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Happy Hollerdays from The Wheelers
The sleepy town of Pleasington was slowly awaking to the first day in the cold month of November. Although Halloween had just departed, from some it hadn’t ended soon enough.
On the hill that resides outside of town, behind
Big Bob’s Bargain Bin
, a shack has become a constant reminder to them in Pleasington that not all of life is pleasant as it once was.
For inside that very shack lives a family of twelve that recently moved from the Ozarks and attempts to bring their ideas of holidays to all. Meet The Wheeler family!
For most, the day of Halloween is a happy time for children to skulk the streets in costumes looking for handouts with playful threats of tricks.
For The Wheelers, however, Halloween is the start of the joyous season of holidays that come four to a package. There’s Hollerween, Tanksgivin’, Exmas, and Nu Yars Eve. There’s nothing a Wheeler likes to do than to celebrate these days as loud as possible.
“Dagnabit Junior,” said Billy Jake. “It’s already da furst and we need to shop for Tanksgivin’.”
“We getin’ a toikey this yar?” asked Junior. “I ain’t eatin’ no possum agin!”
“Of corse we ain’t eatin’ possum,” replied Billy Jake. “Dat’s fer Nu Yars Eve! Now let’s git in tha truck and head down to Beeg Bob’s.”
“Kin I goes wit ya?” asked Luann. “I needs some nu undawhar.”
“Shor you kin go,” said Billy Jake. “Cain’t she, Junior?”
“Uh buh buh,” stammered Junior.
“Wusamatta Junior? Cat go yer tongue?” asked Billy Jake.
“I think he likes me,” said Luann. She gave Junior’s chin a little tickle.
“Uh buh,” said Junior and then he passed out.
“Way ta go Luann,” said Billy Jake. “He’s the only one with a driva’s license.”
Ma Wheeler came in from the outside and saw Junior on the floor.
“Now wut’s wrong wit him?” she asked.
“Maw, Junior likes me,” said Luann.
“Dat’s nice Luann,” said Ma. “You best get out to milkin’ Bossy, she ain’t gonna be happy with an udder full of milk.”
“Oh alright Maw,” said Luann. She grabbed a bucket and went outside.
Ma Wheeler considered Junior a moment.
“SUPPERTIME!” she yelled. Junior jumped up quickly pulling a fork and knife out of his overalls.
“Hey,” said Junior. “I don’t see no food!”
“Dat’s cuz there ain’t none,” said Billy Jake. “C’mon!”
Outside the boys got into their old beat up truck.
“Why did Maw yelled supper if there ain’t none?” demanded Junior.
“Becuz yous fainted on the floor like a leetle gurl!” said Billy Jake.
“I ain’t never fainted,” said Junior.
“Ya did when Cuzin’ Luann spoke to ya,” said Billy Jake.
“Not true,” said Junior stubbornly.
“Junior I feel a song comin’ on!” Billy Jake announced.
“Ya beddar not!” replied Junior.
“Oh it’s a bubblin’ inside me Junior and I’s can’t contain it,” said Billy Jake.
“I’m warnin’ ya, Billy Jake, jes don’t get me angry!” said Junior. “I meanit!”
“I can’t contain it! Junior and Luann, sittin' in da tree," sang Billy Jake. "KAY EYE something something EYE AND GEE! First come family, then come shotgun weddin', then come Junior with da baybee beddin'!”
“Dagnabit Billy Jake I’s warned ya,” said Junior. He started to get out of the truck but Billy Jake was already out and running around singing his song.
Junior struggled but he couldn’t get out.
"Dangnabit! I's stuck behind the gul-durn steerin whale! Hep me out Billy Jake!" He shouted.
Billy Jake ran around to the driver’s side.
“I can’t take you anywhar,” he said.
Billy Jake looked at Junior.
“Well here's your problem, ya too close to da steerin' whale!!" he said and grabbed the release. The seat slid back so Junior could climb out. The truck groaned under his weight and seemed to sigh as he got out.
“Tanks Billy Jake,” said Junior.
“How we’s gunna git to da store?” asked Billy Jake.
“You hafta drive for me,” replied Junior grabbing his stomach.
“I don’t haf a license,” said Billy Jake.
“Dat’s okay,” replied Junior. “We live on a hill. Jes letter coast and use the steerin’ whale to keeper on da road.”
Billy Jake looked surprised at his brother.
“Junior dat’s one hale of an idear!” he said. “I shoula taught of dat myself.” He climbed in behind the steering wheel and moved the seat forward. Junior climbed in on the passenger’s side and wiggled his legs.
“Lots of leg room over here,” he giggled.
“Billy Jake!” called Ma Wheeler. “You take Grampy Wheeler with yous to the store.”
“Yessem,” he called back. He got back out of the truck and went into the house.
Moments later he reappeared with the elderly man and helped him into the rear of the truck.
Billy Jake got behind the wheel again.
“You shore ‘bout this?” he asked Junior.
“Shur I’m shore,” replied Junior. “Jes take da ‘mergency brake off and we coast.”
“All right. Hold on Grampy we’s goin’ fast!” He released the brake and the truck didn’t move.
“Wut’s wrong?” asked Billy Jake.
“Putter in newtrul,” said Junior.
Billy Jake did so and Junior leaned forward making the truck start to descend.
“Bargain Bin, here we come!” shouted Billy Jake.
“Yeeee Hawww!” added Junior.
The truck picked up great speed as it careened downhill.
“Billy Jake,” called Grampy.
“Not now,” yelled Billy Jake.
“As we git to tha bottom,” said Junior, “step on the brake.”
“Gotcha,” said Billy Jake. He felt for the pedal with his foot.
“Billy Jake,” Grampy called again from the back of the truck.
“Not now Grampy,” said Billy Jake, “we’s almost there. He stepped on the brake but the truck didn’t slow down.
“Stop the truck!” yelled Junior.
“I’m steppin’ on tha brake but it ain’t workin’!” cried Billy Jake.
“Then head for da cemetery,” suggested Junior.
“We ain’t dead yet!” yelled Billy Jake.
“The cemetery hill will slow us down,” said Junior.
“Good idear,” said Billy Jake.
He turned the wheel veering to the right.
They zoomed past the building and on toward the cemetery. The church was seated atop the hill and Pastor Sand was out front sweeping the porch.
“What happens if we crash into the church?” asked Billy Jake.
“Will tell the preacher we’s here for confessin’!” replied Junior.
The truck hit the incline and worked its way up. Most of the burial plots were in ground which gave the truck plenty of space. Then a large hole appeared and ate the font of the truck. They had driven into a freshly dug grave.
“Whoa!” Exclaimed Billy Jake. “That was some ride! Junior, ya shore wuz smart today. How d’you think of all that?”
Junior smiled real big.
“I have my moments,” he said.
“Well let’s hope it continues,” said Billy Jake.
“Hope what continues?” asked Junior.
“Nevermind,” said Billy Jake.
“Oh sure!” said Junior. “Leave me out of your secret.”
Pastor Sand came running down the hill.
“Are you boys all right?” he asked.
“We shore is!” said Billy Jake.
“Brake trouble I suppose,” said Pastor Sand. “It’s a good thing you didn’t hit that old man.”
“What old man?” asked Billy Jake.
“Hey! What did ya do with Grampy?” asked Junior as he looked in the truck bed. Billy Jake came over to the back and then looked over at the store. Grampy Wheeler was hobbling towards the front door.
“He musta got out before we stopped,” suggested Billy Jake. They started for the store.
“Hold on just one minute,” called Pastor Sand. “You have to move your truck. I have funeral this afternoon. It can’t stay.”
“Will call Cuzin’ Moe,” said Billy Jake. “He has a tow truck in Riverside.”
“You can use my phone in the church,” said Pastor Sand.
“Much obliged Preacher,” said Billy Jake.
They followed him up the hill and into the front door. Immediately Billy Jake removed his hunting hat and then elbowed Junior to do the same. The church was a small building with ten benches on wither side, a single pulpit and a beautiful alabaster altar.
“The phone is in my office behind the altar,” said Pastor Sand.
“Is God in today?” joked Billy Jake. Both of them felt uncomfortable being inside the church.
“God never leaves his house my friend,” said Pastor Sand. He showed them to the phone and then returned outside.
“We oughta come to church for Exmas,” said Junior.
“Great idear,” said Billy Jake as he dialed.
Five minutes later they returned to the fornt porch where Pastor Sand was hanging a black wreath on the door.
“Cuzin Moe will be here in twenty minutes,” reported Billy Jake.
“Splendid!” said Pastor Sand. “Shall I see you on Sunday?”
“We wuz thinkin’ a comin’ down for Exmas,” replied Billy Jake.
“Exmas?” asked Pastor Sand. “Oh, you mean Christmas!”
“Yup,” said Junoir. “We likes Exmas a whole bunch.”
“Splendid,” said Pastor Sand laughing. “You come back then and bring the whole family.”
“The whole family cain’t fit in here,” said Billy Jake. “Maybee us in the house up yonder.” He pointed to the shack on the hill.
“Splendid!” said Pastor Sand. “I’ll be looking for all of you then.”
“Happy Hollerdays to you and your kin,” said Billy Jake.
“Yes and to you as well,” replied Pastor Sand.
The pair made their way back through the cemetery.
“He shore is a nice feller,” said Junior.
“Yup,” agreed Billy Jake. “We should git him a fresh Exmas wreath too. Did you see how rotten it was he had? Twere all black and such!”
The boys walked into the store and were greeted by several screams by women. Both of them quickly smell themselves to see if they were giving off an offensive odor.
Moments later Grampy Wheeler appeared and chased a pair of young women down the toy aisle.
“Shoulda known it be Grampy,” said Billy Jake. He waited for Junior to say something but he got silence.
He looked at his brother who was waving at someone. He followed the wave to a blond cashier who was waving back.
“Good job there Junior,” said Billy Jake. “Ya taught her how ta wave.”
“I wants ta marry that gurl,” said Junior.
“Ya cain’t do that,” said Billy Jake. “She ain’t kin!”
“But she’s purdy,” added Junior.
“And she looks as smart as roadkill,” replied Billy Jake. “Now c’mon we gots shoppin’ to do.” He grabbed a cart and moved over to the grocery aisle.
As they walked along both of them noticed that they still had Halloween merchandise for sale.
“Hey Billy Jake,” said junior. “Wut’s that sign say?”
Billy Jake looked to where Junior pointed.
“It sez ‘Merry Thanksgivaween’,” he read.
“What’s Thanksgivaween?” asked Junior.
“Don’t’ know. Must be sumthin’ like Hollerdays.”
“Oh! It must be the Hollyday for them there city folk,” suggested Junior.
“I’ll bet yure right!” agreed Billy Jake.
They rounded a corner and encountered a girl dressed from head to toe in black. She was checking dates on the dairy products and suddenly looked up as they approached.
“Are you two responsible for the geezer who’s chasing the women?” she demanded.
“What make you think he’s with us?” replied Billy Jake defensively.
“All three of you look like you belong on an episode of ‘Hee Haw’,” answered the girl.
“Sorry Miss but he ain’t wit us,” lied Junior.
Suddenly a girl ran by followed by Grampy Wheeler.
“Grampy,” yelled Billy Jake, “willya quit chasin’ dem gurls?”
The girl in black gave him a smug smile.
“You were saying?” she asked.
“Okay he wit us big deal,” commented Billy Jake.
“Big deal?!” she seethed. “He pinched my bum!”
A woman in a plaid vest came to the end of the aisle.
“Kit,” she addressed the girl in black. “I need you on a register. Tiffany’s taking her break.”
“Oh goody!” she said sarcastically. “At least I can get away from the Duke boys.”
“Our name’s Wheeler,” said Billy Jake.
“So happy for you,” she muttered.
“Is Tiffany that blond cashier?” asked Junior.
“What’s it to you Einstein?” asked Kit.
“Einstein? I’m Beauregard Robert Wheeler. But you may call me Junior,” replied Junior.
“I’d rather call animal control,” replied Kit. She grabbed her vest and hurried to the front of the store.
“Didja see how much black she had on?” asked Billy Jake. “It’s jes like the preacher’s wreath!”
“Must be an epademick,” suggested Junior.
“We better split up,” said Billy Jake. “You go find Grampy and I’ll start shoppin’.”
“Maybee I kin talk to the blond, Tiffany,” said Junior.
“Junior, ya need to find Grampy!” urged Billy Jake. “Take him out to the truck and wait for Cuzin’ Moe.”
“Oh all right,” said Junior sadly. He stuffed his hands in his overalls and, lowering his head, shuffled toward the other side of the store.
Billy Jake had just reached the end of the aisle when the blond cashier bumped into him. Their eyes met and the smile but neither say anything right away.
“Err.. excuse me,” she said nervously. “I was jes headin’ to da break room.”
“I’m very sorry,” said Billy Jake. He stepped aside but she hesitated.
“My name’s ‘Tiffany!!’,” she announced shyly.
“Tiffany?” asked Billy Jake.
“No, ‘Tiffany!!’ with two exclamation points,” she explained.
“Oh! I’m William Jacob. Everyone calls me Billy Jake with no explanation points,” he replied. She giggled at his comment.
“I noticed a bit of an accent,” he added.
Tiffany!! suddenly blushed.
“It slips out when I’m nervous,” she said. “I was adopted by Bob and Janine Tanner when I wuz four. Bob owns this store.”
“Ya don’t say!” said Billy Jake. “Junior and I shop here a lot specially durin’ Hollerdays.”
“Hollerdays?” asked Tiffany!!
“Yup! From Ocktoebur thru Duhcembur,” he replied.
“That’s sound like our Merry Thanksgivaween,” commented Tiffany!!
“I wuz wonderin’,” said Billy Jake.
Tiffany!! rolled her eyes and smiled.
“Tis a concept created by our manager,” she replied. “He wants ta make merchandise available for all three holly-days at once.”
Billy Jake smiled warmly at her.
“I don’t mean ta pry, but didja ever find out who wuz yure real parents?”
“I sure ‘nuff did,” she replied. “I’s turned sixteen couple years ago and the Tanners told me I wuz adopted. I already figured since they’s black. Said my real parents gave me up when I was just two.”
“Dat’s a real long time,” said Billy Jake.
Tiffany!! nodded in agreement.
“Anyway they tole me ma parents’ name was Sawyer and –”
“Well shut ma mouth,” interrupted Billy Jake. “Didja jes say ‘Sawyer’?”
“Yes’em,” she replied.
“Why we must be Kin then!” he exclaimed. “Ma’s name is Sawyer. Said she had a sister who struck it rich and ‘left the hillbilly life behind’, s’what she dun!”
“That’s my mum alright,” she added. “She sent a check to the Tanners to help provide ‘stead of carin’ for me themselves. Twas enough money ta gota college but I’s bought a car.”
“Speakin’ of cars,” said Billy Jake. “Ours is getting’ towed to Riverside. Any chance you kin take us home?”
“Sure!” said Tiffany!! “I can take you on my lunch break.”
“That’s awfully nice of you Cuzin! You kin meet da whole family,” he replied and then laughed. “I mean jes those of us who live up yonder.”
“I’d really like that,” she said. “I’ll be going to lunch in about ninety minutes so be ready by then.”
“No problem,” said Billy Jake. “By the way, what happened to yure accent?”
“Oh I only comes out when I’m nervous,” she explained.
“Ya don’t haf ta be nervous ‘round me,” said Billy Jake smiling. “We’s Kin after all!”
“I know,” she replied with a half smile. “But it does happen. My boyfriend thinks it’s cute but I find it annoying.”
“Didja say ‘boyfriend’?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she replied. “His name is Bill also. Well, he prefers to be called William. He’s the bookkeeper for Dooley’s Grocery Store.”
“Oh! I wuz gonna ask you out,” said Billy Jake.
Before she could say anything, Kit returned to the dairy and noticed her talking to the hick.
“Finished with your break already Tiff?” asked Kit.
“Uh no not yet,” she replied. “Aren’t you supposed to be at the registers?”
“Nope. Reynaldo came in so I’m back to doing dairy,” Kit replied. She practically tore off her vest, crumpled it up and tossed it on the floor near the yogurt.
“He’s got such a nice smile,” commented ‘Tiffany!!’
“Yeah and when they’re done building the Bargain Bin in Riverside,” said Kit, “he can take his fifty dollar smile with him.”
“Thousand dollar smile,” corrected ‘Tiffany!!’
“WHATEVER!” replied Kit. She noticed Billy Jake looking at her. “What are you staring at hayseed?”
“He’s my cousin,” replied ‘Tiffany!!’
Kit’s jaw fell open in shock but then she quickly recovered.
“Guess that explains a lot about you,” she chided.
‘Tiffany!!’ turned back to Billy Jake.
“See you at lunch,” she said and went into the break room.
Billy Jake simply turned and moved down another aisle. Junior returned inside and found him.
“Cuzin Moe took both the truck and Grampy back to Riverside,” Junior said.
“Good! That’s what I was hoping for,” said Billy Jake.
Junior looked inside the cart and noticed only a few items.
“You shure take yure time,” he said. Billy Jake simply smiled at him.
“I wuz talkin’ to da blond cashier,” he said.
“Didja mention me?” asked Junior eagerly.
“No, your name didn’t come up,” Billy Jake replied. “But I do have some gud news and bad news.”
“What’s da bad news?” asked Junior. “She already hitched?”
“No but she does have a feller,” answered Billy Jake.
“Den what’s the gud news?” asked Junior.
“She’s Kin!” Billy Jake replied.
“Really? How dat possible?” asked Junior.
“Her maw is our maw’s sister,” replied Billy Jake.
“Ya mean Aunt Gertie?” asked Junior.
“Dat’s the one,” he replied. “Tiffany!!’s gonna drive us back home on her lunch.”
The Tip Jar