Stories by rosewater 49

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

River Folk - Part 1 Family Roots

Part 1 - Family Roots

Leder tied Hissy around his britches and headed out for a day of adventure. Hissy was a water moccasin Leder used for a belt. This arrangement was the result of his mother, known to all as Ma Minnie, who insisted that her family would live naturally and would not allow ‘store-bought’ items to be used or even worn. Clothes were woven by Ma Minnie out of cattail leaves and various vines. Pa Henry accepted this arrangement without question for it was Minnie that had save Pa from certain death.

Leder’s older brother Pend, had grown to the age that he was expected to assist his Pa in gathering enough edible plants for them to survive. Ma Minnie also would not allow the killing of other creatures and that included fish and frogs. Ma Minnie had preached this vegan style living from the day she found Pa Henry laying over a log that was floating down the river. Henry, as she named him, was found unconscious with a large lump on his head and, upon being revived by Minnie, claimed to know nothing of his past, not even his name.

At that time Minnie was a young woman living alone in a hole in the bank of a quiet tributary off a large river running through Ozark Mountain country. Upon her arrival at this place she had seen muskrats living in holes and figured if it was good enough for them it was good enough.  Minnie had a hard life up to this point and wanted little to do with others. That ‘Henry’ had no past encouraged her that he would be free of the taint of what she derisively called ‘man unkind’. Henry was about her age and she suggested to him that he should live with her in the hole in the bank. Henry, having no memory of living any other way, eagerly accepted.

Henry, from the first day, regarded Minnie with awe. He felt secure with her because of her deliberate and forceful personality. He eventually fell in love with her but he remained awestruck. Minnie for her part admired Henry’s strong back and his willingness to work hard to please her. Whether or not she loved him didn’t really matter to Henry; what did matter was that she would have him.

Minnie’s disgust with other people and her insistence that her family never kill another creature was a result of her unpleasant childhood and the guilt she felt about killing a man.

Minnie grew up to early adolescence in an orphanage, known at the time as a children’s home. The home was in a backwater area of the Ozark Mountains and the term ‘home’ would have been a generous one by anyone that had grown up in a family home.

The children of the home were treated as if they were criminals, the crime apparently being parentless in a desperately poor area of a desperately poor county. Forced to sleep in a stuffy ill lit dormitory style room, the children were roused at daybreak for a breakfast of some kind of gruel and then put to work. The younger kids cleaned up after the meal and headed to the kitchen to take out the slop and clean the pots. The older unfortunates were led to their work stations which included field work, cleaning stables, feeding the livestock, digging post holes, whatever a working farm would required, for, you see, the home was actually a working farm. No midday meal was provided and the children were worked until sunset to be fed cornmeal and bits of pork. Bedtime was immediately after that.

This ‘home’ was owned by the people of the nearby town and managed by a nasty couple that had been unable to run a farm on their own. Today this farm would be shut down in an instant and those responsible for it put away for an indefinite period of time.

Minnie had spent all the years her memory could recount at this place. Minnie had no history as far as the she could tell, no names of forebears, no names of relatives, no birth place, no birth date, no family name. She picked December 25th as her birthday because, on that day, the children were allowed to sleep-in until 8:00 am before starting their normal day.

While in her early teens, Minnie began scheming about ways to escape. After mulling it over for some time she put her plan into action. She had been put in charge of the rabbit hutch a few years before and had been spiriting away rabbit fur for some time. Since Minnie was a hard worker, no one paid much attention to the details of Minnie’s efforts, for she had raised some very large and supple hares for past slaughterings.

In preparation for her escape, Minnie told the old farm manager that the rabbits would be ready in a spell and he should mosey on down in a bit to do the deed. In the interim, she went to the shed where she had a gunny sack full of rabbit fur. She had pilfered a pint of molasses and proceeded to rub it all over her body. She then stuck the fur all over and especially a big bunch on her behind for a tail. Ears were two fur-adorned corn leaves. 

When the old manager made it to the hutch, Minnie hopped out from behind it. Startled, the old man broke out in a big grin and said aloud, “Minnie, you have outdone yourself this time.” Before he could take a swing with his axe at this huge succulent rabbit, Minnie, backed away and grabbed a pitchfork leaning against the hutch and ran him through.

Author’s note: If this were to be a musical play Minnie would sing this song to the old man before departing;

I've got a word or two
To say about the things that you do
You're telling all those lies
About the good things that we can have
If we close our eyes

Do what you want to do
And go where you're going to
Think for yourself
'Cause I won't be there with you

I left you far behind
The ruins of the life that you have in mind
And though you still can't see
I know your mind's made up
You're gonna cause more misery*

*credit – Think for Yourself - Beatles – Rubber Soul

She then walked down to the pond and washed off. The time that a rabbit slaughtering usually took was enough time for Minnie to make her break. And she did.
Fortunately for the old man, the wound wasn’t serious and he was to fully recover, at least physically. The wound to his psyche, though, was great, for he was convinced he had been attacked by a monster hare. By the time he had recovered from his wounds the image of Minnie the rabbit in his mind’s eye changed from how she really looked which was something like this:

To something like this (without the vest):

The old man told and retold his story to his wife so often while convalescing that she had images of this monster rabbit running through her thoughts day and night - especially at night.

Once the old man had recovered enough to travel, his wife and he left the home and, when passing through town, recounted the story of the viscous monster rabbit attack. This put the townsfolk in a pickle because now none were brave enough to
visit the home, much less manage it. Eventually, a local Indian by the name of
Felix Goodshot and his wife, Premium Cowhide Goodshot, stated they were willing to take up residence at the home and manage its affairs. This, the town folk whole heartedly agreed to, and to ensure the Goodshots would stay, offered a provision that the Goodshots could keep any profits the farm could make.

The Goodshots were a clever couple and immediately turned the home into a casino. They were generous as well and shared profits with the resident children. The concern was a goldmine and the children, aided by the Goodshots, bought up every mortgage for every home and business in town, which was nearly every home and business in town. They then called for full payment on the loans and since no one could pay, the entire town was evicted.

With profits from the casino, the Goodshots turned the town into Monster Bunny Land, a family amusement park, and made another killing.

Next up: Part 2 – Leder’s Float Trip


  1. So far, so good :) Best story yet!

    My favorite part is the bunny going from innocent to monstrous.

  2. Your poll on the side is amazing. By the way, where is part 2 of River Folk?