In Search Of My Past
Some Things are Better Off Left Buried
by Joey Thomas
Here we go again! My fucking editor calls me up and asks me to do this story about my family roots and how to find them. My roots are things that due to the genetic make up of my known family tree was probably not a good thing for me to be diving into. I really had not embarked upon that life altering task because I knew that once I dug it up, that what I found might be hard to bury. But the money was needed, and since I had just been evicted from my apartment I figured, what the fuck.
As I drove down the sleepy back roads of Clarksburg, Alabama, I wanted to fucking cry. Is this where I'm from? Is this the shit hole where my genetic trail led to? All along the road side all that could be seen were dilapidated wooden shacks which were caving in on themselves from lack of repair. The people standing on the porch were so slacked jawed their bottom lips touched the ground. It was a if a tornado of poverty had carved it's path through this part of the country, leaving behind in it's wake a populace that had become addicted to a life that was completely supported by the local K-Mart. l could feel the humiliation welling up inside me as I realized, that it was just my luck that this was the place where the journey of my biological existence began. If this is what I was going to be writing about, my career as a writer was over.
There is a huge cloud of despair hanging over these parts. The only radio station I could pick up was playing songs requested by the local funeral homes, including 86 versions of amazing grace, recorded by every known and unknown country music artist in the Country. My favorite was the rendition belted out by Pearl Jam. The radio announcer, speaking in a heavy back wood southern drawl, spoke about how Pearl Jam had donated the proceeds of the song to the children of the "Swamp Rot school of disadvantaged children" who had lost a body part to swamp rot. He also added that the total collected to date was 14.50 enough to save one poor child's nose.
First stop brought me to the middle of town. I figured that I would start with the local news paper to see if they had any record of my living relatives. After all, it would be nice to have a little background on my family. Maybe I was all wrong about them. Maybe I would go to the paper and find out that they accomplished some amazing things in their lives. With new found optimism I stepped on the gas and thought, maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought. Maybe was then interrupted as a part of a building fell off into the street I and I ran over a board with huge nails sticking out of it.
Hog Tussle Gazette Archive Room.
Stubby old lady dressed in a potato sack plaid skirt and sporting a mini pearl floppy hat, comes in with her arms full of newspapers and throws them down in front of me. She then tells me that she hopes that I'm not related to any of those son of a bitches that I was requesting information on. Upon hearing this, I cringed. As she turned and left, I began reading the news papers in front of me and immediately began to cry as I realized I had descended from a gene pool that included every thing from bank robbers to child molesting. It was awful. One story about cousin Robert Earl Barker said that he shot one of his 46 kids accidentally when his wife accidentally baked a bullet while cooking up a squirrel. Kids were packed so tight at the supper table that damn thing ricocheted off little Skeeters skull, into little Earp who was sitting right next to him.
Came across another story about one of my cousins, named Moby, who while trying to shove a stick of dynamite up a cows ass, accidentally lit the fuse with a cigarette that was hanging out of his mouth when the thing went off prematurely and blew off huge chunks of cousin Moby. Following the accident he got a job in a freak show as the man who was born without most of his body parts. It gets worse. A few years later another on of my unfortunate cousin's falls into a lard trap at the local slaughter house and disappears, only to resurface again in a hundred or so cans of shortening. Four years later, cousin Bubby dies while sticking his tongue in a electric socket to see if it works.
Around these parts most every one, in one way or another is related. Which means that due to the thinning blood line, on any given Friday night your probably fucking a relative in the back of a hay covered pick up truck. The result is that there are parts of this area where everyone kind of looks like one another.
Cousin Ernie was the town barber. As he gave a white-wall to a gentleman sitting in his barber chair, that looked like his brother, he muttered to me with a thick hillbilly accent. "Yea, I heard of that name before. Young fella just got out of the pen a short while ago." My heart sank out of my trouser leg as he continued. "Came in here for a hair cut and paid for it with that there bale of hay."
At this point I had heard enough. I interrupted Cousin Ernie, and he stopped in mid sentence and put his straight razor up to my throat. Staring me down, and talking out of his clenched teeth, he said. "It's not nice to interrupt people." He then threatened to "slit my gizzard!" My heart raced and pumped the yellow right up my spine as I began to whimper for my life. It's not like in the movies where someone puts a gun to your head and you spew out some heroic thing like, "Go ahead, shoot me." right before a swat team comes crashing in the door. It's more like "I'm sorry! I'm ( sob ) sooo sorry, please don't slit my gizzard!"
Following the incident in the barber shop, I decided that I did not want to continue with this assignment and sent my advance money back to the editor. Then I went home, changed my home phone number and two weeks later I moved from the vicinity.