Shucking: Deflowering Maize and Uncovering Vino

Few things arouse ire in me more than being interrupted while shucking corn. A morning of skinning down to the kernels, sweating through flannel and follicle alike, leaves me in a right state for Maker’s Mark sour punch and a snooze. Just as I had deflowered the last of my maize, Hugo De Naranja rolled up on in his Ford 150 and shouted out the window:

“You ever let your reds bleed?”

I dropped that Mesoamerican delicacy into the dirt.

“Son of a bitch!” I yelled.

“Do ya?” Sweat beaded down his face. He wasn’t leaving until he had an answer.

“Meet me at Gigi ‘s Last Stand[1] in fifteen, I can’t answer that right now.”

Hugo burned his truck out of the monocrop flatlands I was working that day. I gathered up my shucked transgenic maize, loaded up my barrel and wheeled it across the single lane highway into the makeshift parking lot of the place we call Gigi’s Last Stand. Hugo sat on the porch with his feet kicked up on the wooden railing.

“Well?” he called to me.

I dropped the wheel-barrel and started heading up the dusty steps. The porch was empty besides Hugo, which wasn’t strange considering it was not quite 9:45 a.m. Gigi kicked through the swinging doors just as I plopped down next to Hugo.

“Watcha drinkin’ rum or whiskey?”

“Whiskey, all around,” said Hugo.

“Two whiskeys,” she turned her back and headed inside.

“I’ll tell ya something, Hugo.”

“To breathe or not to breathe reds, I hope.”

“It’s something, I’ve thought about for a long time. I mean, it was a popular practice with everyone from the Egyptians to the Greeks, it’s in the Talmud, even the Mayan and the Aztecs got into it.”

“I had no idea.”

“Shit, yes, bloodletting was something people have done to fight illnesses, get closer God, lose weight, save lives and what have you. The Romans equated the process as universalizing menstruation. A healthy and genderless practice.”

“Hold your horses there, Red Pollard.”

“So I think about myself, and letting my own ‘reds breathe’ as you called it.”

Gigi kicked through the door with the mason jars of whiskey-drenched punch.

“Thank ya kindly,” I received my drink and greedily breathed it in. “Why has letting your reds breathe gone out of style in the contemporary medical world? Why is drinking wheat grass ‘in’, but bleeding out bad blood is deemed taboo? And I’m telling you, Hugo, in my humble opinion, I disagree! Modern science, stem cell, hopscotch, body rock, fresh-pressed scrubs and lab coats, I can’t abide it! But what I could oblige, what I could really believe in, letting the old blood run dry.” I took a deep breath, “Out with the old and in with the new as they say.”

Hugo looked at me kind of funny, like he didn’t know what to say.

“At least that’s the best way, I know how to answer your question Hugo. That’s just the way I feel.”

“ I was talking about valpolicella.”


“Valpolicella classico. It’s a shit wine, but I wondered if letting it breathe…”

“Son of a bitch, Hugo!”

“I just bought a case at Trader Joe’s.”

I got up and looked out over the porch. I thought about spending the rest of the day shucking. Just shucking the shit out of that field. Deflowering maize until my hands bled and I was blind and burned.  I turned back to Hugo.

“I’d let a bottle breathe and see if it helped.”

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.”

I sat down and sipped my Maker’s punch. Tomorrow maybe I‘ll dig up the blood turnips.

The Neapolitan Mastiff

[1] Gigi’s is a semi-abandoned porch-front, where a widow named Gigi serves Maker’s punch out of mason jars and tequila drop-kicks out of chilled, child-sized cowboy boats. Gigi’s only works Monday, Wednesday and Sunday morning.

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Filed under Red Cups, Staring Into A Cobalt Pool, Uncategorized

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