Young Goodman Bush
September 21, 2004
Satire by Trevor Seigler
On a fair November morn, Young Goodman Bush bid adieu to his child
bride, Laura, for the day. She knew nothing of his business in the
woods, but she begged him to be careful and return safely to their
cozy little cottage in the Texan wilderness.
Bush promised her he would be safe, but as he took a last hug he
couldn't help but be intoxicated by the scent of her perfume. Oh,
if only I could stay with her instead, he thought, but he knew he
had much business to conduct.
Young Goodman Bush entered the woods jauntily, eager to get his
tasks over with so that he could return to his beloved Laura. But
soon his cheer turned to dread as he recalled the nature of his
meeting, and the forest began to reflect the dark tides that stirred
in his head. He hoped that no one from the neighboring village of
Houston had seen him enter, for surely they would talk about why
he would go so far into the less savory portion of the woods.
He was startled to see Prudence Coulter, the kindly old spinster
who ran the general store, come along his path. He began to ponder
the implications of what she might tell the townsfolk, but before
he could form a coherent story she hailed him.
"Good day, Young Goodman Bush!" she called pleasantly. "What matter
of business brings you here, in such parts that are held to be the
Devil's stomping ground?"
Young Goodman Bush paused, then regained his composure. "My duties
as a Guardsman were lax on this day, with no need for me to remain
on base in Alabama," he said. "I thought perhaps I would join my
wife for supper, but only after a stroll."
"A stroll?" the maiden asked. "You have business here, no doubt."
At those words, Young Goodman Bush's pulse quickened, but Prudence
Coulter followed these words with, "I had business with him as well.
One hopes that he is as generous with what you seek as he was to
And with that she let loose with a cackle that ran shivers down
his spine. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them the spinster
was gone. Perhaps it had simply been a delusion.
He continued on to the spot where his associate was waiting. The
day had suddenly grown dark and menacing, and Young Goodman Bush
couldn't stifle the fear that formed inside of him when he caught
sight of the man, much older than himself, who sat tending a fire.
"You're late," the other man croaked, adjusting his spectacles
to stay higher up on his crooked nose. "I hope you will prove more
punctual when we formally come to an understanding."
"I was held up in conversation with one of the townswomen," Bush
stammered, aware that his legs were shaking much as they did when
he was without the magical white powder the Indians sold him. He
spoke no further, nor did he approach the older man in leather stockings
and a buffalo skin coat.
"Ah, fair mistress Coulter, she is one of my prize pupils," the
man crowed, letting out a lacivious laugh. Young Goodman Bush was
confused, but he thought it best to wait until the man spoke to
him directly about their deal.
"I know why you're here," the man said finally after stoking the
fire in an uneasy silence, "you seek eternal rewards, as well as
earthly ones. You have made it clear what you are willing to barter,
but are you truly willing to be done with your passport to the Pearly
The wicked grin on the man made Young Goodman Bush pause. Perhaps
there were more efficent ways to acquire the wealth he needed to
provide for his young Laura. True, his ventures in search of the
black gold of West Texas had proved unsuccessful, but there was
But he drove away such thoughts. No, he thought, I am resolute.
Once I make up my mind, I don't change it. I'm not a flip-flopper.
"I have considered your offer, Mr... Chiney, is it?"
"Cheney, you boob."
"Ah yes, Cheney. Anyway, I suppose I will sign over what you desire,
so that you may grant me all that I need to provide for my child
Bush waited while the man patted down a wisp of white hair from
the side of his head and licked his lips in a degenerate fashion.
He was now confident that he had met Mr. Cheney's expectations,
and it would only be a formality before -
"Perhaps your child bride might satisfy me more than your eternal
damnation," the other man suddenly spoke, catching Young Goodman
Bush off guard. Such a pronouncement was not part of the deal.
"Now see here, Mr. Cheney, I will not let you corrupt my bride.
She is the only reason I agreed to this meeting, that I compelled
your agents to speak on my behalf. I will not let you have her,
she is the only thing that is good in my life. To think of her as
yours reduces me to nothing - "
"Whoa, take it easy," Cheney laughed. He was amused by Young Goodman
Bush's anger. "I mean you no harm in that, but your stakes in Enron
are dependent on our arangement. And the contract you signed for
ownership of the Rangers stickball organization left plenty of leeway
should I seek to ask for more. Ah, but she is pure, isn't she..."
Just then, the sounds of a vast multitude trooping through the
woods gave Goodman Bush and Cheney cause to flee from the open path.
Together, they watched from a shrubbery as various faces, faces
Young Goodman Bush knew well, came within view.
"Why, there's Pastor Rove! Surely he is here to bring an end to
your reign here," he said to Mr. Cheney.
"Bring an end? He is my most treasured disciple!" The old man
cackled slowly, a bit winded from his rush to the side with Young
Goodman Bush. "And there is Captain Powell, of the Crawford militia.
He has made many blood sacrafices here in my name."
On and on the procession went, and Young Goodman Bush was floored
by the number of good, decent, Godly men and women who passed his
way, on the path to a rendezvous with the very man he had arranged
to meet presently. His horror was manifest mostly when his own beloved
brother Jebediah passed by, eyes fixed forward like all the rest.
His Laura... he must return to her, protect her from this horde!
But at the end of the parade of lost souls, Young Goodman Brown
caught sight of a dress much like the one his bride had wrapped
around her supple body this morn. The face was veiled, but through
the trees he could catch the unmistakable scent of his fair bride's
perfume. Mr. Cheney noticed the look of shock over Young Goodman
"You seem surprised that my favorite concubine is the same as your
'innocent' little wife!"
"You son of a - " Bush stopped cold, unable to form any words
with his tongue. He was sheet white, like the time he had imbibed
too much grain alcohol amongst the townspeople of Yale.
"Go from this forest, Young Goodman Bush, and tell no one of what
you see, should you prize your fortune," the wicked Cheney said.
"In time, I will send for you to join me in the capital, where we
will make war upon those former disciples of mine who have been
very naughty with their black gold. But now, you must throw yourself
into the race for the governor's seat here. Then, when you have
proven yourself, I will call for you. Then you will be free of your
Young Goodman Bush left the woods, haunted by the cackle of Cheney
as he and the village idiot, Hannity, took a sip from the demon
rum he had been concoting earlier that day. No one in town would
believe him, and he was afraid to let slip his sighting of their
Once back at his cottage, Young Goodman Bush was resigned to his
fate, and began to look at a package he received from the state
Republican party that day, asking him if he'd run for office...
Trevor Seigler is an independent-minded Democrat whose work
has appeared on The Neurotic Eclectic, Nothing Sacred, Yankee Pot
Roast, McSweeneys, Faux Newz, and will appear in Modest Proposal.