Acts of terrorism do make for good Broadway plays. Once upon a time, in 1789, just up the river from here in a place later populated by the Ralph Stanley people, four tribes of what they call "Indians", the Cherokee, Shawnee, Wyandotte and Delaware got together in rare unity to commit a terrorist act.
What they did probably didn't seem like terrorism to the Indians, who had just had a couple of their own killed by some white people other than Jenny Wiley's family, who merely were trying to take away the land of the Indians. They just raided the wrong cabin. They did not have 911 numbers on those cabins and they all looked the same.
Terrorism is defined by your opponent, but there is general consensus that busting into Jenny Wiley's house and killing three of her children in front of her by bashing their heads against trees, qualifies. She fought so hard to save them that her life was spared. They took her and an infant child away and headed down the rivers. Because the baby slowed them down, it was tree-bashed too, soon to be followed by Jenny's newborn, who was bashed for failing the test of whether or not you cry when you are floated on bark in the river.
We don't kill children that way in the mountains nowadays. First of all, we prefer to keep the disabled children to take to Eric. They're worth a check if worthless enough, and you can soon convince them of that. The rest we kill by giving them antibiotics for everything.
When Jenny got loose after 11 months, she headed back towards where she had come from and ended up on Jenny's Creek there where the People's Republic of Floyd County meets Johnson County.
When Victor Tackett saw anything real big, he would say, "That's so big it must've come out of Johnson County." I always thought what a coincidence it was that she found Jenny's Creek and her being named the same thing.
So she came back down there and had her five more children who went without being bashed, and lived until 1831. By and by they named a park after her, with an outdoor theater, where, for 45 years, the junior college types, the blue-headed old women who travel in packs and a lot of people you wonder if are now engaged after the law changed went to see summer theater.
Well the Shobiz tribe from up the river done stole her back. By the light of the moon, moccasin quiet, armed with deadlier than a tomahawk e-mail, so secret that the county judge didn't know it until it was over, the Shobiz tribe bought her back and brought her back.
Back to the big bend up the river, to a flowerpot town which wants to be a garden. Pikeville has taken over a 7,000-seat convention center where stars on their way up or down perform to people willing to pay 50 bucks to see some guy in a hat and his blue jeans pulled up too high sing something that sounds just exactly like the last guy in a hat did.
Now we also are going to rent a barn and put on a show.
But the goal is two-fold. One is to have the first outdoor theater actually indoors. The second is to have all yearlong plays. Some of the plays at the old place, which will still stage shows in the summer, seemed that long to me. After a couple hours of trying to spot the straight people in the cast and reading the ads in the program, you get bored.
The contract by which Pikeville bought with tax money one of the main cultural attractions of another county seat did have some safeguards.
If there are plays for children, SpongeBobSquarePants is required as watching nine hours of it will get a child on a dummy check. Another safeguard is that clear signs with arrows saying "Comedy This Way" point away from the courthouse or city hall and toward the theater so people won't go to the wrong comedy.
They changed the law and now serve beer at the lodge at Jenny's state park. They just need to get some dancing girls with a big shake on their bones and put them on that outdoor stage and show Pikeville a thing or two about how to attract a crowd.
The main goal of Pikeville is to promote the arts, which around here means other people's arts.
Larry Webster is a Pikeville attorney. Reach him at email@example.com.