Copyright © by Mitchell Allen
Angela was about to get her ashes hauled by Liam Moore. She didn’t know this, because it hadn’t happened yet. In fact, young Liam wasn’t even born yet. None of this matters, because the fact is, if Angela hadn’t met Foley in the mail room on that fateful day, she probably would have gotten her ashes hauled by Liam’s uncle, Seamus. This story would have turned out much differently. There would have been a great-uncle, rather than a grandfather and the family bible would have been one branch short of a gnarly oak. This would have deterred everyone from learning about the mysterious floating potatoes.
As it was, Angela stayed home sick the day that Seamus Moore tried to squeeze blood from a turnip. What he was trying to do was this. Seamus was trying to squeeze vodka from a potato, having just read about how some Russian fellow had achieved this feat somewhere in one of those hamlets the Russians call home. He might have succeeded, had he not been blind drunk and grabbed the turnip, instead. The funny thing is, the potato sack was right next to the only turnip on the table. But.
So, Seamus was squeezing the hell out that turnip and the turnip was not pleased. It was rather incensed and felt that it was a victim of discrimination. That was the root of the whole problem. No, it was the crux of the matter. Truth be told, it was the essence of the issue! The turnip fought back, valiantly, biting Seamus about the webbing twixt thumb and forefinger. Proving, you can get blood from a Seamus. Or something to that effect.
After satisfying his curiosity–actually, having forgotten his point of squeezing what he thought was a potato, Seamus staggered out into the sunlit field, vomited on his best pair of boots and passed out.
Foley was not happy. He had twenty-two bags of mail to sort through before lunch. He thought he had twenty-two bags of mail, when in fact there were just three. However, having twenty-two bags sounded far worse and made it easier for Foley to justify his foul mood. He’d arrived late on duty, his pants were tight about his ample waist and his coffee was cold. To top it off, the cute, auburn lass hadn’t shown up for work. So, grumpily, Foley sorted his mail and fantasized half-heartedly.
Angela was feeling better. She decided to go in and get old Foley hot and bothered. She couldn’t figure out how he could think that she hadn’t figured out how he thought of her figure. But it passed the time. She fairly sashayed into the mail room and got close enough for Foley to catch a whiff of the fresh clean scent of something sensuous.
She was too much for old Foley. He rubbed up against his three (twenty-two) mailbags as violently as his arthritic hips would allow. Angela laughed gaily at the futility of his desire. The tinkling titillation floated out of the mail room on a zephyr. It traveled a fur piece and settled on the semi-conscious ears of drunken Seamus. Who promptly sat up, erect, so to speak.
Seamus decided that vodka would be just the thing to take his mind from that siren song. So, he walked back inside and grabbed the sack of potatoes. Walking back outside into the sunlit field, he strode to the post office.
When Seamus walked into the mail room, the most obscene sight accosted his eyes. This is what he saw. Seamus saw Angela’s rotten teeth. This is one of those things that, like a bottle of soured milk kept cold in the icebox, assaults the senses in a way that ruins any possible future enjoyment of the desired object.
“Damn.” Seamus dropped his sack of potatoes on the counter, spun on his heels and walked right back out of there.
That night, the roof blew off the post office. Old Foley retired the next day. Seamus Moore fell into a ditch and broke his neck. Angela took a job at the tavern. The sack of potatoes rotted. And Liam Moore was born.
Seventeen years later, during one of those interminable droughts, Liam perfected a method for growing potatoes in a hydroponic solution. He traded the secrets to the tavern owner in exchange for a date with the owner’s hottest waitress. The tavern owner squeezed vodka from the potatoes, sold the stuff in rinsed out milk bottles and called it “Sour Mash”. He made millions of dollars and was promptly sued by a Chattanooga law firm for patent infringement. He lost everything.
While all this was going on, the gnarly oak grew another branch.