Grading on the Curve

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic


There are several kinds of smarts, but there is only one kind of kindness. But in this story we may find Karma lends a hand from time to time, you know, to make up for a deficit.

Submitted: October 06, 2017

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Submitted: October 06, 2017

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Bridger Summerhouse was not the wisest owl in the tree, no; I venture to say that he may never have finished the sixth grade if it weren't for grading on the curve.

But Bridger was as honest as the day was long, unlike his Pappy and some of his Pappy's Kinfolk.

He was honest, a sensible kind of honest, so much so that the farm folks around these parts have stories that they tell their children about old Bridger.

Now it seems we have a few moments to spare, so I'd like to share one of those stories with you.

One morning Bridger was sloping the hogs when his Pappy called out to him, "Bridger, get you worthless butt over here, I got an errand for you to tend to."

"What Ya need Pappy?" Bridger asked as he came running across the barnyard.

"Well, Son, neighbor Murdoch tells me that there is a farmer's market and fair down at Willows Bluff. He says that there is farmers and townsfolk down there, from all over the county they've come, and they are itch-in to buy stuff.

I rounded up four Lay-in Hens and put um in this here chicken carry-un crate; I built it last winter.

Now you take these chickens to the fair and sell um for $1.50 each. Got that? Each chicken costs $1.50, and if anyone objects to the price you tell them that they is prime lay-in Hens and that is why they is not $1.00 each! Got that Bridger?"

"Gee Pappy, I didn't know these four chickens was prime lay-in hens," Bridger said and then he smiled with a smile that was as big as all outdoors.

Bridger was a big man and when he smiled you could see it from a country block away. 

Pappy replied, "Well they are 'cause I said so. Now tell me what you are gonna do."

"Sure Pappy! You want me to take Henrietta, Gertrude, Lula-bell and Sarah, to the fair and sell each one for $1.50, not a penny less!" Bridger stated loudly.

Pappy said, "That's right boy, but the chicken carry-un crate don't go with the chickens, I want that back unless some fool wants to pay $10 for it.

Now go on boy, times a waist-in!"

 

After two hours of walking Bridger came to the main road, such as it was. It was just a wide dirt road with gravel on it.

But to Bridger it was a welcome sight, his six-foot, nine-inch, tall body, all 280 pounds of it, didn't do well in fresh tilled farm fields. So any surface that was firm and reasonably flat was a blessing in Bridger's mind, and to his two flat feet.

Bridger walked along the road for a while until two men in an empty hay wagon pulled up behind him. 

"Where ya going, Boy?" One man yelled out to Bridger.

"To the Farmer's market and fair down at Willows Bluff," Bridger stated as he stepped aside to let the wagon pass.

The same man smiled and said, "Well I'll be, that is exactly where we are going. We are going to buy some chickens, if they have some good laying hens, and we are going to sell this little pig that my brother is holding in his lap."

"How many chickens do ya need?" asked Bridger, "I got four fine lay-in hens right here, this one is Gertrude, that's Henrietta, then there is Lula-bell, and the one with the red color on her wings, that's Sarah."

The same man replied, "Why isn't that a coincidence, we need exactly four chickens. How much are you asking for them?"

"My Pappy said I was to ask $1.50 for each chicken," Bridger stated firmly.

The other man, the one holding the little pig, got a scowl on his face and replied, "Well I don't know, that is a pretty high price in my book."

Bridger explained, "These are extra good lay-in hens, my Pappy says so. And when Pappy says somethin' it is gospel."

"You got a good point there boy," said the first man.

"I'll tell you what I'm gonna do, I'll give you the whole $5 dollars if you will let us borrow the chicken carrying crate. We will return the crate to your Pappy as soon as we get the chickens home.

I've known your Pappy for years, he and I used to go coon hunting together, so I'm sure he wouldn't mind."

Bridger thought for a good long time and replied, "How do I know that you know my Pappy."

"Well that is simple," said the first man again, "I knew that he goes coon hunting didn't I, so if I knew that he goes coon hunting then I must have went hunting with him; and if I been hunting with him then I must know him. --- Right?

So here is your $5 and to seal the deal let's shake on it!"

The two men shook hands, Bridger took the $5 and put the carrying crate, along with the chickens, in the back of the wagon.

The men continued down the road and Bridger turned back and headed home.

After walking for a short while Bridger heard the sound of chickens behind him, and when he turn to look he saw Sarah,  Henrietta, Gertrude, and Lula-bell, running along behind him.

"Oh nuts, you girls shouldn't be following me," Bridger said, "Those men must have let you out to graze, not know-in that you would follow after me. Now I gotta take you back to them. I hope they went to the fair and are still there.

Bridger didn't walk another mile down the road when he meets his neighbor, Murdoch, who was coming back from the farmer's market.

Murdoch said as he laughed, "I see them four chickens are still following you around, Bridger. They must think you are their Mama."

Bridger replied, "Oh yes, I found these four when they were just little tweets, they was hiding in a bush, and their Mother was nowhere to be seen. So I looked after them until they could fend for themselves.

But I just sold them to two men in a hay wagon, they must have let them out to graze, never figurin' that they would come following after me. Now I gotta go chase those men down and return their chickens."

Murdoch got a funny look on his face and asked, "Did you sell them your Pappy's chicken crate too? I saw them and they had a little pig in it."

"Oh no, I just let them borrow it until they got home with the chickens. They said they would return it to Pappy as soon as they got home," Bridger stated while sporting one of those famous smiles of his.

"I think that you should tell me the whole story about this chicken sale, Bridger.

I'm sure that those men don't know your Pappy, hell, they don't know anyone from these parts, I'll bet.

And if push came to shove, I'd bet that they borrowed that hay wagon whiles no-one was looking; I say that because that horse of theirs is no hay-wagon horse. And who knows where they got the little pig that they put in your Pappy's crate.

I'm telling you true, Son, I've never seen those men before today. And if I have never seen them before then your Pappy doesn't know them either."

So after Murdoch heard the whole story of the chicken sale, he gave Bridger some sound advice.

He said, "Those men cheated you Bridger, they owed you $6 dollars for the chickens, not $5, and I'll bet what they really wanted was the crate to put that little pig in, a $10 create. So it served them right that the chickens ran off. Cut your losses Son, take the chickens to market and sell them for $6 just like your Pappy said. Then you will have $11, $6 for the chickens and $5 for the crate. I don't think your Pappy will be too mad when he takes a look at the money you brought home."

So Bridger set out to market, meandering down that farms road with four chicken trailing right behind him; it was a cite to be seen.

A short while later, and near the railroad crossing, Bridger met a man and a woman who were interested in buying two of Bridger's chickens.

"Good Sir," said the man, "I am Felonious Figbottom and this is my associate, Ms. Mildred Stonehopper. We are temporarily without funds but perhaps we might reach an agreement, bartering if you will, for two of your fine chickens.

I just so happen to have a gold-plated pocket watch, complete with chain. I will trade you straight across for the two chickens."

Bridger had been duped once that day so he was very skeptical about this man's offer, besides, he didn't understand half of what the man said.

So Bridger asked, with a frown on his face, "Why don't you Pawn the Gold Watch and buy you some chickens with that money? I'm sure you could get enough money to buy a bunch of chickens."

"That is very true," said Mildred Stonehopper. But we must ketch a train very soon so we have no time to go looking for a town with a Pawn Broker. So you see we are in a bit of a pickle.

Besides, you said that you were going to the Farmer's Fair and I'm sure you could find someone at the fair that would be willing to give you at least $5 for this fine $30 gold watch. After all, you still have to go to the fair to sell the other two chickens anyway."

Bridger agreed, reluctantly, and made the trade.

It seems that Bridger was hardly out of sight of the two chicken carrying couple when he saw three horse mounted sheriffs coming down the road. The sheriffs stopped and gave a description of the two and asked Bridger if he had seen them.   Of course, Bridger told them to ride east along the railroad tracks and to look for two people carrying chickens.Then Bridger continued toward the fair with the two remaining chicken trailing behind him.

 

Bridger finally arrived at the fair, and that is when he noticed that Henrietta, Gertrude, Lula-bell and Sarah, were all back together and following him.

"Hmm," thought Bridger, "the sheriffs must have caught up with those two. I wonder what they did?"

"Bridger made a sign using a chili-dog wrapper, (Bridger Loves Chili-dogs! He ate six.), and he attached the very messy but readable sign to his shit. The sign said, "Cikuns 4 sail, $1.50 a peece."

No-one seemed to be interested in buying his chickens, but many of them would look at him and laugh, others would shake his hand and saying things that he didn't understand. Bridger figured that they had a bit too much beer to drink.

But unknown to Bridger, a contest was going on at the fair. It was a "Funniest Farmer Contest" and by the end of the day Bridger had more votes that anyone else, despite the fact that he was only at the fair for two hours.

The Mayor of Willows Bluff congratulated Bridger and presented him with the First Prize Ribbon and the cash prize of $25.

Then the high school's cheerleaders distracted and confused poor Bridger even more by dancing and jumping all around him; they were scaring his chickens.

By the time the cheerleaders stopped poor Bridger was such a nervous mess that he fell on the ground trying to gather his chickens.

The Mayor raced over to help him up but the Mayor was a little man and Bridger was not. So after the assistance of two of the high schools foot-ball team, both Line-Backers, our First Place Winner was on his feet again. But as Bridger stood up he noticed the Gold Watch lying in the dirt, so he picked it up and when he did he held it up to dust it off.

All the sudden the Mayor yelled out, "My watch, my Fathers Gold watch, you found it! I thought that I had lost it forever! Oh thank you, thank you so much!

Well it turned out that the Mayor had offered a $50 reward to the one who found his lost watch.

Bridger arrived home late that night with the four chickens and $20 dollars, which Bridger's Pappy presumed was the money for his chicken-crate.

Bridger never said it was, and he never said it wasn't, he just never said anything 'cause his Pappy was so happy he didn't want to spoil the rare occasion.

What happened to the rest of the money, the other $60? Well Bridger's younger sister is graduating from high school this year and she is going to need a dress for the dance.

 

 

D. Thurmond / JEF

10-05-2017


© Copyright 2018 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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