My business partner, Burle Shoalwater (half-owner of the Hell’s Belch), rode with me the other day. His truck needed new brakes. At least it did before I’d get in her again. We had dropped our culler, Ebb Tyde, off at his brother’s place and were a quarter mile from the Casa de Shoalwater when we got stuck behind a school bus.
One of the kindergartners getting off at the first stop, where his mama waited for him at the end of a long lane, reminded us of Thanksgiving. Must have been that brown and orange construction paper turkey hat he wore.
Burle’s grin pained me. “Why’d they let the turkey join the band?” he asked.
“He had drumsticks.” Bah-rump-bump-tsssss.
The bus moved maybe a hundred yards. And stopped again.
Burle kept smiling. “What did the widowed turkey say to her delinquent kids?”
“If your father could see you, he’d turn over in his gravy.”
The bus did. Three houses down. And then again at the end of the block.
I wouldn’t look at him.
Burle said, “Why’d they arrest the turkey?”
“Suspected it of fowl play,” I answered.
Burle looked hurt. “No, really,” he said, “did I tell you about the time daddy tried to keep turkeys? We all liked the leg, so he tried to breed a turkey with six legs. And you know, one time he finally got it right.” I didn’t ask what happened, so Burle told me. “But nobody couldn’t catch it.”
We finally made it to the Shoalwater’s oyster shell driveway.
“Why’d the turkey cross the road?” He wouldn’t leave without one last one.
“Chicken’s day off.”
Burle shut the passenger door with a chuckle I’ve been hearing since the first time he told me those same jokes three or four decades ago when we rode the school bus.
He’s been a splinter under my skin ever since primary school. A never-tiring nerve-plucker of the first degree. A distraction. A bad influence even.
I’m very thankful I’ve got a friend like Burle.
Skeeter Philpot knows what kind of music the Pilgrims liked. Plymouth Rock