‘Whut in tarnation y’all lookin’ so down ‘bout, Buford?’ asked Abner, wavin’ his straw hat in fron’ of his face t’ keep away the flies. It shore wus hot, an’ th’ fish wus showin’ uncommon sense in stayin’ under th’ water, where it wus cool.
Buford, he looked up at Abner f’um under his hat, them big ol’ eyes lookin’ all hangdawg. He sighed, real deep like, an’ shooken his haid. ‘I done tol’ ya right in th’ b’ginnin’ thet bein Mayor wus gonna change Hiram, an’ I wus right!’
Abner wus uncommon patient with Buford; he could see he wus smartin’. ‘Look, Buford, they’s change, and then they’s change,’ he said, tryin’ t’ placate Buford.
‘Whut d’you mean, change an’ change? It’s the same dang thang!’
‘Now y’see Buford, mos’ly I would agree with you, but I thank I gotta explain myse’f better.’ He leaned back aginst the bole of thet big ol’ tree, tryin’ t’ keep outa the sun, but it din’ seem t’ he’p none. ‘Hiram’s Mayor now; he’s mighty important, an’ he’s gotta be doin’ some thangs different!’
‘I know thet, I jes’ don’ thank it’s right. Why, Loretta even shaved under her arms! Thet’s some purty serious airs an’ graces right there. An’ since they come back f’um Memphis, she don’ chew baccy no more. She got thet there big city chewin’ gum. She ain’t never gonna win another spittin’ competition like thet!’
‘Y’see Buford, thet there is yore p’oblem! Hiram ain’t changed in the wrong way, but he’s got hisse’f responsibilities now, an’ he cain’t go traipsin’ roun’ the countryside with us liken he useta.’ He leaned forward an’ put his han’ on Buford’s knee. ‘Ya gotta try an’ unnerstan’! He ain’t changed, he’s got responsibilities, an’ thet means he cain’t jest be the same ol’ Hiram, otherwise he cain’t do his job.’
Buford, he shooken his haid. ‘I dunno, Abner, I really don’ know. Bubba bin livin’ in the big city a mighty long time, an’ he ain’t changed!’
‘But thet’s cuz he ain’t got no responsibilities! Also, he ain’t got no eddication, like Hiram, so it don’ make no nevermin’ with him.’ He waved his hat again. Pesky flies! ‘Thet ain’t t’ say nuthin bad ‘bout Bubba, but he ain’t important like Hiram. ‘sides, when they go inta town they gotta wear shoes, cuz he’s the Mayor now, an’ she’s his wife. She don’ shave under her arms cuz she thanks she’s special, it’s cuz they expect it in Memphis. Y’all gonna see, one day them hairs are gonna be back like they wus never gone.’
Hiram, he come down through the bushes t’ the crickside an’ said, ‘Whut you boys jawin’ ‘bout?’ He wus a’so wavin’ his hat on account a the flies, but it warn’t no straw hat, no sirree. This wus a Fedora, on a them fancy big city hats! Buford an’ Abner looked at each other, suspicious like: Maybe Buford wus right, an’ he wus changin’. ‘Whut dja think a thisyere hat, boys? The governor done give it t’me when I wen’ t’ Memphis, but I ain’t so shore. She shore is purty, but I don’ thank it suits me, ‘cept fer special ‘ccasions.’
Well, Buford an’ Abner looked at each other again: maybe they wus wrong! This shore sounded like the ol’ Hiram. ‘I’m thankin’ a fixin’ corks t’ thisyere hat, like they do in Australia. It keeps the flies off.’
‘Where in tarnation is Australia?’ asked Buford.
‘Near Germany, Buford,’ said Abner, a’ways wantin’ t’ show his schoolin’.
‘That ain’t zackly right, Abner,’ said Hiram. He done bin t’ college: he had him a real eddication! ‘I thank mebbe y’all thankin’ a Austria, thet’s in Europe, near Germany. Australia is ‘nother place a’together, an’ it’s even hotter’n here!’
Buford, he’s got them big goggly eyes, well them eyes wus as big as saucers now. ‘Cain’t be no place anywhere hotter’n this!’
‘Well, I ain’t bin there, but they say it’s so hot there, that when you pee, it don’ even touch the groun’: it jest clean evaporates!’
Buford’s eyes wus like saucers now. ‘Man, that shorely is hot!’
Well, Hiram, he set hisself down against one a them trees, an’ sighed, real contented like. ‘Ya know whut, boys? I miss this, jes’ settin’ here an’ jawin’ with you boys. Bein’ Mayor ain’t all it’s made out t’ be. Why jest t’ other night, I had t’ mosey out to McDonalds, cus the high school wus havin’ their prom, and their tractors wus blockin’ off th’ whole parkin’ lot!’ He shooken his haid. ‘I made peace with ever’one, but it ain’t easy, I tell you.’
‘An’ Loretta’s pregnant, so she cain’t chaw baccy no more; she’s gotta chew gum now, an’ she cain’t spit worth a damn.’ He sighed real heavy like. ‘I’m right happy she’s pregnant, but I miss the soun’ a the spit hittin’ th’ spittoons, I kin tell you.’
‘An lemme tell you boys, city life ain’t whut it’s made out t’ be. People say ifn ya don’ leave th’ holler an’ git yorese’f a eddication, you’ll never amoun’ to nothin’, and that ain’t true. Billi Bob, he ain’t never left the holler, and when his daddy died, they done tol’ him he wouldn’ amount to nothing ifn he stayed here. Well I kin tell you, thet ain’t true. He’s got his pappy’s spread and nine dogs! You wanna tell me thet ain’t impressive?’
The boys shooken their heads. Thet wus pretty impressive right there. ‘So, you gonna take the Mayor’s double wide?’ asked Abner.
‘Nope,’ said Hiram. ‘Me, I’m a man of the people, so I’ll stay right there in my cabin, where the folks kin see me anytime. Thet’s whut it means t’ be Mayor: responsibility. An’ the money ain’t bad. In fact, I thank it’s time I took you boys to McDonalds fer a real fancy meal. They don’ serve beer, but we kin take our own, cuz I’m Mayor now. Whut do ya say, boys?’
Buford, he looked at Abner, an’ Abner he looked at Buford, then Abner said. ‘We gonna have t’ go home firs’ t’ put on our Sunday go ta meetin’ clothes, cuz thet place is real fancy.’
‘Naw!’ said Hiram. ‘Jes’ put on shoes, you’ll be fine.’
Well, Buford, he done give a big ol’ smile. Hiram, he din’ seem t’ have changed atall, an’ thet wus good all roun’. They made their way up t’ their cabins an’ put on their shoes an’ traipsed inta town an’ my oh my, thet there McDonalds clean took their breath away. They done heerd ‘bout places like this, but never seen ‘em.
It wus real fancy with them lights an’ shiny thangs everwhere, like Hollywood or sumpin’. An’ the ladies there wus dressed up all fancy, they felt right outa place, but Hiram, bein’ Mayor an’ all, he made shore everbody treated ‘em with respect. They done never tasted food like this neither, an’ it wus jes’ wunnerful all roun’, fer both Abner an’ Buford an’ the Hiram upped an’ paid fer their food an’ beers as well. Well, thet jes’ about made their day!
Hiram stayed on ta jaw with th’ folks ‘bout Mayor stuff an’ Abner an’ Buford made their way back down t’ th’ holler, an’ Buford, he said. ‘Y’know, Abner, I’m plumb glad t’say I wus wrong ‘bout Hiram. He’s a good man an’ a good frien’.’ He nodded, all wise like, then got all excited agin. ‘Man, thet place, she shore wus fancy! Y’ see them folks sittin’ in their cars and gittin’ food? Thet shore is s’phisticated, it shore is.’ An’ he sighed, real contented like. ‘I thank I’m gonna git me some corks fer my hat, then I kin also be sophisticated.’
Abner, he nodded. ‘Thet soun’s like a mighty fine idea, Buford, mighty fine.’