Jesus H. Tingle

Sometimes I wish my brothers and me had been born in the old west and had been like the Younger brothers riding around on horses, scaring the piss out of folks, and killing somebody now redeemerand again if we felt like it.  I can see us now all scarred up, bearded and gnarly looking spitting this way and that,  all liquored up and scaring old ladies in the street just for the pure nastiness of it. Folks would say, them boys is riding them horses straight to hell.  Those Tingle brothers.

Tingle brothers, though just doesn’t sound right.  Who the hell ever heard of a crew with a name like “Tingle.”  To have been proper outlaws we would have had to change our name.  But there was those 6 Tingle brothers who went off to fight for the confederacy in the Florida Campaign. That’s enough for a whole platoon, isn’t it.  I can imagine those six boney guys sitting around their campfire, beating off mosquitoes spitting this way and that and generally being as surly and uncooperative as possible.

I just hate to think they would have been all gung-ho, with yes sir this and yes sergeant that and yes, I am ready to change into the face of cannon cause God’s at my side and I have seen the glory on my lips.  But come to think of it, that’s pretty twisted too.  A bunch of drooling glassy eyed fanatics going off to meet their maker.

The old man in his last years talked about going to meet his maker.  I am going to meet my maker, he would say.  I thought about that a bit.  It was like he was going to meet his long lost father and his father would recognize and welcome him and take him in his arms and if the old man found the idea comforting, well, OK.  But he didn’t always seem comforted.  Once he started reciting the 23rd Psalm which he had down by heart:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

But when he got to the part about the Lord guiding him down the path of righteous, he changed the words and said but Lord, you are walking too fast.  I can’t keep up.  I can’t keep up.

I kept thinking what the hell sin did he think he had committed to warrant being left behind like that by his maker.  I don’t think he had been unfaithful to the old lady.  But maybe he felt guilty about those  salacious magazines he kept hidden around the house with names like “Titties” or “Big Ones.”  I got to say those magazines were something, not like the slick jobs they have out now with all those airbrushed young things looking all perky and healthy.  He must have found some backwoods, red-neck outlet cause the women feature in his magazines tended somewhat more towards the humanly grotesque than towards the impossibly perfect.

I sure hope that’s not why he thought he was going to hell.  But you never know.

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