The Simpleton

Culvert along the Towpath in the Cuyahoga Vall...

Culvert along the Towpath in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Photo credit: Cuyahoga jco)

After Hermes and Elsie have driven off I walk this road and horizons change.  I am so vulnerable I think I had better leave the road.   After a while I enter a culvert deep in the woods.  I don’t like the idea because there could be some psycho in there on his way to murdering a bunch of people and he might start with me.  I look back and see that the only way to keep walking is to go right into it.  I don’t want to waste two hours backtracking, which is what it would take.

Of course there’s someone in here.  He’s giggling and snorting and playing with something that looks like a car muffler.

Hidy, he says as he looks up briefly.

There is a little whiskey in the bottle in front of him.  He is very drunk.

Hello, Ace, I say.  What you got there?

A bomb, he says evenly.

Right, I say evenly.

No, really.

Really?  What you doing with a bomb?

Gonna kill me a Muslim, he says.



What did Muslims ever do to you?

He shrugs his shoulders.

Did you ever know a Muslim?  I say.  There aren’t many around here.

They’s sand niggers, he says.  They got a funny colorin, like reddish black.

You sure you wouldn’t blow up a black man instead?

Oh, I wouldn’t do that.

But you’ve never seen a Muslim.

No but it don’t matter.  The sheriff back home never did till one day he was looking for vagrants.  They was a whole family o’ sand niggers in town and he put em in jail till he could find somebody with darker skin.

That doesn’t make any sense,  I say.  In addition to being drunk, I think he is simple.  And for that, all the more dangerous.

What’s in the bomb? I say.

They’s dynamite.  Ye just light it when ye see a Muslim and thow it.  Man, he says, stretching, I’m plumb give out.  Hey, I think I’ll take a little nap.  Watch this here bomb, will ye?

Glad to, Ace, I say.

He is soon snoring drunkenly.  I pick up the whiskey bottle and drain it.  Then I frisk him for matches, light one, and apply it to the fuse.  Then I put the bomb on his chest and run like hell.


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