PAW PAW ALABAMA. – Here we go again! My fucking, no good rotten bastard of an editor calls me up and asks me to do this story about my family roots and how to find them. My roots are thing’s that due to the genetic make up of my known family tree was probably not a good thing for me to be diving into. I had not embarked upon that life altering task because I knew that once I dug it up, that what I found might be hard to bury. But the money was needed, and since I had just been evicted from my apartment I had nothing else better to do so I figured, what the fuck.
As I drove down the sleepy back roads of Paw Paw,Alabama, I wanted to fucking cry. Is this where was from? Is this the shit hole where my genetic trail led to? All along the road side all that could be seen were dilapidated wooden shacks which were caving in on themselves from lack of repair. The people standing on the porch were so slacked jawed their bottom lips touched the ground. It was as if a tornado of poverty had carved it’s path through this part of the country, leaving behind in it’s wake a populace that had become addicted to a life that was completely supported by the local K Mart. l could feel the humiliation welling up inside me as I realized, it was just my luck that this was the place where the journey of my biological existence began. If this is what I was going to be writing about, my career as a writer was over.
There was a huge cloud of despair hanging over these parts. The only radio station I could pick up was playing songs requested by the local funeral homes, including 86 versions of amazing grace, recorded by every known and unknown music artist in the Country. My favorite was the rendition belted out by PearlJam.The radio announcer, speaking in a heavy back wood southern drawl, spoke about how Pearl Jam had donated the proceeds of the song to the children of the “SwampRotSchoolof disadvantaged children” who had lost a body part to swamp rot. He also added that the total collected to date was $14.50 enough to save one poor child’s nose.
First stop brought me to the middle of town. I figured that I would start with the local newspaper to see if they had any record of my living relatives. After all, it would be nice to have a little background on my family. Maybe I was all wrong about them. Maybe I would go to the paper and find out that they accomplished some amazing things in their lives. With new-found optimism I stepped on the gas and headed for the newspaper office and thought, maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought. The maybe thought was then interrupted as a part of a building fell off into the street and I ran over a board with huge nails sticking out of it puncturing several of my tires.
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Brandine, a stubby old lady dressed in a potato sack plaid skirt and sporting a floppy straw hat, comes in with her arms full of newspapers and throws them down in front of me. She then tells me that she hopes that I’m not related to any of those sons of bitches that I was requesting information on. Upon hearing this, I cringed. As she turned and left, I began reading the newspapers in front of me and immediately began to sob and sigh as I realized I had descended from a gene pool that included everything from bank robbers to child molesters. It was awful. One story about my cousin Robert Earl Barker said that he shot one of his 46 kids accidentally when his wife accidentally baked a bullet while cooking up a squirrel. The article said the kids were packed so tight at the supper table that the damn thing ricocheted off little Skeeters skull, into little Earp who was sitting right next to him.
Came across another story about one of my cousins, named Moby, who while trying to shove a stick of dynamite up a cows ass accidentally lit the fuse with a cigarette that was hanging out of his mouth causing the thing to go off prematurely blowing off huge chunks of cousin Moby. Following the accident he got a job in a freak show as the man born with no body parts. But wait, it gets worse.
A few years later another one of my unfortunate cousin’s fell into a lard trap at the local slaughter-house and disappears, only to resurface again in a hundred or so cans of shortening. Four years later, cousin Bubby dies while sticking his tongue in an electric socket to see if it works.
As I continued reading, my sobs became louder alerting Brandine who came in to see what the problem was. As she stood behind me she put her hand on my shoulder and tried to console me. “Now, now, young man, these rotten no good bastards had it coming to them. I’ve never seen a family as stupid and dumb as these folks.” I looked up and feeling that we had made a connection I told her that these were my relatives. She looked down on me and her smile turned to a scowl. “Young man.” she said. “Get the hell out of my newspaper and don’t ever come back.” Witt that she scooped up the papers and abruptly left the room.
Around these parts almost every one, in one way or another is related. Which means that due to the thinning blood line, on any given Friday night you’re probably fucking a relative in the back of a hay covered pick up truck. The result is that there are parts of this area where everyone kind of looks like one another.
Ernie was the town barber. As he took a pair of shears that looked as if they had come from a sheep shearing farm to a customer sitting in what looked like an electric chair, he gave one of two styles available, which was a white wall to a gentleman sitting in calmly, considering the size of the shears, in his barber chair who looked as if he might be related to the guy cutting his hair.
I asked Earnie if he had ever head of my cousin Buck. He paused for a moment, then starting cutting away again as he explained.
“Yea, I heard of that name before. Young fella just got out of the pen a short while ago.” My heart sank out of my trouser leg as he continued. “Came in here for a hair cut and paid for it with that there bale of hay.”
At this point I had heard enough. I interrupted Cousin Ernie, and he stopped in mid sentence and put his straight razor up to my throat. Staring me down, and talking out of his clenched teeth, he said. “It’s not nice to interrupt people.” He then threatened to “Slit my gizzard!” My heart raced and pumped the yellow right up my spine as I began to whimper for my life. It’s not like in the movies where someone puts a gun to your head and you spew out some heroic thing like, “Go ahead, shoot me.” right before a swat team comes crashing in the door. It’s more like “I’m sorry! I’m ( sob ) sooo sorry, please don’t slit my gizzard!”
Following the incident in the barber shop, I decided that I did not want to continue with this assignment and sent my advance money back to the editor. Then I went home, changed my home phone number and two weeks later I moved from the vicinity making sure not to leave any traces of where some other idiot could find me while tracking down his family tree. Unless you know for sure that there is someone with big money hanging off your family tree, your better off leaving it buried.
dc Lampoon National Affairs Desk