Ken Babbs

We were going down to the swamp to split some wood. He looked me over.
"You've got your gloves, don't you?"
"You kidding? I don't take a leak without putting on my gloves."
"If I had a dick like that I'd wear gloves too."
Ha ha. He was always pulling one on me. We arrived at the pile we'd bucked up the day before. He used a wedge and sledge. I was a maul man. He set the wedge and pecked at it with his sledge until the round of wood split down the middle. Then he split each piece in two the same way.
I set a round up and lifted the maul high over my head and brought it down hard enough to split the round in half with one whack. If the wood was straight grained. Twisted, it took more than one whack. Sometimes a lot more.
He reached back with his sledge getting another round and swung the nine pound head close to me.
"Watch it," I said. "You're liable to squash my balls with that thing.'
"I didn't think you wanted any more kids anyway," he said.
Har har. I let it pass and we started in again. After while he said, "You know, you'd save a lot of energy using a wedge and sledge instead of that maul."
"Yeah, but it would take twice as long."
"Twice as long as what? You're not going any faster than I am."
"You kidding me? There's no way you can split wood with a wedge and sledge faster than I can with a maul."
"You want to bet?"
"Does a fox suck eggs? Name your wager and make it easy on yourself."
"I'll go twenty bucks for twenty minutes."
"You're on."
He nodded and we set in. I grabbed those rounds and started whacking for all I was worth. I could hear him hitting at a steady beat. This was going to be a cinch. After a while I had to take off my sweat shirt. His forehead wasn't even damp. Pretty soon I was glancing at my watch. The twenty minutes were starting to drag. But I wasn't about to let up. I pushed it right to the end.
"That's it," I said. "Time's up."
He stepped back and surveyed the pile. "Well," he said. "I guess you hornswoggled me this time."
You bet I had. It wasn't even close. We'd split that whole pile and he hadn't done piddling. The wood around me was high as my waist. His came up to his ankles.
"Well come on," he said. "Let's throw the wood in the truck. We've got time to go down to Jim's Landing and have a drink. You can buy."
The flush of victory lasted about two minutes. It took me that long to realize I'd been hornswoggled again. He didn't rub it in though. It might make me more wary the next time.

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