A Modest Case of the Shingles


Alice got up early the other day, flew into the kitchen, and made a batch of yeast bread.  It sure made the house smell good.  I puttered around the yard, watering the flowers, marking time until the loaves came from the oven.  I timed it just right.  She handed me a loaf in a paper bag and said, “Take this out to John Steel.  I bet he hasn’t had a loaf of yeast bread in some time.”  “Don’t you think we might sample it first?” I asked.  “No I don’t.  You can have a slice when you get back.  I want him to have this while it is still hot.”

So I went to see John Steel.  You know he lives way out County Road 200 in a little shotgun house sitting on a ridge over looking the San Gabriel River.  Of course that spotted dog of his met me at the yard gate, and played like I was some kind of a bugger.  John was sitting on the gallery drinking a cup of black coffee.  He hollered the dog under the house and invited me in.  “I have just put on another pot of coffee.  You sit and I will get you a cup.”  Now as hot as it was I really didn’t want a steaming cup of coffee, but you don’t say no to John.  “Thank you, don’t mind if I do.”  I noticed he was eyeing the paper sack I was carrying.  “What you got there?” John asked.  “Something Alice sent you John,” I said, handing it to him.  I wish you could have seen his face light up as he went into the kitchen with the sack of bread.  He came back soon with two slices of hot buttered bread and our coffee.  “It don’t get no better than this,” he said.

            We talked of the weather, things going on around town, the state and the nation.  He said our Mayor was doing a good job; that Perry could do a good job if they let him, and the lunatics had taken over in Washington. On the national debt ceiling he said, “Four trillion dollars?  “Why I could buy me a new mule, and a good second hand pickup for half that much,” he said.

            We sat quiet for a while, enjoying our coffee and bread, enjoying the morning breeze, as the last of the gulf clouds drifted by.

            “How is you garden?” I asked. 

            “Let me show you,” he said.

            We walked out to the garden that sits between the back of the house and the barn. I noticed he moved a bit slow and favored his right side.  The windmill was making a pleasing, squeaking sound as it slowly brought water into the tank.

            “The garden is about gone.  The beans bloomed, but never put on a pod.  The tomatoes did fair at first, but the heat burned them up.  But we got plenty of black-eyed-peas,” he said.

            We eased back on to the porch and I asked him about his getting around so careful like.  “Got a case of the shingles,” he said.  I asked if it hurt much.  “Only when I try to sleep or when I am awake.”  “But I think that warm loaf of bread will just about fix me up.”

            I hurried back to Alice’s kitchen and got me a slice of still warm bread—with butter.  It just might protect me from a case of the shingles.






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