The Post and Courier Prize
Winter 2005
George Pope

Meeting Miss Mississippi (Columbus, Mississippi, Circa 1961)

Me, I prefer a ten inch piece
of bicycle chain,” postured John Albert
to the dishwater blonde
who was getting younger and prettier
with each passing beer
spiked from a mason jar of moonshine
buried deep in her purse.
“In a fair fight, I wrap it around my fist
but if knives come out,
I can snap a wrist before
you can spit,” he prattled on.
  
“I use this,” the blonde replied,
reaching past the moonshine
to produce a small black pistol.
“Now look, I know what you boys
really want, but for a real party,
we need real whiskey.”
  
(Could she really be Miss Mississippi?)
  
John Alber and I looked at each other
then pooled our last five dollars and thirteen cents,
enough for a pint of Early Times,
and he went to find the backseat bootlegger
only to return with a goofy grin.
“I got this instead,” he proudly exclaimed,
waving a bottle of Thunderbird wine.
  
“You boys have got to learn,”
were Miss Mississippi's final words
as she moved to a table of leather-jacketed bikers.
©2005 George Pope