JOEB'SWOES by Luke Bert via Foxfire Ent.

JOEB'SWOES by Luke Bert via Foxfire Ent.


Misfiled Historical and Current Events + Stories of Different Perspective

A Story of deceptive cultural differences

They always called him dirty shirt, even though he always wore dirty pants.

Back on the river of time, long after the white moon faced people, well after the giants who ruled and consumed those ruled, as the ice moved, after the arrival of the men of the tall canoes from across the great water, after the number of Hairy men of the woods declined, but before most of the true people moved beyond the mighty river.  There was one of the people, who was a man of shrewd business, who always succeeded to get the best to work with him.  His community had moved beyond the great river, but not far; they lived where short chalk bluffs suddenly arose from the flood plane, of a sweet water tributary of the father of waters.  

The man, Mr. Cole had decided to build a charcoal plant, because one of his wards- a blacksmith would need it.  He studied on it and after some paper words between himself and some who were of the Friends up north, he sent paper words to one Sven Thomsson.  Trusting the Friends, he offered the building,  running, and management of the proposed charcoal plant to Thomsson. His nephew Asa being a farrier/blacksmith was much in favor of the plan. His daughter seemed to care no more for the new business, than anything else. The cloud of her Mother's death, after three years continued to make her seem diminished.  

    Sven, two fortnights after receiving the letter, arrived at the community, impressed with the natural beauty of the area, and looking for Mr. Cole.  The first person he spoke to was a blacksmith; "Hello, I am Sven, Thom's son, of the area just west of St. Louis, MO, and ask if you can put me on a path to Mr. Cole?  Asa welcomed Sven happily, "Let me put some things up, real quick, and you and I can go eat with him." 

Asa and Sven became friends before they met, which is rare but happens when the ancestors stir. Sven shared ideas with Mr. Cole, and Asa at dinner, and before the kanuchi had rounded the table, all were comfortable with the prospects of business and each other.  As the year picked up steam from it's cold start, often Sven and Asa would have dinner with Mr. Cole. 

    Not long after production of charcoal got started, Sven started using most afternoons delivering product, always stopping by Asa's first.  Before leaving the plant on a delivery route, Sven would take a quick towel bath, and change his shirt in his office.  So he was as presentable as possible. Making charcoal was a dirty, dusty job.  The second time Sven delivered to Asa, Asa started calling him "Dirty Shirt," and would not tell "Dirty Shirt" why.  After hearing some other local nicknames, Dirty Shirt decided his was not the worse nickname, and business was booming.

    You could have pushed Dirty Shirt over with a piece of string, when he came to deliver the second day of summer, for there was the most exquisite woman, Dirty Shirt had ever seen.  Asa introduced the woman, "Dirty Shirt, This is Mr. Cole's ward, Becky Anne, she just finished spring term at college, and now will take a term off to help Mr. Cole, as per their agreement."  Soon it became common for Dirty Shirt, Asa, and Becky Ann to have lunch together at Asa's shop, when Dirty Shirt made his first delivery of the day. Laughter would almost always echo off the hills and hollows of the area, as the three had lunch, and Dirty Shirt's heart left him to reside in Becky Ann. 

     As time passed, usually you would see the three doing things together, and if you saw Becky Ann, you just had to wait a bit to see Dirty Shirt, and usually Asa also.  The year slowed for everyone, except the wood cutters and Dirty Shirt, because of the coming of the cold of winter.  As the cold of winter gripped the bluffs; Dirty Shirt knew a ceremony, the relighting of the fires came closer, although not sure what it would entail (Dirty Shirt made some good guesses though.)  Dirty Shirt thought since it was a time of continued/new birth of the fires of the group; it would be a good time to profess his love to Becky Ann, (hah, he had always thought girls with two names pretentious, but could only think of her as Becky Ann,) and ask her to share their lives together. 

    After the flame was returned to the people, the ceremony was a huge success, except for one man.  That man was Dirty Shirt, who wandered away looking like a one legged bug crawling away to die.  Dirty Shirt ended up in a hollow, a couple of wood cutters had introduced him to, where the local would go to imbibe one of the mind killers - the people beyond the sea had brought with them - Whiskey.  As he drank, Dirty Shirt killed the part of his mind, that made everyone in the community care for him, and gave power to the dark creature, that all have hanging in the corners of the mind.  Soon, he had decided what must be done, and chuckling with a despairing laugh headed to his cabin.  There he dug out his old service revolver, and headed to Asa's shop. 

  When he got there, Asa was holding a weeping Becky Ann, talking softly to her.  In many tales, this is when evil actions would take place with no forewarning to the victims.  Yet the ancestors sometimes stir.  Sven decided he would make Asa admit his crimes against him.  Dirty Shirt kicked open the door, and spoke:  "I should have been smart enough to see it all this time!  You, who I call my dearest friend, mock me with a disrespectful name, then reach out to steal all that makes my life bright in this world.  Asa, I give you time to admit your treachery, so you can die like a man, instead of a sneak and a lier."

   Asa seemed to age a hundred years in an instant, and sadness travelled hand in hand with his words and tears.  "Sven my friend, yes this is my fault, for I knew you were from outside the people, and are unfamiliar with some of our ways.  I am sad you would think me, capable of hurting one, who carries part of me with him every step.  I call you Dirty Shirt, because it is not our way to bring attention to something unavoidable, that could detract from a person.  I say Dirty Shirt, and the people notice the care it takes to everyday have a clean shirt to wear, while you visit to bring them what is needed, and not the dirty pants that must be, with the result of your work.  You know not our ways, so you only heard the No, and not the yes, any one of the people would have heard, if Becky would have told us; "Ask again in six months."  It is said, know one in all four seasons, before taking up life together.  

    Dirty Shirt dropped the instrument, he would have made a tool of evil, and opened his arms to his new home.

Luke Bert Richardson (Eluwei Hatton)