Balm for the Soul
Bev Vines-Haines
Dorsal Winner

  "Miz Gordon, did you make this concoction?"  Prosecutor Mason Grigsby paced in front of the oak witness chair.  He held up a Mason jelly jar filled with rusty-colored goo. 

"Yes, sir.  Least it looks like mine.  I make salve.  Comfrey salve for wounds and bruises.  Hot pepper salve for sore muscles.  Red clover salve for Mama's tumor and turmeric salve for hemorrhoids."  Shasta Gordon squinted.  "Can I smell it?" Grigsby unscrewed the lid. A strong odor of lard, camphor and red clover wafted through the room.

She nodded.  "Yup, that's mine."

"We know about your salves, little lady.  But this stuff?  It's downright dangerous.  Did you tell your Mama it would cure her cancer?"

"No, sir.  I said it would shrink her lumps.  And it did."

"It did?"

"Yes, sir."

"And then you sold it to Miz Jewel Tarpley for her woman parts?"

"What?"

"Her privates, Miz Gordon.  She has cancer in her privates and you told her this would cure her?"  

"No, sir.  I don't sell my salve.  And I never know what it will cure."

"Would you be surprised to know I've got affidavits from six different people?  All telling me they bought this stuff?"

"They bought it from Mama."

"Your mother is dead, Miz Gordon.  Not much of a testimony for your product, is it?"

"Would be if she'd used it instead of selling it.  None of the rest of them are dead, are they?"

"No, Miz Gordon, they are not."

"So what's the problem?"

"The problem is you can't cure cancer without a license.  Are you a doctor?"

"No, sir."

"A medical person of any sort?  Say a nurse?  A paramedic?  A dental hygienist? A Veterinarian?"

"No, sir."

"And yet you provided this goop?" He held it up again.  "This salve as you call it?"

"Indirectly."  She shifted in the chair.  "But aren't all those people well?  Healthy?"

"Not the point.  Takes a lot of tests to prove that.  And none of them will go."

"Why?" His face turned red.  "Because they're feeling fine...at the moment."

"So?  What's the problem?  Can't you just let me go?"

"Hardly.  Like I said, you can't go around curing people without a license.  No x-rays, no CAT scans, no tests of any kind.  It's criminal."

She looked across the courtroom and saw five or six doctors from the county hospital.  They glared. 

"Mr. Grigsby, don't we want to see people healed?"

He leaned close and she caught a whiff of the odd odor she'd smelled on Mama's breath.  "Not without a license, Miz Gordon.  You are going to jail." 

She sighed.  "Mama always said I'd come to no good end."


First published: May, 2006
comments to the writer: Knob'sWriter@iceflow.com