We previously told the a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship.
Sorry. Wrong mental tape.
THIS is the previous tale we told – Capt. Buttface and the Lake Waco Moon Cricket.
And this is the sequel…
People who make their living at boat docks tend to be a special breed, a breed usually involving very close cousins.
That was almost certainly the case at Elmer’s boat dock on Lake Waco.
Elmer was at least 900 years old. He’d owned his marina and boat dock since before God invented water. He was doubtless a rich man.
Because in the miserable Central Texas summer, if you wanted a business with cash flow, you sold cold beer, cigarettes, fuel and bait.
Elmer did just that. Plus hooks, line, rods, sheer pins, screws. You name it.
He could also arrange for your sailboat or powerboat to be lifted from muddy Lake Waco, and left on a sling while repairs were done. If Elmer liked you, and he liked Capt. Buttface, you could leave your boat high and dry for weeks on end.
At peak boating and fishing season, Capt. Buttface — a young writer/editor for the Waco Tribune-Herald — always managed to publish a good word or two hundred about the Lake Waco Marina. That made Elmer happy enough to allow the Moon Cricket to rest in her sling forever and for free.
So repairing the hull of the “death boat” — she’d killed her previous owner… well, he had had a heart attack on her — was affordable for the Captain and his merry band of poor journalists, including me. All it required was sandpaper, fiberglass, horrifically toxic ozone depleting chemicals, elbow grease and beer.
Lots of Beer
And since Elmer sold the beer, he still did all right even with his rent-free sling for the Moon Cricket.
Being 900 years old, Elmer tended to stay inside the marina, enjoying the air conditioning and overcharging tourists for sheer pins and propellers.
For the truly miserable summer grunt work, like pumping fuel, water blasting boats and shoveling up all kinds of foul smelling puss, you needed a big ol’ farm boy, deep in the chest and thick in the head.
You needed someone like David.
Geneologically speaking, David was almost certainly the progeny of the love of many cousins. Going way back. Probably to Arkansas.
He was born in overalls. With one strap undone. Well, if he wasn’t born into overalls, he would have gotten his first pair before he was out of diapers. Assuming he ever wore diapers.
Overalls were his Lake Waco Marina uniform, always featuring a unique mixture of axle grease, diesel fuel and rotten catfish bait. David probably made good money for Waco, at least 25 cents an hour more than minimum wage, because Elmer could trust him to do any rotten, dirty, filthy job that needed doing.
And at a marina, in the brutal and long Texas summer, when temps and humidity pushed 100 every day, there was a lot of dirty work to do.
Elmer’s could be a helluva busy place. Especially during “rush hour”, when the city fellers filled their gas tanks and ice chests, just burning through money so they could get onto the lake for a few hours of fishing and skiing fun today, and skin cancer in about 20 years.
Evening at Elmer’s
But around dusk, that dock was as peaceful a place as there is on God’s green Earth. It was on one of those evenings that we sort of fell into Elmer’s.
After a whole day refiberglassing the Moon Cricket’s belly, we were sunburned, gritty, epoxied, pissed off and dead-ass tired. We were in dire need of hydration, in the form of cheap, cold beer. Not beer from the customer fridge, but the REALLY COLD beer from the back. The beer for special customers.
By the time the sun had almost set, we’d cooled way down and spent several hours talking about fishin’, the weather, the damned Lake Rangers, and other things that men folk talk about at a marina.
As always, Capt. Buttface did about 90% of the talking, because he was as good a talker as he was a newspaper reporter/editor. The rest of us would throw in now and again, with a joke or an insult, but mainly it was the Capt. Buttface show.
But when the conversation turned to hunting, Ol’ David come alive. Seems he was a huntin’ man, from a long line of huntin’ men. And, come to find out, David was a champeen stalker. Quieter than a cheetah cat. Smarter than a fox. Deadlier than a lion. Or so he said. And he could prove it.
David looked at the 100 or so wild geese feeding in the high grass next to the marina. He bragged that, being a hunter with ninja cheetah cat lion skills, he could silently sneak up and catch a goose with his bare hands.
Cheetah Cat Stalking
His exact words, as I recall, were: “Ah’ll grab me a fuggin goose, you jes waiten see.”
We all laughed at him, even Elmer, which got David all riled up. His manhood had been questioned. So he assumed the position of a stealth ninja hunter. In overalls. And he commenced to stalk the geese.
Knowing this was going to be good, we all grabbed another beer, hunkered down, and prepared to watch the show. We were dead quiet. You could have heard a pop top drop.
David might have looked a bit like a young Ernest T. Bass from the Andy Griffith Show, but, despite his overalls and heavy work boots, he was surprisingly nimble, sliding ever-so-slowly, methodically through the grass, in sort of a half crouch.
It must have taken David five agonizingly long minutes to halve the distance to the flock of geese, from 30 yards to about 15.
None of us had moved an inch. We were entranced — drinking beer, stifling laughter and watching a ninja country boy in overalls creeping ever closer to a flock of wild animals that have been stalked for centuries by creatures far brighter than David. Geese had not survived by being stupid. They had developed acute senses and a brilliant natural defense against predators.
David only had his wits. The odds favored the geese. And, finally, it was the moment of truth.
David went absolutely still for a few moments to catch his breath, regather his strength, and prepare to pounce. Savagely. Like a cheetah cat or a lion. And then he did. And all hell broke loose.
That moment in time is frozen. It’s as if I have a wall-sized, National Geographic color photo taken at EXACTLY the perfect time.
If that photo had sound, you would hear a hundred terrified geese flapping their huge powerful wings. It was a roar, almost like a military helicopter taking off right over your head. Plus with very loud honking.
If the photo of that exact moment in time also had a scent, it would smell like the foulest, dirtiest, filthiest most fetid latrine in all of India.
But if it were just a color photo, it would show David, about half a second after he had pounced like a cheetah cat or a lion, after the panicked geese had taken flight, after the fight-or-flight goose DNA had fired, signaling the bowels of every single goose to explode, turning the still, humid evening into a monsoon of green goose shit.
A monsoon so thick that you could not see through it.
A monsoon that had David standing right in the middle. Arms held out to his side. Dripping with gooey green goose shit. And on his face, an expression that so eloquently said, “What the…?”
Those of us who had been privileged to watch this once-in-a-lifetime show died that night.
We were on the ground. Unable to breathe. From the time David pounced to the time he waddled to the edge of the dock, sort of fell into the water and began treading water for a long, long while, as the green goose shit on his overalls slowly dissolved into Lake Waco.
And a new chapter in the tale of Capt. Buttface had been writ.
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