The author is an international ESL instructor. He has been a writer for over thirty years. His most recent publications include two books of nonfiction by Algora Publishing out of New York City. His latest fictional publications include a series of online literary journals and print magazines. These journals and magazines include;; Leaves Of Ink, Vinculink, Short Story Lovers, The Fear Of Monkeys, Frontier Tales, and cc&d magazine.
A Fine Day Inside My Hole In The Wall
In the bleakness of night I had eased out my back door and stepped down into the dense tangle of the bayou. The locals didn’t call this place “The Labyrinth Swamp” for nothing. This dismal thickness was both a curse to the stalker, but a blessing at the same time for those seeking to live off the fat of the land. All that one needed to do was to change his method of engaging the game to be an astonishing success in this fruit, berry, and meat rich paradise. Truth is, very few of the locals dared to enter into this choking web. The reason is that what one was dealing with is an extremely dense, bamboo briar, and bramble thicket, some four and one half miles directly through the center. Inside this area were holes hidden beneath mud and water that could never be detected, that would swallow a grown man completely down in a single gulp. There were snapping turtles down inside the mud that weighed two hundred pounds, that would bite a whole chunk out of a man’s leg; or even take his hand off like it was a bratwurst sausage, or some other boneless slab of meat. All of these horrors had been known to occur in the past. Not only that, there were panthers and cougars slinking quietly along through the tangle, and almost invisibly, according to the grizzled trappers who resided in the local area, and didn’t mind speaking about it on a casual basis. There were also strange howls deep down inside the backwater areas at night, where the slow moving whiskey colored water ran, and not even the oldest hunter really knew what it was. One of these interesting people did relay to me a tale of him slaying a monkey-man down there in those dense bayou depths back during the nineteen thirties. Others in the area confirmed it, but that much was about the size of this tale from those long lost days of yore in the end. In all honesty, I could not vouch for the monkey man or the cougar, but I had personally witnessed the black panther. The black panther is a cat approximately the size of a German shepherd dog. He walks in a zigzag motion and is totally silent. Needless to say, he comes out right on the edge of darkness, so very few ever get a glimpse of him. I had just finished running my trap line some two miles down once, and had heard the sound of deer in the thicket before me, so I squatted down in hopes that one would break cover, and I could get a shot. The deer suddenly changed course immediately on the edge of cover, and the small opening. I was downwind, so I knew that it wasn’t my scent; then from the fading light of the sinking sun through the tangle, this otherwise highly intelligent cat made the fatal mistake of allowing himself to be silhouetted. I seized a glimpse of him, then he suddenly paused, staring directly at me. I eased my shotgun to my shoulder, but as I did so, this large cat turned and simply vanished. There were other dangers that one should note here inside these woods. I vividly recall once that I had a trap line of a hundred traps set in highly productive, enemy territory. The family who owned this territory were known as the Doogan Clan. Primarily this family were local hog barons, but owned thousands of acres that they never even ventured into; and were known to be fiercely aggressive, disgustingly profane, and even prone to violence, if any of them discovered others entering into their land tracts.. To make it back into this territory undetected, I had no choice but to travel very quietly and remain in dense cover at all times. I mastered this feat as a young lad by waking toe down first, then rolling my foot on the ball. I could actually move through the forest thicket quickly in this fashion. The problem for me in remaining inside cover was that by the time of this particular day, a road big enough for a mack truck to travel down had been pushed out all of the way through the center; and at the first T in the road, a huge clearing a half mile across had been cut down to the ground by Canal Woods paper company. All that this reality did for me was to increase the potential danger scenario. To mitigate these challenges, I remained inside of the thicket forty yards to the right of the road and behind the eight feet deep drainage ditch, until I made it to a point where this road formed the first T. Thirty yards before I made it to the crossing, I crossed the ditch, then eased out to the roadside, checking both ways and waiting as I analyzed the potential for danger; then crossed the road and the eight feet deep ditch on the other side, that was also some forty feet wide. Like a fox I very quietly and smoothly allowed the thicket on the other side of the ditch to swallow me up. Without making a single sound, I gradually made my way to the left, and in a couple hundred yards I found myself pausing at the edge of the ditch beside the road on the left arm of the T while remaining in splendid cover, gazing outward across this massive cut down area that had been cleared to the ground by the paper company. The wind shifted, and suddenly the clear, sweetly pungent smell of cherry pipe smoke struck my nose. Where was this smell of a potential enemy coming from? I glanced from side to side, seeing no one at all standing, nor up in the trees. Around my neck was a pair of military spec binoculars. Quickly I seized these up with both hands, then scanned the distant treeline over the huge clearing, and the area in general. Then I saw it, a lone standing cypress tree appearing to be a hundred feet tall out in the clearing, approximately forty yards out from the distant treeline to the left, upon which leaned a policeman who worked with the local wildlife conservation office. Even though he must have been at least a quarter mile from me, I pull him up so close that I could vividly read the badge on the shoulder of his uniform. It was clear through the binoculars that this man possessed a hippie-like, citified air about himself. He must have taken great pleasure in his position of being caretaker of a vast, resource rich tract, seeking to prevent any locals from utilizing the fruits of this tract for their own personal use; and as always, allowing his financial sponsors, the few local grocery stores and restaurants, right along with an extortionist localized government, to reap a guaranteed healthy profit from the overburdened toil of the local population. Every now and then he would lift his right hand up to his mouth, in which he held a pipe bowl obviously filled with cherry tobacco, releasing a billow of thick blue smoke into the clear evening sky about. What was so amazing to me in regard to this scenario, was the fact that the wind would carry this scent for such a long distance. The inherent suggestion that this observation allowed me to safely assume, however, is that if one hippie skunk sheriff was out in the woods, then certainly there must have been more. To my far left, as I gazed down the road running the breadth of this massive clearing, I saw where the clearing transformed back into another huge, thickly wooded treeline for the entire breadth of the clearing, and then some more. This was where I needed to be. My most bountiful territory lay inside the belly of this single tract. This was where my primary center of operation lay at the time. The problem that I had to deal with was that for me to get to this bounteous tract, I needed to remain completely concealed at all times, without leaving any sign. I reasoned if I was going to travel a distance of another quarter mile, then I personally preferred to do so in fur or game rich land. Across my shoulder lay a bundle of seven large raccoon, tied at the foot by parachute cord scrounged from a roll of it found casually laying inside a new deer blind that I had discovered while on patrol in another tract of my territory, a month or so prior. In front of me was an additional bundle of ‘coon meat and fur on the other end of the same string. I eased down like a gator into this eight feet deep ditch, that virtually always held some four feet of water. On the side facing the road was a huge, dense, natural hedge line of trees, brush and cat claw briars. When I walked along, I did so while remaining close to the bank on the same side as the road. As I moved along, I had picked up a nice, fat otter, and two more large ‘coons, in traps that I had positioned inside sets that I put in the day before. In the middle of January the water was icy cold. I wore a set of Red Ball chest waders that I had tactfully removed from a rotten stump just before I entered the water. When I made it into my new trapping territory, I had built a small A framed cabin that I had constructed directly inside the thicket several years prior. This would be where I would process both my hides and the meat. All of my needed chemicals were stashed around there; such as a store of alum, salt, and various much needed tools made from scrap metal scrounged around. This load of ‘coons and other furs was getting heavy by the time I had traveled half way thorough the distance in the ditch, toward the cover of my highly sought after destination. About that time, a huge gray SUV with tinted windows came bouncing down the road, then abruptly paused ahead of me about thirty yards. Another soon roared up behind it. Upon taking a simple quick glance, I immediately knew both to be two among the local skunk sheriffs. I hugged the ditch bank beside me to my right side, glancing upward at a massive hanging root bank above my head, pausing immediately without even moving, and very carefully monitoring my breathing. I could clearly hear their speech as they paused to take an evening chat, while they both apparently surveyed the expansive area before them. “Have you seen anything, Brothers?,” spoke one voice. “Naw, not a damn thing,” replied the other. “What kind of report did you get from that young cock-a-do over there behind the cypress tree, out in the clearing?,” rumbled the first voice. “Not a damn thing, though he affirmed that, indeed, this place was filled with wildlife. I would bet that he named six different varieties that he observed during the first hour alone,” replied the voice noted as being Brothers. “But I will tell you something else here, Brothers, this is one hell of a tract to patrol. Matter of fact, doing a foot patrol here inside this tangle is damn near impossible. We have tried it all; sitting in stands, calling in the slow moving air patrol, the dragonfly chopper, small drones, and the like. All that I can say is that this bastard who we have been called in to pursue, is certainly not your average woods running son-of-a-bitch. I can tell you that much with certainty, Brothers.” “Yeah, you are so right there, West. It kind of reminds me of my early Army days, chasing the Vietcong through the Asian tangle. We virtually always knew that they were around, but never seen them at all. My greatest problem here in regard to this character, is that we don’t even know for certain if we are in the right place. Have you found any sign? I certainly haven't, and neither has the kid by the tree.” “I will tell you what, Brothers, and you can inform the kid on this subject as well. When we finally do catch this son of a bitch, I am all for beating the damn hell out of him, myself. You heard about that man over on the Red Hill branch, that those wardens caught last month or so, didn’t you? One of them took a homemade billy club shaped like a Sioux war hawk that he always carried inside his truck, and literally broke the poor bastard all to pieces with it. All that the wardens had to do was simply agree to stick to the same story. “ The judges take our side anyway, and will never believe a stinkin’ wood runner who refuses to play by any rules. Nobody gives a flying shit if he is having trouble feeding his family and making his ends meet, since there exists absolutely no job security anymore. I for one, certainly don’t! We have our own jobs to do, so why in the name of hell should we care about this local scum around here? If he can’t find a job that pays worth a damn, or has lost his job, then that is his problem, not ours, Pete. We all have a job to do, and never intend on losing ours.” “Yeah man, I can see why the frustration would provoke officers to respond in such a manner,” continued Brothers. “Well hell, for that matter, what about that situation over in Louis County there a while back? A seventy eight year old man was on his own land, and the warden on duty there just shot him down in cold blood, like a damn stray dog, when the old geezer got saucy with him about a flock of turkeys that this officer was watching. The old man hadn’t even actually killed one, he was just around where the turkey flock was coming to a corn pile. I heard that he wasn’t even hunting. Hell, he didn’t even have a gun, or any kind of weapon on him at all! He exclaimed to the officer that the corn pile wasn’t even his, according to what I heard. Who else was around to witness anything? “ I heard the backwoods boast, though, from several officers whom I would never name..; West, it really was a setup, but all of the officers stick to their continuous storyline. “Somebody really had been hunting the area, so these officers just assumed that it was the old man. The officer in question is now immune, since the double jeopardy law has kicked in. We have the local courts, the judges, and most of the people themselves in our pockets around here, man. Supportive propaganda works astonishingly well!,” he laughed as the sound of him slapping his fellow partner in service on the shoulder rang throughout the woods on the late evening air “If we all stick together, we can do any Goddamn thing that we want to out here in Waccamaw County.. If I see a nice buck while on patrol and want to take him, I frequently do so when the urge strikes. If I am out on a farm patrolling at midnight and want to make a fruit, vegetable, or healthy peanut harvest for myself, I do so at my own complete liberty; and then get a hearty laugh listening to the locals blame each other for the misdeed come morning time. Hell, the extra cash money made from selling boiled peanuts really comes in handy! Sometimes I have even been hired for cash on the side to watch the local farms for their owners because of these incidences. Can you imagine that?” The voice known as West roared with laughter until he sounded as if he struggled to breathe. “ Just between me and you, while I was on guard, I have seen more than a few times that a small calf came in really handy myself. What about you there? ,” Brothers inquired through wheezy ,course laughter, that continued on for what seemed like fifteen minutes or more. “Yeah, I know what you mean, Brothers. I sure as bloody hell know what you mean there..” Both of them laughed heartily as they continued to chuckle and talk in low pitched imperceptible rumbles for the next twenty minutes or more. About that time the water suddenly shifted to my left side as I hugged the ditch bank on my right side, like a large fish was lurking exceedingly close by. The only problem was that it wasn’t a fish, it was the rolling body of a huge serpent! Suddenly an aggressive face appeared on this body, moving very close to the surface for the purpose of observing what was standing in the water there immediately beside him, that he wasn’t exactly familiar with. He looked at me dead in the eyes with his shockingly wicked appearing face. I literally transformed into a block of solid stone, utterly mortified and petrified! My blood ran ice cold throughout my entire body. I could do nothing at all, but what I did. Even though the water was at freezing level, still the water moccasins evidently were awake, though they moved very slowly compared to the way they angrily snapped along during warm months. The head moved on until it surfaced some nine feet beyond me, rising up to glance backward in my direction, yet the water immediately beside me still rippled! Finally after what felt like an hour, I saw the tail of this massive lethal beast snap on past me. He had to have been ten feet long at least, and some six inches in diameter. The head alone seemed twice as large as my fist; and during the warm months these beasts were vicious and ultra aggressive, leaping into canoes and Jon boats from within the thick Spanish moss on the hovering tree branches just above creeks, slow moving rivers, and on the edges of lakes. He had the local reputation for being the death of many a midnight frog-gigger, fisherman, or local person gill netting on the sly. Honestly, the possum sheriffs, and insolent hunting clubs, were only a minor nuisance for those who truly know the art of reaping a productive harvest from the land. Other dangers around here are far more pressing, to say the least. For a brief moment I actually considered rushing upward onto the bank and allowing the skunk sheriffs to arrest me. I would rather experience being arrested and going to jail, than to be bitten by this poisonous American monster from the King Cobra family. Death would be almost certain, since there exists no antidote for his venom. He could have easily leaped high enough to bite me a multiplicity of times in the side of my neck, at the throat area. The only problem for me was that potential death stood up on the road as well. Indeed, it would not have been a simple experience of being arrested alone, I feared. Death lurking beside me, and death hovering above me, with me stuck on a bank right smack dab in the middle. This day had already held far too much excitement, with more than most ever experience in a single week, month, or even a year. It was regular life for me back in those days, however, and the fear of the moment would later transform into a raw thrill, that I adored like a woodshed addiction that I simply could never let go of. I could only momentarily turn into stone until both the villains on the hill and the monster beside me moved on far away ahead. Soon they both did move on ahead as experiences tend to go, and I could finally breathe in a heavy sigh of relief. My heart slowed in its hammering as I began to concentrate once more again on the duties at hand before me. I silently moved on down the length of this deep ditch until I passed the point where the clearing transformed into wood-line. I moved on down thirty yards or so, until I knew that I was near my trail on the other side of the narrow two rut dirt road. Carefully I eased up onto the ditch bank to my right, observing in both directions while remaining inside the natural screen. I checked the trees on both sides for people up inside stands, especially on the other side. I also scanned through my binoculars for people squatted in the bushes on my side of the two rut dirt road and on the other. The coast was clear of danger, so very briskly I moved on over to the other side of the road, melting into the thick vegetation. I silently stashed my chest waders into another hollow stump once deep in good cover. My small path ran zigzag fashion, this way I could remain inside cover and observe the depths of the forest before making a move. I had learned this tactic from watching deer move around as a young child. The old trick was effective and had proven it’s worth innumerable times over the years, by keeping my hind out of potential slings when I saw danger far in advance of it ever spotting me . I eased on into the depths of the forest, coming to natural trail markers notating trap sets. For security purposes my traps were always set at least twenty yards off the trail behind these markers, and inside of good cover. It is not wise to take any chances in this business, and good steel traps are far too expensive to repurchase.. I picked up nine more coons and about five rabbits, before I made it to my ten by ten A frame cabin in the brush. This same security consideration was given to my A frame. My trail appeared to take a left turn, leading off a hundred yards into a dense thicket, then stopping in a manner causing it to appear as if it simply faded away. My intention here being to lose any possible interlopers somewhere deep inside an immense cat claw briar patch chock full with deer, quail and rabbits, but also rattlesnakes at the right times of the year. Where it first turned to the left, there was a slight hill, and on the other side of that hill is where the real path commenced in zigzag fashion. Finally one came to a somewhat larger hill, and on the other side inside immensely dense brush, sat my happy little A frame, all splendidly camouflaged in gillie netting that I had scrounged from an enemy hunting club’s deer stand blind. The average person would more than likely have simply struggled on past, never noticing. Then again, the average person would probably not be down here inside this exceedingly dense thicket. For this reason I always prepare my undertakings for evading possible search efforts initiated by highly gifted, bizarre people, who might be the very kind to visualize taking a bloody stab at somebody like myself. Behind a live oak tree near this little cabin in the brush, I had a five feet, six inch diameter section of PVC pipe, with a solid cap on one end, and a threaded cap on the other. This pipe was buried with the permanent cap down into the ground, and the threaded cap up almost flush with the ground surface; but not quite, so that it could be buried and perfectly concealed. Inside this pipe were all of my trapping tools and tanning chemicals duck taped up, extra food and bait, such as peanut butter, rice and beans, canned dog food used for an excellent trap bait, traps, boxes of eight thousand twenty two rounds, and a Ruger 10/22 carbine, carbon steel model. I had traded some really good ganja that had been swapped to me for some treble run shine that I had found in the woods, just to own this fine specimen of a rifle. I had lots of additional room inside that little home fashioned compartment, so I was always taking things out and putting new things inside. Out front I had built a rocket stove out of four cinder blocks that I had scrounged from the ruin of an old shack, way up on the hill half a mile or so from where I presently was. One of these blocks had to be cleanly broken in two the long way, as evenly as it is possible to do, but this was the only labor in making the stove. My cooking vessel was a well used carbon Chinese wok, which worked like the Red Baron of flying champs! The efficient use that this stove made of the surrounding wood resources and the very small amounts of smoke that the wood put out, made it extremely adapted to suit all of my purposes. The type of wood that I used was light-wood kindling, which was found all around me in great abundance. Away from the cabin about forty yards or so was a small clearing. Inside this clearing I had planted an Indian blood peach, a crab apple, and a plum tree, standard sized, that I had dug up in shoots a few years prior, from a long since abandoned antique cabin site in another part of my territory. I had also placed a large hat full of rock salt onto the ground in the general area, but far enough away that it wouldn’t harm the trees. I did this for my own food, but also because deer and fur bearing animals are greatly attracted to these trees, especially when these trees stand far away from established civilization. Not only that, I could collect them both within relatively easy walking distance of my cabin. Already both the deer and other game had beat literal trails through the forest to my three trees, even during the winter season when there was no fruit on the limbs or ground. Three days prior during a territorial patrol, I had located two long ignored, highly rusted Conibear 330 sized traps used for beaver. My grandfather had taught me many years ago how to rig this setup for deer. On that note, I had decided to put these traps to much better use. To get the rust off, I soaked these traps for several days inside a rich solution of tannic acid. I get this acid from combing my territory and gathering loads of rather large acorns that abound. These acorns are outstanding to grind into flour and make into biscuits. Not only are these biscuits extremely healthy, but keep far more than one years time, simply by wrapping them up in a bandanna or old cloth, then tossing them onto the edge of my dinning table. These biscuits make perfect breakfast rations around my comfortable little temporary home, especially with gravy, scrounged wild honey, or home-made maple syrup. The problem with these acorns is that that the acid must be leached away by soaking them overnight in water, then changed and soaked again for three times, or more. When the flour tasted sweet, rather than bitter, then I know it to be good for my personal use. The water was rich in tannic acid, and this water was what I used to soak my traps and tan deer hides in, on periodic occasion. I hear that dripping this water through cans of wood ash, then adding in melted hog fat and allowing it to set up, also makes some really fine homemade lye soap. My only problem with it is that I am far too busy to test this formula out. Maybe later on in the year, when things level out and I have some down time, I will give it try. I followed the deer trails away from the trees for thirty or so yards, and here is where the 330’s were set up. Sure enough, I had caught one small doe by the neck, and somebodies hunting dog. I checked the collar and failed to discern the faded name. Evidently the dog had been wandering around in the bush for quite some time. I took the collar a hundred feet in one direction, tossing it into the deep water and mud; and the dog five hundred feet into the other direction, tossing him into a ditch that I knew to be chock full with both catfish and common goldfish that had grown tremendously large, which are in all reality just a type of carp that adapt very easily to the climate in my neck of the woods. I won’t bother to tell how it was that I knew this. Quietly I slink-ed like a panther through the woods, and began to skin all of my entire meat and fur haul. I laid the skins opened on a peeled nine inch log raised on one end, supported by two pegs of wood about two feet long. I took a piece of angle iron with two sticks mounted on either end for handles, and began to drag this tool over the opened hide, skimming the fat and excess flesh from the furs and hides. The deer meat I cut up and dropped into several plastic buckets filled with a ten percent salt solution. As far as the raccoon meat was concerned, my intention was to smoke this out inside a simple close top barbecue grill that merrily sat on the small porch area of my cabin. Dried wood from my peach and crab apple trees would smoke this out to a wonder. Once they were smoked out, these whole coons could be wrapped up in a series of worn out T shirts, patted over with boric powder, and hanged up inside the loft of my clandestine cabin. A day or so later, my three hunting buddies would ease over, and we would have one golly whopping party down inside the hole in the wall, after a day and a night of hunting on the sly. Until then, I had tons of work to do around my place, and a king sized deer with a rocking chair head to slay, come first light tomorrow morning. He had been digging and feasting on my dark corn pile near my fruit trees, and I had been observing him for quite some time now. When darkness finally came, I could hear the distant cry of what distinctly sounded like a woman in distress, alerting me to the fact that large wild cats thrived in this area. A whippoorwill chirped only a short distance away, in perfect tune with a hoot owl on a large limb somewhere above me. In the distance I could hear the leaves crunch as something large walked about. It was not two legged though, so I was not much worried about it. In the center of my cabin I had a small wood stove that glowed in a way that lit the cabin up somewhat, heating it into cozy splendor. Since my cabin was behind this mound and two more on the other sides, with a dense thicket to it’s back, I really didn’t have to worry much in regard to security. As far as I was concerned I had found heaven on earth, I thought to myself as I eased backward upon my cot with the military surplus, all weather sleeping bag. Soon the night faded away as I smiled to myself in complete comfort. I awoke from my nice bed to the sound of chirping birds and squirrels moving about. The light of day had not broke yet, but it was just before doing so. In the distance sound carried far on the morning air. I detected the sound of three large pickup trucks slamming down the road over by the huge clearing. It could have been some from the local hunting club, or it could also be three conservation officers. For me, either way it was the potential for possible serious trouble, being big fines and hard time, if nothing worse. Since danger lurked about, this reality dictated my choice in hunting weapons for the day. I chose my trusty longbow that I kept concealed inside the tube planted in the ground. My arrows had been constructed from plastic fletching and notching that came in a single piece, slipped over the thin end of a bamboo reed measured in length from the center of my breast, to the tip of my middle finger on my left hand..The striking tip was constructed from a piece of tin scrounged from an old barn roof, cut into a small triangle, with a tail two to three inches long. This tail was inserted into the reed and held in place with dried intestines that had been wet again to soften them, wound to hold the arrowhead into place; then allowed to re-dry, holding the arrowhead in firmly like it had been wired and concreted. There was an unfinished homemade crossbow that lay on the cabin floor, but my use of that would have to wait until another day. While on patrol one day I had discovered a strange florescent orange thread, running on for about ten yards, then vanishing into the thicket. I followed this thread, which led me to a perfectly square, four by six feet hole in the ground, with a lift up door over it camouflaged with netting, branches and leaves. I couldn’t resist opening the door, only to find a backwoods grow room, filled with some of the best ganja in the whole county! I had absolutely no idea whose it may have been. I knew a veterinarian in town who would trade virtual sacks of a white powder used to tranquilize horses and cows when they are being castrated, for measures of what we call loco tobacco at this level in quality. I could simply look at it and tell that it had to have been some of the best being produced. One could almost inhale the near mist like vaporous scent from the richly colored, long purple buds, and catch a buzz! What I really liked about the powder was that I could take a long thin balloon, cut the round end off, slip it over my arrowhead, then fold back the opposite end, creating a splendid pocket into which I could dump about half a flat teaspoon of this stuff into the fold back of the balloon. I called it three step powder, since I could shoot, and the arrow would appear as if it had missed on numerous occasions; then the deer would take three steps forward, and simply collapse into a pile of luscious flesh, bone, and hide! This rig would work splendidly at my present location, without any skunk or possum police ever knowing of the occasison. I would certainly make the kill, and the ever present enemy, never be the wiser. Near the peach and plum trees that I had planted in this small clearing not far from my cabin, I had constructed a small stand. A six inch diameter post oak tree stood tucked backward into another dense thicket, with a two and one half foot wide fork approximately six feet off the ground. This fork is where I had lain four, three inch diameter logs, that had been notched out to fit perfectly into the notch on each limb of the fork . This would serve as my tree stand, giving me one hundred percent security from my back and sides, and clear view of the opening where my fruit trees were, and where this monster buck would surely emerge. I had plundered around near an old logging area and located ten or twelve, half inch by six inch, bolts. I took my brace and a five eighths bit, drilling a series of holes about a foot and a half apart into the trunk of the tree, going upward . Into these three inch deep holes I tapped my six inch bolts, serving perfectly as steps; and very tough to see from any distance, especially when they blackened with the passage of time. From the stand hung a parachute cord that reached the ground. On the end of this is where I tied my loaded arrows and bow, as I normally would have done my unloaded shotgun. Not only did doing so make it much more easy to climb the tree and position myself into the stand, it made beautiful sense from a safety point of view. With ease I now climbed the tree, since I did not have to worry about my weaponry. Once seated into the stand comfortably, I pulled up the bow and loaded homemade arrows. It was still dark since the break of day had not yet arrived, but it would be here only in a matter of minutes. In the distance I could clearly make out the sound of a pickup truck, or an SUV, slamming down the road some four hundred yards beyond my present position. In the dead of night or in predawn, sound carries tremendously far and is clearly discernible for astonishing distances in the back country. At times voices might be audibly heard for up to a half mile away, if there is no wind. An old hearing aid or other device such as the sound magnifier that I wore, makes it even more clear and audible at much longer ranges. With this I can hear most human footsteps in dry leaves at six hundred yards out. This morning the landscape was a still as a graveyard, with not even a puff of wind. As the light of the sun commenced to break, I could hear the sound of movement in the brush and thicket, with a snap of stiff bones popping as if something had arose from bed, followed by the sound of small sticks snapping as it began walking. It was slowly headed my way. About the same time in the distance I heard two pickup trucks or SUVs bounce along, then abruptly pause, and the doors slam one after the other. Soon thereafter I detected two audible voices that I clearly recognized as those of West and Brothers. The sound of liquid sloshing forward and backward in a bottle was very discernible in the heavy morning air amidst a coarse, low pitched rumble of profane talk. “You seen any sign today yet?,” spoke the voice of West. “Not a damn thing,” returned the other of Brothers. The sound of a bottle with liquid inside sloshing one way, then the other, seemingly rang throughout the trees. “You want a hit of this stuff here, man?,” asked the voice of Brothers. “Son of a bitch there, man, where did you get that?,” asked the voice of West. “Found it in the Burnt Islands about three days ago, when we made that big bust over there. Man.., let me tell ya., that had to have been the biggest still operation that I have ever seen, and I have seen many during my career,” replied the voice of Brothers. “Yeah man, give me a hit of that,” replied West. “I am not that big on drinking first thing in the morning, but really good swamp tea makes an exception.” The liquid sloshed again. “Damn son! Its smooth as water, but punches like Marciano,” laughed West with excitement in his voice. I could hear the sounds of twigs snapping as this true prize was nearing the edge of my opening. I knew that the buck was about to break cover, and emerge into my clearing, no more than maybe thirty feet from where I was positioned. In the distance, the sound of liquid sloshing back and forth in a bottle again, seemed to ring throughout the mourning woods. “I told ya, fellow, old man MacLaurin over in the Burnt Islands, makes some good damn shit,” spoke the voice of Brothers. The massive, but beautiful deer finally emerged, just as clearly into the opening as if I were standing right there beside him. The light of day made my vision perfectly vivid, even though it was still only early dawn. In the distance the low rumble of a voice broke the silence. The sound of liquid sloshing back and forth followed. “You know West.., I was thinkin’ about this son of a bitch here that we are after. When we catch him.., and we will.. You know that much for certain in this huntin' saga.” I raised my bow with the already notched arrow in its perfect seat. I placed the tip of the arrow slightly beneath his left front shoulder, just below the pit of his leg, so to speak. I focused the arrowhead tip on the edge of the deer’s form at that specific point, since arrows tend to strike upward from the point of one’s aim. I drew the string back with the first three fingers on my right hand, seating my thumb upon my jaw as I focused the arrow. In the distance beyond, the course voice of Brothers rumbled again. “When you are good, West.. I mean.., like.., when you are Goddamn good, man, and we are! You, me, and old Long Dong Burns patrolling the Bizzel woods over there, are simply the best that there is, and the courts and the locals both know that we are.” The buck raised his head as if he heard the same voices rumble their profanity, as did I. I let arrow string roll and the arrow fly, striking the deer solidly behind the left shoulder. He grunted, taking three steps slightly sideways, then melted down into a magnificent heap. The distant, but clear sound of sloshing liquid in a bottle broke the stationary mourning air. The same two low pitched course voices again shattered the stillness of the morning. “You know I was thinking, West? Is old psycho Burns patrolling here with us today, or over there?” “No he’s over here with us today. You know, this bastard is all of our special assignments. Catching him or not catching him, could make or break us,” replied the voice of West. “He is really making our entire department appear as incompetent, blundering idiots.” “I want to beat this son of bitch down when we catch him.. I mean.., really.., just beat him bloody down. Then.., and then.., I am just dying to make a new man out of him!,” rumbled Brothers seemingly through tightly clenched teeth as a hint of coming laughter broke his strain.. “A new man? What-a-ya mean by that, Brothers?” “When you’ve been with this department in this neck of the woods long enough, you learn the code words around here. What we mean here is that I want to beat him down good.., really good…,” again the voice spoke seemingly through tightly clenched teeth. “ I take it that this man is a bit young, cause an older man just couldn’t melt away from us like this one has.” “Yeah, that’s a fact,” replied West, with a slight laugh. I eased on the down the stand, then made my way over to the deer’s crumpled corpse. I kid nobody not, this buck was an immaculate ten point specimen of divine magnificence, in both rack and well built body, if any there had ever before been. Now the real work would resume. Very cautiously I pulled him over toward my cabin, attempting to remain perfectly silent as I did so. I could still hear the slosh of liquid in a bottle, and the course profane rumble of low pitched voices looming inside the four hundred yard distance beyond. “That’ll be perfect,” rumbled Brothers. “I want you to radio Burns, for him to meet us out here immediately. Just listen to me now, and you listen to me well..! After we have beat this son of a bitch down good, West, I want you to strip him stark naked. Then we’ll both double him over and let ole Long Dong Burns do what his greatest specialty is, way out here in the back woods.” The course laughter of both men rang throughout the countryside. The sound of liquid sloshing back and forth inside a bottle seemed to echo in the distance three or four times over. “Are you kidding me, man?,” asked the voice of West. “That really goes on out here?” “It happens almost monthly,” thundered the voice of Brothers. “And if this person is a female, then such is much better by damn far!” Both voices laughed for what seemed like Texas long minutes. I was engaged in quite a bit of work. In a nearby turkey oak I had hanged a chain fall given to me by Huckle Buck, one of my fellow hunters. He swiped it from some mechanic in town, who owed him a couple hundred dollars for a welding job that he had done, but had neglected to pay up in due time. The chain fall was suspended from a six inch limb on the oak tree. In the end of the chain, a three feet piece of half inch re-bar was wired into a hook. I cut the legs of the deer and slipped the ends of the re-bar between the main tendons and the bone of his leg. I began to pull on the chain slowly while attempting to maintain security, until I hoisted this beautiful deer upside down. I was glad those two were drinking on the job. Them drinking was sure to keep me out of trouble once more again. Our own personal rule was never to do so. I guess that is just a part of the reason why we manage to function around here, with such ongoing impunity to the continuing exasperation of both the locals and the police. I proceeded to cape the deer head and hide out. The carefully preserved head, horns and hide would fetch nearly a thousand dollars in the black market around here on a mount this nice. I was extremely careful not to nick the hide, as I peeled it down from the rear legs and hams. I would put the meat underneath the salt brine. Later on I will take an old set of bed springs that I had discovered in a dump a year or three back, and construct a rack, upon which I will then lay thin slices of the deer meat to make jerky. A gallon sized bag of properly seasoned deer jerky would fetch twelve to fifteen dollars in town, especially since I had a well established reputation for providing good quality. A tactfully designed false name and social security number, provided the perfect cover for the sake of security. I will easily reap two hundred dollars cash for all the deer meat that I had taken today. The hobos over on Ben street would buy the meat of the coon for five dollars a piece. We will sell all of our hides nearer the end of the season to a man over on the Waccamaw reservation. Our hides nearly always fetch top price of twenty dollars apiece, and sometimes more. At the Waccamaw reservation during the time of the yearly rendezvous; crafts, good food, and cultural shows prevail in the daytime. At night time it’s barnyard dancing, and some of the best homemade shine served up in quart sized fruit jars then for us; and as always, a very personal run with the most prized native belles. I am sure that all of them will be there anxiously waiting for us. We’ll be certain to fetch our own additional hefty bag of cash as the night wanes, when we trade measures of this fine purple budded ganja that I located just a few days prior to the moment. The extra jolt of funds should be just enough to pull us on through the year until time for planting season, when we could transfer the tobacco plants from the beds and into the fields. Corn, bean, and sweet potato planting time would be in before too long as well. For security sake, the rendezvous is held in a different location every year, somewhere out in the depths of this fifty thousand acre reservation. I forget where it is going to be held this year. When Huckle Buck, Banjo, and Riff-Raff get here later this evening, this will surely be one of the first questions that I have to ask. Riff-Raff will know, even if the other two have forgotten, as I have. In the looming distance the two voices rumbled, now combined with the hyena like laugh of a strange third, and the slosh of liquid in a bottle. “When we get him, boys, he’ll damn sure then know that he has been had!,” rumbled the voice again of Brothers. “Cause when you are good now, boys…” There again was the sound of liquid sloshing inside a bottle. “I mean, men..,when you not just good in an acceptable way.., you know? What I am talking about here, fellows.., is when you’re Goddamn good!,” Brothers seemingly spoke again through tightly clenched teeth. “Then all people know it, and they respect you for it; and then, men, you can do whatever the hell it is that you want to. That's what life's all about here in America now.., making choices…, and just doin’ whatever the Goddamn hell it is that you want to.”
It Happened On Harper Bridge
Yes the year was 1971, probably one of the best of my entire life. The school year had gone very well in that happy little one room classroom right beside the main building. That was where we had the first and the second grades back then. My teacher was named Mrs McNeil, and she had to have been the very best teacher in the entire county school system. She was a medium-sized gray-haired lady who had a warm, caring personality, which could suddenly turn firm and strict. She had her own method of handling discipline, and later on I came to admire her very much for that. One example of Mrs. McNeil's demeanor stands out above the rest. I can still remember the day well- the afternoon that a fellow student named Daryl threatened to attack me for disagreeing with him about the rules of a game that we called Chinco . When I told her about this threat, and she simply said to me; “Well, you need to handle your own situations, since in real life you will be forced to deal with much more serious problems.” So I followed her advice. When Daryl tried to force me into playing with him, I protested in spite of his forceful demands. Needless to say, I was disappointed when instead of walking away as I had expected, he eventually attacked me for defying him. We fell by the bushes in the middle of the playground next to the nursery building. I will never forget it. We wrestled furiously beneath the shrubbery, where no one could ever hope to see us punching the lights out of each other. Before long Daryl had climbed on top of me, saying through tightly clenched teeth; “Now white boy, what are you going to do? I am your master, and I am going to tell you what you will do, and you will do just what I tell you to do, or else! Do you hear that? Do you understand?” I turned my head to the right, and closed my eyes tightly, fully expecting to take a solid punch into the side of the head. What am I going to do now, I thought, as I lie pinned into the earth by this fat black pig sitting atop my stomach? I prayed silently. Please Lord, get me out of this mess. I opened my eyes, and behold, the answer to my prayer sat right before me, tucked neatly away inside a small bunch of green grass. My eyes zeroed in on a foil pie pan and I squinted to discern a large snakelike pile of human fecal waste wound right into the very center. The idea struck me like a sword of light from the sky. Without pausing to think, I suddenly grabbed the front of his shirt with my left hand, and shook him violently, while my right hand smashed the bully squarely in the face with the loaded pan, just as he turned to see what was coming at him. Victorious, I rubbed the pan hard into his mouth and nose. Daryl collapsed from his perch upon the center of my breast, and rolled onto the ground, screaming, spitting, gagging, and crying. I jumped up immediately and backed off, so as not to give him the opportunity to retaliate. Daryl leaped to his feet and raced to the teacher, screaming with disgust and sheer rage. “Look what he has done to me! Just look what that white boy has done to me,” Daryl screamed to the teacher! “Now now,” spoke Mrs McNeil with a soothing gentleness. “Lets just go back to the classroom and get cleaned up, and then I will walk over to the main building to call your mother, if you want. Do you want that?” “Yes ma'am,” Daryl sniveled. “Who did this to you,? ” asked Mrs McNeil in a gentle voice. “He did,” replied Daryl, pointing in my direction. “That white boy yonder did this to me!” “Well, go on back to the room and I will be there very soon.” As Daryl made his way back inside, she walked menacingly toward me as I cowered in the distance watching the events unfold. “Did you do this, boy? ,” she inquired sharply as she grabbed me hard upon the biceps. “Yeah,” I replied. “I did it. He deserved it. He was on top of me trying to beat me up. Any way, I handled my situation myself, just like you said. I doubt that I will have anymore problems with him, ever again. Now, don't you think?” Mrs McNeil simply stuck her nose up in the air and with a huff, stomped off toward the old school house in the wooded distance across the ball field. After recess the entire class returned back into the class room. An hour or so into our lesson, I saw Daryl's mother appear at the door. “What happened? ,” she inquired, clearly concerned. “Well Daryl had a little accident,” replied Mrs McNeil with a warm patient smile. “Get him to tell you all about it on the way home.” So the two made their way out the door and into his mother's big dark blue 1969 Marquis Mercury. I did not see Daryl again for at least a week. My ride home that day on the big yellow bus was a very happy ride. We made our way through the sleepy Mayville town settlement and puttered down old windingOak Roadtoward the brick, ranch style home where I lived at the time. As the bus exited from the Mayville city limits, a very pale slender girl with shoulder length dark brown, almost black hair, made her way toward me. She was not much to look at, but she had a pleasantly warm personality, the infectious kind that made any body that she spoke with instantly see the positive side of life. She was twelve at the time, a grown woman old enough to be my mother as far as I was concerned. Joy always seemed to bubble over within her. The very sight of me seemed to bring out a certain special happiness. “Well hello there, you good looking thing,” she said as she eased into the seat beside me. “Are you my little boy friend?” I smiled as I felt the heat move up through my face. I could have melted into the seat, but my victory over Daryl had me feeling very manly, so I merely nodded my head up and down. “Yeah, I thought so. I got you a nice present,” the girl said, as she handed me a fat slice of freshly made chocolate layer cake bound tightly inside a piece of plastic wrap. “You like that?,” she wondered as she gently kissed my blushing cheek “See how nice it is to be my boy friend? See the good things that I can do for you? ,” she whispered into my ear. I could not help but to smile very broadly, my mouth watering at the sight of the chocolate treat. She straightened up beside me. “Well, how is school going now for you?,” she asked. “Going well,” I replied. “Oh really? You haven't gotten into any trouble, now have you?” “Well, sort of, but not really,” I confessed, “it all ended well, it seemed to me. So it must all be well.” “Well....what happened?,” my companion asked with a smile and a sudden laugh. So I proceeded to tell her about the incident with Daryl. I told her about hitting him right smack-dab in the face with the pie pan full of poo. She just about fell onto the floor of the bus with laughter..., chortling for what seemed like an hour. “ I cannot believe that you did that to him. How could you be so mean? What did your teacher, Mrs McNeil, do?,” she wondered. “Nothing, just sent him to the room to get cleaned up and called his mother.” “That's so funny! I have never heard of such a thing before,”she laughed. “What on earth will your dear Mum say now?” “Nothing, since I won the fight. Had I lost, she would have whooped me for sure then,” I lied jokingly. The girl who soon introduced herself as Sony, continued to laugh as the bus soon approached the narrow dirt road that made its way toward her house. The mailbox at the end of a long dirt road soon came into view, and the brakes of the vehicle squeaked as it slowed into a stop. Deep inside, my heart sank to see her go, and I wished dearly that she could come home with me. If you had known her, you would have felt the same way. She was such a warm jolly person, that nobody could help but to be overcome by her presence. “Well now, love, I guess I gotta go. You'll still be mine in the morning, won't you?, ” she joked. I must have grinned like a Cheshire cat, feeling my face burn with heat as I nodded my head up and down. I silently hated the fact that she did not whisper those words into my ear, and instead spoke them aloud so that everyone on the bus could hear. “Bye now,” I said with a shy wave. She exited the bus with her tight cutoff jeans hugging her slender thighs, dancing away as she walked. I gazed down the dirt road after her. I wondered in the thick woods where her house could possibly lie. The path extended the road ahead straight into the distance for a hundred yards, then curved sharply to the right, disappearing into the tall hardwood timber. Every morning for the rest of that year Sony sat with me on the bus ride home. I sometimes pretended not to want her to sit with me, but in secret, I loved having her there. “Yeah, you'll pledge yourself to me one day. I will win ya over,” she would say. I would shake my head rapidly from side to side. “Yeah you will! Yeah you will! You'll see! You'll see,” she laughed with a pleasantly convincing smile. For many a day we laughed and talked about animals, parents, school, and our friends. Soon days turned into weeks and weeks into months, until the day arrived that I could sit beside her completely unafraid of being teased by the other kids on the bus. I did not even care what they thought any more. “What are you doing today at lunch recess?,” she whispered into my ear one warm spring day, when the wisteria, the tulips and the azalea were in full bloom. “Nothing,” I replied. “Can you meet me behind your classroom at lunch time today? You won't see me until you step into the edge of the woods. Don't let anybody see you, ya hear now?,” she warmly whispered. “Yeah..., sure...Don't worry, I'll be there.” My heart raced in anticipation, and it seemed like lunch time would never arrive. What did Sony have planned? Had she slipped in another piece of decadent desert as she was known to do? Or had she finally swiped her grand father's pipe and his pouch of tobacco? I could hardly sit still with wondering. When lunch time rolled around, I went into the cafeteria inside the main building and pretended to eat, nibbling at my food before giving the remainder to a classmate named Marvin who was overweight and always hungry. I slowly walked through the huge glass double doors into the outside, and tried to appear as though I was not heading anywhere in particular. I turned right then I made my way passed the old phys-ed supply room, and on around the corner. In the hazy distance I saw the old wood-framed classroom, sitting quietly beside the baseball field on the edge of the woods. The old school house felt strange without students milling around. I shot one last glance over my shoulder to see if anybody was watching, but everyone appeared to be absorbed in their lunch. Convinced I had made a smooth getaway, I slowly headed toward the one room classroom. There appeared no signs of activity around the building at all, but I remembered Sony's whispered instructions to step into the edge of the woods. Like a spy on a mission I glanced around again, and having reassured myself that no one had followed me, I gingerly stepped into the thicket. I neared a huge ancient live oak tree ahead with its massive drooping limbs that surely measured some four or five feet in diameter at the trunk; as I eased around it, this slink vixen silently eased around from the opposite side in my forward direction, grasping me with her sinewy arms and kissed me warmly in my ears. “So I see that you did not deny me after all. You'll be glad that you did not,” Sony whispered with a warm, soothing smile. “You know what I mean?” “No,” I shook my head from side to side. I glanced around for a bag or box, still awaiting the anticipated surprise. “You ever been kissed ?,” she purred with a strange glazed over look in her eyes. Before I could answer, she continued in a low, gasping tone. “Here..., let me show you.” Her warm lips gently caressed mine. I felt that warm surge of heat move from the pit of my stomach up into my face. “It's like this...,” she instructed as she kissed me again. “I'll christen you yet. The other boys will be jealous and will not know what to think... If they ever knew.... You …, You will have tasted the fine red wine..., and they only be able to imagine what it is like.....” I was incredibly confused, but I liked the sound of a super secret oath, and I was enjoying the feel of her soft lips that were naturally beautiful in an alluring way, strangely reminding me of blood red Hydrangea for reasons that I could never explain. The air about her eerily bore the heavy scent of yellow jasmine in the cheerful spring air. “I'll never tell,” I snapped! “Not even to your best friend, Fish?” “No, not even to my best friend, Fish,.” I promised. “What about to your best friend C.L?,” she asked as she kissed my lips deeply, with much more passion. “No, not even to C.L.,” I struggled to say in between her heavy, gasping embraces. Gently Sony took my left hand and led me a few yards on the other side of the huge oak tree. We eased into a clearing surrounded by thick bushes on three sides. The oaks massive trunk and its heavy out spreading limbs fenced in the fourth side. In the middle of the empty space I saw a six by six baby blue blanket lying flatly on the ground. “Come here,” she whispered with an air of great anticipation. “I fixed a place.” She embraced me again, still kissing me passionately. My heart raced with excitement sprinkled with just a pinch of fear. We gingerly eased ourselves down in our embrace, making our way onto the blanket. “Let me be the one...,” she whispered while continuing to kiss me warmly. Her right hand eased upward, gently unbuttoning the top most button of her elegant homespun dress, working its way downward, finally her small breasts were exposed. She did not wear any bra.., and I was to not know the difference until many years later. “Do you like what you see?,” she cooed. “Now...What you are supposed to do is to kiss them, if you want to be a real lover now.” So I did so..., very slowly.., just like she told me to, being very careful to caress each tender nipple with my throbbing hot tongue. “That's right...yeah... that feels so good. I love it when you do that,” she purred with a light giggle as we embraced. She gingerly seized my left hand, placing it between her thighs. “Rub gently, but firmly, like this,” she commanded, as she moved my hand up and down in her firm grasp. “Yeah, that's right... That's right...” Then I felt her hand move slowly toward the center of my thighs, and the movement caused those surges of heat and excitement to rise until I felt as though I would explode. “Yeah, I can see that you want me, but you learn fast. You learn so very fast.....” Sony's hands then moved to slowly pull down her silken underwear. “Do you like that? Let me show you,” she offered as she eased my own cotton briefs down. I struggled to get them over my brogans, but somehow I managed . “Yeah,” she whispered. “That's right… Now take my hands. Come here, to me..., here...” I eased on top of her, feeling her snug pulsating body beneath mine..., enjoying her warm breath in my face. “That's right,” she would whisper. “Just allow everything to fall into place all on it's own. That's right... Oh... that's right... Oooooh... That's right now..... You've got it....Just go with the feeling now,” she whispered in a series of quick gasps. Well…,spring turned to summer, and after a grueling summer away from Sony, it was once more again the start of another school year. I couldn't have loved Sony more than I had the previous year, and I looked forward to seeing her again on the bus. We had spent hundreds of times together behind the old oak tree by now. She said that I loved like an old hand, and she finally pronounced me an expert in the field of love, a master of the craft. She even constructed a really nice cardboard crown covered with golden gems of inlaid felt, proudly dubbing me King O’ Lovers! She was funny like that at times, sometimes pretending to want to stick me with the needle that she used to give herself insulin.... Truth be told the needle scared me.... I trusted Sony, but when she brought out that evil looking needle, I did not dare push my luck. “You're the best! You know that, don't you?” she told me one day when I tried to evade her kisses and explore the woods instead. “ Several men visit me from time to time, but none have the up on you, honey, cause I trained you right! I got you broke now, boy!,'' she giggled. “You ain't just the little boy from way over on Beaver Ridge any more.... Please don't be mad now, just come on back over here.... There is no reason for you to fear.” When the bus halted at Sony's stop on the first day of school, the other girls, Patricia, Michelle and Crystal got on, but there was no Sony. “Where is Sony?,” I asked. “ We don't know,” they collectively replied. “Maybe she's sick or just didn't feel like coming to school. Why.. Why are you so anxious to see her?” They all looked at each other and exploded into hearty laughter. Monday turned into Tuesday, and Tuesday into Wednesday, then Friday finally came, and still no Sony. “Where is Sony?,” I inquired once more. “We don't know, but that is strange for her to miss a whole week,” her friends confessed. “We will walk down to her house after school and let you know, come Monday. Ya hear? Can you wait that long?” They all laughed out loud as they exited from the bus. All weekend long I sat and worried. Finally Monday came, but no Sony. “The whole community is worried about that girl, no body can find her,” the girls told me. “We don't know anything as of yet.” When the following week ended, I rode the bus home that day feeling more alone than ever. Loneliness turned into fear upon my arrival back home. My mother asked me; “Have you heard the news about that little girl from way over there on Harper Bridge Road? She is lost and the police are looking for her. She's been gone about two weeks now, and they still can't find her.” I thought the news of Sony's disappearance would be the worst thing I would ever hear, but a few days later I would change my mind. I will never forget my mother's words when at last, the mystery was solved. “Well, they found that poor little girl today,” I overheard her telling my father. “ She was discovered dead in an old abandoned tenant shack not very far from the first bend in the dirt road way over where she lived. She was severely diabetic, you know. They done a test on her... And found out that she was seven months pregnant! The parents didn't even know it. Can you believe that? This girl was only thirteen years old, and pregnant! My oh my, just what in heaven's name is this world coming to? The pregnancy caused her to go into a diabetic coma. “They don’t even know who the daddy of the baby is, is that not a crying shame? They first thought that it must have been somebody in the family, but that turned up negative. Then they thought that it just might be somebody from the Scuffle Town community, a Lone Star mile or so up the road, but that proved negative as well. Now they think that it may be somebody from the Witch's Cross neighborhood, an hours walk from where she lived. “They have found a trail of footprints leading to the tenant house through a thick cover of woods, but they have no suspects. The trail split about a third of the way from the Witch’s Cross Road community, then dead ended at the Black Sand Creek. Judging by the footprints, the police suspected a man around twenty or so, but several suspects that fit the profile were questioned, and none were a match up. So the book on the case, for now, is closed. I hope they catch that older man. Goodness knows, he knew better than to take advantage of a little girl like that, meeting her inside an old, run-down tenant shack of all places, for crying out loud!” Today the rain is pounding the window pane where I now sit, lost in deep contemplation. It has been a virtual lifetime ago, and even though the pain has long since fled from my heart, deep inside my mind Sony still holds a special place all of her own. Even though the adults who had questioned the serious case aloud are now long dead..., I still cannot bring myself to ever tell the story.... To speak the truth aloud, as I recollect those crystal clear images and passionate feelings buried for so many ages ... Thus I sit silently in this leather bound chair, forever feeling the presence of her invisible spectrum with each flash of blue lightning. On irregular occasions in the midday darkness of the tempest, I behold her comforting phantom face in a flicker of brilliant sapphire light. Amid the haunting sound of distant rolling thunder and a creaking puff of turbulent wind, my tears are reflected in the rain soaked bay window before me....; and a little bit of my soul pours from the glass pane and splatters onto the ground, with each drop of April rain.
__________________________ 1 51 split sticks made from reed. One tossed an amount on the ground, by sight or glance his opponent told him how many, and how many he held in his hand. If he miscounted, the person who held the reeds had to immediately respond with the correct number. Bets were placed in the initiative, the toss and response were near instantaneous. The loser of the bet was the one who miss counted.
The Tale Of Dambo Blankenridge
Let it be known that the following account may be somewhat of a true tale, but just don’t you dare ever bet your sweet virtuous posterior on it. All of the names, places, incidences and faces have been tactfully changed, to protect both the innocent and the guilty. Beware of speaking in concerns to these places, situations and people described out loud, since some hillside long shank might just saunter in on a snowy cold, dark and lonely Saturday night, and stroke that old kitty cat until the blue fire flies, the luscious juice flows, and the divine thunder claps; right on up until she purrs like a well tuned, original, American made Chevy motor! Once that mighty max commences, let it be known that virtually nothing else can cause him to bring it to an end, but a conclusive rise of the sun on a poor, spent man’s horizon; so heed this dire warning as you dare to read on, and do so at your own peril. I tell you all, this well endowed, Anglo-Saxon author, shall in no way be held responsible for anything resulting from the misconduct of his readers; so please do understand that single fact before you proceed onward any farther.. There once was a man who lived in an elegantly constructed clap board shack, way across town on a residential road called Butter Butt Lane. He dreamed of being at least a shit-house lord in his derelict one horse mill town. This particular old town had once been called the Precinct Of Old Blades, since most of the people who remained there tended to appear about as ragged, and behaved as outright haggardly, as they smelled. I cannot recall exactly what it was that the town leaders finally changed the administrative district title into; but make no doubt in regard to this subject, this new name had to have been some sort of euphemism, being that the big money had long since melted away, like good cake icing does on a red hot fireside iron. Though I have forgotten much over the years, there are a few things about this particular man known by his intimate circle as Dambo Blankenridge, that I shall never forget. However, I use the term “man” rather loosely; like the old hammer hangs inside a delicate bovine belle’s clanger-janger on a really good night, if all of my fine readers know what I mean here! I am compelled to offer thorough explanation on this note, however, since I never could figure out if the male entity that I once bore witness to was really even human, alien, woman, beast, wimp, muff, or not. Matter of fact, I shall never forget the day they actually crowned him King..., King O’ The Sons Of Bitches! The Sons Of Bitches were a motorcycle gang that he once deemed himself fond of riding around with. None of us could ever figure out the reason why. All that they ever did was sit around, talk lots of trash, drink quarts of beer, smoke their weight in pot, and behave like they thought that they really intimidated the other locals with their foul odor, their filthy looks, and their ridiculous insults to all that is positive in general. There was nothing outstanding about this group of riders other than their rude obnoxious behavior and their strikingly offensive appearance; but I tell you all that I shall never forget as well, the day that he, his old lady, and his group of biker louts finally rode away over the hill, on down past the shuttered antique cotton mill, into the setting sun for good. Only the good Lord knows to where it is that they rode off too, or even if they are alive in our present day; but then, who is it among us left that really even cares anymore? In a long since faded, hazy, smoke filled, rum soaked memory..., my mind drifts far backward to the time of the local Tobacco Festival Parade. This festival event occurred around the first of November. These were truly the good ole days in old Skanksville; which come to think of it, was what the town council eventually wound up naming this specific old mill town. The former Precinct Of Old Blades became Skanksville. According to the local history, a woman named Bridget Skanks, who was the wife of a wealthy railroad baron named Bridger Skanks, was the original town founder; so the name obviously derived from that of theirs. During the old Tobacco Festival Parade every local wanted to own or at least rent a horse. The reason was that he could ride or pull his horse, while displaying advertisements for the local businesses on either side of the horse. The going price per sign was two hundred dollars, CBBB (CB3), or cash-between-the-bimbo’s breasts as we still say, and sometimes even more. The parade went off and on, all day Friday and Saturday, so then the total became four hundred dollars cash for both sides! This was really a lot of money for doing something as simple as just pulling a horse down through the middle of town in the midst of a crowd, for about three hours time in total. This money was just enough to get the horse owner through until planting time, six or seven months later, when he finally had the opportunity to work again. The activities during the Tobacco Festival celebration were a lively and varied bunch, I might say. Usually the competitive events began in the morning time around 0900 and continued back to back, pausing only at the midday siesta break. We did not call it a siesta back then, it was simply “ dinnertime,” but it was the same situation as the much later noted siesta. I can vividly recall the watermelon eating contest. The person who won received an entire carton of chewing tobacco! This amounted to twenty four foil pouches, filled with the very best brand available at the time. Usually the favored brand was Red Man, for some reason. I cannot recall that anyone ever refused the prize, even if he did not chew; since he could always sell or trade the pouches, considering that almost everybody made use of it back in that time and place. What really became a delight was when the tobacco in the twenty four pouches was homemade. The pouches then were usually plastic sandwich bags, rather than foil, and there tended to be much more of it. The situation became even better when the tobacco was peach flavored, and had been liberally soaked in Kentucky bourbon, or treble run peach flavored white lightning. The activity that followed was the seed spitting contest. It was really surprising to see just how far a young girl, boy, man or woman, could spit those watermelon seeds. Many a time I have bore witness to seeds flying some thirty yards or more, and into a six foot diameter circle! The prize was one’s choice in a box of shotgun shells, or a cardboard box of ten multicolored chicks. Either one would have been fine by me, depending on what my intention of the moment was. If I had won the chicks, that night around the twelfth striking at the pond behind the old J&G tobacco warehouse in the center of town, the ten chicks would have saved me twenty dollars. I will explain how later on. Usually the winner was a local older lady who had no use for the shells, and would always give me the chicks anyway, smiling broadly with a slightly intoxicated appearance on her face, saying with a very coarse, smoke choked voice as she did so… “ Well, here ya go there, love. While you are gettin’ your kicks with these chicks for the night, think about me, now, ya hear?” “ You know that I could never forget ya, now Miss Suzy,” I would say as I grabbed the box filled with chirping chicks from underneath her right arm. Yeah man., now let me tell ya all about her; that was Miss Suzy Sudds. She owned a local combo soda fountain, pharmacy, malt bar and florist shop, tucked away pleasantly right there on the corner of Nelly Nance and Main street, called “Suzy’s Suds and Buds.” In my earliest years I did not give the matter much thought, but as time passed, I commenced to examine Miss Suzy with an investigative eye geared toward more specific detail. For an older lady she really held herself up very well, to my shock and surprise; and after a few years, she did not even appear to be quite as old as she had in the past. She would always hand me the box of chicks with a very pleasant smile, while saying virtually the same thing every year; except by the time I was fourteen or fifteen, she would throw in an additional line to her time worn phrase... “Well, where ya been a hidin’ there honey ?,” she would spout through her inebriated, smoked up smile, with an obviously plastic gasp? Then she would whisper low in a way that only I could hear... “Next cold Saturday night when ya don’t have anything else to do, why don’t ya drop on by an’ come up to see me sometime, big boy.” The year of my sixteenth birthday, I decided on a whim to take her up on the offer. Why not? I was really bored, and not much else was going on that late November night in Skanksville. I should say that there was not even a g--damn jingle bell on this particularly cold, dark, and drizzly night, much less anything else worthy of a note here; except maybe a firecracker here and there, or a distant gunshot or two from the bravest of night stalkers going after a few moon light horn haulers from deep inside the shadows somewhere.. I didn’t have to work the following morning. If I shall recall right after so many years, this rather tight looking doxy and me only sipped homemade muscadine wine, and played poker until the wee hours of morning. I was somewhat shocked at how well the old bud pusher really held such a stacked deck, when the play boiled on down to the nitty-gritty there in the midnight fire glow of her pot bellied wood stove! I would have never guessed it, let alone come to know, had I not simply taken the chance on a whim like this. I would have never imagined that her deck could have been so much dealt with before, that it was so rather...well worn...,yet never once slack. She really played the game fast, and she rocked her moves very hard, but with an astounding amount of talent as she tried to feel the specific detail in every single card; only accompanied in proper proportion by her sly slight of hand; so please just be kind now in your present thoughts, and do please bless the old she dog! Well.., we are reminded here how one must always recall that appearances can most assuredly be.. very deceiving, to say the least. My talented card play really seemed to hold the key that got her motor running; and she purred smoothly as a half baked puma kitten …,all the way ‘till sunrise..., with such spunk that just a simple reflection on the distant past still knocks the drool from the old dragon’s mouth, I am so compelled to tell ya here now as I pen these rather breath taking, juice soaked words!. The throngs of people would make their way down from the local park, over to the J&G Tobacco warehouse for the next competitive event. This event was certainly the most treasured one, ever so dear to the hearts of those who lived to experience it. It was the old time Skanksville tobacco spitting contest! Men and women were always more than happy to take part in this grand occurrence. It always seemed to me, that those same women who won the seed spitting contest, virtually came up winning the tobacco spitting contest with what was appearing more and more to be a calculated consistency. Most of these women appeared rather thin and worn for wear, with many of them being quite much older, if not outright elderly. Only one of them was even remotely attractive when one ignored her face; but she possessed the body of a true Venus way backward in the making, that would make a courthouse Little Coot statue gasp when she strutted passed. All of the others participating in this contest would have appeared just splendid after seven or eight Budweiser's around closing time. I figure that it would not have taken but only five for her, then I could have at least looked her directly in the face. Too bad for me that the opportunity never came around for me to find out. The only exception might have been that it was on one of those bleak cold December nights, where I was tag teamed by two horn wearing, pig tailed vixens in the dark of moonlight in some forgotten wood stand graveyard by the local railroad tracks, then come the next morning I couldn’t recollect even one of their faces; and the one that I could faintly recollect, I wished dearly that I could simply shake out of my poor, permanently scared up mind. My oh my, just what on earth did I do? What in the name of good grannie came over me? Oh poor, poor little me; and the many places, faces, and ruffled dress laces, that I have gotten myself into! What more might I now say after so many live long, lost years? If the winner was a single woman, then she got to select the male of her choice from the crowd for a really rockin’ rawhide date. If the winner was male, then he had the experience of enjoying a splendid date with the local Tobacco Queen! The queen had the pleasure of selecting where it was that she and the male would go, and the local town hall payed for it all, in full! The date would usually occur on Saturday night of the following weekend. Virtually every year about this same time, my friends and I would go frog-gigging over on Ticklenaked Branch Road the following Saturday night, and we always knew if the local Tobacco Queen and her date, got along well on the night of their outing. Our strategy, when we discovered a strange car parked in front of the old tree enshrouded pack-house shack in-front of the slough where we hunted, was to ease up on the vehicle with the spotlight turned off, then surprise the visitors by abruptly shining it virtually into the occupant’s faces; doing so in hope that the people would ride on and leave, once we had observed the vehicle for a while to determine if it was the local sheriff in waiting for us, or not. What always amused us was when the Tobacco Queen and her date for the evening, carried on as though we were not even present! Matter of fact, here I shall declare that they did not even miss a single blessed stroke, for holding the meat down hard enough to make the Nannie-goat choke! To our chagrin, on most of these occasions, we would wind up being the ones to hastily exit the entire area, since the risk of either them spotting us to give later identification, or the local skunk sheriff popping up to investigate, was far too great for wagering chances. Following the tobacco spitting contest, the same crowd would gradually move on into the tobacco warehouse itself. Here would be positioned a stage, with a musical band in performance that had driven in all the way from way out on Nantucket Island. What these folks specialized in playing was Beach Music, of course; but back in this day rather than the music of Bob Marley, it tended to be the Beatles, or Little Richard, some local band specialty that was popular, or more from the kind of musical tune that is easy for people to dance the Shag with. As this band played along, freshly cooked pork barbeque with beans, potato salad, Coleslaw, and homemade biscuits, were being served out to the people, who were being seated at the unpainted picnic tables lined up in rows on the inside of the rather large, but empty warehouse complex. All of this fine eating was served with one’s choice of ice tea, or jet black coffee. This time was a great occasion for families to get together, or to do some socializing with old friends and acquaintances whom we hadn't visited for a while. As people gathered about, eating and listening to the music, about two thirds of the way through, the band would pause for a while and the local politicians would take the stage, selling their favored pitch for local office to us as we finished our meals, while we all were speaking merrily among ourselves. This special event was a cherished time indeed for the entire county, to be sure about my reflection on the times. One time Governor Ye Lire came down all the way from Bone Lick, just to speak on stage at our local seasonal festival! All of the women rushed up to hug his neck and wish him well, if not kiss him outright. Many of these women were not exactly among the most savory, but the governor did not seem to mind even one little bit, I tell you. Matter of fact, he appeared to have gotten a real kick out of doing so! Maybe there was much more here than met the eye? The local talk just went wild during this time of year. The best time, and the climax to the festival weekend, was the old Festival Dance at the J&G tobacco warehouse. The former event involving the band and the politicians, lead up to the evening dance. While the local floozies were on the inside seeking out their date for the night, in the large parking lot the moonshine flowed, and the growing contention roared. Any matters of disagreement were solved once and for all, around back of the tobacco warehouse. Out there was a huge mud hole, where virtually all of those earlier in verbal contest also soon became involved in a physical contest, goading the other into some perverted, macho display of violence. Virtually all of them wound up wallowing in this thick mud, consisting of fresh pig manure, smut black dirt, all mixed in with some rather dingy ditch water that we called “dragon piss,” in pleasant jest.. Things really became exciting when two screamin'-demon women, went at it inside the mud pit. Man..,oh man..., the people would just gather all around that mud pit, hoist their cups of spiked up beer high, and cheer these raging lioness couples on; who would virtually always wind up stripping each other naked to the bare bone, to the shear delight of the entire surging, swearing, flag waving mob! One time the fight became so violent that the local sheriff was forced to intervene, just to forbear some sort of serious injury, or possible fatality from occurring. What made it worse was to discover that one of these raging mud nymphs was the Governor’s own daughter herself, highly inebriated and all decked out in the bare flesh, just like the day that she was born; screaming, yelling, and a cussing..., just as hard as her sweetly scorned, but deliciously delicate, well talented lips could yell! Personally, I got a real kick out of it all myself; but then again, what red blooded American thirteen year old boy would not have? One certain night, as I shall recall, there were some twenty nine people, all just a wallowing in the mud hole out there in the cold, including a few half naked bimbos, among the men. One man grabbed a certain midsized woman with a set of rather developed breast that stood straight out from her body, hugging her up close to him, while a drunkard in a filthy muck covered shirt confronted him with both fists raised, and his tobacco stained teeth clenched in what appeared to be a seething anger. “Dambo Blankenridge, I’ll kick your sorry ass from hell itself, all the way back to Texas, is what I’ll do,” he roared! “Awe Jim,” screamed the woman, “you shut your face this very moment! Him, me, nor anybody else, don’t have any use for it out here tonight, now honey.” “Yeah woman? Well I told ya not to be with the likes of him anymore. Now didn’t I? Didn’t I, now woman?,” the drunken man roared. “Yeah? Oh yeah?,” screamed the woman back. “Well guess what, Jimmy there, it’s tough shit for you, cause Dambo ’s a coming home with me tonight. You hear me? You get that? He’s gonna be mine tonight, now. I told ya a long time ago, that it was over with between us. It’s over between us..,forever.., oh Jimmy boy. So you just gotta get over it!” “Yeah..? Is that much so? Well, it hasn’t been so long ago that I have forgotten where it is that you live,” spouted the man suggesting a possible threat. “Well, guess what? There are things that I never told you. When Mama died two years ago, she left me another house over on lake Maccamahaw, and the likes of you have never been there before, nor do you know anybody that has. So you can just take that and shove up where the sun doesn’t shine tonight, there, oh Jimmy boy! See if you can find some pleasure in it as ya do it,” the woman rudely shouted back to him. “And just what in the name of G--damned hell are you laughing at Dambo!,” the dirt covered man screamed as he pointed his index finger directly at Dambo's half smiling face. “You ain’t shit, there Blankenridge boy! You ain’t shit...! You hear me? You let me catch you around town here, boy...I’ll cut your head clean off your puny, punk-assed shoulders!” Dambo appeared to be a worm, drenched in pig manure and mud from head to toe. He spoke only through his nose. I failed to determine if speaking in such a munked up manner was his natural tone, or one borrowed from the cheap whiskey that he was obviously so full of. On this night I never got a real hard look at his physical features, since they were all covered in a thick blanket of mud, and putrid muck. “I’ll be on my way,” he said with a noticeable shiver in his voice. “What did you say to me, boy?,” the drunkard roared. “You got something to say to me, there boy? If so, then you had better be out with it!” “He’ll be with me,” the mud covered woman screamed who Dambo was crouched behind, almost as if he was attempting to hide. “I told you where he was going to be tonight, you damn, dumb bozo!” “I guess that I am going to be with her,” slurred Dambo through his nose, as he spoke to the man and pointed jest-fully toward the woman in an obvious attempt at provoking the threatening drunkard swaying as he stood before him. He laughed as though he got a thrill out of telling the man what he did, yet he appeared to be forcing it due to his suppressed fear, that he obviously thought nobody else had bothered to notice. “Well, you can have that punk-arsed, son of a bitch,” screamed the pointing man while he staggered as he attempted to stand there in the middle of the huge mud pond. “And you, son-of-a-bitch, can just eat shit and die, as far as I am concerned!,” screamed the man toward Dambo. “Well, very well, then,” Dambo almost sniveled, “I have never tried that before. Have you? Ole come on now, don’t tell us that you have, oh Mr. Elroy there.” Dambo and the smoked up, juice slopped strumpet, tossed back their heads and roared with inebriated laughter. “That’s Jim to you! You got that, you damn, dumb-arsed bastard,” spouted the intoxicated man as he pointed his index finger almost directly in Dambo’s very face again? “Yeah! You tell him, there Dambo. That was a good one!,” screamed the inebriated mud hole floozy. When all of the drunken men and women finally quit wrestling and climbed out of the mud hole, the next place that they headed was toward the warehouse owner, old man, Guilful’s, pond just a few hundred yards farther backward from the mud hole, and up against the woods. Inside this pond he kept two very large pet alligators. Another famous event that occurred at the festival every year was the dyed and fried warehouse chick toss. Every drunk in the county would come to the dance for no other reason than to participate. One of old man, Guilful’s, workers would be standing by the door of the chick pen, loaded with hundreds of little ducklings and chicks; with the drunks forming a line, going all the way backward to the tobacco warehouse door. Young and old, man, woman, harlot, hussy, whore, saint and deacon, would almost fight for their place in line during this age old event. Hell, I even saw the preacher man himself there once, if it really matters enough for me to even tell it..., just as stagger stricken and stumble toed as the rest of ‘em, to bluntly tell the truth about it. For two dollars a person could purchase a chick, and for three dollars he could buy himself a lively yellow and brown duckling. He would then walk over to the pond, and toss the chick or the ducking over the edge toward the ever hungry alligators, who appeared to be waiting very patiently. The people observing from the line literally went wild when the big bad gator snapped the poor little squeaking chick or duckling up. The more filled that the observers were with their shine-spiked Budweiser or Coors draft, then the crazier it seemed that they all became. When the alligators finally filled..., which was seldom, virtually never but only once that I can recall..., the man had nine starved, caged racoons and an even hungrier boa constructor who were very happy to take over the task of consuming chicks and ducklings, to the growing cheers of a drunken crowd. The following Sunday morning was always one that could never be forgotten; for every person at the local tobacco warehouse the night before, was present there at the baptist church in the center of town. Sinner, saint, the drunkard, the charlatan, and the con-man, were all sitting shoulder to shoulder proudly and very well dressed, right there inside the pews. All of those wallowing in the mud hole the night before were there as well. All of the many people who were once seriously at war with one another, were now on much friendlier terms; appearing unto the few out-landers who were very ignorant of the local customs, as though they had never been anything else at all, but the very best of friends. It was there that I ran into Dambo again. He sang in the local choir, with his still slurring, raspy, tenor nasal voice sounding high above all of the others present. When he completed his duties in the choir loft, he then came down to light the altar candles before commencement of the morning sermon. When he lit the flame it sparkled furiously, almost like a dynamite fuse; causing a nervous Dambo to first try blowing the flame out, so that he could clean the wick off before relighting it. When he attempted at puffing out the flame, the flicker of the candle suddenly raged like the flame of a blow torch, from all of the liquor fumes still yet lingering on his rancid, stomach churning morning breath following the tobacco festival dance. The preacher then suddenly ceased in his sermon, with a hard, angry appearance plastered all over his brightly flushed face. He quickly snapped around toward Dambo. “Dambo Blankenridge..., I should have known better.!.Oh, how I should have known better. It had too have been you, who was most certainly right there in the mud hole last night,” the preacher screamed as he gasped, and grasped the top of his half bald head with a trembling right hand. “Oh.., do shame on me! Shame, shame, on poor little me, for I should have made a better choice being in the position of pastor for this blessed church. Please forgive me, dear congregation, oh, how I beg of you.., please!” “Well preacher,” sniveled Dambo as he smiled his wormy hungover smile. “I shall not ever lie. How would you ever have known…, unless you were right there in the mud hole with me last night?” “Dambo !,” raged the preacher as he pointed his index finger toward him from the pulpit. Dambo abruptly interrupted him. “ Well let‘s do tell the truth there, ole preacher man. I saw you just standin' right there beside the muck mud, a looooking very lustfully at the mud hole doll babies. That’s right now..., I saw saw ya...! You might fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool little ole me none of the time, there ole fat feller! There’s no need to lie about it now. I in-fact saw ya..., a standin' there all wobble eyed..., and just a loookin’ ‘til ya googled out eyes seemed like they were about to pop out o’ ya old bald, chicken head there!” “Well I -!,” snapped the preacher. Dambo immediately cut him off sharply again. “Yeah? I know that you desperately wanted to, but you never will. I don’t know what the mud hole hump hunnies here have to say about the matter?” “Yeah, Dambo there, you just might be about right,” four or five broadly smiling, well dressed women spoke up and said from the congregation sitting in the choir loft behind the podium, where the preacher stood facing Dambo, who stood with his back toward the main congregation. “We all shall second the absolute fact, that he never will with any one of us.” The congregation sitting behind Dambo rippled with a muffled giggle from all of the ladies present inside the church house. I will never forget that Saturday night in late February of that following year. You see, old Dambo’s self employed sewer pond riding pony was also the town Mayer! She had a strange custom that she would engage in from time to time virtually every year, like clock work in a wonton factory. She was also the local backdoor liquor distiller, and the good town of Skanksville provided her with her own apartment, and even a steady supply of food to boot; all of this just to say thank-you for the fine services that she so artfully supplied the kind residents with. Sometime around ten or eleven in the evening..., every year it would virtually never fail...; she would saddle up one of her parade horses, strip stark naked, strap an ammo belt and a pistol with it’s holster around her waist, hop on the horse, then brazenly ride away on Main Street right down through the middle of town! Usually when called, the local sheriff, one Mr. Shacklaid Hester, would kindly take it upon himself to casually pick her up. Come the following morning the whole town would see his personal Caledonia county patrol vehicle casually parked right there behind her apartment, like he thought that he was hiding from somebody or something. Every telephone inside the whole province of Hardscrabble Corner would nearly leap from it's hook with the town gossip. This time however, the sheriff stayed comfortably at home, and the man who came to save the night was none other than ole Dambo Blankenridge himself. He even thought to bring along a brand new, crispy clean bed sheet specially intended to wrap her up in, since he well knew that she would be shivering with cold, considering all of the bared flesh being so brazenly exposed to the elements, as it was. According to the talk, both of them were spotted out on Ticklenaked Branch Road for a while, before Blankenridge paused his car behind her place to finish off what all the walloping church ladies imagined was most certainly, a truly exotic pleasure of the starlit night. “What a fine fellow,” everybody said, “to be so considerate of a dame consumed in mental distress like that. We need many more people just like Mr. Blankenridge around here,” they would all stand around on broad street the following day, and say. One of the ladies dressed in her long ankle length, wine colored dress with expensive looking ruffles of satin lace, wearing a big sun bonnet the same color, suddenly had eyes that lit up like poplar sparks in the dark of midnight. “Well it is very interesting that all of you should speak so fondly of Mr. Blankenridge like that. Maybe he can pass all of his positive attributes on down to our dear little children,” she said. “Oh do tell ?,” inquired the town folk with a sudden gasp, “and why exactly is it that you should say such a complementary thing?,” they all continued to inquire. The lady then gazed at the gathered bunch over her sagging spectacles. “You are all aware that he is chief Ka Ka instructor down at the old Wolery Family academy, aren’t you,” relayed the lady? “Oh, do tell, now? Ever so honored and blessed are all of us by his presence,” the concerned group said with another heavy gasp! Come Christmas time that year, when the academy let the children out for Christmas break, old Dambo went as far as to call me up, to my shock and surprise. How the rooster crowing hell did he even know me? What possessed him to call me, of all people, up? I had only spoken with him only a few times prior in the past. Maybe it was our conversations about pleasant looking, green haired bimbos throwing elegant homemade yo yo's, with the cute little juice drippin' joules that could slurp up an entire foot-long hot dog in a single gulp, a nine inch tongue that could lick the chrome clean on the backside of a new Ford buggy bumper; and not to mention were in possession of a delicious intake that could draw golf balls through some ten feet of garden hose, just to make a courthouse Stars and Garters statue break out in a steaming, shivering, trembling sweat! Hell, to be honest about the matter, I never could quite figure it all out! He proceeded to say that he wanted me to take a trip with him all the way to Acapulco Mexico, and would pay for everything! I was game, since I had nothing better to do at the time, and the old doxy had just about spent her damn squeeze box out playing our time worn game of “thrash the magic dragon” by then. When he came by to pick me up, he was driving an early bullish model of Thunderbird, complete with a drop top, a well crafted sunroof, and a really sweet doosed up 302. I never did ask why it was that we were going to Mexico, but I did notice that the trunk was rather large on this particular model of car. When we finally motored on across that southern border, we made our way toward a very small development that appeared to be a town straight out of the old West. People rode horses and wagons, with very few owning automobiles of any type. The roads were not even paved, only dirt and gravel, if they were lucky. Soon we were far out of town, in a place virtually out all alone somewhere in the undeveloped woods. We finally came to pause in front of a very large field of what appeared to be delightfully tall standing hemp; you know, the kind with the nine inch, sap dripping, purple buds sticking all out from everywhere, like horns on a hyped up hoppin’ hound when he smells a cute little doe in heat. Dambo picks up his two way radio and speaks in Spanish fluently to my astonishment, then turns to me and tells me to watch the field of hemp ahead. Soon more than a hundred nude children from nine to twelve years of age, appearing to have been released from somewhere unseen, bolted into a complete run through the huge standing field. The large group of children ran more than a quarter mile, until they arrive at an expansive colonial styled plantation complex on the other side of the field. These kids make the trip back and forth twice more, then the group finally comes to pause once more again before the large plantation estate. Dambo picks up the two way radio and makes a call. He carries on a conversation for three or four lines, then puts the radio down. “Well boy, let’s ride around and go visit the owner of this house. I have something that I want to show you here, that you may well never get to see anywhere else.” “Whose house is it ?,” I asked, trying to feign the appearance of being nonchalant. “ I am not at liberty to reveal that information, but you are more than welcome to come by and watch the inspirational sights, regardless,” replied Dambo with an air of confidence. We motor on around the field of what appears to be standing hemp, making our way down a narrow two rut dirt road, until we come to pause before a massive, West Indies, colonial style plantation mansion. Out in the yard each of the children was being scraped down by using an edged wooden scraper shaped like a short, but wide bladed knife. The gum swelled into a large blob on the edge of the scraper, being carefully removed and placed into light green, quart sized, rather elaborately decorated glass holders. By the time that each of the four fancy candy jar types of glass holders had been filled, each and every child had been scraped down thoroughly from head to toe. The gum on the inside of the jars was then removed and pressed into brick sized wooden molds, that both connected and disconnected into halves. What remained was a masonry brick sized shape consisting of tightly packed gum, gathered from what appeared to be a very large field of standing hemp. “You see that brick looking thing there ?,” asked Dambo with a thin rubbery smile. “ Yeah, I see it,” I replied. “ Well that thing, as you call it, is going to net us about nine grand, and these people will pay for our trip here.” “ What is it,” I asked? “ You haven’t figured that out yet?,” Dambo spouted as he smiled in astonishment. “ I am not asking just to waste time talking,” I retorted. “Well that is some of the best stew on the other side of the Rio Grande, I tell you! That is how I am going to pay my keep inside ole Skanksvile there. You didn’t think that I could make it on a poor Ka Ka instructor’s salary alone, did you? This is my sideline gig, and it works out really well for me,” Dambo spouted with a wormy smile. We finally made it back to Skanksville during late evening in a couple of days. Our ride back, of course, occurred after gorging ourselves on some of the world’s best tequila and lounging around in one of the most exotic, bodacious booty blessed bordellos in all of Madre Magdalene’s Christendom.., all enjoyed at the complete expense of our herb wealthy hosts. Here, to my wonderful Stars And Bars amazement, we both were surrounded every hour on the hour by more bared up, bouncing, golly whopping, body rocking gazongas, than an adulterated IRS cash register can count. Old Dambo told the madam of this blessed beaver mansion, that he wished he could grow a whole acre of ‘em just to lay down and wallow in! I tell you that we had every favor in at least five different flavors..; and all of it came minus worrying about the uninvited stork appearing, absolutely no crow what so ever, and with both of us only partying gallantly while totally consumed in company with the most elegant of swallows! We paused by the bridge out on Ticklenaked Branch Road just as soon as we made back into town. In no time flat it seemed local cars parked by the roadside, surrounding us on both sides. The shiftless youth got out in pairs, fours and fives, sauntering toward us, but moving about briskly with a momentarily nervous kind of walk. Dambo received their requested orders through a slightly down rolled window, cut the bricks up with a straight razor, and in a New York minute he had sold out completely. He smiled politely, waved toward them all casually, then started his rebuilt souped up 302 Boss..., and we were soon moving forward along at wind speed once more again. “See, that’s what I do on the side to make it. Just look at this green here, boy!” He shoved the stack of bills before me as he drove along. “That's ten thousand smackers there, old Ham Bone! Ten big ones that are all mine. But I am good.. I am that kind type of person, now. I know that you rode with me, so here is ten percent for helping me out by just keeping me company. It’s hard to believe that something so easy to accomplish nets me such worth,” he said with a giddy laugh and a broad smile, as he slapped his steering wheel solidly with his right hand.. The year before, at the Halloween fest, there was the annual greased up pig catching contest. While I was there awaiting my turn, I met this somewhat attractive, scrawny young woman, somewhere around my own age. She had told me that she was one of the mud hole muck mamas, and that she loved nothing more than a hard core cat fight; that is, except a hard rocking, throbbing, roll in the midnight hay barn on a clear harvest moon. She proudly informed me that she preferred it when she was near enough to the beach, that she could hear the distant waves rolling in above the sweet slapping sound of new flesh slamming in the hot pot, for gracious sake! We dated for awhile... and she was alright... I guess.., but we never could hit it off very well. She seemed to be just a bubble off plumb, if anybody should ever ask me about her. Just between us, her favorite pleasure was swallowing cucumbers whole, one after another, until she would finally retch and ruminate, just to use the type of language appropriate in proper society circles to effectively describe the situation. She claimed that she actually got a high from engaging in this most bizarre activity! I made her really angry when I asked her if she had ever considered switching to light poles. I was serious, though! My logic in regard to the matter being that the light pole, by far and away, was much more in size than the cucumber, and accomplishing the assigned task would certainly pack one hell of retching punch, while knocking plenty of rumination loose in the process! Personally, I thought my conclusion and caring suggestion made perfectly good sense; but sadly, that hollow necked bleached out blonde simply didn’t see my kind suggestion in the same shade of light that I did. After I thought about it all for quite some time, just out of my own concern for solving her strange problem, I failed to come up with any better treatment for her ailment than allowing her to have another hearty dose of Doctor Ham Bone’s Wonderful Two Ball Tonic. It effectively cures moles, colds, fills empty holes, makes shallow throats once more elongated, and all those poor, shriveled up booties big once more again. I sure done my honest part to cure her problem...all the way down to the bleached out bone, bless her sweet strawberry soul for my saying so. In the end though, I eventually left her to her own fate, but only in polite silence, of course. There is much more to this story here that I simply cannot seem to figure out from this point onward.... I don’t normally speak about the matter, intending to forbear on spreading gossip; so people had better read and listen hungrily the first time around... Ole Dambo somehow heard about this poor lost strumpet that I had met at the greasy pig catching contest..., and he was just dying to meet with her. I introduced her to him...and boy did they seem to hit it off..., right from the very start, I tell you! They went together just like homemade biscuits with molasses and gator ham. I had no problem with it. Actually, I was glad that she moved on and was making a new life for herself. Her being gone took the fear in me away of hurting her feelings by breaking up with her, being that she was such an emotional wreck due to her particular breathtaking fetish, and I had about all that anybody could ever tolerate of her erratic exotic antics. The strange part in this tale is that somehow, in due course of time, Dambo finally found out about her freakish habit of swallowing both cucumbers and bananas whole. One day he searched all over town for me drenched from head to toe in an ice cold sweat, with his teeth clenched so tightly that I imagined would shatter on any moment without notice, and seemingly consumed in a spectacular state of grave desperation. When he finally discovered me, he dared to ask me if I had ever personally witnessed her doing such an offbeat thing. Believe it or not, I told him the pure gospel truth about the whole matter and nothing less, since it was my obligation as his fellow man to do so. I informed him in very direct terms that most certainly, I had personally witnessed it.., and actually... she was quite proficient at performing this most exhilarating act! For some ludicrous reason, both he and she became really angry about my answer to his proposed question. Now both of them avoid me like the plague...; imagine that, for crying out loud! What on earth did I do? I simply just gave honest answer to his dumb question, for the love of Pete. If he did not want to hear a faultless answer, then what in addled Aunt Molly’s pig pen, pray tell, was he doing asking me that peculiar question, then? Anyway, time passed, and I haven’t seen either Dambo or his old lady, in many a year now. I heard on the wind that they had a very heavy courtship, an expensive engagement, eventually concluding with a wedding so elegantly extravagant that it kept them heavily indebted for the next ten years or more! Dambo could barely put food on the table because of it, according to the word from the bird on the wind. I know too that she lead poor Dambo straight into a trap like possum to an apple half, by conning him into upgrading his slightly less than elegant clap board shack sittin’ high up on the ole do-do stack, way over there on Butter Butt Lane. That way, if he ever decided to back out of that marriage, she could find herself a fancy lawyer from way over in Bum Lick, and take poor ole Dambo for all that he had or could ever hope to have, at anytime in the future. Just to be honest about it now, an alimony check from a Ka Ka instructor, who was the proud owner of a slightly used clap board shack sitting high up on a brand new do-do stack, would have surely set her up right and tight; especially since she had been thoroughly trained by her well heeled mumsy, to pounce like scorned panther at the first true golden opportunity that presented itself. So I was informed, many among her gave some fine words of praise for her outstanding achievement, to her good measure; claiming aloud that she now stood so high up on the latter of prosperity, that she could stand flat footed and osculate a katydid’s base button! I attempted to inform Dambo as to the fact about the matter, but he rudely slammed the door on me, adamantly rejecting my concerned message of dire warning. The buzzard inside the local grapevine informs me that they are living in this particular type of negative situation, or maybe that more specific one; but what I have already said is about all that I have to say in regard to this matter. Little flutters on the wind have told me his new love demanded that old Dambo give up mud wallowing, snot swallowing, humping watermelons, and hanging out with those buzzed up biker louts all together..., or else! That same elegant queen buzzard of the grapevine even claims that this mud hole muck mamma told ole Dambo that if he didn't like her demand, then he could spend the rest of his life trying to bend the hammer backwards and pleasure himself, by shoving it hard upward into that particular chute where the lizards never climb, as far as she was concerned; ‘cause she, practically speaking, had no real use for a limp little rye straw that she needed a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers just to jilly-jangle with, much less to use for fillin’ up hungry holes. I simply struggle desperately only to imagine the picture myself, amid trying just to breathe in between gasping breaths. In the end, I honestly feel that this now timeworn recollection might just wind up being the death of me all together. I sure hope that they are both doing well..., wherever it is that they both are in this cruel cold world…; regardless of whether the ka ka swells upward into one or the other, or rains down upon them both in huge helping heaps! Come Sunday morning to this very day, eleven elephantine ladies wearing the gaudiest of sun bonnets, and donned in long bell shaped dresses that are cleverly designed to conceal the reality of their overdeveloped size; still gather all around in front of the baptist church there in the center of town to debate what topic it is that they will discuss on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday evenings; while in secret among themselves only hoping to spread the local news, like a mud hole hump bunny spreads her succulent pink gossamer wings! Once in a blue moon, I will still hear the name of Blankenridge mentioned, though not nearly as much now as I previously did. “Well, he sure is such a fine fellow,” they all still say with a repressed giggling grin. “If only it was that this community had many more just like him.., then the world would most surely envy us…,” said one as she leaned back her head to gaze off blankly across an adjacent freshly plowed field, and into woods beyond. “And with glowing pride,” continued another there by her side over her voluptuously endowed bosom, “come Monday morning, the old Leghorn rooster could then stand up tall in the cow-poo, and crow; lets git it on rat nigh, sweet Sue, cock-a-doodle-do!”