Popcorn Sutton

Beauregard and the Cane-breaker Rattlesnake

“It was ever’ bit as long as a wagon tongue and big around as a tin of Hills Brothers.” Everyone in the Dry Goods had heard the story at least twice firsthand and no less than three or four times from someone else. S. Decatur Beauregard’s encounter with the Cane-breaker rattlesnake was known throughout Poverty Flats.

Though the snake’s length varied in each telling, so long as it was at least the length of a better than standard fence post, it would go unchallenged by Beauregard and was left to the teller’s discretion. However, no matter who was doing the telling, the circumference was always compared to that of a tin of Hills Brothers.

People had in the past, perhaps, in an attempt to give the tale their own personal flair, used other brands in their comparison, but a tin of Folgers or Maxwell House, which had been proven in heated argument to be identical in measurement, didn’t carry the same ring as a “tin of Hills Brothers”.

When Beauregard first started recounting his run-in with the Cane-breaker, he would compare the length of the serpent to that of a store bought bull whip, but over the years and through numerous tellin’s, he had grown partial to and finally settled on the wagon tongue. Wagon tongues, he felt, better represented the snake’s character.

“Ever bit as long as a wagon tongue and the varmint spoke with an English accent, he did.” This also went unchallenged. Most of the hill folk in and around Poverty Flats were convinced the rattlesnake had been transplanted across the Mason-Dixon line by Union soldiers in a cowardly covert operation aimed to assassinate Dixie boys in their sleep. “He decorated his speech with ornate words of flourish and tall meaning, just like a New York City carpetbagger desperate for dinner.” Beauregard rapped the end of his cane twice against the worn pine board floor, once for desperate and again for dinner. “Some of the purdiest talk I ever heard brought to tongue.”

“Prolly all lies, weren’t they Beauregard?” Yankee Joe asked, looking like he’d just swallered a bug. Yankee Joe hated Yankees with a passion and as far as he was concerned, an Englishman was nothing more than a funny talkin’ Yankee.

Ten years back Joe’s wife had run off with a bootlegger who lived twenty miles to the north, in Whiskey Creek. The embarrassing incident had served to further Yankee Joe’s disdain for northerners to a point where, if Joe caught you standing on the north side of his shadow, you were liable to be labeled a Yankee scoundrel.

Though it had been ten long years, Joe still waited for the return of his beloved. He was thoroughly convinced the bootlegger had gotten his dear bride drunk on corn squeezin’s and carried her off while she was in a state. He was sure, that once she sobered up and found her bearings, she would return to him and all would be well.

“All lies, weren’t they, Beauregard?”

“Without knowin’ a complete history of that particular reptile, I don’t think it fair and just to comment on his integrity or honesty, for that matter, but I am of the opinion that the snake was completely lacking in moral resolve.”

Beauregard was inflicted with a limp, a condition he rectified with a fine cane made from a dried bull’s pecker. It wasn’t the only walking stick in the holler made from a bull’s pecker, there were a few others, but Beauregard’s was by far the most coveted, on account of its history. A small, discolored hole about twelve inches from the tip told its story and its story fashioned its value.

Beauregard’s limp had been the result of a mule injury. He would have you believe that the mule was irrational and unfit for contact with humans, but eyewitnesses recalled that Beauregard had been overly pestering the mule all day and well deserved the kick he got and more. It was widely known, that Beauregard was intolerant of stubborn animals.

“What happened next, Bo?” The question was asked by Eli Summersbelle, who, like every other man in the room, knew the tale by heart. Each of them jealously and secretly wished the incident would’ve happened to them. The men also knew the tale was told better if Beauregard was prodded along with a little inspirational interest. It just so happened, it was Eli’s turn to do the proddin’.

Eli’s brother, Levi Summersbelle leaned toward Beauregard and handed him a flat bottle of brown sippin’ whiskey. “Tell ’em what came next, Bo.” It was also well known among the men that the “tellin’” flowed better if Beauregard’s recollection muscle was well lubricated.

“Well, I’d been up at my still, fixin’ to run me a batch off, when I noticed that someone or something had, more than likely, been dippin’ into my corn beer. The crick stone I’d placed on top, in order to keep the wooden lid down tight, was downside up. Upon further inspection, I realized I’d been robbed better than a gallon.” Beauregard tapped his cane twice on the floor and once on the potbellied stove. The ring of the cast iron monstrosity was the perfect emphasis for larceny.

This was a new addition to the story; the men looked at each other. Robbery? Perhaps the detail was a result of Beauregard’s muscle being extra lubricated, or perhaps it was just a welcome exaggeration. Nevertheless, partaking of another feller’s fixin’s ranked with horse thievery in the jurisdiction of Broke Dog Holler. Even if it wasn’t on the books as a hangin’ offence, it could damn sure get you killed, all the same. It just wasn’t tolerated. though, all those gathered for the tale could understand the temptation to perpetrate such an infraction, for S. Decatur Beauregard’s corn beer was widely regarded to be better than corn whiskey it produced.

Beauregard, of course, wouldn’t sell his beer, he was afraid it would spoil in the jar and sully his reputation as one of Poverty Flats finest moonshiners. Nevertheless, once in a blue moon, he might sit down with feller and siphon off a gallon or two for shits-and-grins and the exchange of friendly lies.

“Well I looked high and I looked low, but I couldn’t find nary a track left by the thief. No boot prints, no broke twigs, nothin’. I did, however, after a careful scrutinizilation of the area, get a whiff of a mash burp near the ground, right ‘bout knee high.”

“What the hell you mean; you smelt a mash burp, Beauregard?” Eli asked the question, not in disbelief, but as an inquiry, to establish future reference.

“As some of you older fellas might recall, it was late winter, but that day was curious still, an atmospherified anomaly, whereas sound carried on the air like it had its own wings. It was so still, that Levi here could drop a spoon on his porch and five miles to the south, Yankee Joe would look down at his feet to see what fell. It was a day good for the likes of sound and corn beer burps.”

Yankee Joe’s attention was sparked, by the mention of his name. He scooted the log he was sitting on closer into the circle of men.

Yankee Joe was a puzzlement to Beauregard. He saw the man as a smitten fool, with no more sense than God gave a turnip when it came to womenfolk. But that aside, the man was a genius at cold forging copper pots and worms and the like. Those in learned circles might call Joe and idiotic servant, a fancy term for fellers who could play the piano and twist fine copper worms, but couldn’t tell sheep-shit from cinnamon, on a sunny day.

Joe was a hopeless romantic, as opposed to Beauregard, who was a practical romantic. He saw the usefulness of women, and felt he had a better than fair understanding of the “cleave to one another” aspect, but had regretted saying “I do.”, from the second it passed by his wiry mustache. If it weren’t for the barkin’ end of Daisy’s daddy’s shotgun resting just below his left ear, he might never have said those words to any woman.

The marriage was a result of a momentary lapse in willpower when Daisy showed Beauregard her bloomers. He hadn’t meant for things to go as far as they did, but they did. Daisy was hoping for a June wedding, but her daddy felt immediate nuptials were in order, so the “I do’s” were exchanged post haste. Beauregard could swear he heard his promise echo down the barrel of Daisy’s daddy’s shotgun.Well, what’s done is done, and Beauregard didn’t break promises, especially ones made before the Almighty, though he often would pray that the Good Lord might find a bootlegger up north for his Daisy.

“Sweetly bitter and faint, but it was there. Mash burp. It took me a good half hour to locate the next one. I found it about a foot off the ground a hunert or so feet due north.

Yankee Joe grumbled an unintelligible profanity concerning carnal unions between Blue-bellies’ mothers and polecats.

“The next burp, much thicker and more pungent, was again about a foot off the ground and further north. The rascal appeared to be crawling on his hands and knees if the height of the burps were any indication. I knew it wasn’t one of you fellers, it’d take a damn sight more than a gallon of corn beer to take you boys to your knees.” A look or pride swept through the fellers.

Beauregard brought the tip of his cane up, and pondered the small hole, with a look that could have been taken for nostalgia, or regret. “I continued north, and was moving up through a patch of dogwood when the varmint struck.” Beauregard brought his cane down hard on the floor, causing Eli and Levi to startle.

“To my surprise, the first strike shot past me, and the critter dropped to the ground. It’s a rare occasion when a rattler misses and even rarer when the fall flat on the ground. The serpent lay there a moment before he reeled himself back. His head was draggin’ from side to side like he’d done broke himself. As soon as the sonofabitch recoiled and regained his composure, he belched loudly and struck again. Quick an’ spry, I swung my cane in a parry that caught the varmint right square in the teeth; the smell of corn beer permeated the air, and I knew I’d found the culprit who’d been dippin’ in my mash. I withdrew my cane with a vicious tug, which snapped one of the snake’s fangs off at the root.” Once again, Beauregard brought his cane up to eye level. The damage to the walking stick, without a doubt, had snake tooth characteristics, though the actual tooth was absent.

“As I readied another blow, the larcenous drunk surrendered.”

“I yield! I yield! Cease your assault and sheath that unholy instrument of death.” The snake drew back and recoiled at a safer distance from the man, scolding his drunkenness under his breath. The serpent flicked his forked tongue gingerly around the stump of his broken tooth and wagged his head. The world spun in the Canebreakers eyes, either from the effects of the corn beer, or the swack, Beauregard had just delivered to his kisser. “You brute, you have broken my tooth.”

“The hell you say, you attempted first blood, without warning. The good Lord saw fit to give you a rattle; why in the hell don’t you use it?” Beauregard squat down to better look the snake in the eye, English accents gave him pause, English accents polished with corn beer, even more so. “Were you too drunk to rattle?”

Leaves beneath the snake crumpled as the Cane-breaker tightened his coil. It was clear to Beauregard; the snake was hiding something.

“I used to take great pride in my rattle. Fifteen glorious buttons in an elegant taper and a sound that would send a chill down the spine of the most hardened of mountain men.” The snake lowered his head. “But I’m sad to report; the rattle and I were separated a few years back.”

“Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining, never heard of such a thing. I don’t have time for falsehoods, nor idle talk, so I guess I’m going to set into killing you and be on my way.” Beauregard rose and raised the bull pecker over his head. “I’m within my rights to send you on to your maker, jest for tainting my sour mash, notwithstanding your attempt on my life.”

“Wait!”

Slowly, up through the center of his coils, the Cane-breaker pushed up the torn nub of what was left of his tail. Beauregard visibly winced; the wound had healed badly, ragged and bare and unnatural. He didn’t know much about Canebreakers, but he did know they were a proud sort, and such an injury must be as humiliating, as it had been painful.

“Lord Almighty, how’d that happen?” Beauregard’s voice was hushed and empathetic, and the snake was instantly given over to the kindness in the man’s voice.

“I’m poked up to say, it was my own fault. My inordinate love of the drink and an inherent tendency to over indulge places me at disadvantages, which I am completely unaware of during my state of bliss.” Once again the beast expelled the remnants of fermented mash into the air.

“I told you I don’t have time for idle talk or the superfluity of your embellishments.” Superfluity, Beauregard had been waiting weeks to use that word. He’d read it in the Sears and Roebuck while pondering a hat for Daisy’s birthday. “Speak plainly, Snake. How did you receive such a grievance to your rattle?”

“Better said, I over estimate my abilities when I’m half-rats, and I tend to — -dash!” The snake avoided eye contact with Beauregard. “I lost it mafficking about with a snapping turtle.” He said an almost imperceptible quiver in his voice. “I fear my pride and joy has been reduced to turtle defecant.”

“Mafficking?”

“Sport wrestling.”

“Well, I’ll be.” Beauregard was no stranger to sport rasslin’, but he had no idea that such things were contemplated in the critter world. “That’s a tale I want to hear.” The snake’s talk of indulgence had worked up Beauregard’s own thirst. “What do you say; we amble over to my still, and sip some corn beer whilst you elaborate on your mishap?”

The snake tilted his head hard to each side, popping out several kinks as he tested it for any mischief which might have resulted from the mad man’s blow. Other than his broken fang and wounded pride, he felt he was no worse for wear. “I do believe your batty-fang has dampened my efforts at your mash barrel, I dare say, the foreboding air of sobriety is presently threatening my sensibilities.”

“That girly talk could get a snake killed, around these parts.”

After straining out two gallons of mash for sippin’, Beauregard decided to run a batch with what he had left in the barrel, which had been his intention all along before the snake had disrupted his schedule.

The snake lay coiled by the fire, dividing his attention between Beauregard pouring the mash into the still and the flames licking at the bottom of the copper pot. His mouth watered. Two tin cups in hand and a jug of mash under his arm, Beauregard chose his place by the fire. Mindful of a Canebreaker’s ability to strike over half the length of its body, he kept a safe distance and his bull pecker cane at the ready.

“It’s a might early in the year for Canebreakers to be out and about.” Beauregard sat the cups on the ground; he filled them both with corn beer and pushed the fuller one toward the reptile, using his cane.

“Cheers.” The snake put his mouth to the cup and drank deeply. “I’ve always been an early riser.” He said, after draining half the cup. “Mm, mm. That should bring me up to dick. I must say, your mash recipe is exceedingly delicious, do I detect honey and a hint of clove?”

“You have some sharp-eyed tasters on that tongue of yours.”

“Well, I must say, I’m looking forward to sampling the finished product, that is, of course, if you don’t mind.”

“Tell me about this sport rasslin’.”

“Well, I’d been sampling the wares of one of your fellow artisans, and of course, I over indulged, could barely wiggle I was so shat, unable to properly navigate my surroundings, I rolled into the bog and right onto the foul-smelling beast. I, of course, professed sincere apologies, but the mud troll apparently wanted to take advantage of my predicament. I believe he was not entirely honest when he told me Hill Rules required I wrestle my way out of his crick. He was obviously unaware of the fact that Canebreakers are among the most skilled wrestlers in the animal kingdom. My suspicions were confirmed when he offered to wager on the outcome. Of course, I declined, due to my love of the sport, even though I thought for sure I would take the egg against that overturned soup bowl. However, as I mentioned before, my judgment leaves much to be desired, once I’ve tossed a few.” The serpent tucked the nub of his tail beneath his coils. “I must say, I clearly shot the brown on that endeavor, as he made short work of me. My lapse in judgment well cost me my pride and joy.”

“The loggerheads around these parts are well known to maintain a belligerent disposition. Saw the one that lives under Dixie Bridge cripple a black bear, with my own eyes.” Beauregard poked the fire with his cane, sending a shower of sparks up around the copper pot. “Methuselah is the beast’s name. They say he’s been under that bridge since George Washington shit his first cherry pit.”

“George Washington, your first king? Are you trying to sell me a dog?” The snake asked incredulously.

Beauregard overlooked the rudeness; it was socially unacceptable, at least in Broke Dog Holler, to question the veracity of a tale, when your breath reeked of the teller’s whiskey.

“It’s widely accepted that Snappers can reach the ripe old age of a hunert and fifty years, I’ll have you know.”

“Bollocks, you say? Well, I don’t know the age of the scalawag that nipped my end, nor do I know if he was, perchance, Methuselah, or any relation of Methuselah, we did not exchange pleasantries, but I will tell you, he was, indeed, a rapscallion of the first order. It was made quite clear, before the bout, for obvious reasons; there would not be any biting.” The snake slithered back a few feet to give Beauregard some room and nodded at his cup.

Beauregard leaned over and topped it off. “Speaking of pleasantries, my name is S. Decatur Beauregard, but fellers just call me Beauregard.”

“Pleased to meet you, Beauregard, Francois Honeysuckle Swaggart the third, at your service. I allow intimates, such as you, to address me as Honeysuckle.”

“Howdy, Honeysuckle.”

Honeysuckle rubbed the nub of his tail in the dirt. Beauregard looked away politely, focusing his attention on the thump keg.

“There’s no need, Beauregard, I feel our friendship has reached a level, where I no longer need to be embarrassed by my deformity. However, I do thank you for your courteous manner.” Honeysuckle rubbed the dirt harder. “Sometimes the itching is more than I can bear.”

Honeysuckle’s crooked smile and sheepish, embarrassed eyes tugged at Beauregard’s heart strings. At least he thought he saw embarrassment in the snake’s expression, though, he was never any good at judging the mood of Cane-breakers.

“So what brings you to this neck-o-the-wood?” Beauregard asked, trying to change the subject for the better. He leaned over and poured Honeysuckle another cup, without waiting for the Cane-breaker to retreat, as a show of trust.

There was no mistaking the smile on the old snake’s face. “I wintered near here in a wood pile.” Honeysuckle took a long pull from his cup. “Actually, that’s the reason I’m up and about this early, my respite was interrupted, just this very morning, when some Bird removed the log I was sleeping under. Gave her an awful start, I did.” The snake drew his tongue across his mouth. “This drink of yours truly is in the lavender.”

“You’re lookin’ fit as a fiddle, for just coming out of winter sleep.” There was no question, that the statement was a question. Beauregard had a natural skepticism in his speech during exchanges with the English. It couldn’t be helped.

“Bang up to the elephant, I am. Your drink had a lot to do with taking the starch out of my bones; I couldn’t believe my luck when I came upon your barrel.” Honeysuckle paused for a moment. “I must apologize for knapping your property. Had I known you were such a square-rigged fellow, I would have applied more effort, against pilfering this potion of pleasure. I wish it weren’t true, but when the opportunity to powder my hair arises; my honesty is the first leg of my character to fade.” Honeysuckle cleared his throat with a course hiss. “Nevertheless, your brew is only responsible in part, for my spry condition, the Old Bird that found me took pity on my wretched state and nursed me.”

“Oh, but for the kindness of strangers. It’s a commonality around these parts. As you can see, I’m mighty hospitable myself. Even to those that try to take a bite out of my leg and leave me for dead.” Beauregard smiled at the snake to let him know, he had neither hard feelings nor animosity toward the would-be assassin. “Pardon, the interruption.”

“Indeed, the kindness of strangers. Bricky she was too, the Old Bird, she was fearless once she got over her initial start. I assume, she thought I was on my way to the hereafter and wanted to help. She gathered me up in a bed sheet, took me inside and sat with me before a nice fire. The Old Bird quoted scripture to me and hummed a hymn. I guess she wanted me to meet my maker in comfort and good-standing.”

“There’s nothing like the soothing sound of a genteel woman’s voice, wrapped in the Good Word, to provide a man with comfort, I reckon. It’s been so long since my wife used a soothing voice, I’m sure I wouldn’t recognize it, iffen it jumped up and bit me on the ass.”

“You and your Missus having the occasional collie shangles, are you?”

“I haven’t had anything with the missus in nigh on ten years.”

“Haven’t been knocking the ol’ boots, eh?”

“I reckon not. Cain’t say as I miss it, neither.” Truth be told, Beauregard did get the carnal urge from time to time, but most of the time these urges were easily repressed with thoughts of coon hunting and fishing. However, if the urge became a hindrance, he would take himself in hand and clear out the cotton. Just enough to keep his mind fit, he weren’t no deviant, but he wasn’t about to tell some weed threadin’ reptile his personal business.

“Well, I must tell you, it wasn’t all butter upon bacon with the Old Bird, what brought me out of my poor form. She turned out to be a real church-bell, ran her sauce-box the entire time I was there.” ‘Good for nothing husband this, and good for nothing husband that’. “I fear the diplomacy distributed in that household, was more than a little one-sided and held little concern for the predicament of the human male, nor his struggles as a provider.”

“Women folk tend to fence men in so that they might fix the flaws in their character and any other peculiars they might find particularly loathsome.” Beauregard poked at the fire and gave a glance to the still’s spigot. “I’ll be damned if I can figure why women can’t take notice of a man’s faults before she goes and gets the clergy involved, it would surely save us men a lot of heartache.” Beauregard placed a Mason jar under the Dogwood twig he’d stuck in the spigot, he felt it was near to shine.

“I agree. I’m sure you can truly empathize with her partner in matrimony. Though I doubt you share in his desperation for female companionship. The woman’s countenance was most disagreeable.”

“It’s slim pickin’s out here in the hills, I’ll say that in the feller’s defense.” Beauregard knew Cane-breakers naturally liked to put on airs, but it bothered him, that the snake would openly disparage the woman, who had obviously saved his life. “I would think you might have a tad more gratitude toward the lady, what saved your skin.”

“I admit; I’m deeply flawed when it comes to showing appreciation for any kindnesses directed my way. But in my defense, it is not often we Cane-breakers are treated with affection, so emotionally, we are ill-equipped to respond in an appropriate manner. Besides, her incessant chin wagging gave me the collywobbles. I’m not a well riser, and she’d obviously lost the plot. Crazy as a shithouse rat, she was. My wish is to remain agreeable with everyone, but I can be a bit shirty when awakened from a heavy slumber.” The first drip into the Mason jar momentarily stole the snake’s attention. “I uh, I’m ashamed to say I responded in the only manner to which I’m accustomed, in such circumstances.”

“Well in what manner did you respond to the woman’s charity?”

“I bit her.”

“You bit her? Did my ears just hear you right, Honeysuckle?” Beauregard gripped the bull pecker a little tighter. He’d never heard of such rudeness or lack of appreciation. His judgment of the snake’s character was obviously way off center.

“She had the same look on her face as you do right now, shocked and incredulous.”

“How could you visit the woman’s kindness, with such an ungrateful and malicious act?”

“She asked me the same thing.”

“Indeed, well how did you justify the homicide?”

“I reminded her that I was a snake. It’s what we do.”

“You, more than likely, killed a friend of mine. Can you offer any particulars in regards to her likeness?” Beauregard tapped the bull pecker against his boot menacingly. “Justice might require me to send you on to your glory, yet.”

“Well, she was rather thick, perhaps thirteen stones. She also had quite the parish pickaxe in the midst of her gob. She could deplete the air in a cozy pub, with a just a few draws on that proboscis.”

“Forgive me my ignorance of your girly talk, but she was lighting into you with a pickaxe?”

“No, no, the Old Bird’s beak.”

Beauregard suddenly took notice. His Daisy had a large nose. He pondered the specifics Honeysuckle had provided, thus far. It was true his Daisy was rather unpleasant on the eyes. He had, himself, on occasion, offered that her face could turn a locomotive down a game trail, but only when he was deep in the spirits and never to her face. Though he wasn’t sure how much thirteen stones weighed, his Daisy was truly a biggun. It was also true their woodpile was a dwindling’. But then again, Levi’s wife was no prize, they lived nearby, and the nose on her could split cord wood…

Heat flooded Beauregard’s face and bristled his whiskers. Rising up on one knee, he pointed the bull pecker at Honeysuckle’s head. “You listen here, Snake, and listen carefully. Your life depends on how you answer my next question. “Did the woman’s breath smell like feet?” The cane was shaking visibly in Beauregard’s grip. He hoped with all his heart, the answer would be no, but deep down, he knew he was going to have to kill himself a Cane-breaker.

“Samuel. Look at me. You don’t want me to lie to you, do you?”

Beauregard was caught off-guard; no one addressed him as Samuel, but his Daisy.

“How’d you know the S stood for Samuel?” He lowered the tip of the cane, so he could see the snake’s expression. Honeysuckle appeared to be smiling.

“Water runs straight until it can’t.” Honeysuckle was surely smiling. His fang was no longer missing.

“What in the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Come now lad, everyone has their breaking point. The Old Bird is no more, there’s no need for you to continue this puppet show.” Honeysuckle was grinning. “Mind your jar, it’s topping off.”

The Mason jar was filled to the brim and corn liquor puddled in the dirt around it. Beauregard took the jar and poured the warm moonshine down his throat, emptying it half past the letters.

Beauregard, in his younger days, would fight at the drop of a hat, and most times he would be the one to drop the hat, but he found himself at odds, regarding the idea of killing Honeysuckle. The sting of Daisy’s untimely demise was fading much quicker than he’d expected.

In spite of his anger toward the serpent, he offered the jar and its remainder to Honeysuckle. “Polish this off, and then I’ll kill you.” The Cane-breaker was gone. Vanished.

Beauregard tilted the jar to his lips and drank the snake’s share. He carefully placed the jar under the spigot and resumed work on the hole he’d been hogging out in his bull pecker cane. He twisted the tip of his knife, blew at the shavin’s and twisted some more. The hole was Cane-breaker deep and tooth shaped. He’d hollowed out two holes in Daisy’s neck, in much the same fashion, earlier that morning. He chuckled to himself; he had serious doubts, whether or not a Cane-breaker could have brought the Old Bird down. He’d rassled Razorbacks that put up less of a fight.

Beauregard took the mason jar from the spigot and drank what had collected. The Cane-breaker had been good company to share a snort with. Honeysuckle didn’t appear to be much on good-byes, but Beauregard had a feeling their paths would cross again. There was an irrational kickin’ mule still drawing breath.


“Honeysuckle polished off the rest of that jar, offered his condolences again and quietly took his leave. Cain’t fault the snake none for his mischief, he was just doing what came natural to him.” Beauregard ran his thumb around the hole in his walking stick. “Daisy knew better than to handle serpents, she was a Methodist by birth, her faith weren’t properly equipped for such an activity. God rest her soul.”

A single tear traced alongside Beauregard’s nose and disappeared into his mustache. It took me two days of diggin’ in that frozen ground, to get a hole wide enough to accommodate my Daisy.”

“She was a stout woman.” Levi offered.

The men gave Beauregard a moment to collect himself, as they envied his bachelorhood. All but Yankee Joe secretly wished the ol’ Cane-breaker would pay their better halves a visit; Joe was still holding out hope. A true romantic always will. Now it’s a common sight in Poverty Flats, and throughout much of Broke Dog Holler, for that matter, to see half a jar of corn squeezin’s sittin’ near a hopeful man’s woodpile.