Toby

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📅 Published on September 30, 2019

"Toby"

Written by Craig Waltman

Estimated reading time — 21 minutes

It was in the year of our Lord 1778, when I, Frank Aaron McDougall, made voyage from Ireland, carried upon the wind of freedom was I bound towards that shining light across the sea, to meet up with me brother Newly and his kinfolk, in the Carolinas. It was a fair and prosperous land he proclaimed, free from the tyranny of the king’s clerics and their prying eyes…an ocean away it was…a world apart he said.

So, being inclined, I hawked all me worldly possessions and made passage with my dearest wife and sweetheart Cathy. My wee, gentle son Tom Tom, who was taut of tongue, but so meek and mild was he, he could even charm the fairies from all their worldly treasures… pure gold, the lad was. And his elder sisters Ruthann and Elizabeth, being the very spitting image of their own beautiful mother, as lovely as Eve they were upon creations first dawn.

We were now to be christened Overmountain Men for the cities wouldn’t have us, dunked in their shameful baptismal of disdain as me brother would come later to explain (being he more tongue and cheek, of course, as he bellyached and told), “For one reason or another they have sharpened their scalping knives against us, brother!”

But in his heart he knew it was because we were Calvinists, and being undeterred in the least I laid me money down in exchange for some acreage adjoining his…for as he gloated, “The earth is so very rich you can grow anythin’, why even me roosters are laying eggs now. And don’t ya even get me started about me pigs…their size of horses and me cows are a sight to behold, like great, lumbering elephants they are. I tell ya, you’d have to raise barns the size of heaven’s chapel to store such a bountiful harvest… nothin’ but milk and honey as far as the eye can grasp!”

And so, needing no further swaying, I built the family a little cabin, for a mangler of both wood and words am I. For carpentry was to be me trade and doodling in this journal when time pens me down by the ears, when me hands grow idle and when me back won’t bend and thus these fingers of mine begin to twitch. But, alas, farming was another earthly matter altogether, I being a tiller of wood and not of earth hadn’t dealt with before or much studied on, but God being merciful had in his providence blessed me brother with a green thumb and one to spare, you’d almost swear he had five of ’em at times how the ground obeyed him. But, alas, from cradle to grave we tread a world of pitfalls to only realize the peril once it’s too late.

Aye, I remember it as if it was only yesterday, the memory is as clear as the lagoons of the Isle of Skye.

I, as usual, was finishing up clearing away me field with me good, ole, mule Daisy leading the way, when all of a sudden-like, as fast as ricking an ankle bone, she fell into a gap left by an old, rotten stump. It must’ve been the most long-rooted thing to ever push its ugly face through the topside of God’s green earth, and now caught tighter than a quirk she was…wedged in its nook. And not being able to budge her in the least without bustin’ a gut, I threw me hands up and hastened to fetch me brother…being two shovels faster than one…thus we resolved to dig her out.

And upon our return Newly complained, “Are you pulling me leg now, I with my own fields to tend to and a wife expecting…is this not April Fools’ then?” For by thunder there stood Daisy leisurely ambling about, and judging from my expression me brother believed me report and suggested, “Maybe it was some Cherokee having a bit of fun with ya.” And being mostly relieved I thought, if it was I could have surely kissed each and every one of ’em…God bless ’em all I said for every ear to hear!

So giving no further mind to it I soon commenced to planting me crops, when then I first became aware of my son Tom Tom spending more time exploring about the rim of the wood, and thus I would call a warning out to him,” Don’t ya leave me eye, son, and watch out for those bugaboos, they’ll nab ya given half a try!”

And before long I would be lost in me work again rootin’ around like some critter in the dark loam of the earth. And now as I think back upon it, the boy was most probably gone for hours at a time. Being I so fearful of me crops and all, I paid no never mind to his wonderings, for my time was held captive by the field and plow, I had none to spare and with hungry mouths to feed, no less. But thankfully though his speech was improving a bit, and that’s when I first heard the ring of Toby’s name as young Tom Tom struck out as a meteor from the clear blue and said, “Toby likes to smile a lot. He…he has big square teeth. He…he don’t talk so good either like me.”

“Who on earth is Toby, boy?” I inquired.

“He…he’s the man that lives in the woods, he…he’s the man that pulled Daisy out.”

“Ah, the man that pulled Daisy out ya say, well,” I asked,” did he have any friends to add him, any?”

“Nope,” the child simply answered,” it was just he…he…him.”

“I see, I see,” I replied just going along with his ruse, “he must be a really big fella, then?”

“Yes!” Tom Tom excitedly shouted.

“Well,” I jested, “if you ever see him again, would ya kindly ask him to pull the rest of these stumps out of the ground for your poor, old da (dad), me back is killing me something fierce don’t ya know?”

And then the youngin’ came up with a real doozy and said, “I think he…he…his name is really Mo…ho…be, but he…he likes it when I call him Toby, it makes him smile all the bigger. He…he calls me Ka-knock-a-too (which means little foot).”

Then the boy said as he stretched his palm high above his head whilst standing on the very end of his tippy toes, “He…he lets me stand in his hand, and he…he picks me up way like this, so I can see all the pretty birds in the trees!”

Why, I almost wanted to believe the little charlatan as I replied, “That is a mighty big fella, and his name is Mohobe you say?”

“That’s it,” he said, “and he…he has a dog too, a great, big, ole wolf. He…he saved him when he was just a wee pup.”

“He did now,” I asked,” and how did he go about doing that?”

“He…he got stuck between two big rocks one day,” he told,” and Toby showed me the one he…he broke in half to get’em out…Toby is really strong!”

“That he is lad,” I replied with a great big smile on me face, “as well as having a fine name, too. It must be nice to have a Toby always pulling ya out of a jam when ya find yourself in a fix?”

Then listening to the rumblings of me stomach I asked,” Do ya have any of that fine cornbread left your mother gave ya, I’m hungry enough to eat a nest full of buzzards eggs I am? “

“Nope,” he replied, “I shared it all with Toby, he…he  really loves momma’s cornbread a whole bunch he does.”

“Well,” I said being hungrier than ever, “we best be gettin’ home for some supper, or your mother will be sorely cross with us, and we can’t have that can we.”

And then I told having a bit of fun with him, “Now, I might not be able to tote ya in me hand and all, but I bet me bottom-dollar I can give ya a left on me shoulders!”

And off we went a-ripping and a-blazing and a-cutting up all the way home, we made such a merry ole time of it, there was none better in all the world. Then later on in the evening, after supper, with all the youngin’s nestled away for the night I told my Cathy about our Tom Tom’s newest acquaintance as I whispered into her ear, “Do ya know our son has an ogre for an imaginary friend, I never heard him talk so much in me life. It’s like how many pixies can do a jig on the end of your pinky…as many as ya want. He has an awfully big imagination as big as his friend.”

“Praise be,” my Cathy softly spoke as not to wake the children, “it does my heart well.  But are ya sure, Frank? He may not be fibbing, for I never known him to tell a lie before. It’s like if he said he seen a chicken dipping some tobacco, all you have to do is check under its wing to find its snuff box.”

“It has to be darling,” I replied, “for no one man could have pulled Daisy out… not by himself. No…no there’s not a man made of earth nor under heaven’s eye can do that sort of feat.”

“If you say so dear,” my Cathy softly replied, and thus we drifted off to sleep pondering such things as they were. When not too long afterwards then, upon the following morning, I sprang as a rule straight in me bed, in the most, dread, mortal fear, to the shrillest shriek of death I ever before heard in all me thirty-two years, for it was my Cathy a-hollering and a-yelling from atop the planks of me porch, making such a ruckus as even to wake the slumbering dead in their eternal rest. And as I came a-bustin’ out the door half out of me wits and still half asleep was I, almost too afraid to ask what was the ungodly matter, or who or what had died, when then I nearly tripped over a slain deer left on me front stoop. It took me a second to consider our predicament, and thus I reasoned as I reassured her and said, “Don’t ya be a-worryin’ darling, it was only Newly leaving us some fresh venison.”

And she too agreed and replied, “It’ll be brammer (lovely) to have some meat in our potato soup; it’ll fill it out nicely it will.”

And so we went on about our business, when out of the corner of our eye we spied little Tom Tom standing upon the edge of the field facing the wood, as a pastor towards his congregation just chattering away when my Cathy remarked, “Isn’t it sweet, his preaching to the fairies which live in the trees.”

Then she called out to him, “Tom Tom, come and get your breakfast before it gets cold!”

And not long after which I began to dress out the stag with me good, ole, handy, buck knife, when suddenly it struck me queer not to find a wound upon it. My eyes, indeed, would go blind before finding a mark, when then I figured it was only me brother and his Indian ways which fell the deer. Therefore, I purposed to ask him this very question later, when time permitted, for I too now had a field to tend to so off I went with hoe in hand to render me daily labor whilst whistling a lively tune. But still the question caused me some fret, but, however, the notion had soon sprouted legs and taken an’ skedaddle, for mine eyes angrily beheld something had been eaten on me peppers and potatoes, in a little corner patch I had planted, and I seen whatever it was had stopped at the radishes only taking a single bite from one and discarding the rest. And now too I found myself preaching to the trees and saying, “That serves ya right ya dirty bugger…gnaw on that for a while will ya!”

As I shook me fist in the air for cause of all me work and sore back and all, and so I thought in me displeasure, “Oh well, I’ll have to be doing it all over again, like one time wasn’t enough already!” – a fact which gave me no greater lament, it was the vexation of vexations…a true bother it was. But, nevertheless, me dark mood would lighten up again, not wanting me family to see an angry scowl upon me face and all.  And when gettin’ home in the evening I asked my Cathy, “Where on earth has Tom Tom been all the-do-long-day, I haven’t seen hide nor hair the little June bug since breakfast?”

And as she pointed out the window and informed, “There he is, he’s been there quite a spell now just talking away he is.”

Then I inquired of her, “Do ya not see that darling at all? What ya talkin’ about?”

She unknowingly replied. “That tree in front of our Tom Tom,” I said, “there’s not a lick of wind yet it is swaying back and forth.”

And then my Cathy with her eyes being young as they were and sharper than mine strained all the harder to see, when suddenly all her color ran out. Her face became as pure alabaster it was (which gave me quite a scare, the most awful sight I must say). For was she not then petrified as Edith, Lot’s once betrothed as she longingly gazed back towards that evil city’s destruction, as she then most stridently screamed aloud and said, “That’s not a tree…Dear Lord! Tom Tom, get away from there now! RUN… RUN!” she cried as she smacked the door, hightailin’ it whilst pulling at the ringlets of her chestnut, brown hair, with me no sooner trailing after her flowery skirt tail, no less.

Now, yelling too, for what thing I knew not, but my darling Cathy had seen something and that was for certain sure. Now our Tom Tom being a good boy, he heeded his mother and I and came a-Johnny on the spot without nary a complaint, and as we met in the midst of our field my Cathy scooped him up into her anxious arms, towards her thrashing breast. Why, I never seen her so scared in all me life, as she then swung upon her heels a-blazin’ her a fiery course all the faster back to our homestead, it was as if her feet were bounding upon air never touching the ground once…so truly afraid my wife was is all the words I have to tell. And now It seemed though, the acres would never end in their merciless, endless track, they just went on and on rolling out as a hundred miles or so before us, until I reckoned me wore out legs were going to fall off for sure, and thus was I sorely tormented by the fact, that just maybe I should’ve gotten a farm just a wee bit tinier instead, for apparently me eyes were bigger than me plate I pondered. And as this thought was yet bouncing ‘round and accusing me of its various accusations, with me two lungs a-burnin’ as a red hot poker inside…now as if setting me very ribs upon fire like dry kindling it was.

When most thankfully, alas, it couldn’t have arisen any sooner as we then flew headlong through the door in our mad dash, now floppin’ we were as two fishes on the floor near winded from the heat of the race, and when finally my Cathy had found her breath again she screamed to me, “For heaven’s sakes lock the shudders and bar the door…may God have mercy upon us!”

And still not knowing I did what she bade, as she sat there just a-shiverin’ in the corner whilst holding our little Tom Tom with Ruthann and Elizabeth in now all but tears asking, “What’s wrong…what happened to momma!?”

“I don’t know girls, but everything will be alright,”  I said as I tried to calm them all down…all except for little Tom Tom for he showed no fear at all.  And tried though as I might, I couldn’t figure what ailed me poor wife, for my Cathy wouldn’t speak of it in fear of if she gave words to it, it would become real or something.  So I asked Tom Tom directly, “What did your mother see?”

And then I seen Tom Tom loved on his mother’s neck all the harder with his tiny, little arms, as he thusly spoke with the sweetest words of encouragement as only a child could do, “Don’t ya be afraid, Toby will never hurt ya, we’re f…f…friends.”
And, alas, when me darling Cathy calmed down she said, “I don’t want ya to play with Toby no more, and stay out of the woods do ya hear.”

“Aw, do I have to, momma?” Tom Tom unhappily wined.

“I really mean it young man, or I’ll gie ye a skelpit lug (I’ll give you a slap on the ear),” His mother told, and by all appearances, it looked like she meant every word of it, and was soon to do it for sure.

And then I asked, “Dear heart, what did ya see?”

“Frank,” she finally told, “If I wasn’t such a Christian I could kill your brother for bringing us out here…a land flowing with milk and honey and giant cows, well…he didn’t say anything about monsters. It was the most evil thing I’ve ever seen, its eyes just hung there as two, great, big, ole, empty suns just staring back into my soul from a black sky.”

Oh, momma, Toby ain’t no monster, he… he’s good,” Little Tom Tom cried.

“Mind your mother dear heart,” she replied, “I don’t want to hear that beast’s name ever mentioned around here again,”

“But darling, what did ya see?” I asked again.

“I don’t want to talk about it!” she snapped, and seeing her mind was made up I let it alone, but even still I couldn’t help but saying beneath me breath, “Perhaps it was just some sort of trick of the light,” which, of course, she quickly overheard and chided, “A trick of the light me eye, I know what I saw…a monster it was!”

“Oh boy,” I thought to myself, it was going to be a long, hot night under a Carolina moon jumping at every sound and with no supper, no less. I must say I felt as helpless as a motherless child in regards to the whole ugly matter; it was like trying to resurrect the ashes in which I had no power over…it wasn’t like I was the good Lord or something. But to my surprise when morning finally came all was well again, it was as if nothin’ happened at all, and when I went out on the porch to stretch me stoved up legs I was dealt an even greater shock… for now I saw all the stumps had been pulled from the ground with their roots pointing sunny side up for the first, and that’s when I felt wee Tom Tom’s little hand in mine whilst saying, “Toby is really strong isn’t he? Toby likes potatoes, he…he hopes ya like the deer.”

And it was the first I was a-loss for words, all I could think I was going to be spending the rest of me life covering them bloody holes, but at least they were gone now thank goodness. And once I gathered me thoughts I further inquired, “Did ya ask your ogre friend to do all of this for ya poor da?”

But before the child could answer I seen me brother Newly come a-running across me field wildly flaying his arms and rifle about and yelling something about the British, and, alas, when we were finally face-to-face he told, “Let me catch me breath for a minute,” and when he had he said, “Cornwallis and his Tories have their eyes on our neck of the woods! Mind your Cathy and youngin’s and hide all your valuables…they have sticky fingers don’t ya know.”

“Are ya certain of this?” I asked.

“Trust me,” me brother said, “Ferguson is on the move and he promises to lay waste to our lands with fire and sword if we don’t surrender our arms and bend a knee to him.”

Then he said,” I sent me wife to her parents and now I’m headed directly for Sycamore Shoals to join up with Shelby and his Patriots.”

And as he was leaving he yelled over his shoulder, “Brother, when life deals ya an ax it’s best to get started to choppin’ some firewood!”

And as I turned ‘round whilst wringing me hands together as me brother fled from sight, I seen my Cathy a-glarin’ at me with those steely blue eyes of hers, which directly sent a shiver up me spine, as she now complained for goodly reason, and thus I was bracing for a “I told ya so” as she admonished, “Frank, you know I love ya and all, but God as my witness I could really kill your dumb brother…roosters laying eggs…pigs the size of horses and now the British going about despoiling the land as the Ten Plagues of Egypt…what on earth have we found ourselves in, here?”

“Yes,” I thought to myself, “what have we found ourselves in?”

A dread pondering it was which rattled ‘round as a dark pebble within the echoes of me mind. For sure, I had a bad night and now I was guaranteed to have an even worse day. What else could go wrong? – the notion stabbed betwixt me ears over and over again as a knife. Yes, it seemed we were all in the eye of a perfect cac (dung) storm blowing its stinking muck about, and all I could think, I didn’t even have to leave me own fireside and yet trouble came a-knocking. Oh well, tomorrow will be a better day I thought, so I said, “Darling, let me fix ya some breakfast? I’ll make your fritters just the way ya like’em.”

Seeing that she was still madder than a wet setting hen, of course, for her fear had long since stewed over into anger, and it was just my wee hope to smooth things over a smidge. But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be, for I hadn’t even finished with me blooming sentence yet, when I heard a rifle butt bashing against me door, and upon answering it I beheld four men dressed in summer coats, all brandishing muskets whilst saying, “Will you not join Cornwallis’ army, we need men like you to fill his ranks?”

And my reply was, “No lads, all I want is a bit of peace and be left alone.”

And it was clear the tall, skinny one wasn’t liking me answer in the least, and, too, it was as if the devil himself was peeing down his ear, no less, as he loomed there as a beanstalk, a real Skinny Malinky Longlegs he was and told, “Well then, if you’re not a loyalist and will not join the king’s army, then that either makes you a rebel or a traitor and we hang traitors around here don’t we fellas?”

And thus they all agreed hankering to see some killing, and then he commanded the others by saying,  “Now drag this man out and hang him upon yonder oak!”

And as they were drawing me to the tree of my most certain demise I argued with them, “What gives ya the right to murder a man in cold blood!? Do ya not see I have a poor family that’ll be left all alone to fend for themselves in this pitiless world!?”

Hence the tall, skinny one being in charge glibly said, which, of course, his words didn’t exactly inspire confidence in me grim future and all (being he now only interested in stealing and plundering, no doubt), “I tell ya what gives us the right, the king and his parliament and Ole Miss Brown Bess here.”

And as he patted his gun and further told, “Hell has no currency, but it pays its debts in flesh, now string him up…I want to see ’em dance, and mind ya not to bind his hands for sure!”

And then they left me there with not even a bloody bucket to stand on anymore, a- strangling for me breath and a-kicking as I swung back and forth as some ghastly pendulum held betwixt the earth and sky, as I listened to the wails of my family a-squalling. All except for my little Tom Tom, all he did was just stand there and called out, “Whoop…whoop…whooooop!” as loud as his wee lungs could carry.

As all the while the heartless bandits, these Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse, chuckled and blithely exclaimed, “The boy has lost his mind seeing his father dying!”

And after which the little, runty one petitioned with his dark eyes as black as the Earl of Hell’s Waistcoat itself and said, “Let me stick ’em with my knife, boss, so as he will shut his mouth up?”

And the tall, skinny one answered now appearing more as a devilish scarecrow than a man, “Aye, there will be time enough later for that, boys.”

Lastly but not least, the fat grubby one with the gimpy leg most wickedly requested, as he greedily rubbed his paws together whilst wiping the tobacco juice from his snarled lips, “After his sendoff to the Great Pearly Gates…can we have some horizontal refreshments with his lady folks?” (As saying this he grotesquely chewed away on his tobacco plug as a gruff Billy goat giggling the whole time.)

And thus the tall, skinny one, that dread, scraggy scarecrow of a man said as he smiled with the most vile grin, revealing his blackened, dead teeth, all spread out like rotten fencepost in his foul mouth, “There must be a bit of gypsy in ya for ya read my mind to a tee.”

And thus all started to their snickering, which made me blood boil all the harder as I tried to kick at them with me loose feet. Which, however, only served them to taunt me more as now the murderous scarecrow cruelly bragged, “Best to get all your sinning and killing done while you’re still livin’ ‘cause you’re going to be dead for an awful long time, and ole Death won’t be letting ya have any fun now will he.”

And as before all commenced to laughing and slapping each other’s backsides once more, as then the fat grubby one said whilst scratching his gimpy leg, “We’re all going to be bustin’ some hell wide open when we be getting there…aren’t we, boss!?”

“Ah,” replied the scarecrow, “Hell is a far richer place to be than being a dead-end drunk livin’ down a dead-end track, just like my sorry, ole paw…for I put that mad dog down with a frying pan without touching a single drop. Yes, best to be doing all of ya debauchery while you’re still sober, and afterwards you can study the rum…it gives ya something to look forward to doesn’t it, boys?“

And if like that wasn’t already horrible enough he said, “We’re going to be a sight to behold…we want be playing no second fiddles there I give ya my word!”

“We be the devils very own flesh puppets,” threw in the fat grubby one just for sorry measure he did (and judging from the cut of his eye), “who can stop us from having his fun.”

“It’s of no concern of ours,” squawked the little runty one, “we’re going to be a-livin’ to be a ripe old age and that’s for sure.”

“True,” replied the scarecrow with a wink, “ it’s because of all these pure thoughts and clean livin’ we been practicing,” – which only made them belly laugh all the harder a second, until it seemed their sides were going to burst from all their sickening joy.

When then I heard Tom Tom started to his whooping and hollering again, when without warning the little, runty one bloodied my son’s mouth by given him the backside of his boney hand, now striking our wee Tom Tom down with his blinding swipe and crowing, “That’ll teach ya to shut your clatter-trap, boy!”

Oh, how I wanted to lay hands on ’em to kill’em, but, alas, with all me squirming the rope slipped tighter around me windpipe, and as I was drawing in me last breath, as I seen the world a-passin’ before me eyes as one funeral at a time, and, alas, it was mine with me poor family soon to follow for sure, by the hands of these murderous cutthroats, no doubt.
Now all I was left was with me unanswered prayers as I dangled there at the end of me rope, when all of a sudden-like it felt I was kicked square in me chest with a full-sized boot, with that of a booming roar so mightily deep, so long and drawn it was, it had the voice of a thunderous waterfall crashing upon rock, which was then quickly proceeded by a great tearing through the wood. It all very much sounded to me as a team of draft had broken free whilst hauling a heavy log, as now the tall, skinny one, that dread beanstalk of a scarecrow having the filthy smirk wiped clean from his face most fearful inquired in his consternation, “What in hell’s creation is that infernal noise…has the devil called forth his unholy choir…Damnation, what is that commotion drawing nigh!?”

For now what raced across me field upon the fleetest, most agile feet…even faster I swear than the hooves of the swiftest deer…what appeared to be as a wild man ten or more feet tall…as a raging Irishman he was, all covered in reddish-brown fur. I never seen anythin’ so big and fast in all me life, for he was upon us in an instant…within the twinkling of an eye. So sudden it all was (striking like a disaster) that no one had time to even utter a word…much less cry out. For now it all became as the fox which found itself in the chicken house to steal itself a hen only to realize a ravenous lion in its wait.

When suddenly, as from nowhere, the hairy giant landed in our midst as a blinding bolt, as a great, flaming mountain was he, as he kicked the fat grubby one with the gimpy leg dead-level in his stinking, pot belly, (now making it was the most terrible crunch) as it sent him a-sailing as some unspeakable, ghastly ball with his stubby arms and legs cartwheeling for better than twenty yards or more…just as he grabbed and broke the rope I was slowly strangling on. All mind you, whilst he was going about this goodly deed, he held in his other hand the barrel end of the tall, skinning one’s musket, which then the murderous scarecrow promptly fired into his massive chest, and with but a jerk the giant flung the man, he and his rifle over me field. He was now as a scarecrow riding a witch’s a broom, cawing all the way through a flock of blackbirds, for, alas, he held on to his gun to the bitter end as he landed on me picket fence with a great, crashing thud.

Then the raging giant with his now free other hand became he as a gardener and plucked the head clean off the other, as a crofter would a rotten apple from its laden branch. And lastly he laid holt to the little, runty one by his scrawny shins and began to wield him as an ax to the oak, now girdling his body ‘round what was intended to be my death tree for sure.

And, alas, when all was said in done, (when the bloody butcher’s bill was paid in full) he just stood there with my little Tom Tom clinging to his gargantuan leg. Then my Cathy Said, “He’s not pretty and I’m not ugly, but he’s the most darling thing I’ve ever seen.”

“That he is.” I replied as I wiped the blood from me eyes for cause of all my choking, and after a brief coughing spell I cleared me throat and finished with me saying, “Ya can have all the vittles from me field and cornbread ya want. Why, ya can even take supper with us at the dinner table if ya like.”

And that’s when these eyes still being a bit blurry from me botched hanging and all, had spotted a little trickle of blood issuing forth from his colossal chest, and I could just barely make out the hind end of the lead shot peering, and thus I marveled how his physique had stopped the ball dead in its track.

He was as a thousand pounds of iron with the strength of Sampson no man or beast on earth could stand against when he was crossed. Still me ole puzzler (mind) was scattered about a bit, which left me with a terrible ringing in me ears, but at least it wasn’t as a belfry going off in me head no more, as mercifully it had begun to slacken off as me blood flow resumed its natural course from me neck up, when suddenly I heard my Cathy exclaim with her hand to her forehead, “Dear Lord, Frank, we’ve got to get rid of all these corpses, for what will we tell the constable…we certainly can’t bring up Toby can we!?”

Yes, I pondered, bodies are, indeed, a hard thing to explain away, and then the thought popped in me head and went straight to me mouth without stumbling once, “We’ll plant ’em as hole fillers for the stumps. They weren’t much good for anything else in life, but they will make great compost for me plants.”

And then as I craned me head up towards Toby now lost in his shadow was I, with me neck still a-paining me something fierce…still feeling much like a limp noodle and a foot longer it was and said, “I don’t know exactly who are what ya are, or whence ya come from, or where ya bound, but I do know there’s good in your heart, for ya found a place in it for our Tom Tom.”

And then I thanked him and told, “You’re a far sight better than most, ya ask for nothin’ yet ya give so much of yourself…thank ya for saving our lives and all ya done…may God bless ya for doing it.”

And as he looked down upon me now mollycoddling my wee youngin’ so friendly in his tree-like arms, I swear I saw him crack a great, big ole smile, and, by George, Tom Tom wasn’t lying, for he did have big, square teeth after all.

Now it was all so very amazing and once again I was glaikit (stupid) for words, I had none to spare or explain…for how could I.  And so time being no man’s friend we went about our business of planted the nameless rogues, just as nameless they were as from the accursed day their poor mothers birthed them, and mercifully no one was ever the wiser, all except for the worms, of course, and they tell no tales…all glory to the heavens above be praised.

Now, ever since, when me mind returns to that faithful day I say to myself: When the world has ya against the dyke (wall) with its icy fingers wrapped ‘round your chocking bone, with all its sinful death according to men lost in their wicked ways, it’s nice to know there’s a Toby standing in your corner to catch ya when ya fall…it does me heart good to know you’re out there, me friend… that there still be a bit magic left in the world after all.


Credit: Craig Waltman

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