Slemp hasn’t much cared for teachers since that time Miss Daisy whipped him for hitting Tie Rod back, all she saw and could prove.
Tie Rod lied out of it and went unflogged, which was a valuable life-lesson to him. Ever since then, Slemp has hated any woman with a glasses chain around her neck and Tie Rod has become an expert at lying out of trouble, even consulting others on how to do it.
So Slemp turns on the television and there are hundreds and hundreds of those neck-chain women, their low-grade alpha counterparts of the opposite sex, or nearly so, and every Democrat whose modesty demands that he be governor someday all gathered to attack the only person that Slemp thinks has balls enough to save their pensions at all.
Slemp thinks that Gov. Bevin must feel a little like he did after Miss Daisy corporally punished him — an innocent boy, mostly.
Tie Rod and Slemp got together to solve the financial crises in state government and it came down to needing more money.
They were unable to think of a single thing that the state does that they could quit doing to save money, except maybe they could park those helicopters and not pull people over much on the highway.
They realized that the way to get things done is to persuade legislators that they would take less heat for legalizing marijuana than for raising taxes. That would give Slemp a degree of euphoria by itself, to think that Miss Daisy's retirement check would depend on people committing what she would have considered a mortal sin.
Of course, the downside of legalizing pot is that it would reduce the use of opioids, which in the mountains are called ‘pills.’ That is not in itself a downside, but having to explain to a generation of school children that you were wrong about something and being wrong killed hundreds of them is the buzz killer.
Nothing against alcohol, says Tie Rod. He would want it to continue. This week is Hillbilly Days, and Tie Rod’s annual goal during that party is to get not three sheets in the wind, but maybe one king size sheet and a half size or maybe a queen.
But Tie Rod is living in the golden age of moonshine, with craft stills dotting the mountains or barely hidden in the low ground of portable buildings.
You can’t toast with moonshine, because you have to pass the jar and that takes time. So the boys are trying to figure out how to honor the late Pearse Lyons, who put a still right beside a four-lane boulevard right in the center of the Hillbilly Nation.
There was something about that man that the boys understood and liked that they couldn’t put words to and there is something about mountain people that Lyons loved as well.
Maybe it was that the Irishness of Lyons reminded Tie Rod and Slemp of the old folks in their families, only a hundred years removed from Ireland or Scotland. Maybe it was because all three wanted to be far stay away from open ground and flat country, and the cold space of plains written of and equally dreaded by Irish poet Seamus Heaney.
Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville lawyer, at email@example.com.