Felton's Folly
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 by Frank Shortt
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        Jealousy is a terrible emotion! Once it becomes ingrained in someone, it becomes a cankerous sore that can only be healed by wreaking hurt on the other person involved.
        During the 50’s and 60’s it was very popular in the Southeastern United States to ‘take chances’ on what was called a punchboard. In this particular instance, the punchboard was constructed of heavy card stock with holes containing slips of paper that were punched out as a form of gambling, with the object of locating a winning slip. The winner of this particular board would receive a cheap pistol, probably not even worth the chance he had taken. The only winner in these games of chance was the perpetrator of the game itself.
        It was one of those hot, sultry summer afternoons so familiar in the Southeast. Men were either going to work in the coal mine for second shift, or else returning from the mine. Men greeted each other civilly, as each were sober, but who knows how they would greet each other after a few beers had been downed or a few games of pool had been won by one or the other?
        Uncle Felton entered the beer establishment of Quirt Jensen at Queen Mountain for the purpose of showing Quirt the wonderful prize he had just won. He had won the local punchboard contest consisting of a ‘Three Dollar Pistol’!
        “Hi Quirt, look what I just won!” Uncle Felton exulted.
        Quirt was not totally amazed as he had seen, and would see, many of these cheap Saturday Night Specials shown to him by men who were down on their luck and needed a few bucks for beer.
        Just as Quirt had finished examining the pistol, a man entered the parlor with, what appeared to be, his son in tow.
        “I’m the one who should have won that gun, he exclaimed, there was some cheating going on and that’s the reason that thieving Felton won it!”
        Without warning, the man, known as Ray Rimey, pulled a hunting knife stabbing Felton in the back. Ray was not a large man but was one of those skulking individuals, resembling an animal of prey. He did not even think of the impact that the results of this attack would have in the mind of his son. In his moment of rage, he did not think how this would affect his wife and other children. He did not think of the hated Richmond Penitentiary where he would have to spend, possibly the rest of his life. His only objective was to have the cheap pistol. He had heard who won the gun from the patron of another beer parlor. Since that time he had awaited the chance to hurt the winner of the accursed prize.
        Uncle Felton was a large man and required a lot of killing. He had been known to maim other men with his bare hands in former fights. He loved teasing kids and dogs. This sometimes provoked the ire of fathers and dog owners. Once in a while a dog would turn on him and his only alternative was to run up a tree. This did not make him a candidate for being killed over such a cheap object.
        Uncle Felton swore an oath as he turned with the firearm at readiness. Ray pulled his own son in front of him as protection from what he knew was coming. He backed out the door into the street, all the time keeping his human shield in front of him. Ray knew that if Felton ever got his hands on him, he was a goner, even if he was not shot. Uncle Felton chased him out and across the street then, because of loss of blood, fell, mortally wounded. All there, drunks and all, stood in awe of Ray’s cowardice, even if they were, or were not friends of Uncle Felton. The gun, upon examination by the authorities, was not even loaded!
        Ray was indicted for murder in the first degree. It was cited that he intentionally, and without remorse, had planned Uncle Felton’s demise. It is certain that his family became wards of the county and God only knows what became of the son who had witnessed the crime. It is hoped he did not follow in his father’s footsteps.
        Uncle Felton was buried atop Shortt Gap Mountain without fanfare. He is before a just God who is the judge of the living and the dead. He left three beautiful children and a lovely wife who bore the pangs of sorrow and the degradation of having to live in the same community where the tragedy took place.
        These same patterns of behavior keep repeating to this day by unthinking men and women. Tragedy after tragedy has heaped ‘the iniquity of the fathers’ upon our society. Mass murders continue to happen. Men keep blaming weapons. Does not someone have to man the weapon in order for it to kill? Will every form of weapon have to be outlawed?
        When will mankind ever change and what will it take to change them?