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by Julie Eberhart Painter

I’ve been duped before, but $200 for one little tire, now that was a doozy, Jobie Smote thought, as he skidded to a stop on the back country road and got out of his Chevy to inspect the damage. What! Two flat tires at once and only one spare! Perhaps he shouldn’t have made his pit stop so close to the main freeway in rural Georgia.

Considering the dilemma, he decided that he might be able to limp to the next service station if he could find the air pump and the spare he’d just relegated to second class duty. He opened the trunk to get his tools and gazed in

“Where’s my tire?”

A black hole stared back at him from the bowels of his trunk. “I’m three tires short of a ride!” he cried, bursting into hysterical laughter.

A white tow truck pulled alongside him on the narrow country road. “Need a hand, Mister?”

“I need a couple tires. I’ve been robbed.”

“Damn, ain’t that just the way. You cain’t trust some of them tire places. Hop in. I’ll give you a lift.”

“Thanks. Do you know a garage close by?”

“Sure. My brother-in-law’s daddy has a place he operates out of. Keeps tires for just these occasions.”

Jobie stepped up into the truck and slammed the rusty door shut while his savior hitched up his car.

The man got back in rubbing his hands on an oily rag. “My name’s Bubba, but lot a folks call me Bub. My parents gave me a horrible first name. I had it changed oncet I was legal. My ex-wife don’t even know what it was. So, how’d you get in this fix?”

“I’m new in south Georgia and I guess I picked the wrong Rubber Kingdom.”

“Them places is ever’where. Ya gotta watch it here. They take care of their own first, know what I mean.”

“I do now.”

“What brings you to Georgia? You don’t sound like a Southern.”

“I’m from Chagrin Falls?”

“Don’t know no Chagrin Falls.”

“It’s in Ohio.”

“You’re a long way from home. What’d you say your name was?”


“Is that a Yankee name?”

“No it’s biblical. Until today it’s brought me luck.”

“Didn’t do much for its original owner.” Bub chuckled under his breath. “Here we are. Pop should be around.”

A gnarled old man came out of his garage adjusting his suspenders. “What’s up?”

“This man’s needs tires so he can get wherever he’s going. Where was you going, son?”

“I was headed for Albany to a job interview tomorrow.”

“What can we do for him, Pop?

“I might could come up with a couple tires, but it’ll cost ya. All the Kingdoms are closed now. I have an inventory in the back.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers. Let’s have a look,” Jobie said. They walked around to the back of the garage and began sifting through the pile of tires.

“These ones oughta fit. I can fix the slow leak. Let’s find a spare,” Bub said.

An hour later, Jobie paid the men $500 and left.

Bub and Pop looked at each other and high-fived. “They’re all like that. Cain't tell one Kingdom from another. Pop, why did they name me Beelze Bub?”

“Biblical, son, biblical.”

Jobie made his way quickly past the exit to Albany and sought his way north. Maybe I don’t want to settle here in the Bible belt. How did they know about the slow leak, and how many tires I’d need? I’ve been duped before, but not like this; this was a doozy.

Copyright © 2009 by Julie Eberhart Painter

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