Tuesday, June 26, 2007


By Billy Q. Pickett

As Murphy and Smith sat in the feed store like they did most every morning, drinking coffee and talking crops, Smith couldn’t help but notice that his old friend looked unusually glum.

“Why so blue?” Smith asked. “Your corn and soybeans are all planted, the summer rains are comin' soon, and you got a heckuva deal on that new Ford. You're sittin’ in the catbird seat for sure, I’d reckon.”

“Well, I should be,” Murphy replied, fiddling with his suspenders. “But I don’t expect that ol’ catbird has designs on gettin' up anytime soon.”

“Oh, he gets up now and again,” Smith said. “Goes and takes his supper over at the Widow Johnson’s house at least once a week, I’m told.”

“I know,” Murphy said. “But have you seen that seat when he gets up? Good Lord! Covered top to bottom in feathers and bird shit, it is.”

“That’s a fact,” Smith said. “And it ain’t nothing special, if you want to know my honest opinion. Just a rusty foldin’ chair with a torn-up cushion.”

“And covered in bird shit,” Murphy reminded him. "But it is the catbird seat."

"Yes, it surely is," Smith said. "And that's a fact."

The two men sat there a while longer, drinking their coffee and discussing the latest fungicides and irrigation spray nozzles, until Murphy wondered aloud if the catbird might perchance leave his seat that morning to get a little breakfast. Scarcely had the words left his mouth, however, when a tempest of wing flapping and grotesque squawking arose from the back of the feed store, telling Murphy everything he needed to know on the matter.

(Billy Q. Pickett is known for his terse but vivid depictions of hardscrabble life in the West. His last Electric Storytime story was "The Jolly Rancher.")

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