Just Like His Daddy by C. Ciccozzi

Jimmy Ray Jamison was the luckiest cuss I’d ever known.

He was little when that spider bit him, and his leg swelled up bigger than a turkey on steroids. If Rita hadn’t gotten her boy to the doctor when she did, she would a gone from jilted mama to plain ole dumped, just like that.

He was about seventeen when he got hit outta the blue by lightning. Not a cloud in the sky, yet a bolt blazed into that street fair, smack dab into him. You’d a thought Jimmy Ray’d had a bull’s eye taped to his Stetson. Everybody figured he’d spend his days drooling down his bibbed overalls, yet all he got was a permanent wave to his copper-colored hair. If that was me, I’d a been left ogling the Gerber Baby while Mama spoon-fed me strained peas.

Jimmy Ray had a way with the ladies, too – inherited, no doubt, from his lying, cheating daddy – even though that ugly birthmark is there for all to see.

Couple years back, he cashed his paycheck at Hannah’s Hooch House and charmed Miss Hannah into letting him buy a lottery ticket. He said it wouldn’t do no harm since he’d “be legal tomorrow, anyhow.” The next day, the birthday boy turned on the TV and went to fetch his ticket. Rita was washing clothes, and he asked if she’d seen it. She shook her head “no” then let out a gasp and ran to the Maytag. Sure enough, there it was – stuck in wet gobs all over the fresh-cycled clothes.

She hadn’t meant to throw his money down the drain, but he was hopping mad and didn’t wanna hear none of her flimsy excuses. She felt so bad, she took the money she’d saved for church and walked down to Hannah’s to buy another ticket.

That next Saturday, Jimmy Ray won two million bucks!

He forgave Rita for, “neglectin’ to check my pockets before dumpin’ them britches willy-nilly into the wash” and paid her back the price of the ticket. She looked at Jimmy Ray with her adoring eyes. “Go have a good time with all that money, son. Nobody deserves it more than my Jimmy Ray!”

The first thing he did was buy a bunch of stuff he didn’t need. Then he entertained a lot of women he shouldn’t a been entertaining. Eventually he got bored with his hard drinking, partying ways. Me being his uncle and all, I suggested he spend some cash to make something of himself. I figured he was as likely to take my advice as I was to get fake boobs and learn to ride a unicycle. Imagine my surprise, though, when he went off to college to learn how to be a psychologist; said folks in town needed their heads examined, and he didn’t see why he shouldn’t be the one “reapin’ the benefits of their maladjustments.” Already he was using fancy words.

Jimmy Ray called saying his mind was wandering back to Laurie Ann, the girl he tried to woo in high school. Seems she had enough sense to peg him for what he was – a lying, selfish horndog. I tried to get him to realize she was too smart to put up with his partying and fooling around, but I might as well have been talking to that clover over there. He said he could change for his “soul mate,” a name I thought was silly to call somebody who wouldn’t a gave him directions if he’d bought her a hat and handed her tickets to Disneyland.

Jimmy Ray’s first client was Bertha Jones; seemed nobody’d listen to her unless she paid ‘em. She’s known to have a mouth bigger than the Grand Canyon, so it wasn’t a surprise when she blabbed the minute her foot hit the sidewalk. Said her psychologist was the best thing that happened to her since she won second to last place in that Pillsbury Bake Off contest years ago. Before long half the town was taking turns spilling their guts on Jimmy Ray’s couch.

One evening Laurie Ann called him saying she’d been laid off and did he need somebody to schedule his appointments and such. Being with his “soul mate” five days a week gave Jimmy Ray time to charm her, and she was convinced he’d stopped womanizing. He even cut out the booze, which his mama said was “a miracle in itself, Praise the Lord.”

Ten months ago, the youngsters said “I do.”

Well, yesterday Lady Luck flipped Jimmy Ray the bird. While we were standing inside his front door talking, the buzzer rang. I didn’t recognize the woman standing on his porch, and it didn’t look like he did neither. Her mouth scrunch up when she looked at my nephew’s blank stare. Then she lifted the blanket off the face of the baby she was holding and propped the little fella up for us to see.

The noise that came out of Jimmy Ray’s throat reminded me of those damned birds that hang around the courthouse and crap all over everybody – kind of a loud screech. I took a closer look, wheezed and went into a coughing fit. The kid’s birthmark was shaped like a deformed cow, matching the one on Jimmy Ray’s face to a Tee. Here’s the kicker: that baby couldn’t a been more than a week or two old.

I jerked around to face the son of my brother who swore up and down he’d changed his horndog ways. But Jimmy Ray was too busy sounding like a flock of sick birds to look me in the eye.

Then I heard the tap, tap, tapping of Laurie Ann’s shoes, and I turned to see her heading for us. She wore her welcoming grin, and I remember thinking the poor little darlin’ didn’t have an inklin’ how quick that big ole smile was about to fade away.

Damn you, Jimmy Ray!