By: Jerry Vilhotti
Gavin Griffin came back after relieving himself off the back porch with a small garden snake, that he first tried to drown but then was visited with an idea to capture it while nearly killing himself, showing everyone on the sly except for Uncle Barnard Sweeney, who was shuffling the cards slowly waiting for his grand-nephew's return, and then placed it by the old man's elbow.
"You know Mr. S. tomorrow is Queen's Day!" Mountain, who had led the expedition north from the greatest country ever invented, shouted; trying to distract others from realizing he was about to have the winning hand.
"Yes sir, Mr. Mountain and that so-called leader of hers has his head so far up the village idiot's ass - who wants to be dictator of the world - you can't see the poor bastard's ears. What kind of Christians do they all pretend to be?" Uncle Barnard said; giving Mountain a side-ward glance.
"And I say everybody's laughing at the guy but Uncle he's no fool. Why for God's sake the man used to kill frogs with his BB gun and those that survived he'd blow up with salutes!" Big Mike said before yelling that he would "take her" showing his ace and king in hand; pointing to the ace just turned face up from the deck.
Gavin with various manifestations of disgust to show he was holding a bad hand shouted he thought this game kumquat was stupid and asked what was wrong with good old American poker and when no one responded to him he tried to be noticed by saying: "And that guy who can't put two words together in their right places has a fucking invisible hearing aid in his ear and is being told what to say by all his henchmen!"
Johnny giggled; recalling as a kid he had so fervently believed the movies he had seen with the good American hero always saving the world from the bad bad guys were true. He finally realized all people had a stain on their souls but the half men and women had their souls and hearts covered ninety percent
Johnny their former teacher had taken the long trip with the boys to New Brunswick to see Mountain's father diagnosed with throat cancer. Big Mike had believed all those dedicated doctors making commercials for cigarettes - saying not only did the cancer sticks taste good but were also good for people!
All of the eleven hour trip, shortened by three hours by Mountain going ninety miles an hour whenever he could which was almost the whole New England states, had country music blaring loudly; making even thoughts unable to be visualized even semi-accurately and when Johnny turned once afraid he was being attacked from the back seat by Mountain's two teen age sons and his younger brother Gavin - seeing them seized by all the music; thinking their strange gyrations as a precursor of three simultaneous epileptic attacks about to happen.
"Look Unc!" Gavin shouted.
"By Jesus!" Uncle Barnard yelled, jumping away, joining the laughter to cover the God-awful fright he had felt; having the constitution of a fifty year old though he was eighty-two and still strong as an ox.
Uncle Barnard had been born in New Hampshire to Canadian parents and would often tell Johnny that the most cheapest of bastards in all the great divided states to their south lived in New Hampshire; thinking by saving on taxes was going to make for a better living until The Hand Money Over health corporations took matters into their own hands - willing to have people die if they couldn't afford the price to live.
Gaining his composure, after shuffling for three minutes Uncle Barnard turned to Johnny whom he liked and respected very much since the man had no affectations about him and said: "You know Johnny, they say if you kill the first snake you see - you kill all the bad your enemies will do you that year."
Johnny nodded; liking these people of the California Settlement in Northern New Brunswick; thinking to himself now he knew why there were no snakes in Ireland and very deep waters in Canada; recalling Big Mike saying a few days before: "Johnny, don't go fishing with those sons of whores - they'll drown you for sure!" Both men nearly the same age had taken a liking to each other and at every chance he got Big Mike would introduce him to their many friends strewn throughout the settlement as "the teacher to all my sons and daughters and even to my two grandsons!" Johnny would giggle and most would think it was because he was trying to keep up with all their whiskey and beer drinking but it was because he thought of Gavin who liked his grade so much that he spent three years in the seventh grade before he quit the school year and Johnny was going to promote him out of compassion. Johnny had laughed at Big Mike's warning and met all the boys by the barn and even delighted with them in going over the line for cheaper booze and beer - hiding two thirds while declaring the rest to the friendly Canadian border watchers. They all told Johnny three times each that they were taking him to the best fishing hole in the settlement called "Bitchy Vanderventer's Hole". When Gavin tried to pee while standing on the side of the boat, they were all plunged into the water. Johnny shuddered the thought away and said:"I'll try her!"
While in the water Johnny had taped on his recorder of all the frenzy and people from all corners of the settlement came to listen and laugh at all the commotion with no injuries happening.
This made everyone tense and curse after seeing his two hearts matching the heart just overturned with no one else having a better hand to beat his flush.
"Hey, it's only a card game," Johnny said as he dragged all the money in the pot toward his chest; getting in the flow of the Canadian undercurrent game of "busting Balls".