August ’12

You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” but that ain’t no matter. I’se the shag-headed and straw-hatted tramp who’n bears the namesake in that book’s title. I go by Huck. That book was penned by Mr. Mark Twain, a white-suited Southern gentleman with hair like a lightnin’ storm and a moustache affixed to his uppermost lip that puffs out like a cotton wad. He’s awful grumpy most often, but in a funny sorta way, lettin’ out cuss words laid out bead-like in one long solid breath; the types of words that if I ever uttered so much as a syllable of ‘em, my keeper, the Widow Douglas, she’d warsh out my mouth with a soap bar. Y’see, this here fellow and I have collaborated thrice now, and I consider him to be a decent enough Missouri’n.

Now, you may’ve come to wonder what a body such as me is doin’ speechifyin’ on this current issue of yer Berley Brother’s Web-Log that’s had its tail let go of and is scampering into circulation. Well, it’s a brambly sorta tale, y’see, and yer liable to take me for a fibber in sayin’ it ain’t so– but I’ll swear on Moses’s ghost in a graveyard’s night that I ain’t tellin’ a speck of a lie or even the littlest stretcher. Now, y’see, I was swaddled in sivilized company and it got so boring that I almost wish’t I were dead. So I tore off to the river and I reckon’d that I’d go for a swim to Jackson Island. But before I got a lone toe in the water I heard a rustlin’ and I saw a man in the tree shade. He had skin like bled salmon meat and the scraggliest whiskers I e’er seen on a body and they was the color of o’ergrown mousefur or muskrat hide, maybe, and he had a pointy nose and silver-rimmed spectacles and he was as thin as a fence board. His movements were inclined to be fidgety and suchlike and in the style of a twitch-nosed squirrel that drank up some coffee. I ask’d this ornery and pipesmoke-scented muggins what his name was and he says, in a ribbety sorta voice, that he goes by the appellation of Mr. J. Heinbach and that he’s from the twenny-first century and he’s a ghostwriter. Then I got powerful scared. He went on to say in a quick way with the in’tention of re-assurance that a ghostwriter warn’t nothin’ to get ‘fraid over. He says that a ghostwriter is just a body who fetches words for somebody else to make use for. And he says that he writes for a soder-fountain and ice cream saloon in a century yet to come. Well, I hadn’t’ve ever felt so doggone pudd’nheaded.  I says “Who would’ve thunk it? I reckon that makes me a ghostwriter, too!” We had a good laugh as I ‘splained that I dictator’d my adventures with Tom and Aunt Polly’s Jim who ain’t Aunt Polly’s no more to Mr. Twain.

This Heinbach Yank went on to say that he was playing hooky for the day, and that he’d a mind to throw dice on the felt table of a steamboat crapshoot ‘til he was broke and tarr’d and feather’d and rid out on a rail through a hogyard or a Chickasaw hempfield. He went on to blubber in a nervous sorta way that he’d pay me a Confederate half-dollar stamped in N’Orleans if I’d take his place in the future to scribbe out this here article. So I says “sure.” And then I leapt through a shiny n’ swirly portal and popped out in the bustlin’ town of Philadelphia on the corner of Market and Letita. Nearby was flowin’ the Delaware River, which was considerable smaller than the Mississippi, and would be a cinch to set up a raft in. I entere’d the doorway at The Franklin Fountain after standin’ for a good stretch of time in a riversnakin’ line. But then I sees ladies inside all dressed up in white lace with smilin’ faces and gents in pillbox hats like at the Druggist and I saw shiny red and pink marble counters and pressed-tin walls and a slag-glass pop fountain that spilled out bubbly water when you upturned its spigot. Then I sees an advertisement up on the wall for an ice cream soda called “The Huckleberry Fizz!” Boy, did I feel proud! I ast for it and paid for it at the cash register with my new coin and they had it ready quicker’n it takes for a frog’s tongue to snatch up a green-head fly. It was made with gen-u-ine huckleberry soda, made from squished-up huckleberries and fizzy water (they kept callin’ the berries “organic” which seemed a trifle odd to me on account’a’ I ain’t ever heard the word before.) Then, to top everything off, they go ahead and scoop out of a tin a whole heap of blueberry ice cream bigger’n’ yer fist, even, and they plop that island right in the middle of the glass so it’s floating and bubblesome. Then, what do these clerks have the mind to do to the pop? They plug a paper straw into the whole production, long as an oar, almost. Well, I got all exciteable, dancin’ barefoot on the tile floor (which they holler’d at me for) and I took my first sip. I ain’t e’er had nuthin’ sweeter or tastier or wholesome’r and I do suspect that was a fortaste of Heaven which I predict I ain’t ever gonna earn my keep in. Well, I slurped the drink down. Then, the kind-hearted storekeeps let me eat the frozen vittles of a ‘nuther concoction.  This one was called “Toasted Corn Ice Cream” and it was ‘splained to me that it was like a home-cooked meal but cooled down some and sweetened up with sugar. It was a mixture of toasted corn kernels, butter, salt and pepper, and cream. They had a yarn about how there’d been some terrible droughts in the farmlands nearby caused by someone named Global Warming, and that they’d wanted to be resourceful in usin’ up all the rain-parched corn that sat witherin’ on bent-down stalks. I thought it was an incredible charitable notion to find a home for corn that didn’t get to drink no rain because it warn’t any fault o’ their own, just this miserly Mr. Warming.

Afterwards, I got the treat of gettin’ to meet the Berley Brothers themselves– they were proprietors of the ice cream and candystore enterprises. They were all gussied up in high-society threads, with button-braced suspenders and striped trousers and paisley bow-ties and shiny shoes and slicked-back hair. The older brother, Ryan, he was tall and thin, and he had cheekbones like railroad trestles, and a voice with a baritone sort of lowness of a churchman, or even a gale passing its way through a hollow log. Now Eric, y’see, he was the younger one and he was considerable shorter with a waxed-up moustache. He had a sing-song sort of a voice that skipped along like a well-tossed flat rock on a pond surface. They were both pleasant creturs. I ‘splained to them my predicament, and by and by, they agreed to let me scribble up this rendition best I could, so long as I was able-headed enough to include that their Ice Cream Festival at the Reading Terminal Market went off without a hitch. Bassett’s Ice Cream was there, and Uncle Dave’s Ice Cream, and Rosati’s Water Ice (they said they were a hundred years old!) and that it was all a barrel of laughter. The Berley Brothers got to show off their collection of antique ice cream industry tools and ice cream machines from the early 1900s (which seemed powerful new to me!) and they said that Bassett Ice Cream’s Michael Strange got to demonstrate the fancy craft of ice cream molding which hardly nobody could do no more (except, of course, the Berleys.) Why, they’s even made up a lion of French Vanilla, Chocolate, and Coffee flavored ice cream! That there’s the king of the jungle! The Berley Brothers also wanted me to tell y’all, and they got as strict and white as a whitewashed fence in sayin’ this, they said that a gaggle o’ Frenchmen, you know the sorts of fellers that jabber on jibberish like “Polly voo-franzy”, they’se puttin on a spec’t’cle sort of a picnic, and it ain’t at all like the sorta picnic that Tom Sawyer might’ve had with Becky Thatcher, or the type that I’d’ve had with Tom on Jackson Island smokin’ pipes and sippin’ sage-tea made ought’er leaf from’n the sage shrub. Now, these French are fancy-like. Heck, they’se from Paris, where the whole place is lit up! Anyway, there outfit o’ romancers goes by the name o’ “Dîner en Blanc”, and this here’s their cobweb address:  Now, y’see, there fellers’r gonna be boating their way to Philadelphia to throw a grand ol’ picnic to beat all picnics, and these Frenchmen selected the Berley Brothers to help ‘m get acquain’t’d with the City ‘o’ Brutherly Love. They even got to jabber with these frog eaters, n’ here’s that cobweb address:  The Berleys’ll put on a fancy sorta enterprise, alright, n’ it’ll be more excitin’ than a flamin’ riverboat, but considerable safer. They’se gonna deck the whole place out in the color white, like campfire ash or an August cloud or Mr. Twain’s white suit that he’s got on most always or a creepin’ ghost! I sure is excited for it!

Well, I think I’se caused enough trouble for a good while.
I reckon I got to light out for the Territory,

Huckleberry Finn
The Berley Brothers and Staff

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