WordPress’s Daily Prompt for today is “Scribble down the first ten words that come to mind. Pick three of them. There’s your post title. Now write!” I wrote down the words, decided to use the third, seventh and tenth, and the above is what I ended up with…
Jeb Culpepper III was a man with a vision.
He lived in Virginia, in the town of Old Smoky (in winter it was all covered in snow). Every homesteader in the town was growing tobacco, growing wealthy on the ill-health of others, and Jeb’s vision was to do that right along with them.
The problem was his land. His neighbours – the Winstons, the Marlboros and the Luckystrikes – all produced bumper annual harvests. His land, though, was an old Indian burial ground and therefore rumoured to be haunted, and while he did have a healthy annual crop of nettles, dandelions, briars and pond-scum, which was odd because he didn’t have a pond, only one type of tobacco leaf grew there. It was darker and more bitter than those grown by his neighbours. All attempts to market it as chewing tobacco failed because it tasted like crushed stoat.
One day he tried using it as snuff, and produced a sneeze that blew him backwards. Into his nettles.
The following morning, as if his problems weren’t bad enough, he looked in his shaving mirror and noticed – well, it was hard not to – that the wart that he had always had on the end of his nose (his mother had been a witch, just because the witch-hunts were a farce didn’t mean that there weren’t any) had turned blue. He cried out in horror, went back to bed and buried his disfigured face in his pillow.
The following morning the wart was gone.
He wondered about this, then a possible reason struck him. Hardly daring to hope, he went into town to the saloon and asked Old Warty McCoy to try some of his tobacco. Warty, whose name was simply short for ‘Stalwart’ (his siblings were Prudence, Temperance, Patience and Cynicism) told him to get stuffed, and directed him instead to Joshua “Pizza-face” Smith. After a few shots of whisky Joshua agreed to try the snuff, and his sneeze left the spittoon looking like a colander.
The next day Joshua looked like one of the guys from Avatar. The following day he arrived into the bar wartless and astonishingly handsome.
Indigo Wart Leaf was born.
Soon it was impossible to walk the streets of Old Smoky without meeting people with blue faces or blue hands. Others had no signs of blueness, but looked so happy that you just knew that they were using the leaf, and that it didn’t do to ponder too long on where their warts might be.
It was like living with the Smurfs.
Rivals tried to copy it, of course, but with little success. Gold Flake gave you dandruff on top of your warts. Gauloises made your warts smell of garlic. John Player Blue didn’t cure your warts, it just made you sad about having them.
Jeb eventually sold his land for millions of dollars and married one of the many girls who seemed to live upstairs in the saloon. The pharmaceutical company that bought the land sold the product in liquid form which could be applied to a wart like nail-varnish. They changed the name to St John’s Wart, and Indigo Leaf Wart vanished forever.
Well, at least until the Geldofs used the name for one of their daughters.