Big Bopper Two was a writing project for my writers group called “Focus on Fiction”. The thesis statement is, “it wasn’t so bad running out of fuel … until”.
Big Bopper Two Sept. 28, 2010
My great aunt, Molly Jackson, lived alone at the edge of the big Louisiana swamp, fifty miles southwest of Jacksonville. She was a stern old spinster that no one messed with—and she always carried that damned stick that she called Big Bopper Two. It was blackened with age and use, and half as thick as a baseball bat—and twice as long— and it smelled like skunk. And the cursed thing had notches cut into it like an old gunslinger’s hog-leg.
We all respected that club and we always stood back a good pace or two. Once she told us, “Rufus Boon Pickett—from Kain-tucky, taught me to kill ground hogs when times were tough. You just walk past his burrow so the sun casts your shadow into his hole and you let him get a good whiff of you. Then you just sneak back and wait behind the hole until he gets curious and poke his head up to investigate, you bop him on the noggin.” She swung that club around and we all stepped back further, as she raised it to her nose, and with an evil grin showing ragged teeth that would make an alligator proud, said “I can just smell and taste that ground-dune stew today.”
Aunt Molly never said much about herself, but rumor had it that Rufus Boon Pickett had come back from the war of northern aggression and lived in the swamps. When the great depression hit the south in the 1930s he befriended her, and taught her how to survive.
Talking To Momma
She said “I’m going to marry Old Rufus Boon Pickett—from Kain-tucky, Momma.”
Momma said “Old Rufus Boon Pickett is a hundred years ole, child, and you are only ten.”
Little Molly said, “This world doesn’t make any more men like Old Rufus Boon Pickett. He killed himself a passel of them damned Yankees—him and his uncle, General George Pickett, did, yes they did. If I can’t have Rufus Boon Pickett, I will never have any man—unless I find another man made from the same cloth. Now, there is a man that gives a woman’s body the tingles; I’ve seen church women blush when he came in the room. He’s got animal magnetism.”
Momma said, “Hush, child. You sound like a brazen hussy. Open a window on the way out; it’s hot in here.”
Out Of Fuel
I was taking My Great Aunt Molly Jackson home from a short visit and I had forgotten to fill the tank. We were now ten miles back in the swamps and night was coming on. I gazed at the empty gas can and silently cursed it.
“Someone will come for us.” I said aloud to myself.
“Well,” the scrawny old lady muttered, “in the meantime we will find some food instead of being food for some critter.”
Aunt Molly raised her head high and let out a holler so loud that I covered my ears. It sounded very much like an old gator’s challenge.
And then she said “Well, Sonny Boy, You just watch your great Aunt Molly Jackson get us some nice big critter for supper. Old Big Bopper Two will find food. Rufus Boon Pickett—from Kain-tucky, didn’t teach no damned fool.” And she banged the side of our boat hard enough to scare off anything nearby.
The bayou was quiet on this late summer afternoon and I dozed off.
The boat rocked gently. It wasn’t so bad running out of fuel … until the boat flipped over as I slept.
Now we were ten miles into the swamps and Aunt Molly had just clobbered something that was big enough to upset the boat—and probably eat us for supper.
As I struggled to make sense of all the turmoil, Aunt Molly screeched, “I got him. We have food for several days now. Don’t just stand there Sonny Boy, Get that tub turned right side up and do it fast! This critter might only be stunned! Wow ain’t he a dandy! Step lively now! This swamp mud smells like old socks and tastes like bilge oil!”
I got the boat turned up right and our belongings back in while Aunt Molly hacked off the gators tail, which she heaved into the stern.
With a yelp and a leap, she heaved herself into the flat bottom boat with the agility of a teenager.
The day was getting late and we used the emergency paddle to get to a dry hammock. We soon had a nice fire crackling under some long strips of gator tail. The empty gas can had at least come in handy for sterilizing swamp water, although it smelled like sewage and tasted the same. We settled down for the night.
I had dragged in some extra wood because we would keep the fire going all night—some of the local inhabitants might not have heard about Aunt Molly and Big Bopper Two.
We hung the emergency mosquito netting on some sticks, and now, with full stomachs, we were getting sleepy. I had gained a new respect for Big Bopper Two and ventured to ask about it.
Big Bopper One
“Aunt Molly?” I asked. “Why did you name that stick, Big Bopper Two, Was there a Big Bopper One?”
She gave me a stare that would make a bull dog back down. “Sonny Boy, the cops took Big Bopper One, many years ago. The rascals had no sense of humor. They said it was too dangerous and must be destroyed. I cried when those legal thugs wrestled it from my hands. Now that was a piece of hickory to be proud of. Rufus Boon Pickett—from Kain-tucky made that one for me when I was a young whelp. He said it would never let me down. A tear rolled down her cheek as she fondled Big Bopper Two. But all in all, this Big Bopper Two does one mean job. Yep. It’s gotten me out of some tough spots. Why that ornery gator was nothing compared to… and some more tears slipped down her leathery cheeks. She turned stony and said “Shut up and go to sleep.”
“Aunt Molly? I asked”
”What is it Sonny Boy?”
“You have many notches cut into that stick. Can I carve one more?” She got out her knife that no one was ever allowed to touch and handed it to me … hilt first.
|Tags: Short Stories||jerry|