Sunday, October 16

Chapter 31:

A Dank Smelly Story

No, Dank Smelly was his real name... poor guy: name like that. Had a club foot too. Not that it stopped him from chasing you down if you made fun of him. He was fast, surprisingly, with that foot of his, and tough as nails. I used to catch him and Jimmy Reed sneaking through my parents back-forty to the crick on a hot day, even during school. They was both a bit of trouble. Not the kind these kids today have, no sir. They didn’t go around causing trouble with the law, or defacing things what didn’t belong to them, or nothin’. No, they just happened to be – "trouble magnets" as we used to call them – wherever they went, the two of them would get themselves into a scrape of some sort, and everybody would know they was into it, and it often took more than one of us to get them out of it.

The beaver dam had been there since... oh, long before anybody in town could remember. Seems it had just appeared about a hundred year ago, and nobody done put up no fuss then, and so there it were. Now Dank got hisself an idea that there might be good fishin behind that there dam, and he tooked him up there one afternoon, and set hisself down to catch him a fish – only problem was, tweren’t no fish up there. See, these there beavers had stopped up a creek too near the start of it, an it were too little water flowin’ out to keep fish there. They had all moved on – but for a few minn’ers. So Dank got his pole out’n set him up there with a line and bait, but the minn’ers, ain’t bitin’. He comed home that even with nothin’ ta show for his day, but a good tan.

Next day he n’ Jimmy talkin’ a bit bout this problem, and Jimmy said it were on account a the dam bein’ there that the fish ain’t comin’. If the dam were gone, he reckoned, them fishwould jus’ jump back inta that there little pond like tain’t nobody’s business. So he n’ Dank took themselves up there to see what they couldn’t do about it. Jimmy tried pullin’ on a log to release more water, and Dank were pullin’ at another, but that there dam wouldn’t budge. Not for an inch on them both. They both bein’ exhausted by that there workin’ they headed home, figurin’ tain’t no use pullin’ and pushin’ to get them logs to move. Would take somethin’ a mist more powerful than themselves.

Next day Dank an Willy Dobart was talkin’ marbles, when ol Willy, he chimes in with a "You heard about the beaver dam?" And that got Dank’s attention some, so he listens while Willy tells him the news. "It seems there was a couple of no-goods trying to flood this valley by takin’ down the dam t’other day." An, this spook Dank some, so he goes to tall Jimmy, and they both decide they ain’t goin’ nowheres near that dam again anytime soon, fish or no.

That night Dank had him a dream about bein’ washed out to sea, and Jimmy had a dream about bein’ on a boat, and, in fact, most people round these parts had a dream involvin’ water, on account a whil they was sleeping, that dam gave out. Seems that little bit a shovin’ them boys did loosened just the right amount of drabble to let an important log slip, and down come the whole mess of it. And the town was waking to find them all in two foot a water.

Willy knew right away, t’were the Germans, and he told his pop so. Jimmy knew t’were them Frenchies what moved to the mine not long before. But Dank, he know’d it were him and Jimmy wha’s done it, but he ain’t about to fess up to that one, an keeps his mouth shut tight. All the men and boys trogged up that hill an finds that the dam been burst, and everybody grabs themselves a log, an goes at it.

When a beaver sets hisself up a dam, he sticks one down deep into the mud first, and works from the bottom to the topwise till he’s got hisself a nice mess of logs piled more or less where they needs to go in order to stop up the water from flowin’; but when man makes hisself a dam he sticks the straightest poles he can find deep into the mud and braces boards as straight as he can find em on t’other side where the water done push them in. Beaver’s got it better designed, but it don’t look quite so perty as when man does it. By the time they got that dam finished at the end of the day, water were still leakin’ good, but it kept it from gushin’ like she did the night before. Next week, city started buildin’ a good one in earnest, and it didn’t leak so much. But for the meantime, they built them a nice ditch to keep the water out of the town, and flowin’ down to the pasture below.

T’weren’t till years later Dank finally fessed up to it bein’ him an Jimmy wha’ pulled out that log. They all laughed at it, even those wha’ was ‘bout to kill them Frenchies and any Germans they could find.


At 5:55 PM, Anonymous Justin said...

You've been reading too much Patrick McManus.
Good story.


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