What the Founders Had to Say…

My home Commonwealth – Virginia, the Old Dominion – is in a state of conflict right now.

Legislative re- districting has handed power to a party that, in Virginia, has been the minority up until now. Their first order of business? Leaving you and yours disarmed and helpless.

As the Virginian Citizen’s Defense League continues to fight the good fight, I figured I’d leave y’all with some quotes going all the way back to beginning:

“An armed man is a citizen. A disarmed man is a subject.”

“To disarm the people is the most effectual way to enslave them.”
-George Mason

“It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.”
-Thomas Paine

“The best we can help for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”
-Alexander Hamilton

“The great object is that every man be armed.” and “Everyone who is able may have a gun.”
-Patrick Henry

“Those who hammer their guns into plowshares will plow for those who do not.”
-Thomas Jefferson

“A free people ought to be armed.”
-George Washington

“Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.”
-Thomas Paine

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve and will have neither liberty nor safety.”
-Benjamin Franklin

“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
-Thomas Jefferson

“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe.”
-Noah Webster

“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed, unlike the people of other countries, whose leaders are afraid to trust them with arms.”
-James Madison

“The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.”-Zachariah Johnson

“The constitution shall never be construed…to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
-Alexander Hamilton

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”
-Richard Henry Lee

“The greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the Constitution.”
-Thomas Jefferson

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
-Thomas Jefferson

“The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that … it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; … ”
-Thomas Jefferson

Petey Meets AOC!!!

After nearly being turned into Korean barbecue by the Oscar-winning director Bong Joon Ho, Petey the Pissed-Off Possum steadfastly refused to appear for his scheduled appointment with Tom Cruise. He said Cruise’s house was too close to Hollywood for his taste.

So shaunmoser.com deployed him to back to Washington, D.C. instead. While it’s a safe bet that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still ‘has it in’ for our star reporter, Petey is confident that he can easily outrun her. (He also says he can smell her coming from a mile away; she smells, he says, like mothballs and formaldehyde.)

We were able to line up an interview with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)….

Okay, we’re lying. We couldn’t score an interview with AOC.

It took some doing, but Petey came up with the idea of bribing AOC’s office courier into taking a day off. So Petey – in place of the turncoat courier – brought AOC her daily delivery of pink lipstick and gold hoop earrings.

Here… is Petey’s interview!

Petey: Here’s your package, Ma’am. Sign here, please.

AOC: Like, I actually have to spell my name?

Petey: No Ma’am. Just a simple scrawl will do.

AOC: But I don’t have one of those! Aren’t they made of like, crusty old paper or something?

Petey: That’s a ‘scroll’, Ma’am. A ‘scrawl’ is just a squiggly line.

AOC (making a scrawl across the delivery ticket): Oh, thanks!

Petey (pulling out his microphone): Miss Oca… AOC, might I ask you a few questions?

AOC: About what? I paid for my lipstick and earrings last month!

Petey: Oh, I’m not a bill collector. I’m a reporter for shaunmoser.com, and my boss would like it if I got an interview with you.

AOC: Who’s Shaun Moser?

Petey (sighing): That question’s getting really old! Look, if you give me an interview, I’ll tell Bernie Sanders that he has to back you for president in 2024.

AOC: You have that kind of pull with Bernie?!

Petey: Uh… sure. May we begin?

AOC (un-wrapping a Tide Pellet, and taking a bite out of it): Sure!

Petey: At President Trump’s last speech, you had a rather sour expression. May I ask why?

AOC: What?! I wasn’t sour! I didn’t even eat any lemons!

Petey (rolling his eyes): I mean, you didn’t look very happy. May I ask why?

AOC: Oh! Well, I think the president is a total racist! He doesn’t even want to give undocumented immigrants visas.

Petey: Do you?

AOC: Oh, yes! In fact, I think we need to go even further. I mean, every American has a Visa…

Petey: What do you mean?

AOC: I mean, we should also give them MasterCards! Then they’ll have more purchasing power, see? And the economy will do better.

Petey (holding his head in his hands): Speaking of the economy, how do you plan on explaining to your constituents in the Bronx that you cost the area 25,000 jobs by chasing Amazon.com away?

AOC: HEY! That’s not fair! I brought in the Amazon corporate office! That’s 5,000 jobs, thank you!

Petey: Yes, but 5,000 out of 25,000 is still a net loss of twenty thousand jobs…

AOC (rolling her eyes): Oh, math! I don’t do that. I have an app on my phone for that.

Petey: Do you have any idea how to use it?

AOC: What?

Petey: Nothing, let’s move on. Is there anything interesting happening in your personal life?

AOC: You bet! I’m hitting the campaign trail with Bernie Sanders!

Petey: That’s ‘professional’. I said ‘personal’…

AOC: What?


AOC: Oh, sure. My boyfriend is having plastic surgery soon.

Petey: Riley Roberts? Good for him. It’s about time, too; he’s plug-freakin’ ugly.

AOC: What?! He’s getting my name tattooed on his shoulder. He’ll still look the same!

Petey: Uh… Miss Oca… Ma’am, that’s not plastic surgery. It’s just a tattoo.

AOC: What? But the gun that holds the needle is plastic, isn’t it?

Petey: Miss Oca… Ma’am, have you considered a possible career change?

AOC: Like what?

Petey: Well, you’re pretty. And busty. And you’re a really good dancer! Plus you have this ditzy ‘little-girl’ voice… Have you ever considered a career as a stripper?

AOC: Actually, I have! How did you know?

Petey: Really?!

AOC: Yeah… but I don’t know how to draw.

Petey: What?

AOC (laughing): Well, you can’t make comic strips if you don’t know how to draw, silly!

Petey (groaning): Miss Oca… Ma’am, is there some message you’d like me to convey to America? A ‘mission statement’ of some kind?

AOC: Yes! President Trump is bad.

Petey: Um… Okay… Why?

AOC: He’s a racist.

Petey: You do realize that you might actually be descended from the Spanish conquistador Cortez, right? The man who ended the Aztec Empire, and may have caused the death of thousands of South Americans?

AOC: Oh, that’s not true. I’m from Puerto Rico! So I can’t be related to any Spanish people.

Petey (rolling his eyes): Miss Oca… Ma’am, may I say just one more thing?

AOC: Sure, as long as it doesn’t involve math.


At this point in the interview, our intrepid reporter ducked behind Miss Oca… AOC’s office door; after interviewing California Governor Gavin Newsom, he knew exactly what to expect.

Petey phoned our gara… office as AOC’s head exploded, assuring us that he was okay. We expect him home soon, at which point we will send him somewhere else where he might be killed.

‘Til NEXT time!!!

shaunmoser.com's Belated Oscars Coverage (Uncensored)

On Sunday, February 9th, shaunmoser.com dispatched our reporter – Petey the Pissed-Off Possum – to cover the 92nd Academy Awards, commonly known ‘The Oscars’. We should have released Petey’s coverage way before tonight, but alas Petey lost his tape recorder. (shaunmoser.com can’t AFFORD a digital recorder, okay?!)

We did eventually recover it…

We were initially worried that Petey might have some difficulty accessing the red carpet, but it turned out to be no trouble at all. Ever since Bjork showed up wearing that stuffed swan, it turns out that they’ll let ANYONE in! (The fact that Petey was mistaken multiple times for Steve Buscemi made everything just that much easier.)

Petey was regrettably only able to score one interview, but here… is that interview!

Petey: Okay, people… here they come! All the big stars! Hello? Natalie Portman? A word, please? Mr. Pitt? Ms. Johanssen? Joaquin…?! Hello? Anyone…?!

After a few minutes


(An unknown attendee) Herro? I talk’a you!

Petey (sighing with relief): Bong Joon Ho, tonight’s big winner! Congratulations on scoring multiple Oscars for directing the South Korean film Parasite! How do you feel?

Bong Joon Ho: Herro! Who’a you?

Petey: I’m a reporter for shaunmoser.com. Do you have time for an interview?

Bong Joon Ho: So solly, I haffa reave. I’a come back. You wait?

Petey: Um… sure…

Bong Joon Ho: I’a come back. You wait, prease!

Petey: Um… okay.

Petey: He must be fetching a translator, folks. I’m told Mr. Bong actually does speak English, but he doesn’t like doing it in public. I just gotta be patient. In the meantime, let’s see if we can catch someone else… MR. DICAPRIO!!! MR. DICAPRIO?!

Leonardo DiCaprio: F*** OFF, YOU TRUMP-LOVING A**HOLE!!!

Petey: What makes you think I love America’s President Trump?!


Petey: Well SCREW YOU!!! Who cares about an actor named after a damn Ninja Turtle?! And by the way, The Basketball Diaries SUCKED, you @#%!!!

Petey: *pant pant*

Petey: Oh, HERE comes Bong Joon Ho! MR. BONG! MR. BONG…?

Bong Joon Ho: Herro! You come here, prease… Herro?

Petey: Mr. Bong? Uh… Mr. Bong, what’s that? Mr. Bong…?

Bong Joon Ho (advancing): You ho’d stirr, prease…

Petey: Mr. Bong, what are you…?

Bong Joon Ho: You no move, prease…


This interview concluded with Petey running terrified down Hollywood Boulevard. Witnesses reported that Bong Joon Ho was seen chasing after him, waving a meat cleaver and a bottle of Kimchi sauce.

Petey accidentally dropped his tape recorder in front of a strip club, but it was later returned to us by a wonderfully sweet hooker named ‘Tow-Truck Towanda’.

shaunmoser.com would like to extend our deepest thanks to Towanda for her kindness. We would also like to apologize to our faithful reporter, who is now in hiding… and is, apparently, still pretty pissed off.

A shaunmoser.com Exclusive: Petey the Pissed-Off Possum Interviews American House Speaker Nancy Pelosi!

In the wake of American President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, shaunmoser.com dispatched our long-suffering reporter – Petey the Pissed-Off Possum – to Washington, D.C.

Shaunmoser.com is, unfortunately, barred from both the White House and the Capitol Building for… stuff. But our reporter Petey happens to know about a certain trash can behind the Capitol Building; apparently House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sneaks back there to inject herself with her daily dose of embalming fluid.

All our intrepid reporter had to do… was wait.

Petey: Hello, Speaker Pelosi? Hello? Madam Speaker….?


Petey: Madam Speaker? Are you okay?

Nancy Pelosi (dropping her hypodermic syringe in a blind panic): They SAID hallucinations were a possible side effect!!! I think I’m talking to a RAT!!!

Petey: I’m not a rat, Madam Speaker; I’m a possum. And also a reporter.

Nancy Pelosi (looking around): I’m not talking to you!

Petey (lowering his phone and turning off the ‘camera’ application): That’s fine. I can always release this photo, and tell everyone you were shooting up heroin


Petey: I’m pretty sure I can outrun you, Madam Speaker, and I can probably do it without breaking my hip. You can either give me this interview, or shaunmoser.com’s next headline will read thus: ‘Nancy Pelosi: Public Servant or Incorrigible Smack-Head?’

Nancy Pelosi: You WOULDN’T!!!

Petey: Madam Speaker, I survived California Governor Newsom’s head exploding right in front of me… so I’m pretty sure I can take you! So… may we talk? Or do all five of my readers get to watch you shooting yourself up? Your call, Madam Speaker!

Nancy Pelosi (reluctantly hiding the hypodermic syringe behind her colostomy bag): What do you want to know?

Petey: Well, the readers of shaunmoser.com would like to know…

Nancy Pelosi: Who the hell is Shaun Moser…?

Petey: My boss. Now, Madam Speaker…

Nancy Pelosi: What the hell kinda news network hires a rat?!

Petey (sighing): A bankrupt network, Madam Speaker. And I’m a possum, not a rat.

Nancy Pelosi: So why exactly am I talking to you?!

Petey: Because I have a photo of you shooting what might be heroin, and you can’t catch me with it because you’re older’n Methuselah and you should have retired like, forever ago. May we go on, please?

Nancy Pelosi: Of course. What’s your next question, then?

Petey: Why did you authorize impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump?

Nancy Pelosi: Because I like impeachments! Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been slicing them up and putting them on my cereal. They’re way better than blueberries!

Petey: Uh… Madam Speaker, you do realize than an ‘impeachment’ isn’t a type of fruit. Right?

Nancy Pelosi: What? You’re wrong!!!

Petey: Madam Speaker, an ‘impeachment’ is a solemn political proceeding, one intended to remove a sitting American president from office. It is not a fruit!!!

Nancy Pelosi: But Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it was…

Petey: Speaking of the freshman congress-woman from New York, Madam Speaker… how would you address the accusation that you are letting the radicals run your party? That you’re even letting them dictate your actions?

Nancy Pelosi: That’s RIDICUlOUS!!! How could you even…

At this point in the interview, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stuck her head through the back door of the Capitol Building. Our reporter recorded the following exchange as he cowered beneath the trash-can lid:

AOC: Nancy? Nancy? Did you pick my laundry up yet?

Nancy Pelosi: No, I didn’t. I’m terribly sorry! Please don’t write any more ‘tweets’ about me!

AOC: Well, hurry up! I need my new skirt for dinner with Bernie Sanders tonight, and I’m all out of clean panties. You’d better leave work early so you’ll get back from the dry cleaners in time…

Nancy Pelosi: I will, I promise! I’m so sorry! Forgive me?

AOC: Only if you get my laundry back well before dinner. If you don’t, I won’t give you any more Tide Pellets to snack on. Got it?

Nancy Pelosi: I understand… Thank you…

At this point our reporter popped out of the trash can.

Petey: Why do you let her treat you like that?

Nancy Pelosi: What? She’s a rising star! The youngest woman ever elected to congress!

Petey: She won with like, eleven percent of the vote in an election that no one cared about. You may want to consider, Madam Speaker, the distinct possibility that AOC is a complete idiot. May we move on, please?

Nancy Pelosi: Mmph, plth yth deo

Petey: Madam Speaker…?

Nancy Pelosi: thdondd…?

Petey: You dropped your teeth, Madam Speaker.

Nancy Pelosi (picking up her teeth and putting them back into her mouth): Of course we can move on! What was your next question?

Petey: Why would you push for impeachment proceedings when you knew there weren’t enough votes in the American Senate to successfully remove President Trump from office?

Nancy Pelosi: What?! But… but Adam Schiff said there were enough votes!

Petey: Uh… no… Everyone knew from the beginning that this was a political stunt. Why’d you actually go through with it?

Nancy Pelosi: Go through with what?


Nancy Pelosi: Oh, that. Because I like those in my cereal. They’re way better than blueberries…

At this point our reporter wandered off in disgust.

When he looked back, Nancy Pelosi was un-wrapping a Tide Pellet and singing ‘THE WHEELS ON THE BUS GO ‘ROUND AND ‘ROUND…’

Tune in next time, when Petey covers the 2020 Oscars!


We will release Petey’s Academy Award interviews as soon as we find his tape recorder, which he thinks he may have dropped somewhere between the Hard Rock Café and the Hollywood sign…

Apparently the evening didn’t go well.

shaunmoser.com Interviews California Governor Gavin Newsom

U.S. President Trump’s impeachment trial overshadowed a ground-breaking news item released just this morning: California Governor (and former San Francisco mayor) Gavin Newsom announced that he had completely solved San Francisco’s homelessness problem. He also said that he had turned California’s crumbling economy completely around, and solved its troubling crime issues as well.

Since shaunmoser.com was unable to get press access to President Trump’s trial at the U.S. Capitol Building, we decided to cover the Newsom announcement instead. So we dispatched our favorite reporter, Petey the Pissed-Off Possum, to the governor’s mansion in Sacramento.

Here… is his interview.

Petey: Thank you for meeting with us this morning, Governor Newsom. I especially wanted to thank you for agreeing to be interviewed on such short notice.

Governor Newsom: Well, I was more curious than anything. I mean, who the hell is ‘Shaun Moser’?

Petey: He’s my boss; I used to live in his trash can until it got rust holes in it. Are you ready to begin, Governor?

Governor Newsom: Does this Moser guy pay you?

Petey (laughing): That’s enough about me, Governor! I’m told you actually solved San Francisco’s crippling homeless problem literally overnight! How did you accomplish such a feat?

Governor Newsom: Well, it’s probably an exaggeration to describe San Francisco’s homeless issue as ‘crippling’. The problem wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I’d say San Francisco’s homeless problem was on par with, say, Venezuela’s. Or maybe Cambodia’s, or India’s.

Petey: Um… that’s pretty bad. How did you fix it, and in such a short time?

Governor Newsom: Oh, it was easy! We just legally changed the definition of ‘homeless’ to exclude anyone who lives in a cardboard box, sleeps on a park bench, or spends any time outdoors at all.

Petey: But what about the sanitation issues? Didn’t President Trump threaten San Francisco with sanctions by the Environmental Protection Agency, if they didn’t do something about the homeless people constantly taking dumps on the sidewalk?

Governor Newsom: First of all, let me say this: President Trump is an environmental terrorist, and he has NO business lecturing me on environmental issues!!! I mean, he takes a private jet everywhere…

Petey: I’ve seen photos of you getting out of private jets…

Governor Newsom (waving his hand): These aren’t the jets you’re looking for…

Petey: What…?

Governor Newsom (waving his hand again): You can go about your business…

Petey: Are you stoned…?

Governor Newsom (still waving his hand): Move along.

Petey: Um… Okay. But seriously, how is re-defining ‘homelessness’ away going to get the turds off the sidewalk?

Governor Newsom: Look, it’s the same basic idea as George Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ law. American kids were too dumb to meet our academic standards, so we just lowered the standards. Get it?

Petey: No…

Governor Newsom: Look, it worked, okay? San Francisco doesn’t have a homelessness problem anymore! Can we move on, please?

Petey: You also said you fixed California’s broken economy? How’d you do that?

Governor Newsom: Oh, that was easy. We just raised our taxes again. More money coming into the government means a healthier state, right?

Petey: But businesses are leaving your state because of the taxes! Isn’t that right?

Governor Newsom (waving his hand): These aren’t the businesses you’re looking for…

Petey: Not again

Governor Newsom: You can go about your business…

Petey: Will you stop that please?!

Governor Newsom: Move along…

Petey: So you solved homelessness by re-defining the word, and you solved the problem of businesses fleeing your taxes by raising your taxes. Am I getting this right so far?

Governor Newsom (pulling a crack pipe out of his pocket, and stuffing a rock into the bowl): That’s right!

Petey (choking as Governor Newsom lights up his rock): So what about crime in your state? How did you nip that in the bud?

Governor Newsom (blowing a smoke ring): That was easy, too. We just legalized everything!

Petey (waving away a cloud of smoke): Everything? Rape? Murder? Drug dealing?

Governor Newsom (choking): Yes sir!

Petey: So your gun laws were repealed, too? Your average Californian can now own and carry a firearm for self-defense?

Governor Newsom: WHAT?! ARE YOU INSANE?! NO!!!

Petey: Oh… I see… Um… Governor, I think I’ve taken up enough of your time today. Before we wrap this up, may I ask you one last question?

Governor Newsom (loading a fresh rock into his pipe): Sure, man.

Petey: Governor… what the f*** is WRONG with you?!

Governor Newsom (turning purple): What’s wrong with me?! ME?! You… you… You’re RACIST, that’s what you are! RACIST!!! HATER!!! I’M TOTALLY GONNA ‘DOX’ YOU WHEN I FIND YOUR ADDRESS!!!

Petey: Racist? I’m a possum. And I live in a trash can.


Petey: Governor, there’s no need for…

Petey: Governor…?


This interview was tragically cut short as Governor Newsom’s head exploded.

Our reporter was understandably a bit traumatized by the event, and fled in terror. However, one of Governor Newsom’s staff explained to us that all was well. Apparently Governor Newsom always follows a handy tip given to him by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, regarding what to do in just such an emergency…

He keeps a box of disposable heads in his office.

Petey could not be reached to write the closing commentary for this interview, although the guy who owns his trash-can residence assures us that he’s still pretty pissed off.

What Happened Here…?!

Didja ever have one of those moments in which you look around, and suddenly feel like you’ve landed on an alien planet?

I went out to run a few errands today, and there was this fellow standing outside the grocery store. He had his hair tied into a bun (what?) and he was sucking on what appeared to be a laser pointer.

Weird, man!

And I gotta watch it when I’m out to dinner. If I order a beer to go with my steak, I have to be very careful as to which brand of brew I select. Simply asking ‘what do you have on draft?’ is likely to result in my being served a glass of malted pine cones. (I’m reasonably certain that ‘IPA’ means exactly what it sounds like: ‘I pee, eh?’)

And where did all the video stores go? There was nothing more fun than browsing the shelves for some weird old title, one that you would never have thought to watch if the video store didn’t happen to have it. And on that note, what happened to video game cartridges? And compact discs? I mean sure, I could listen to any music I want on a digital music service, but what if the service goes down?

What happened to the bookstores? Borders’ is long gone, and Barnes and Noble’s is hanging by a thread. Now I see people reading stuff on these over-sized phones, as though we don’t spend enough time looking at screens as it is.

I went to see Metallica a couple of years back, and I kinda felt like I was doing concert-going all wrong. Apparently you’re not supposed to actually enjoy the concert, see? What you’re supposed to do is spend the entire evening holding your cell-phone over your head. You’ll kinda miss out on jamming to the music, but the point is to have the video… which apparently, must be way more fun than the actual concert itself.

And what’s with this Face-Bollocks thing? Apparently, life events do not count until they are validated on social media. Now, I do agree that Mark Zucker-bot has improved political discourse. It’s very enlightening to read the lengthy threads of reasoned debate. They explore every possible facet of each issue too, those threads; they don’t end until someone gets called a ‘Nazi’, and that’s how you know that the issue du jour has been satisfactorily settled.

It’s nice how social media has made us all more connected. I enjoy walking through throngs of people, each one blissfully unaware of his neighbor’s existence as he stares fixated at his phone. I think Twitter, Instagram, etc. have all helped to create a more cohesive, cooperative society.

On that note, I’m also noticing an uptick in political activism. It’s heartening to see how many young people are engaging in the political battles that shape our social landscape. Blocking traffic and rioting are very, very effective means of persuasively communicating one’s viewpoint, and I expect those tactics to usher in a bright new Utopia any day now.

Media has changed, as well. When I was a kid, it was a royal pain having to sort out which news tidbits were commentary, and which ones were actual reporting. Now that objective reporting has been completely done away with, it’s much easier to digest the news.

There’ve been a lot of changes to the American legal system, too, which was admittedly never that great. Now you just stand trial on Twitter, which completely streamlines the process and totally negates the need for juries.

Yessir! This is the Brave New World, come to life at last!

If anyone needs me, I’ll be hiding under my bed… barricaded behind a pile of CD’s, books, and VHS tapes. I’ll be using my land-line phone to order pizza and soda. I figure I can last under there a while, too. The hipsters won’t be able to get at me because…

Well, everybody knows it’s rude to ‘vape’ indoors, right?

The Day Punkin Blew Up the Devil: A Tale

‘When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty…’ – Thomas Jefferson

Most North Carolinians would simply have described this day as ‘really, really hot’.

But Gerald liked to read… a lot, and thus he was more articulate than someone who would merely have described this day as ‘hot’.

Gerald would have instead said, ‘today is sultry’. ‘Hot’ didn’t quite describe today’s stifling humidity, or the languid torpor that seemed to drain a body of any trace of vitality. ‘Hot’ didn’t quite do justice to…

Well, today.

Gerald hung his head miserably, wiping a tear from his chubby cheek. Today was Saturday; normally he’d be sitting on his bed, hiding from the sun in his trailer home and reading comic books…

But he wasn’t.

He wasn’t because today, on this sultry, miserable afternoon, old Pappy was being laid to rest.

Gerald closed his eyes, listening to the preacher droning on and on. It didn’t seem right, thought Gerald, that this minister was giving Pappy’s eulogy; it would have seemed more fitting for one of Pappy’s dear friends to have given it.

Pappy hardly even knew this minister, after all, although he would occasionally have a few of the church deacons over. ‘A bit of religion never hurt nobody, boy,” he used to tell Gerald, usually while taking an unhealthy slug from his moonshine crock. “A man’s gotta remember the Almighty once in a while, don’t he? Don’t seem right to go through life without rememberin’ your Maker ever’ now and again.”

Gerald smiled a little as he felt a gentle hand taking his own. At his right stood Kylie McGuinness, his dearest friend in the world. Kylie was pretty, with her sky-blue eyes and blonde ringlets, and popular; she was the polar opposite of chubby, sallow, scorned Gerald.

Pappy wasn’t any relation to Gerald; for all Gerald knew, he wasn’t any relation to anyone.  He was just a nice old man who loved to sit on his front porch, waiting for someone to walk by and chat with him. His ramshackle old house sat smack in the middle of Watsonville; the town had tried to condemn it many times, but the old man had always managed to beat the system. And it was a good thing that he did, too, because Pappy had more than ‘a touch’ of agoraphobia. He never left his wreck of a house, and always bribed local boys to deliver his groceries for him. As for his moonshine and pipe tobacco, well… his local ‘shine’ supplier was more than happy to make house calls, since Pappy was his best customer.

Gerald loved old Pappy…

Gerald’s parents were no kind of parents at all, neither his shrewish, chain-smoking mother nor his beer-swilling, loud-mouthed father. His home life was well-nigh unbearable, but whenever home became too much to bear…

Pappy was always there.

Pappy listened to Gerald; he was kind to Gerald. He always shared his half-burnt meals, and his door was always open. There was something in Gerald that desperately needed a Father Figure, and there was obviously something inside of Pappy that yearned to feel needed, to be seen as something other than a cast-off, dismissible old man.

Death had shattered that bond now; a part of Gerald wanted fiercely to regret that he, at the tender age of ten, had chosen an octogenarian as his mentor…

But he couldn’t; Pappy had meant too much to him.

Gerald watched with blurred vision as Pappy’s casket was lowered into the ground. The town, in the absence of a will, had claimed his house. While the house had been condemned, the property had turned out to be quite valuable; thus, money had been set aside for a decent burial.

Gerald was grateful for that.

Pappy had no actual relatives here, at least as far as Gerald could tell. Had Pappy always been alone? Or had he just outlived his entire family?

Somehow, that didn’t seem to matter. Nearly the whole town was here, all of the friends and neighbors that lovable old Pappy had mingled with throughout the long years that had been his life. He may not have had any living family, but he had a wealth of friends.

The crowd dispersed at last, eager to flee the punishing heat as the gravediggers moved in on the plot. Soon the cemetery employees would back-fill the yawning hole in the ground; soon, Pappy would become one with the earth.

“Young Man?”

Gerald turned, letting go of Kylie’s sweating hand. “Yes, Sir?” he said politely.

The minister knelt before Gerald. (Gerald noticed absently that his hair gel was melting.)

“Pappy left this for you,” said the minister, handing Gerald a small envelope. “It was found on his mantle, next to a note saying to give it to you in the event of his passing.”

Gerald looked away, pushing his glasses up as his eyes flooded anew with tears.


“Thank you,” murmured Gerald, as Kylie took his hand once more. “Ever so much.”

“You’re welcome, Son,” said the minister, rising and patting Gerald awkwardly on his chubby shoulder. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“What is it?” asked Kylie curiously, swishing her black skirt to fan herself as the minister walked away.

“I don’t know,” said Gerald, opening the envelope.

Whatever was in the envelope would be priceless, this Gerald instinctively knew.

Inside was a plain white card, folded in half.

Gerald opened it with bated breath. Only two words were written inside, in Pappy’s shaky scrawl…

Remember Punkin, it read.

“What does that mean?” asked Kylie, raising a pretty eyebrow.

Gerald suppressed a sob, and lovingly folded up the card.

“It’s a long story…” he quavered.

“My dad’s been belly-aching all morning,” Gerald said sourly, taking a bite of something that was very badly burnt. (Pappy claimed that it was meatloaf, but Gerald was a bit skeptical of the description.) “He didn’t vote for the new mayor, so since his guy lost now the whole town’s gonna fall apart.”

“Well, some men don’t know how to just let be,” said Pappy wisely, chasing his bite of ‘meatloaf’ with a slug from his ever-present moonshine jar.

“I suppose,” said Gerald, drowning his next bite underneath a flood of cheap ketchup (in the hopes that his meal would taste less like used charcoal). “I mean, it’s just the mayor.”

“Did I ever tell you about Watsonville’s first mayor?” said Pappy, taking another bite without bothering with any condiment except liquor.

“You remember the first mayor?!” said Gerald, choking as he swallowed his charred excuse for meatloaf.

“Shore, boy,” said Pappy, taking another slug as he swatted a fly that didn’t seem bothered by the deplorable quality of the food. “When I were born, Watsonville was run by the town council. It weren’t until the railroad came through that we decided we needed a mayor.”

“Who was he?”

“Well…” said Pappy, “he were a strange sort of fella, came from up north. He was short, with spindly little arms and legs, and a fat belly. He kinda looked like a spider. He had these thick glasses that made him look like an owl, too. He had this mustache that stuck way out from his head, and he had a grin like a shark.”

“He sounds kind of weird,” said Gerald.

“He always wore this suit with patched elbows, and tails on the jacket. He always wore this old beat-up top hat, too. Sure, boy… he was kinda weird.”

“So did he have to run for the mayor’s office? You know, like win an election and all?”

“Well, sure. But everyone knew he’d win,” said Pappy, pushing his travesty of a meal aside and reaching for his pipe. “He could talk the bark right off a tree, that fella. Smooth as a baby’s ass, his talkin’ was. Bunyip was his name, and the local children started calling him Uncle Bunyip.”

“That sounds downright ridiculous!” laughed Gerald, following Pappy’s lead and pushing his plate aside. “What kind of name is ‘Bunyip’?”

“Well, his name didn’t sound so ‘ridiculous’ when he won his election by a landslide,” said Pappy, lighting his pipe with a match. “Everybody was happy for the new mayor, except this one young fella.”

“And who was that?” asked Gerald curiously.

“There was this one boy,” said Pappy, blowing out a puff of smoke. “I never knew his name, but everybody called him Punkin.”

“Pumpkin?” said Gerald.

“Yep,” said Pappy. “He were an orphan, but he lived in his Daddy’s old house just outside of town. He musta been about thirteen; he got by doin’ farm labor.”

“They just let him live all alone?” said Gerald. “Being just a kid, and all?”

“Times was different back then, I reckon,” said Pappy, taking a long draw from his pipe. “People was just kinda used to letting well enough alone, you know? So yep, Punkin lived all by hisself.”

“So why didn’t Pumpkin like the mayor?” asked Gerald.

“He said the mayor was a bad man,” said Pappy. “Said he saw him creepin’ around houses, making nice with the ladies when their husbands weren’t home. He said that he saw the Yankees who ran the railroad meeting with Uncle Bunyip out in the woods, where no one could see. He said ol’ Bunyip was selling out our town to outsiders, just to line his own pockets.”

“Was all that true?” asked Gerald.

“I dunno,” shrugged Pappy. “But Punkin believed it, and he made so much ruckus that Uncle Bunyip had to give a speech to explain hisself. Oh, he was in fine form, ol’ Bunyip. He talked all nice and smooth, and did this little jig with his tiny feet as he waved his arms about… It was really something to see.”

“And then what happened?”

“I’ll never forget that night,” said Pappy soberly, blowing another cloud of smoke. “I remember Punkin. He was this skinny red-headed kid, and he always wore this old pair of worn-out denim overalls. He was freckly, and he always had this dirty coon-skin hat that he wore, summer and winter both. Well, when Uncle Bunyip finished his speech, Punkin stepped toward the front of the crowd, all by hisself. Everybody took a step back, waiting for him to speak. Punkin was all alone, the one fella who had the balls to say what no one else would.”

“And what did he say?” asked Gerald, waving the wafting pipe smoke away from his face.

“He pointed straight at Uncle Bunyip, and I’ll never forget his face. He was angry, for shore, but he was also brave. He was gonna say what he was gonna say, and he didn’t care if he had to say it all by hisself or not.”

“But what did he say?!” pressed Gerald.

“He pointed right at ol’ Bunyip,” said Pappy, “and he said this: YOU’RE THE DEVIL!!! I SEEN YOU, AND YOU AIN’T FOOLIN’ ANYONE!!!”

“And what happened then?” asked Gerald.

“Everyone laughed at Punkin,” said Pappy. “Even me. I didn’t know why I was laughin’, mind you. I guess I just figured that everyone else was laughin’, so I should too. I’ve always been ashamed of myself for that night.”

“Why?” asked Gerald.

“’Cuz Punkin was brave, and I wasn’t,” said Pappy. “’Cuz Punkin believed in something, and I just went along with the crowd.”

“But what if Punkin was wrong?” asked Gerald. “About Uncle Bunyip being the Devil?”

“That’s what I told myself,” said Pappy, swatting away a fly. “But that was before Bunyip shut down the church.”

“What?” asked Gerald. “He shut down the church? How do you even do that?”

“He got the town council to pass a motion,” said Pappy. “He said with the railroad coming through, our town was gonna become more ‘diverse’. Hell, boy, most of us had to look that word up in the dictionary. He said a big church might offend Jews, or Muslims, or people who weren’t religious at all. So he said we should shut down the big church, and let Christian folk just meet in houses like they did in the old days. He said that would be best for the town, and he scheduled a big speech on a Saturday afternoon to explain hisself.”

“So were you at his speech?” asked Gerald.

“I was,” said Pappy. “But before I went, I finally found some sand in myself. I went to Punkin the night before, in his shack out in the swamp.”

“What did you tell him?” asked Gerald.

“I said he should skip town,” said Pappy. “I told him that folks were talking, and the word ‘lynch’ was coming up more and more often. Remember, son, this was over seventy years ago… Watsonville still had an active Ku Klux Klan chapter back then. Uncle Bunyip used to talk trash about the Klan being ‘lawless’ and all, but that’s another thing Punkin said… He swore he saw Bunyip and the Grand Wizard meeting in the woods. He said Uncle Bunyip was even makin’ backdoor deals with the same folks he said he hated.”

“Wow…” said Gerald.

“Punkin gave me the saddest look you ever seen when I warned him,” said Pappy. “But he agreed that he should leave town. Said he had one more thing to do first, though.”

“What was that?” asked Gerald.

“Well, I wouldn’t find out until the next day…” said Pappy.

“What happened the next day?” pressed Gerald, pushing his glasses up his chubby nose.

“Well, Uncle Bunyip showed up in front of the whole town to give his speech, explaining why he shut down the church. I seen me some fellas I knew were in the Klan, waiting for Punkin to show up again…”

“And did Pumpkin show up?” asked Gerald.

“Yer damn right he did, boy!” said Pappy, taking a draw from his pipe. “Ol’ Bunyip started his speech, doin’ his little jig…”

“And…?” said Gerald.

“And Punkin walked right through the crowd, holding a whisky bottle. Er’body knew Punkin’s late daddy was a drunk, so he had plenty of bottles layin’ around. And Punkin loved to hunt, with the old black-powder rifle his daddy left him…”

“So?” prodded Gerald.

“So Punkin walked towards Uncle Bunyip, as cool as a cucumber. He was holding a bottle filled with black powder, and a lit toilet-paper wick burning through the neck. I was there.  I seen him, boy; that kid had murder in his eyes!”

“So what happened?” asked Gerald breathlessly.

“Uncle Bunyip tried to sweet-talk Punkin, but Punkin weren’t having it… so as the Klan boys moved in to protect the mayor, Punkin hauled off n’ chucked that bottle!”

“What happened then?!” asked Gerald, moving away from the edge of the porch. It had begun raining heavily, and quite suddenly; southern thunderstorms worked that way, and both Gerald and Pappy were quite used to them.

“Well…” said Pappy, chasing a draw from his pipe with a gulp of moonshine, “Punkin’s bomb went off, boy-howdy!”

“Did he kill the mayor?” whispered Gerald.

“Boy, I’ma tell you something I ain’t never told anyone!” said Pappy firmly. “But this here’s the damn gospel truth. I done seen it with my own two eyes, and I ain’t ever gonna forget it!”

“So what happened?”

“Punkin done blew up Uncle Bunyip, sure as shit!” said Pappy. “His black-powder bomb went off right in his damn face, and no man coulda survived that! Even the Klan boys took a step back…”

“So he killed the mayor, then?”

“No…” said Pappy, shaking the ashes from his pipe onto his plate. “Boy, I ain’t ever told anyone this. But I’ma tell you, on account of I love you more’n Life Itself.”

“So what happened?!” demanded Gerald, anticipating the end of yet another one of Pappy’s tall tales.

“There were an explosion, and a big cloud of smoke,” said Pappy. “We expected to see pieces of Uncle Bunyip scattered all over the town square…”

“So did Punkin kill the mayor?”

“Yes… and no,” said Pappy, taking another drink. “The smoke started to clear, and the townsfolk waited until it did…”

“And what happened to the mayor?!”

“There weren’t no mayor,” said Pappy grimly. “A man rose from the smoke, a tall, strong man. He was standing just where our skinny-ass mayor had been standing. He used to be the mayor, that man… but he weren’t the mayor no more!”

“Who was he?”

“He was tall, that fella,” said Pappy. “He was dressed all in black, and he had this handsome face, a face any girl would love. He had long, black, curly hair, too… but what I’ll remember ‘til I die were his eyes!!! Yellow, they were, and evil as all hell!

“So where did the mayor go?”

“That’s what I’m telling you, boy!” snapped Pappy. “That man was the mayor, in his true form at last! And I knew right then that Punkin was right all along. We’d elected the Devil, for certain sure. I seen it with my own two eyes. I were just a boy, but I seen it and I’ll put my hand on the Bible over it.”

“So where did the yellow-eyed man go?”

“He ran into the smoke, and we never seen him again. But I felt the evil drifting off him, boy. And I knew right then that I did right to warn Punkin. He disappeared that night, Punkin did, and didn’t no one never see him again.”

“So where’s Punkin now?” asked Gerald.

“I dunno,” shrugged Pappy. “No one does, I reckon. But he did right, Punkin. He stood strong even when no one believed him. He had the guts to stand alone, whether other folks stood by him or not. And he was right about everything; Uncle Bunyip was the Devil! He was ol’ Scratch, Satan hisself; I seen him.”

“Is this just another one of your stories?” asked Gerald suspiciously, ducking away from the rain.

“Maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t,” shrugged Pappy, rising. “But remember this, boy: If you wanna get by in this world – if you don’t wanna be a damn weenie – remember Punkin. He fought a lil’ war all by hisself. He told the truth even when no one else believed him. The preachers say that cowards ain’t gonna inherit the good Lord’s kingdom… and Punkin warn’t no coward, not by a damn sight! I’ll never forget his freckly face, or his worn-out coonskin hat. That boy had more sand than any man I’ve ever met before or since, and that’s a fact.”

Gerald wiped a splash of rain from his face, and pushed his chair further into the porch. “I don’t wanna walk home in this,” he said plaintively. “And my dad’s gonna be drunk, and Mom’s gonna chew me out for coming home late…”

“You can have the spare bedroom, boy,” said Pappy kindly. “I’ll call your mammy, and tell her you’re safe with me. I’ll make us breakfast in the morning, okay?”

Most boys wouldn’t have been comforted by the ominous prospect of runny eggs and burnt bacon, but Gerald was not most boys. “Thank you, Pappy,” he said gratefully.

Pappy stumbled towards his front door, fighting to find the doorknob. “Have a good night’s sleep, boy,” he said comfortingly. “And remember Punkin, would you? He was a strong boy. You gotta be strong in this world, boy, or it’s gonna run your ass right over.”

And that… was the last time Gerald ever saw Pappy alive.

Pappy called nine-one-one in the middle of the night, reporting chest pains. The ambulance took him away, without even bothering to check that anyone else might be sleeping in the run-down old house.

But before he went to bed for the last time, Pappy left a note on the mantle.

It was raining again, but Gerald knelt before the gravestone nevertheless.

Here Lies Pappy…, read the opening line of the epitaph.

Pappy’s legal name followed the opening line. No one ever used the name, and thus Gerald didn’t even bother to read it. There was also a ‘born here and dead there’ date after it, and Gerald cared little for that information either. Pappy’s life and death were etched firmly in his young mind, and memory accomplished for him what the calendar never could.

All he could think about were Pappy’s final words to him, lovingly written down on the very night of his demise: Remember Punkin

Punkin had the strength to stand alone, when no one else believed him. Punkin went toe-to-toe with his enemy, despite the knowledge that he was facing the prospect of his own lynching.

Maybe Pappy’s story was fact, and maybe it was fiction. Gerald had known Pappy to tell more than a few tall tales over the years…

But fact or fiction, Punkin’s tale resonated powerfully in Gerald’s young heart.

Gerald rose, and pulled his hood over his head to shield off the pounding rain.

And then he heard something, the sound of someone walking away from the cemetery…

Gerald turned toward the sound, suddenly afraid. Maybe it was the rainstorm that frightened him, or maybe it was just memory. Either way, Gerald ducked behind the trees, watching as a moonlit silhouette tottered slowly away from the graveyard.

It looked, obscured as it was, like the form of a stooped old man…

Shivering from the cold, Gerald re-traced his steps back to Pappy’s grave.

Sitting atop the sodden marble headstone was a threadbare coon-skin cap. It was a small cap, a cap sewn to fit a young boy…

Remember Punkin, would you? Pappy had said. He was a strong boy. You gotta be strong in this world, boy, or it’s gonna run your ass right over.”

SIR!” shouted Gerald. “You left your hat! Sir…?”

But answer there came none.

Gerald hung his head for a moment…

And then he lovingly picked up the sodden hat, and placed it upon his own head.

Maybe Pappy’s story was the gospel truth, or maybe it was just another well-spun piece of fiction; one could never tell with Pappy. But Gerald would never forget Pappy’s final words:

Remember Punkin