Travels with George in Search of Ben Hur and Other Meanderings

By Paul Ruffin | Go to book overview

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, Off to
the Gun Show We Go …

Billy Wayne Takes in the Gun Show
Lest there be some confusion with the living or the dead, I have changed the
names of the people in this piece—instead of using Willard, the actual name on
the fellow’s coveralls and tattoo, I have used Billy Wayne, and the girl’s name on
the tattoo has been changed from Tammy to Lynelle; to be extra safe, I have
changed the flower color on the tattoo from violet to orange. Publishers are very
sensitive about the use of actual names and descriptions in pieces.

Billy Wayne knows only that what he’s holding in his hand is a gun that was probably made long before he was born and is likely to rust away to nothing before he ever reads a book. He is in fact holding an Enfield Martini, made famous by British troops during the Anglo-Zulu War of the late nineteenth century, but it is not a fact that concerns him—he is disturbed that the chamber is too large for a .410 and too small for a twenty gauge, and every military cartridge he knows anything about slides way down into the bore. In short Billy Wayne cannot shoot his gun, and this troubles him no end. What if terrorists attacked his trailer?

His name is sewn in white on a dark-blue oval patch on the back of his coveralls, which are a dark-striped lighter blue with old and new grease smudges on them, which means, I ’spect, that he does not work in upper management. I will assume that his name is on his back so that others will know what to call him, or so that he can tell his coveralls from someone else’s, should he for some reason leave them hanging somewhere. For selfidentification he needs merely to glance at the tattoo on his wrist, where his name is emblazoned on a blue ribbon that threads through the fangs of a large-mouth snake wreathed in vines with orange flowers dotting them. A smaller ribbon, pink, with Lynelle on it, dangles from the snake’s lower jaw.

-128-

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Travels with George in Search of Ben Hur and Other Meanderings
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • Things Literary, More or Less 1
  • Travels with George in Search of Ben Hur 3
  • The Mosquito 15
  • The Lady with the Quick Simile 19
  • Workshopping a Cowboy Poem 22
  • Was Emily Mad or Merely Angry? 28
  • On the Death of Edgar Allan Poe 31
  • Making Preparations for the Tour 34
  • The Girl in the Clean, Well-Lighted Place 37
  • Explaining a Poem to a Student 40
  • Some Rare and Unusual Books 43
  • Tales from Kentucky Lawyers 45
  • The Boy Who Spoke in Hymns 48
  • Making a Dam in Segovia 51
  • Just Thinking about Shit 54
  • To San Juan and Back 60
  • On Likker and Guns 81
  • Drinking 83
  • Rats! 100
  • The Bowhunter Asks for My Bladder 117
  • The Day the Sharpshooter Killed Something He Didn’t Intend to 120
  • Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, off to the Gun Show We Go … 128
  • From "Growing Up in Mississippi Poor and White but Not Quite Trash" (an as-Yet-Unpublished Memoir) 135
  • Trains 137
  • Learning about Sex 143
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