The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Coming Home - A Blue Ridge Tale

By Wm. Axley Allen © 1984

Issue: October, 1984

The Chinese call it "the Yin and the Yang", the Hindu call it "Karma" and dyed-in-the-wool Southern Baptist like my mom and dad called it, "Coming home to you.” But, no matter what it's labeled, the fact is that bad deeds and wrongful acts do have a way of coming back to haunt you. The following story is an excellent example of just how unexpected the inevitable "coming home,” can be.

The boys sitting around the pot bellied stove at Jess Singleton's Store knew a good story when they saw it coming, and from the look on Posey Jenkins face, a "doozie" was on its way. Jess's Store served as a rainy day hangout for every part time loafer and full time tobacco chewer within 5 miles. It never ceased to amaze the wives in these parts how bad, snowy weather could be to rough for the men folk to help hang new curtains, but never to rough for a trip to Jess's Store for "necessities" such as a fresh plug of chewing tobacco or a new whet rock. The men folk had their reasons though, and Posy was about to deliver one of them served with a generous helping of laughter.

Posey eased over to a straight back chair beside the stove and took his seat. The voices around the stove tapered off to perfect silence as everyone waited for Posey to tell his story.

"Y'all heard about Sammy Gregg's old Ford coupe a wrecking?" he asked.

The heads around the stove all nodded no and everyone at once said, "Anybody get hurt?"

"Nah," said Posey, "Least ways nothing that won't heal, but a lot of pride sure got bruised, though. Seems Sammy, Sonny Melton and Floyd Carter decided to spotlight a deer Saturday night. Don't guess any of 'em ever shot a rabbit, much less a deer, busy as they stay trying to soup up their old hotrods. But, Saturday night they lit out up on Black Ridge Road with a .22 rifle and an old Ford coupe full of teenage stupid. 'Bout two o'clock in the morning they spotted a big old buck in Carl Worrell's upper meadow."

"Sonny and Floyd were in the front seat and Sammy was in the back seat with the rifle. He got so excited when they seen the deer that he cracked Sonny and Floyd both in the head while he was trying to get the barrel out the window. Left some pretty good knots on their heads, but nothing to what the wreck did."

"Well now fellows, Sammy lined up on that old buck with the .22 and POW! Down he went, stone dead. Well, what with them being cooped up inside the car with the rifle, it sounded mighty loud, so the first thing they figured was everybody in the county, including the game warden, must have heard it. Sonny revved up the old coupe and broad slid to a stop with the deer not five feet away from the passenger side door. Floyd jumped out and half dragged, half carried the old buck over to the car door and stuffed it into the backseat with Sammy. By the time he got a nine point buck in the backseat, there wasn't much room left for Sammy and he ended up with the deer's head laying in his lap."

"They's all scared to death that they were gonna get caught, so Sammy popped the clutch and took off. Floyd had to dive in the car to keep from getting left and somehow he got his head hung under the dash and his feet were fighting with Sammy and the deer for the space in the backseat. Floyd was hollering for Sonny to, 'get outta here', Sammy was hollering for Sonny to take it easy on his transmission and Sonny was hollering for Floyd to lift up so he could get the floor shift outta his armpit. From the way I heard it, the boys were kinda disorganized, to say the least, as they made their getaway."

"By the time they got just this side of Henry Thomas' place, they were getting calmed down and were already planning a venison roast. That's when all hell broke loose."

Posey stopped his narration long enough to ask Jess to hand him a small Coke and the fellows around the stove to get more than a little anxious about what happened next. After a few long swigs of Coke and a little urging, Posey resumed his story. "The boys had just shoved the deer in the back seat and his rump was sticking up in the air, propped against the passenger side and his head was in Sammy's lap. Sammy had his arms laid across the antlers like they was a 9 point armrest."

"Sonny had the old coupe opened up pretty good down the straight stretch toward Henry's place when Sammy asked, 'What was that bump you just hit, Sonny?' Floyd and Sonny both said they didn't feel no bump, but as they were saying it, Sammy felt it again. Sammy sit real quiet for another minute or two, then in a voice that weren't no more'n a whisper said,’ Turn the dome light on, Floyd'

"What?” said Floyd.

"I said turn the dome light on, Floyd”, Sammy said in something like a muffled scream. Floyd reached up and turned on the dome light and looked into the backseat at Sammy and the deer. Sammy was so white and so tight against the back of the seat that Floyd could feel something was bad wrong. Sammy's eyes were riveted to the deer's eyes and Floyd soon saw why; the deer's eyes were wide open and he looked real mad!"

At this point Posey took another swig of his Coke while everybody started jabbering and asking what happened next. Posey downed the last of the cola and resumed his story. "Only one of 'em I got to talk to was Floyd, but from what he said, I wouldn't a wanted to have been in that car. He said that the old buck must have just been knocked out and looking back, he seemed to remember there was a chunk of antler gone off the left prong and that must have been where Sammy's bullet hit. Anyway, that old buck decided he didn't appreciate the boy's hospitality at all. As a matter of fact, he'd reached the conclusion that he didn't even like 'em and he thought even less of their car."

"Now boys, I can't rightly tell you what happened next, cause even the boys don't know, but one thing for sure, it was bad. That old buck run laps around the inside of that coupe and 'tween antlers and hooves, there just wasn't no way for the boys to keep outta his reach. Floyd told me that he always thought it took a whole herd of animals to be called a stampede, but that buck was doing a pretty good impression of a stampede all by himself."

At this point in the story, Henry Thomas walked into the store with a grin that stretched from ear to ear. Tad Caldwell looked up at him from his seat on a nail keg and asked, "You hear anything strange near your place Saturday night, Henry?"

"I reckon I did", said Henry. "I got up to go to the bathroom 'bout 2:30 or 3:00 and as I was heading back to the bedroom, I heard this car a coming down the road real fast. I stepped out on the porch to see if I could tell who it was, and all of a sudden, here come an old Ford coupe with its inside lights on. At first I couldn't rightly tell what was going on inside that car, but it was plain that something sure was, something a kin to all out war. The brakes locked up right in front of the house and the coupe started spinning round and round. I lit out running for the road for I knowed they's going to wreck for sure. When that old car come to a stop, I weren't no more'n 15 feet from it, but the lights had all went out and there was still so much commotion going on inside it, I still couldn't tell what was happening. I stood there a looking at it and a listening to it for a while and I can honestly tell you the closest thing I ever heard anything come to sounding like that was the time me and Will Jessup throwed a handful of cherry bombs in old man Tuggle's still. I don't think the boys had even realized that the car had come to a stop."

"I stood there a looking for a right tolerable spell then, since it seemed like something wanted out of there real bad, I eased over and opened the car door on the passenger's side. Things got real quiet then, and gents, what I saw next was a sight I'd a never thought I'd see. Out of that car stepped what must have been a nine point buck and hanging in his antlers like a halo was a 1946 Ford coupe steering wheel. He stood there a looking right at me for a minute like he was kinda put off about something. Then, he give a good hard shake like an old setting hen smoothing out ruffled feathers, threw his head back and took off down the road a walking like he was royalty. Behind me, inside the car, I heard somebody whisper, 'Is he gone?' Clean out of sight', I said and then Sammy, Floyd and Sonny started crawling out of the car."

"Now fellows, they were the most pitiful looking sight I ever seen. Their clothes were shredded and there weren't a place big as your hand on a one of them that weren't bruised, swelled or bleeding. That old buck had sure took his toll in hide from them boys. My missus had heard the racket and called the sheriff and he come driving up about the time the boys were starting to calm down. He walked over to their car with his flashlight and shined it inside. Fellas, if the boys were in bad shape the car was on the critical list. You never seen nothing beat it in your life. The headliner was gone, the seats were nothing but cotton puffs and springs and a big gaping hole was where the dash used to be."

"After pulling the story out of the boys, the sheriff stood there thinking for a minute. Then, with a chuckle, he said, 'Well, I'm afraid there ain't much I can do, boys. Can't recollect a law against a deer defending himself. Could write you all a ticket, I guess, for wrecking, but don't rightly know how the judge would see it since the wreck all took place inside the car. Course you're gonna have to promise me that you won't go trying to spotlight deer anymore.' "

"The boys, all three, just stood there staring at the sheriff with their mouths dropped open. Anybody that would a been inside that car with a mad nine point buck would a just took it for granted that they'd never let that happen again," finished Henry.

"Yeah," said Posey, "Floyd told me he didn't know that deer's were such vicious animals. Said it wasn't safe for critters that mean to be on the loose."

The crowd around the store that morning had a good laugh, the boys learned a lesson about wrong coming home and out there somewhere is an old nine pointer with a 1946 Ford coupe steering wheel halo. Come to think of it, the halo's kinda fittin' since he's so good at bringing home the gospel.