Frustrated by life in the "Civilized World",a former ranter moves to the woods of West Virginia to find a life of peace and simplicity with his trusty dog Dooley.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Dooley had seemed a little down lately. About a week ago, late in the evening. I saw him standing in the middle of the creek. He was just standing with his head hanging low. It was almost like he had started across and just gave up. I suspect he had intended to join up with the McCroskey dogs down the road for his usual “night out with the boys” but changed his mind. Back in the “other world” when I had a friend that was down I would tell them the old Taoist parable of “Who knows what is good and what is bad” (perhaps Irene can provide a link or something to this story in case you haven’t read it.), but dogs, I’ve learned, don’t readily connect stories about people to their own lives. I knew whatever was bothering him would eventually pass but thought perhaps I could hurry it along a bit.
“So, Dooley, lookin’ in that creek for the Jessie James treasure? That’s a good idea. I never thought to look there before.” Dooley looked up and his eyes widened a bit. “Most folks believe it is buried somewhere over at the bottom of Raven Run, that’s where I’ve done the bulk of my lookin’..sure would be grand to find all that bacon”. Dooley always connects with a story about bacon. “Come on up to the porch and I’ll tell you all I know about it.” Dooley led the way back up to the cabin.
I lit up my Swisher Sweet Double Barrel Rum Outlaw cigar, feigned a long, thoughtful, dramatic pause and began. (The story I’m about to tell is mostly true according to the folks around here and it is backed up with newspaper and other historical accounts. I changed a few elements to keep Dooley interested.)
“It was September 3rd, 1887 and most of the men around here had teamed up to build a wagon bridge across the river down about a half mile below the McCroskey place. Around dinner time, up rode a group of five dogs on horses and stopped where the men were working. “Know who I am?” said one of the riders. They knew alright, cause it was Jessie James, one of the most famous outlaw dogs there ever was. “We need a change of horses, these are about wore out”, Jessie said. So the local folks help him change out the horses and the gang rode off. People were happy to help him even though he was an outlaw just to be able to tell their grandkids one day that they had met Jessie James. Two days later the James Gang robbed a big meat market over in Huntington….got away with 10,000 pounds of bacon.” Dooley was transfixed to say the least. “The sheriff over in Huntington got a posse together and started chasin’ Jessie and his gang something furious. The gang split up and most went over into Kentucky, but Jessie, remembering the good folks here in West Virginia, came back and hid out in a rock cave over at Raven Run. Somehow the sheriff got word and came lookin’ for him. Jessie made his escape clean as could be but had to leave some of the bacon behind because the load was slowing him down. Folks have been looking for that bacon ever since.”
By the time I had finished the story it was dark. Dooley sat for a while right on the edge of where the light from the cabin ended and total darkness began. He was looking in the direction of Raven Run. I smiled and went to bed. ……to be continued.
*Irene Note: Here is a short version of the Taoist Parable referred to above.
"...an old Chinese farmer lost his best stallion one day and his neighbor came around to express his regrets, but the farmer just said, "Who knows what is good and what is bad." The next day the stallion returned bringing with him 3 wild mares. The neighbor rushed back to celebrate with the farmer, but the old farmer simply said, "Who knows what is good and what is bad." The following day, the farmer's son fell from one of the wild mares while trying to break her in and broke his arm and injured his leg. The neighbor came by to check on the son and give his condolences, but the old farmer just said, "Who knows what is good and what is bad." The next day the army came to the farm to conscript the farmer's son for the war, but found him invalid and left him with his father. The neighbor thought to himself, "Who knows what is good and what is bad."