Systrophe (si’-stro-fee): The listing of many qualities or descriptions of someone or something, without providing an explicit definition.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Damn. It was heavy, The sun was starting to get to me: “Hey Boss, drink of water.” He laughed his snarly laugh and said: “See that puddle over there? It’s all yours Yankee scum.” So, I walked over to the puddle, knelt down and drank like a dog, making a loud lapping sound. I was sure the puddle water would kill me, but at this point I no longer cared.
It was 1993. I was an anthropologist at New College in Sarasota, Fl. I was doing doing research deep in the Florida Panhandle in a small. isolated community named Killmore. I was studying how their isolation has affected their assimilation into the 21st century. When I walked into the little town, I was met by two men with muzzle loaders—a 19th century kind of gun. They said in unison: “What you lookin’ for boy?” “I am a university professor who would like to study your town.” “What?” They laughed. “We don’t let nobody in this town who don’t already live here. It is mainly a safety precaution. God only knows who you are, but we’ll feed you, let you sleep here, and then you’ll be on your way. Toady Joe hear will show you the way. He’s the strongest most reliable slave we’ve got—bought him from his owner when he was still a tyke. I gulped. I choked. I decided not to ask any questions. Nevertheless, I was thrilled by the prospect of studying Killmore.
As we walked along, Toady asked me if I had any idea when the Civil War would end. I told him it had ended a long time ago and the North had won and had abolished slavery. Toady became silent and didn’t say another word. I had a small shed to sleep in that night. Toady brought me dinner—chicken and grits. I slept well, looking forward to the next day’s researches. But instead, my door was kicked open by a man in a Confederate Army General’s uniform with a muzzle loader aimed strait at my head. “ What in hell did you tell Toady? He ran off last night and told his mama he was going to Tallahassee to get Union troops to liberate Killmore.” I told the General I knew nothing. Then, they tortured me, stuffing me full of hush puppies and making walk barefoot through a pig trough filled with Palmetto bugs. I broke. I admitted telling Toady that the North had won the war and slavery was abolished. The General yelled “You’re nothin’ but a goddamned traitor and filthy scum Sucking yankee spy. You’re goin’ to the chain gang with the other Yankee miscreants.” After I was sentenced to 100 years, I met some of the “Yankee miscreants.” One was a milkman who had tried to expand his route into Killmore and was caught talking about Pasteurization to a group of women—he was arrested for trying to sell adulterated milk. There was a soft drink salesman who tried to sell a beverage containing caffeine instead of cocaine—he was arrested for selling deceptive beverages. We all prayed that Toady would return one day, along with a troop of soldiers, to liberate us.
And, by God he did, albeit ten years later! But it wasn’t a troop of soldiers he arrived with. It was a motley crew of hippies and homeless people—the only people who would believe his story in 10 years of trying to sell it. There was a lot of gunfire, but Toady’s army won the battle—the final battle of the Civil War. They handed out transistor radios to the townspeople and, as they listened, they were immediately enlightened. Electricity and running water were next on Toady’s list.
New College had held my position for the entire time I was gone. I had been promoted to Full Professor after I wrote “Killmore: Town of Shit.” I had met a woman during my sojourn. Her name was Mandy. She told me she liked my chains & I wore them around the house on weekends. We’re married and live in Sarasota with a small summer home in Killmore. Her parents live there and insist on calling me “Mandy’s Yankee Turd” when Mandy and I come to visit. If we have a baby, we have decided to name it Toadie, after our hero who sells used Subarus in New Jersey.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)
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