Pappy Figured It Out
“Arruuuh! Arruuh!” The bluetick hound’s resonant baying came wafting up the canyon wall on the cool night air.
“Wha’d I tell you, Buster? That’s old Blue talking. He’ll tree that coon in no time. He’s on a hot trail.”
“Aiiyipp! Yipp! Yipp.”
“You’re right this time, Pappy. Tasso’s with him if they ain’t on separate trails.”
Both men hushed to listen to the hound’s serenade as they worked out the scent trail. Pappy pulled a rag from his jacket pocket and wrapped it around his hand. Grasping the old can holding the last of their boiled coffee, he poured it on the small camp fire extinguishing it.
Standing in pitch darkness beneath a majestic star filled sky they listened and waited.
“I’d say they struck it about the edge of the corn field” Pappy guessed. “Sounds like they are moving towards the creek bottom and those big pecan …. Hup! Listen!”
“I don’t hear anything now, Pappy.”
“That’s just it. Something strange going on if they don’t start talking real quick. Happens sometimes, though. I remember the time… Come on, Buster.”
“Where you going, Pappy? Them dogs are the other way.”
“Let’s sit in the pickup. If they bugle treed, we’ll go find ‘em.”
They flicked their flashlights on and trudged towards the rutted dirt road on the crest of the hill. Something spooked Pappy, Buster thought. Soon his light’s beam fell on Pappy’s old truck, its rear bumper adorned with a reflective Coon Hunter’s for Christ sticker.
After they were seated and the windows cranked down they listened intently. A lonely whippoorwill, a distant owl and some insect sounds were all they heard. The dogs had quit talking.
Pappy cleared his throat and said, “Buster, since I moved here to live with my daughter and her family, I couldn’t have found a better friend than you. We like the same things and our dogs get along well. I didn’t have much hope of finding someone to hunt with up here so I am really enjoying tonight. It was a night just like this a long time ago that changed my life.
I was hunting by myself and the dogs hit a hot trail and commenced to singing. Then they suddenly stopped. Now these are good experienced dogs. Usually they’ll yip a little back and forth kinda saying, ‘I lost it. You got anything?’ Afore long they have it put together and get back to trailing.
But that night all of a sudden Julie runs past me in a dead run. She was running so fast with her tail between her legs that her hind legs were passing her front end. For a second I thought she was running in reverse.
Then old Roy goes by the same way. Them dogs ain’t never been afraid of anything. They didn’t even say ‘Howdy’ as they flew past. And then, I felt it.”
“Felt what, Pappy?”
“I don’t know what it was. Something came out of the dark and knocked me down. My face plowed up moldy leaves. It’s stinking hot breath was huffing on my neck. Cold shivers swarmed me. I thought I was a goner.”
“How’d you escape, Pappy?”
“I remembered something my Grand Mammy told me. How it came to mind I’ll never know but it did. She said, ‘Roscoe, winter will come to your life someday. When it does, praise Jesus. He is with you in the good times and the bad.’
So, Buster, I did it. I hollered PRAISE JESUS at the top of my lungs.”
“What happened then, Pappy?”
“There was a horrible screech, like chalk on a chalk board only amplified. Something went crashing through the underbrush. The wind gusted fiercely and if it wurn’t tied down it was bouncing in the air. I was hit by two ice balls big as hen’s eggs. They was all over the ground. And then it got cold and quite as death.”
“What do you think it was, Pappy?”
“I figger the devil almost had me – that’s all I could ever figger. I never was so scared. But my Grand Mammy was right. Jesus saved me. When I got home ‘bout midnight I made a vow to shape up and fly right. I praise Jesus every day and stay as far away from the devil as I can.
I hope you understand Buster, until them dogs start talking I’m sitting right here.”
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