by Gary F. Jones
GENRE: Family humor, mystery
When Wisconsin veterinarian Doc dies, his family learns that to inherit his fortune, they must decipher the cryptic codicil he added to his will—“Take Doofus squirrel-fishing”—and they can
only do that by talking to Doc’s friends, reading the memoir Doc wrote of a Christmas season decades earlier, searching through Doc’s correspondence, and discovering clues around them. Humor abounds as this mismatched lot tries to find time in their hectic lives to work together to solve the puzzle. In the end, will they realize that fortune comes in many guises?
Doc’s Codicil is a mystery told with gentle humor. It tells the story of a veterinarian who teaches his heirs a lesson from the grave.
It was late November, and every breath turned to fog, as I waited and watched a five-hundred-pound calf sniffing a trail of cow patties leading from his pen to a narrow chute. The chute, fifty feet long and bordered by steel rails, curved gently to the right and ended in a head gate that would catch and hold the calf. Once we released the calf, another alley would return him to his pen.
We’d been trying to turn a group of calves into the chute, and they’d been deftly avoiding it. I stood quietly, getting cold and hoping “Sniffer” would decide he’d found a trail used by other cattle and follow it. Two other calves watched their companion and lunged to get ahead of him. They weren’t sure about the alley, but they’d be damned if they’d let Sniffer go there, or anywhere else, ahead of them.
Sniffer bolted toward the chute to stay in the lead. Now, we had three calves stuck in an opening two calves wide. All we wanted to do was vaccinate them and send them back to their pen, which should have taken ten seconds per calf, but we’d been working for half an hour and hadn’t vaccinated one. This is why cattlemen learn to weave torrid tapestries of profanity.
A few minutes of prodding and profanity and Sniffer pushed ahead of his mates and raced down the alley, pursued by the others. He’d gone barely five yards before he skidded to a halt and desperately tried to back up . . .
Gary F. Jones – Why I write the kinds of books I do
I write humor because it comes easily to me, and if you’re trying to deliver a message or a lesson, it generally goes down easier if people are in a good mood. All of us do so many careless and stupid things that we have little choice but to laugh or cringe, and laughing feels better. I learned early that humor can buffer unpleasant experiences and make bad days go faster.
An example is the time my wife and children talked me into going camping. Guys like me, men raised on farms, don’t grow up to be campers. We’ve already seen as much of the great outdoors as we care to. A cheap motel without a swimming pool is as close to roughing it as I want to be on a vacation. They talked me into going camping once, and even my kids agreed it was a mistake.
We had a little alcohol stove to cook with. The first morning camping, I tried to light the stove to heat milk for our daughter’s hot chocolate. She was three at the time and hell to be around if she didn’t have her morning chocolate.
The stove wouldn’t light. I thought it must have been out of alcohol. I held my hand over it to make sure it wasn’t lit and began pouring alcohol into it from a metal gallon can. That’s when one of our boys said, “Daddy, look at the pretty flame.”
Flame raced up the stream of alcohol and disappeared into the can. A fraction of a second later the remaining alcohol was forced out of the can under pressure and the can exploded in my hands.
Drop and roll doesn’t work when you’re soaked in a highly flammable liquid.
I’ll skip the first day of treatment, except to say that morphine doesn’t do much for skin pain. If you think you’ve experienced real pain but didn’t pass out from it, you weren’t even close to the serious stuff.
It was a Sunday, so the physician on duty in the emergency room became my doctor. I had deep second degree and a few third degree burns over 17 % of my body, primarily on my legs; my doctor specialized in removing tumors from the rectum and colon. Go figure.
My doctor came from a rigidly formal culture and spoke English as a second language. Each morning he’d come into my hospital room, nod gravely toward me, inspect the nurse’s records from the previous day, take a look at my bandaged legs, nod gravely, and leave. Never said a word.
After three days of this, I tried to strike up a conversation. “Doc,” I said. “I know you’re a colorectal specialist and it was a stupid stunt that put me here, but does this mean you guys think I’m a flaming ass?”
He ignored my question, turned on his heel, and left the room. The following morning, his resident came to my doorway, and after some hesitation, entered and examined my legs. I saw my doctor’s hands pushing the poor guy into my room. My doctor never saw me again. Two weeks later I was put under the care of a plastic surgeon for skin grafting.
My point? Humor was what kept me going from day to day. I hope it helps others over rough spots.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
According to Gary Jones, his life has been a testament to questionable decisions and wishful thinking. His wife of forty years, however, says she knows of nothing in the record to justify such unfettered optimism. Jones says the book is a work of fiction; that’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.
He’s part of the last generation of rural veterinarians who worked with cows that had names and personalities, and with dairymen who worked in the barn with their families. He’s also one of those baby boomers, crusty codgers who are writing their wills and grousing about kids who can be damned condescending at times.
Gary practiced bovine medicine in rural Wisconsin for nineteen years. He then returned to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, earned a PhD in microbiology, and spent the next nineteen years working on the development of bovine and swine vaccines.
Doc’s Codicil is the bronze medal winner of Foreward’s INDIEFAB Book of The Year awards, humor category.
BQB Publishing: https://bqbpublishing.com/product/docs-codicil/
Gary F. Jones will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.