IS HERE TO METEOROLOGIST FOR YOU THANKS FOR STOPPING BYE HOPE EVERYONE HAS A GOOD ONE LOVE YALL GOD BLESS PEACE OUT!!
By Coleman Larkin
He's been doing it every day now for the better part of a year, so it's no big thing for the residents of Barrenshee Creek Road in Freeburn to see Mikey Mounts up on the hillside, dented microphone in hand, screaming at an iPhone ten yards away.
He might have on a frayed camo cowboy hat. Or maybe it's the ushanka, one of those Russian-looking caps with the wool earflaps. He probably has his jeans stuffed down in his boots. And he'll probably be shifting his weight from one foot to the other, side to side and back and forth. And he'll probably be slashing his finger through the air in such a way that, from a distance, it will seem like he's pointing at a bee.
His neighbors will drive by and honk.
He'll say, "Whayya blowin' at, bub!?"
And they'll go, "Ahhh nothin'. Whayya into, son?"
And Mikey, not meaning to be deep, will answer in a pretty deep way.
He'll say, "Just doin' my part."
Mikey is 23. He went to Phelps High School in Pike County. He played a little football. He liked that part of it, the social part, but other than that school really wasn't his thing. He had to do a stint at Northpoint Academy in Pikeville. It's an "alternative school", whatever that means.
He lives with his parents, Mike and Misty, and always has. All of his grandparents are on Barrenshee Creek, too, and so are a good chunk of his other relatives. His aunt and cousins live next door.
"I've got my family all around me and that's what I like," he says with a nasal, honky-tonk twang.
"It just ain't like the city. You can talk to anybody here. You can ask anybody for anything. Just go up to the door and knock. In the city you can't do that. I just don't know if I could fit in right in the city."
But don't be shocked when you knock and whoever opens the door has a gun in their hand. That's not sensationalism. That just is what it is. That's the creek.
"A hillbilly don't go without a gun," is what his neighbor Dave says, one hand on the knob and the other on a pistol. It's all good, though. He offers a drink. Any friend of Mikey's is a friend of his.
"Mikey's a good one," he says. "He does good around here."
They call his other neighbor Kokimo. It's just a nonsense nickname that a lady named Missouri gave to him because she couldn't understand anything he said. He has a little black .380 in his lap when he jokingly tells Mikey, "You know, I wanna shoot you when you call me that."
Kokimo is an older guy and he's known Mikey as long as anybody.
"I've known him since he was like this right here," he says, and he holds his hand out like he's petting an invisible puppy.
"He was meaner than a snake and fatter that a turkey. I mean he was fat. He stayed in them woods, bub. You'd look and he'd be up in a tree. He was a monkey. If I was goin' out I'd call his mom and dad and tell em to put him up just like you would a dog. He was wild as a buck!"
He recalls the time Mikey accidentally set his parents' carport on fire.
He zips his gun up into a padded case.
"You want you a cold beer? Yeah? Then run over across the street and get one of theirs 'cause I ain't got none."
This past winter was a bad one. Barrenshee was in rough shape. Mikey saw car after car slide off the frozen one-lane road. Just as kind of a joke/public service announcement he went out in the cold, held his phone at arm's length, and recorded a 39-second video reminding people to be careful.
"This is your weatherman here speakin'," he said, obviously not real sure about what he was doing, "live from Barrenshee Creek Road."
He gave the expected high and low temperatures for the day and did a little commentary about the importance of driving safe and stocking up on groceries.
He gave a salute at the end.
He threw it up on his Facebook page with the caption "IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE WEATHER MAN HIMSELF!"
People were all over it. Everybody on the holler loved the idea of having their own hyperlocal news personality. They thought it was hilarious and demanded more. So the next day Mikey did another one, this time riding on the back of a fake deer. And he did another one the day after that and another one after that. He just kept doing them.
Every single day he'd get up at about 7 a.m. He'd go outside and prop his phone up on a tree branch or a fencepost, record a short video with some basic weather info and whatever else was on his mind, then he'd post it online about an hour later.
Each one was more popular than the last and his confidence seemed to grow with every post.
His first videos were kind of shy and quiet. He'd record them out in the woods so as not to bother anybody. Within a few weeks he had a new, louder persona and an official name to go with it. Nobody says "Barren-shee Creek". They say "Barnshee". And Mikey Mounts was The Barnshee Weatherman, by god.
To complete the image he scrounged up a broken microphone from the junkyard, a dented thing all covered in electrical tape. It was his Excalibur. It changed him. Watch the videos. One day he's a sheep, the next…
"THIS IS YOUR BARNSHEE WEATHERMAN HERE REPORTIN' LIIIIIIVE!"
There isn't much to Freeburn. There's a Masonic Lodge. A gas station. A salon called Hair Indulgence. There's definitely no dedicated TV news crew and the closest newspaper probably wouldn't send a reporter unless an alien crash landed on Chilly Willy's ice cream truck.
Without really meaning to, The Barnshee Weatherman stepped into this vacuum and blew up. He started a public Facebook page under the category "News Personality". For the description he put:
Thanks for dropping bye I'm here to meteorologist your weather and morning news and make you laugh Prayer request shoutouts birthdays welcome Godbless.
1000 likes…2000 likes…5000 likes…10,000 likes…
People from all over the country were tuning in to see The Barnshee Weatherman slide down an icy driveway in his underwear, blast a target to death with an AR-15 and ride a bike off his porch into the side of his house. One time he had a friend dress up like Bigfoot and roam around behind him. One time he threw his shirt off and jumped in the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River. He forgot he had his magic microphone in his back pocket.
"I sit down there for an hour trying to find it. An hour straight. Finally some guy gave me a net and I run it across the bottom and got it."
Things got real weird when Banjo Neal James, The Turtleman's right-hand man, caught wind of him and started sharing his videos. What started off as a one-time goof had, in just a few months, turned into a part-time job. People would pay Mikey a few bucks to have their business mentioned on the show or he'd get a free meal (his "eats") and a tank of gas to come cover some event. He started doing a daily call-in to a morning radio show. He had a load of t-shirts printed and sold out of all but the baby sizes. Some miners gave him some steel toe boots. The Phelps High School principal asked him to come give a pep talk to the kids. The Red Cross asked him to help get the word out about disaster relief.
His most popular video to date is the one he did during the big flood that pounded the area last winter. It got over 30,000 views, and the county crew came and put a drain in as soon as they saw it. No newspaperman would have bothered. Not with Barrenshee Creek.
"I got 'em on the ball, buddy."
These days, Mikey can hardly step outside without getting honked or hollered at. He's trying to get his thoughts together for his next video when the neighbor lady cracks her screen door open and yells, "Hey, Mikey! Will you come over here and talk to Junior in a minute!?"
Apparently Junior has a sister in Wisconsin who's a big fan of The Barnshee Weatherman. It's her birthday and he wants Mikey to give her a shoutout.
Mikey says that he's busy right now, but he'll stop by later.
He's also trying to quit smoking so he's got this big vaporizer that looks like a walkie-talkie. He's taking monster rips and exhaling bubblegum-scented clouds that get stuck beneath the brim of the hat he specifically chose from a tall stack of show hats on top of his dresser.
"I still get that nervous feeling but you just gotta get through it."
His pitbull, Duke the Weather Dog, rubs against his legs while he attempts to prop his phone up against a porch post. He uses his vaporizer to keep it from falling over.
He kind of laughs to himself a little bit because he knows how strange it must seem to anybody watching.
"Oh I'm a sight, buddy. Everybody likes me though. I try my best at what I do. I really do. If I didn't have this I'd probably just be cutting grass and saving cans and this and that. I just take things as they come."
If anybody has a problem with that they can cruise to The Barnshee Weatherman Facebook page. Go all the way back to the beginning. To March 29, 2015, when things started to get real. Mikey's videos were just beginning to travel beyond the holler. People that he didn't know in places he'd never been to were piling on. They were making fun of him, saying that he was just some dumb redneck with a weird accent.
The video he recorded that day, alone in the woods, was a rare departure from his usual easygoing self. He was mad as hell. And he laid it out like this:
Y'all can hate on me all you want. In this world you're gonna have people like that. You're gonna have people that don't like ye. You're gonna have people that's gonna hate on ye. But all you gotta do is turn the other cheek. Keep a straight face. Let 'em know that it don't bother ye. That it makes ye happy…I must be doin' somethin' right with people talkin' about me and mockin' me and doin' this and doin' that…When people ain't talkin' about ye then you got somethin' to worry about.
People are talking about Mikey Mounts. Who's talking about you?
Y'all have a good one.