Nestled deep in the heart of the Ozark mountains lies the small town of Ira Rogers, where very little ever changes. Oh, the young people grow up and eventually become the old folk, but the attitudes of the people have remained largely the same since 1838, when Ira Thompson stumbled onto this piece of land, half drunk and heartsick over the loss of his best hunting coon, Roger. He liked what he saw, stayed, and eventually the town sprang up around Ira and Roger II.
It was a cool November morning and Young Mitch Howse stood in the produce aisle of the local Shop! And! Save! He was mentally debating the merits of oranges vs. nectarines when Harold Culberts, the owner of Shop! And! Save!, ambled up.
“Well, hello there, Young Mitch!” he called out. Mitch Howse had been “Young Mitch” since birth, his father being “Old Mitch.” Mitch already knew that someday he would be ninety and still be called “Young Mitch.” That’s how things were in Ira Rogers.
“Alone today?” Harold questioned.
“Ma’s a bit under the weather, so she sent me instead.” Mitch explained. The Howse family lived on the outskirts of town. Originally farmers, they now made their money installing and pumping septic systems. But old habits die hard, and like most farmers of a previous era, the Howses came into town only weekly to run their errands.
“Ah, I see,” said Harold. “Well, I sure hope she gets to feeling better soon! Thanksgiving’s coming up and she’s not going to want to be feeling poorly for that.”
“Oh no,” Mitch assured him. “I’m sure she’ll be fine soon.”
“So, how’s that sister of yours?” Harold continued.
Cathy Howse was one of the few young people of Ira Rogers that had departed. Valedictorian of her graduating class, she took off for college and from there went to work for a film production company in Chicago. Everyone regarded Cathy with an equal mixture of fascination, envy, and pity.
Mitch brightened, “Oh, Cathy’s doing great! She just finished up her second foreign film and said it turned out really great. She can’t wait to get started on another one!”
If Young Mitch had been looking closely, he would have noticed the skin on Harold’s neck turning a bright, rosy color. Harold stammered something about needing to check his lettuce and abruptly walked away.
“Really?” chortled Les Grant, Harold’s closest ally since grade school, “I always knew there was somethin’ about that girl!” He moved his hands in the air, making the universal symbol for a well-endowed woman, “ Imagine - a porn star, right from Ira Rogers!”
“That’s what he said, all right!” agreed Harold.
Les leaned in, “Hey --” he said, “Do you suppose she’s got some of those fake -- you know?” He cupped his hands in the general region of his own chest.
Harold guffawed, “Guess we’ll see ourselves! Next week is Thanksgivin’ and Cathy’s never missed comin’ home for a holiday yet.”
That night as Harold spooned his chili in, he suddenly remembered the news of the day and shared it with his wife, Lucille.
“Oh, Harold!” Lucille exclaimed, “You know that can’t be true -- not little Cathy Howse!”
“I heard it with my own ears” Harold declared solemnly.
“Harold! You couldn’t hear the trumpet of the Lord calling you to Glory with those ears of yours!” Lucille countered.
“I know what I heard” insisted Harold, “Cathy Howse makes porn films up there in Chee-cago!” He rested his elbows on the table and mused, “I wonder if she still goes by “Cathy” or if she changed her name to ‘Cinnamon’ or ‘Jasmine?’” He looked at Lucille, “That’s what they do, you know -- all them porn stars change their names.”
“And just how would you know that?” Lucille asked pointedly. She made a hmph - ing noise and got up from the table.
The next Saturday Cathy Howse, who had arrived in Ira Rogers the day before, accompanied her mother to the Shop! And! Save!. As they strolled through the aisles, Cathy began to feel funny. It seemed as if everyone was looking at her -- and grinning. And why had that bag boy nearly tripped over himself trying to open the door for her? Cathy decided that perhaps she’d just lived in Chicago for too long…and began to mentally calculate how many days before she could return.
“And the tongue is a fire…” James 3:6
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