Me An' Cletus Is A-Feudin'Commentary • Opinion • ISSUE 30•09 • Oct 9, 1996 By Jeb Burnett, Bootlegger Jeb Burnett Bootlegger Shut yer tater trap and listen here— that consarned Cletus an' I is a-feudin' agin', and ain't nothin' on God's green Earth gonna stop me from tannin' his hide but good! Cletus just better not send that hog's ass ugly bucket a' guts he calls Momma up here no more t' speechify to me, cuz it's bad enough bein' shot at by that varmint all dang day without that cat-screechin' momma o' his wailin' about don't hurt her baby boy. I got me enough business killin' that no-good Cletus without havin' ta see that hooer what pupped him. Y'see, Cletus, he went and got all high-hat on about how his shine is better'n mine, which'n it sure-hell ain't. That possum sweat that Cletus brews ain't no proper whiskey. Oncet I fill his ass fulla 30-caliber, everyone'll go t' his shack an' find out that what I said about his 'shine was right—that he makes it out'n goat feed and brews it in the galdang radiatter of his rackety ol' Chevy. An' who shouldn't know better'n me, who's lived acrost the holler from that shif'less polecat Cletus this past 37 year? It was my Granpappy what found the secret of Knob Holler shine, and he passed it down to my pappy and then o'course to me. That Knob Holler shine—well, son, it'll set the preacher and the schoolmarm to screwin' every dang time. Sure as Christmas, that Cletus, he wants that secret white lightnin' on account o' that coon piss he cooks up ain't fitten fer fuel or floorwax. Sure'n I still din't reckon I'd find that skunk nosin' round my still late one night. It was dark as the inside o' a dead mule, and I'd just gone out to the two-holer to set a spell when I seen somethin' looked like a skinny monkey up by my pappy's still. Shore 'nuff, it was that Cletus, stickin' his nose in where he shouldn't and sniffin' like a blue tick hound after that secret white lightnin' recipe! Well, I was put in mind of a thing my pappy hisself used to say. "A man shoon't own a goddamn thing what'n he can't take care of, not a pick'em-up truck or a gun or a woman, but 'specially not no still." That ain't nothin' but God's truth, so I grabbed my special repeatin' shootin' iron what a man can load on Sunday and shoot all week, and I took off up the hill after his skinny ass. Well, surely Cletus was ahind the door when the good Lord handed out the brains, but he's right crafty and quick as a rattlesnake. He seen me comin' up the hill and cut loose somethin' fierce with his two-piper shotgun, and I was plumb lucky not to catch a skinful o' buckshot. I lit off up the hill and jumped behind a tree and set to some shootin' myself, and I damn near parted ol' Cletus' hair for him and his noggin too. But when I made to creep from stump to stump over to where I done reckoned Cletus had to be, well, he was gone as a shadder at noon. So hear my words, neighbors. Me an' Cletus ain't gonna stop feudin' till one of us wakes up dead one fine mornin' in Hell, and since Jesus hisself was an honest bootlegger of souls, the only yeller-belly from Knob Holler fit for the company of Lucifer is my pig-humpin' neighbor Cletus Straight. I kin see his shack up there on the ridge from my verandy, and every now and then I let loose a slug or so through his settin' room winder just to be sure that jackass got his fool head down. So don't send that bone-ugly momma o' yours 'round here no more, Cletus, or ol' Jeb'll send 'er back to y'all in a cheap pine box, just liken I did yer daddy and them two preachers.