Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings warms up before their preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on August 22, 2010 in San Francisco, California.
Credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
I was originally scheduled to have dinner with Bus my last night in Hattiesburg, but Favre mock-shuddered at that possibility.

"Let me save you from that; we're grilling steaks."

The wrought-iron gate opens again. But this time the property is aglow and there are six or seven cars parked in the driveway. Inside, it's Southern Rockwell. Favre's 21-year-old daughter, Brittany, cradles her newborn son, Parker, while Deanna plays with her grandson's tiny fingers. There are friends, a brother-in-law, and a veterinarian who is telling the story of a hound dog that got a possum's jawbone lodged in its gullet.

Cajun sausage is served, chased by sirloins wrapped in bacon. Everyone is telling tales. "I remember we were at a Bears game in Chicago when I was 17," says Brittany, burping the only boy with a grandfather playing in the NFL. "Everyone seated around us seemed to have googled our family's problems. They knew everything we'd done wrong. It was just rude."

Brett tells a hunting story that involves baying dogs, some chicken wire, and a companion with a pistol in his waistband. That cracks everyone up.

"Oh, God, please don't tell that story," says Deanna, half-joking. "We don't want to get in trouble with the ASPCA." 

And then Bus appears. He's been on the golf course most of the day, his eyes long gone rheumy. Favre's face lights up.

"C'mon, Bus, do your card tricks! You've got to do your card tricks!"

Bus grumbles, eats a steak, and then cards magically appear. He's good, guessing my card over and over again. Brett starts to rub his hands together.

"Bus, are you going to call the Wizard? I think it's time to call the Wizard!"

Bus picks up his cell phone and dials a number. He asks for the Wizard. Favre's eyes are the size of saucers. "This is a good one!"

Bus shushes him.

"Hello, Wizard? Okay. You sure? Thanks, Wizard."

Bus hands me the phone. A voice says, "This is the Wizard. Your card is the five of clubs."

Actually it was the four of clubs.

Brett looks crestfallen. Deanna pats Bus on the shoulder.

"I think that works better if you call the Wizard from the land line."

It's getting late and time to go. I try and find my way out but blunder into Brett's weight room. I bump into Bus, who is leaving, too.

"Shee-et, that's the least-used room in this house." He chuckles and heads into the night. In three weeks, he and Brett will head to Florida to have the ankle surgery done.

I loop back to the kitchen and say goodbye again. Brett waves and then goes back to telling a story. It's the hunting tale he told earlier, but there are some new listeners. The Hamlet of Hattiesburg is adding details and fresh twists, improvising as he goes along.

At this moment, not even he knows how the story ends.