Huck Finn Reels in Some Stretchers

By T. Allen Culpepper

My dead mam and pap
named me Huckleberry Finn,
but most folks jest calls me Huck.

Last time I brung myself ’round
to tellin’ stories ’bout myself,
I said wouldn’t nobody know me
lessen they’d read a book
name of Tom Sawyer
by Mr. Mark Twain,
but I hear tell now
some of y’all’s been readin’
’bout my adventures too
and thank you know all about me.

Well, I ’cused ol’ Mr. Twain
o’ tellin’ a few stretchers
in his book ’bout my friend Tom,
and that’s got my conscience
to botherin’ me ’cause I reckon
I done told a right smart
of ’em my own self.

’Fore you get to thankin’
too bad about me, though,
you orter know that
if I was to’ve of told
the whole truth back then,
me and Jim both would’ve
got lynched faster’n I
could’ve got the words out.

First thang I reckon you orter know
is Jim warn’t near as old
as maybe you thought he was.
Folks thank ’cause he had him a wife
and a couple of liddle younguns
he must’ve been a older feller,
but that ain’t right.
Truth is, he warn’t but twenty-one,
not that much older’n me.
And makin’ a few younguns
don’t necessarily ’liminate
some other possibilities,
if you hear what I’m sayin’.

Second thang is, some of y’all
got to thankin’ I had me a crush
on Miss Mary Jane Wilks,
and that ain’t quite right neither.
Now, don’t get me wrong,
Miss Mary Jane was a fine, sweet girl
and I reckon a better Christian
than some preachers I run acrost,
and I did take a likin’ to her,
but when it come to gettin’
myself some satisfaction,
it warn’t Mary Jane what give
me what I was jonesin’ for.

You might start to git the pitcher
if I told you that my friends called me Huck
but some folks had other names
for me like Suck-yer-berries
and that kind o’ thang.
And the King and the Duke
orter been called the Queen
and the Prin-cess, to git it right.

Anyways, some people
git to talkin’ ’bout the end
of my book and sayin’
I was always jest givin’ in
to what Tom Sawyer wanted,
and I reckon it’s true,
leastways up to a point,
but what they don’t know
is what I got back in return;
I reckon a boy needs
his fantasies, and Tom,
he could make up
romantic stories like
nobody’s business.

Now I don’t mean to say
that there was a-thang serious
a-going on between me and Tom;
we was jest friendly liddle buggers,
and a lot of it was jest
play-acting around, to tell
you the honest truth,
but Lordy knows we had
ourselves some fun in that
lean-to on the Phelps place,
jest like back home
in Tom’s Aunt Polly’s shed.

But it ain’t Tom
that I’m a-tryin’ to tell you ’bout.
See, the thang is, me and Jim—
Well, takin’ off down the river
warn’t about zackly what I said it was.
See, me and Jim done heard
afore we left that ol’ Miss Watkins
done made up her mind
to set him a-loose and give
him his freedom, so that
warn’t gon’ be no problem.

Thang was, me and Jim
was needin’ to get away
from siviluzation for a spell
so we could get nekkid
and git to to ruttin’ around a liddle bit,
only it warn’t play-actin’
like it was with Tom,
’cause Jim and me,
I reckon we done
fell in love and was
wantin’ to what them preachers
call consummate our union,
and that meant gittin’ away
to where nobody warn’t
watchin’ us, ’cause if
you think a trash white boy
and a runaway nigger
gon’ raise up trouble,
then make ’em both
sod-umizers and see what happens.

So anyways, that liddle run
down the river warn’t zackly
a quest for Jim’s freedom
from slavery so much
as it was a liddle ol’
honeymoon cruise.
Jest ’cause we couldn’t
afford to take
no riverboat
and had to do our
business on a raft, well,
that don’t make no
difference when it
comes right down to it.

And if any of you folks
is wondering what a
white boy, even if he was trash
could’ve been seein’ in a black man
like Jim, well I reckon
Jim was a sight better lookin’
than ya’ll thank he was,
and the kindest, sweetest
man you ever wont to meet,
not to mention that
all that talk about snakes
was what ol’ Mr. Twain
might call symberl-ism.
See, y’all don’t know
a snake from a ’possum
’til ya’ll’ve seen
Jim’s snake uncoiled
and ready to strike.