Monday, October 10, 2005

The Ballad of Louis LaRue

This is a tale of the Old Wild West when the century was fixin’ to turn,
And an old vagabond with a watch on his vest and a face both weathered and stern.
Louis LaRue was the traveler’s name, and medicine his trade and his stock.
He came from New York with his charlatan’s game, and everyone just called him “Doc.”

He rolled into town on an old sorrel mare and a wagon with tonic and salve,
An old bowler hat o’er brown thinning hair, to see what the locals would have.
“I’ve nostrums and cure-alls and snake-oil galore! Elixirs — all bona fide!
“I’ve linaments, powders not seen before,” A crowd gathered, eyes growing wide.

“Step right on up!” was the mountebank’s call, “Tell me your ills and I vow
“I’ll cure you right here before God and all with what’s in these bottles, right now!
“Your hair’s falling out? Your bowels are loose? No wonder you’re miserable sore!
“Set it aright with Kick-a-Poo Juice — If it don’t work, come back for more!”

The townsfolk came on with ache and with ill, with disease and sickness and hurt.
And Doc took ’em on with luck and with skill, or left ’em to die in the dirt.
“A liver,” “a spleen,” “a stomach ache,” “a horse hoof right to the head.”
“A bunion,” “a boil,” “you are a fake,” “and you are better off dead.”

He took lots of cash and passed out his brew, his pockets grew full with the coin
But even dispensing the tonic, he knew that by sundown he must be a-goin’.
For he knew that he was a fraud and a fake, his medicine — sugar and booze.
And if he stayed on, more money to make, in the end, he’d more likely lose.

He knew all of the folks that he’d treated were blind with belief and with trust
And once they found out they’d been cheated, he hoped all that they’d see was his dust.
But each single case he promised he’d cure with his potions or poultice or pill.
“My word is my bond, it works, yes, I’m sure — why look at me! Do I look ill?”

Word spread, his remedies grew in renown as a cure for sickness and cares.
The folks came in droves from all over town to sample his full-bodied wares.
Everyone tried it, man, woman and child for ailments they were trying to lick.
Even the parson’s lips were defiled, and some people weren’t even sick.

So, he stayed in town a day and a half, lured by gainful acclaim,
And greedily, then, he worked at his graft and continued to wildly declaim:
“Influenza,” “measles,” “croup,” “la grippe,” — no condition too big or too small.
“Whimsy,” “dropsy,” “broken hip,” Doc LaRue’s remedy treated ’em all.

And, lo and behold, they were willing to pay, all those people he thought he had rooked.
For, he had stayed on that extra half-day, and now the whole town, it was hooked.
Folks would all guzzle it down then come back more likely than not,
For the treatment was like a night on the town — and ’ol Doc got a dollar a shot.

And, to his surprise, people got better as they greedily soaked up his cure.
That little dry town was a little bit wetter, the folks more besotted for sure.
And Doc was not run out on a rail, instead he was invited to stay
And sell his potion by bucket and pail for as long as his patrons could pay.

So, his remedies did have the power to heal — and the scoundrel got rich to boot.
Folks kept on drinking, they got a good deal, and Doc came away with the loot.
But Doc was amazed, “This isn’t a cure! Why would anyone drink it?”
The truth is just a little obscure: to get better, you just have to think it.

Let these words be a lesson to you if you’ve goods of your own to flaunt,
If you want to get rich like Louis LaRue, give folks the dope that they want.
’Cause in the end, despite all your twaddle, most folks are still a bit blind.
It doesn’t matter what’s in the bottle, it’s only what’s in the mind.

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