A cabin in the Adirondacks
One squinting eye
And a Partridge in a Pear tree….
Through one squinting eye he watched for trespassers from his lookout atop a derelict cabin which leaned precariously at the edge of a cliff in the Adirondacks. Movement across the trail caught his attention, and he smiled showing teeth which had rarely seen a toothbrush let alone dental floss. The last curious soul who came looking for his hidden horde of golden coins lay at the bottom of Tupper Lake, wrapped in tire chains. This time there were two. He heard their laughter as they made their way toward him.
His scarred fingers pulled a golden coin from the pocket of his tattered coat. It shined in the light as the sun broke through the mid-morning clouds. He was ignorant of world history, but he knew that only famous people were seen on coins. The portrait on this coin was indeed curious. Again he struggled to make out the wording which encircled this world leader…
C-h-u-c-k -E.- C-h-e-e-s-e.
Ah you make this look so easy. Love your character, but of course, the lettering on the coin is the clincher. What a leap. Great use for the tire chains!
The Vast Algonquin Wasteland
Mother’s dental floss kept the rabbit ears suspended above the set just enough to receive the ghostly images of a leprechaun hiding cereal as if it were golden coins. A cabin in the Adirondacks is a long way from the Empire State Building and our television rituals suffered greatly as a result. That December night however turned out to be magically different in a way none of us could have anticipated. As if by the will of God, or possibly the will of David Sarnoff, I was able to watch, through one squinting eye, the historic voyage of Apollo 8 as it circled the moon.
Childhood is often cruel and the satisfaction I took from that achievement lasted little more than one week. Back in the city, a fellow Daktari devotee was able to present convincing evidence that my spectacular moon experience was, in reality, just a commercial for Dow Liquid Tire Chains. Years later I would get him to admit that a spray can does look a bit like the Apollo spaceship, and that a snow splashed tire could have represented the moon, but I don’t think he has ever fully appreciated my interpretation of those snowy images captured by dangling rabbit ears so very long ago.
One week! Give thanks! On the other hand, while we head slap our past, it is truly a deep mine for delving. You amaze me constantly.
An actual image of Apollo 8 orbiting the moon can be found here:
Sorry, I just posted a link. I didn’t realize WordPress would follow it automatically.
I’m glad they posted the picture. So funny.
(I hope you don’t mind me posting. I am in your current Creative Writing Course)
Now the town of Decatur didn’t handle snow of any amount very well at all. Why at the first mention of the white stuff every loaf of bread and gallon of milk disappeared from the shelves at the Piggly Wiggly.
It was a Thursday morning in the middle of February, Coyt Fulton put on his bluejeaned overalls and Brahms boots and went over to A1 Tire shop to pick him up some tire chains for his Chevy truck. The weatherman on Channel 5 said that it was going come a blizzard next week and he wanted to be prepared.
“Mr. Fulton specting a lot of snow, are ya?” Jeff Lee said as he rang up his ticket for the tire chains. Coyt didn’t miss the smirk on Jeff Lee’s face.
“You can jus’ keep laughing at me son, but I’ll be the one who laughs when all of y’all yuppies are slippin and slidin everywhere. You just wait and see.” Coyt took his change that included two golden coins and pushed it into his pocket and walked out to his truck and threw the chains in the back.
A week later Decatur got two feet of snow. Weatherman said it was the biggest snow they had seen in Mississippi since the Depression. And while everyone else was huddled up in their houses ill prepared, Coyt Fulton was out helping his neighbors.
Why, he even went ice fishing at Henry Jenkins pond. It just so happened that one of Henry’s cows had gotten stuck over by the pond and he had went and helped Henry get the old gal loose. After the cow was taken care of Coyt cut a bamboo shoot down and got some dental floss out of his glove department and with one squinting eye he tied the dental floss on the bamboo shoot and Walah! It was an instant fishing pole.
Coyt remembered only one other time seeing a snow this size. He and Juanita, his wife, had stayed at a cabin in the Adirondacks a few years back and they were snowed in for an extra week. He sure wished Juanita was here now.
At the end of a long day, Coyt headed back to the white wooden house that he called home. It was surrounded by loblolly and longleaf pines that now drooped with snow and as he started down the drive he found himself smiling at memories long past. He was smiling at new ones too. He wondered if the boys at the parts house were laughing about his tire chains now. No, he bet they were thinking they should have ordered some for themselves.
It looks like you’re enjoying yourself. Good. Snow in Mississippi warms my heart since I live up north. You have a good character in Coyt. You might keep him. Glad you stopped by!
I am really enjoying the class and galumphing! I appreciate your encouraging words. I have always wanted to write, but never believed I could until now. Thanks again.
Everyone thinks it’s because of my fear of water which is why I don’t go into the lake and in a sense that’s true. I do fear the water, in particular this water, Saranac Lake, but not because I’m afraid I’ll drown. No, it’s because I know what is already down there and they do not. So I sit alone on the shore with one squinting eye, watching, while the other people swim. Saranac Lake is not for me, nor, I suppose, not for Gordy too.
It’s been nearly forty years and I can still hear the sounds of the Fourth of July celebration in town. It was the year of our bicentennial, 1976, and every man, woman and child of Franklin County came out to celebrate. There were firecrackers going off in front lawns, bottle rockets in back alleyways and sparklers lighting up the hands of every brave child racing up and down Main Street. It was small town Americana at it’s finest, all decked out in red, white and blue. Collectors of every kind lined the streets. Numismatists with their prized golden coins, NASCAR drivers with their shiny cars and even fortune tellers. News of professional fireworks to be displayed over the lake at dusk quickly spread from neighbor to neighbor and Gordy, that’s my best friend, and I were not going to miss out.
Gordy lived in a cabin in the Adirondacks, on North DeCatur Street, at the north end of town closest to the lake. Pete, that’s Gordy’s step-dad, managed to buy all sorts of illegal fireworks down in Pennsylvania and Gordy and I were planning on lighting them all. Most girls were afraid of such things but not me, Olivia Spencer, I was twice as brave as Gordy Miller and everyone in town knew it. Heck, in the spring when we’d go searching for night crawlers to sell down at the docks it was me who scooped up them worms while Gordy held the flashlight. Gordy wouldn’t touch them on account he said they’d make him puke like when he tried to use dental floss. He was funny that way. Once, when I was seven, my mother cut my long black hair back to my ears. It made no never mind to me but Gordy swept up that hair and carried it home in his hip pockets. Yeah, Gordy was funny that way; all sentimental and not very brave. That is until the evening of July 4, 1976.
But let’s talk about Pete Slater, Gordy’s step-dad, first. Pete Slater was once a prison guard on the Hill in Elmira until he fell off the wagon, hard, two years earlier and lost his job. With it he also lost his license to drive and therefore started walking everywhere. It was about this time that he met Shirley, Gordy’s mother, at a local establishment in town known as Rosar’s Bar & Grill where Shirley waited on tables. Pete was a good looking man, by most accounts, good enough to get Shirley Miller’s attention anyway. He stood an even six feet tall and weighed a solid two hundred pounds and had the ugliest tattoos. Lots of them. But one in particular I remember was that of a devil’s head wrapped in serpents smack on the side of his neck. Black, red, green and ugly was that tattoo. I hated it and I hated Pete. But just about everyone in Franklin County hated Pete Slater so when he came up missing not too many people lost sleep worrying about what became of him.
It was about two o’clock in the afternoon when I was finally allowed to go over to Gordy’s cabin that day. When I arrived, I could see the new firecrackers from Pennsylvania lined up on the driveway. Of course Gordy was waiting for me, this wasn’t the type of event you enjoyed alone. You needed a friend to join in and luckily for him I had arrived so I cut through the breezeway and knocked on their back door. No one answered so I knocked again. I leaned forward and rested my face on the glass window of the door and peeked inside.
And that’s when I saw Pete hit Shirley across the face with his closed fist. Now everyone in town knew that Pete hit Shirley regularly but it was the first time I had ever witnessed it. But I’m sure poor Gordy had seen it dozens of times which must have been heavy on his mind when he came screaming out from the living room and lunged at Pete. Then, before I knew what was happening, my hand was on the door knob and I was suddenly in the kitchen and part of the scene unfolding before my eyes.
Pete easily repelled Gordy’s advances and seemed to enjoy the sport of it all. But Gordy was as mad as hell fire and not giving in. Shirley was crying and bleeding into a kitchen towel and I stood still as I tried to figure out what to do next.
“I’m going to kill you Pete!” Gordy screamed. “You’ll never touch my mother again!”
“That’s funny Gordy! It will be the day when a pansy-ass nothing like you gets the better of me!” Pete said as he laughed and threw back his head.
“Gordy, stop!” I screamed. “Let’s go outside and light the firecrackers…”
“Yeah, and don’t forget where them firecrackers came from sweetheart! They were a gift from yours truly,” Pete said as he pressed his thumb to his chest and began to help Shirley to her feet.
But Gordy wasn’t listening to me or Pete. He vanished, back into his mother’s bedroom, from what I could tell, but when he returned I could hardly believe my eyes and, most likely, neither could Pete. Less-than-brave, twelve-year-old Gordy Miller stood stone cold in the middle of the kitchen floor with a Colt 45 Revolver in his hands, pointed straight at Pete Slater’s head.
“Okay, Gordy, let’s calm down,” Pete said. “Everything is cool, put down the gun before you hurt yourself.”
“Let go of my mother,” Gordy cocked the pistol. “Now!”
Pete let go of Shirley’s hand and Shirley joined Gordy in the center of the room.
And then in happened. With the firecrackers still popping outside, the gun went off and Gordy shot him dead, three feet from where I stood, point blank range, straight through his forehead. Pete fell to the floor and settled into a puddle of his own blood.
What happened next, in what order, I am not sure because all I wanted to do was run but I stayed and helped clean up the mess anyway…to this day I’m not sure why.
First, I think, Shirley took the gun from Gordy’s hands and wrapped it in plastic bags. Gordy then pulled down the shower curtain and handed it to Shirley who spread it out over the kitchen floor and instructed us to wrap Pete up in it, tightly, like a burrito.
Next, we bleached the floor on our hands and knees. Shirley then gathered the rags and took them outside to be burnt in the fire pit. The neighbors were getting ready to watch the fireworks over the lake but Shirley, cool as morning dew, calmly threw the bloody rags into the pit and smiled as she struck a match. Poof. They were gone.
Back inside the cabin we sat huddled in a circle and waited for it to turn dark outside.
“It’s not good enough that it’s just dark outside,” Gordy said. “People will be out watching the fireworks.”
“You’re right,” Shirley said. “We’ll have to wait until well beyond midnight.”
“My parents will wonder where I am,” I said.
“Let me call them and invite you to spend the night, okay?” Shirley asked. “You’ve spent the night before so I don’t think they’ll mind.”
“Okay.” I said but I still wanted to run.
When “beyond midnight” finally arrived, we looked outside and discovered the streets had finally drawn to a close. All was normal, yet nothing was normal.
Shirley pulled the lawn tractor out from the garage and up to the breezeway door. We each grabbed a section of Pete’s body, wrapped in the shower curtain, and placed it on top of the tractor. Then, just as quietly as we could, we made our way down DeCatur Street and to the lake. Once we arrived on the south shore, Shirley pulled out two cinder blocks resting beneath her legs. Gordy held the tire chains. We tied off the blocks and wrapped the chains around Pete’s body. We borrowed a speed boat from along the docks. Back then people were trusting that way; they’d leave the key where you could find it so we took advantage of the situation and drove one of those neighbor’s boats out into the lake. After about two hundred yards out, we pushed Pete’s body off the side of the boat and he sunk.
And that’s the way it happened.
Cabin in the Woods
Here, in the Adirondack foothills of northern New York State, tall dense pines share underskirts of interconnected thickets. The terrain is as rough as the diehard sportsmen called to its secluded wild-grown woodlands to bag whitetail, grouse and turkey. At the end of a winding, muddy hill nestles the rustic cabin thrown together by members of the Happy Acres Hunting Club. Once snow arrives, hunters without snowmobiles need to lie out and apply chains to their pickups at the base of the hill. This is not an easy task with gloves and requires the squinting of one eye for concentration. The first one arriving at camp removes the dental floss securing the door latch, ignites the kerosene lamps and heater, and gathers up the gold coins from the last Poker game.
(Just an FYI: I live in the Adirondacks and my first husband’s (my ex’s) hunting camp is Happy Acres.
Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:
You are commenting using your WordPress.com account.
( Log Out /
You are commenting using your Google account.
( Log Out /
You are commenting using your Twitter account.
( Log Out /
You are commenting using your Facebook account.
( Log Out /
Connecting to %s
Notify me of new comments via email.
Notify me of new posts via email.
by Ann Linquist
Available in paperback or on Kindle