“Hush up now, Daddy” said Mama Marlene, “I think I hear’m a’rustlin’.”
Jebidiah wouldn’t be hushed up this time. Ben Joe, a quiet, frightfully timid and sniveling young man who was thought to be a bit touched entered the sleepin room where Mama Marlene Ingram and Pappy Jebidiah Ingram were discussing just what was to be done with him. After all, Ben Joe was a queer sort and there was that thing of magic that happened to him from time to time, which needed addressing more than ever now that he was entering manhood.
“I’s gonna go down to fishin” Ben Joe whimpered like something was dreadful wrong with his central nervous system.
“No you ain’t. Si’down, boy..”
“Yes, sir” said Ben Joe without the slightest bit of protestation.
“You done wrong by this here, our family, Ben Joe. I work by the sweat of my ass to keep you clad, fed, and, hopefully someday, wed to start your own kin, but I’m not seein in you what that takes in a young feller. Like what it took in me when I was a young feller like you. Now tell me, Ben Joe, what is it gon take in you?”
“I don’t know, Pappy.”
“YOU DO KNOW!” Jebidiah hollered throughout the holler, “You seen me do it every goddamn day!”
“Careful now, Daddy!” Marlene warned, “You know what happens to Benny Joe when you raise your voice.”
” Goddamit, Woman! I don’t care none! Let ’em be the devil’s hand. Ben Joe, you need to find you a trade! You need to find you some land! And you need to make you some kin ‘fore your Mammy and Pappy are in the goddamn ground!”
“Dammit, Daddy! Now’ve look whatchu done! He’s blinking again!”
It was true. In such a curious way, Ben Joe’s body started to blink, which meant that, alternately, at one moment, his body would appear to be there in reality, and, the next moment, his body would vanish, but then return again in the next moment after. His neck protruding from his shirt and head were the only remaining constant opposed to his blinking body. Ben Joe also discovered that when this happened his floating head became ghostlike where he could pass through any solid object. And, what grew to be a distressing concern for the Ingrams, was that when Ben Joe started blinking he would not be in control of his movement anymore and would flee from wherever he was to wherever he really wanted to go. Ben’s head flew right through his Pappy’s chest and passed through the walls Pappy built with his bare hands.
“Goddamit, boy! You can’t run like this forever!” and Pappy spit a single tear into a spittoon, “*sput* PING!”
The floating ghost head of Ben Joe Ingram passed like a summer wind through the trees, boulders, houses and horses of the holler. Passing through a horse’s stomach was pretty gross and Ben Joe felt like he was going to vomit. All the horse did was take a shit. Luckily no one else was home for seeing Ben Joe pass through their house neither.
Ben Joe blew right through the gate of the fishing-hole and down the long dock that extended into the middle of the lake. When he reached the end of the pier he became solid again, and non-blinking. Ben Joe sighed. Ben Joe hung his head in shame. This always happened to him when, quote he, “Gart noivus!”
Running through the hills of the holler, back to his home, to surely get a lickin from an awful cross Pappy, Ben Joe “really considered his identity” even though he wouldn’t have put it that way. He learned of the word “identity” when he overheard it being talked about in the radio of the General Store. The radio man said that everyone had an “identity” which was special unto them alone. Ben Joe then thought about the person he wanted to be, what he didn’t like about himself and the things he might do to become that special person. Everyone was telling him things he was and he was-ain’t so Ben Joe thought it warranted some introspection, even though he wouldn’t have thought it that way. What secret or mystery was there to figure out in how to be happy? Ben Joe surely felt, at the time, that he was the opposite of happy, and needed one of these identities to be happy.
Ben Joe also thought he surely was having an epiphany to solving it all, when he was struck with a dense tree trunk in his face. Blood shot from his lip like juice from a lemon. Laughter echoed through the holler as three bullies, Marth, Garth and Barth, emerged from behind a bush, standing on each other’s shoulders. These were the members of the mischievous rascal brothers, known in the holler as, The Butterpants Gang. They got the name from having greasy overalls, and from being generally greasy.
“Well looky who it be?” said the short, angry Marth who stood atop Garth and Barth.
“It’d be Ben Joe!” said the idiotic Barth who stood atop Garth.
“That sure is right!” echoed Garth, mockingly, who was the behemoth brawn of the operation and would only crush anyone he stood atop of.
“That was mighty mean” Ben Joe whispered to himself as he nursed his lip wound.
“Y’see how we did that is Barth stood on Garth, swung me and I’s swung the big stick!” Marth said, and his brothers’ laughed.
“I got to be going then now.” Ben Joe pleaded without pleading.
“Don’t be runnin’ off now, Ben Joe, the fun’s just begun. Brother Garth, dear-tain him. .” Marth ordered.
Suddenly Ben Joe’s head was seized by the behemoth paws of Garth of The Butterpants Gang. Garth began to squeeze Ben Joe’s melon like he was juicing a melon. Ben Joe began to sob, as the other two brothers laughed perched on Garth’s massive shoulders. Then it happened again, but this time in good fortune. Ben Joe’s body began to blink.
“What in the holy hapless hell of the holler’s high-water heavens!” said The Butterpants Gang simultaneously, which was their catchphrase.
Then Ben Joe’s head became ghost and he started buzzing every which way around the place in a frenzy of fright. He flew through each of the members of The Butterpant’s Gang’s stomachs, giving them all diarrhea on each other’s shoulders, except Garth who just diarrhea’d on the grass below. Since then the gang has changed their name to The Diarrheapants Gang.
So Ben Joe flew on. He should have gone home, but since he could only go where he wanted when he was ghost, he landed and became solid on a fence along the dirt road overlooking a grassy pasture. After school, Ben Joe would often sit on that there fence and watch, who he thought was his true love, Ella May Necrophiliac , walk on by.
The Necrophilliac’s lived down the road so Ella May would often traverse down that way. Seeing her walk by every once in a while gave Ben Joe a reason to live and he could see Ella May skipping down with her friends, Karla and Marla, at that very moment. Little did Ben Joe know the girls saw him first and were talking about him right before that very moment.
“Oh my Garsh, there’s that creepy weirdo Ben Joe!” said Karla.
“Why is he always sittin there? Seems like every time we come down this way he’s there” said Marla.
“I think he’s crushin on me” said Ella May, “I’m gon flout something bad with him. Watch this, girls!”
The girls approached Ben Joe, but instead of paying him no mind, like usual, they stopped and turned to him. Ella May put on a smiley face and asked Ben Joe if he would do a favor for her after that. She batted her long lashes, and you could have pushed Ben Joe over into a vat of hydrochloric acid after his seein that. She purported that she wanted to see how athletic he was. There was a full bucket of bull semen teetering on the top rail of the fence, reaching temperature in the summer air where you could almost poach an egg in it.
Ella May challenged Ben Joe to the seemingly chivalrous act of balancing the bucket of bull semen on his head. It seemed easy to Ben Joe once he got the bucket of bull semen up there. Then he felt the urge to move his neck, and shrug his shoulders, and, very uncomfortably, adjust his stance to support the bucket of bull semen. A little glop of bull semen was tossed from the bucket, in Ben Joe’s doing so, and the splatter of semen splattered right on his nose. Needless to say the ladies lost their ever-loving shit, and fell on the grass laughin. Ben Joe’s heart rate shot to 300k beats per minute. His body started to blink immediate and then his floating head doing the balancing act became intangible. The full bucket of semen, which was still very tangible, fell right through Ben Joe, who shot into the stratosphere like a rocket. The bucket hit the ground and bull semen erupted and splattered on everyone who was still there present. They were not laughing anymore.
As Ben Joe rocketed back into earth’s atmosphere, he was very distraught about his blinking problem and about his identity. He wished that everyone would just love and accept him, but it seemed the world only rejected him. Suddenly, it felt to Ben Joe that his flight path had taken new course. He felt a cold chill down his vanished spine if it was actually there in some cosmic way. This was bad omen. Ben Joe’s powers seemed to take a new turn to him having new thoughts. As he broke the atmosphere, and blew a crater into the holler’s forest floor as a solid human being again, Ben Joe realized where he was. He immediately flew into a terror, for this was a place of legendary fear in the holler. Something was different with Ben Joe though, he wasn’t blinking yet.
There Ben Joe stood in the face of the town evil, Indian Joga, a young, completely innocent- unbeknownst to the racist holler- young man from India who moved to a rural area to do remote, insourced tech support. Indian Joga was quietly meditating, but his face showed a slight annoyance at the ruckus. Ben Joe’s family and everyone in the holler had learned about those with Indian-blood and the tall tale that everyone with that blood was vengeful, murderous, contemptible and vile; however, none of them would have put it that way. Suddenly, tiny Marth, reeking with the diarrhea-stained drawers of The new Diarrheapants gang, ran up to Ben Joe, howling.
“Ben Joe! Run away now from that dirty Injun, he’ll kill ya!” cried Marth.
“I’m not an ‘Injun’. I mean, I kinda am, by transference, but it’s based on a misconception of Native Americans. Just call me Indian, if you would, please” said the incredibly politically correct Indian Joga.
“AHHHH!!” said Ben Joe and Marth simultaneous and they ran for their lives, unnecessarily.
“I fucking hate everyone” whispered Indian Joga the pacifist.
Ben Joe turned ghost once again and blew past Marth’s top running speed. He flew faster and faster through trees, boulders, horse and house, until a single hand swatted him back into a solid human. That hand belonged to the town’s old drunk/occultist/wizard known as Mark Twain. Ben Joe was shocked that someone actually prevented him from where he wanted to go, and seemingly stopped his powers. Mark twiddled his magic(ka) fingers at Ben Joe and questioned him.
“Why are you jumping back and forth, to and from human, little ghostie?” asked Mark Twain.
“I’m not a ghostie. I’m a human, sir. A human that can turn into a ghostie” pleaded Ben Joe.
“I see it’s not your time yet then little ghostie. We’ll soon fix that” said Mark Twain as he shot lightning bolts out of his fingers into Ben Joe’s mind.
“You will never blink again until your dying day, not even with your eyes, young man” said Mark Twain after doing his spell.
“Thank you, sir” said Ben Joe, and he finally walked home.
The rest of Ben Joe’s life was relatively good. He found some identity, but not granted by others’ approval by his own standard of living that was unto himself alone, which Ben Joe thought was very special. He did his Mama and Pappy proud by gaining him a happy house, horse, corral and gal. His blinking was done for just like Mr. Wizard Twain had said. Thusly, the moral is that the problem can sometimes not be having no identity, but rather the thought that it is granted from others’ approval, however, none of them in the holler would have put it that way.