Joe "Mumble Jumble" Calloway

by Margie Shaheed

"Wat's yo' name?
Puddin' tain
Axe me again
Ah'll tell you the same"

Mumble Jumble Joe has a fondness for wearing ice-cream colored suits with matching shoes. He trades in his old Cadillac for a new one every few years. Gold chains swing from his neck and wrists. Diamonds decorate his fingers. If you look closely, you'll see a Chicago bank roll bulging in his right pants pocket. That's what we call it when a slickster wraps a single $20 dollar bill around a hand full of ones.

Now, don't get me wrong, Mumble Jumble Joe is a hard working man—drives trucks all over the land—but there ain't no water in the well. Hell, he'll tell you himself, "Ima skeezer pleaser! Jus' need a lil' bit of sunshine cuz Ah got a good woman at home." Once, a skeezer asked Mumble Jumble Joe what a woman would have to do to make him leave his wife. He angrily stammered out, "Dats bullshit. There ain't nothin' another woman can do to make me leave mah good ass wife. Ah don't care if she's got a kootchie under both arm pits!

His wife is a nurse who demands his pay checks up front. He's glad to oblige and she in turn doles him out a weekly allowance. Really, she's what we call a two ass woman—one ass to sit on and the other ass to go out and work for her. For this one act alone he gets absolutely no respect from the other men in the bar. In fact, they laugh at him and even call him an ass to his face. But, never no mind, he laughs right along with them for he knows all he has to do is click his heels and he's home—the rent is paid, the lights are on, he's got fine clothes to wear, lots of food to eat, and a new car to drive every other year. Now, who's really the fool?

But, I guess you're wondering why we call him Mumble Jumble Joe? Well, it seems like when he talks he bites down hard on his words, chew them up into tight gummy balls and spits them out on the floor. In other words, you can't understand a damn thing the man is saying. You can tell though when he's dishing dirt because his words turn sharp corners and sneak into a whisper—seems like he has no business of his own to speak of.

But, you know people. They try to be polite and hear him out but when folks have had enough of scratching their heads, asking, "huh? what chu say?" and when the eternal words of Popeye ricochet off their ears, "that's all I can stands, cuz I caint stands n'more!"—those who know him best simply climb over the boulders mounting at his feet—grab a pogo stick off of the wall, and jump to the other side of the room.

Joe "Mumble Jumble" Calloway by Margie Shaheed

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