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Your Weekly Hoodoo Thread

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If ever there was a time for the Hoodoo that you do, this would be it...

See there, I told y'all...
See there, I told y'all...

Well, I can't say that it wasn't expected. After that cotdang debacle of a football game against the fightin' Faulkners of Oxford, I figured we'd see plenty of piss and vinegar from the Tide last week against poor little ole Louisiana Monroe.

But good Lord I didn't expect to see that kind of defensive performance...no siree. Naw, that was old school and Biblical in its thoroughness and brutality...evidence that Football Loki is once again pleased with us, the Crimson Tide faithful.

So with this renewed favor and recently-reinstated fervor, our beloved Tide will head between the hedges this Saturday to face a doppelganger in the Georgia Bulldogs. Run the ball and play defense...sound familiar?

Given the fact that Alabama is a 2.5 point underdog (and Alabama hasn't been an underdog of any persuasion since 2009), this one has your faithful narrator worried, y'all. We're going to need to muster hella Hoodoo for this one, as we'll be facing a complete team...thin at points, but a complete team nonetheless.

That said, lay it down, people. This is your moment, your golden opportunity to inject yourself into Hoodoo Lore Eternal, as nothing else matters this season if the Tide doesn't manage to pull this one out. Offer up your shame, and if you have none to offer (liar), then challenge yourself to some grotesque task of sacrifice on behalf of the team. Whatever you do, you damn well better place something at the foot of this here Hoodoo altar, ‘else whatever happens Saturday will fall upon thine unworthy shoulders.

Now, without further ado, I offer to you my Hoodoo.

Now way back in the early days of this here OWB legend, after jumpin' bikes and shootin' devil-worshippers faded into history, after I scored my first pieces of tail and engaged in carnal subterfuge b'neath me dear old mother's own hard-earned roof, I began my ascension into the ranks of manhood. I had graduated from college, had that there expensive piece of fairly meaningless parchment enclosed in a purple leather tableau on a shelf in my childhood bedroom, where I continued to spend my nights. After all, an English major in Mobile without well-to-do familial connections is about as likely to land a good job out of college as a snow cone is to complete the Paris-to-Dubai rally fully intact.

No, I lived in my mother's house throughout college to save money, and after graduation, despite my attempts at establishing independent domicile, my drudgery continued after my 23rd birthday. I simply couldn't find a job in my hometown market, as Mobile just doesn't have a high demand for English majors whose surnames are not Peebles or Ladd or Lyons or Leatherbury or Inge. (Them there's the Old Mobile blue-blooded names there, folks.) Those folks had it made, didn't really matter what the hell they majored in during their respective college tenures. They'd end up working at daddy's firm, or working with one of daddy's golf partners in some newly-created position, or earning a position of political influence with Senator Sassafras or some other thanks to the prominence of daddy's pocketbook or sphere of influence.

But ya boy OWB, you see, he had none of these things, nary a point of leverage. He was a shirt-tail from the wrong side of the tracks, a piece of WeMo (again, that's West Mobile slang for non-Mobilians) riff-raff of the highest order. To make matters worse, I was the product of a "broken home" as they called it back then, and my father had about as much interest in me and B-Rad as a cat has in a tomato-cucumber salad. I was literally on my own, and as much as I wanted to believe in the American Dream, I just didn't see how I, despite my work ethic and natural smarts, would be able to transcend the good ole boy network that seemed to suck up all of the opportunity in my hometown.

In need of some type of employ in order to afford my rather luxurious wants and desires (most of which pertained to food, alcohol and women, in no particular order), I decided to take what I could get. And what I could get was manual labor. During my final two years of college, I worked part time at a local cemetery. (That ain't my Hoodoo, y'all.)

Now, I know what you're thinking. But allow me to explain. I wasn't one of the grave-digging, body-interring kind of graveyard workers that you see in Scooby Doo cartoons. No, my title was simply "gardener." I had experience as a horticulturist, and the pedigree to back up my inclinations. My great-grandfather, a French immigrant (no, my partial French heritage is NOT my Hoodoo, either) from Toulouse, came to Mobile in the late 19th century to pursue his love of horticulture in what is one of the most verdant and botanically diverse corners of the known world...my hometown of Mobile, AL. So gifted was he in his chosen field of endeavor that he was commissioned to help with the design of the infamous Bellingrath Gardens, a now-tourist trap site that was formerly the home of a Coca-Cola company magnate. A lower Alabama Callaway Gardens, if you will. Tucked alongside Dog River, it is an oasis for gardeners and tourists that has endured hurricanes, floods and rampant development. It is a throwback to a gentler time, it is Old Mobile, and it represents a source of family pride that an ancestor had some hand in shaping that original botanical masterpiece.

Because of this, and my experience working on the farm in Vance (where if you wanted to eat it, you'd better learn to grow it), I had an affinity for plants and their nourishment. When this cemetery in Tillman's Corner advertised for a gardener to help renovate the existing plantings and develop designs for some of the new monuments that would be unveiled forthwith, I had jumped at the chance. When I found out that the gig would allow me to work around my school schedule, I took it despite the minimum wage and promise of arduous work. When I graduated from college, with no other professional offers pending on the horizon, I elected to go full-time at said necropolis...after all, a paycheck was a paycheck.

Fortunately, it was a good situation, thanks to my rather loosely-contrived supervisor Brittainiel, himself a gardener and man of the leaf. Now when I say he was a "man of the leaf," I don't mean that he was skilled as a botanist per se, but rather that he partook of the "sweet leaf" of Osbournian repute at every chance. Now Brittainiel, he was a member of one of those aforementioned Old Mobile families, but due to his proclivity for smoking the ganja and living a somewhat unsavory life of motorcycle-ridin', fightin' and hell-raisin', he had been labeled a "shirt-tail" himself and removed from the flow of familial favor some time ago. With no roots in Mobile following his expulsion, he traveled widely, living in Dallas for a time before settling in Atlanta, where he met a rich girl and they married. He was a wordly fella, and where I had grown up and lived in Mobile most of my life, he could share stories of other far-flung locales.

When I came to know Brittainiel, he and his wife lived on Dauphin Island. Being that we shared a desire to smoke ourselves silly and enjoy a col'beer from time to time, he and I hit it off in grand fashion. I'd visited their home on many occasions and came to know his family. We were fast friends, which worked to my benefit, of course.

Back to the cemetery...we were scandalous in our "work ethic" as time wore on. You see, Brittainiel and I were the intellectual superiors of nearly everyone in the organization for which we worked. We knew the leverage points, knew when to press them and when to take our lumps. We quickly figured out how we could make our morning rounds, be seen dabbling in something productive, then abscond to the forest that surrounded the city of the dead. This tract of wooded land spanned hundreds of acres and wrapped completely around 2/3 of the cemetery. Slicing through the pine woods and underbrush of the tract were countless interlocking trails carved by years of motorized redneckery....four-wheelers, dirt bikes, the occasion Jeep or dune buggy.

We had been assigned a golf cart for use in pursuit of our labor. After making our morning appearance, we'd disappear into those woods on the club car to chief down like champs. We'd emerge two hours later, high as proverbial kites, just in time to cart ourselves to the nearby Zippy Mart for our break time procurement of snacks. We'd finish our break, make a pass by the cemetery shop, make sure we were seen again, then disappear into the woods once more until lunch time. We'd make another pass after lunch, maybe plant a flowerbed for an hour, then melt back into the forest like the dang-ole Viet Cong for the remainder of the afternoon. We had it made, presenting the appearance of professionalism while doing a whole lot of nothin'.

The summer rolled around, and because of the increase in the volume of grass-cutting and shrub-trimming work (and the availability of cheap, school-kid labor), our staff would balloon. Generally, the kids who were hired on at the cemetery in the summer months had connections to those in the administrative positions. For example, the administrator's grandson worked with us, as did his best friend. A board member's 15 year old nephew joined us for four hours a day to earn his "allowance." One of the cemetery lot salesmen had a son, and though 15, he was hired to join us on the staff, along with one of his friends.

Then there was Match, a spindly little kid who wore Jenkos and rock-and-roll t-shirts, despite his quiet demeanor. He was the grandson of the cemetery security director, a retired sheriff's deputy who was as hard a man to like as any I've ever met. Crusty, mean, curt...just not someone we ever wanted to deal with. He maintained his arrest powers as a member of the local sheriff's auxiliary, and on several occasions, had arrested teen visitors to the secluded mausoleum on charges of "havin' a lil' pot-party back ‘er."

I remember once, as we pulled into the shop area after-hours to punch out, we found this old coot, who I'll call Jimbo for the purposes of this story, pumping gas into his cruiser from the cemetery tank.

"HEY!...H'any uh you boys want somma this here deee-sel feee-yule?" he hollered across the yard.

"Nah, I don't think so," I yelled back.

"Good thang, it was a trap, I'da hadta arrest you if you'da taken me up on it, HAHAHAHA...." He cackled like a madman, some hybrid of Fire Marshall Bill and a hyena.

Sparkling personality. For realz.

Even with the usual seasonal hirings, we were a few men short. As we sat in the plush yaupon thicket tucked amongst the gray-trunked pines one afternoon, ribbons of silver smoke lilting upwards from a burning J, Brittainiel asked me an unexpected question.

"We still gotta hire a couple more guys... France-ass (the chief administrator) has been on me to get the hiring done...what about your brother, he a good worker?"

"Surely you jest," I thought.

Now, many of y'all have heard tell all across this here Hoodoo ledger of my brother B-Rad, who at this point in his life, was engaging in a self-destructive trajectory of debauchery and drug use the likes of which would embarrass Janice Joplin. He had already been arrested for selling powder to an undercover cop who lured him onto a school campus. He had moved out of my mother's house and into a dope den up the road with a band of MOWA Choctaw offshoots who possessed neither any amount of God-given good sense nor footwear of repute (not to mention their total lack of modern dental implements). For the purpose of this story, I'll call his married roomates Unya (the husband) and Tunya (his wife).

B-Rad was in a bad way, y'all. I didn't think he'd make it to 21, seriously. He was going out in a blaze of glory, for sure, but it was a dirty glory, not the kind in which one can take pride. Still "riding that train" like dang ole Casey Jones, he was snorting as much of his product as he could acquire. He'd roll and burn anything green and dry, and he could routinely get his hands on enough acid and mescaline to turn Beau Terra (our neighborhood) into bat country at the drop of a hat.

I told Brittainiel what B-Rad was up to these days, and though he recoiled somewhat, he laughed it off as brotherly exaggeration.

"Aw com'on, he can't be that bad. At least we know we'll be able to trust him with our secret," meaning we could trust him to cover for our daily smoke-down sessions on the clock.

I was reluctant at best, as though I loved my brother, at this point in his life, I recognized that he was a loose cannon. There was never any telling what he was going to do or say, and I was always on edge when I was around him. After all, one can turn his back on a person, but he'd be ill-advised to turn his back on a drug.

Nevertheless, against my better judgment, I offered him a job working on our crew. I mean, after all, how bad could it be? All he'd have to do is hold a weedeater, maybe a shovel, and do a little mindless work. What could go wrong?

"Man, for real, you can't mess this up. You can't be fightin' nobody out there and runnin' your mouth. You have to respect that this is my job, and I don't wanna have to find another one right now."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah man that's cool, I'll do it. How ‘bout Unya, you give Unya a job too?"

Reluctantly, again, I agreed. Unya was a dumbass and a dirty sumbitch, but to my knowledge, he was a worker. He had the paint-stained blue jeans to prove it...and he wore them every. Damn. Day.

They were to report Monday morning, and fearing that they would not, I made arrangements to pick them up myself and deliver them to the worksite. When I stopped in front of their home/ hellhole, they were waiting on the front porch.

"Well, that's a good sign," I thought. "Least they're awake."

B-Rad hopped in the car. "Wassup..."

"Nun, you get enough sleep?"

He looked at Unya and cracked up.

"Man, I ain't been asleep since Friday night, I got a blotter of acid and I been on that sheeeeyut."

He went on to inform me that, in an effort to make sure that he was "alert" for the big first day on the new job, he had that morning placed a 10-strip on his tongue, in addition to cutting a second 10-strip in half and tucking it beneath his eye lids.

"Fan-fkn-tastic," I thought. "This should be fun."

As soon as we arrived at the cemetery, I put Unya on a job, and Brittainiel and I carried B-Rad off into the woods. During the short trip from the shop to the woods, B-Rad had cussed at our supervisor and called him "one fugly mffkr," and had serenaded a group of mourners at a gravesite with a refrain from R. Kelly's seminal funerary classic "Bump ‘N Grind." At full volume, nonetheless.

"Uhhhh...dude," Brittainiel said, directing his eyes to the dump-bed of the cart where my brother had degenerated into a screeching "Red House" air-guitar solo that sounded like a croaker-sack full of cats tossed into a creek.

"Yeah, I know...told you man, he's on that acid and shit."

We carried him into the privacy of the woods.

"Hey, hey, look, are you gonna be able to do this, man?" I asked him. "It doesn't look like you have yourself together."

B-Rad brushed off his shoulders and smoothed the front of his t-shirt, sitting up rod-straight.

"Nah, nah, I'm good man, I'm good...do I look high?"

"Yes. Yes, you do."

"Okayokayokay, I got it, I'm good." We discussed a job we thought he could do harmlessly, and he agreed. We would drop him off before heading back to the woods to smoke down.

As we emerged from the woods, our supervisor Chucker met us at the trailhead in his truck.

"What the hell you boys doin' back here? Who is that?" he asked, pointing to my brother.

"Oh, Chucker this is my brother B-Rad. He's starting today. He's real bad diabetic though, was having low sugar this morning so we pulled him back here out of the public eye ‘til we could give him a candy bar and a coke to get his sugar back up."

Only some of this was a lie. B-Rad was indeed diabetic, had been since childhood. And he did, at times, have insulin reactions that mimicked a man ensconced in the depths of an ether binge, though such had not been the case this morning. He was just trippin' balls.

"Oh, okay...he alright? He need an ambulance?"

"NONONOnono, nothing like that. He'll be okay. He's stable, gonna get to work." Brittainiel pushed the gas and the cart putted away. We damn sure didn't want B-Rad undergoing any kind of medical evaluation at all...certainly they'd know that he was under the influence, a fact we were adamantly attempting to conceal.

We dropped B-Rad off with a weedeater and told him to trim around the headstones in a given section. Easy enough, right? Can't mess that one up, even blasted on white blotter. We left him to his devices and went back to the woods, where Brittainiel produced a small, rainbow-colored blown-glass straight pipe packed with green. We toked until we were loaded, talked about guns and what Bama's football team would look like that fall, and wasted as much time as possible before venturing back out to the wide open.

"Hey, let's swoop by and get B-Rad first...we can let him get a few hits to polish off his buzz, maybe settle his ass down a little."

Brittainiel agreed, and we found B-Rad just as we'd left him. By that, I don't mean working along, at a normal pace, just as we'd left him. I mean, after an hour and a half, B-Rad was still weedeating the exact same headstone...he hadn't moved a foot one way or the other.

"Hey man, what the...?" I asked.

"What? Somethin' wrong?"

"Uhhh, yeah, you didn't weedeat anything else, just this one grave marker? Dude, it's been like two hours?"

"Oh, my bad..." Then he laughed.

I ushered him to the cart and we went back to the woods. Brittainiel produced his pipe once again, and B-Rad took a few drags. His eyes were dilated, pupils large and full, looked like one of the dang-ole Funko figures or something. He shared with us the grand narrative of a fire ant (who he had named "Wheezer," btw...) that kept trying to cross the grave marker he had been working on. He'd let it get to one side, the he'd sweep the whipping string of the weedeater in front of it, chasing it back in the other direction. Back and forth, one way then the other. I was able to surmise that he probably engaged in that worthwhile endeavor for the bulk of the time we had left him to his own devices. We were fortunate no one had noticed that he had been doing a really, REALLY good job on that one grave stone.

As we rode out of the woods, we picked up one of the dump cart the grave-digging crew used when conducting burials. It was a large John Deer trailer with a dump bed that rocked side to side, and it had a large 300 gallon bucket that dumped out to one side or the other...basically, a big and heavy metal death trap for the uninitiated. Now, despite what I'm sure would have been the protestations of OSHA, we were instructed to use this implement of medieval torture to haul our teenagers to and from the work sites each day regardless of the danger inherent in such. These folks were cheap, and didn't want to spring for a safer mode of transportation, though we routinely voiced our concern to management about the potential for maiming.

We hooked up the cart, and B-Rad elected to ride on it, standing astride the rear axle just above the spinning tires. Such a course of action was against my better judgement, as I knew his equilibrium was more than likely shot all to hell from the copious amounts of LSD flowing through his person. However, I wasn't about to argue with the mffkr, as I was about tired of his foolishness for the day any damn way.

As we sped across the cemetery, B-Rad began to showboat. He held on with one hand, then no hands, as we sped along, yelping and whooping all the way to call even more attention to himself...ON HIS FIRST DAY ON THE JOB, MIND YOU! He took off his hat and waved it around over his head like a rodeo cowboy, piercing the usual solemn quietude of the hallowed cemetery grounds, shouting "YIPPEE-KIY-YI-YAAY MFFKR!" as we passed the supervisor, Chucker, who was overseeing a gravesite operation. I glanced back in time to see Chucker jump in the truck and give chase.

"Aw sheet, mane, Chucker's comin'...B-Rad back there cuttin' a damn fool."

Brittainiel laughed, but it was a chuckle of the nervous variety this time.

"Great. This will be fun to explain. I'm gonna pretend like I don't see him and see if he just goes on about his business."

Brittainiel accelerated and decided to make a sharp snake-turn through a curve in hopes that we'd shake Chucker and he'd just say "the hell with it." I guess maybe that wasn't such a good idea...seeing as how B-Rad was actually standing atop the wiggling bump bed at this point, the loosely-locked bucket wobbling beneath his weight.

I looked back to tell B-Rad to get down just before the curve, but it was too late. With Chucker behind us, my brother took a nasty tumble, just kind of fell off trailer all frail-like, similar to the way a baby deer falls until it learns how to use its legs.

"Hoooo, SHIT! B-Rad just took a spill!" Brittainiel locked up the brakes and the light cart, pushed by the momentum of the heavy steel trailer, skidded forward 20 feet.

B-Rad was curled up on the roadside. I could see he was scuffed up pretty bad, had landed on his shoulder and did God-only-knows what kind of damage. I ran to the spot, and was beaten there by Chucker, who saw the whole thing play out in real-time.

"What the hell you boys doin"? That shit just don't make no damn sense!" shouted Chucker.

"Uhhh, he's havin' another one of his sugar attacks Chucker, sometimes he acts like a drunkard when it happens, just crazy...."

"He needs an ambulance, I have to call one since he got hurt on the job."

"NONONOnono, he's fine, he just needs a little Bactine or somethin'"

"Naw OWB, I may have broken my shoulder, ‘is shit hurts."

"Nah, you're alright, get up." I hoisted him from the asphalt. "We gotta get that sugar up."

B-Rad offered his own defense.

"Naw, t'aint my sugar, mane. F'I wasn't high, I wouldn't have fallen...just all that ac..."

"YEP, LOW BLOOD SUGAR!" I blurted out before B-Rad could finish. "YEP, GOTTA GO GET HIM SOMETHING SWEET FROM THE ZIPPY MART."

I scooped him up and put him in the bed of the golf cart as we sped off. Brittainiel was cracking up.

"Dude, this shit ain't funny. He's gonna get himself killed or get us both fired, and neither of those is gonna work out well for me."

"I know dude, but you gotta admit, that was funny."

"Nope."

It was break time, and we went around with the pull-behind cart, picking up the other kids (at a much slower pace) to make a run to the Zippy Mart for break time snacks. Generally, once everyone had the required edibles, we'd all sit together in the shade, eating and chatting with one another before returning to our respective tasks. The teenage kids all crowded around while I'd crack jokes, and we'd entertain with stories of former co-workers and tales from my youth, many of which I have recounted to you fine people here in this Hoodoo ledger.

So it was on this day, as we sat in the shade of an overhanging privet hedge, Brittainiel and I sitting on the cart while the half dozen kids sat on the grass around us, listening to my foolishness. None of these kids knew about our secret sessions in the woods, of course. Hell, that just couldn't be known under any circumstances, as half of them were related to cemetery administrators and the other half were kinfolk of law officers. Letting that secret out would not only result in firing and possible arrest, but it would also shatter the professional image we had worked to create for these young acolytes. No, we kept our sessions in the woods a deep dark secret, and worked harder to maintain said secret than we ever did at stuff like, well, gardening.

My Dr. Gonzo brother, however, was not aware of that fact, apparently.

"Hey Brittainiel, where that pipe you got?" blurted B-Rad, right square in the middle of a recounting of one story or another. Brittainiel and I glared at him in disbelief. Being the quick-thinker that I am, and accustomed to covering up my brother's foolishness for, oh well, like all of his life, I just raised my volume and continued my story as if I didn't hear my brother.

B-Rad, ever determined, would not let it go. He picked up a rake handle, leaning over the shoulders of the kids, behind my back, and began to poke Brittainiel in the shoulder.

"Hey man...hey man..."

Brittainiel looked at him as I paused in my tale. I should have just kept talking. B-Rad raised his voice to make sure that my rudeness wouldn't drown out his question yet again.

"HEY BRITTAINIEL, WHERE IS THAT PIPE?...YOU GOT THAT PIPE?"

Jesus H. Christ, this boy was trippin'. "What the hell?" I thought, shooting him yet another STFU skunk-eye.

Brittainiel laughed it off.

"Hahaha, your brother is crazy, man. What are you talkin' about B-Rad," Brittainiel said, winking one eye in an attempt to somehow telegraph to my hallucinating brother that this was neither the time nor place for a soliloquy on said paraphernalia.

B-Rad, however, was undaunted in his acid haze. He was obviously suffering from volume immodulation syndrome, as he seemed unable to speak in a tone that was not a half-shout.

"YEAH MAN, YOU KNOW, THAT PIPE WE WERE SMOKIN' BACK THERE...THE LITTLE CRACK PIPE, YOU KNOW, THE LITTLE STRAIGHT HITTER..."

My instinct was to quickly punch my brother in the mouth to shut him up, as it seemed like the only reasonable course of action for someone as high as he obviously was. Brittainiel was speechless. I was frozen for a minute. I could think of nothing, as the teenage kids were all looking at us, waiting for what would surely be some explanation of the garbled message by brother had just broadcast. I could not have been more embarrassed,a s rarely is your humble narrator rendered dumb-struck. Match, the little straight-edged kid I was trying to teach about the value of hard work and diligent study, stared at me with disappointed Precious Moments eyes, as if his beacon had just blinked out unceremoniously. I was a mentor to some of these kids, they looked up to me and didn't understand how someone of my level of authority could partake of such dastardly and destructive substances. I couldn't let them down and had gone to great lengths of secrecy to prevent such from happening...but here my cotdang brother had splayed my private guts out in the open in front of God and the whole of my landscaping crew.

I'm usually quick on my feet, mentally speaking, a real sharp sumbitch. But this one caught me off-guard, as B-Rad was oft to do, spouting out such foolishness in front of these children and familiars of the law enforcement community.  Unable to conjure a solution, I had to rely on instinct, like a jungle cat.

And like a jungle cat, I had no choice but to pounce. I leapt off the cart in a pseudo-panic, leaping towards B-Rad and taking him to the ground with a semi-covert forearm shiver across the chest. Back then, I was in prime condition...that was during my boxing days, y'all. I was doing roadwork and weight training every day, I was 222 pounds of muscle and rage. Being still quite high, it was easy to take B-Rad off of his center of gravity. He fell to the ground in a tumble, muttering "What the hell...?"

"QUICK, BRITTAINIEL, HIS SUGAR IS LOW! GIMME THAT MOUNTAIN DEW!" He looked at me, then with a start realized what I was doing. He tossed me the half-full bottle of antifreeze-colored liquid.

"OPEN UP B-RAD, YOU'RE GONNA BE ALRIGHT BUDDY!"

He didn't resist per se, partially because his slowed brain had not added up the equation at this point.

"But I don't think my sugar is...."

"JUST DRINK IT." I shouted, shoving the 20 ounce bottle into his mouth to prevent further speech. Drastic times and all...I simply wasn't giving him the chance to do any more damage with his cake-eater.

The kids were on their feet now, circled up, watching what they thought was a man about to slip beneath the lapping waves of a diabetic coma.

"Y'all, get outta here, can't you see he's dying?" I asked. The kids dispersed immediately like roaches with the light flipped on, picking up their jerky and chips and heading back towards their respective work sites.

When the crowd sifted out, I finally let B-Rad get a word in.

"What the hell man, I ain't havin' no reaction, I'm jus' high..."

"Yeah dumbass, I know that."

I thought about my next step, as by this point, I had endured more near brushes with termination than I'd accrued in my previous two years of employ at the cemetery. Me and B-Rad had been through thick and thin together, through gunfights, fistfights, treachery and folly. Could I really do what had to be done? I knew Brittainiel, a loyal friend, would never do it himself, but would rather tolerate the failings of my brother to his own detriment.

I had no choice, however. B-Rad's Gonzo routine had pushed the boundaries of good sense, and I had to do what I had to do."

"You gotta go, dude, I'm sorry. This is your first and last day here, you're fired. Better you than me."

I expected anger, pain, charges of betrayal...but none of that came. He just grinned, pupils still dilated like saucers.

"Thas cool...I didn't have enough acid to stay awake another day anyway."

B-Rad. Always the optimist, always the finder of the silver lining.  God bless him.

So there you have it folks...a tale riddled with shame. Not only do I admit to routine time clock abuse of a narcotic nature, a pathetic (at best) work ethic, consumption of illicit substances while operating machinery, deflecting workman's comp claims, conspiring to use my brother's affliction as an excuse for his rampant intoxication and malfeasance, and ultimately, the termination of my only brother to save my own skin. Not a chapter which makes me beam with pride, people. Shameful...shameful, indeed.

May this tale serve as a sacrifice worthy of a season-salvaging victory over the heathens from ‘cross the Chattahoochee. Roll Tide, y'all.