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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: River (08/31/06)

TITLE: A Snapping Turtle, A Catfish, and A Chicken Bone
By Jan Ackerson


Ain’t it funny how one little thing’ll set a whole lot of other things in motion? Why, today’s party wouldn’t be happenin’ at all if Sister Pauline hadn’t finally decided to get baptized.

She should’ve did it years ago—Sister Pauline knowed Jesus since she was a young’un. But just before her first baptism, wouldn’t you know, a little old snapper swum up and nipped her toe. Pauline set to screamin’, and run out of the river, and made up her mind that Jesus’d have to let her into heaven without the sloshing.

Well, bless my soul, that was seventy years ago. I still remember sittin’ on the riverbank in my blue dress, watchin’ some ants, when Pauline run right past me, screamin’ to wake the dead.

So I just about dropped my teeth when she stood up in services last July and said, “Brother Henry, I seen the light. I’ll be walkin’ with Jesus soon, and I need to be washed in the river first.”

The next week, we had a picnic, at the same spot where the turtle bit Pauline. She waded into the river to meet Brother Henry, wearin’ a choir robe and pearl earrings. I mean Pauline, don’t you know, not the reverend. We sung a verse of “Amazing Grace,” and Sister took a deep breath and pinched her nose. Brother Henry lowered her gentle-like into the river, and when she come up we commenced to sing again.

But we didn’t get past “amazing”—we was laughin’ too hard. You see, Sister Pauline come up out of the water without her wig. I looked downriver, and there it went, swirlin’ along on the current all white and fluffy, before it disappeared.

Sister Pauline just said, “Praise Jesus, I’m gettin’ a new wig,” and we tucked into the fried chicken.

You think my story’s over, but it ain’t. It don’t take long for folk ‘round here to learn each other’s business. The rest of the story, I heard here and there. ‘Tain’t gossip, neither, every word’s God’s honest truth.

The morning after Sister lost her wig, George Benson was fishin’ downstream. He was just about to quit when he felt a powerful tug on the line. He landed that fish and stared in disbelief—floppin’ on the riverbank was a catfish covered with white hair. It’d got all tangled up in Sister Pauline’s wig, and my lands, it gave George a fright.

First thing he done, once he recovered, was call up his buddy to come take his picture with the hairy catfish. And George brung that picture straight to the Gazette, where MaryLou took one look and said she done found her lead story.

A few days later, the newspaper come out, and there was George on the front page, holdin’ up that catfish wearin’ Sister Pauline’s wig. You never seen nothing like it.

That same day, Marietta Tompkins set down to breakfast with some leftover chicken. She opened the Gazette just as she was chompin’ on a chicken wing, and my stars, if that picture didn’t make her laugh! Her old maid daughter Lynette heard the commotion and come into the kitchen sayin’, “Why, momma, what’s got into you?”

Marietta couldn’t stop laughin’, when all of a sudden she took to chokin’. You know it, there was a bone stuck in her craw, and Lynette knew it, too. She grabbed her momma and run her to the hospital, with them both in their housecoats.

Marietta was breathin’ fine, but coughin’ around that bone, and her throat hurt plenty. That nice Doctor Watkins at the hospital done what he does, and in just a minute she was right as rain, but plenty embarrassed, let me tell you.

Doctor Watkins sent Marietta home with orders to drink tea and honey and a warning not to eat and read at the same time. But all the while he was lecturin’ Marietta, he was lookin’ at Lynette in her old housecoat and thinkin’, “That’s one fine-looking woman.” And all the while Lynette was studyin’ the linoleum and thinkin’, “I wish I’d put on some mascara.”

You know what happened next. A few days later, Doctor Watkins called on Marietta to see how her throat was, and Lynette asked him to stay for lemonade. And today, they’re gettin’ married.

Brother Henry’s doin’ the ceremony, down by the river. George Benson’s standin’ up for the doctor, and Sister Pauline’s got a new wig. Would you believe it--she’s a redhead now!

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This article has been read 2001 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter09/07/06
Funny funny story. I loved the dialect which sounded very authentic to my (untutored) ear. What a visual image - I think I'll be chuckling over this one for a while.
Sara Harricharan 09/07/06
You had me laughing from the first paragraph! Great job-hilarious reading....
Lynda Schultz 09/07/06
I can picture the illustrations for the book you are about to publish! Great voice, great story.
Kevin Kindrick09/07/06
I loved this! I often catch myself wondering how events lead one to another - but I've never looked at it quite like this.
I loved the dialogue, the names, the storie(s), the whole thing!

Thanks for sharing, and God bless,

Beth Muehlhausen09/08/06
Adorable! Dialogue was great, storyline was...hysterical. :-)

Sometimes you come away with a one-word summary and sometimes it's more complicated. Well, this was one of the simple ones. "Refreshing." :-)
Rhonda Clark09/08/06
This is cute. I grew up around people like this, and it's just like them.

Good work.
Suzanne R09/09/06
Just gorgeous!
Jen Davis09/09/06
Delightful! What an awesome beginning and such great humor throughout. The narrator's authentic voice and the character's names really brought this piece to life. Loved the ending: "Would you believe it--she's a redhead now!" Perfect!
Lynda Lee Schab 09/10/06
What a hoot! I LOVE pieces that make me laugh out loud, which this one did - several times. I could hilariously picture every event you described unfolding like a chain reaction. Too funny! Loved it!
Joanne Sher 09/10/06
What a delightful, DELIGHTFUL story!! This made me laugh SO hard, my son thinks I'm crazy!! I love the dialect and the action of this - sooo much fun!
Venice Kichura09/10/06
excellent job in capturing the the flavor of the setting, dialogue, etc!
Donna Haug09/10/06
Ain't it funny how one thing leads to another... so true about life! This was fun to read! ;)
Tabiatha Tallent09/10/06
I loved this. I can so see this happening in my 'neck of the woods'...Great voice, great story!
Donna Powers 09/10/06
This was great! I laughed out loud a few times in this story. Loved the dialect! I could hear the late Jim Varney reading this in my head. Thanks for bringing joy with your writing!
william price09/10/06
Jan, your writing inspires me. This story is another in a long list of great stories from one of our best writers. I loved this entry. I liked that the river played a back up role in piece, weaving its way through the story, just like it does through our coountrysides and lives. Excellent job keeping on topic without hitting us over the head with it. God bless.
Brenda Craig09/10/06
Amen to all the above. Refreshing and delightful all the way. Still laughing, seeing some of my Kentucky kin would do this story proud. Your amaze me with your creativity. Blessings
Joanne Malley09/11/06
What a treat to read! Another example of effortless, entertaining writing! :)
Crista Darr09/11/06
LOL. Effortless, indeed! I can just picture this story flowing out of your creative imagination like a... river. I'd love to see this on the screen - like a Rowan Atkins (is that his name?) comedy skit. Too funny!
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/11/06
This cleverly written piece was my best laugh for the day!
Sharlyn Guthrie09/11/06
What a fun story! Excellent writing. I loved all of the expressions you used!
Cheryl Harrison09/11/06
Such a fun read! Thanks.
geoff anderson09/13/06
Nice one. It flows jest like a durn' ole river!
One fine touch was the fact that I assumed the party in the intro was Pauline's baptism celebration, and it's a mark of how involved I got with the train of events that I completely forgot about the opening party until the end when it turned out to be a wedding party!
But it is a serious comment on God's mysterious ways and reminds us that there is no way we can ever know what the tiniest action of ours will result in. Whenever the unexpected happens to me, I mutter to myself 'Maybe there would have been worse consequences if this hadn't happened. Maybe this is the best way it could have happened IN THE LONG RUN.' And that is the essence of faith, believing that God has worked out the best set of consequences for all, given the natural laws which He Himself established.
So thanks for making that deep theological point in such an entertaining way.
You were brave to put on an accent. Some might say that it's not consistently present in every word spoken, in every expression, but I would say that doesn't matter. In such a piece, it's a flavour we're given, an atmosphere of a time and place, and once you've placed us there and set it rolling, we hear the voice speaking appropriately throughout.
A really very good article, but I imagine you have some stiff competition in this Level! If I were a judge you'd get a big score from me.
Betty Castleberry09/13/06
Love the humor, love the flow, just love it! Definitely one of my favorites this time.
Teri Wilson09/14/06
Jan, Congrats on your win! I was a judge this week and adored this story.
Rita Garcia09/14/06
CONGRATULATIONS! Wow! This is sooo funny! I love the progression and the back hills dialect is perfect!
Jan Ross09/14/06
Congratulations on your "First Place" win!

You never let us down, Jan! Your writing is always exceptional and perfect! You are one very talented lady with an awesome gift! "Wow!" is about all I can say!

God bless you as you continue to offer your gifts and talents to the Lord in such a way that reflects His excellency in all things! Very, very well done!
william price09/15/06
Five exclaimation points is the most I give.
Edy T Johnson 09/15/06
Jan, no doubt this one is top of the heap! It has everything. Terrific characters, humorous (okay, laugh-out-loud) story, a delightful narrator's voice, all wrapped up around the river topic. This one has to go into my favorites!
Rod Owensby10/31/06
Absolutely enjoyable experience. I am a serious reader, and not often do I laugh, but when Pauline came up out of the water--I lost it. Thanks!!
Emily Ritter04/19/07
My favorite I've read on faithwriters so far. And I quote, "that's awesome"..you took it right to the end. Amen : ).
Seema Bagai 06/28/07
Hilarious. Loved the voice and the progression of the story.
Lynn Jacky 04/03/08
Hi Jan - decided to read one of your articles. I chose the right one. I got into the story okay but it took a turn - suprise - without her wig - well I laughed from there on. You have a great imagination and wonderful accent to tell the story. Thank you so much and I can learn from your writing. I'm glad I stopped by to read and I agree with all the rest of the comments. Great work.
Rachel Malcolm 01/13/14
Delightful! I feel inspired to write characters that leap off of the screen like yours do.