Ol’ John

On this partic’lar grey day I went to visit John. They got him buried in the old cemetery, the one out south of town. The “Cemetery on the Hill” they call it. That cemetery is about the worst place I can think of to bury a man. There weren’t a tree on the property. Hell, there weren’t any grass neither. On a breezy day the wind would stir up that dust so you couldn’t even see the headstones. Sorry ass place to be buried, I’d say.

I don’t know how John came to be buried here. I guess it was because he didn’t have nobody, so they just put him out here to get rid of him. People knew who John was alright, nice enuf fella, but nobody paid much attention to him. John had a small farm he leased from the banker. He had about eighty acres or there about. He had a large garden and he raised hogs and chickens. Folks say his fryers were the best around.

You could find John most Saturday mornings in his front yard at a little stand he manned. There you could buy a fresh chicken, bacon, hams, corn, tomatoes, peppers, snap beans, okra, you name it—everything in season of course. He’d laugh and talk with the folks, tellin’ stories, just good stuff. Everbody left with a smile on their faces—a reflection of that big ol’ smile John was always wearing.

A couple mornin’s a week, John came to town, ridin’ up on the bench of his wooden wagon pulled by his two horses, Max and Gonad. Max was named after an old German uncle and Gonad was named ‘cause he was born with only one nut. John come into town ‘cause he would visit most of the restaurants, Cora’s Diner, The Log Cabin, Bishop’s Restaurant, and The Green Lantern. He’d pull around back with his wagon and go through the slop they were throwin’ out to get feed for his hogs. Hogs must have loved that stuff ‘cause he raised some of the fattest hogs around.

I first met John when I was just a kid, not even in school yet. John would stop by my Dad’s gas station to chew the fat once in a while. Dad and John must have gone back a ways ‘cause they’d talk, laugh, and slap each other on the back. Sometimes they’d go in the back tire room where Dad kept his cough medicine and have a slug. They’d really laugh then.

I was helpin’ out at the station one day, sweepin’ floors and cleanin’ tires when John asked me if I would like to pet the horses. Of course, I jumped at the chance. Max was a white horse and Gonad was black. John said they were  friends who got along even though they were different colors, said that’s the way it s’posed to be. When John ‘splained to me how he named Gonad, the first thing I did was put my hand in my jeans pocket and felt around. Thank the Lord, nobody would be callin’ me Gonad ‘cause I had two of ‘em. Max was named after that ol’ German uncle. John said he was a good man, always treated people right and deserved to have somethin’ named after him.

Anyway, I came up to see John today ‘cause his memory always makes me feel better. I’ve got some sadness in my life right now, and it helps to talk to John. You see, John taught me much about life.

John said,”It’s important to treat people right, ‘cause if you do, maybe they’ll treat you the same. Love people for who they are. You can’t change ‘em anyway. Look a man in the eye and smile when you do. Help others when they need help.  It’ll make you feel good.”

John had a lot of sayin’s, mostly about livin’ a good life. That’s why I’m out here today. I have a need to connect with something good.

Someday, if I’m feelin’ right, I’ll tell you some more stories about John.  There’s a bunch to tell. Anymore, it seems like there’s not enough good people to tell about.

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