On The Back Page With Daryl Gay, October 2017
“Clamber down off’n that before you get shot!”
That was the point at which I learned it’s highly unlikely that a heart attack will ever have any effect on me; if an infarction didn’t rear its ugly head as I walked into that store…
The Old Hermit, as you are probably aware, tends to show up in the wrongest of places at the wrongest of times. But it’s usually simply to bug the bejabbers out of me; what he was doing perched on a paddleboard on the display floor of a well-known outdoors establishment was beyond any words short of a screech.
And he never even moved an eyelash! (Believe me, when Jake moves an eyelash, you’ll know it. Resembles a stallion swishing flies.)
I thought the least he would do was display his tooth in a wide grin, his way of proclaiming, “Gotcha!” again.
But nothing. Less movement than marble. (Which is more than I can say of the facility’s employees, still drifting downward from their perches following my initial reaction…)
It was as if Jake was petrified. As in petrified wood. On the other hand, I’d seen him that way before: including the first time, to my knowledge, he ever had a bath…
As far back as I can remember, Jake has been a participant in an ongoing clinical research trial seeking a cure for the common cold. At least that’s what he told me upon the first occasion of discovering him in a petrified—near catatonic—state.
I was 9; he was slobbering.
Seems this was an observational—as opposed to interventional—study, testing a so-called wide range of treatment options. In The Hermit’s case, however, any time symptoms showed up, he was allowed only a single dose of a certain type of crystal-clear corn extract. It arrived in a glass gallon jug and dosage instructions called for him to drink it dry or fall over petrified—whichever came first.
He remains the sole clinical participant, as far as I know, and still contracts common, or possibly uncommon, colds roughly once a month for a period lasting as long as it takes to once more be able to stand upright and order more medication.
During one of these procedures, I discovered him, prone, on the floor of his shack. Had his snoring not been fit to blow the cardboard out the winders, I’d’a thought he was dead.
Hmm… Now or never. Right then and there, holding my nose in an attempt to keep breakfast from showing back up, I decided it was Hermit Bath Time!
Recruiting three of my maniacal uncles to help tote him to the creek, we went through two bars of octagon soap while watching peeved fish flop on the banks staring at us with murder in their eyes.
The brushes and bathcloths were torched in the same fire as his clothes, and we twice ran a weedeater hot trying to find a face under hair that looked more like a dense growth of gallberry.
He never moved, other than his tongue quivering as he snored. That’s some cold cure! And when we finished decking him out in old clothes from my littlest uncle, Math, I remember remarking that he looked more like Math than Math did.
(Neither of them ever forgave me; Math for the remark, Jake for the bath… likely the last he’s had!)
Back at the store, it finally registered with me that I was looking at a mannequin decked out in a ghillie suit. Don’t even begin to ask me WHY anything or anybody would want to sit on a paddleboard, but I could’a swore it was Jake!
Strangely enough, upon further consideration I even began to take a shine to a couple of those really nice-looking paddleboards. Not sure what type of hunting and/or fishing applications they could be put to, but I do believe one would come in really handy in a new clinical research trial: how one man could break 93 bones falling off a paddleboard…
Order your copy of Daryl Gay’s books, “Rabbit Stompin’ And Other Homegrown Safari Tactics,” $19.95 plus $3 S&H and “Life On the Back Page,” $14.95 plus $3 S&H from www.darylgay.com or 16 Press, 219 Brookwood Drive, Dublin, GA, 31021.