Tommy Lee and Billy Jo were sitting in the tavern the other evening having a couple of long necks of Henry Weinhard, imported all the way from Oregon don’t you know. Well these two racontours were regaling the rest of us with tales of that legendary good ole boy, Jimmie Raye and each man was doing his best to extract the very last bit of drama and appreciation from the assembled audience, namely Miss Ellie May, Junior Bohman (Sheriff Bohman’s oldest boy and most promising deputy), Joe Riggens, Miss Delia, owner of said tavern, and myself, plain Bill and better known as Texas, but lord I have never figured that one out. Here in Walhalla we are deep in the land of the good ole boys. Go north a few miles and one can step into the land of the Tar Heels and go west and one finds the Crackers and Georgia Peaches. We are the Palmetto State buI i’ve never encountered anyone around for fifty to a hundred miles ever refer to themselves in that manner. Must be an East Coast sort of thing. No, we’s mountain folk, bottom of the Appalachian mountains and proud of having whooped the Red Coats on King’s Mountain. course we had a had in the Cow Pens and further in North Carolina’s place at the court house. Whoopass on Red Coats like Corn Wallace is our speciality, to put it colloquially. Racing stock cars filled with white lightning is our other speciality. Course it don’t need be said we make good white lightning, perhaps the best you can find anywhere.
Back to proper English, you hang around these parts too long and you forget what the English language actually sounds like. I am an outsider but have become an honorary member of the local group, I am a mechanic by trade and retired, so I have a negotiable coin of the realm. Fact of the matter is that I recently rebuilt Jimmie Raye’s latest stock car, the one he uses for moonshine transportation and he has been successful in out running the county mounties and the T-Men or revenuers. The Federal government in its greed wants a four dollars a gallon in tax revenue on the local distilled spirits and a man just can’t make much of a living if he has to share what little he gets with the government. Of course the county and the state wants its sales tax and other revenue as well. So the feeling is around here that government of all kinds is just too greedy. Of course here in the South we love our heros and the the villains who try to match up. One of the villains would be Sheriff “Bull” Bohman. Now that proper introductions have been afforded let’s get back to the grand drama.
“I tell ya, I knowed Jimmy Raye was gonna do it. Any dang fool knows that. I was up on the mountain highway with my two coon dogs and I saw the lights of Jimmy Raye’s car below. I knowed it was him cause he always runs with those real bright high beams, you know, the ones that blind the feds real good.” Tommy Lee paused to take a swig or two from his bottle and continued. “Ya know, i think he must have been doing a hundred both then. Say, Bill, you build a real good machine. Ole Jimmy Raye was just sliding through those corners.” “Thank you kindly for your admiration.” Well, what else can one say to a very good compliment?
“Yeah, Tommy Lee, I saw you up thar on the ridge. I was just two miles away when Junior’s daddy came barreling down the road just a sucking Jimmie Raye’s dust. Junior, your daddy’s good but he ain’t that good. No disrespect to Big Bull, hear? No sir, Jimmy Raye is an uncommon driver. Man’s gotta be riding a rocket to even catch up to him. Say, Bill, you put in a stainless steel tank or a plastic one?” “Now Billy Jo, you know i can’t reveal professional secrets. Sides, Jimmy Raye wouldn’t like it, that’s all.” There were a few chuckles at the lack of proper decorum from Billy Jo, but he wasn’t one to observe the strictest of protocols, social position not with standing.
“Say, just where was he bound for that night? Daddy says he must have been headed for Georgia.” Junior was trying his slyest to illicit intelligence from the crown of admirers.
“Why Junior, doesn’t your daddy tell you anything? Good lord, boy. Ole man Oglethorpe was in need of his monthly supply. I hear tell he’s fix’en to hold his annual bar-be-que early this year on account of the revenuers want’n to get their hands on his supplies. figure the man’s got at least half a dozen barrels of light’n he pours for his people the year long. Say, was that Doc Blanchard’s brew Jimmie Raye delivered?” It was a question of some debate between Tommy Lee and Billy Jo. It was Billy Jo who tried to act the authority on the subject. “No Tommy Lee, I bet it was Ole man Evans’ brew, you know he likes to add some herbs and flavorings.”
I stepped into the debate for the moment. “No, wasn’t neither of those two. Old man Oglethorpe doesn’t buy from either of those two individuals.” Junior sensed an opportunity to help his daddy. “Well then, just who was it, as if you would know.” Clearly junior was disputing my knowledge and social status.
“Junior, you know I can’t reveal my sources. It wouldn’t be ethical or moral and I must remain impartial on the subject. Besides, I’d have to be as sober as a judge to spill those beans.” Everyone except Junior erupted in laughter. “Let’s just say your daddy has a better idea about the seller than the rest of us.”
As the evening wore on and the alcohol took its toll, we were interrupted by a state trooper who had just strode through the door. “Junior, your pa wants you outside now.” We were all a bit stunned but the damage was done to our sensibilities. I turned to the state trooper and asked, “What’s happened.” It was a simple request and it was answered simply without elaboration. “Jimmy Raye is dead. He pushed the limit at Red Gulch curve and never recovered. The wreckers are pulling the remains of his car up the ravine now. The man just wouldn’t let well enough alone.”