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Shrimp 'n Grits

Riley at the Bat
Lee Walton

The outlook wasn't hopeful for the Charleston nine that day;
The Sofa Store was full with flames, with but one more prayer to say.
And then when one hose dried of thirst, and another did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the firemen from everywhere that came.

A straggling few got out before the flames engulfed the air.
The rest clung to that hope which springs eternal for brothers in despair.
The few that knew, prayed "Don’t let ‘Rusty’ take command, with brains but where he sat,
we'd even pitch in Riley now, with ‘Rusty’ doing that.”

But Gallant preceded “Rusty”, as did also Lewis Waring;
and the former was a hoodoo, while the latter had just quit caring.
So upon that stricken multitude, grim melancholy rose,
for there seemed but little chance, if “Rusty” grabbed a hose.

Then Jimmy let out a manly whine, to the wonderment of all.
And Lewis, the much despised, just wore the mantle of a fraud.
And when the smoke had lifted, and we saw what had occurred,
there was Jimmy safe at City Hall and Lewis Waring, Riley’s nerd.

Then from a hundred thousand throats there rose a lusty yell;
it rumbled all through Council, even ringing Riley’s bell;
it pounded through the P&C and recoiled half way to Hell;
for “Rusty”, “Good Old Boy Rusty”, was probably looking at a cell.

There was bile in “Rusty's” manner as he rose to face his fate,
there was “Rusty's” mea culpa, as a smile lit Riley's face.
And when, responding to the jeers, Joe slyly showed up late,
no stranger in the crowd could doubt it was “Rusty” used as bait.

A hundred thousand eyes on Riley as he rubbed his hands in glee.
Ten thousand tongues now cursed him as he sneered for all to see.
Then, while the growing law suits round City Hall did swirl,
defiance flashed in Riley's eye, he cheered for Rileyworld.

And now the truth of cover-up came hurtling through the air,
as Riley stood a-watching in his haughty grandeur there.
Close by the crafty “Little Joe”, the truth unheeded sped --
"That ain't my style," said Riley. "Strike one!" the Reaper said.

From talk-shows and the lesser press there came a rising roar,
like the beating of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore.
"It’s him! It’ him, the cause of all!" shouted those who had once ran,
and it's likely they’d have thrashed him, but for Riley’s fairy clan.

With a smile of cunning clarity, sly Riley's visage shone,
he stilled the rising tumult; he bade his shame be gone.
He signaled to the Reaper, and once more his lies did spew,
but Riley still ignored the truth, and the Reaper said, "Strike two!"

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, still more echoes answered "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Riley and his crony’s were still awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his eyeballs strain,
and they knew he’d not leave City Hall; it was his claim to fame.

A sneer then flashed on Riley's lips; his teeth were clenched in hate.
He pounded with cruel violence; he spat upon his fate.
And then the Reaper dealt the cards, and Riley bet to show,
with all his lies laid shattered by a force he was late to know.

Oh, somewhere in this Southern Town the sun is shining bright.
The Symphony’s is still playing, as more tourists come for the sights.
And, somewhere nine men are laughing, at the king without his clout,
for there is finally joy in Rileyworld -
”Little Joe” has been kicked out.