The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Slick in the Country

By James V. Burchill © 1991

Issue: March, 1991

I had moved to the rural south two years ago. About five months ago, the nearest neighbors moved away. Two months ago my new neighbors, the Browns moved in. After they finally settled in, one night after supper they came calling.  I pushed twenty, or thirty magazines off the couch, so they could sit down.

I sat down, and immediately my cat Pudgy jumped, well clawed onto my lap. Pudgy laid on his back, with his head across my arm, resting on the arm of the chair. I then tickled his furry belly; he made contented noises and went to sleep.

Fudgy, my other cat laid on his back by my feet. I slipped my shoes off and sunk my foot into Fudgy's well padded stomach.

Mrs. Brown cried, "Oh God!"

"No," I laughed, "I'm from Greenpernt, ah Greenpoint, Brooklyn." Whenever I said Greenpernt, I always thought of some place like Maine, or Canada.

I continued, "Heck, I never saw a tree until I was twenty-one, and joined the Navy, and that was a palm tree."

"Oh God!" Moaned Mrs. Brown, as Pudgy writhed in ecstasy as I tickled him.

"Where did you get those cats, Jim?" inquired Mr. Brown.

"Right up at the top of the hill," I answered. "A truck had mashed their mother flat. They probably weren't more than two weeks old, so I brought them home. Fed them with an eyedropper, and they're the best pets ever."

"Oh God!" said the obliviously demented Mrs. Brown.

"You got anymore pets?" asked Mr. Brown.

"Why yes I do, same thing, a box fell off a chicken truck, two were dead, and one had a broken wing. I brought him home, and he's great company too. Here, I'll get him."

"Birdie, Birdie, chick, chick, chick," birdie, who lived on the patio, stumbled into the living room.

"OH MY GOD!" Screamed Mrs. Brown, heading for the door.

Backing out Mr. Brown said, "Jim I hate to be the one to tell you, but Birdie ain't a chicken."

"He's not, I said somewhat puzzled, "well what is he?"

"A Vulture," cried Mr. Brown, now standing in the driveway. "And another thing, they ain't cats, they're Groundhogs."

"Darn," I said, as Pudgy and Fudgy climbed up into my arms. "Well yo'll come back, hear."

Across the valley that night everyone heard a scream. It sounded like, "OH MY GOD...!"