Playing Tag: The Last Laugh

Who would have expected that playing tag was enough to pull a sick man away from death's door?

| May/June 1981

"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once. "

Well sir, there ain't no season more all-fired blessed than spring. Ev'ry field shows off a diff'rent kind of wildflower, ev'ry treetop shades a brand-new songbird nest, ev'ry pasture sports a butter-legged young calf or stilt-walkin' colt, an' kiddies with cabin fever go runnin' hither an' yon screamin' an' playing tag with each other. In short, the whole world has got shed of cold weather an' begun burstin' its seams with new growth and energy.

An' it's persackly the fact thet spring is the season of life renewed what made it seem all the stranger when, one day last week, Doc Thromberg drove his Hudson up to the Plumtree Crossin' Gen'ral Store, took hisself a seat on the front porch (where most of th' other members of the local Truth an' Veracity League was givin' theyselves a sunnin' in the still unfamiliar spring warmth), took his stethyscope off'n his neck, peered down at some of terbaccy stains on the porch, an' said—soundin' solemn as the lead singer at a bullfrog funeral—"I dunno, boys. He jist might be serious 'bout it this time."

Newt Blanchard added a new stainmaker to the floorboards an' replied, "You believe thet, Doc, an' you'd best mail back yer medycal diploma fer a refund. He's done pulled this trick more times'n a possum loose in daylight."

Doc Thromberg didn't say nothin', he jist shook his head in a sorrowful manner.

"Dadburn it, Doc," Newt went on, "I've knowed Ott Bartlett since he were small enough to crawl under a cricket, since we rassled each other fer pennies in the elyment'ry schoolyard, since before he begun drinkin', even. An' he's cried sick so danged many times in all those years thet he wouldn't know a real illness afore he was cured of it! "

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