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|He was a damned old man, that much was certain. Not to be saying that he was the oldest person around, and he wasn’t necessarily damned to hell either, at least as far as anyone knew. It’s just how people thought of him, because he liked to say damn a lot. He never actually said much of anything, really. But he sure could fuss.
His name was Cornelius Colbert, and everyone called him Corny. A hyperactive, yet somehow lazy little man, Corny looked about as big around as a flagpole, and bowlegged. He never wore anything but jeans, which fit so snugly that it just had to hurt. His wide belt and giant buckle were pulled so tight that they made his waist look even smaller. As for the rest, he always wore a check patterned shirt, cowboy boots, and a cap that said Eat Shit.
Every morning, Corny would sit at the table and listen to the radio while his fat wife did all the cooking. After breakfast, he'd take a basket out to the fenced area and hitch the basket behind the mule, then ride to the garden. But sometimes it wouldn't let him on, and he’d have to chase it around.
"Damn bastard mule! If I had a firecracker, I'd stick it up your ass!"
Corny couldn't run right so he looked more like he was taking giant steps over puddles, which always made his wife laugh.
"Damn fool woman!"
When he finally got on the mule, he'd ride it to the garden with the basket dragging behind, and then ride through the wide rows he'd created while his wife picked the vegetables and put them in it. When they were done, he'd ride to the door where his wife would take the basket inside, and he'd ride back to the fenced area. He only wished he could keep the mule right at the door, so he wouldn't have to walk across the yard to get it in the first place.
He was a damned old man, alright.
In the afternoons, Corny would sit on a wooden bench in front of the country store and smoke cigarettes faster than you could zip your fly. He often played checkers with Mac, a fat man who didn’t say much but sneezed a lot, sometimes eight times in a row. They had the checkerboard on a little barrel, and Mac always sat on a chair opposite Corny.
“Dammit! He’s sneezin' again!"
"Hell fire! You're messin' up my concentration!"
"Dammit to hell! Stop that shit, you damn jackass!"
Mac would just laugh, which made the fat in his neck jostle back and forth.
“You damn shit eater! Go over there, dammit!
Corny always got a soft drink and a pack of peanuts, and it'd take him forever to chew them 'cause he didn't have any back teeth. One afternoon, somebody asked him about it.
"How'd you ever stay still long enough to get 'em pulled?"
"My wife had to sit on me! Hell, she almost broke my damn legs! Then that damn dentist jerked my head so hard, if I coulda gotten up I'd have pulled his! The damn bastard!"
"Hulht hulht," laughed Mac.
"Shit fire! I bet you can't go 'cause you sneeze too damn much!"
The local young men would come and hang around Corny, just to get a laugh. This was when long hair and such was the fashion, and it especially got on his nerves.
"Whatcha doin' Corny?"
"What the hell does it look like, assholes? I'm playin' checkers!"
“Come smoke one with us, Corny.”
“You damn long haired faggots!”
“C’mon, Corny. Let’s roll one.”
“Damn homo hippies! Why dontcha go screw each other?"
“Corny, let's get mellow.”
“Get your fingers outta your butts, dammit, and go do sumpin'! I worked when I was young! Sunup to sunset! Carried bales of hay on my damn back!”
“Corny, you’re cool.”
“Go do sumpin’ dammit! I’m tryin’ to play checkers!”
"How long have you been playin' checkers, Corny?"
"How long have ya’ll been idiot fags?"
Sometimes they'd play rock music just to get him going.
"Goddd damn! What is this shit? Goddd damn!"
"Corny, you're a damned old hippy, aren't you?
"Stick it up your asses, dammit!
When the young men weren't around, Corny would sit long enough to go to sleep. But then Mac would wake him up with his sneezes, or else somebody would come along and poke him in the side. Old Corny was always as predictable as the sunrise.
"Tarnation!" he'd yell, as his arms and legs flailed everywhere.
"You're enough to wake the dead! I'll tan your hide, you damn asshole!"
Mac would laugh until his face got red, making Corny even angrier.
"Whatcha laughin' at? You look like a damn jackass eatin' briars! Godamighty damn!"
One time, some kids waited and poked Corny as soon as he went to sleep, and he jerked so fast that he scared them half to death. He launched a tirade at the kids that would have made a sailor uncomfortable. They all ran off. But one of them, though shaking like a leaf in his shoes, turned around just long enough to speak.
"You're a damned old man, Corny! And I'm gonna tell my mama!"
It didn't take long for Corny's fat wife to come crossing the road really fast, and stirring up the dust with her feet.
"C'mon, Corny! You promised to shuck corn, and by God, you're gonna do it! And then you're gonna read the Bible, and learn to treat others like you want 'em to treat you!"
"Tarnation, woman! I'm playin' checkers!"
"C'mon!" she yelled.
Corny jumped on her back, and she carried him across the road.
"You crazy ass woman! What'd I do to deserve you?"
"Damned old man," she laughed.