“The only good man is a dead man,” said Mama Jo Skimms of Plattford, Tennessee to Oprah Winfrey on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”
“I don’t agree,” said Oprah, “but a good man is hard to find.”
Click—the television blinked off.
“Aw, Ma!” Cried Chuck Rainey, piteously. Chuck was twentysomething and hadn’t moved from the couch in four years. Martha Rainey loved her son but enough was enough. It was past time she lit a fire under the boy.
“I asked Uncle Joe if he had anything for you to do. You need to go down to his office and talk to him.
It’s not a trick if it works.
Two days later Chuck was scraping paint from the side of an old house on Marbury Lane in Nedville. The screech of the tool as it rasped against the old boards set his teeth on edge. The hot sun made the top of his head feel like he’d stuck it in a microwave oven. Sweat burned his eyes.
“Yakama!” he thought while giving an hour’s pay for two burgers, fries, and Mountain Dew.
“C’mon, boy, you’re starting to drag,” joshed Sid Netley while guffing down a Cheesy Big Fry Sandwich™ with bacon and Chitlin’ Bits™. “I can get all my vegetables right on this sandwich,” he bragged, patting the bun top. “Lettuce, tomato, sweet and sour sauce….”
That night Chuck flopped on his couch in front of the TV like a discarded towel. Dew in one hand, god-box in the other.
“Chuck, you’re all sweaty!” cried Ma. “Go on and take a shower and I’ll get supper ready.”
“All right,” he moaned, finishing off his drink, belching loudly, and crawling on all fours towards the bathroom.
“President Bartlet was right,” he thought while looking at his dirty reddened face in the mirror, a swath of dust on his cheek where paint scrapings had stuck to the sweat. “Why me, Lord?”
He suddenly understood the lyrics to a song his mother liked to play.
He ate Ma’s beef stew and drank a root beer while watching “Struggle,” one of them reality type shows. He woke up sore with the TV still on and an infomercial playing. It was something about using the power of the sun to flea the cat for only $39.95.
He turned it off and checked the time. —Oh no, I’ll have to get up in just a few hours!— he thought as he settled back onto the couch.
That song kept running through his head.
“Lord help me, Jesus, dah dah dah dah dum do de, Jesus, you know who I am, blah blah blah blah blah. Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hands.”
A few hours later he got up and went to work. And the day after. And the day after that.