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Permanent Disabled
by Carolyn Bertram-Arnold

I ain't never been one what minded work. I'uz used to hard labor in the fields 14 hours a day. I'd still do it now if I'uz able. But my war injury set up arthur in my leg and I'm on crutches biggest part of the time. But I have to get by the best I can, I s'pose.

What makes my belly crawl is the fact that my neighbors won't lift a finger and they got it made in the shade.

See, old George developed a bad back one Sunday a-pitching horseshoes, they tell me. But he went on in to work the next day at the sawmill like nothing wasn't wrong and in a few minutes he took to hurting something pitiful (so he claims) when he lifted a two by four. Well, he sued poor old Newt Wiley and they went to court. I reckon he ended up with Workers' Comp--Lord only knows how much. The doctor said he was 100 percent permanent disabled. Said he couldn't lift nothing over 10 pounds. Well, them horseshoes don't weigh over two pound, I figure. And it ain't seemed to interrupt his game none.

And then there's Billy. I heerd he was a-drawing a crazy pension. One of the law men caught him up town like he was in a daze. 'Course he didn't know Billy. Poor old Billy's been in a daze since he was born. But it ain't a crazy kind of daze. Billy is jest different.

They locked him up a spell fer indecent exposure. Well, to Billy it wasn't indecent and I reckon he told Trooper Milton so to his face. Said he rared back and looked him straight in the eye and said, "When you gotta go, you gotta go." Didn't make no never mind to Billy that he'uz in the courthouse yard at the time.

He shore caused a commotion once he'uz in jail, too. Seems he had to go again but this time it was in his britches. And Billy just being Billy (and I reckon he can't help it), tried to get rid of the evidence. Well, he put his drawers in the commode and tried to flush 'em down. 'Course Billy ain't used to no indoor plumbing and he didn't realize it would back up the whole sewer system. Anyhow, it did.

And then there's John. He's so sorry the maggots wouldn't eat him if he died. But he's the talk of Devil's Fork. Seems he all of a sudden went blind one day. Everbody in these parts has their idees what happened. In my way of thinking, old Mandy probably walloped him over the head with her bacon skillet when he come sneaking home about daylight after him and Jacob had pulled one of their weekly drunks. But I'm jest speculating. Fact is, or so I've heerd, he went down to social security or wherever it is and had them to declare him legally blind. Said he could see light and some shapes, but they was real fuzzy. I reckon they compensated him a heap fer it, though.

And don't you know, he made one of the most miraculous recoveries this side of Oral Roberts University. Why, jest last week I saw him driving, mind you, one of them Volkswagens with pink hubcaps. And I swear the headlights was fixed to look like it had eyelashes. Ever time I meet him on the road it's almost like the headlight winks at me and old John is laughing behind the wheel--him driving blind and all.


Carolyn writes:
"This story is purely fiction, although I've met some similar characters in my life. I came across USADEEPSOUTH accidentally, but I felt at home. I've spent hours reading the poems and stories. When I read the southern expressions, I said to myself, 'I've been using most of these all my born days.' I've been published in several regional magazines and anthologies including but not limited to: APPALACHIAN HERITAGE, THE APPALACHIAN CONNECTION, GRAB-A-NICKEL, PEGASUS, KENTUCKY WRITING, and THE MOUNTAIN LAUREL."


To read more of Carolyn's writing, click these links:
Two Poems
Scary Bears, Lemon Cookies and Chocolate Marshmellow Bunnies

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