He remembered the smokehouse outside his grandfather’s place. It stood next to the tool shed beside the little wagon barn. He and his cousin Cooter loved to play there best of all. His grandfather always yelled and swore if he caught them there, but that didn’t stop them. The hooks wired to the long poles made the whole place seem like a jungle gym. The smell of smoke and fat made him hungry. He liked that. Being hungry for something was being young – alive. He liked to remember that feeling even now.

Papa soon nailed a big cowbell to the smokehouse door. When they discovered ways to avoid clanging it when sneaking in, Papa wired little bells to all the hooks in the smokehouse. He and Cooter immediately found that the sound the bells made as they swung about the little shed made the adventure more irresistible. Of course Papa would always come running out and cuss them. Finally, he started cutting switches and whipping their naked little legs until patches of red welts stood up. But he and Cooter never quit playing in the smoke house.

He stood in the kitchen frying smoked sausage for dinner. The little bells rang. His legs began to sting. He felt a little hungry for a change.

I growed up po and ignant in Alabama. Then I went off to college and became a socialistic atheistic business school grad with an MBA. Not wanting to add evil capitalistic bastard to my resume, I obtained an antidote degree -the MFA. What a difference a letter makes. Now I teach college and make art. That's more fun and I'm less prone to drift toward the dark side. So, at the advanced age of sixty.... I have chosen mind over matter, joined the League of Defensive Pessimists and have no better answers, only fewer questions.

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