Jake The Hermit, MD

Life On The Back Page With Daryl Gay, October 2011

Daryl Gay | October 1, 2011

“Onts a checkout!”

OK. The blurted news from Ol’ Jake set my mind to whirling. And since I had a rough understanding of his language, I began to try and pick the phrase apart, reassemble the pieces and make some sense of it.

That he wanted something was evident not only by the “onts” — his terminology for “I want” — but in the gruff manner in which it was expressed. As if Jake ever had any other way than gruff.

On the other hand, I’m the only human being he will “ask” for or about anything. If Jake has a need or a question or simply a wild hair about any old topic on this planet or the one he spends his time on, he will materialize from his deep-woods recesses and turn it over to me.

But “checkout.” Hmmmmm…

“Just what is it you want to check out, Jake?” I asked, taking a tentative step toward a disastrous destination if ever there was one.

“Muself.” Seems we ain’t getting nowhere fast.

“You want to check out yourself?”

With a rip and a snort, he spit half a juicy tobacco field at my feet and tendered another one-word clue: “Sawbones.”

Oh, well. Why didn’t you say so to begin with?

“Check-UP! You want a check-up? From a real doctor? YOU?”

“That’s what I said ain’t it? Why you act so dumb?”

Technically, that was NOT what he said; secondly, Jake had always espoused about as much faith in duly-licensed medical personnel as I have in one-legged witch doctors. Obviously, an internal earthquake had rattled his pea brain off its Q-tip foundation.

So, I used the one sure-fire, never-fails trick to head this debacle off at the pass: “Before you go to a doctor, you have to take a bath.”

“You deal with the sawbones; I’ll deal with the creek,” was his reply before finally backtracking to where it all began. “I heerd about a man havin’ a heart attack a whiles back. He was a-draggin’ a deer home and his ticker plumb famoozled out on him. I’ve drug yore deers all over the countryside just for them few mouffuls of red meat you gives me. That there gun season opens up in a week or two, and I gots to be sure my pump don’t go to famoozlin’ when you has to have help.”

Who’s he kidding?

“Jake, you know as well as I do that I couldn’t shake you off a deer hunt with a paint mixer,” I replied with a touch of indignation. “And if you’d get a freezer, I’d keep it packed full of venison for you.”

“And just what is we gonna plug it into? A oak tree?”

Guess he had a point there. Not only did the local EMC not run a line to Jake’s shack; they didn’t have a clue which county it was in!

Oh, boy; now I need a doctor…

In the waiting room, the old man clung to me like a terrified child, and I felt plumb sorry for him. But that was before we saw the receptionist.

“That will be $40, and we will call you when the doctor is ready,” she stiffly informed me. Maybe she could have come across a mite friendlier, because you just never know with Jake; something touches a nerve and he tends to blurt out whatever’s on his mind.

“Like gas ain’t it?” he snorted.

“Excuse me sir, but is that one of your symptoms?” she asked, pen poised.

“Naw, I ain’t never had no symptoms, ner cousins neither fer that matter,” Jake replied, then pointed to me. “He’s jes’ mah only friend what brung me here a hour ago.”

There was no use trying to differentiate symptoms from siblings, but she wouldn’t let it go.

“But you said you had gas. Is it painful?”

“Nawwww, I said it’s LIKE gas. We stops on the way here to get gas for the Bronco, and you have to pay up front there, too, then stand around whilst they turn the pump on. You don’t know just what it is you’re a-getting at the end of it all there, either. Waiting on you to holler my name is what’s painful. Now am I gonna get my checkout?”

I tossed a pair of bills through her porthole, then muscled him away. She was looking plumb bilous, as if maybe the MD should prescribe Ma’s “sody” for her.

“Jake, I hissed, “if you don’t check out you’re gonna get knocked out and there won’t be a check-up, there will be a check-in — to the hospital! Got that?”

“I ain’t feered of her…” But I cut him off.

“That gal comes around that counter, and she’s gonna make you look like one of my deers that has been dragged a far piece.” (Oh no! Now he’s got me talking like him!)

Fortunately, it was then that a very nice young nurse sang out, “Mister, Jake!”

Scared him so bad I thought he’d wet himself.

“You gonna take me back there and stay with me???”

“Are you crazy, Jake? What do you need me for?”

“Well, I think I may be having one of them famoozles right now. And if I drops, I want you to be the one what drags me home.”

Who could turn down a plea like that? Or loosen the death grip he had on my legs?

So I went, and translated for the doctor, who proved to be an understanding guy and a jam-up MD.

“Well, Mister Jake,” he soon informed the old hermit, “I believe you’re gonna be doing your duty in the woods for years to come. Drag whatever you please, but drag yourself in here every year or so and let me look you over. See the receptionist on the way out the front.”

But the hermit had other ideas.

“Doc, I’ve lived a long time in the woods by avoidin’ trouble every chanst I got. I seen her on the way in. If it’s all the same to you, we’ll just drag ourselves out the side door…”


Order your copy of Daryl Gay’s books, “Rabbit Stompin’ And Other Homegrown Safari Tactics,” $19.95 plus $3 S&H and “Life On the Back Page,” $14.95 plus $3 S&H from or 16 Press, 219 Brookwood Drive, Dublin, GA, 31021.

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.