just the dreamers
HUNTING THE DECEITFUL TURKEY
When I was a boy my uncle and his big boys hunted with the rifle, the youngest boy Fred and I with a shotgun–a small single-barrelled shotgun which was properly suited to our size and strength; it was not much heavier than a broom. We carried it turn about, half an hour at a time. I was not able to hit anything with it, but I liked to try. Fred and I hunted feathered small game, the others hunted deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, and such things. My uncle and the big boys were good shots. They killed hawks and wild geese and such like on the wing; and they didn’t wound or kill squirrels, they stunned them. When the dogs treed a squirrel, the squirrel would scamper aloft and run out on a limb and flatten himself along it, hoping to make himself invisible in that way– and not quite succeeding. You could see his wee little ears sticking up. You couldn’t see his nose, but you knew where it was. Then the hunter, despising a “rest” for his rifle, stood up and took offhand aim at the limb and sent a bullet into it immediately under the squirrel’s nose, and down tumbled the animal, unwounded, but unconscious; the dogs gave him a shake and he was dead. Sometimes when the distance was great and the wind not accurately allowed for, the bullet would hit the squirrel’s head; the dogs could do as they pleased with that one–the hunter’s pride was hurt, and he wouldn’t allow it to go into the gamebag.
In the first faint gray of the dawn the stately wild turkeys would be stalking around in great flocks, and ready to be sociable and answer invitations to come and converse with other excursionists of their kind. The hunter concealed himself and imitated the turkey-call by sucking the air through the leg-bone of a turkey which had previously answered a call like that and lived only just long enough to regret it. There is nothing that furnishes a perfect turkey-call except that bone. Another of Nature’s treacheries, you see. She is full of them; half the time she doesn’t know which she likes best–to betray her chid or protect it. In the case of the turkey she is badly mixed: she gives it a bone to be used in getting it into trouble, and she also furnishes it with a trick for getting itself out of the trouble again. When a mamma-turkey answers an invitation and finds she has made a mistake in accepting it, she does as the mamma-partridge does–remembers a previous engagement–and goes limping and scrambling away, pretending to be very lame; and at the same time she is saying to her not-visible children, “Lie low, keep still, don’t expose yourselves; I shall be back as soon as I have beguiled this shabby swindler out of the country.”
When a person is ignorant and confiding, this immoral device can have tiresome results. I followed an ostensibly lame turkey over a considerable part of the United States one morning, because I believed in her and could not think she would deceive a mere boy, and one who was trusting her and considering her honest. I had the single-barrelled shotgun, but my idea was to catch her alive. I often got within rushing distance of her, and then made my rush; but always, just as I made my final plunge and put my hand down where her back had been, it wasn’t there; it was only two or three inches from there and I brushed the tail- feathers as I landed on my stomach–a very close call, but still not quite close enough; that is, not close enough for success, but just close enough to convince me that I could do it next time. She always waited for me, a little piece away, and let on to be resting and greatly fatigued; which was a lie, but I believed it, for I still thought her honest long after I ought to have begun to doubt her, suspecting that this was no way for a high-minded bird to be acting. I followed, and followed, and followed, making my periodical rushes, and getting up and brushing the dust off, and resuming the voyage with patient confidence; indeed, with a confidence which grew, for I could see by the change of climate and vegetation that we were getting up into the high latitudes, and as she always looked a little tireder and a little more discouraged after each rush, I judged that I was safe to win, in the end, the competition being purely a matter of staying power and the advantage lying with me from the start because she was lame.
Along in the afternoon I began to feel fatigued myself. Neither of us had had any rest since we first started on the excursion, which was upwards of ten hours before, though latterly we had paused awhile after rushes, I letting on to be thinking about something else; but neither of us sincere, and both of us waiting for the other to call game but in no real hurry about it, for indeed those little evanescent snatches of rest were very grateful to the feelings of us both; it would naturally be so, skirmishing along like that ever since dawn and not a bite in the meantime; at least for me, though sometimes as she lay on her side fanning herself with a wing and praying for strength to get out of this difficulty a grasshopper happened along whose time had come, and that was well for her, and fortunate, but I had nothing–nothing the whole day.
More than once, after I was very tired, I gave up taking her alive, and was going to shoot her, but I never did it, although it was my right, for I did not believe I could hit her; and besides, she always stopped and posed, when I raised the gun, and this made me suspicious that she knew about me and my marksmanship, and so I did not care to expose myself to remarks.
I did not get her, at all. When she got tired of the game at last, she rose from almost under my hand and flew aloft with the rush and whir of a shell and lit on the highest limb of a great tree and sat down and crossed her legs and smiled down at me, and seemed gratified to see me so astonished.
I was ashamed, and also lost; and it was while wandering the woods hunting for myself that I found a deserted log cabin and had one of the best meals there that in my life-days I have eaten. The weed-grown garden was full of ripe tomatoes, and I ate them ravenously, though I had never liked them before. Not more than two or three times since have I tasted anything that was so delicious as those tomatoes. I surfeited myself with them, and did not taste another one until I was in middle life. I can eat them now, but I do not like the look of them. I suppose we have all experienced a surfeit at one time or another. Once, in stress of circumstances, I ate part of a barrel of sardines, there being nothing else at hand, but since then I have always been able to get along without sardines.
And God spake unto Moses, I Am That I Am!
And I speak unto thee, Well then, so am I!
I mean, seriously, that That in the name of God has to be the most ambiguous pronoun in the history of pronouns…
I mean, seriously, that That’s antecedent can be literally anything…
And yes, I do mean “literally”…
I mean, seriously, we are talking about God here, right?
Ergo, if that That in the name of God can mean anything at all within the expanses of the endless and infinite universes – those of the past, the present, and the future – then that That in the name of God can surely mean me.
Ergo, if God Is Me He Is, then it must mean that I Am God I Am.
Now, after reading this, I’m certain (and not just because I’m God) that some of you are beside yourself right now and are literally, yes, literally, damning me (not Me) to Hell for all of infinity right about now.
Well, all I have to say in response to your damn damnation is…
May God bless you.
And I do.
Okay, I’ve never been one of those hardcore Gaiman fanboys* that you see following him with blind, whole-body, fervor on twitter but I sure do have a whole lot of respect and admiration for what he’s accomplished in his life – and mine. Beginning with The Sandman series oh so long ago, Gaiman seems unable to be unsuccessful at whatever it is he does. Googlify his name and you will find that he has won so many major awards, some of them more than once, that if my mom had seen my face screw up in shock and awe after first seeing the significantly long list she would have warned me immediately that if I keep making that face someday it’s gonna stay that way.
Point being: the dude is pretty awesome.
And we can add one more awesome point to his long list of awesome points: Recently I downloaded the audiobook version of his short fiction collection Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances to one of my favoritest apps, Overdrive. And of course I find that the book is read by none other than The Man himself. And of course I find that I’ll be both god and buddha damned if he also isn’t one of the best god and buddha damned “voice performers” I have ever heard. Sheesh – what a wonderful voice he has to listen to.
I mention all of this more than slightly awkward author/guy crush worship thing of mine only because I too am now in the audiobook recording business. For, as I have mentioned here before, I am trying (key word: trying) to record a “performance” of my novel The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor.
It is very hard, this recording stuff – you know, with the intimidating microphones, and the confusing software, and with the dogs constantly barking in the background…
But the hardest part of all is coming to the realization that I don’t have the greatest of reading voices, especially since the book is narrated from the point of view of an insecure eighteen-year-old whom I would have to guess came late to the puberty game. So me trying to read in a voice that might pass as even barely authentic to the story has been both very hilarious when hearing it during playback and even more discouraging.
So far I have managed to record an introduction to the book, as well as all the novel’s front matter whatnots that include the dedication and acknowledgment (and which have been uploaded to my app). But those I was able to read in my own voice, which may not be the most pleasant to listen to but at least I don’t have to contort my diaphragm around my voice box in order to speak with it.
So yeah, I’m still working on finding (rediscovering?) that insecure eighteen-year-old voice of mine…
It’s a tough gig, but I shan’t give up for I have a sure-fire strategy for voice recording accomplishment and success:
Each time I run into a rough spot while recording I’ll simply stop, take a deep breath, look upward to the sky in humility and veneration and ask to the Literary Gods On High…
Jesus Neil do?
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