(11/04/2019)
By Jack Cawthon 2006
Once again the great American news media has a story to milk until the cows run dry: the shortage of flu vaccine and the dire consequences that may befall everyone who needs it and who can't get it, causing everyone to want it and many who can't get it.

I am in that high-risk group labeled "seniors." I prefer to call the category the politically incorrect "old folks," although you may have your own choice of spelling it how you will. The only flu shot I ever had was way back when Gerald Ford was president—or was it Jimmy Carter, as I can never tell the difference, except one talks funny and the other walks funny—when an epidemic was due to strike the U. S. and we all would die if we weren't inoculated.

I was on The Payroll at the time and I'm certain considered an essential public servant, so I felt a special obligation to get my shot; besides it was free. I know a guy who is on Medicaid and goes to the doctor with every little whim. He has pill bottles lined up like bowling pins, all free, with maybe a small co-pay.

I belong to one other high- risk group, perhaps the highest: I am a regular visitor in Big Puf. I have been concerned as to how the folks in the Tri-Holler region were viewing the national news blitz. When I paid a visit to Homer Bob, I found him smoking an unfiltered cigarette and spitting tobacco juice into an empty beer can.

As proprietor of the Over Easy Inn he certainly fits the profile of high risk, if not from the flu, then from a flying empty. He offered me a cup of coffee, saying he was into his fourth of the morning, and had to have his caffeine. I felt that he was an especially good candidate as a soldier on the front line of disease.

I asked him if he had had his flu shot yet. He replied that he had had several and pulled out a bottle of Old Al Hag ("One drink and it puts you in charge!") and told me that was his protection against all diseases, including evil spirits. I consider Old Al an evil spirit in itself, but I'm not about to bad-mouth another man's medicine. He added that he didn't want some chemical substance inserted into his body, as he considered that defiling the Lord's temple, as he thought it was called in the Good Book.

He suddenly went into a coughing frenzy, and I was certain that he had become a victim of orange lung. This rather rare affliction comes from breathing the fumes from the orange-colored mine drainage pouring into Big Puf Crick.

The crick cannot be sanitized without destroying the habitat of the Orange Roughage Catfish, a rare, endangered species found only there. Environmentalists consider it far better that the people, who can be easily replaced, succumb than to have the rare fish, which can't, become extinct.

Most of the adult population has orange lung in some form or other, which has brought, in addition to the environmentalists, medical researchers with government grants, to study the situation, not necessarily for a cure, but to write papers for journals which will provide recognition so that they might advance and get out of such a God-forsaken neighborhood.

However, the medical specialists found that folks had always relied on home remedies concocted by the local yarb doctors, and that there was a general distrust of the conventional medical profession. It was sort of a local universal health care program that even Hillary had missed in her aborted attempts, and one that neither presidential candidate has yet seized upon. Of course, it is without benefit to the large drug companies, one reason you may not have seen it promoted on TV.

At least, my visit to Homer Bob had started him thinking. And if I can start one lone illiterate to think, just think what I can do for the thousands who read this stuff.

In a later report from Burvil, I was told that Homer Bob had decided to administer his own flu inoculation program. He had offered one free shot of Old Al Hag to all adults and a sprinkle for each juvenile. The Reverend Les Pedeza, who had begun life as a Methodist, was to administer the sprinkling.

Long lines formed early over at the Over Easy, Burvil said, but there was no shortage of the critical vaccine. Okey Hanshaw was seen carrying in large jugs, and it was assumed that he was duplicating an old recipe for brewing up medicinal remedies handed down to him from his grandpappy.

Even the Holy Rattlers formed a serpentine line, feeling that if they were protected, then the serpents would not fall victim to the flu should they bite them.

There was one sad note to all this uniting against disease. The good reverend passed out, most assumed from exhaustion, but Burvil said that he had seen him licking his fingers after each anointing. Such work is taxing, I'm certain, but not for the revenuers who are denied their fair share.

As a side note: If I ever have another little boy kid, I'm going to name him Kerry Edwards. That name has a good ring to it. At least it's better than "Jackie" or "Sue."


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