Skids and Digger

                   SKIDS AND DIGGER


   This tale was inspired by memory of a visit of a Sunday to a small town in Utah…

and a sound and a whiff of, and then a sighting of two old Saints – sheep farmers, maybe – strolling through a crowded, town-wide sidewalk sale, wearing their finest and matching, though no less fragrant, by gosh, bib-overalls, on their way home after “partakin’ of mornin’ services up to the temple.”


   This is a story of how – to an outsider – things may have appeared, and in no way wishes to depict actual lives of the wretched people existing in such a forsaken territory.




   The shaggy ram bellowed defiant from the cliff’s edge, “Naa-aa-aa-aa-a, naa-aa-aa-a, naaa, naa-aa-aa-aa-a, naa-aa-aa-aa-a,” while his wildly yellow eyes watched the dying, tawny panther far below.


   One lamb was lost – injured – but all of the ewes were still his…




   Skids and Digger McGit were the most homely and the least bathed men in town – maybe, of the whole land – everyone knew it and them on sight and by stench, or by stench and then by sight: receding sight. Just as clouds of insects were attracted to them, crowds of people parted from them, like the Red Sea parting from Moses, no matter where they were: in the shops and stores of their tiny hometown, at the livestock auction and festive fairs and affairs of the county, and in all the fields and meadows during community gatherings and picnics their malingering essence lurked within all of a Sunday’s communions. Why, even on the busy sidewalks of distance Salt Lick City (where, once, the boys traveled for vacation,) people move away from them and people moved away from them quickly, very quickly. It was wonderfully remarkable – in a revolting sort of way.


   Sheep farmers by birth (foundlings, found in a manger among the spring lambs,) and later by vocation, the McGit boys were like their charges in that they were born twins, together, one right after the other. Esau and Jacob might come to mind for the Biblically versed, but Esau and Jacob weren’t identical twins as the McGit brothers were. No: Jacob and Esau would be a poor comparison; Beelzebub and Lucifer would be better, considering the McGit’s proclivity for mischief and wrongdoing.


   When a small-town society considered the kinds offal, the awful twins did awfully well at being so considered. They delighted at being deviant: there were vile, and they reveled in it; they were fully foul, and they were firmly entrenched, enjoying it. In fact, one could say they were hideously happy, horrible humans – if one was willing to risk heavy-handed hubris, hoping to effect remarkably repetitive and intensive alliterative illusion, quickly catching each reader’s earnest ear, and eye. But, then again, at times, while makin’ mock of the unlearned, (and of the other ones too,) one deplorably digresses down the road to a dismally disastrous diatribe…


   Don’t you agree?


Putting things plainly; they were ugly and odd, and they stunk.


   The McGit’s first names had been long-ago forgotten – even by them – but the oldest residents claimed the given names of the twins (not the first-given names, but the current, given names) and one reasons for the boys’ peculiars could be traced to a traumatic childhood incident involving a double spanking before the entire student body after the school began requiring the “young gentlemen: attending” to wear underwear – even during the heat of Indian Summer. And, while this is certainly not a definitive explanation, such an explanation cannot be wholly disregarded when considering the brothers’ definitive exceptional eccentricities. Also, consider this fact: at that time, most washing was done by hand – there were few automatic machines (Skids); and moreover, consider the further fact that most undergarments of those poorest “young gentlemen attending,” were for winter-wear and were therefore made of wool: warm, but itch, wool (Digger).


   In any case, the reader’s imaginations will be more than sufficient on such insignificant detail, and for the purpose of this tale.


   So, their known monikers, like them, probably had unusual beginnings.


   And their beginnings too, even among those locals whose farms this tiny Diaspora came from (and came to, too, as the sheep, the goats and the McGits wandered the lands) were forgotten or were conveniently unrememberenced. “I don’t know where they came from, but they aren’t wanted here, proclaimed their neighbors. Or – exhausting their wit – the practiced, clever ones said, “Them McGits needs be McGots”; except for those times of course, of course, when Skids and Digger were used as a means of popular identity and rank when talking to tourists – and as introduction to disparaging conversation while speaking of friends…


   “Hear that?” asked Skids.

    “Here? What, here?” Digger halted with a handful of wool, turned back and stared at Skids. The sheep he held stopped too, and then the rest of them stepped into each other as old, drooling Mister Butler, the lead billy goat, continued to clang his way away, up and around the grassy slope. As they approached from the west, the flaring, green knob that was Goat Hill completely hid the valley and the lake at its base.

   “Don’t ya want to give the sheep a drink first – and take one of our own?” Digger trailed off. He released the ewe and reached for the juice-skin sloshing at his belt. The McGits were known to enjoy their juices: mostly, their old and moldy juices. The ewe, free of Digger’s grip, slowly began to follow Mister Butler’s track, up and around the gentled slope.

   Digger turned toward the hill, squinting as he squeezed the juice-skin, and dark, Marion Berry wine squirted against the back of his throat. He watched for Mister Butler to come dashing back, down the hill from above (indicating a predator); and he watched for the Billy to come walking back: walking back and looking back, along the thickened base of the hill (indicating another herd ahead of them, drinking at this side of the lake, and indicating other goatherds drinking there too, and maybe even indicating other goatherds drinking there who were ready to grab a ewe two: a ewe or two fat with our lambs…); he thought on…

   By the time the leading ewe and most of her acolytes had followed Mister Butler up, around and out of sight, over the hill without returning, Digger knew that he and Skids had, at least, the hill side of the lake to themselves. He’d soon see if the meadow on the upper side of the valley was also empty. If it was, then the sheep would naturally work their way around the lake to take in the long grass of the meadow as they were pushed and nuzzled from behind. And if it was, then he and his brother could take their turns napping and watching, and watching and juicing from the shady, green shelf topping of Goat Hill, high above the cloven-muddied waters…

   “No, dammit! Not here – hear! Listen, can ya hear it? It sounds like a lamb, a sic-un...”

Skids pointed and looked toward the sun, rising above the summit and flooding its western slopes.




   Hammer-toed Mary sat high on a ridge overlooking the lake, the hill and the valley. She watched as the brothers lifted the tiny creature that she’d hidden deep within a shoulder-wide crack of the hill’s rocky outcroppings. As she watched two enter and three leave the cleft, she ran the stem of a Black-eyed Susan past her harelip and through the large gap in her teeth. She worked the flower in rhythm with a monotone droning of Jingle Bells:

   “Huh-huh-huhm, huh-huh-huhm, huh-huh-huhm…”

   Christmas was months long past, but whenever Hammer-toed Mary was worried, she tried to hum and Jingle Bells was the only song she’d ever been able to learn.



   “Look,” said Skids, pointing at the dirty splotch of white trapped far back in the darkness behind a fence of branches, “I told ya it was a lamb.”

   Hammer-toed Mary drew a deep breath and silently sobbed in her hands. She missed her fuzzy baby.








 The last line in the story, if I finish it, will be:            

"so Skids and Digger, and Hammer-toed Mary and her little lame lamb all limped back, back to their puny hovel on that dismal land -- that dreary, chilling land -- where haply they staid evermore.


A Very funny little character study, what there is of it, but I wasn't expecting that "Oh by the way, this is just an uncompleted fragment" at the end. Shoulda called it Part One. It would be funny if they ended up at SUNDANCE...
~~hugs, Laika

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