Happy Halloween, everybody! You may have noticed this blog has not been very active lately. Truth is the library has been pretty quiet. It seems we will have a new director in the next week or so, but you do not want to hear about that. Plus,
starts tomorrow so I will be taking November off the blog to write that.
But I have felt bad for not keeping you all updated, so here's a story that
. My grandfather told this story on his radio program sixty or so years ago and I felt it fit the season. So, for your reading pleasure, the story of when my grandfather met the dangerous creature "Tailypo":
Back when I was just a kid, my daddy used to take us out in the woods camping. Hunting was one of the ways we fed ourselves back in the old days, being nothing but poor librarians. Around the fall, when the darkness got longer and the cold took away the crops, men took to the woods to thin out the local deer population.
Daddy took me and my brother, Albert, out with our three hunting dogs. Those animals were the best hounds in the world, and I was raised right along side them. Their names were Cola, Cinder and Mags. We tried to breed them back in the day, keep the bloodline good, but Mags was a mean old bitch and wouldn't let the boys near her and they wouldn't let anything other than family near her.
We went out three days before All Hallow's Eve deep into the Mississippi woods. We had one tent, a change of clothes each and only one days rations for us and the dogs, the thinking being that we would eat some of what we shot along the way. Daddy also carried some moonshine with him cause even a day without it caused him the shakes.
On the hike in on the first day, the only thing we came across was a little rabbit. Albert leveled his shotgun to take a shot, but Daddy stopped him, telling him we'd find more game the deeper we went and it was best not to waste the ammunition. But we saw nothing the rest of the day. Albert joked that the first rabbit had told all the other rabbits and deer that we were coming and they all stayed away. That night we found a little clearing for camp, started a fire and ate part of the rations. Daddy took gulps out of his shine jug until he fell asleep by the fire and Albert and I told stories in the tent trying to scare each other.
The next day we left the tent in the little clearing and separated. Daddy went north with Maggie and Cola, Albert went west with Cinder and I went east alone. I walked at least a mile, trying not to stir the leaves under my feet and announce my presence to the rest of the woods. I found a little stream, the water clear and cold. I took a small drink and looked around for tracks and found some on the opposite shore. I walked back ten feet away from the water and climbed up the nearest oak tree, resting on the sturdiest branch ten feet up that faced the stream.
I must have been up there an hour when I noticed a sound to my left. As quietly as I could, I pulled the hammer back on my shotgun and raised the barrels toward where I had seen the tracks. After ten minutes or so, the deer came out of the brush.
It was a mother and two fawn. I settled my sights and waited for them to come closer. Back then their weren't no laws against shooting mama deer, the woods was full of them and nobody thought about running out of them. But I couldn't do it. I looked at that little deer family and couldn't shoot their mama, no matter what my stomach was saying to me. Looking back, I would have shot ten of them had I known.
But I let them go. I lowered the shotgun and watched as they drank the water and wandered off back into the woods. I waited the rest of the day, but nothing else showed. When I could see the sun touching the tree line, I climbed down from the tree and walked back to the clearing.
Daddy and Albert hadn't shot nothing neither. I knew that, in these quiet woods I would have heard the shots, but after a day sitting in the quiet even the most reserved people will want to share. As the night came, we divided the last of the rations and settled in, Albert and I in the tent and Daddy once again drunk by the fire.
The next morning Daddy had a new plan. I was gonna go as deep as I could as quiet as I could into the woods with all three dogs. After a couple of miles, I was supposed to shoot into the air, give the shout for the dogs to start hunting and run as loud as I could toward the camp. With me and three dogs making as much noise as possible, surely some animal would be spooked and run toward the camp where Daddy and Albert would be waiting to cut them down.
I wandered out, me and the dogs into the cool autum morning. It was still dark in the woods, fog clinging to the ground and trees as I walked. That darkness clung around me as I stopped about two hours later. I clicked the hammer back on the shotgun and fired once in the air. The dogs ears pricked up and they looked at me. I yelled the command and they shot into the woods the way we had come, their noses to the ground and barking loud into the still air.
I ran behind them, feeling the cool air in my lungs as I rushed into the brush.
The woods exploded around me. Birds flew off of branches and small critters seemed to crawl out from under tree stumps and other small holes. My heart raced as I saw the tan hide of a deer jump a hundred yards in front of me and I slowed, not wanting my father or brother to shoot me by accident.
Then I saw the eyes. Blood red eyes shined from under a dark patch of blackberry bushes. I stopped, my breath shot out from my lungs as if I had been punched in the gut and I tripped and fell. The eyes grew bigger and I heard a sound from the bushes.
My breath would not come back and I could not scream as the wolf stepped out of the bushes, its eyes glowing that hellish red. It was a wolf, but not. It was huge, paws the size of my Daddy's hands tipped with large black claws. It swished a three foot long thick tale behind it in almost a playful manner, the tale the same reddish brown as the rest of it.
Maggie, bless her, came back to my side and growled deep at the wolf. Its tounge fell out of its mouth in a smile.
"Taily-po," came the voice again. Then the wolf turned and left, running toward my brother and father. I tried to scream again, but no sound came.
I heard shots in the distance. Two, three... then a forth. The woods reverberated with the sounds, the echos bouncing through the trees and into me. I found my footing with Maggie's help. I do not remember walking back to the clearing, but it must have taken me hours.
When I got back to camp, Daddy and Albert were crouched over the fire. The smell of cooking meat filled the air. As I walked closer, I saw the skin of the kill, the same deep red fur of the wolf. I found my breath and screamed.
Albert calmed me down and told me how good I had done flushing the game. They missed one deer and a rabbit, but then on a blind shot they hit this other animal. They figured it was some kind of big fox because all they found was the tail and it was all meat so they cooked it up. Would I like some?
I told them no and crawled into the tent. The memory of the wolf haunted me and I could not say anything about it. I was speechless. I don't know now if that would have helped.
Daddy and Albert tried to save me some of the meat from the tail, but ended up giving my share to the dogs. I stayed in the tent, those blood red eyes everywhere I looked until I fell asleep.
In my dreams I was back home alone in bed and that wolf was in my bedroom, walking closer to me slowly and whispering, "Taily-po. Where is my Taily-po?" over and over again. As it reached my dream bed, I jerked left and right, trying to scream but unable to.
I woke with the smell of pee and Albert shaking me. Daddy lay next to me, passed out drunk. The dogs were looking at me, their ears pricked up and alert.
It was cold and my breath fogged out of my mouth with each exhale. Albert asked me what was wrong when we both heard the voice.
"Taily-po. Where is my Taily-po?"
The voice came from the darkness, past the coals of the fire and deep in the woods. We tried to wake Daddy, but he just growled and rolled over. Albert looked at me and I pointed to the dogs.
Albert pointed and whooped out in the darkness. The dogs shot out, out into the woods baying. Ten minutes later, Albert whistled for them. Maggie and Cola came back. Cinder never came back.
Then the voice came again.
"Taily-po. Where is my Taily-po?"
This time I could see the red eyes glowing on the edge of clearing.
Albert grabbed his shotgun and whooped again. Maggie and Cola ran across the clearing and into the trees and the eyes went dark.
After five minutes, Albert whistled for them back. Only Maggie came.
Albert cocked the hammer on the shotgun and we waited.
This time the eyes returned, the outline of the wolf clear against the darkness.
"Taily-po. Where is my Taily-po?"
Albert whooped and Maggie ran. I tried to cry out to her, but my voice was not working.
When Albert whistled, she never came back. Albert was in a frenzy now, his knuckles white from gripping the shotgun.
"Taily-po. Where is my Taily-po?"
Albert screamed and ran into the woods. I watched him vanish into the woods. A shot rang out and my brother stopped screaming.
I ran out into the clearing and looked for my brother. I found my voice and called his name and was answered with silence.
The voice came from behind me. From the tent.
"There's my Taily-po."
My father screamed. I ran back into the tent and my Daddy was gone. Only his bottle was left.
The search party with my Granny Wendy found me three days later. I was half dead from starvation and dehydration. I tried to tell them what happened, but only Granny Wendy would listen. And she knew, she knew what happened out there and told me never to tell anyone. See, when you share a story like that, it lives on. And the next time you go camping out in the deep woods you may find yourself hearing a call from the woods, an ancient creature looking for its missing piece.
"Taily-po. You've got my Taily-po."
Check out more articles on www.bannedlibrary.com Add us on, Facebook, Google+ and @bannedlibrary on Twitter!