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The Way Things Oughta Be

By Mike Kemp

There I sat at my computer, spewing forth words onto the hard disk, trying very hard to change the course of history. A strange car drove up in my driveway, breaking my reverie. My dogs yapped their people bark: Wake up, boss, and put your pants on; somebody that we don't know is here. Since I live in the boonies, that was an unusual event, so I went to greet my guest.

"May I be of service, sir?"

An older, portly gentleman, quite dignified in flowing black robes, alighted. "Yes, son, you can. I analyze houses. It's quite free. I'm a wizard, you see."

Quite insightfully, I thought, I responded, "Do what?"

"Let's have a look at that north wall," he said.

Truly magically, the wall, JUST the wall, transported itself to my driveway turnaround and settled to earth, shedding pieces-parts and accompanied by the sound of falling glass and crumbling masonry and tortured lumber. The old gentleman dusted his hands, and said "Let's get to it. Look, son, there's a great big crack-- two of them, in fact."

"No kiddin', your honor. By the way, is that the correct form of address? When you set it down, it didn't have a foundation under it anymore. It's a miracle, fer sure -- a miracle that it even stayed standing. You're a wizard, all right. By the way, fool, look at my house. That end of the roof sagged in when the wall left. And my milk goat has gone through my bedroom to the patio and is eating my primo Afghani gold buds. That stuff's worth thirty dollars an ounce."

I muttered to myself, "It used to be four hundred an ounce, years ago, till folks finally woke up. Hmm, so was real gold, though,come to think about it."

Getting my thoughts back to business at hand, I said, "Gretchen! Spots! Lunch!" and started back into the house for the Uzi as the old guy, not quite so dignified any more, squawked and sputtered and tried to get to his cell phone as my Husky and Pit set to him. My hounds, you see, understand that they have to earn their meals, just like everybody else.

Returned, I said, "Gretchen, Spots, BACK!" Spots has always been willful, and hesitated in leaving his reward. Gretchen knocked him (Spots, that is) sprawling, and both returned to me, Spots a little hang-dog.

"Well, what the devil do you have to say for yourself?" It was obvious that I had addressed this to the old man, robe askew and bleeding, not the dogs.

"Boy, I'll have your ass! I'll have the ATF and DEA and FBI and IRS and SPCA and..." Enough was enough. POWPOWPOW!

"Gretchen, Spots, HOLD!" Spots glanced at me, then at Gretchen, who rumbled in her throat, and both sat, watching what they hoped was lunch while it cooled.

I went in the house, ran out the goat, and closed some doors, then called Milton. "Sheriff, this is Mike. Some dern fool, called himself a wizard, drove up and started taking my house apart.... Yeah, physically -- he took out a wall, and the goat ate my weed while... No, Milton, not all of it. Anyway, I shot the son of a.... No, not the goat, she's worth money. Do you want the body?... HIS body, Milton... Good, otherwise Spots would be real disappointed. He's been drooling ever since the old fool drove up. This is the first time in three months he's had any red meat, since that tax collector ran through my garden, stompin' my poppies, tryin' to get away from Charlie. It's hard enough keepin' the goat and cow out of those poppies. Yeah, he got away from Charlie, all right, for all the good it did him. He'd'a been better off giving up to Charlie -- he'd'a just taken his clothes and briefcase and car, then called us for a tar-and-feathers party. As it was, he ran right into my older boy out there cleaning up the mess the cow had made of the poppies when he let her get loose. Pissed my boy right off, seein' that collector messin' up his mornin's work. Shot him dead -- and a good shot to boot, fella runnin' like that'un was.

"As a matter of fact, he and my nephew that lives down there, dern fool, bothofem's been buggin' me to go mugger-huntin' down in Birmin'ham ever since. I keep tellin'em that the muggers are all hunted out, and besides, Grandaddy's still pissed at me for shootin' that last one 'fore Grandaddy could get his pistol clear. He won't play bait any more unless I promise 'im first shot, and he's not as quick as he used to be.... Yeah, I know, it's not the same, anymore. Still, I haven't laughed so hard since Charlene near Bobbitized that idiot-child deputy you hired, for tryin' to squeeze a freebie our of her. All he had to do was talk nice to her -- she's a sucker for a uniform.... Protection!? Come on, Milton. For Charlene? Get real. FROM Charlene, maybe... Don't you dare tell her I said that. Why did you even call that grand jury, Milton?.... He tried to collect INSURANCE?!? Lord, what's the world coming to...

"I know, I know. Look, Milton, can I have his car?... This fool WIZARD'S car, Milton, what are we talking about? Is Charlene over there now, or somethin'?... Thanks. I've got some squeezin's coming out of the barrel this week -- want a quart?... Six bucks, this batch is pretty good. The weed won't be ready for a month or so. You still like my Indica better than Ed's Sativa?... OK, I'll save you some... Can you talk to some of the guys, get'em to come help me fix this wall? It'll be worth their while. Tell Frank to bring his hydraulic jack. And warn'em that the gubbimint's feeling its oats again. Carry them, don't leave them at the house...

"Nah, don't worry with the plaque. I've got two already. Instead of the reward, you remember that DEA chopper from a while back that was looking at Ed's old lady Myra and her chocolate buns out by their pool, instead of for Ed's weed like they were SUPPOSED to a'been, or for ED and that hard-mount M-60 of his, like they SHOULDA been?... Are there any M-16's left out of the booty? This Uzi isn't much worth a flip over thirty feet, and it's hard to find a target inside thirty feet any more... "Thanks again, Milton. Bye."

(c) William Michael Kemp 1998

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24 January, 1998