the Humbert Fire and Rescue come down there with the lights a flashin, and the KHUM news van was right on their tail, and everyone in town followed them trucks over to the libary to see what's the matter. Now, inside the libary, all the readers was crowdin around the checkout desk on account of the ruckus Bertha was makin, and then the other Lumlyites was crowdin in there, and the paramedics was yellin for everyone to step back, and lil Marlene Meekers was yellin at them paramedics to let her and her cameraman through on account of the Constitution and freedom, and it was a big ol mess.

Tell you what, Tater like to split a gut when that happened. Didn't see it happen personal, but Tater always watches the TV news when Marlene is on there, on account of she's so damned cute and he's got a likin for her. Turns out the extraction was more embarrasin than anyone thought at the time, on account of they showed Bertha's cootchie for a split second and didn't catch it until after that had gone out on the air. Thought that little patch was a part of the control top panel or some such. Now, some folks think it's odd that Marlene always gets them jaws of life features, but ain't nothin mysterious about it -- it's Geech Meekers runs them jaws for the Humbert Fire and Rescue and he's her cousin, so he always gives her a call when he's about to go out there and jaw someone out of this or that.

Anyhow, most of Lumley, them gots libary cards, got Susie to thank for straightenin out Bertha's attitude problem, thinkin she was better'n everyone on account of she knew which books everybody had checked out, and what ones they had ordered from the libary up in Turley. After her cootchie showed up on the TV, don't nobody can look at her without gigglin, and she don't hold nobody's readin habits over their head no more.

Tater's Gator

Not gettin him a alligator changed Tater for life.

When Tater was a 7 year old boy, he went down to Florida to visit his gramps. Now, gramps was really somethin. He had him a boat with a motor on it, and guns and a ridin mower, and he didn't see nothin wrong with lettin the young uns use em all when he was settin back on the porch. Tater loved ol gramps, on account of there weren't no difference between Tater and any of gramps' friends. You want to shoot? Go ahead. You want to take the boat out there on the ocean? Get in there and start the motor. You want to play ridin mower tag with the neighbor boys? What's stoppin you? Tater's pretty sure that if gramps had been a drinkin man, he'd a passed Tater that jug.

Tater's lucky to be alive.

Anyways, after a month of that, it was time to send Tater back to the holler. Day before he got to go, gramps says to lil Tater "Boy, I'm gonna buy you a allygator." There was a little store on the road gramps drove in to town to get his supplies said "Beer Bate Gators" and Tater knew they was gonna stop there on the way to the train station. The next day after church, packed Tater's and got in the car, and tell you what, lil Tater was about as excited as a boy could be. Gramps had told him weren't gonna be no full size gator, just a baby one in a box, but to lil Tater, that weren't no problem at all. He could shrink hisself down in his head so's he was small enough to get in the box with that gator, and tell you what, that gator was the biggest meanest gator anyone ever see.

The come around the bend and Tater saw the sign "Beer Bate Gators" and he like to pee his britches. But then the world fell on lil Tater with a gut bustin WHUMP. They was a sign next to that one said CLOSED. Well, sir, Tater bust into tears. He never wanted nothin so much in his life as he wanted that huge man eatin gator. He begged gramps "Grampy, make em open up! They got Tater's gator! Tater's gator's in there! Tater AIN'T LEAVIN without his GATOR!"

That moment turned Tater from a man to a cryin lil baby. Tater had been shootin, fishin in the ocean, ridin that mower like he was a growed man for a whole month and he'd come to like it, come to expect it. But he was just a little boy set free. Didn't know how to deal with the facts of life. Far as Tater was concerned, life gives you lemons, you load up that rifle and chase that rascal on your ridin mower.

Tater got over it. Took about a week or so. But his way of lookin at the world changed. Never did get all excited imaginin what was gonna happen again. Nope, it weren't cynicism. Tater ain't no cynic. But he learned ain't no good gettin all excited over what might happen, on account of the "might" part. Ain't nothin for certain, and that's a fact.

Now, about a month later, after Tater was back in the holler and settled down, a box come in the mail. Airmail box from Florida. A box with holes in it. Breathin holes.

Tater sucked in his breath, but he caught hisself, and calmly, with all the deliberation a boy could muster, drew his scoutin knife out his pocket and unfolded it. Cut through that tape holdin the box closed, and drew up that lid. There, restin on a pillow of excelsior was a gator. A cute little baby gator. Well, it was a pretty big baby gator. With sharp teeth could rip your flesh. Look at that mouth openin up! That there is a GATOR! A huge MAN EATIN gator gonna SWALLER YOU WHOLE!!! It was the BIGGEST gator Tater ever seed!

So Tater and his pa built them a terrarium, that's an aquarium don't need much water, put that gator in there. Set it up on the back of lil Tater's desk, and Tater watched that gator day and night. Fed it chunks of hamburger meat, and it swallowed them like they was Tater's lil sister.

Wasn't more than a week passed before Tater's buddy Jimbo come on over to see Tater's gator. Now, Jimbo wasn't the firmest tater in the sack, and when he want to give that gator some meat, he just covered up his finger with hamburger and stuck it in the gator's face. You know what happened next. That gator grabbed Jimbo's meat finger and commenced to shakin it, like a gator gotta. Jimbo, he jumped back and he commenced to flappin and a screamin, and that gator flied off Jimbo's finger and smash against the wall.

Tater rushed over to see if he was hurt. He looked shocked, and his eyes wasn't focusin right. The gator, not Jimbo. Meanwhile, Jimbo's screamin bloody murder, and he's lookin at his finger, got some blood comin out, and all ground up like it was hamburger. Well, it was just hamburger. Had a little bitty puncture from the gator, and he was bleedin over some of that hamburger still stuck to his finger. Jimbo run home to his ma, and Tater never seed him again till he was a growed man. Good riddance! He busted up Tater's gator!

Well, it wasn't more'n a day that gator up and died. Tater buried him out back in the box he come in, so he could get some air up in heaven. But that there sealed Tater's lesson learned down in Florida. Don't pay to anticipate. You get all worked up over what might gonna be, and if it don't happen you'll be the worse for it. Better you never get excited at all. Then when good things happen, you're happy out of the blue, and ain't that a joy? That's the way Tater looks at it anyhow.

Tater learned him a valuable lesson that summer:

Life don't owe you no gators. And if life sends you a gator, don't let no halfwit try and feed it.


Huntin with Joe

It's Sunday, and once again Tater's washin all that blood out the coveralls and carpets. That on the wall can get painted over, but it'll be a spell before ol Tater can get to it.

Speakin of blood, weren't near enough yesterday. Went squirrel huntin with ol Joe, but his idea of huntin is to drive up and down till we spot a squirrel then jump out of the truck and chase after it, shootin all the way and yellin "Kill that rascal, Tater" on account of Tater had the rifle and Joe only had his pistol, which he can't hit nothin with. Needless to say, didn't bag much in the way of squirrel that way. 

Now, it was a good thing Joe was wearin his pistol, on account of a couple of rough fellers from Coogan's Holler come along and objected to Joe parkin right in the middle of the road. Joe was yellin kill em Tater and Tater was out runnin through the woods after three fat ones and them boys come along, started givin Joe a hard time, askin where he from and what he was doin round there. Well, by the time Tater come back and Joe was none too happy. Joe was pretty sure them boys was on the methedrine and might could be cookin nearby, and says they was a lookin at the shotgun in the rack like they was about to grab it. But Joe has his holster wore around the outside his jacket, and them boys knew he was serious when he unsnapped the flap, so they hightailed it outa there. Pistol like  that with the .38 hollow points makes a good hole.

And that weren't the all of it neither. Later when we was settin under a tree eatin jerky and drinkin beer and swattin at Mexican wasps that was all over everything, wishin we'd a been better shots, when a big fat squirrel come down a tree right next to the road. Well, sir, Tater grabbed the rifle and took aim, and just as he drew a bead on it a truck come by, and wouldn't you know it, it was them Coogan's Holler boys. Well, they saw Tater aimin about winder height as they was passin that tree, and they didn't know he was aimin at that squirrel and not them, and tell you what, they stepped on that gas and was up the road lickety split. But when they kicked up that gravel, it spooked the squirrel and he was up in the treetops and off before Tater could get back to him.

Joe thought that was real funny, and was laughin and slappin his knee and yellin, "Kill em Tater!" but now he was talkin about them Coogan's Holler boys. Then Joe reached down and grabbed his beer and took a big swig, but they was a wasp got down in the neck of it, and Joe drunk him right along with the beer. Wouldn't you know it, that wasp stung Joe right there on the uvula, you know, the little hangy down part in the back? Well, Joe he spits out the beer and commences to yell "What the hell?!?!" and after a minute or so we figured out it was a wasp and all, and what happened there.

That was enough for the day. No squirrels for Joe and Tater. But Tater got him an appreciation of the value of always carryin a firearm in plain sight when you're out there in the woods, and Joe learnt to check the bottle for wasps, or at least drink the whole thing once you open it. On the way home Joe started in to coughin, and when he was done he turns to Tater and says "You know what? I almost passed out there". Tater tell you Joe was drivin? Well, he was, and even though Tater offered to drive, Joe promised he wouldn't pass out no more, so we carried on.

Woulda been nice to get a squirrel. But it's nice to be alive, and Tater's just as happy that way as the other.