|Burvil was sitting at a table in the Blue Moon with the Wall Street
Journal spread before him intently scanning the stock listings when I
"Can't find hit," he drawled. "Can't find what?" I asked, and as soon
as I did I knew I had made a mistake, much like when you smell gas and
then absent mindedly light a match to determine the source.
"Wirt County," he replied, and I knew that I was in for not only a
lesson in economics but one dealing with mysteries older than the
Pyramids. Well, I had gone this far, so the next logical question was
to ask why he might be looking for Wirt County in the vicinity of Wall
"I want to invest in hit," and he gave me a look as if to say this is
our secret. "Hit's a gonna merge with Wood County and I want some
stock afore hand," and I knew this mystery was deeper than I had
Once Burvil is on a roll there is no use in trying to stop him, and,
to be honest, I didn't want to as I figured there must be a story
somewhere behind his unusual quest.
"The Charleston Gazette is gonna merge it with Wood County and I want
stock cause people who have stock in little banks make out like
bandits when they merge with big 'uns," he continued.
He said that if Wood County gets Wirt then Kanawha might go after Wood
and a fellow could end up owning a big stake in Charleston before he
He went on to relate how a fellow he knew had stock in a little
country bank that got gobbled up by a bigger one and then the bigger
one got taken over by still a bigger one and the man ended up owning
stock in a bank that won't even cash his checks now because his
computer number couldn't keep up with the mergers.
Burvil said that that bank had been like the Ohio River but was now
bigger than all of us put together. I didn't get a connection between
banks and the Ohio River, but he cleared it up by saying that the bank
like the river had been one bank for all of West Virginia.
It still was unclear why he thought that Wirt County was for sale. I
tried to explain that the good people of Wirt County, as well as the
citizens of West Virginia, might have something to say about such
mergers, even if the Charleston Gazette had given its approval.
Know what he told me? Said I was jealous because I didn't think of it
first! And that I probably didn't have money like he did anyway to
invest. Burvil having money was news to me as he is always bumming
from me to help some "poor little kids" over on Little Wheeze Crick
but which I suspect he spends on some vices of his own.
He seemed more than happy to explain the source of his funds. He said
Homer Bob had paid him "comp" time wages after reading about the
Republicans in Charleston who took the money and then paid it all
Burvil said Homer Bob thought that he, Burvil, was a Republican and
would pay it back in a day or two, but he added he was going to fool
him by turning Democrat and keeping it. Therefore, he was going to
invest all $39.45 in stock of Wirt County as he figured that might get
him noticed when the Parkersburg county officials started looking
around. He hoped for a job taking care of the court house in
Elizabeth so that if there was ever a spillover in Wood County it
would be ready-but he hoped not too often.
In the meantime, he figured on having fun fishing in the Little
Kanawha, living on the dividends paid out by Wood. I knew it was
useless to explain the impossible to Burvil. I simply told him he
couldn't believe everything he reads in the newspapers.
I know, because I have written some of it.