I ran into a friend of mine this morning, a deputy with a nearby sheriff's department. We adjourned to a local hostelry for lunch. Over the meal, my buddy (let's call him Dan) told me the latest about a mutual acquaintance, whom we'll call Henry.
Henry is an elderly gentleman, who lives with his (also elderly) wife on a few acres of woodland outside one of the towns in this area. Henry's a staunch Baptist, a respected citizen, and a better-than-fair hunter. (Locals swear he purchased his piece of woodland on the basis of deer per acre, rather than land values. He certainly limits-out each year during hunting season.)
Henry has only one vice. About once a month, he adjourns to the home of Jack, an elderly bachelor, who lives about five miles away, and the two of them swap hunting
Be that as it may, it seems that last Friday night, Henry went to visit Jack. For several hours they lowered the level in the Mason jars (a favored container for moonshine in these parts), and in due course parted company, swearing eternal brotherhood (or words to that effect.) Henry climbed (or was poured) into his pickup, started the engine, and drove off (well, it was a reasonable facsimile of driving, anyway).
About a mile down the road lies a farm stall. The owner - we'll call him Ben - advertises it with a large scarecrow, consisting of a pair of overalls topped with a lady's dress, all stuffed with hay. He's had problems with kids stealing this, or setting it on fire, so he's taken to attaching bells to it. If it's removed from its post, it rings the bells, and Ben can take appropriate action.
Anyway, Henry, our hero, came down the road, and in the moonlight and the beams of his headlights, caught sight of this simpering scarecrow. In his befuddled state, it seems Henry concluded that this was his wife. He duly stopped, opened his passenger door, and called for 'her' to get in. Needless to say, 'she' didn't respond.
After a few more calls, Henry began to get annoyed. He climbed out of the cab, went over to his presumed spouse, and put his arms around 'her', preparatory to lifting 'her' into the seat. Of course, this set the bells ringing like mad. Ben, who lives behind the farm stall in a trailer, came out hot-foot with his shotgun to catch the miscreants responsible.
He slammed to a halt at the corner of the farm stall and goggled in amazement. Henry, you see, was alternately looking dumbfounded at his bell–icose 'wife', then reaching out and trying to embrace 'her', then staggering back as the bells chimed once more. He was completely flummoxed by 'her' reaction.
Trying desperately not to have hysterics (he knows Henry, you see), Ben dialled the local cop shop on his cellphone, informed them that he'd caught a rascally scarecrow-napper dead to rights, and invited them to come out and join the fun. Being a fairly quiet night, with no other excitement to speak of, two cars arrived post-haste. One of them was driven by my friend Dan.
Henry completely ignored the arriving cars. He continued to try to pick up his 'wife', and each time staggered back, pondering. The deputies joined Ben, watching this while stifling their sniggers.
Finally, Henry lost patience. He heaved mightily, and the scarecrow came off the plank. Carrying 'her' in his arms, Henry staggered to his truck and tucked 'her' into the passenger seat. This proved rather more complicated than he'd anticipated. You see, every time he got 'her' torso onto the seat, and bent to swing 'her' legs into the truck, 'her' torso would fall over. Henry's language became more and more, ah, interesting, as this happened again and again.
At this point, the deputies figured it might be best to interrupt Henry before he either burst a blood vessel, or tried to drive off. They sauntered up to him, and Dan greeted him, "Hey, Henry, what's up?"
"Ah'm tryin' ta put mah wahf in th' truck."
"Looks like she's giving you a hard time about it, Henry."
"Yesh. She mushta bin drinkin' too. She wash shtiff ash a plank." (She was indeed, when she was attached to a plank!)
"Well, Henry, the hard stuff affects some people that way. Say, you wouldn't like us to help you, would you?"
"Hail, NAW! Thish'sh mah wahf! Y'awl keep yer shtinkin' handsh offa her! Noboddeh touchesh mah wahf but ME!"
(Pause for muffled snorts of overwhelming mirth from the officers and Ben.)
Dan (wiping tears from his eyes): "Well, Henry, I think we'd better give you a hand, then one of us can drive you both home. What d'you say?"
Henry: "Y'awl shtand back! Ah'm gonna show her who'sh bosh!"
With that, Henry slammed the torso of the scarecrow hard against the seat-back. This caused just that little bit too much strain on the sun-worn clothing, and 'she' split wide open at the front, hay and straw cascading out. Nor was that all. A nest of field mice, who'd been trying to sleep inside 'her', was ripped open by the impact. The young mice (and their mother) wriggled out onto 'her' lap.
Henry fell back, aghast. "Fellersh! Do shomethin'! Mah wahf, she'sh got mishe! MISHE, I tellya! AwmahGAWD! Ellie! Ellie! Shpeak ta me! Ya gotsh MISHE! Ya gotsh 'em BAD!"
I gather that at this point, a delicate veil should be drawn over proceedings. Poor Dan was crying with laughter as he told me the story, and I wasn't much better off.
Being the right sort of cops, Dan and his buddy finally managed to control themselves (although I bet it took them quite a while!). They managed to convince the hallucinating Henry that 'she' wasn't his wife, and one of them drove him home in his truck while the other followed in his patrol car. They delivered him to the (not so) tender mercies of (the real) Ellie, then the two returned to the other patrol car and went about their evening rounds. (No word on what happened to the 'mishe'.)
Ben's put up his scarecrow again, newly clothed, refilled with straw and securely re-attached to 'her' plank. 'She' now bears the name "Miss Ellie", daubed tastefully in red paint across 'her' straw-stuffed bosom.
I don't know whether the real Miss Ellie's seen 'her' yet. When she does, Ben's explanation of how 'she' got her name might be worth hearing - as will the real Miss Ellie's reaction!