The end of the year always inspires me to put things in order. Last night, I was rearranging the scattered piles of books and papers in my office when I came across a rather ratty Christmas card from an old friend, a country acquaintance up north from back in another life. I thought I’d share it with my readers, it being the holidays and all.
I ain’t much fer holiday greetin’s, but I had a few cards left over from last year and I need the dang box fer wrappin’ a present, so’s I’ll wish you and yers a Merry Christmas just so’s I can use up the blasted card.
I don’t hanker to writin’ much, but I’d rather swallow a bug than send a facsimulated note to everbody I ever bumped up aginst. Horse-Hide Jones always mails me one of them form letters fer Christmas, but nuthin ever happens to him, so’s he jes sends out the same one every year. Anyhow, I reckon Christmas is about the only time the good folks of West Doubt, Wyoming, think about churchin. Oh, there was one time when Trench Digby’s wife held his good-fer-nuthin head under the tub water and told the judge she was jes baptizin’ him, but that’s another story.
You see, after the Foundin’ Forefathers of West Doubt finished buildin’ the Sandy Craw Saloon (and samplin’ the spirits within) they plum fergot to build a church. I reckon they figgered there wasn’t no good reason to confuse folks.
But thanks to the Right Reverend Zebediah Badwater’s Tabernacle of the Transaxle, folks ain’t missed it much.
The Rev is the high priest of the Holy Rollers, you might say: His church is a 40-foot doublewide, hooked up to the Rev’s Sacred Semi. God only knows where he’s headed on the backroads to Beulah Land, but every Christmas Eve, he parks his moto-ministry on the hill behind Poot Bundy’s hardware store to provoke the saints.
Rev Badwater was a rip-snorter of a sky pilot. He’d start off real slow-like, then afore you know it, folks is speakin’ in tongues and throwin’ money in the Rev’s brass spittoon. The whole trailer would commence to bouncin’, like somethin sacreligious was goin’ on inside. But it was pure religious, yessiree — ‘cept for one Christmas Eve a few years back.
Now, the good folks of West Doubt ain’t godless, by no stretch of the immaculation. They jes’ ain’t had no opportunity to learn the music.
So when the Tabernacle of the Transaxle rolled into town this particler year, folks was ready to wash away a whole year of cussin’ and carryin’ on. They might not know a hymn from a hosanna, but they know it takes a big Dogma to chase down a little Stigma.
So it came to pass that all the sheepherders of Kenspeckle County gathered on this one night to hear the Rev’s yarns about the stars and angels and the baby Jesus. Next day, they could start sinnin’ all over agin, but they figgered a sheepherder oughta act special on Christmas Eve. After all, them angels didn’t appear to no cow-punchers!
And when the Reverend Badwater came to the part about them sheepherders “abidin’ in the field and keepin’ watch over their flock,” them boys busted into cheerin’ and hollerin’ and joyful noise-makin’. Sheepherders got a good union.
But they got so boisterized, the whole Tabernacle of the Transaxle commenced to rollin’ down the hill — and it was headed straight at the Motel 4! ‘Course, there weren’t no room at the inn fer no double-wide, 18-wheel House of Hallellujah on a holy roll.
Then the little finger of God musta tapped the steerin’ wheel cuz the Sacred Semi aveered off at the last second. It whooshed straight in the front door of Buster Dinkins’s cow barn and lickety out the back, clean as a whistle, without scratchin’ so much as a hallowed hubcap.
Although the Reverend Badwater yelled that one bad word, it was a sure-fire miracle.
And that’s the morality of this here tale: I don’t rightly know who put that barn there on Christmas Eve, but I’m dang glad the door was open.