A Folk Tale
by Doug Bayliss
Back in my door to door salesman days l met an awful lot of very interesting people and encountered many unique circumstances. Many of you may remember my encounter with Wilbur the 3-legged pig! I’d love to tell that one again someday if you’d like to hear it, but this story is about a visit I had with a chicken farmer out in Lancaster County.
I can smell the bittersweet aroma as I recall driving up the long dirt lane, past the many barns and chicken coops to the farmhouse.
Chicken farmer Joe was waiting for me, patiently rocking in a large old looking wooden rocking chair on the front porch. I knew he was excited to learn about our new patented gizmo to make feeding his thousands of chickens so much easier.
“Hey there Joe,” I yelled. “Afternoon.” He said, “Have you got the new contraption?”
“Sure do. Let me back the truck around and we’ll get it unloaded”
Well, we worked the rest of day into the early evening unpacking and setting up Farmer Joe’s new feeders. He was incredibly happy.
“Man this is going to save me so much time!” he exclaimed. Delighted, he invited me to stay for supper just as the dinner bell was ringing. Ding ding ding, ding ding, ding ding!
I politely refused but he convinced me to stay. “My wife is the best cook in the whole county. She wins a 1stplace blue ribbon every year at the county fair with her eggs-quisite lemon meringue pie. And it just so happens she’s making her prize-winning pie today, for tonight’s dessert!” He sure was excited about that lemon meringue pie.
“How can I refuse,” I said, so we dusted off our clothes washed up and went inside. There is nothing like the smell of a good home cooked meal. We sat down at a big country table, and as Joe’s wife was bringing the food in, I recognized her right away. To my surprise, Joe’s wife was my high school girlfriend Mary Joe. She recognized me too, but she said not a word.
After dinner, Mary Joe brought out the oh-so-scrumptious lemon meringue pie and we each ate several slices. As I reached for the last slice Joe smacked his hand down on the table. Whomp! “No sir,” he said. “That last piece of pie is for me. Mary Joe will pack it in my lunch tomorrow.”
Well, we talked and joked for a while, and tasted some of Joe’s dandelion wine, maybe more than we should have. “It’s getting kind of late, why don’t you stay the night and head back into town in the morning,” Joe said.
“You know Joe that doesn’t sound like a bad idea. But I don’t want to impose on you and Mary Joe, you’ve both been so gracious already.” “No problem,” says Joe. But he says “We only got the one bedroom with one bed. You and Mary Joe can just sleep on each side and I’ll sleep in the middle.”
This seemed a little odd, but feeling a bit tipsy from the very tasty dandelion wine, I agreed and we all walked upstairs to the bedroom.
Mary Jo and I took our places on each side of the bed when suddenly Farmer Joe jumps out of the closet with a shotgun! “What are you doing?” I exclaim, “I thought we were all just gonna share this bed and go to sleep for the night!”
“Don’t make a fuss,” Says Farmer Joe. “ We have a problem with a Coyote sneaking up here at night and eating our chickens. I like to sleep with old iron sides here at the ready.”
With that, he climbed on into the bed. So there we were. Me on one side, Mary Joe on the other side, and old Farmer Joe lying right there between us with his trusty shotgun old Ironsides. Remarkably I dozed off to sleep.
Bang! Bang! I awoke to the sound of old Joe apparently outside shooting at a Coyote. I glanced over at Mary Joe who was also awake and looking affectionately back at me, enticingly said, “Now’s your chance.”
Thinking for a moment, I realized she was right. Quickly I dashed down the stairs, grabbed the last piece of the delicious lemon meringue pie and sped away fast!