The Publishing of Cletus

My son fell off his bike (at the top of a 30 foot jump) and has two broken arms.  My daughter is job hunting for the first time in her life.  Exams just finished so there are a lot of schedule changes.  My dear friend who asks me to edit his writing – writing which I quite enjoy reading – sent me a large whack this week.  My house is a disaster area.

People have been truly awesome: bringing food and babysitting my son so I can go to work.  My parents went completely above and beyond the call of duty, especially seeing as they were caring for an ailing cat at the time.  My best friend took me out for the afternoon when I thought I was going to go off the deep end.

And then, she gave me the best present.  I’m allowed to publish The Cletus Stories.  I present to you Cletus And The Hot Weasel.

Cletus and the Hot Weasel
(with apologies to Vikram Seth)

“Hot dang! Hot dang! Hot dang!” Cletus exclaims as his hands shake with excitement. “Hot dang!” One more time.

“Honey, what is it that’s got that big ole bee up yur butt this time?” whines Lurleen as she waddles over to where Cletus is staring at a now blank telephone pole.

“I can win, yes I can! I can win! I can, I can, I can. For once in our sorry lifes, I can win something fur us, Lurleen”

“Cletus,” sighs Lurleen. “You gist settle down now. You know you ain’t never won nothing before”. Lurleen snatches the flyer that has previously been residing unmolested on the pole. Already crumpled and sweat stained, Lurleen slowly reads:

WANTED
CASH PAID FOR YOUR BEST WEASEL IDEA
$100 PAID TO THE IN-DEE-VI-DU-AL
WITH THE MOST CREATIVE
USE FOR A WEASEL

The flyer goes on to detail the hows, whens and wheres of this contest that has got our boy Cletus so riled up.

“What in tarnation do you want to enter that there contest fur Cletus? You know there be only one right use fur weasel, and by the by I’m fixing to make it fur yur supper tonight.”

“No!” shouts Cletus. “Lurleen, you cain’t! I loves me a good weasel as much as the next fella, but I gots to figure me sumthin special to do with this one. We just cain’t let this chance be passin us by. Git on home and fix sumthin else, and you just leave me my weasel alone, you hear?”

“Now, Cletus. Don’t get your britches in a bunch. Yous the boss, but our ice box be getting kinda low. I might have to take the truck out at dusk and see if I can hit me a nice skunk or possum fur yur daggone supper.”

Lurleen waddles back towards the truck, leaving Cletus clutching at his precious flyer. Muttering “Gol-dang weasels – there goes my perfect anniversary supper. I should just fix ole Cletus’ wagon good and win that contest with my three county famous weasel stew,” she heaves her bulk into the pick-up.
But as Lurleen has her head bent low over the steering wheel, fortune favours our Cletus as she suddenly feels a large bump under her truck tire. Lurleen screeches to a stop in the middle of the dusty track and rolls her ample frame from the doorless driver side of the pickup. Mr. Big wrappers and empty cream soda cans spill across the road in her wake.

“Shuck my corn!” breathes Lurleen excitedly, for about fifty yards back of her with one perfect tire track over its head, lays one of the fattest porcupines Lurleen has ever laid her squinty eyes on.

“Happy Anniversary,
Happy Anniversary,
Happy Anniversary,
Haaapppyyy Anniversary!”

She sings to the vultures and the dust. “Now we cain have us a beeeooteeful meal, and Cletus can have his daggone weasel.”

Lurleen grabs an old Hefty trash-bag from the bed of the truck, dumps the beer cans onto what passes for a road in these parts, and spills out two rotted out squirrel carcasses with the cans.

“Dang him! That ole Cletus ain’t good fur nothing. Two gist perfect little squirrels thrown right down the outhouse hole!” Lurleen huffs and puffs her way back to the porcupine, picks it up by its flattened head, and drops it into the trash bag. She gives it a mighty whirl around her head to twist the bag shut, and then slings it with a satisfying thud into the bed of the truck.

After a few minutes of catching her breath, Lurleen pulls her considerable bulk back through the hole in the driver’s side and roars on her way, humming the anniversary song.

What our poor Lurleen will never know is that, wedged in the bottom corner of the Hefty bag, is the maggoty carcass of a third flattened squirrel.

Later, back at Rusty Rose’s Trailer Park….

“Hey Lurleen – I’se home. Sumthin sure do smell good!” Our boy begins to get suspicious. Something really does smell good and Cletus goes cold at the thought that it might be his precious weasel. All afternoon while hard at work as a flagman for the County’s only main road, Cletus has been thinking of creative uses for that weasel. In fact, so intent has he been on winning the contest, he had nearly caused a head on collision between a pick-up and a Semi when he had let his sign spin form stop to slow. “That better not be my weasel in that there pot!”

“It ain’t yur weasel so just put yur shirt back on,” drawled Lurleen. “I gots to finish up this here mighty fine por-cu-pine. I’se gist gonna crisp it up with the blowtorch and then yous can carve.”

While Lurleen readies the torch, Cletus goes to the icebox and lovingly takes out his prize weasel. He carries it out back to his favourite thinking stump (well, ok now, it’s his second favourite thinking spot next to the trusty outhouse). Cletus cracks a beer that has been tucked into his armpit while his hands have been busy with his precious cargo. He takes a long swallow, belches, and gits down to business.

“Weasels, weasels, weasles”. Now that he is really starting to think, maybe it isn’t going to be so easy after all to come up with a great use for one. A vision of Lurleen floats up past Cletus’ eyes.

“Hot dang!” he exclaims. “I cain make my Lurleen a beeooteeful fur coat.” Lurleen waddles by with the torch in one hand, and dinner in the other. Cletus looks at the weasel. He looks at Lurleen. He looks back at the weasel. “Ok,” our boy thinks. “Well, I reckon maybe this here weasel is a bit small for a coat.”

“I gots it!” Cletus jumps up from the log stump, spilling the weasel from his lap. “Every woman done love jewellery. I knows they make stuff outta little ole bunny feet. How much purtier would it be to have a weasel foot necklace or arm-band.” Cletus looks at his weasel. He looks at Lurleen (who at this point is carving the porcupine with a shard of glass from the mirror on the outhouse door). He looks back at the weasel. “My poor ole weasel only done have four feets and I reckon it would take at least 10 feets to fit my Lurleen.” Cletus’ spirits begin to sink with the setting sun.

But good ole Cletus ain’t out of ideas yet. Even as Lurleen is calling for supper, Cletus picks up his trusty weasel and carries it to the pick-up truck. He grabs an old lace from out of his high-top and ties it to the base of the weasel’s tail. Cletus proudly strings it up from where the rearview mirror should be inside the cab. He takes a pen from the passenger floor and colours circles on many surfaces of the weasel. Our boy then steps out of the pick-up to admire his work. “I gives yous – the first fuzzy dice weasel!” he exclaims to the world.

“Cleeetuuuusssss” bellors Lurleen for a third time. “Happy anniversary, my dumpling!. Come get the best crispy porcupine this side of the Mississippi.”

Cletus’ mouth begins to water. In fact, he gets so excited to eat Lurleen’s dinner, he leaves the prized weasel dangling in the window of his trusty truck.

“Hot dang! If that weren’t the best road-kill I’ve ever had, I’ll just go on ahead and eat my shorts too!”

Lurleen looks seductively over her bare shoulder spilling out of her newly dumpster raided (only one small hole too!) tube top. “Happy anniversary, Cletus”, she purrs. Lurleen wiggles her ample hips all the way to the trailer. Cletus follows like all good ole boys, licking his lips as he goes. (But whether from anticipation, or greasy porcupine, no one will ever know.) His weasel and all thoughts of the contest have been abandoned for the night.

Our boy wakes with a terrific start around noon the next day. His hands go directly to his stomach, and he moans in great pain. The contamination of the porcupine from the third squirrel has begun its dastardly work. Cletus moans and tosses. He tosses and moans. Lurleen frets nearby.

“Oh, lover boy. Whatever can I do to ease yur sufferin”?

“Weasel,” gasps Cletus. If he is dying, it is his last and greatest wish that he have his beloved weasel by his side. He will breathe his idea to Lurleen for the fuzzy dice weasel so he can leave his kinfolk taken care of.

Lurleen goes to the icebox but when she peers inside, no weasel. “That’s funny. I knows it cain’t have ran away with its head so daggone flat.” Lurleen looks all around the trailer but can not find any sign of Cletus’ precious weasel.

“Lurleen, please! For the love of Holy Roadkill GET ME THAT WEASEL. I’m dyin!”

In desperation, Lurleen wedges out of the trailer door, planning to get in that truck and flatten a new weasel for her man. She pulls up short when her face gets to eye level in the door frame and spies Cletus’ weasel, revealed in all of its bloated glory in the inferno of the truck cab. Huffing and puffing once again, Lurleen grabs the hot weasel, rips it from the mirror attachment, and rushes it to her dying husband. Too weak to lift his arms to accept her offering, Lurleen lovingly lays the hot, sun-bloated weasel across Cletus’ gut.

Five minutes later a strange thing begins to happen. Cletus opens an eye. Next, he opens the other eye. He lifts his head. He sits upright. Finally, good ole Cletus jumps to his feet (spilling the weasel once again to the floor).

“Hot Dang!” he exclaims and bolts out the trailer door, leaving his trusty wife alone in his wake.

At this point in our tale, we need to fast forward one week. Cletus stands on a podium in the middle of the town square, one hundred dollars in his hand, and a shining brass medal around his neck. The crowd of 20 townfolk clap their hands when he speaks, and Cletus revels in his moment in the sun.

“I would like to thank my luvly wife Lurleen,” he concludes, “without who I done never would have found me the cure for death by bad roadkill.” Cletus reaches to the ground behind him and holds up triumphantly the carcass of his beloved weasel. “I give this town,” here he pauses to give time for the full effect to sink in.

“The Hot Weasel Compress”.

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One response to “The Publishing of Cletus

  1. Pingback: Lurleen’s Epic Birthday Ballad | The English Major's Blog

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