The three-legged way of looking at life


The Great Gatsby stands and walks toward me. I back up and wonder where his slingshot is. “We won’t bother with a real handshake,” he says. “Just give me the damn hooch, and we’ll call it a deal.”

I hand over the Mason jar. He unscrews the lid and takes a big gulp.

“Damn, this is the Real McCoy.” He takes another swig. “Why’s your dog got three legs?”

I tell him. Three years ago, Daddy took Choppers into town. Choppers wasn’t full grown yet, so he didn’t think twice about biting the tire of a delivery truck filled with sacks of grain. When he got run over, Doc Dennis took off one of his back legs. A month later, when he acted normal again, I’d asked Daddy why Choppers had the guts to forget losing something so important as a leg. “Because, Jellybean, he got used to the change.” Daddy had pointed to his temple. “He adapted. Choppers knew that, even with three legs, he still had plenty of life to live and enjoy.”

“I don’t think he remembers it’s missing,” I tell Frank.

“Wish humans could do the same,” he says. “Speaking of, why’d your Mama leave?”

I look away and stare into the thicket. I’d rather talk about Choppers.

“Aunt Sissy left me too. By dying. ’Yes sir, that’s my baby, No sir, don’t mean maybe yes, sir, that’s my Baby now,’” he sings.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket (1928)


photo credit




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