Left: Missouri hightway 143, the road to Lickskillet from the south, off of United States highway 62.
Right: On the one corner in Lickskillet, we see the Municipal Mule Barn at the right of the photo, then to the left of it the parking lot where the office of The Scout used to sit (the building was torn down after the roof collapsed), and to the left of it, Trout's Cafe. Across the street from the Mule Barn is the Feed, Seed and Everything You Need Store.
On the roof, the moose turned and looked at us. We recognized him! It was our old pal August Rimbaud -- pronounced "Rambo," -- the sursurous survivalist who led our intrepid expedition into Brewer's Lead Mine Number Two outside Ponca, Arkansas, a few years back. His "antlers" were twigs stuck into the webbing of his helmet. If the sun's up, Rimbaud's in camouflage. We have often wanted to invite August to the summer opera held annually in The Skillet, just to see what passes for formal wear at his house.
"Howdy, kids!" called Eli waving his brush and dripping some brown paint on himself.
"Hi, Uncle Eli. Hi, Mr. Rimbaud," Judy cheerfully answered (she being seated in the waving-and-speaking section of the truck, me being in the waving-only section.) As I waved, I gave the Victor Hugo Secret Society of Semanticists hand sign for "Mon Dieu, qu'est-ce qu'on fait?" or "What in the heck are you-uns a-doing?"
Eli smiled. "We-uns is painting the roof in a camouflage pattern," he called out. "By April we expect to have every roof in town painted. August come up to consult."
"For a fee," offered Rimbaud, laconically.
"And you're doing this becaaaauuussseee???" Judy drawled.
"Satellite photos," Eli snapped, turning back to painting.
"Bye," Rimbaud monotoned, turning back to his work, plotting the paint pattern from a blueprint...uh, brownprint he was unrolling.
("Monotoned," "brownprint," remember, there is a 10,000 Krogerrand prize for the website with the largest number of credible neologisms, and we intend to win it!)
As we pulled away, Judy buried her face in her hands and uttered the traditional Southern "Lawzy, LAWZY*, them folks got tooooo much spare time."
We bounced on up the unpaved street, waving to Grandmother White Buffalo, who was beating the dust off an Indian rug on her clothesline. From the road, it looked to us like a pre-1940's Chinle rug from the Dineh/Navaho of Arizona, probably worth twelve or fifteen thousand dollars.
Rolling jerkily to a stop at Uncle Tiny's, we saw no camo paint, no twig camouflage, no priceless antiques, just the happy hovel of the other half of the charismatic leadership of The Skillet. A faded red bandana hung from a bent nail by the door, meaning 'don't pester me with knockin', come on in.'
We came on in.
"Hey, Young-uns," Uncle Tiny called, chipperly, as he pounded the keys on his slow-as-molasses computer. (He has not yet perceived the gestalt of tapping keys lightly, having pounded the keys on his old Oilivetti typewriter for well over half a century.) As he had not looked up, Judy querried:
"How'd you know it was us?"
"Transmission." he replied.
"You received an electronic transmission about our arrival?" Judy asked, aghast.
"Your transmission," Tiny replied, pounding away, "Makes a funny noise. Needs repair."
"Needs a new one run under it," Judy retorted.
"Whatcha typin'?" I inquired. (Inquiring minds want to know).
Uncle Tiny stopped pounding, flexed his fingers, and leaned back. "Wellllllll," he began, "The taxman cometh."
"Not until next month he dothn't." I volunteered.
"By the time he getteth here," Tiny went on, "I need some cash-money."
"Could we can the phony Shakespearean accent first?" quoth Judy.
"No, first," I countered, "let's rule out hijacking a step-on tour bus as a source of income," referring to what happened the last time Uncle Tiny needed cash-money.
"Ho...ho...ho..." Tiny drawled rather sternly, "very funny." Then, brightly, he added, "I'm writin' a new novel, so's the up-front royalties can pay my ink-um tax."
"Terrif," Judy quipped, apparently thinking it was still the 1970s. "Can we read it?"
Uncle Tiny smugly swung the monitor around toward us, and we scooted up...well, there are various things to sit on in Tiny Doolittle's big room, not all of them are furniture. We pulled some of them up and sat, reading the screen. Judy squinted a bit and began to read in stentorian tones:
It was a dark and stormy night. Twenty wolves sat around a campfire. One wolf rolled his eyes at another. The other picked them up and rolled them back. It was that kind of a night.
Fresh from the nearby riverbank, the Loan Wolf growled, "The Alpha Male is dead!"
Yes, old Alpha Romero had been Pierced by an Arrow down near the Reo Grand, near the low-water Ford.
The Mercury was rising as the wolfpack snarled and growled over electing a new Monarch. There was no Escape from this Excursion into democracy.
"We must Probe the will of the pack," snarled the Loan Wolf. "We don't want a leader by Fiat! In our Quest for a new alpha male we must be of one Accord, before the voting e-Lexus a new 'rey lobo'."
The moon was setting, and the desert grew darker. Sidekick, the beta male proclaimed in bad Latin: "Lumina Passat."
Moondoggie (a wolf from the 60's who sang backup on "Hyundai, Hyundai" with the Mommas and the Puppies) barked, "Accura-cy is of Maxima-m importance! I howl for a secret ballot!"
Peter Andy Wolf, former puppy star in the nursery rhyme "This Is The Den That Peterbilt," was next to growl. "None of us can read or write; therefore a voice vote is more nearly Excel-lent!"
Snarls and snaps on all sides of the circle signaled agreement.
Then, like a Voyager out of some wolfish Legend, a single dark figure stepped into the center of the circle. The other wolves whimpered and stepped back a Pacer-two.
Then a bolt of lightning crackled across the desert sky and the wolf's yellow eyes and dingy, yellow teeth gleamed in the light. It was Puce Fang!
If only Puce Fang had used Gleem (TM) Toothpaste, he, too, could have had dazzlingly white fangs and clean, sweet breath. So, don't forget! Buy Gleem (TM) today!
"Wait a minute," Judy snapped. "What's all this, then?"
"Product placement," Uncle Tiny barked back. "Worth an extry thousand dollars in royalties!"
Well, Netwits, will the pack get its new 'wolf king?' Will Puce Fang change his fangpaste? Log on again next month!
*OK, Northerners, the word "Lawzy" is super-short for "Lord have mercy," a common Southernism.
And that's the word from Lickskillet, Lawzy, Lawzy.
All Lickskillet material © 2001 by Richard and Judy Dockrey Young.
To take a gander at the awards that "The Word From Lickskillet" has won, click here:Awards
revised 15 March 2001
This is a genuine MOM (Mother of Michael) site