This is the seventh round of the Title Writing Prompt Challenge. For them not familiar with the challenge, a quick summary: three writers offer the fruit of their labor and inspiration based on a given title.
The Round 7 Title — Side Jobs — was chosen by Me. Gary will choose the title for the next round.
The writing challenge has no restrictions and the stories span a wide gamut of genres. The majority of the stories fall in the G and PG rating range with a few perhaps pushing into the soft R-rating. Those ratings are guidelines but they are subjective. If you find a story disturbing because of the topics, language, and/or plot points, stop reading and move on to the next one. The same goes if you are not interested in finishing a story. It may seem like obvious advice, but these days many people go out of their way to experience outrage (and then complain about it).
This, then, is Perry’s submission.
Oh, before we begin, I solicited blurbs from each writer. Here’s Perry’s:
Maynard Ballcock wanted only to create the perfect bourbon. History and happenstance, however, had other plans. Plans that included the making of an American president, and perhaps the unmaking.
Copyright 2022 — Perry Broxson
(4,990 words – approx. reading time: about 19 minutes based on 265 WPM)
Maynard Ballcock was smarter than most people in Deer Tick County. That ain’t sayin’ much. Aside from being smart, he was as brave as a badger and good with his hands.
That was him: Half Audie Murphy, half Thomas Edison. A tinkering hero – that’s the best way to describe my Pops.
But you’re not here to listen to me deify the old coot. You want the raw story, not some churched-up version of a scoundrel. Not to say Pops was a scoundrel . . . not to say he weren’t. But like everybody, he’s got warts. Hell, even his warts got warts. You don’t become a King Maker without gettin’ your hands dirty, young lady.
Maynard Ballcock was a smart man with dumb luck that got tossed into the blender of history and happenstance. If I was to ask someone to play him in the Pictures, I’d ask Mr. Thomas Hanks. A right likable fellow. And that Forrest Gump character he played ain’t far from the unlikely life of my Pops.
As I said, some people know Maynard as a King Maker. He coronated an American president – Mr. John Fitzgerald Kennedy. For better or worse, Maynard shaped history – he made America what it is today.
But you know all that, don’t you? What you want to know is how. And if you’re a smart journalist – and I got no reason to think you ain’t – you’ll also want to know why. Am I right, young lady? Do you want to know how a hick from Kentucky got a Catholic mick elected president to these here United States of America? And why he done it?
Well, you’re in luck, missy. You caught me at the right time – all loose-lipped and gabby from the Morphine and bourbon. I’ve been mum about Pops for all my umpty-ump years, but I’m ready to talk my fool head off. Seems the good Lord needs good bourbon, and wants me to personally deliver him a bottle of Ballcock – best hooch west of the Mississipp.
Yep, it’s stage four. Truth told, I’ll be lucky to finish this damned interview. But that ain’t your problem.
Anyway . . . here’s the story as I was taught it at the great man’s knee. But, like jazz, it’s my own riff on Pops’ half-remembered recollections. That’s my way of saying, ain’t nothing all true, even with good intentions. So take it for what it’s worth. Let me pour you a Ballcock. You’re gonna need it. I know I sure do.
Maynard was just 14 when he was arrested. Sheriff Skinny Lynch caught him making moonshine in Varmint Holler. Maynard made a deal with Skinny. Told him, “You don’t jail me or tell my mama, and it’s free whiskey for you, sir. Long as your liver can abide . . . I’m your lifelong supplier.”
Skinny took him up on it. ‘Course he did. It was slam-damn in the middle of Woodrow Wilson’s Prohibition debacle – hooch was hard to come by. Good hooch, even harder. And boy oh boy, did Maynard Ballcock make some quality hooch.
Few years on, Sheriff Skinny Lynch called on all able-bodied men to come to the aid of the township. Two men, Italians by birth, set out to rob the Hamilton Savings and Loans. Only bank in Deer Tick. But shit went sideways as shit often does, and the guineas were holed-up inside – along with a dozen god-fearin’ hostages. One of ‘em being my Grandma, Bessie Ballcock. Yep. That would be Maynard’s mama.
Maynard got word and ran into town. When he got there, the bank was surrounded by a posse of nervous menfolk, unsure what to do. Barefooted and un-gunned, he grabbed a pitchfork out of Harlan’s Hardware Store and strode past the timid townies. He called out, “Mama, I’m a comin’.” Then he kicked down that door like a mad mule. He charged, did Maynard, charged like injun on the warpath. Them guineas froze. And that weren’t good for them, because Maynard gigged ‘em. Gigged ‘em like bullfrogs. One through the chest; one through the neck. Took them guineas no more’n a minute to die. Then the whole hullabaloo was done . . . done and dusted.
I tell you that to tell you this. If Maynard hadda hung back with the tremoring men, America would be different today. That is to say, worse off. But he did what he did and Sheriff Lynch loved him for it. He made Maynard a deputy on the spot. It’s said that Maynard rejected the offer three times, saying he was dedicated to the distillation of hard drink, that he was a self-declared Sommelier of Fine Spirits.
Sheriff Lynch nodded and smiled and winked, all the while pinning a badge on Maynard’s burlap shirt. “You can do what you want when you want, Maynard. You’re a hero in Deer Tick. Every town needs a hero, and you’re it. By the power invested in me, I hereby deputize you.”
Maynard accepted the position, with the understanding that it was merely a side job. As you’ll see, it will be the first of many side jobs Maynard Ballcock would hold.
Some years later, Mr. Wilson’s 18th Amendment got scotched by Mr. Roosevelt’s 21st Amendment – meaning folks could legally imbibe in the United States of America. By that time, Maynard was well on his way to perfecting his craft. Now in his mid-twenties, he was determined to go national with his bourbon. International, even.
He needed cash, of course. And a deputy’s half-salary weren’t going to launch a business, nor a brand. It was Sheriff Skinny Lynch that pointed across the street to Hamilton’s Savings and Loan and said, “Go on in there, Maynard. Mr. Eisenberg is expecting you. Go on in and get your loan. Nobody’s forgot what you did 8 years ago – especially Ari Eisenberg.”
Maynard did get his loan and he did build a distillery and he did launch his brand, Ballcock Bourbon. By the time he was 30, he’d repaid Mr. Eisenberg’s interest-free loan and was doing moderately well for himself.
That was the year Sheriff Skinny Lynch died, of course. No, it weren’t liver disease. It was a heart attack. A widow-maker, they call ‘em. Just slumped over into his grits and biscuits at Miss Sissy’s Diner.
The Mayor of Deer Tick, Johnny Johnson Jr., called upon Maynard to sheriff the town, given his tenure as a deputy, and proven heroism. Maynard balked, stating his prior objections: His passion was for bourbon – the pursuit of what he called alchemic perfection.
“Let’s be honest,” Mayor Johnson confided. “Here in Deer Tick you ain’t gonna get no more than a Friday night fight at Big Lou’s Lounge . . . or the occasional hijinks of teenage hooligans. Sheriffin’ is a part-time gig, Maynard. But the pay is full-time.”
Maynard had a wife now, Rita. And a kid on the way – yep, that’d be me. The Great Depression was barin’ its fangs. The bourbon business was doing passably well, but not gangbusters. It took time to barrel-age the whiskey. Years. And his family needed money now. So he accepted the job of sheriffin’ on a handshake.
Turns out, Deer Tick weren’t as sleepy as Mayor Johnson made out. Not a year into Maynard’s sheriff stint, some boys swimmin’ in Sweeny Creek noticed a school of bream nibblin’ on an object. Turns out that object was Bean Bodine, the Fire Chief of Deer Tick. Sure he was dead, but worse than that, his head and hands were cut clean off. For some dumb reason, the killer hadn’t pulled Bean’s wallet out of his pants – and there it was, his driver’s license.
So Maynard had to turn over management of Ballcock Distillery to my mom, Rita. Nothing he loved doing, but he had a murder mystery to solve. It took him six months to crack that nut, but cracked it he did. It was a nationwide sensation. A hullaballoo. Big as the Lindbergh baby-takin’. Turns out Bean’s wife, Flora, had hired a convict to kill her husband. Paid 400 dollars down, with a promise of 5000 dollars once she cashed Bean’s stock certificates.
The old girl pleaded guilty, but blamed Bean for emotional and physical abuse. The judge, Mel Thibodaux, had mercy on Flora and committed her to a Sanatorium.
So what did Pops get for all his troubles? Yes, ma’am. You guessed it. He got Mayor Johnson’s job when he up and retired. Johnson lit out to Colorado to ease his tuberculosis in the fresh mountain air.
Maynard didn’t want the job. Tried like the dickens to fob it off; but in the end, he needed the salary. It was 1938, and the Depression left folks settlin’ for cheap whiskey – not his high-end hooch. He took the job, making it clear than it was part time – a side job.
Then Mr. Hitler went and invaded Poland. Aside from his mayorin’ and distillin’, Pops became an infantry soldier at the age of 33. They quartered him in Luxemburg for a spell, but he got antsy and told his sergeant, “Either send me into battle, or send me home.” He got half his wish. Uncle Sam sent him to Dunkirk, France. Gave him a gun and a grenade and told him to hold off the Jerries while the Brits evacuated. Pops was notoriously hush-mouthed about his killin’. Gettin’ war stories was like pullin’ teeth. But one night on his porch he just up and said, “Boy, you wanna hear a funny story?” I said ‘sure.’ He said “promise not to tell your mama or them dumb friends of yours.” ‘Promise,’ I said, and crossed my heart.
“It were 19 and 40. And there I was, in Dunkirk, France. In a trench with my gun and one grenade. My job was to give cover to the Brits, so’s they could load up on amphibian boats and evacuate. But every time the Limeys would make a run for the beach, a German Stuka would fly in and strafe the fuck out of ‘em.
“Hours and hours, we did this kabuki dance. The commander would give the order and the Brits would run and the Stuka would swoop down and shoot ‘em up. They’d fall back. Over and over, so it was. I was bitchin’ to a fella next to me in the trench – Candy Williams was his name – when he took a fifty cal to the head. Broke open his head like a cookie jar. Brains hangin’ out of his cranium – looked like gray marmalade.”
I remember asking Pops if he’d meant horror story instead of funny story. He sipped on his Ballcock Bourbon and carried on anyway.
“You see, I had this one grenade. My rifle couldn’t penetrate the hull of the Stuka, but I figured the grenade could damn sure wreck it. Nobody was doin’ nothin’. Somebody had to knock out that Stuka so’s the Brits could get home and fuck their ugly wives.”
I nodded my head. Barely knowing a fuck from a fart.
“Here’s the funny part, boy.”
He always called me boy. Even when I was growd and he was old.
“I couldn’t risk just chuckin’ the grenade up at the Stuka. It might bounce off the belly and exploded in the trench. I had to stick it to the plane. Stick it, like with tape or glue or . . .”
‘Brains!’ I shouted out. ‘Daddy, don’t say brains!’
“Brains,” he laughed and slapped his knees like he’d told a corker.
I clamped my hands over my ears but I could still hear him.
“I scooped up two handfuls of Candy Williams’ brain and plugged the grenade snug inside, with the pin stickin’ out just so. I climbed out of the trench and stood out in the open. When the order was give and the Brits started runnin’, I waited. Sure enough, the Stuka made a dive. When it got right and low, I pulled the pin and granny-pitched the goop with two hands. It was a damn-fool thing to do – twin fifties blazing – not a chance in hell that it’d work.
“But it did. It did work. The goop stuck and the grenade exploded – just as it passed our line. I can still see that Kraut pilot squirmin’ in the wreckage, burnin’ like a coal sack.”
I told Pops I wanted to go to bed. I told him I wanted to sleep with the light on. He nodded and sipped his whiskey, and before I took off, he handed me something. “Put this under your pillow, boy,” he said.
Here, young lady. Take a look. I keep it in my wallet – have, for 70 years. It’s a medal. The American Ace. My daddy, Maynard Ballcock, is the only infantryman to receive one.
So why’d I tell you that long-winded yarn? Here’s why. Pops came back from the war something of a hero. Which leads us to his next side job. Kentucky Senator.
Again, he didn’t want it. Wanted only to re-open his distillery and get on with his passion: achieving the alchemic perfection of Ballcock Bourbon. But the regulations and red tape had multiplied while he was overseas. There was a new government agency, the Department of Alcohol and Tobacco Bureau, that was hard-timin’ the little distributers. Pops figured he’d go to Washington and sock them bullies in the puss and then get back to distillin’.
He needed a backer. Somebody with gaggles of cash and, preferably, a passion for spirits. He found that man. Can you guess who it was?
Nope? Weren’t Rockefeller or Vanderbilt. But you’re close. It was Joseph P. Kennedy. Yep, the patriarch of the Kennedy clan. Pops had met him in England. Joe was the ambassador to the UK. Joe Kennedy had personally pinned Pops with the American Ace and they’d talked about whisky. Joe was a scotch man – Pops, of course, a born-again bourbon worshiper. Something of a friendship was built.
Lo and behold, Joe Kennedy agreed to finance Pops’ campaign. He told Pops not to worry about paying him back the money . . . said there was things mightier than money . . . and he’d collect when the time was right.
Pops agreed, knowing he was on the hook. But Ballcock Distillery was on the brink of gettin’ shuttered by the government, and he weren’t about to let it happen.
Pops ran for Senate and he won. Simple as that. Kentucky likes rough customers that kill wop robbers and evil Nazis. He was pitched as the modern day Daniel Boone. Even wore a coonskin cap on the campaign trail. It worked. Won in a landslide.
Some years later, sure as water’s wet, Mr. Joseph Kennedy came a’callin’. He told Pops how his second son, Jack, was lookin’ to make a push for the Massachusetts Senate seat. He needed some dirt on Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jack’s opponent. “Get him drunk,” Joe said. “Pour him some Ballcock and get him talking – and record it.”
Pops protested somethin’ fierce, but ultimately caved in. He was so close to repealing some of the draconian regulations of the Alcohol Bureau, he couldn’t blink now. So he did it. He and Senator Lodge drank in his chambers and swapped war stories. Henry made the mistake of confiding his patronage of French brothels. Which wouldn’t have been so damning, had it not been for a long lusty story of an 11-year-old Parisian girl named Babette.
Pops turned the tape over to Kennedy. Not so mysteriously, Henry Cabot Lodge withdrew from the election two weeks later.
Politics, Pops said, was double the blood sport of war. After he got rules relaxed on distilleries, he got out. Folks said he could’ve won another ten terms. But he wanted to get back to Deer Tick and work his distillery. He wanted to pursue the alchemic perfection of Ballcock Bourbon.
Pops was done with politics, but politics wasn’t done with him. Eisenhower himself called my daddy and asked him if he’d be receptive to an ambassadorship.
Pops said no sir, then he made the mistake of askin’ where to.
“Russia,” Ike said. “We need a brute like you to stare down General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev.”
“Not Russia,” Pops said. “Ask me to go anywhere else in the world so I can say hell no. But Russia . . . they’ve got secrets there, ancient secrets of fermentation and distillation. Shit. When do I start?”
Jack Kennedy beat Tricky Dicky Nixon in 1960. Pops had it on good authority that Joe Kennedy paid Chicago Mayor Daley to jigger the numbers so that Illinois would swing Blue. Be that as it may, Pops had his hands full with the Little Bolshevik, as he called Khrushchev. The man was a chronic contrarian, Pops said. Would argue with a Jay Bird.
Pops said it took the Little Bolshevik three years to warm up to him. It was the love of fine spirits what did it. Khrushchev shared his best vodka, and Pops shared his 18-year old Ballcock Bourbon.
Pops wouldn’t call his relationship with Khrushchev a friendship. Said that’d be overselling it. Said instead that they were kindred spirits, pun intended. They’d talk about growing up dirt poor. Talk about their families. Turns out they both loved farming. Nikita planted his own potatoes to use in his vodka. And Pops grew his own corn and grains.
When Nikita needed a perspective on the West, he’d call on Pops and they’d drink about it. That’s what Pops called their sessions: Drinkin’ about it.
Then along came a spy plane and ruined their relationship. Not sure if you recall, young lady, an American U-2 pilot named Gary Powers was shot down over Leningrad. Khrushchev was furious. Ike was still president, but hadn’t the stomach to deal with the Little Bolshevik. So Pops got all the grief and then some.
Pops got banned from the Kremlin. He was surveilled by KGB. Phones tapped. Constantly followed. He would have resigned the position had it not been for a Russian monk named Yuri – said to be the bastard son of Rasputin. The Monk made nameless spirits that had no peers. He shared his secrets. To Pops, it was like being the apprentice of Da Vinci or Michelangelo. The Monk was a master. A self-taught genius. In my daddy’s estimation, a God.
It was 1961 and Pops was ready to take his new-found knowledge home to Deer Tick. He called the Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, and demanded that he be replaced. Dean said he’d talk it over with the president, Jack Kennedy by now, and get his read on it.
“I ain’t askin’,” Pops said, “I’m tellin’. Get me a ride home to Deer Tick, Kentucky or I’ll” –
“You’ll what?” Dean challenged.
“I’ll call Old Man Kennedy and get you demoted to Delaware Dog Catcher. Joe owes me a few favors. I don’t mind burnin’ one to get you run outta Washington on a rail.”
“Very well,” Dean Ruck said. “Very fucking well.”
Armed with mystical whisky wisdom from Yuri Rasputin, ol’ Maynard began revamping the distillery. I remember distinctly, because I was runnin’ the place at that time. And I didn’t like it one bit. But Pops had his mind set – and weren’t nothin’ under the sun going to change it.
Even when I showed him the books. Showed him the red numbers. Showed him the debt-to-earnings ratio. He insisted, shaking his head like he had ear mites. Just kept repeating his old mantra: alchemic perfection.
His credit with Hamilton Savings and Loan was shot. He needed a million dollars in 1961 money – probably a billion today. Wanted all new copper tanks – forged in Kazakhstan. Wanted staved barrels from the Mongolian Steppe forest. Wanted soil imported from Armenia. List goes on. When I asked him where he was going to get the cash, he said politics had introduced him to some strange, but wealthy, bedfellows.
It was the Chicago mafia that he called. A former donor named Danny “The Harelip” Maloney. I met the man, Harelip, one time. He showed up at the distillery and asked me if my faddah was around. Said they needed to talk. I said Pops was probably on a yak in Mongolia, chopping trees for the bourbon barrels. He called me a smartass and told me to respect my faddah. Then he walked out.
Few weeks later, Pops shows up with a suitcase full of cash. One million dollars. I asked him where he got it, but he grabbed me by the collar and said, “Don’t ask, boy. Don’t ever ask. And by the way, you’re fired.”
Now you may think that was harsh, young lady. I know I did at the time. But on reflection, I think he did it to protect me.
Either way, it worked out for the best. I followed my passion just as Pops did. I got into the newspaper business – a photographer. My pictures helped tell good stories . . . hope this is one of ‘em.
Mind filling my glass, young lady. My hand’s tremblin’.
He damned well saved two countries from nuclear ruination, did Maynard Ballcock. It was October 1962 and the doomsday clock was two ticks away from all-out global calamity. Khrushchev was pissed at Kennedy and Kennedy was pissed at Khrushchev. Toss that hothead Castro in the mix, and you’ve got yourself one helluva powder keg.
It was Dean Rusk that called Pops – the Secretary of State. He said, “Maynard, I got someone on the line that wants to talk with you.” He then commenced to put Jack Kennedy on the phone – Camelot himself.
“Mr. Ballcock,” Jack said all proper, “On behalf of our great nation, I’m going to ask a favor of you?”
Pops said, “Another one? Like gettin’ dirt on Senator Lodge? Sorry, my debt’s paid – to you and your daddy.”
“It’s not like that,” Jack said. “I need you to . . . er . . . possibly prevent a nuclear war with the Soviets.”
“Yes,” Jack Kennedy said. “We’re on the brink. Human sources tell us that Khrushchev has his finger on the button. We need you to ask him to stand down.”
Pops told me it took all he could do not to belly-laugh at the president. He composed himself and asked, “With all due respect, Mr. President, why would Nikita Khrushchev listen to me?”
“Human sources,” Kennedy said, “and by that I mean spies, informed us of your . . . comradery . . . with the General Secretary of the Soviet Union. You’re our only chance.”
“Then we’re screwed,” Pops said. “Nikita is a hard-headed son of a bitch. He ain’t gonna listen to me.”
“Try,” Kennedy pleaded. “The fate of all Americans depends upon your ability to reason with him. You’re authorized to tell him that I have agreed to remove ICBMs out of Turkey.”
“You really think he’d launch his nukes . . . start WWIII?” Pops asked.
“I do,” Jack said.
“Why should I do this?” Pops asked. “The government has been nothing but a pain in my patooty.”
Pops told me he expected some ask-not-what-your-country-can do-for-you malarkey . . . but instead, after a long thoughtful pause, Kennedy said: “Jackie and I have two kids. I love them, as I’m sure you love yours. Let’s give our children a chance to grow up and clean up our messes, Maynard. The Secretary will connect you to the Kremlin.”
You guessed it, young lady. Pops talked Khrushchev down. He wouldn’t reveal the details of his conversation, but said it was more about family and farming than geopolitical brinksmanship. Said they toasted over the phone. Pops with a Ballcock Bourbon, Khrushchev with a Beluga Vodka.
Happily ever after, right? So goes the fairytale endings. Pops rides off into the sunset a silent hero . . . spends his remaining years in pursuit of alchemic perfection.
Not so fast. There’s an ugly epilogue to this American odyssey. One that I wouldn’t tell nobody about unless I knew I was rightly dying.
Pops weren’t religious. So when he was passin’, he didn’t ask for no priest. He asked for me, his boy. This is his deathbed confession. As it is mine.
The money. The million dollars he borrowed from the Chicago mobster, Harelip – it came due. And Pops was strapped. Brewin’ bourbon is a slow process. Aging is everything. Takes years to recoup your investment. Unfortunately, Harelip Maloney was not the patient type. He wanted his million with a half-million kicker. And he wanted it pronto.
Pops tried to negotiate with the guy, but to no avail. He said, “I talked Khrushchev out of nuclear war, but couldn’t get this mook to budge.”
Pops said, “Right here, boy. They tied me to this very bed and revved up a power drill. They were gonna start with my knuckles and elbows and work their way to my teeth and eyes.
“Then Harelip got a call. It was on my phone, boy – that one, on the nightstand. Harelip got a call from his boss, Giancana.”
Pops told me that Harelip seemed disappointed with what he heard on the line. Like a sullen kid, he unplugged the power drill and took a seat next to Pops.
“Here’s the thing, Maynard,” Harelip said. “We need you to do us a small favor. The Boss, Mr. Giancana, says he’ll . . . relax . . . your payment plan if you help us out.”
At this point, Pops was ready to do anything. He joked that he’d used up all his God-allotted courage in the Hamilton Bank and on the beaches of Dunkirk. Referred to it as the Angel’s Share. Know what that is, young lady?
It’s the ethanol vapors that seep out of the bourbon barrel over time. Distillers call it the Angels’ Share. It’s kind of a slow, eroding sacrifice. A seepage of spirit.
Anyway, Harelip said, “Real easy job, Maynard. Call up the president and tell him you want to join his re-election team. Get to know his schedule . . . when he eats, what he shits, when he fucks and who he fucks. Then, once a week, you give us a report. Easy-peasy.”
“Why?” daddy asked.
Harelip brandished the power drill and said, “You don’t need to know why. You need to nod your head and do as you’re told. Capiche?”
Pops looked up at me from his deathbed the way I’m looking up at you, young lady. Sad. Sorry. Regretful. Repentant. And he told me that he did as they asked. He called Secretary Dean Rusk and asked to join Kennedy’s re-election campaign. The president called him right back and personally welcomed him to the team. Said he’d be honored to have war hero and former senator stump for him.
What’s that? You want to know why the Mob wanted tabs on Jack? Well, as a photo journalist, I did some investigation – you know, after the assassination – after Pops’ confession. Turns out the patriarch, Joe Kennedy, had promised the godfather, Giancana, that Jack would let the Family operate as usual. But Jack and his brother Bobby didn’t listen to old Joe. Then there was the whole Cuba mess. Giancana lost a bundle when Jack imposed the embargo. But that don’t excuse nothin’. Pops done wrong. He didn’t know he was complicit in the assassination, but he admitted that he’d called Harelip three days before Jack and Jackie rolled through Dealey Plaza in that Cadillac convertible. Told Harelip the time and the route and any-damn-thing-else he wanted to know. Like Pops had said, he’d run out of courage. At that point, he was just an old man obsessed with a single dream. And that dream was bourbon – and the pursuit of alchemic perfection.
It’s time, young lady. I’ve said my piece. Made my peace. Now it’s time to – what do the poets call it – slough off this mortal coil. Whatever the fuck that means. You can stay if you want. Watch the whole goddamn show as the hospice nurse increases my morphine. Or you can go. Up to you. All I ask is that you do me one favor. Reach over there, young lady, into that liquor cabinet. Now move them bottles aside – that’s right – look all the way to the very back. In the corner. There’s a false door. Push it. Yep. There’s a small bottle. You got it.
Now, can you blow the dust off it and crack the wax seal?
Thank ya, ma’am. Thank ya kindly.
I’d love it if you join me. All my family done died or lost touch. Hell, I don’t even know what happened to my mama, Rita, after old Maynard left her. Probably dead, which is what I’ll be posthaste.
No. No. No. Don’t guzzle it. See that label. What’s it say?
It says Ballcock Bourbon. Alchemic Perfection. 100% Proof. Angel’s Share. Don’t it?
Do as I do, young lady. It’s time to make a judgement – the last judgement. To see if Pops got the job done.
Check the color. Tip the glass – check its viscosity. Shake your glass a little to agitate the molecules, to release the flavor. Now give it a quick, little sniff. Keep your mouth open, young lady – you can smell with your tongue.
Ahhhhh. Now we’re ready to taste.
As I lay dying, I’d like to offer up a toast to my old man, Maynard Ballcock. If you’re listening, Pops, it’s me, your boy. You fought the good fight. You finished the mission.
All due respect to Mr. Death. It can take a man’s life, but it can never extinguish the indominatable spirit.
You did it, Pops. You created Alchemic Perfection. With the aid of devils and angels, you fucking did it.
If you’ve already read the other two stories and are ready to vote, click HERE<<<Link, and you’ll be taken to the voting poll.
If you’ve not read the other two stories, they can be found at the following links:
E. J. D’Alise submission<<link
R. G. Broxson submission<<link
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