November 22, 2009

The ancient moonshiner

  When people talk about Eddy, they sometimes refer to him as “Old Pinebark.” During a noon time recess at his latest trial, I asked Eddy how he got the nickname.
  “Look at my face,” Eddy says. “I look like a train wreck. Not a pretty sight. You want to know how I got to look like this? Because of the revenuers (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms agents).”
  Eddy explained that back as far as the late fifties, agents raided his liquor stills, mostly in the middle of the night. “Naturally, I’d run,” he said. “But you can’t run in the woods at night without slamming headlong into pine trees.
  “What you see on my face is a pinebark map of the woods.” He laughs. It’s clear to me that this old man had no intention of changing his ways. Not ever.
  Once again Eddy is found guilty of operating unlawful stills. As the judge prepares to pass sentence, he fixes his eyes intently on “Old Pinebark.”
  “You’ve come before me five times now,” says the judge, “Each time I give you probation, sincerely hoping that you’ll find a better way of life. But you ignore my warnings.”
  “You keep coming back with the same lame brained excuse that you’re an old man. That doesn’t work anymore. Not in my courtroom. Therefore, I sentence you to 25 years in prison -- without parole.”
  Eddy is stunned. The sentence is totally unexpected. He pleads: “Judge! I’m an old man, I’ll be 80 my next birthday, There’s no way I can live long enough to serve out that big of a sentence.”
  The judge lowers his bifocals. Glaring at the ancient moonshiner across the top of his silver rimmed spectacles the judge quips: “Well Eddy, just do the best you can.”

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