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A short story by George V. Hobart

John Henry On The Grip

Title:     John Henry On The Grip
Author: George V. Hobart [More Titles by Hobart]

Say, did you ever spar a few hot rounds with a real attack of grip?

When it comes right down to a case of being a Bad Boy the grip has every other disease slapped to a sit-down.

I had the grip some weeks ago and ever since my system has felt like eight cents worth of cheese.

The medicine sharps tell us that the grip is caused by a little germ which emigrated to this country originally from Russia.

If that's the case I'm glad the Japs put the boots to the Czar. I wish they would go after him again and kick his crown off.

I'll bet even money that the father of the first grip germ must have been a bombshell and his mother was some relation to one of Kuropatkin's retreats.

It's dollars to pretzels that the grip germ is the busiest idea that was ever chased by a doctor.

Nobody knows just how or when the grip germs break into the system, but once they get a foothold in the epiglottis nothing can remove them except inward applications of dynamite.

The grip germ hates the idea of race suicide.

From one small germ there will arise and go forth a family the size of which was never dreamed of in the philosophy of our wise and busy President.

I don't know just exactly how they happened to warm wise to me, but a newly married couple of grip germs took a notion to build a nest somewhere on the outskirts of my solar plexus, and two hours later they had about 233 children attending the public school in my medusa oblongata; and every time school would let out for recess I would go up in the air and hit the ceiling with my top-knot.

Before the next morning came all these grip children had graduated from school and after tearing down the school-house the whole bunch had married and had large families of their own, and all hands were out paddling their canoes on my alimentary canal.

By nine o'clock that morning there must have been eighty-five million grip germs armed with self-loading revolvers all trying to shoot their initials over the walls of my interior department.

It was fierce!

When the doctor arrived on the scene I was carrying enough concealed weapons to exterminate the entire Japanese army.

I'm up to one thing and that is that the Russians couldn't beat the Japs because all the national energy and vitality emigrated from St. Petersburg and came over here with the first grip germs.

If the Czar of all the Russians had been a wise Little Father he would have encouraged the grip germs to remain loyal to their native land and then he could have sent them out to Manchuria to bite the ramparts out of General Oyama instead of chasing inoffensive American citizens into the drug stores.

"Well, anyway the medicine mixer blew in, threw his saws behind the sofa, put his dip net on the mantlepiece, and took a fall out of my pulse.

"Ah!" he said, after he had noted that my tongue looked like a currycomb.

"The same to you, Doc," I said.

"Ah!" he said, looking hard at the wall.

"Say, Doc!" I whispered; "there's no use to cut off my leg because the germs will hide in my elbow."

"Do you feel shooting pains in the cerebellum near the apex of the cosmopolitan?" inquired the doctor.

"Surest thing you know," I said.

"Have you a buzzing in the ears, and a confused sound like distant laughter in the panatella?" he asked.

"It's a cinch, Doc," I said.

"Do you feel a roaring in the cornucopia with a tickling sensation in the diaphragm?" he asked.

"Right again," I whispered.

"Do the joints feel sore and pinched like a pool-room?" he said.


"Does your tongue feel rare and high-priced like a porterhouse steak at a summer resort?"

"It do!"

"Do you feel a spasmodic fluttering in the concertina?"


"Have you a sort of nervous hesitation in your hunger and does everything you eat taste like an impossible sandwich?"


"Does your nerve centre tinkle-tinkle like a breakfast bell?"

"Right again!"

"Have you a feeling that the germs have attacked your Adam's apple and that there won't be any core?"


"When you look at the wall paper does your brain do a sort of loop-the-loop and cause you to meld 100 aces or double pinochle?"

"Yes, and 80 kings, too!"

"Do you feel a slight palpitation of the membrane of the Colorado madura and is there a confused murmur in your brain like the sound of a hard working gas meter?"

"You've got me sized good and plenty, Doc!"

"Do you have insomnia, nightmare, loss of appetite, chills and fever and concealed respiration in the carolina perfecto?"

"That's the idea, Doc."

"When you lie on your right side do you have an impulse to turn over on your left side, and when you turn over on your left side do you feel an impulse to jump out of bed and throw stones at a policeman?"

"There isn't anything you can mention, Doc, that I haven't got!"

"Ah!" said the doctor; "then that settles it."

"Tell me the truth, Doctor!" I groaned; "what is it, bubonic plague?"

"You have something worse--you have the grip," he whispered gently. "You see I tried hard to mention some symptom which you didn't have, but you had them all, and the grip is the only disease in the world which makes a specialty of having every symptom known to medical jurisprudence."

Then the doctor got busy with the pencil gag and left me enough prescriptions to keep the druggist in pocket money throughout the summer.

Later my wife came in and asked me how I felt, and when I began to discourse amiably about undertakers she put up a howl that brought the rest of the family around the bedside on a hurry call.

When I told them I had the grip each and every member of the household from Uncle Peter down to the cook began to suggest remedies, and if I had taken half they suggested they could have sold me to a junk dealer and got good money.

That evening our next door neighbor, Bud Taylor, came in and advised me to take quinine and whiskey every time I felt a shooting pain.

I took his advice, but at the end of the first hour the score was 98 to 37 in favor of the shooting pains, and the whiskey had such an effect on the quinine that it made the germs jealous, so between them they cooked up a little black man who advised me to chase Bud out of the house, which I did by throwing medicine bottles at him.

That night the whiskey and quinine held a director's meeting with the germs and then they wound up with a sort of Mardi Gras parade through my system.

I was the goat!

When daylight broke I was a total wreck, and I swore that the next person that said whiskey and quinine to me would get all his.

After breakfast another friend of ours, Jack Gibson, blew in, and after he looked me over his weary eye fell on the decanter.

Then Jack smacked his lips and whispered that the best cure for the grip was a glass of whiskey and quinine every time I felt chills and fever, and he'd be glad to join me.

When loving hands picked Jack up at the bottom of the stairs he was almost insulted, but he quieted down when my wife explained to him that I was suffering not only from the grip but that I had also a slight attack of jiu jitsu.

After weeks of study devoted to the subject I have come to the conclusion that the only way to cure the grip is to stay sick until you get better.

That's what I did!

[The end]
George V. Hobart's short story: John Henry On The Grip