March 0004


 

 

Wonderful World readers are wonderful! One of you, anonymously, has sent me a copy of a very rare book indeed. Here’s what it says on the title page: 
 

THE LITTLE AGAVES OF ST. JAKE 

Being a faithful transcription, taken in shorthand,

of the PARABLES of ST JAKE OF PASADENA

as delivered in his Church of the Holey Martyrs

in Culver City during the years 1888 – 1893,

before its mysterious destruction by fire in the October of 1893,

which some blame on renegade redskins, and some on

snakes in the grass out looking for revenge, 
 

By A REGULAR COMMUNICANT 

“Blessed be the cup that intoxicates,

for Whiskey is better than Water” 

Published by the

Mean Hombre Press,

Sacramento 1898 
 

I must say this book was a revelation for me. I have never, in over twenty years of close study of St. Jake, seen a copy, although I have heard of it frequently. I was aware of its importance, of course. On one occasion, St. Jake remarked to his gang “Old man J.C. was forever a-tellin’ of his parables, but I’m a-tellin’ you they ain’t no use out here. Who among you has ever cast eyes upon a mustard tree? What we got out here is cactuses, and there’s plenty o’ them. But there ain’t no mustards.”  

Without further ado, I shall reproduce the first of St. Jake’s parables: 
 
 

THE PARABLE OF THE LOW - DOWN VARMINT, BY ST. JAKE OF PASADENA. 
 

One time, there was this low – down varmint, and he weren’t no use to nobody, see. All day, every day, he was in the saloon, drinkin’ rotgut whisky. All the time, that was ‘cept when the sheriff was a-arrestin’ of him, an’ puttin’ him in his jail. An’ that was only for cussin’ and swearin’ an’ public order an’ stuff like that. Them’s no – account crimes that you didn’t oughta commit: You save your jail time for good things like robbin’ banks an’ such. Where was I? Oh yeah, so the sheriff throws this low – down varmint into jail for the eighth time that week, an’ it was still only Tuesday, an’ the low – down varmint a-picks hisself up off the floor, an’ sees his cell mate. This cell mate I’m a – tellin’ you about’s a real big hombre, see, an’ goes by the name of Sneaky Pedro. The fact is, Sneaky Pedro’s so big an’ mean lookin’, no – ones a–goin’ to pick no fight with him, not even a cell mate, so when Sneaky Pedro says in a low, slow, menacin’ tone “You just call me sir, boy”, right off the low – down varmint says back “Yes sir” without Sneaky Pedro havin’ to hit him more’n once or twice. Then Sneaky Pedro asks the low – down varmint “What’s your name, boy”, an’ right off, the low – down varmint tells him the truth, an’ he says “I don’t know sir. Never had no parents, leastways, not as I kin recall, but most folks, they’re a-callin’ me Jim, that’s a-ceptin’ those that’s a-callin’ me all kinds o’ cuss words.”

      Sneaky Pedro takes a kinda shine to the low – down varmint, reckonin’ that anyone that tells the truth after only bein’ hit once or twice’s got to be either real stupid or real smart, an’ either way they kin be kinda useful, so then he asks the low – down varmint “What’re you good for Jim?” an’ right off, the low – down varmint answers him “Nothin’ Sir”, so Sneaky Pedro knows there’s somethin’ to be made o’ this critter.

      Next night, Sneaky Pedro shows the low – down varmint this long round thing, an’ a-says to him “Know what this is, Jim boy?” an’ the low – down varmint answers him a-sayin’ “Is that a candle? You want some light so’s we kin play a hand of cards, or are you so darn hungry you’re a-gonna eat the darn thing?” An’ so Sneaky Pedro hits him a few times to remind him to call him “Sir”, an’ then he answers, a-sayin “No siree, this ain’t no candle. This thing hyar is a stick o dynamite, an’ it’s mighty useful stuff. As a matterofact, you can use it to open safes with” an’ right off, the low – down varmint pins back his ears an’ listens.

      After a coupla days, the sheriff remembers his guests an’ slings them outa jail, same way he slung them in, but the other way around, if you get my meanin’, an’ the low – down varmint an’ Sneaky Pedro pick themselves up outa the dust, an’ get to work a-getting’ a gang together. Soon, they’s famous as the best rootin’ tootin’ safe openers in the whole tarned state, an’ the bucks is rollin’ in even faster than Sneaky Pedro an’ the low – down varmint can drink ‘em away, which sure is sayin’ somethin’. Fact o’ the matter is, they’re the best safe opener’s anybody’s ever heard of, an’ soon the low – down varmint gets to thinkin’, an’ he opines that that Sneaky Pedro’s nothin’ but a low – down criminal, an’ bein’ a law – abidin’ low – down varmint, he figures he’s gotta do somethin’ about that, so he gets a friend o’ his, went by the name of, oh, lemme see, Vince Darrow, t’ shoot Sneaky Pedro. Course, bein’ real professional, Vince only needs to put a coupla slugs in Sneaky Pedro’s back ‘fore Sneaky Pedro’s off to Boot Hill for good, an’ once the low – down varmint’s paid Vince off, an’ taken care of his boys, all the money from the safes is his, an’ that’s just about all of it.

      By now, the money’s a-rollin’ in so fast, try as he might, the low – down varmint just caint drink it all away, so he gets aroun’ to thinkin’ an’ figures the only thing to do with it is to put it to some use. So he opens himself a cheap whore house. An’ now he can become a respectable citizen, cause he don’t need to go openin’ no safes no more, the bucks is a-rollin’ in so fast, an’ life’s a lot safer without all them safes, if you get my meanin’. Course, the money’s a-rollin’ in an’ a-rollin in, so next thing he opens himself a fancy whore house, an’ you know what? The money just keeps on rollin’ in even more, so in desperation like, the low – down varmint opens himself a real fancy whore house. This is somethin’ you oughta have seen. I did, as a matterofact, cause the low – down varmint used ta get me ta hear his girls confessions, an’ you ain’t heard nothin’ like them confessions. Tell ya what, to make sure we get a good turn out next Sunday, I’m a goin’ ta preach a sermon on them confessions at holy mass that day, so you get all your friends, those of you that got any friends left, that is, an you’ll hear some stories like you ain’t never heard before. Where was I? Oh yeah, I was a-telllin’ ya that after the fancy whore house the low – down varmint opens himself a real fancy whore house, an’ I was a – tellin’ about that. Fact was, it was so fancy, it was clean, for one thing. Any a you guys ever bin in a clean place? Nope, nor me, ‘cept for a few banks here and there. For another thing, it had carpets, an’ chandeliers an’ a piano, an’ that piano dam’ well played! In fact, this whore house was so darn fancy, the girls wasn’t even allowed to steal from the customers, on account of the fact they cost ten, twenty dollars a trick an’ upwards.

      Course, this makes the low – down varmint’s problem even bigger, and he figure he’s gotta fix havin’ too much money for once an fer all, cause if he don’t spend it, someone else’ll do it for him, an’ that might mean puttin’ a slug inta the low – down varmint first, to make sure he don’t raise no objections. So the low – down varmint starts a-thinkin’ harder than he’s ever a-thought afore, an finally, he gets the big idea, and he buys himself a job. That’s right! He buys himself a job! Now, I kin hear you a-askin’ yourselves, what does a God-fearin’ respectable citizen want with a darn job, an’ I figure that’s a pretty fair question. But you wait till you hear what that job was! He went up to Washint’n, an’ bought himself a job as a United States Senator! An’ of course, all his problems was solved, cause the money was really rollin’ now. Some days he’d get a thousand dollars just for readin’ or signin’ a letter. Course, the low – down varmint couldn’t read nor write, but he was real good at pretendin’, see, an’ all those piles of money wasn’t no problem no more, cause no-ones a goin’ ta rob no United States senator not more’n a little bit on account of the fact that robbin’ one a them guys is just too darn dangerous.

      By now, the low – down varmints getting’ on a bit. In fact he’s pretty old. ‘Bout fifty or so, I’d guess, an’ you know what he’s a-dyin’ of? Nope? A heart attack, that’s what! You ever hear of an Oklahoma man a-dyin’ of a heart attack before? Nope, nor me. But that’s how the low – down varmint went, but the thing was, see, he’d bought this real, real fancy grave before he went, an’ that grave had all these weepin’ stone angels on it an’ things like that, so’s we kin be pretty sure he’s a-lookin’ down a-smilin’ at us from heaven right now, on accounta that fancy grave.

      An the moral of that is it don’t matter how low – down you are, you still got some talents. You work on those talents, an’ the Lord’ll send you fresh problems, an’ if you work those problems the same as you worked on the first ones, an’ so on, one day, the Lord’ll reward you, an’ that’s as certain as the only good rattler or redskin is a dead rattler or redskin.

      Amen. 
 
 There’s plenty more parables to come. In the meantime, I’m working on the redaction of an account of St. Jake’s time at the Lazy Zee Seminary, at Tulsa, where he studied for the priesthood. There’s something to look forward to! 
 
And some readers’ replies: 

Did St. Jake ever publish his sermon on the confessions he heard from the girls at the real fancy whore house? I’m sure they’d be full of wise counsel, and would love it if you could put it on the website.

Thank you in anticipation, 

Frotty Pinkerton     

Adlermaston.

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