Eulogy for Popcorn

Consider so many zipped-off mason jar lids, spun like metal moons across glass-threaded throats. And consider the bobbing Adams apples and the burn and the teary-eyed buzz: fuzzy in the brain center, smiling, warm-in-the-pants.

"Hit's Popcorn's, by god."

"They!"

Wet lips, flicking tongue.

"Gimme one more hit."

"I ain't got but this much."

"That ain't Popcorn's, neither. Gimme one more shot, just to see."

And consider Sill Jackson, slipping out for a smoke while his daughter sleeps and his wife sits in the living room's TV blue.

Underpants and slippers and V-neck, he yanks open the cellar maw and limps down the stairs until he stands squinting, hand visored against the low-watt yellow bulb hanging above him. He pulls down the last jar he'll ever have—he's been a one-quart-a-year man for 20 years—and he unzips the lid and takes a sniff, his cigarette punk long and teetering, threatening to fall into the clear corn liquor.

It's only a sniff this time, though: There's weight now, value in this last bottle, so he lids the jar and shuffles upstairs and once abed, just before sleep, while his wife lies lights-out beside him, he wonders if Crow, his cellar-down sippin' buddy, knows that he has one jar left.

One jar of the good stuff.

Popcorn's.

I better move it to a safe place, he thinks, and maybe have me just one hork while I'm down there …

Ben White, Knoxville