Loyal Jones did not invent the word “uplands” but cloaked it with his wisdom and sent it forth. Tie Rod and Slemp live in the uplands. Each has also spent some time in the high country, if you know what I mean. If there ever was anybody that Tie Rod and Slemp could count on, no matter how sorry they got, to love them and their jokes and their music no matter what, it would be Loyal.
A solitary gentlemen, himself, cannot bring peace to the hearts of uplanders, troubled to debate and decide if you’re supposed to be afraid of clowns or not. It seems that, throughout the mountains, clowns are jumping out at people. These clowns are being arrested under some secret law that makes it illegal for clowns to jump out at people.
Some people call them fake clowns; but Tie Rod says, no, anybody who dresses up like a clown is a clown and who is to say otherwise. But he argues that you had better be very scared of clowns, except for maybe Ronald McDonald.
Argues with Slemp, who thinks clowns are not dangerous. That is, if you can get him to quit turning into Patsy Clown and singing across the pickup seat to Tie Rod, “I go out walkin’ — in my big shoes — and my little round red nose.” Naw, he loves clowns and, for that matter, the whole circus. He just could not understand Tie Rod’s irrational fear of the clown. Who ever did a clown hurt?
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Tie Rod explained it this way: What if somebody real garish and made-up whose main claim to fame before now was hair twisting came along and honked and made faces and pointed stubby finger and lured your children into joining the circus?
And then when you got on that circus, he would take off the clown stuff and be just a person again and not pay you for holding up his tent?
I get your point, said Slemp, who didn’t claim to be an expert on clown. But couldn’t there be good clowns and bad clowns, and wouldn’t it be OK to not be afraid of the good ones? You can’t tell the difference, said Tie Rod. They all dress differently. Well, OK, said Slemp, deplorable enough, but they better not arrest Donald Trump.
They were having this discussion on the way to Lexington. They read in the paper about an 80-year-old woman from down there dying in a sky dive over the pyramids of Egypt. They decided that there are not many times you can go to the funeral of the best woman in the world and they wanted to take food. Now, in the uplands the funeral home food of choice is called “funeral meat.” It is ground baloney infused with some mild relish like stuff, and if you are on two checks or more, enriched with a lot of spicy loaf, served on light bread.
At first they thought the deceased’s family might not take to funeral meat, but then it come to them that a woman jumping out of a plane over the desert had probably ate a lot of funny stuff and fed it to her children.
They decided that if they went to the funeral of somebody they didn’t know, even bearing funeral meat, they might think you were a politician. So they pulled over and depleted a six pack of non-ale and ate the funeral feast and wondered if you get nervous coming down amid pyramids.
Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, at websterlawrencer