Greetings, Gentle Readers,
Over the course of my life I have written many short stories, poems, and various other bits of word salad. Most of it is crap, but not all. What follows was, believe it or not, not alcohol(or anything else) induced. I hope you like it.
The long, low, drawn out wail cut through the night like a laser beam through warm brie. The boy failed to repress a shiver at the inhuman call.
“What d’yer suppose that be?”
The old timer looked up from rolling a joint, and grinned a gap-toothed grin.
“Ain’t ye never heerd a manatee afore?”, He rasped.
“Nope.”, the kid replied. “Dint know them things made noise.”
The old man laughed, then coughed, then spat on the ground.
“Son, let me tell ye about ‘them things’. Used to be they dint jus’ stay in t’water. Oh sure, to see ‘em now, wallerin’ and floatin’, and such, ye’d think they’s born to do it. But t’weren’t always so.”
The old man leaned closer to the fire, releasing a noisome blast of flatulence as he did. The boy laughed.
“Pardon. Now where was I? Oh, yeah. Once, long ago, the Mickeysookee injuns what lived round here used to hunt the wild manatee. Only they dint do it with no bows n arrows. The killin of a manatee was sumpin that a boy did to become a man. They’d spend days findin a mean enough one out in the woods, then they’d tie saplings to the trees, sorta like a cage, so’s it couldn’t git away. Then they’d throw rocks, n stuff at it, t’ rile it up good and fierce like.”
The old timer paused to run the edge of the rolling paper over his leathery tongue, then he twisted the ends of the joint into points. He held the spleef up to the light of the fire, admiring its contours.
“Well!”, the boy barked impatiently.
“Well,” the man continued, “ this one particular boy, Hunkamunka they called ‘im, was a mean cuss. Dint none of the other boys would mess with young Hunkamunka. So when it came time for him to fight a manatee, the braves of the tribe took extra special care t’ find the biggest, meanest manatee in the woods. Then they spent two whole days more’n usual a’ pissin’ off the beast. Plus they dint feed the monster nuthin’ fer the whole time they was messin’ with it. Finally the day came fer Hunkamunka to fight the manatee. He stepped into the cage wearin’ nuthin but his skivvies, and carryin’ just a knife. The two went ‘round, and ‘round. The manatee dug huge ditches in the dirt with its claws, and bucked with its horns, but Hunkamunka weren’t skeered. He just ran in and cut off one horn, then t’other. The manatee howled with pain, and tore off Hunkamunka’s left arm. Now they was both pissed, and the fightin’ started fer real. Fer two days they fought, with neither one givin’ up. The noise was terrible, and a cloud of dust arose up, so’s no one could see a thing. Finally, there was a silence, like a graveyard at midnight, and out of the dust came a blood chillin howl. Slowly the dust settled, and there was Hunkamunka, standin next to the manatee. They was both alive, but in his one hand Hunkamunka had the manatees horns, and on the groud was its claws. It’s back legs was tied together, and its front ones looked like big flippers. Then Hunkamunka picked up the howling beast, and throwed it into the sea, five mile away.”
The old man pulled a stick out of the fire, and lighting the joint, took a long, slow drag. He held his breath, then let it out with a sigh of contentment. Then he opened his eyes to look at the boy.
“So, whenever ye hear that wail, that’s the manatees rememberin’ what they used to be.”
The boy seemed lost in thought for a moment, then spoke.
“Ye know what? I think yer full o shit, Uncle Zac!” And so saying, he ran back into the house.
“You have no idea.”, the old man said to himself, all trace of the provincial accent gone, “no idea at all.” And with a chuckle, he resumed his smoking.