Around here we got a habit of classifying any and all manner of machinery as “female.” I don’t know why, that’s just the way it’s always been. Truck, car, tractor, still, makes no difference, “The ol’ girl,” or “Fire her up,” are common phrases. If she refuses to start or breaks down, then things get a might personal, “That ol’ heifer up and quit on me” we might say. But we can be equally as forgiving, if you make it back home on a dark night you might give her a pat on the fender as you utter a loving, “atta girl.” My little girl named my truck “Big Blue,” Bi-weekly trips to Chemotherapy take about four hours driving each way. But when I finally get back home I never fail to proclaim to the wife that, ” the ol’ girl got there and back one more time.”
Mikey’s family is no different, he views his papaw’s still with a fearful reverence, she scares him. In the story, the still has a menacing personality, he compares the noises she makes to breathing, when shes’ cold, shes’ sleeping, waiting for the old man to wake her up.
Below is a few paragraphs from Chapter : 11 titled “Karma is a fickle mistress”
To most folk, it’s just an old shed full of hog feed and tools. An old weather-worn building that looks like it might collapse at any moment. But don’t let appearances fool ya. Its true purpose lies hidden just inside. On the left just behind a weather weary 6-panel door. The ol’ man keeps it pretty well hidden with sacks of feed and rolls of barbed wire to block the entrance.
I had to make sure and study how every sack and spool was stacked or placed. If even a single one was out of place, the ol’ buzzard would know some-one had messed with them for sure.
I poked my head out one last time, making sure I wasn’t seen, then quickly went to work. I was on a strict timeline cause the old man was sure to notice if I took too long. Once I had enough sacks moved to the side, I opened the door.
There she was, the dim light gave the still a menacing appearance. The bottom was covered in black soot, scars from years of coal fires. Her copper skin had turned an ugly shade of olive brown from age, it’s no telling how old she was. A large coil of copper tubing spiraled down-ward from the top of her large belly and into the top of the smaller “thump keg.” (so named because of the thumping sound it makes when steam enters from the coil.) Another coil of smaller diameter called the “worm,” came from the top of that tank and curled its way into a barrel. It’s empty now but gets filled with cool spring water when the ol’ man is a cooking.
The spaces between the boards allowed streaks of dusty sunlight to play strange tricks on the eyes. In this setting, it was easy to believe she was alive. Sleeping for now but waiting for the ol’ man to come and wake her up again. On the back wall sat jar after jar of clear liquid. Realizing I had lost some time staring at the still, I picked up my pace a bit. My heart was beating out of my chest and I could feel each beat in my head. I stuck a shaky hand into my pocket and pulled out the first bottle.
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