The absence of a hangover made Samuel suspect he was dead. Last night’s moonshine had the perfect mix of burn and corn sweetness, so he drank it with the same regard lungs give to autumn air. It was the best drunk ever, warming him with closeness to his family and the hollow stretching out in every direction.
The hollow was in his family for two centuries and included a cemetery where all his ancestors were buried.
After singing songs of the ages, he recalled a vacant stagger from the grave yard to the bed of straw in the barn where he passed out.
He walked to the cemetery to see if there was a grave containing his alcohol-drowned body. The walk was quick. The clearing opened to the boneyard; he could see a billow of smoke and an old moonshiner tending a still.
“No, sir,” the shiner said. “I ain’t.”
“Who are you then?”
“I’m the first to ever know these parts.”
“My family’s been here since this country become sovereign.”
“I’ve been here before anyone conceived of country, minding this still.”
“That the same shine I drank last night?”
“Reckon it is.”
“Could I have another quart?”
“Reckon you could.”
Samuel took the jar to his lips, looking at the cemetery and the smiling faces from the headstones and remembered the party from the night before and what may be a fresh grave. He smelled the mash cooking over the old shiner’s fire and knew that he would be drinking the same shine again tomorrow.
Ernest Gordon Taulbee holds and MA in English from Eastern Kentucky University and lives in Louisville, KY with his family. His work has appeared in such journals as Nixes Mate Review, Live Nude Poems, Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, and Fried Chicken and Coffee. His novel A Sibling in Always is available for purchase.