A few minutes ago I received a call from the guy down the road who sells firewood. He wanted to know if I still wanted some. I replied that I sure did, and he drove right over to my house.
As I helped him stack the wood I noticed that he looked older than me, and I made a comment about all the hard work he does cutting, splitting, loading, and stacking wood for people. He replied that he grew up in the country where people had to work to eat. I muttered something and kept stacking.
After a brief silence he asked me "By any chance do you know where the Eastern Shore is?" I almost dropped a piece of wood on my foot.
"As a matter of fact," I said, "I do. A friend of mine grew up over there."
The man looked stunned. "Y-y-you know someone from the Eastern Shore?" he croaked.
I told him my friend's name, and added "I think he has relatives around here."
"I don't quite remember that name," he said thoughtfully, "but there were some folks named...", and he went about telling me who lived there and who did what and to whom, and we kept on stacking wood.
Finally we unloaded his truck and I gave him his money, thanked him, and turned to go up the garage steps to the kitchen. At the top of the steps I looked back to find him still standing at the bottom looking up at me. He had a funny look in his eyes and after composing himself for a few seconds he told me that I reminded him of his dead brother back on the Eastern Shore. He wanted to know if it would be too much to ask for me to call him "brother", just once.
By now I was getting a little scared and just wanted him to go, so I said, as sternly as I could, "I've got things to do" and I paused for just a second, and added "brother".
I knew I shouldn't have said it. The guy went crazy. He started crying and moaning, and reached over and grabbed me from the bottom of the steps and started hugging my leg, calling me "brother" over and over.
Now I was the one who was freaking. I tried to pull away but he kept hugging my leg. I warned him I would call the police. I even threatened to break a nearby mop handle over his head, but no matter what I said or did the guy held on, sobbing and moaning, and pulling my leg.
Just like I'm pulling yours.
-- Dalton Hammond