Cornbread and Whiskey

“Who was that guy just left the café?”

“Cornbread, Cornbread Landry.”

“Why they call him that?”

“You oughta’ see him when he sits down to eat. Don’t make no difference what meal it is. He’s always got a skillet full o’ cornbread next to his plate. Puts a load o’ honey on dat bread and, who-wee, he goes to work. Don’t make no never mind what else he’s eatin’, that cornbread is the main deal, the real deal.”

“What’s his real name?”

“He says it’s Cornbread. His mama name him dat. I sure wouldn’t want to argue wit him ‘bout that neither. Cornbread can get real upset if he thinkin’ you messin’ wit him. A man dat big can sure put a big hurt on ya if’n he’s a mind to.”

“What does Cornbread do to, you know, to get his cornbread? You know, make a living?”

“He was a chimney sweep when he was younger and skinnier. Now, he’s a ‘gator hunter. Kills alligators for da meat and hide. Besides killin’ da ‘gators, he also makes moonshine up on Alligator Bayou where he lives. He’s got some of the best shine you ever drink. Put that ol’ jug o’ shine up to yo mouth, take a deep swaller and ya got a mighty fine drink. Makes ya feel good all over, kinda tingly like.”

“Hey, you think I could get me some of that shine?”

“Why sho ‘nuff. But I’m thinkin’ I better brought it to ya. Cornbread don’t take kindly to new people comin’ round his still. Get’s kinda’ nervous ‘bout dat. He’s got tree shotguns and a couple gator rifles. You spook him and he’s lible to blow your ass off.”

 “Lord, I sure don’t want that. But how can I get me some of that hooch?”

 “Tomorrow, I’ll take ya up the bayou in my pirogue. You can wait at Arceneaux’s pier and I’ll go on up to his cabin and getcha some.”

 “How much is that going to cost me?”

 “Well, let’s see. A jug cost twelve dollars. I’ll do it for one jug for me an’ I’ll git you whatever ya want.”

 “I’ll take three jugs plus the one for you, that’s forty-eight dollars. We got a deal?”

 “We got a deal…see ya at 8:00am at da bait shop, Bill.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Why do they call this waterway Alligator Bayou?”

“Well, if’n ya look close enuf, you’ll see pairs of eyes lookin’ at ‘cha. That’s gator’s eyes. Right chere, I see three sets uv eyes. Shore wudden want to fall out o’ the pirogue roun’ dem eyes. No siree. Wudden be much left of ya ‘cept for a few bones here and dere. Dem gators get hungry now, who-eee.”

“These ‘gators ever get aggressive and try to overturn the boat?”

“Naw, not really. They don’t git too ‘gressive unless dey smell lunch or somebody shootin’ at em. Dey get too close, I jus’ bop ‘em on the head wit my oar an’ dey turn away.”

“Here we are. You get outta da pirogue careful like an’ sit youself on dat bench dere and wait for me. Don’t go danglin’ your feet in da bayou en keep yo hands to youself. I’ll be gone ‘bout a hour or so. Here, wan’ a plug o’ tobaccy to chew on while I be gon’?”

“Yeah, I guess so. I ain’t never chewed before.”

“Here ya go. Now, don’t swaller it. Make ya sick and and throw up. Allays spit da juice out. And ‘member, stay out o da water. Keep yo eyes open, too. Might see some water fowl or even a animal or two—muskrat, opossum, nutria, somepun like dat.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 “Lo Cornbread. How ya doin?”

 “I’m fine Billeaudeaux, good as a moccasin with a baby nutria in his mouf. What you doin’ up here?

 “Cornbread, I got me a Yank from up Arkansas way. He back at Arceneaux’s pier. I was braggin’ on yer shine and he wants some.”

 “Good enuf. How much you gonna need?”

 “Four bottles, I recon.”

 “Comin’ right up. You wanna come in? I got some chicry drippin’ on da stove. Fresh en hot. I can even rustle us up some cornbread and honey.”

 “Love to, but I best git back to ma frien. I don’t want him ta git resless an’ fall in da bayou.”

 “I unnerstan’. Here’s ya hooch.”

 “Okay, bien. Here’s yo forty eight dollars.”


 “I’ll push off now.”

 “Nex’ time plan to stay longer so we can visit.”

 “I’ll do dat. We can chew a plug an’ drink a cup o’ shine.”

 “Sounds good, see ya din.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Hey Bill. You do alright while I been gone?”

“Yes and no. No alligator came after me, but I swallowed some tobacco juice and it made me sick. Threw up in the water. Something came up and ate all the vomit.”

“You do look kinda putrid. Prob’ly a water moccasin et you’ upchuck. I tole you ‘bout dat. Anyway I got you’ shine. Clime in da pirogue and we’ll head on over to da bait shop an’ git you’ car. Lemme know if ya wants to do dis agin.”

“I surely will. Thanks man. I’ll call you next time I’m down this way.”


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