Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pride Goeth: The Song Of Jeremiah Tip Top

Jeremiah Tip Top never had much.  As a child in the 1920s, he wore ratty clothes, had about two halfway decent meals a week, and was constantly on the move.  When his traveling salesman father, a single parent, met his untimely demise in the form of an escaped roadside-zoo ocelot, fourteen-year old Jeremiah became a hobo.  He wore ratty clothes, had about two halfway decent meals a week, and was constantly on the move.

He learned quickly the ways of the road, and embraced the life of the transient in search of employment.  After seven years of wandering and working and having nothing, he obtained a single unopened stick of Wrigley's spearmint gum.  That day was the happiest he had ever known.  A hobo with gum and temporarily minty-fresh breath was a rarity in the early 1930s, and Jeremiah's heart swelled with pride, and he chewed his gum with great gusto.

Five years later...

"Jeremiah, for the love of all that's holy,"  Ol' Barb Stab-You-Quick snapped, "if you don't stop cracking that damnable gum, I swear I'm gonna--"

"Stab me?" Jeremiah suggested. "Stab me quick?"

"I'll do it, smarty.  You've already had more warning than most.  Just stop."

"I can't help it."

"Yes you can."  Ol' Barb stopped, quickly dragged a tattered sleeve across her sweaty brow, and shook her head at Jeremiah.  "Yes, you have gum.  We're all very impressed.  Chew it quietly, please, or I'll murder you in your sleep, take your stupid old gum, and use it to patch one of the holes in my shoe."

"I believe that you'd kill me without a second thought," Jeremiah said, "but don't you dare take my gum.  Do you have any idea how long I've had this gum?"

"Oh, for Pete's sake - yes!  Everyone you've met in the past five years knows exactly how long you've been chomping on that stuff."

"Five years, two months, sixteen and a half days.  I've never once taken it out of my mouth, since the day I traded all my lint for it," he declared proudly.  He reached down and pulled at his left trouser leg until a gnarly scar on his shin was visible.  "See this?  I got shot for my Wrigley's spearmint!  Every hobo dreams of having a stick of gum.  I didn't give it up, though.  I got away, and just kept chewing..."

Ol' Barb produced a large, dirty hunting knife from somewhere on her person, and brandished it at Jeremiah.

"Okay, okay. I'll chew quietly," he said, backing up a few steps.  "You're just jealous.  Everyone's always been jealous of my gum.  I can't say I blame you.  Chewing gum is what separates us from the animals, you know."

"Do you know what hubris is, Mr. Tip Top?" Barb asked.

"Nope.  Don't need to.  I have gum."

They camped that night in the woods.  Ol' Barb Stab-You-Quick did not stab Jeremiah Tip Top, but he did die in his sleep.

He choked on his gum.

Ta-DAH! Two weeks in a row! STUDIO 30-PLUS prompt "Hubris and/or conceit."  Thanks for reading!


  1. I did NOT see that coming. Poor ol' Tip Top! I was glad for Barb's re-appearance, though. :)

    1. Thanks, Katy! I had to make sure his hubris was, you know, fatal. Also, at this point, I wou rule out an Ol'Barb Stab-You-Quick novel. That could be tricky, though, what with the names not being mine, and all.

  2. Nice touch with the death by ocelot. And I love that ending (I laughed out loud).

    1. Thank you so much, LM! If you only knew how I agonized over using ocelot vs. clouded leopard.

  3. I love the little gems you include in these stories... a runaway ocelot? It's like finding Easter Eggs.

    1. Thanks Tara! I enjoy coming up with them. It's a fine line, though - bits of randomness that fit vs. bits of pointlessness. I don't always succeed, but it makes the writing more fun for the writer. :)