That Ain't a
by IRA KENNEDYIf you can't say something nice about someone,
give 'em both barrels.
That's what Later Billy used to say.
Course he didn't have many friends,
and most of them ended up wounded in some way. What Later Billy did mostly was talk. Lacey said he could talk the ears off a jackrabbit. I suspect she never considered the damage Billy might do to an elephant. But there werent any of those around, and Laceys metaphors usually related to something close at hand.
Apart from putting things off, storytelling what was what Later Billy did best. When he was telling stories folks generally liked to hang around and listen a spell.
"You shure got a way with words," Cousin Luke said one inauspicious day. Course Luke was limited to some fifty-seven words, including twenty-nine of the cussing kind. "You oughtta send some of them off to those magazine types," Luke advised, "They pay top dollar for yarns like that."
"Maybe some of these stories will figure into print someday," Later Billy mused -- for about six months -- before he commenced to send his "tales" off to anybody that printed anythingexcept Billys tomes.
"All I got back for my trouble was little pieces of paper sayin Dont send us nothin else," Later Billy explained a few months later to anyone within earshot.
So, for a spell, Later Billy gave up his writing career while he held forth, ad nauseaum, at the Bar None Bar & Bar-B-Q about the aggravations of his new profession.
"Them publishing fellers dont know squat about whats good. On top of that they dont even know the Kings English. One of em fellers wrote back saying "aint" aint a word. Now weve all heard aint used. So now you tell me," he challenged the assembled congregation of good ol boys in the bar, "is aint a word or aint it?"
Well, R.L.who still was sporting a sizable knot on his head for telling Later Billy Sam Houston walked best backwardschimed in quicker than a shot out of a shovel, "Aint is my favorite word!"
"Know what else one of them lamebrains said about my stories? Said they was "provincial". Now I looked that up in Websters book of words and what I got out of it was that my tales was "countrified". Now I dont know what critter birthed that boy, but the way I figure it every story comes out of some part of this great country. So one way or the other, theys all gotta be countrified. Best as I can figure, them citified publishing types was looking down on the Great State of Texas. Now I dont know about you fellers, but I aintI said I "aint"takin this serious affront to the honor of all we hold dear, from turkey vultures to horney toads, without some measure of satisfaction."
"You gonna put a knot on their heads?" R.L. asked.
"I aint figured out yet what Im a gonna do, but whatever it is, itll be a memory."
A silence fell over the Bar None Bar & Bar-B-Q while Billy pondered. Sometimes hed stay that way for weeks.
Someone ordered another round of longnecks, especially for Later Billy. The idea being, if he was good and liquored up hed do something that would be talked about for years, even if it was only Later Billy doing the talking.
"I tell you what boys," Later Billy said after an appropriate amount of timejust to give his words some weight in the silence they filled. "I think Ill just send them a burden of stories. And Im gonna use aint and git and yonder and yall ever sentence or or so. Ill send them more stories than their childrens children can read. If it takes me till my dying day Ill educate them boys, or at least their younguns to the ways of us provincials. Sooner or later theyre bound to say Aint these yarns right up there with that Shakespere feller? Lets print em and let the whole wide world in on what Texans ponder. "
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