Friday, March 14, 2003

Arkansas has its own foibles too. Dry counties are a prime example. In dry counties alcoholic beverages cannot be sold or openly consumed. This creates two kinds of opportunities for Entrepreneurs: (1) Owning a dispensing joint on the very border of the closest wet county. (2) Delivering Spirits to those who don't find it convenient to visit the closest source of supply.
It was an established fact to law enforcement officers in the county that Uncle Bert was a traveling supplier of spirits. They were determined to run him out of the county at all costs. Uncle Bert stayed out of their clutches with an admirable mixture of brains, speed, and the luck of the Irish.
One day he was going down a dark alley when he noticed that he had been spotted by a local policeman. Uncle Bert hurried to the end of the alley, began ditching the bottles from his suitcase. But he was thinking even as he unloaded them -- that would leave him wagging an empty suitcase; a suspicious activity if there ever was one!
Uncle Bert's quick wits saved him. There was a little brown dog snuffling at the garbage can for food. Uncle Bert scooped him up and stuffed the dog inside his suitcase. Just then the policeman rounded the corner and Uncle Bert snapped the suitcase shut and began running. Now he may be old, but when Uncle Bert runs, he can pick them up and lay them down with vicious determination.
Whistles blew, sirens screamed, patrol cars screeched. It was Bert, Bert, Bert Wilkerson they were after and no matter how hard he dodged and fled, they finally ran him down in a blind alley.
"We've got you now Bert," they crowed. "We've got you dead to rights with the goods onye."
"No you ain't," Uncle Bert declared as he clutched his suitcase defensively to his chest.
"You've got whiskey in there. We know it. You know it. You know we know it."
By that time a sizable crowd had gathered, but most of them were customers of Uncle Bert's who had been waiting up on him. "Don't let them look in MY suitcase without probable cause," Uncle Bert pleaded with the crowd.
There was an angry growl from the crowd and everything might have been okay, but just then a tiny little trickle began dripping from the bottom end of the suitcase. The toughest policeman there stretched forth a hand and wetted a finger. Then he sucked the sauce off his finger. "It's whiskey," he yelled at the crowd behind his shoulder. "Open it up Bert!"
Every eye there was upon him as Uncle Bert kneeled and reluctantly opened up his suitcase. The dog jumped out at the first crack of light, yelping piteously as it ran off.
And the rest is history. Uncle Bert is still distributing his merchandise in the county; it was the police that left the state.

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