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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

Cats, Moonshine, and Conspiracy Theories

[If you live within driving distance of Wheaton, Illinois, you are warmly invited to my Book Signing Celebration on Thursday evening. See end of this post for a video invite. All are welcome! And now a true tale from the Ridge...]

Two days after we moved into Peace Ridge, our new-to-us home in the Smokies, we had our first visitors – a husky fortyish man sporting a Patriots ballcap, and his helper, a much older man so thin he seemed to be struggling to keep his pants up and his Lions hat on.

“You fellas must be from up north like us!” Mike blurted out at the door, only to get fixed with scowls.

“Nossir, we’s from here,” the younger man said, “But I like that Boston team, and Charley is partial to Dee-troit. We’ll fight anyone who raises hell with us about it.” He touched the bill of his cap. “Sorry for mah French, ma’am.”

Eager to support local business, we had purchased a kitchen set from a furniture store in our little town that has been in the same family for four generations. Our visitors were their delivery team. We offered them cookies and sweet tea.

The spokesman split a smile.

“I’m Joe, and ol’ Charley here, he’s been working for that store practically since they opened,” Joe said. “He’s so skinny he looks like a zipper, but he’s stronger than a mule. We’ll fetch that table in here in just a lick. You might have to take your front door off first, though. We’re careful an’ all, but it looks tighter than a tick. You got any pets to be mindful of?”

Just cats, we assured him.

“Waall, if’n you let ‘em outside, don’t let the vet talk you into them miker-chips,” Joe advised. “You know what they say about those and all.”

No, we didn’t, actually.

Joe looked surprised. “Them miker-chips are just another way for the guv’ment to keep track of us,” he opined. “Put them things in yer cat’s necks, they’ll know all yer bizness.”

This was news to us. A southern conspiracy theory maybe?

“All this stuff starts up north,” Joe huffed, “and then we get stuck with it.”

The new kitchen table and chairs in place, Joe and Charley shuffled their feet a bit until I remembered my manners and ran for my wallet, pulling out a greenback for each of them.

We walked them outside, enjoying the conversation.

Before climbing back in their truck, Charley craned his skinny neck up at the woods on the ridge above our house.

“Yer retired, ya say?” He scratched his head. “Ever thought about what y’all can do with tree cover like that up thar?”

We hadn’t, actually.

“That’d be a great place for y’all to put yer still.”

Come again?

“My grandpappy, now he had woods like you’rn and he made him some good money making moonshine,” Charley reminisced.

Pardon our ignorance, they still make moonshine these days? We thought that stopped after Prohibition ended.

“No ma’am!” Joe tugged on his cap as he heaved himself into the driver’s seat. “Likker ain’t illegal or nuthen now, but you buy it the reg’lar way, you gotta pay taxes and all. Make it yerself, you got plenty for yer family and friends.”

We’ll keep that in mind, we said.

Mike and I walked back in the house aglow at having made our first friends here.

And then I noticed them.

The cats.

The way they were looking at me from the corner, all slant-eyed and wise. The fact that all I have to do is mention something, and an ad for that very item pops up on my computer. Come to think of it, our vet up north had been an advocate of microchips.

These days we have to be mighty careful about crazy conspiracy theories.

But I just might have the cats checked anyway.

Copyright 2020, Maggie Wallem Rowe

Maggie's first book, This Life We Share, has just released from NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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