CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - Shootout In Big Puf

(02/06/2001)

Big Puf is part of what the Census Bureau defines as the Greater Tri-Holler Indigenous Cohort made up of Big Puf, Little Wheeze and Bluetick Cricks, and the people who live there are officially designated as "way up the hollers."

The predominantly right-handed Pratlows make up the bulk of the population on Big Puf, while the left preference Hanshaws reside mostly on Little Wheeze. Bluetick is a sort of neutral ground for ramp growing, ginseng digging and a memorial garden for old Maytags, refrigerators and various parts from the Detroit auto works, although the occasional VW transaxle has been found.

Once an industrial archeologist came down from Detroit and in digging around discovered a Henry J rear end from the 50s, which sent him back in delight. I heard that he had applied for government grants for further research and had petitioned Bill Clinton to declare the area a national sanctuary for future generations. I don't think, with all the fuss about the Rich pardon, that Clinton got around to that before leaving office.

The Pratlows and the Hanshaws have never gotten along very handily politically with leftists and rightists never reading the handwriting on the wall with the same interpretation. In fact, the great feud of '46 over a minor political office resulted in a shootout in the village of Big Puf at what was then called the Blue Moon saloon. Both factions rode into town and commenced firing upon sight. There was a long fuselage of shooting, but no one was hit, and by the time all the ammunition had been expended they had decided to sit down over a bottle of something or other to resolve their differences.

The Blue Moon saloon was renamed the Blue Moon and Empty Arms Caf351, not as a tribute to a sentimental song but as a reminder of all the emptied guns.

The proprietor is Homer Bob, a Pratlow, an aspiring writer who has never learned to read so as to keep himself pure and unspoiled by other writers. His assistant is Burvil, who is somehow related, but in the convoluted genealogy of the region which is made up of his kids, her kids, our kids, and God only knows, I haven't been able to determine the lineage.

When I first arrived in Big Puf I sought out Homer Bob, as I felt we had much in common. I could read, but I had been told by specialists at a leading university up north that I couldn't write.

We hit it off quite well, but I, a drinker of strong herbal tea, didn't feel comfortable visiting an establishment which served strong regional drinks of a different nature.

We tried holding literary discussions in the fire hall, until it burned down, and then we moved to Arley Cleeter's place. I was unfamiliar at that time with Arley's practice of burning books for heat, and each time he got up to stoke the stove I found that I, as a book lover, was always grabbing books before they could be consumed by the flames. He finally told me that if I couldn't stand the heat to stay out of his cabin. About the only alternative was the bar itself and we crossed over amid considerable moaning.

Over the years I have been accepted as well as any ambidextrous outsider might be in such a rural handicapped region. Burvil has read some of my writing attempts to Homer Bob, who especially liked the government press releases that I once penned. He said my writing made him more determined than ever to stay pure, a vow he has fulfilled to this day and which I took as a definite compliment from a fellow writer as journalism, especially, is filled with impurities.

There is much more that you need to know when you visit Big Puf with me, and I will try to lead you gently into that dark valley. As Richard Nixon once said: Trust me!


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