The Billings Outpost

New library shelters passel of old friends

I was moseying through the new library, looking for a few old running mates of mine, when I met a ragged hombre with three toes leaking from a much-distressed clodhopper.

The hole told me the wearer wasn’t a shifter or a grafter. Wasn’t no tourist neither.

I watched as the bear-toed boy lost himself in the stacks, somewhere between biography and natural science. When “Toes” stopped in front of a black man chewing a timothy stem, I smiled. The boy was Huck Finn. Had to be.

Finn and his buddy, Tom Sawyer, were known from here to there (maybe even farther) for their adventure on the Great River. The black man, a former slave, was a part of the giggles as well. He was called “Watson’s Jim” on account that Watsons was the family what owned him. Huck felt powerful ashamed of helping steal a nigger from a man who had done him no harm,  but resolved to go to hell for the act.

The Adventure on the Great River was strung out from Illinois to Louisiana. Huck and Tom accomplished all they set out to do, probably taking more pains than was necessary.

Looking for locals, I circled the library floor twice. Each time I passed the boys there seemed to be one less. The puddle of testosterone grew smaller.

Finally a big man I was tracking parked his carcass behind a pillar and took up watching the other bipeds that were sucking up the air.

He looked familiar, so I stood and stared at him for a while. When a dog with mismatched eyes - one green and one blue - trotted up to shake his tail at the guy, I knowed who it was.

Jack London near died trying to coax some cooperation out of an Alaskan husky. I wanted to ask London about the crazy coot of a neighbor who blamed him for the “lectricity” lighting up his cabin. Course, I knew it was really the Northern Lights.

I wondered, too about Sam McGee, the feller from Tennessee that Robert Service cremated on the marge of Lake Lebarge.

Charles Darwin was no kid, and the whole of the English speaking world would recognize the bushy-faced English explorer/scholar. I recall my envy of Darwin, reading about his finding tortoises as big as the parson’s table and marine iguanas that swam beneath the waves to eat seaweed.

Neither Huck nor Tom had ever chanced to meet Sitting Bull, but there stood the chief.                The boys had conspired to join an outlaw gang somewhere in Southern California, but suddenly membership in the Sioux sounded more exciting.

Tom had decided to throw in with the outlaws when Huck switched his ‘pinion and reckoned he would rather run with the tattooed cannibals infesting the South Seas islands.

I reckoned by then I could always return sometime after supper. Huck shrugged, knocked the dottle out of his pipe and followed me home.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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