I’d been watching a flock of Canada Geese fly over our practice field late every afternoon since October. Now it was the week before our last game of the season, and the coaches had eased up on the starters, and were spending most of each practice session with the younger guys.
On Thursday we didn’t even put on pads, and I was showered and dressed before the geese came flying over the parking lot. I knew they were going into some nearby body of water, and I decided to try to locate their resting place. I asked one of the managers if I could borrow his pickup for an hour or so, and promised to have it back by the time practice ended.
I parked in the Baxter Labs parking lot, which gave me a clear view of the flock’s flight path, and waited. I heard them honking, and watched as the large V of birds broke formation and settled into the artificial lake behind MP&L’s Baxter Brown generating plant, between Cleveland and Marigold.
I jumped in the truck, and turned onto a paved road that led back to the lake. In about a quarter of a mile, the road turned from asphalt to gravel, and in the last couple of hundred yards, it was dirt. The Delta had two basic types of soil. The silty loam that is the prime soil for cotton, and we called it “ice cream” soil. The other was a heavy clay based soil that outcropped in low places. It was gummy and difficult to work, and we called it “buckshot.” This road was pure buckshot.
Soon I came to the levee that enclosed the power plants cooling lagoon. I parked the truck and climbed the levee. I stayed low, and eased across the top until I had a clear view of the entire lagoon. There they were, about a hundred Canada’s, happily paddling around. My heart was racing. Canada geese were the very top of the waterfowl food chain, and here was a large flock right in my backyard.
On my way back to the gym, I vowed to be on that levee late one afternoon to bag one of those majestic birds. That night, all I could think about was goose hunting. I got my hunting gear out and cleaned my double barreled Fox .12 ga., ?and rummaged around until I found a box of #4 buckshot that ought to work fine for geese.
Friday morning dawned clear and sunny, and promised to be a near perfect fall day. I woke up thinking about goose hunting. The football team was released after fifth period, and we had a team meeting, before being released to attend the pep rally. The only restriction on our activity, was to be back at the gym and ready to get on the bus to the game by 6:00.
I decided to blow off the pep rally to try to kill a goose. I walked the couple of blocks to Capp’s Cotton Co.’s office, where I knew my Dad would be playing gin with his buddies, and asked if I could borrow his brand new Buick Special for an hour or so. He asked me why I needed it, and I said that I wanted to check out a place to go hunting over the weekend. He agreed, on the condition that I have it back in time for him to go home and eat before he came to the game.
I raced home, grabbed my hunting gear, and headed to the power plant. I figured that I had an hour, at best, to get a goose and make it back for the game. As I turned on to the black top road leading to the levee, I noticed that the fields were dry as a bone. I was pushing the Buick as fast as I dared on the gravel portion of the road, and hit the buckshot part at about 40 MPH.
One of the characteristics of buckshot soil is its ability to retain moisture. It will crust over after a rain and appear to be dry, but there will be a quagmire hiding just below the crust. My momentum carried me about thirty feet, before the Buick sank up to the frame in slick, gooey buckshot mud. I panicked and tried to back out, and managed to sink the car where the bottoms of the doors were below the mud level. I tried to open the door, but couldn’t budge it. I began to experience a real “Ah, shit” moment.
I looked at my watch, and it was 4:30. I had just about an hour to fix this. My first problem was simple; I needed to get out of the car. I rolled down the driver’s side window, and some how managed to wiggle my feet and legs out the window until I could drop to the ground, well, drop into 10” of buckshot mud. With my boots making sucking sounds, I walked back to the gravel, carrying about 20 lbs. of mud on each boot.
I caught a ride back into town, and got out at Luper Cole’s Gulf Station, where I worked during summer vacation. I explained my plight to Mr. Cole. He suggested that I take the surplus weapon’s carrier that we used as a wrecker, and go pull the car out and bring it to the station for a wash job. Sounded like a plan to me.
Back at the scene of the crisis, I decided to drop the struggle buggy into four wheel drive, and get it close enough to hook the winch to the Buick. The big truck drove through the buckshot without a problem, but since the Buick was sunk in the mud up to its frame, there was no place to hook to the winch cable. No real problem here. I knew that there was a shovel on the back of the truck, and I began to dig the mud away from the back of the car until I could hook the cable to the underside of the back bumper.
I climbed back into the truck and began to engage the winch, but rather than the car moving toward the truck, the truck was moving toward the car. I decided to put the truck in reverse and use the four wheel drive to give the winch some extra power. Two things happened almost at once: the truck slid off the road into the three foot deep ditch, and the back bumper and part of the underside of the car ripped off.
Another, more intense “Ah, shit “moment. I looked at my watch, and it was 5:15. I had to make a decision, and make it quick, if I wanted to play football tonight. I decided that I’d rather face an angry father, than Coach Riley. Dad might be tempted to beat me to death, but he would restrain the impulse. I had no such confidence in Wig Riley’s restraint.
I walked back to Highway 61, stuck my thumb out, and made it back to Luper Cole’s. I handed him the keys to both vehicles, and begged him to call my Dad at Capp’s and tell him the problem. I promised to work every weekend between now and Christmas, until I had paid whatever it cost to get the two vehicles out of the muck.
I hitched a ride to the gym, and made it in time to take a quick shower, and get dressed-out before the bus left for Drew. I have to admit that my mind was not entirely in the game that night, and I stank the field up. We got beat 12-7, with the winning touch down being scored right over me, as time ran out. I expected Coach Riley to kill me on the spot, but he was too mad to even speak to me. At least Dad had never shown up, and was spared my miserable performance.
After showering and putting my muddy hunting clothes on, I used the phone in the coach’s office to call home and face the inevitable music. My mother answered and I asked to speak to Dad. She said that the last time he had called was about 10:00, and he and Eddie Lyons were on the way to Eddie’s farm in Pace to get one of the giant four wheel rice tractors to attempt to pull the car, the weapon’s carrier, and two John Deere 530’s out of the mud hole.
“How did he sound when you talked to him?” I asked.
“Like you might want to spend the night at Hiram’s house and check back with me in the morning,” she replied.
One of the by products of electronic publishing has been the rising popularity of Flash Fiction. This genre of writing has grown into a well received method of story telling and is also known as the short-short story. Generally speaking a flash fiction piece is 750 to 1500 words and tells a complete tale in that short space. This is my first attempt to post this genre. Hope y’all find it fun.
“Geese, Birds, Flying, Wings, Fly, Canadian, Sky” by pixaby.com is licensed under CC By 4.0, on Google Images
Categories: Flash Fiction