Tall Tales at the General Store

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-09-19
  • Publisher: Author Solutions
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Enjoy the bygone days of a time precariously nestled between the comforts of peace and the ever-present threat of impending war in 1939. Meander the dirt roads converging at the general store, where tall tales flow freely. A young parson from the Northeast arrives and receives an education from the mountaineers far beyond his "preacher schooling." The unsolicited courtin' assistance pushes his patience to the limits. Laugh with six brothers as they unconventionally live balancing compassion with tomfoolery; gaiety with grief; all while holding fast to a simple yet steadfast faith. A new resident arrives, not fitting the mold of a Greenbed woman; she clings to high fashion and longs for the social life she enjoyed in the big city. Her actions and attitudes alienate the residents from her husband's struggling store until she is forced to put her life into the hands of the most unlikely character in the mountain. The war touched the mountain community in a shocking manner they'd never imagined possible.


PAY NO MIND TO CRAZY IKE Toby immediately stopped his work in the general store and tuned his ear toward the panic shriek from his wife, "Tobias, I saw a man at our back door, peeping in through the screen door at me! Come here." Toby headed toward the living quarters of the store to investigate. When his wife made a demand, she was not one to be reasoned with, or ignored. "There he is, walking away now! He rummaged through those boxes out back and put something in a bag. Go see what he wants." Lawrence turned from his seat by the front window to see what man caused such a commotion, "Oh, pay no mind to him. That's Crazy Ike. He don't mean no harm." "No harm?" Bethany screamed, "He spied on me! And he scared me half to death." Clyde couldn't restrain his laughter, "Spying on ya'? Why, what was ya doin' that ya wouldn't want Crazy Ike to see?" "Dusting furniture is what I was doing," Bethany snapped angrily. She resented being the brunt of the jibe. Not only did the gathering of men in the store chuckle, the lone woman shopper covered her mouth and turned her head to conceal the smile. "Don't you make fun of me! This is none of your business anyhow, Mister." Unlike Toby, Bethany didn't bother to make the acquaintance of any of the mountain residents, except Reverend Lawson. She could care less that she knew few residents by name, and baffled that Toby liked it here with these uneducated, crude heathens, as she referred to the mountaineers. The spark of her flaired temper delighted the men. "Next time Crazy Ike comes 'round, we'll be happy to introduce ya to him. Shoot fire, if ya got an extra dust rag, ya might persuade him to come in and help ya with yer womanly chores." "I'll have you know, first of all I don't need any help keeping this little crackerbox of a house clean and, secondly, I wouldn't have the likes of that man enter my home. I want him to stay away from here, the further the better." "Little Lady, ya' could do a whole lot worse than Crazy Ike. He didn't mean to scare ya none. Better get used to the likes of him. He ain't gonna change one iota," Clyde grinned, "I bet ya' scared him a heap more than he did you. He aint used to women cuttin' such a shine as that." Bethany stomped out of the general store retreating to the living quarters, feeling she'd been bested - again. "This whole place is dreadfully savage." "I do declare, Son, that woman of yours could talk the ears off a field a corn," Clyde jokingly quipped. "Mr. Clyde, I agree with you. That's my Bethany. No one ever referred to her as timid." Toby seemed to admire her vim and vigor. "Seriously, where does Ike live? I've never seen him around, or heard anyone mention him." "Crazy Ike lives ever'where, anywhere, and no where. He claims the world as his home. I reckon that's the truth. He don't hardly have a care. He roams all 'round. He's got a little lean-to hut, way back in the woods up at Cricket Grove. He keeps to hisself most all the time. From time to time he roots through people's discarded stuff and garbage heaps, lookin' for a treasure of some sort. He don't talk to none of us much. He and Guthrie did some tradin' and were friendly like with each other. I swear, that Guthrie would befriend a grizzly." "How does he live?" Toby was intrigued with this strange little figure of a man. "Well, Sir," Darrell began, "ya might not believe it. He makes and sells a magic potion." "You're right, Mr. Darrell, I can't believe that. But, tell me, this gets better all the time." "Aint no tall tale 'bout it, your Uncle bought the salve from him and sold it in the store. He could hardly keep it stocked. Ever'body wants it. Fact of the matter, he probably don't know Guthrie's gone." "I'm afraid to ask... what is the potion?" "Crazy Ike makes somethin' that works on achin' bones and if'n ya got rheumatism, it's the only thing that'll give the slightest bit of relief. Best make sure to keep a hefty supply, cuz when folks need it, aint nothin' else will do." The following days, Bethany managed to forget about Crazy Ike. One evening in mid-August Toby and Bethany sat in their living quarters, listening to the radio when Toby saw a shadow pass a side window. His heartbeat quickened, his first thoughts envisioned a wild animal. He went to the front of the store to check the locks. Crazy Ike peered into the storefront window, his rounded nose pressed flat as a pancake, and hands cupped around his eyes, as though he were holding binoculars. Toby waved and forced a smile. He shared Bethany's apprehension of this unpredictable character. He opened the store's door, "Ike, hello. Come in. Let's get acquainted." Timidly, Crazy Ike entered the general store. "Whar's Guthrie?" "Guthrie was my uncle and he's gone. The store is mine now." "Gone? You tellin' me a lie, Boy? When's he a comin' back? " Ike was a man of few words. Toby surmised the shorter he kept his answers, the better. "He died. Do you have your potion? I need some." Ike reached into the burlap sack and retrieved six small bottles and placed them on the checkerboard. "How much did my Uncle pay you for each bottle?" he asked as he walked toward the old cash register. "Didn't never pay me none. We traded." Toby's first experience at bartering, but he somehow knew it wouldn't be the last. "What do you need, Mr. Ike?" Ike quickly snatched a items from the shelves and stuffed them into the worn burlap bag, gathered the opening of the bag and shuffled back to the door. He turned around to face the new proprietor and shook his finger as a warning, "Best bring them plants on your porch in tomorrow night," slamming the door behind him. He disappeared. Toby recounted the weird encounter with Harl. "Don't pay no mind to Crazy Ike. He's as daffy as a June Bug in the month of September." The following night Toby and Bethany awoke at 11:00 P.M. to the wind howling and rains beating against the windows. Bethany lay in bed with her hands tightly covering her ears to muffle the daunting sound. After the storm passed, they heard several loud crashes. Toby immediately recognized the source as the two planters filled with geraniums posted by the front door of the general store which Bethany insisted on having to add color to the entryway. He recalled the warning from Crazy Ike and a chill ran down his spine. Ike didn't venture back into civilization for another five weeks. This time he came directly to the front door, during regular business hours. The men in the store greeted him, Ike tilted his head and glared at each one, never returning the greeting. "Ike, did you bring more jars of rheumatism medicine? My shelf better never be without it. Everyone says it's the only thing that works on aches and pains." Ike retrieved six more bottles from the burlap sack. Without any coaxing or conversation he gathered items from the shelves. "Ike, you were right about the wind storm, how did you know." "Same as I know the river's gonna flood next rain. Best be on guard for it 'cuz it'll be a gullywasher. Better dig out yer high-top boots." He left. "Reckon it will?" Turner seemed concerned since he lived the closest to the river. The river had never posed a serious threat to his home. Nathaniel reminded them, "Tell me, you aint worried 'bout a prediction that comes from Crazy Ike? He's likely to say most anything to hear his own voice talkin' and tellin'. Pay him no mind."

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