Chapter 3: Chapter 3

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Gay and Lesbian  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

Reads: 43

Chapter 3

 

The trash quotient was mind-boggling.  And cool as a fool in a pool, thought seven-year-old Hercules Phosgood.  He reveled in discovery on this early morning gambit downriver, intentions set for collecting a good crop of night crawlers.  The big, fat, slimy buggers would be out and about, oozing around the mud, what with a regressing flow of the previous day’s flash flood catastrophe.  Silty effluence and muddy runoff trailed its way amongst testatory undulations in an altered riverbed topography, all semblance to tranquil stream erased by surprise onslaught of a mountain of water that bullied its way through the river course then.  After-effects were just as mind-boggling, Hercules judged, noting astounding piles of telltale evidence marking havoc’s passage.

  He encountered recurrent themes of piled flotsam and jetsam left behind in wake of the lethal track.  Huge broken trunks, some with intact arboreal crowns, lay strewn along the riverbed.  Collections of everything imaginable were entangled amongst dying branches.  Large sections of blacktop road segments and portions of re-bar exposed concrete chunks, recently part of humankind’s attempts at improving Nature, intermingled.

  Sundry wreckage, rubbish and garbage decorated the mess, even dangling in myriad trailings from remaining survivors among river cypress denizens lucky or strong enough to escape uprooting.  Metal, wood, plastic, organic mass, and all else in path of the storm’s trail lay exposed, now, much to the delight of an enterprising youth presently skittering in and out between heaps downriver from his bluff top home, safely above danger.

  Already, he had topped off two large metal buckets meant for worm transport, greasy captives writhing restlessly amid a collective blend of mud providing temporary haven.  As well, several bicycle tires and parts, in salvageable shape, lay stacked a short distance away, along upriver embankment.

  By a boy’s reckoning, some of the best treasures were strung haphazardly from tree branches siding the river course and he kept eyes peeled upwards, garnering three-dimensional surveillance in attempt at evaluation.  It provided an amazing variety in unintended inventory brought by weather’s fury. 

  Masses of clothing and furnishings lent credence to a disastrous occurrence, aftermath illuminating in its evident non-discriminatory rape of waterside civilization.  Hercules couldn’t be bothered by such unvalued clutter, ignoring unending litter jumbling obstructed passageways.  Instead, he sleuthed for sightings of salvageable equipment, tools, and such. 

  Rounding the next bend, he gaped at a tragic picture depicting an entire bedroom wedged high up between two bald cypresses, ripped from somebody’s home.  One wall had been cleaved, exposing a mess of homestuffs, from bed to chest-of-drawers to chairs and personal items, rudely displaced in an obvious re-setting of the portion of a house.  It sent worry through Hercules’ curious mind, wondering at former occupants’ present state of existence.  Or non-existence.  That thought debased his enthusiasm abruptly, thinking of scars no doubt left by his discovery here.  He felt suddenly like an uninvited guest invading somebody’s private world. 

  The disturbing thought re-defined his search.  Now, the boy began scrutinizing the mess with a troubling prospect for coming upon worse things amidst this winding devastation.

  Buzzards floated lofty circles and semicircles far above in scrutiny of a miles-long smorgasbord.  The boy’s mood darkened by connection.  Using a makeshift staff of cypress branch, he sifted through all sorts of artifacts and items sure to have adorned someone’s domain in the recent past.

  Shallows bore numerous flathead and channel catfish of immense size, un-earthed from river bottom dwellings during inundation. Some were dead, bellies pale and dull, flashing in the shreds of sunshine poking through still prevalent cloud cover.  Others were flipping and jerking in attempts at saving themselves, or better, re-immersing to new, freshly sifted mud beds.  Still more showed themselves swimming downstream by way of the middle river channel, fully engorged as it remained.  An occasional water moccasin slithered by and snapping turtles poked bewildered red jowls from beneath quieter pools as he hiked southeastward.  Downstream.

 

  Noontime found the explorer burdened by too much and losing mental track of multiple batches of valuable salvages along this side of his river.  Nary a person had he seen to this juncture—either searcher, or victim.  Animal carcasses littered conduits and channels beside the river, caught in the storm’s intensity.  Other animal remains floated by in deeper waters, many unidentifiable in their traverse, already bloating amidst a warming day. 

  A shiny object flashed at him from a spot a bit above rushing water at a narrow point of riverbed.  Heading toward it, the boy stumbled over an animal’s body, partially submerged in silt and mostly covered by trash.  The head of a tawny cow lay twisted in gruesome fashion, like a Hallowe’en decoration, eyes bulged and open to buzzing flies feeding or laying eggs in such rich, nutritious humour.  An underlying mesh of some sort supported it, almost satiny in appearance.  Opalescent.  It drew him.

  The substance proved rubbery yet tough when the boy poked at it.  And slimy.  Some bubbles arose from an edge of the good-sized ‘pillow’ and froth fizzed in mini-geyser-like fashion, as well.  Hercules used his staff to pull this interesting find from under the dead head, marveling at unusual texture and ambiguity of it.  It was pretty, he thought. 

  As he pushed and pulled, it became apparent that the thing was good-sized and thick.  It weighed a lot.  Or, perhaps it was weighted down by something.  Curiosity now drove the boy.  Finding it difficult to retain foot purchase and still work at pulling out the mystery, he spent better part of half an hour manipulating it gradually out from under the dead cow.  Finally, as the blob of matter emerged, it registered that the cow was somehow linked to this thing: each time he pulled on the bulkiness, cow carcass jerked in tandem.  He couldn’t persuade things any further. 

  Spying a good-sized piece of plywood off to the wayside, persistence ultimately won out by dragging it to the site.  Wedging an edge under the prize, he worked it back and forth, helping further reveal the now mostly exposed bundle.  Still pretty.

  Suddenly, the blob jerked.  So surprised was Hercules that he nearly fell from the precarious footing he protected.  As he righted himself, the thing moved again.  Like a bubble trying to rise from the inside, but unable to, bouncing downward again. Then, another time, it moved.  Something was inside.

  Redoubling efforts, determined boy saw what appeared to be a stem on one end of the balloon-like package.  He reached for it, finding it continued, tube-like, twisting deeper than he could reach.  Pulling firmly, it became clear that the cow, indeed, was the anchoring obstacle.  The big ungulate’s body was weighing down this animate object.  After another amount of time, Hercules discovered the linked attachment.  It came out the dead beast’s butthole or something.  Ewww, nasty, the youngster thought.  How gross.  But he couldn’t leave it alone, even so.

  Remembering his pocketknife—duh, what a dummy—he severed its attachment.  This loosed the pearly bundle from its tether, and he was able to pull it onto the shore.  Muddy ooze smeared perplexing beauty of the object as he dragged it higher.  Toward someone’s awol bathtub, spotted earlier.  The cast iron soaker sat forlornly upright but skewed to an angle.  Straining mightily, he deposited the entire blob into it.  Now, on firm footing, whatever was inside began a more purposeful movement pattern.

  The knife worked yet another feat as Hercules nipped an edge of iridescent sac.  Through the opening, a clear, pinkish-yellow syrupy fluid exuded.  It smelled strange.  The thing inside seemed to register invasion and abruptly punched the site he’d just nicked.  The weakened cover gave way and to the boy’s great amazement, a horse hoof broke through.  Or was it, he thought? It was really small and unusual in shape.  Nevertheless, the boy now enlightened to the fact that this was a live animal, trapped inside.  He hastened to slice a long rent down its length.  The covering fell away, and freed fluid rolled down into the tub, leaving the boy to stare in wonder at a baby calf, partially arising from the soup in which it had been embalmed. 

  The treacly sludge juiced a little being’s eyes and nose, and as breath was sought, viscous fluid sucked up into tiny nostrils.  Hercules removed his t-shirt, using it to wipe the mess away, clearing a breathing passage.  A mini-bull-like snort issued from a clearing throat and a sudden sneeze finished the job.  Air.  Sweet air.

  And so, a new baby, very late in its disrupted arrival, was finally born.  Horse hooves and all.


Submitted: November 21, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Zeke Bede. All rights reserved.

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