Circle One

I was there when it all started. Twelve years old and sitting in the back of a one-room school, I was the smallest kid in the class and had been taught to read at age three. My aging mother thought I was a gift from God, so she decided I needed to learn as many words and as much stuff as I could remember as soon as I was able. With an extensive vocabulary way beyond my years, I wasn’t the slowest learner in the class and it wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was in the wrong place to begin with and as it turned out, it was the wrong time, too.

Consequently, I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard,

“Blowing’ up the whole damn building, might do the job.” said Uriah.

As a limited capacity thinker and conniving planner, Uriah Huntrager was always slow to act.

“What job?” said Whit.

On the other end of the verbal teeter-totter, Whit Burchfield was dim-witted, excitable and always quick on the trigger.

“Puttin’ all that religious mumbo-jumbo away, once and for all.” said Uriah.

“I guess I slept through most of it,” said Whit. “What didy say?”

“Aw, you know, goofy questions, like when Moses or Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed or Joseph Smith or any of those guys who came back from the mountain, the wilderness, desert or whatever. They all came back with the rules for everybody to live by. How come none of them ever took any women along?”

“Whoa, dammit! Slow down! That’s way too much shitless stuff. My head cain’t ass-i-mo, uh-assee mo-oh-oh – – late” said Whit“

Together they were a perfect match. A complementary concoction, always embroiled in some mischievous and many times dangerous endeavors with no plan for a clean getaway or any other exit strategy. They operated on the principle that it was necessary and important, essential even, to have an excuse before doing the deed, so they would have something to say when they were asked, “Why did you do it?”

Nineteen and twenty going on thirteen or so, Uriah Huntrager and Whitford Burchfield had been dug out of the red clay valley in Northwest Georgia that they were born in. By the early 1960’s, neither of them had shown any evidence or promise of further intellectual development. Two teenage boys trying to be men, they were an ignoble experiment in evolution that had not yet self-aborted.

Not wanting to give up on his latest misbegotten notion, Uriah pushed on, “Early said, “What kinda God would make a man for someone to lie to.”

“Sounds OK, to me.” said Whit.

“And someone to believe his lies,” said Uriah, “now that’s a helluva note.”

“Yup.” was Whit’s disinterested, idle reply.

“And he said, what kinda man would make a God to look like himself, so’s he’d have someone to blame an, an,   an . . . make excuses for bad choices and stupid mistakes.” said Uriah.

“Good idee.” said Whit.

After a long, vacant pause when a thought should have occurred or reason might have prevailed, Uriah issued a warning bulletin,

“Anyhow, I reckon we need to get started on blowing this place up before anyone finds out about all his bullshit.”

“OK, then, where do we start?” asked Whit.

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