Down by the lake it's hot an heatwaves blur the chigger weeds an make it hard tuh tell where solid ground begins. Sometimes the bay's so still an clear, an the bank slips smooth as a snake intuh the water, it looks like the lake wouldn't have no problem swallerin up all us an the house an the shed an everthin. Momma makes us wheel Uncle Ned down by the water, tells us he's too old tuh get on by is ownself. He ain't been able tuh take care uh isself since is stroke a coupla years ago. She sez we gotta keep an eye on im else he get isself drowned er somethin. I sez we oughta jest keep im in the house. So we sit down by the water ever day wit Ned. He's old an wrinkled, got skin like a baseball glove and is ears get longer ever year.
-- Boys, ya'll get yer asses ova heah.
Bocephus an I haul over to the dock. Ned's noddin in is chair, .22 rifle cross is lap. He points over tuh a clump uh weeds just next tuh the dock.
-- Yall go find a stick an poke it in those weeds ova there.
Cephus goes an finds the pokin stick. Ned keeps an eye on the lake, leastways on our bay. Sez he don't want nobody fuckin wit the lines an he don't want no damn troublesome critters comin round. We got trotlines out cross the bay opposite the dock. Means if Ned sees some critter he thinks don't belong, me an Cephus gotta go an get it an bring it uh Ned so he can shoot it. We come up with a rotted part uh two by four and Cephus, who's all sweaty an still has scabies a lil bit, sticks it deep intuh the clump. He pulls it outta the weeds an there's a snapper hangin at the other end. Cephus tosses it up on the dock, just in front uh the metal footrest where Ned's crooked ole toes spread apart uh cradle the barrel uh the rifle. Then he shoots the turtle squa inna head.
-- You boys go an clean that thing out.
Me an Cephus go up on the dock an he grabs that usta be snapper up by the tail. Ned's starin off tuh the other side uh the lake.
-- Leave me a coupla cigarettes fore ya go, now.
I sit down, danglin my feets inda water an pull out the bag uh tobacco I nicked from daddys top drawer. Not one uh us supposta be smokin, an mos certainly not outta Daddy's bag.
-- Back in the twennies I was workin at a gum factory up in Fayettville, grindin up hoss hooves an what not, usta go round with this lil girl from up round Morrilton, yessir.
Cephus gets all cited when Ned starts in on the stories since mos ever one ends with some sex an some violence. He sits down in front uh the wheelchair with the turtle in his lap, fiddlin with the feets and pickin at scabs on his legs. I keep rollin smokes. Ned hacks. He sez since we gotta daddy ain't no good, he gotsta make sure we don't grow up sissies. Daddy sez he wouldn't give birth tuh no sissy, an if I was a sissy he weren't my Daddy.
-- She hadda ass on er wouldn't quit, so I figgerd she'd be alright with me. I like gals with kinda flatter keisters, but ya'll find yore type an when ya do I suggest ya keep with it. Nevah underestimate the kinda feelin a woman's ass gives ya. I come up to her apartment one day, she holed up in this apartment with some frien uh hers, an I found her up in the bed with this other woman real ugly gal with pocks all ova her face an great big ole flappy titties.
-- I thawt you likt girls with big titties, Ned.
-- There ain't nothin wrong with some big ole titties, but a man gotta be reasonable. Shoot, I can take care uh two, mebbe three, handfulls, but this woman's breastesses was biggern my head, an a man oughtn't be greedy bout that.
I woulda been more impressed if her titties was biggern ole Ned's ears.
-- I sez what in tarnation's goin on here? Cuz if there's somethin I thought I'd never see it'd be a coupla otherwise fine ladies, well one otherwise fine lady an one real ugly lady, settlin intuh some unnatural acts. Special down in the projects uh Fayettville.
-- Did ya smack em in the heads?
Sometimes Cephus gets a lil crass for me. Since he quit the sixth grade las year I can't hardly tolerate him nomore. I know I ought not say such bout my lil brother, but I figger I can probly make it through the high school an I don't see no reason for him tuh quit now. We'll see how the ninth grade goes. Mebbe Cephus gots the right idea.
Ned chuckles a lil, or mebbe that's a cough, too, but at any rate he sez
-- Nosir, boy, ya don't smack a woman aroun for foolin with another woman. I just got shet uh muh britches an jumped on in.
Cephus busts out laughin, which comes out like a bunch uh throat farts, an Ned chimes in, wavin that gun an chokin.
-- Shit, Ned, how many women you think you fucked?
-- Hell, son, by the time I was your age I fucked more gals than you picked scabs.
I was standin outside the door an Neds in there along with some woman or another. I dont member how come I was buggin Ned like that, but I figger I had some good reason. I knew I werent sposta bug Ned when his door was shet but I did anyway, cuz I wanted tuh play Star Wars an I needed Ned tuh play Han.
-- Ned! Ned! I be Chewie you be Han Solo.
I held ontuh my Luke guy. I member when Momma and Daddy got me that Luke guy fer my seventh birthday an Daddy was pissed off cuz he thought no boy needed no doll. Thats how he called it my Luke guy was some lil doll to im. I dint tell em I really wanted a Han or, even more, a Chewie. I figgered Is lucky tuh get anythin Star Wars at all.
-- Kay, I be Luke an you can be Darth Vader!
A shoe hit the door, leastways sounded like somethin heavy an it made a smack. I heard a woman gasp a lil an I figgered Neds mos definitely not gonna come out an play Star Wars with me.
Momma was cookin supper in the kitchen, so I headed over tuh see if I could get her tuh play wit me.
-- Momma, I need somebody play Star Wars with me!
-- Run along, find your brother.
-- But I let you be Princess Leia. I can be Lando.
-- Go on, you wanna eat dont ya?
-- Er you coul be Princess Leia an I can be R2.
-- Ya keep bothern me an Ill call up yer father.
I knew Daddy weren't nowhere near the bay, but I went on outside tuh find Cephus out by the water, squishin crawdads with a hammer. He was scratchin at some lice he had left in is hair an was covered in redgreen guts all over.
-- Wanna squish some crawdads, Hacksaw?
-- Wanna play Star Wars?
-- Who can I be?
-- Ill be Han Solo. You be Luke.
-- I dont wanna be Luke.
-- Well, you gotta be somebody. Who you wanna be?
-- I wanna be the trash compactor.
-- But if you be the trash compactor, then I gotta be Luke.
-- I hate Luke.
-- Me too.
-- You know what the trash compactor does?
He hit me in the head with the hammer.
The Story Uh My Birth An How I Got My Name
by Hacksaw J. Duggett
When I was born it was a dark an stormy night. My Daddy was down inna shed, puttin together my crib when a light shown through the winder. He looked out the winder but there weren't nothin tuh see out there cept rain an more rain poundin on the glass. He went back tuh hacksawin off the ole nailheads thats stickin outta the wood. Daddy likesta say all about how he hadda take apart a perfect good chicken coop tuh make me a place tuh lay my little baby head, an all about how he hadda give up fresh eggs fer breakfast an later on, once Cephus was outta the crib, Daddy took it all apart an turned it back intuh a fine ole birdhouse. Momma sez it werent no big deal tuh get rid uh the coop on account uh all the chickens was dead fore I came along. When Momma sez that, Daddy jumps in bout how he never did catch whatever it was snatchin up his chickens but now he gots it all fixed up cuz he put some tight chickenwire fencin up over the whole thing.
So Daddy was in there cuttin off nailheads an whistlin some Hank Williams Jr. tuh isself. Daddy loves Hank Williams Jr. most as much as he loves fresh eggs. An he says he kept seein this light shinin in off the bay. He kept goin tuh the winder an then over tuh the door an checkin, but he dont see nothin out there. Finally, an it must been gettin late cuz Daddy says he was almost finishin up for the night, he seen this light reflectin off the inside uh the shed an he says it looked like its gettin closer, like a car with just one headlight or a motorbike or somethin was comin straight off the bay towards the shed. Daddy turned round just soon nuff so that he seen the light real close, real bright, outside the winder an then he heard this sorta thud-scrape at the corner uh the shed an the light moved off. Daddy sez he was gonna go over tuh investigate, but just when he turned around, inna midst uh all that startle and fright, he forgot tuh quit cuttin an sawed off is left thumb.
Daddy let out a howl, an wrapped a turpentine rag round his thumb, cording tuh Momma, an then howled agin an ran outta the shed. He tripped in a rut outside the door, an cordin tuh him there werent ever no rut there before. He sez somebody er somethin was out there that night an he dont know what. Momma sez he aint fibbin an that the rut was still there, only all dried up, when they got back from the hospital, cept I guess it was strange cuz the rut dint have no tire tracks or nothin like that in it, just smooth-pressed mud a few feets wide.
At any rate, Momma heard the ruckus an come runnin out into the rain all pregnant an ready tuh pop, wavin round a flashlight. Daddy was comin up on er all covered in mud an holdin up is hand. She goes runnin down tuh im an slips on the same rut, cept closer tuh the house and runnin in a different direction. She falls down ontuh er behind an thats when she starts feelin them pains that let er know she hadda get tuh the tub an quick.
She shed er britches an got inna tub while Daddy got isself all cleaned up an held a rag over his thumblessness. He brung in er sewing kit, an she sewed up is wound while pushin me out intuh the warm water. Daddy sez he looked at me, squirmin there on my back, all red an angry, an he thought how much I lookt like his hurt hand we was both all red an angry, with little tufts uh hair-like stuff stickin out the top. So they named me Hacksaw tuh commemorate the moment.
Cephus an I are cleanin out that snapper in this holler near the mouth uh the bay that we found long time ago. Cephus likesta turn em intuh ashtrays, an we got a lotta ashtrays inna holler.
-- Why you quit school, Cephus?
-- Shit. What they gonna teach me there?
-- You ever gonna leave here?
-- Oh yeah. I figger I wanna fuck all kindsa gals.
-- No women comin here.
-- Nope. Jes ole Ned an is imagination.
-- You think he really had sex with all those women?
-- Dunno. You think he dint?
Cephus flicks a cigarette butt out intuh the lake. A fish comes up an snatches it off the surface.
-- Ima go show this tuh Ned.
Cephus heads out, leavin me there leanin up against the bank. I cant see the dock less I poke up my head outta the holler, but I can see the white trotlines stretched over the bay, thin lines goin down intuh the water. At the end uh each line is a treble hook with some chicken guts on it. Catfish like chicken guts, an Daddy pulls up each uh the lines at night an thats the food we live off. He gots lines hid all over the lake, so he goes an tends them durin the day an sells the fish an such an thats our money. He sez he likes it that way: no boss an no company an no rules cept is own. Sez a man gots tuh be governed by is ownself.
I light up a smoke an notice a lil john boat floatin towards the mouth uh the bay, edgin along the side close tuh me an filled with a girl, bout my age, but not from around here, I can see that.
Ned was smokin a cigarette an scratchin isself on the couch. Daddy's sittin there in is Lay-Z-Boy sorta watchin tv, sorta sleepin. Momma was all pregnant with Cephus, cept we thought Cephus was gonna be an Emmy or Lucy so that's what everbody called im forehand. We're watchin M*A*S*H.
-- How come they call er Hotlips? There somethin wrong with er?
Momma wiped a damp cloth cross er head an looked down at me. She looked all tired, like she does mosly after fixin dinner an doin dishes.
-- There's nothin wrong with her, sweetie. That's just er nickname's all.
-- They call er that cuz she's a slut, boy. Mos women's all sluts.
-- Ned, you don't go fillin that boy's head with all that. Mos women ain't sluts, sweetie.
-- I tell ya, I knew this one gal, coulda called er hotlips cuz she coul make a ole man cry out usin jus er mouth.
The idea scared me.
-- Ned, I tol you once tuh quit yer jabberin on. You don tell no three year ole bout no women you been with. There's plenty time for im tuh figger it out on is own.
-- Good thing you gettin a girl. Won't hafta raise this one up like a sissy.
-- Momma, how come that guy gots girl clothes?
She pulls the skiff up towards the bank, which is all sandy an spotted with smooth stones like they was put there tuh look like precious gems. She gots short hair, parted down the middle an not past er chin, wavin like a big ole wave in the front an kinda hangin over one eye. Er shirt says "Echo and the Bunnymen" on it, er shorts are striped, white an reglar jeans color, an er shoes are turquoise cept where they're ripped an then they're bright yellow, an they got ink writin all over em. On the tip uh one toe it says "Left" an on the other it says "Right."
Lookin right at me, she gots eyes that go straight tuh the part that feels funny when I poke my finger as deep intuh my bellybutton as I can. It gives me this quivery, sorta nauseous feelin an makes me kinda hafta pee all at the same time.
-- You live here?
-- I'm Beatrice. You can call me Bea.
-- Don't know no one named Beatrice.
-- Do now. What's your name?
-- Hacksaw? That's a strange name.
Er chest. I mean, her breasts. I mean, she's got the mos perfect tits I ever saw. Ned sez you can tell what a woman will be like in bed cordin tuh what kinda tits she's got. Ned always calls em tits, though Momma calls em breasts most always an Cephus likes the word boobs. Anyhow, Ned sez that women with big, lazy tits is lazy in bed, an a woman with perky tits (an me an Cephus has argued bout what kinda tits is perky tits, but that's how Ned calls em) gets all riled up in bed. Ned sez women with perky tits fuck like bunnies.
-- You like Echo and the Bunnymen?
-- You were staring at my shirt. D'you like 'em?
-- Uh, sure. Yeah.
She looks me over a second. I'm in my cutoffs an workboots, no shirt cept the skeeter bites coverin mos ever inch uh me. All uh sudden I'm real conscious uh how my fingertips is all stained brown from smokin an I ain't combed my hair in a coupla days.
-- You wanna pull me in?
Bea tosses a rope tuh me, an I pull the boat in. Once it's in the shallow I tie it up tuh a piece uh driftwood we use for sittin. She gets out an comes up ontuh the beach, sneakers squeekin from the water.
-- You live here, right?
-- Yeah, jus over yonder. Good thing you dint get no further inna bay.
-- How come?
-- Uncle Ned's a lil touched. He might try tuh shootcha, thinkin yer a spotlighter er messin with the trotlines.
-- When's it get dark round here?
-- Couple hours, I spose. What you gonna do inna dark?
-- I'm looking for a certain kind of animal.
-- Where you from?
-- I'm from Illinois. My father's a professor at the University up in Champaign. Been there?
-- That's okay. It's really not too exciting. Not like around here. Anyway, he's here to study the riparian areas around the lake. He's an ecologist.
-- Zat like a doctor?
-- Kind of. But for the environment.
-- Well, it's pretty boring. That's why I'm not going to follow in his footsteps when I get older.
-- Yeah? You got plans?
-- I'm going to be a cryptozoologist.
-- I'm looking for an animal.
I don't know much bout universities an doctors an such, but I know all bout the critters that live round here. I been bit by most uh em, an et the rest fer dinner at one time or another. Sides, when she talks her mouth moves like the water on a calm night an gets me all caught up on the inside.
-- I'll help ya look.
-- Do you see many snakes around here?
-- Shoot, there's snakes all round. Can't haul in a dropline without pullin out a copperhead er cottonmouth er somethin.
-- Well, I'm not looking for anything that common. But you wanna help?
-- Okay. I'm going out tonight. It's more of a night time thing, really, if that's okay with you, but I think it'll be easier to find in the dark.
-- What're you lookin fer agin?
Ned sez when a woman giggles it's one uh two things, either she's plottin the fall uh man er she's gotta itchin in er britches.
-- I'll bring you a paper I wrote about it. You can read can't you?
Again with the giggles.
-- I'm kidding. I'm sorry. That was cruel. Of course you can read.
An write. Fer some reason, maybe it's the way she traces er fingers long the words on the tips uh er shoes, I don't mind that she's laughin at me. She coul spin me tuh hell with a smile like ers, an I wouldn't mind a bit.
Over on the dock Ned fires a shot. He hoots zif he's het.
-- Boy! C'mon an clean this critter.
Bea cranes her neck up over the edge uh the holler.
-- Sounds like you're wanted.
-- Bout like it.
-- Meet me hear at dark?
Ned's smokin an Cephus scrapes snapper guts outta the shell. He's all bent over lookin like a monk on account uh the bald spot Momma left when she pulled the ringworm off is head. Ned fingers is trigger an looks at me zif I done somethin real bad.
-- Boy, I dint figger you cood make me so proud inna place like this.
-- Don be sorry, boy. I seen you talkin tuh that lil filly. Lookt a might strange tuh me, but ya'll is a new generashun I spose.
-- You gotta girlfrin Hacksaw?
Cephus squeals an he's got tobacco stuck all over is yaller teeth.
-- Leave im lone. Yer first time's yer best, specially since I done taught ya everthin I ever knew. You been listnin all this yeahs, hain't ya boy?
-- You gonna fuck er Hacksaw?
-- Course he gonna fuck er. Here lemme relate tuh ya'll bout somethin we cood all learn from.
Uncle Ned an Henry Miller
By Hacksaw J. Duggett
Ned ran moonshine fer a time. He dint have too big uh distrobutionship, just im an is neighbors mainly, but, cordin tuh Ned, times was different than what they is now an shine was illegal. I guess Ned was kinda like the Dukes uh Hazard that way.
Anyway, Ned an is buddy, Reid, would make runs in Ned's ole beat up Ford. The winders was all broke outta that truck, an it was missin the driver's side fender an quarter panel, so it was pretty much impossible tuh drive inna rain. They went over bout a hunert-fifty miles tuh ole Henry Miller's place tuh pick up a truckload uh good sour mash.
Now, the way Ned tells it, Miller was notorious for waterin down his shine, but he was the only guy for three hunert miles. So Ned an is buddy Reid go tuh get a truckload uh moonshine, cept it started rainin just fore they got tuh Miller's house an they showed up all wet an Ned's face was all covered with mud on account uh the no fender an all. They went head an loaded up the back with big five gallon jugs an put a tarp over all uh it, but when they finished up it was still pourin down just as hard as fore, even harder. Miller knew Ned an Reid couldn't make it home in the downpour, so he offered em a place tuh stay. He said:
-- We jus got a new bed for the baby, but she kin sleep in er crib. Y'all kin share it.
Miller's place was just one big room with three beds, a kitchen cranny off tuh one side an a outhouse in the back. Mrs. Miller, who Ned sez had great big tits the size uh a watermelon, an their older daughter Daisy, who Ned sez had big tits liker mother, cooked up a fine ole dinner an Miller kept insistin that they drink more an more moonshine til he passed out. Ned an Reid, who knew Miller's habit uh waterin down the liquor, had checked the bottles in the back uh the truck an, sure nuff, the potency weren't near what Miller's personal supply was. So Ned sez they was rightly pissed off, an with good reason, too. They both knocked off after the Millers had an lay there together in that bed, listenin tuh Mrs. Miller snorin an simmerin on what kinda ripoff they had suffered.
Finally, Reid had nuff uh thinkin an decided that he was gonna get Miller back. He tol Ned that he was gonna fuck that gal Daisy right there in the room while her daddy was sleepin. Ned thought that was a hoot an lay quietly while Reid got outta bed an slid in with the girl. Cordin tuh Ned, Daisy'd been makin eyes at Reid all night long, on account uh Reid was the best specimen uh man Ned had ever known. Fore long he could hear em goin at it, makin muffled moans an squeakin the mattress a lil.
Ned was happy cuz Reid was his best friend an best friends deserve tuh get laid, but he was also pissed off cuz he figgered he deserved some just as much as his buddy did. He lay there waitin an schemin an waitin for a chance tuh get a little revenge uh his own. Then, Mrs. Miller got up outta bed an headed out tuh use the facilities.
Ned saw his chance. He slipt outta bed real quiet an moved the cradle from the head uh Mr. and Mrs. Miller's bed an put it at the head uh his bed. Then he slid back under the blankets an waited.
Mrs. Miller come in feelin around fer the cradle. She found it an got in the sack without realizin it was Ned the whole time he kept whisperin rhymes in er ear. Fore long he's givin er the up an down, as he sez, an then they were both tuckered out an asleep.
Soon after all that, Reid woke up happy an proud that his plan came off so well. He crept outta Daisy's bed an felt round fer Ned. He stumbled on the cradle first, so he headed over tuh the other bed, where ole Mr. Miller was sleepin alone. Reid leaned over an tapped im on the shoulder
-- That'll teach Miller. I just fucked his daughter, an how!
Miller came up outta that bed like epicac an Reid screamed. Mrs. Miller woke up, took one look at Ned, who she thought was her husband, an screamed. Daisy was screamin just cuz everbody else was, an the baby's screamin cuz that's what babies do. Ned an Reid hauled ass outta the shack just ahead uh Miller, who stopped tuh put on is boots an grab is rifle, cept by the time he got outside there weren't nothin left but a pair uh muddy ruts.
An that's why Ned sez men should never ever take yer shoes off, specially not in bed.
In these parts the night comes like a fever all hot an sweaty an things don't look right er normal. Momma cooks us up some catfish an crawdads that Cephus picked outta the bay. Daddy don't get in til the dusk is hightailin it out the backdoor, so we all set til he gets there. Finally, he sets down in is chair, not botherin tuh wash the bait slime off is hands or shed is work shirt, an goes tuh work on is meal. I watch im eat, can't help it cuz I'm drawn tuh is stump. There's a lil bit uh bone left after the joint an it moves round beneath is skin, makin is scar look like boilin flesh. I always half spect somethin tuh come poppin outta it. Daddy shoves imself back from the table, tells us all tuh thank Momma fer makin such good food, an heads back out. Soon after I'm hot-footin it over tuh the holler.
-- You meetin that girl Hacksaw?
-- You can't tag along.
-- Whatchyall doin?
-- Don't know.
-- You guys gonna do it Hacksaw?
-- Don't know.
-- Yer a pussy Hacksaw.
Cephus throws a rock an it hits me in the back uh the leg. I turn round, scoopin up a stone, but the night is all that's there, up tuh the shack where some light squeeks out tween the cracks. There's light comin from the bay, too. The johnboat comes slidin up tuh the holler, silver skin bouncin moonlight ontuh the water, an she's standin there, dressed all in black now, holdin out an oar fer me tuh grab hold uh.
-- Here. You steer.
-- Whatever. I figure you'll be able to take us where we need to go.
-- Where's that?
-- Mostly just everywhere. Around. I mean, it could be almost anywhere so I guess just take me on a tour.
-- A tur.
Been bout everwhere round the lake, mosly hikin long the shore with Cephus gathern up crawdads an snappers, snakes an other stuff we find. I paddle up toward Skinner's Cove. I figger she'll wanna see the spaceship.
-- What's that thing?
-- Flyin saucer.
-- Wow. Like from an alien?
-- Nope. Bilt outta Pepsi cans.
-- Wow. Tell me about it.
-- Don't know nuthin bout it.
Skinner's a champion toadsucker, past few years runnin, last I heard. One time me an Cephus went down tuh the Cove tuh get some crawdads an lookit the saucer. The ole man was there drinkin a Pepsi an holdin a toad all sprawled out on is knee. He rubbed it on its belly an was talkin tuh the critter all soft tellin it what a good toad it was an how they were gonna go with the space friends an how he just hoped the space men was as sweet an lovable as is toad. The toad's name was Q-Bert.
We was hidin in the grass, amongst the chiggers an the sweet clover, hangin ontuh pillow cases full uh squirmin river bugs. Cephus said he was gonna go ask that guy for a Pepsi an said I was a pussy if I didn't come too. So we went over tuh Skinner an Cephus marched up on im so fast he jumped a lil an scrambled tuh catch Q-Bert.
-- Say, mister, can we get a Pepsi?
Skinner squinted up at us. He gots real big lips that stick out past is nose an look like they're glued tuh is mustache. He grinned real big an reached down intuh the cooler he had side is stump.
-- Sho ya'll kin get a Pepshi, but ya gotta drink em heah an leave the can fer me.
He shoved forward two cans an we took em. He took a big swig, while we cracked ours open, an followed it up with a belch. Later on Cephus figgered Skinner coulda said the alphabet up tuh G er H in that burp.
-- Ya'll evah lookie up uh Pepshi can?
We looked at ours, turnin em round an tryin tuh see somethin speshul.
-- I mean, ya'll evah think bout what that mean?
He gets close an looks at us all crazy.
-- Shee heah, P fer Peesh, E fer Evree, P gin fer Pershun, ESH fer Sherch, I fer Inwurd. Getit? Peesh Evree Pershun, Sherch Inwurd.
Then again, real slow zif tuh make us understand better he sez:
-- Peesh Evree Pershun, Sherch Inward
An then he winks at us.
Cephus slurped on is pop an I felt water runnin out the corner uh the pillow case where it hit my knee, washin lil bits uh silt an crawdad shits down intuh my boot. Skinner held up is toad.
-- Wanna see sumpthin?
An he stuffed the toad, head first, intuh is mouth. That really bothered Cephus cuz he ain't but heard uh toadsuckin an he started quiverin like he does when he gets real upset. He took a long slug an eyed that grinnin fool, lips stretched over that toad's belly an its legs all stickin out an movin like it's swimmin. Cephus drained that soda an dropped the can on the ground. Then he socked Q-Bert right in the ass.
We took off an were outta there fore Skinner got up off is stump an started bellerin. I always wondered if that toad was okay, but I guess it don't much matter. Ned said people like that deserve tuh get beat so they know not tuh act funny in front uh other people.
We float the lake fer hours. Skinner ain't out, but the light's on in is trailor. Bea dint bring no light cuz she said the Uktinner had a light uh its own an wouldn't come near if it saw us. Fer awhile she just tells me all about the big snake an how she wants tuh find it an how it would be a big scientific deal an everthin. I keep noticing that she uses er hands tuh tell er story an how er mouth looks when she makes Os.
I row round til I can't row no more, then I let her row an we visit all the lil coves I've ever been tuh an a few I'm not sure bout. Pretty soon we're just driftin on the open lake, layin back on the floor uh the johnboat. We just sit an talk bout nothin in particular cuz it's late an we're wore out, watchin all over for strange lights. Pretty soon she's leanin ginst me an has er head up next tuh mine.
-- You don't talk much.
She gives me this look like I don't know if I pissed er off er what. Then I member something Ned tol me, that if a woman looks at a man in is eyes all steady then that means she's horny. He said that's how ya know if a woman's ready.
-- Should I kiss you now?
An she kisses me. I almost throw up, but I choke back the big chunks an try tuh get my arm under er, but er coat gets in the way. She pulls back from me an lets me put my arm around er. She wants me.
She giggles an kisses me on the nose. She's still lookin right at me an I can see mysef reflected back in the curve uh her eye. My head looks inflated like a balloon. Agin, she's kissing me an I'm kissing er back. I think she wants me tuh have sex with er. She rubs er hand on my shirt.
-- You seem really strong. Do you row a lot?
Er fingers bounce off the bumps uh my ribs. She does want me. I take a deep breath.
-- D'you wanna have sex?
She gives me another look like the one before, but different too.
I'm surprised. But, then agin, we ain't been at it long.
-- You sure?
-- I do not want to have sex with you.
She scoots away an crosses er arms.
-- Ned sez when they say no they probly mean no.
-- Cept he sez you can usually talk em intuh yes.
She laughs an er arms wrap me up again.
-- You don't listen to Ned anymore. And before you convince anybody of anything you'll have to start talking.
-- Ned sez men who talk too much are
-- Ned talks too much.
A light shines cross one uh the bays. Bea jumps up tween the oars an starts pullin the boat along. I crane my neck tuh follow the light.
-- I'm sure that's it. You think so Hacksaw?
We're pulling close tuh the mouth uh the bay. Just as we get tuh the inlet a shot bangs out over the lake. I grab ontuh the oars an stop er rowin.
-- Them's spotlighters, Bea. We ain't goin over there.
-- How do you know it's not someone shooting at it?
A second later we hear the hoots an howls uh the drunken hunters.
-- They shine a light at the animal, blind it an then shoot it. Mosly they drink beer.
She slumps her shoulders an drops the oars. I grab em up an take us out tuh the open lake.
-- I ought get home.
An I row us over tuh the holler. I tell er I'll help er look tomorruh night. She likes that an gives me a kiss goodnight. I watch er float off intuh the dark. It's quiet an I hope she don't bump intuh no Uktinner, no spotlighters, nothin bad er hurtful. I slip in the winder. Cephus is snorin on is bed. I ride the drone intuh the night thinkin uh snakes an Cherry Coke.
Search for the Allusive Uktena
Long ago American Indians beleived the land we now call America was full of magical creaturse. All kind of storeis and legends told of magical creatures inhabiting the land, and these creatures were also a part of American Indian religon. Which believed the snake had saved there children and could tell the future.
One of these cretures was the Uktena; a giant snake with fethers and horns and a light shining on it's head. The light was made from a crystal, and if you catch one you can see the future. While we know that in modern times that these storeis are only imaginary, it is still very probable that some rare creatures actully exist.
Dr. Eduardo Mendrosa has been studying what he calls, "Recent sightings of giant snakes". He says that the giant snake has been sighted in the Amazon, Central America, Mexico and the American Southeast. All of these places are connected to America. He says that in Mexico the giant snake was called Quetzalcoatl in the religons that were there before the civilazation was there. In America it was called the Uktena.
If people are sighting creatures like this in other countreis that are connected to America then they must be in America too.
We should look for them so we can save them and so they will not go extinct like those that we killed. And so we can see our future.
-- Boy, c'mere.
It's early morning an the bay jumps with light. Mist floats over the water an the air smells like frozen fish.
Ned's grabbin fer Cephus so I stop pushin is chair.
-- Dammit boy, git yore ass ova heah. You gots somethin on yore neck.
Cephus bends down an Ned fingers a swole up tick on the back uh is neck. Ned pulls out is pocketknife an grabs at me with is other hand.
-- Git yore lighter an hol it up fer me.
I hold the flame for im an he manages tuh heat up the tip uh is blade. He puts one hand on the back uh Cephus' head tuh steady isself an holds the point close tuh the tick's head, buried deep in Cephus' neck. Cephus jerks is head.
-- Goddammit boy, hol still.
The tick eventually backs out. Ned's happy with isself an replaces is pocketknife. Cephus rubs an hisses at the small burns an nicks he gots on is neck.
-- Quit yore whinin boy, ya cry lak a girl. Yore just singed a lil's all.
Cephus lays down on the dock an splashes water up over is neck. Ned looks out on the lake.
-- How'd yore date go boy?
He gots hair comin out is nose.
An is ears.
-- Ye got home late. Spose thass good, eh?
His eyes are sunk intuh is head.
His lobes most touch is shoulders.
-- Gittin smart with me boy?
There's just a brown splotch left where is hair was.
He can't walk.
-- So did ya getit er not?
He's goin crazy slowly.
He talks too loud.
-- Nothin tuh be shame uv. Always next time.
Bea come up tuh the holler just after dark an picks me up in er shiny little johnboat. She sez we should go in the opposite direction we went last night so I row us over tuh the far end uh the lake. She sits there in er cutoffs an er funny shoes are folded down so there's a big yaller stripe round the top uh em. Er knees gots scars on em an er shins gots a couple fresh scabs. She picks a lil at one uh em an just looks an smiles at me an watches me row til we're out inna middle uh the lake away from shore or lights or anythin. Then she leans forward an says real low:
-- I'm leaving tomorrow.
-- My dad's job's done. We're going to California, then Phoenix and then home in time for school.
-- Huh. That ain't no good.
She looks out over the lake, up at the stars, not at me.
-- You gon get all quiet on me?
-- Did you say more than three words?
-- I'll say a whole lot more n that fore you head out.
-- You stopped rowing.
I look round onna lake. I can see two spotlights cross in the distance.
-- Nothin out but spotlighters.
-- Don't you want to find the Uktena?
-- Spen all night lookin fer some big ole snake er else sittin an talkin with you?
She looks up at me an meets me inna eyes. At first she gots big ole sad eyes lookin like they gonna spill over tuh fill up the boat an sink us both, but while she looks at me, sittin an grinnin, all gap-toothed an goofy, extra hard fer her benefit, a smile comes creepin out the corners uh her face.
-- We can talk.
So we talk. Most all night we talk, an I tell er bout Ned an Cephus an Momma an Daddy. She sez that er daddy gots girlfriens all over an that's what they go tuh big cities fer. She sez they stay overnight, tween planes, an er daddy takes all kinds uh trips all the time while she's in school, so she stays home an goes tuh school an everthin by herself. Er momma divorced er daddy a long time ago an took off down tuh some country in South America tuh climb mountains an find lost cities. She sez she ain't ever met a boy like me an I tell er I ain't never met a boy like me either an she laughs. She laughs at me lots, but I don't mind, cuz evertime she does it makes me feel all light in my stomach. She calls me sweet a lot.
-- It's getting late, isn't it.
I look up at the moon zif I can tell the time.
-- Yep. Past my bedtime, I spose.
-- I guess we should get going.
-- So you ain't gonna wanna have sex, tonight, right?
-- Don't think so.
-- That's okay. Just figgered I ought ask.
I take up the oars an row us back toward the bay. Long the way it looks like the stars fell down intuh the lake in a perfect line goin right up past the holler. We come round the mouth an I can see a spotlight out cross the bay an Cephus an Ned up on the dock. The light's shinin right at em an Cephus keeps walkin out tuh the end uh the dock, pushin Ned's chair ahead uh im. Ned's screamin at im tuh stop an starts shootin .22 shells at the light, which moves in on em.
Bea grabs my arm an whispers in my ear.
-- That's it. That's it.
I squint an as my eyes recover from the brightness I can see it ain't no spotlighters out there inna bay. It's a great big snake with a light shinin out is forehead an big ole horns like a deer's antlers on the top uh is head. It's got feathers all over an they reflect the stars back at us. Ned shoots is load at the snake, who skims over the water towards the dock.
POW! an I can hear the echos all cross the bay.
The Uktinner comes up on im an swallers up the chair an is bottom half in one gulp. Ned shoves the rifle right up tween that snake's eyes. Ned's face is all squished up an wallerin bout how that sucker gonna get on back tuh hell wherefore he came an Ned's gonna be the one tuh send it there. Ned pulls that trigger, an the blast cuts up the night like it were rainin Christmas tree lights. Little shards uh that bright, shinin scale in the middle uh the Uktinner's head plink intuh the water. The shot sends crud all over Ned, an the big snake drags im down under. Cephus falls off the dock an splashes intuh the water. The light is gone, and all I can see is the little dancin remains of all those shimmerin pieces. For a second it is quiet.
Then I'm screamin an Bea's screamin.
I get back tween the oars an pull us over tuh the dock. Momma runs intuh the water an pulls Cephus all sputterin an dazed outta the shallows. Those two hurry up intuh the house. Me an Bea sit on what's left uh the dock, watchin the moon goin over and under the clouds, an shiverin.
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