Back in Pickleville Holler, I stopped by a roadhouse and I was greeted by a group of old men who were smoking pipes and drinking beer. A lovely farm lass walked up to me, handed me a leg of mutton and some cottage cheese.
"We have to tell you an old wives tale that has been spread around about every year this time," the fishwife muttered. "It's been spread around with the moonshine, the hard apple cider and the Iron City and Rolling Rock beer. Yep, all those lovely beverages that we enjoy imbibing in around mid-to-late October time to the end of February time. Between Halloween and that ever-so-obese "Fat Tuesday" to kick off Mardi Gras. Some of us call every one of these days between these two dates on their calendars "All Werewolves Day", which really, particularly around here, it's just a Groundhog's Day of nonstop horror, akin to just about every normal day that runs on and on like a flaming, exploding, smoking bomb train."
Writer's Note: Friends, comrades, elders, siblings and dear, dear cousins - on each and every All Hollers Day, or Holler-ween, or just plain ole ordinary All Werewolves Day, as the Picklevillians call it, talk turns to a haunted junkyard filled with wicked witches and warlocks who dance on the junked SUVs, cars and school buses at three in the wee; plenty of moonshine dyed black and orange just like good ole' Jack Pumpkin hisself; and even a few Appalchian-ized werewolves and vampires. It's also got a few shadowy, nebulous, ghostlike apparitions of Fuller Brush men selling bogus, worthless junk bonds from the stock market crash of 1929 and 2008; a few hounds from hell; and last but not least, yer' old Headless Hillbilly his-self.
An old man approached my table, hit me on the back and said, "See, when I was growing up, jest a young buckaroo, yes-sir-ree-sir, there was an old man who lived on a dirt road. Nothing grew on this dirt road - not even ragweed, dirt and rocks. Nobody dared ever travel this rutted, ridiculous goat path. The last living being who was brave enough to venture down this terrible thoroughfare was found just a few years ago in the top branches of a sad-looking, leafless sycamore tree. His name was Ickybod Dusseldorf and he was said to be a 750-year-old, rural, Appalachian Warlock."
"No kidding," I yapped. "You must watch Fox News, too. Do you like Hannity, Gretta Van the Lady with the Plan, and the No Spin guy?"
"No! Hell No!!!"one of the old codgers screamed from way in the back somewheres.
Anyhow, one of the the old timers who was at my table said that old Ickybod was believed to be eaten alive by werewolves and vampires - or, at least, roaches and rats.
"The Pickleville sheriff and mayor found Ickybod's miserable, scrawny concentration-camp-victim bone structure in a big pile of mush on a skinny branch on the tree," the old man smoking the pipe told me.
Writer's Note: Rural legends of this particular neck of the creek have it that Ickybod was shred to pieces. His remains were in much smaller bits and morsels than a smoothie blender would rip apart fruit, nuts and berries. Through some clever, state-of-the-art forensic lab testing and the help of a team of chiropractic surgeons, however, Ole' Ickybod's extremely minute proton- and neutron-sized body parts were pieced together by some nice old ladies who comprise a jigsaw puzzle piecemeal club at a retirement community somewhere in sunny, happy Florida Land, down there by Cuba and Mexico someplace.
"What in da holy blasted tarnations? We never, ever been there 'cause none of us hold no passport to travel to any foreign countries like Florida," one of the ugliest, oldest, most pockmarked, haggardly reptiles replied in a very arrogant fashion.
He also told me - as I drank a beer with them, then downed about five very strong shots of moonshine and hard apple cider - that at this side door roadhouse; all the old timers ever hear of is how "plenty nice and sunshine-eeeeee down there in Florida Land it all is - with a lot of nice, happy, friendly folks, too!!!"
"All I know a little about that part of the country," I told him. "The only friendly folks who live in F-L-A are about a million alligators!"
"You don't say?" the codger replied, adding, "I bet those orange groves are nice places to hide, play cards and drink some moonshine."
Anyhow, these old timers went on and on with their stories about the Headless Hillbilly of Pickleville Hollow. They told me through a series of farts, grunts and gags that Ickybod's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grand Uncle, Silas Mortimer Dusseldorf XVII, was one of the first cavemen who fought in the fifth world war against the dinosaurs.
Writer's Note: Please let me digress a bit to put this whole mess of extremely bad Appalachian typing on my trusty old manual Underwood typewriter some semblance of order and sanity. I want ever so badly to give my readers a benchmark to consider, or in other words, a historical prototype model: See, right after losing pathetically in the first four world wars against the dinosaurs, our most very great of all our great-great ancestors - the Homo Erectus spider monkeys - emerged as the final champions after all five world wars between the cavemen and the dinosaurs. All told, all five world wars the cavemen fought against the dinosaurs lasted 7 Million-Chilly-McMillion eons, which in common, every day terms equates to just a little more than 100 million, chilly-McZillion months.
And folks, friends, fiends, frauds, fillies, fraw-lines and fools, just to make a short story very long, the cavemen killed every single dinosaur in that brutal, 3-chilly McMillion-year-long fifth world war and God sent every one of those demonic dinosaur lizards straight into the pits of hell to live out their miserable lives for the next seven zillion eternities.
Huffing and puffing on a pipe with more accoutrements attached to it than a hookah bong, one of the very old relics continued with this tall tale - "But let's not all say it was all bad. Every Holler-ween 'round this time, we catch salamanders, spider lizards and crawdads, wrap them up in cute little packages and give them to our friends and neighbors in Pickleville Hillbilly Holler."
"It's not the gift, but the thought that counts," I said, assertively and assuredly.
"It's a wonderful Hallow-ween treat that all enjoy - yes-sir-ree sir, it's almost warm and fuzzy enough to have this cherished hollow day painted by someone of the likes of Andy Hellhole, Andy War Pole or Andy War Hole. Or, at least, have those walnuts bursting inside an autumn bonfire - blasting around like some home-spun series of yesteryear - akin to the likes of The Waltons of Mount Wally-MacMuck-Kinland or maybe even Fantasy Island, where that cute little Chilly McHillbilly midget-widget comes from his holler's FEMA trailer, points to the sky and excitedly yells, "Dee plane! Dee plane!"
Anyhow, all the children ask about this time in the story how did Good Ole' Ick end up in the high part of that sycamore tree.
And the storyteller tells them young-uns to "mind their own Bee's Wax". And furthermore, he snapped: "If you kids - and now I'm referring to ya'all as young goats, not young human beings - if you all really intend to be very good chilluns, you'd best git out some more of that rock-hard cider and pour this here Gracious Storyteller, Me-Myself and I in other words, a heaping, big cold glass of that glop that'll knock down a full-grown racehorse at mid-day!!!"
There was a long silence and everybody in the rustic compound just sort of looked at one another, not knowing what to do or say. . . .
"Git me some more of that snot!!!" the major figure storytelling old timer then screamed at the top of his lungs to that haggard, hound-dog ugly barkeep.
"Git it yer-seff," she'd snap and snarl to him.
Anyhow, the old men said the headless hillbilly was the one who got his head ripped off in the battle with the dinosaurian dictators. So every Holler-Ween this Headless Hillbilly returns to run amuck and breed havoc and disorder throughout Pickleville.
"What a beautiful tale," I told my very old, new friends. "By the way, which way and how far to the next town?" I asked them.
"About 170 Chilly McKillion fathoms down this way," the wisest of all the very stupid oldtimers would reply, pointing directly at the dirt floor accommodations of the rustic inn.
"Mam, some more highly flammable ragweed juice, please. I'd be hard pressed to tell one and all at this down-homey, FDR Fireside Chat meeting that I'm in any hurry to have my feet hurt ever so badly with all that walking. I think I'll just get blasted out of my mind and pass out in the corner over there, in front of that charming little fire in the hearth," I told that buzzard-beaked pterodactyl behind the bar.
So she fetched me some more ragweed juice and we put together a jigsaw puzzle and played some Texas Hold 'Em.