Speak of the Devil

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As fall comes to the hollows of my farm, along with the rest of our great state, it brings back the memories of barn parties, apple bobbing, hayrides, wiener roasts and spooky stories. Fall is my favorite time of the year, and with a cup of hot cider around a crackling wood fire, a good local story is something to make this season just right. One such story often told is the one of cousin Clemmis.

Clemmis was the type of person every kid would love and every mother would use as an example for children not to be like when they grew up. He didn’t live in a fancy house, never owned a car, had no full-time job, never wore a tie or suit as I remember, other than at his own funeral, and really had no ambition to do so.

One Halloween, the community decided to have a big costume party at the local school, and everyone was invited. Clemmis thought the party would be fun, but he did not have the money to rent a costume like everyone else. However, he was one never to be out done, so he decided to make his own.

That afternoon, he went out back of the barn, where a group of cattle had been dehorned a few days prior. He selected two large horns lying on the ground and proceeded to tie them to his head with baling twine, which he thought matched his blond hair very well.

He then retrieved a pitchfork from the shed, along with his clean red union suit from the clothesline behind the house. Clemmis then tied a fuzzy rope around his waist and moved it to his rear area to resemble a tail.

Stepping back and looking in a cracked, old, full-length mirror propped up behind the kitchen door, Clemmis now declared his costume complete and headed off down the road to the local schoolhouse dressed as Satan himself.

As he walked the country lane, he noticed that a thunderstorm was about to blow up. Not wanting to get his homegrown costume wet, he ducked into the back doors of one of the community’s churches. Being a Saturday night, with the rain falling hard, Clemmis did not realize that the church he entered was in the middle of a major revival. In fact, the preacher’s subject for that evening was, “Where You Are Going If You Don’t Repent.”

Just as the country-created spook entered the building, a tremendous clap of thunder rang out as lightning outlined his image standing in the middle aisle of the church building. The full pews emptied immediately with every known exit being used, as well as a few new ones invented by the members to escape the awful appearance of Clemmis.

Realizing what had happened and not wanting to cause trouble, Clemmis looked for someone to explain the situation. Unfortunately, no one was left in the church building except for one elderly gentleman up front. He was still there because his coattail had caught on a nail in the front pew, and he couldn’t get away.

Clemmis proceeded to tell the old gentleman what had really happened, but the man refused to listen. Before he could say a word, the old man said, “Wait a minute, Mr. Devil. I want you to know that I have been a member here for almost 50 years, but all that time I have been on your side!”

I believe somewhere along the way, the old man may have missed the point of why he was going to church in the first place.

But, it is so true to our nature that when our coattails get caught on a nail, we try to change the point of view no matter the outcome.

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