She might as well go to hell, cause she ain’t gonna be happy in heaven either!–Nancy B. Brewer
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART EIGHTY-FOUR: KINGDOM COME
“And, as long as we’re on the topic of all the loose prattle that goes around,” said Count Victor Justin, “especially in barrooms and suchlike places–among members of the general populace, not excluding high government officials and the like? It has been my experience that refined people converse, ordinary folk talk, and all the riff-raff that we don’t especially like, especially foreigners such as Chinamen and the like, why, they merely jabber. It’s the way of the world. Especially in the Deep South. Oh, I know the South. Ask me if I don’t. I’ll be lying to you if I say I didn’t. I spent twenty days there recently, and it seemed like twenty Donkey Ears. Probably not a good idea to go there in August. In any event, yeah bo, I know that region well. Folks are real nice and friendly there, not like in the big cities of the east. And you would do well to be nice and friendly right back, even if you don’t feel like it. Otherwise? Well Sir, and I swan you’ll find that they got some of the friendliest lynch mobs you ever did see.
“Do you want to know the truth about the South? The real truth? Most of them there are the descendants of convicts. Pickpockets, sneak thieves, counter jumpers and the like. And like most fools of that stripe, they’re all a bunch of marks. Just like most people, they’re very good at conning themselves into thinking their way of life is the best. It’s warm all the time in Dixie, see, except when it ain’t, and that’s seldom, so of course the lazy white man can hunker down in the woods and sit and do nothing all day. What passes for heavy industry in the south is mostly found in the cities. Other than sawmills and turpentine mills and the like. Or working on the chain gang. Here’s some advice that just might save your life: Don’t get arrested down South; the chain gang is a living hell–chopping cotton in the 90 degree sun is enough to kill a man, and the swill they feed you there ain’t fit for swine. At least in the county jail you have a chance to order something decent, provided you got the dosh.
“I neglected to mention that there’s also a lot of industry on the plantations. Leastways, among the colored folk. Oh, those plantations! They stretch as far as the eye can see! You can still find the arrowheads left there from vengeful Injuns as was hustled off that land by Andy Jackson. Jackson was, by far, the best President we ever had. Most Presidents have a veneer of gentility, but Old Hickory was a genuine animal, and he didn’t care one jot ner tittle who knowed it. By the bye, watch out when a politician says ‘I have to be honest with you’. It means he’s preparing to let loose with a certified whopper. Ah, bolitics in Dixie is different from politics in the Big Cities up north. Everything is on a smaller scale. The man who would be the town loafer up North is the one they elect as Sheriff down in Dixie. Southerners admire the ingenuity of a lazy man. Your typical Sheriff down in Dixie is a big lout as ain’t good for much else. He dances to the tune of the movers and shakers, just like a Police Captain in the Big City. He’s been chewin’ Mail Pouch since he was a small boy, and by the time he grows to manhood he probably has nary a tooth in his head, but that’s all roight because his diet consists principally of corn mush fried in salt pork drippins. Your typical sheriff is so low down he’d steal the cracklin’s from his mammy’s fat gourd. In Sydney they’d call him a blodger and in the East End they’d call him a gull but down in Dixie he is the King of all the low-down, low-grade, tenth rate, good for nothing no-count white folk–to say nothing of the negroes, to whom he is like unto a God. You can see the panic and desperation in their eyes–when the Sheriff comes a-knockin’. Nothing good ever comes of it. One time down near Orleans a colored man, let’s call him Dax, was suspected of abductin’ a five year old girl. This, of course, was an unspeakable crime, since the little girl was white. My Pappy vouched for poor old Dax–said he couldn’t of done it, since Dax was with him the whole time. Of course, the Sheriff was a mean old cuss, and he warn’t having none of it. They tortured Dax, though not too much, because he was widely known to be a good boy, and then they strung him up. Of course, it turns out that the little girl had fallen down a well, and wasn’t even badly hurt, just skeered out of her little head. It was too late for poor old Dax, though. Well–he was 103 years old, and I guess it was might nigh to bein’ his time anyway.
“Down South, the hard-shell bible-pounders don’t hold with liquor or card-playin’ or fornication, so perforce them there are their secret vices. Those men’s clubs they have? Lodge meetings, and the like? No women allowed? Well, that’s a sign that they’re all fucking each other, and they don’t want their wives or girlfriends to know about it. Remarkable, the secrets a man will confide when he’s drunk. Which is why hard liquor never passes my own lips. In my line of business, there’s no future in wising up a mark, nor in playing the blabbermouth.
“Down in Dixie, some harmless old lady who wouldn’t even touch so much as a drop of home-made Dandelion Wine will drink those soothing syrups and other patent medicines like they was sody pop. And feed ’em to the baby, too. Them soothing syrups are, of course, is something like forty per cent laudanum, so they really make your little Goo Goo go Ga-Ga. But I will admit that some of them old Biddies can also whomp up a real mean poppy-seed tea. They ain’t all after harboring only Holy Bibles and lace doilies and other brick-a-brac, I can tell you that much. Some of them old hags have really whooped it up, back in their day. Just because they ain’t all painted up and powdered up, doesn’t mean that they wasn’t plumb loco, once upon a time. Doesn’t mean that they still don’t know how to tie one on. Lots of them fusspots are feelin’ no pain, I’ll tell you what. That’s why you don’t want to cross none of them, if you can help it. Unless you also want to have every man jack in three counties a-howling for your scalp. Some of those crones have some powerful friends and relatives in back of ’em. And a good many of them are pretty formidable in their own right.
“Oh, and did I mention they all have shootin’ irons? And you can bet that they all know how to use ’em, too. Hm! ‘Pore ole weak woman’ my ass!”
THE UNITED STATES
SAN FRANCISCO, CA. You would be ill-advised to opine that “all homeless people should be killed”.
MISSOULA, MT. Avoid patronizing references to “fornicating with sheep” or other livestock.
ST. LOUIS, MO. Resist the impulse to praise Kansas City and compare it unfavorably to St. Louis.
BIRMINGHAM, AL. Do not, by any means, ask your host if his negroid features mean that his ancestors had “a splash of the old tar brush”.
PITTSBURGH, PA. Refrain from pointing out that their PNC Park sounds like “Pansy Park”.
DOVER, DE. Do not ask, “Is Delaware even a state?” Not even in jest.
NEW YORK CITY. Do not say “Actually, I find that New Yorkers are surprisingly provincial.”
PROVINCETOWN, MA. Do not ask your bartender about his wife and children.
PROVIDENCE, RI. In referring to the recently-deceased mayor, do not imply that he “sleeps with the fishes.”