BRENTSVILLE, Tennessee –
“He seemed like a great guy,” said Mayor Sam Cannon, formerly of Brentsville, Tennessee. “Mayor Sam,” as everyone in town calls him, didn’t move away from Brentsville; Brentsville moved away from him.
It all began last spring, when “Uncle Joe, Motivational Surgeon” came to town.
“I never heard of that before,” said Carol Cannon, First Lady of what was once Brentsville. “He said he cured bad moods with laughter and joy medicine. That was his ‘surgery.’ Everyone liked him – children, the shut-ins, even our town sourpuss managed to smile when Uncle Joe came around.”
Joe Castle, the self-described “Motivational Surgeon” was just what the town of Brentsville needed. In 2008, the town’s candle factory went out of business after the price of wax tripled. When the factory shut down, it seemed as though the soul of the town shut down with it. One month later, “Uncle Joe” showed up with a suitcase and a twinkle in his eye.
“He did birthday parties for free, he sang songs at the retirement home, he even donated the most blood at our Founder’s Day blood drive,” said Mayor Sam. “I thought he was gonna pass out.”
“He never missed a trick,” added Carol. He remembered everything — always asking how people were doing in your family — we felt we had to do something for him. That’s when I got the idea to give him the key to the city. I just took this old key I found, and spray painted it gold and put some sparkles on it. I’m into arts and crafts. This whole thing is all my fault,” she sighed.
“Uncle Joe” never missed a trick indeed. He noticed the name stamped on the back of the key – “Brentsville Safe Co.” – the very same safe company that manufactured the bank’s main vault on Main Street.
“We had a big celebration at Brentsville Park. We haven’t had a parade like that in this town since the President came to town. President Roosevelt, I mean,” said the Mayor. “The next morning we got up and everything was gone. He wiped us out. That bastard played us like a fiddle!” he said.
“Language, Sam!” admonished Carol.
“I don’t care, that’s what he was, a two-faced, snake oil selling bastard! He took everything we had, including the town charter and incorporation papers! Bastard, bastard, bastard!”
After regaining his composure, Mayor Cannon said Uncle Joe was probably an old-school ‘flim-flam’ man who found out the candle factory had gone out of business, then decided to take advantage of the good nature of a vulnerable town.
“Just can’t trust people anymore,” said Cannon. “Now we have to merge with Barkley Heights, across the river. Bad enough they beat us in wrestling every year. If that candle factory hadn’t gone out of business, we’d be ok. I blame the wax lobby fat cats up in Washington.”
“Oh, Sam,” said Carol. “There’s no such thing. C’mon inside and have a cup of tea. After all, it’s not the end of the world.”
Sam followed Carol inside the house. “Bastard!” he exclaimed, as he slammed the screen door behind him.