Sam Venable 

Department of Irony

unmanned droneAs you, your cousin in Connecticut, late-night comedians, and every radio talk show host between Spokane and Seattle have heard by now, Amazon is working on a project to deliver purchases to American customers via unmanned drones.

There are numerous hurdles to overcome, not the least of which are traffic control, liability questions and approval by the Federal Aviation Administration. Nevertheless, Amazon execs believe a system could be up and running—or flying, as the case may be—in as little as five years.

Whatever. As one who thought cell phones and bottled water would be huge commercial flops, I have no business questioning the workability of this plan. All I’m saying is that news travels slowly in the hills and hollows of East Tennessee. So don’t be surprised some day if —

“Hale far, Lukey! Lookit this here bird I shot! Hit’s jest like th’one you kilt last week!”

“Dam’fit ain’t, Goober! Whar’d you git it?”

“Same place you did—up on Buzzard’s Roost Ridge. Heered th’same thang you did, too: that hum like Bart Cubbins makes when he’s had a snoot full o’shine. ‘Ummmmm, ummmmm.’ Then this bird come a’flyin’ overhead. Took both barrels, but I brought ’im down through the trees, dead as a hammer.”

“Wuz it carryin’ anythin’ in its claws? ’Member, mine was a’readin’ a book. I know hit’s crazy t’think a bird kin read, ’specially a book kivvered in plastic wrap. But that bird shore was a’totin’ one!”

“Naw, this’un didn’t have nary book, Lukey. ’Sted, it had a pair o’socks. They wuz kivvered in plastic wrap, too. Whut do birds need with socks and a book?”

“Beats me, Goober. But hit seems to be a’catchin’. Floyd Hipshire told me his boy kilt one of ’em birds, and hit wuz carryin’ some sorta little round thang. Had a label stuck to it that said ‘DVD’. Floyd said he believes that’s a disease you can git hangin’ out with the wrong kind o’women. He heered about it in th’Army. Anyhow, he told his boy not to tetch hit. Jest picked up the whole kit and caboodle in a shovel and buried it down in the holler.”

“You reckon this is somethin’ the guv’mit is up to, Lukey? I ain’t never trusted ’em people since they started shootin’ rockets toward th’moon and monkeyin’ with the time twict a year. They got my hens so messed up, thar a’layin’ aigs that ain’t fit t’eat.”

“Well, now that you mention not fit t’eat, let me tell you somethin’ ’bout ’at bird you jest kilt, Goober. You can forgit tryin’ to make a meal offen it. They ain’t nuthin’ but skin and bones to begin with. They don’t fry up worth a flip, neither. Even thar gravy tastes turrible.”

Sam Venable is an author, entertainer, and columnist for the Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel. He may be reached at