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Best not miss

posted May 8, 2017, 2:27 PM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated May 8, 2017, 2:27 PM ]
`If you come at the king you best not miss,' one might hear when someone tries to usurp whoever sits at the top. A phrase often used in the government, organized crime, and office politics. Yet its origins have very little to do with positions of power.

In the year 1865 a man named Kirk Johns, better known as Kirk Six Shot, was the best sharpshooter in the town of Black Lake in Con County. The town in those days was extremely small, hence being the best shot was hardly an accomplishment, and sure enough Kirk Six Shot often found himself called out for his less than stellar shooting skills. One day he decided he'd had enough of the constant berating of the townsfolk and made the bold claim that he could hit a pea from a hundred yards with his pistol. Loud laughter echoed across the pub at which he had chosen to make his announcement, while the bartender told him, `next you'll say you could use a rock to hit a tin can hanging from a tree branch ten whole yards away.'

Feeling infuriated at the utter disrespect of the town, Kirk Six Shot immediately accepted the challenge, and when someone suggested he should perform it by the beehives at the Howell farm, he agreed to that, too. And so it came to pass that he stood alongside a dozen or so of his fellow townspeople at the farm of Buck Howell, ten yards away from a tree where one of Buck Howell's beehives hung. The old man himself was busy tying a tin can to the branch using a piece of string. Taking care not to let it touch the beehive, he positioned it five inches from the hive and then returned to Kirk Six Shot.

`Best not miss, sonny,' Buck Howell said to the young man, then he and rest of the townsfolk retreated to a safe distance.

Kirk Six Shot hurled his rock at the can but to his misfortune struck the beehive instead. When the bees swarmed out of the hive and took off in his direction, he tried to run, but he only made it a couple of yards away before the bees closed the distance and descended on him with all their wrath.

Witnesses later said they had never seen anything so gruesome all their lives. The cruel fate of Kirk Six Shot, from that day called Kirk The Faceless, burned Buck Howell's words of warning into their minds, and over the years the phrase spread across the globe and eventually took on its modern form.

Whether any aspiring party leaders or ambitious gangster lieutenants have any clue as to who they have to thank for this expression is anyone's guess. The people of Black Lake doubt it very much, and believe that if the world truly knew what had transpired that day at the Howell farm, the exact form of the modern phrase would read, `best not miss, lest the bees eat your face.'