Friday, May 8, 2020

Quest: The apple-pie and coffee cure

Tobit Current was a ruggedly built man of about 5’8”. While not bulky, Tobit gave the impression he could plow or hand-saw wood or pitch hay for 14 hours a day. Indeed, those were events he did not consider exceptionally arduous. They were simply tasks that had to be done in their appropriate time.

His face was ruddy from being out in the cold and he had a mid-length beard of a rusty brown, unstreaked by gray.

Shaking his hand, Steve felt like he was gripping a two-by-four, so hard were the callouses and unyielding the muscles of the farmer’s hand.

In fact, Tobit Current was the standard issue, common, Amish farmer.

“I need to have a quick word with my husband” Eddy said. A quick look sent the children clustered outside the kitchen door scattering.

A minute later, Mr. and Mrs. Current came back into the kitchen.

“Mr. Straeder, I need a hand to help me in the woodshed. Malachi, I need to have you come, too” Farmer Current said. It was not a question or a request any more than the force of gravity “requests” that a stone fall when dropped.

Steve shrugged into his coat while Malachi donned his. Then the three of them walked out to the woodshed.

“Malachi, walk behind us” Tobit said.

As they walked across the yard to the woodshed, Farmer Current gave Steve several appraising looks.

Entering the woodshed, a cozy place out of the wind, Farmer Current started to talk.

“My wife is rarely wrong” he started. “She seen something in you and asked me to look into it. She thinks you have a problem and so do I.”

Steve didn’t know what to say. Sure everybody had problems. Who didn’t? But it seemed awefully bold and forward for this stranger to say as much.

“Malachi is subject to the same problem” Farmer Current plowed forward in a straight line. “We know how to fix it. Malachi, tell him about your problem.”

Malachi blushed with the ferocious intensity of a shy teenager. He looked to be all of fourteen and he was being asked to discuss something very private in front of a total stranger.

“Sometimes, I can’t number-two.” Malachi said.

Steve frowned as he attempted to decipher the information.

“I beg your pardon.” Steve said.

“I can’t BM” the young man said. The word came out sounding like Bee-um.

Steve’s frown deepened.

“I can’t poop!” the teen blurted out.

“I ain’t saying you can or you can’t” Farmer Current said to Steve “But I seen you as you walked out here to the shed. So did Malachi.”

“Malachi, do you think Mr. Straeder has your problem?” Farmer Current asked.

Malachi nodded. “He walked just like I have to walk.”

Farmer Current looked Steve in the eye. “When was the last time you had a solid, satisfying dump and what have you been eating?”

Inside the house, Eddy and Sally were having a similar, if more delicate conversation about the same subject.

Neither of them had been Number-2ing well ever since Sperry when they started riding the wagon all day. And neither of them had a significant “dump” in the last four days, about the time when white rice had become the major part of their diet.

Eddy, kindly, informed Sally that the Current family had expertise in treating this kind of problem. Furthermore, Eddy told Sally that the problem needed to be dealt with because it had the potential to be fatal.

“What made you think to ask?” Sally wondered out-loud.

“A bunch of little things. The way you picked at your food. The way you carried yourself when you walked. But what made me add it all together was how grumpy you were. My Malachi is not fit for human company when he is bound up.”

The family was more than happy to help with the therapy. For one thing, Eddy Current had found the most effective medicine was for the patient to eat half of an apple pie. And if Eddy was going to make one pie, well, she was going to fill the oven and make a half dozen of them. She had plenty of hands willing to peel the apples.

The Current family’s well tapped into a dolomite formation and the water was rich in magnesium. There was no need for Epsom salts. Eddy Current set a timer and had Sally and Steve each drink a tumbler of excellent, Iowa well-water every thirty minutes.

“I know how it is when you are traveling, especially for a woman. You don’t want to drink a lot of water because there is no place to stop and use the water closet” Eddy said.

“There is no excuse to not drink water while you are here. The water closet is just over there” Eddy said, pointing to the classic outhouse that was downwind from the house.

In spite of the apple pie and extreme amounts of water, neither Sally or Steve had “moved” by morning.

“There is one more thing we can try before we have to give you an enema” Mr Current said. Sally, Steve and Malachi all winced at the word.

“What is that?” Steve asked.

“Coffee. We keep some for medicinal purposes. Coffee and sweeping.”

The coffee opened the flood-gates. It was fortunate that the Tobit Current family outhouse was a two-holer because there were times when both Sally and Steve both had an urgent need for a place to purge.

At one point, Steve said “We have to stop meeting this way.”

Sally flashed Steve an impish grin and said “I like you a whole lot better now that you are not full of shit.”

Steve said “I completely agree. I like me a whole bunch better when I am not full of shit.”



  1. I must confess, joe, that in my reading fiction for the past 65 years or so I have never encountered a sub-plot quite like this before. Quite inventive and original. My compliments.---ken

  2. Hysterically funny because it's true. A clean colon is a happy colon.

  3. Well played, sir. Well played! That was definitely an interesting 'twist'!

  4. My daughter and S.I.L. have been staying with us for the past 7 weeks. My daughter has always suffered from this. But neither has been recently, since they've been drinking my coffee. I use a very light roast, very rich (blend of Columbian and Kona), fresh ground from frozen bean every morning. Fun fact: Caffeine is a terrific bowel stimulant. Another Fun fact: Caffeine content degrades with heat - the darker the roast, the less caffeine the coffee bean has. I've been drinking this blend for 35 years. They are converts! The strongest coffee comes from the lighter roasts.


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