I've been tagged? Not for long . . .
There's a yellow tag on my ear and a radio transmitter around my neck.
Nathan Bauman did this to me. I think that he's working for that dastardly Willie Wirehand, who's been looking for me ever since I left the Ozarks long ago.
Ah, the Ozarks . . .
When I was a young boy, we didn't yet have running water. To get water for the day, we'd open a trapdoor in the floor of our kitchen. Just inches below was a pipe about one foot in diameter. Grandpa would lift its lid and lower into it by chain a long bucket with an ingenious mechanism that allowed the bottom to fold up into the bucket so that water would well up inside. Once filled, the bucket could be hauled back up without losing a drop as the bottom closed again from the water's weight.
No piped water also meant no toilet. We had an outhouse with . . . yes, a thick Sears and Roebuck catalogue. The old kind without the glossy pages. Perfect for the task.
That was in town, at my maternal grandparents' place.
Sixteen miles away, at the end of a dirt road and only five miles across the fields and through the woods from Norfork Lake was the farm of my other grandparents. The place still had the feel of the wild about it. A forest started at the farm's edge and continued, running by river valleys and over hills through national forests and along Buffalo National River all the way to the Oklahoma border and beyond more than 150 miles away. At night, we could sometimes hear cougars scream, and bears would occasionally amble in to threaten the hogs. Deer, bobcats, foxes, racoons, skunks, weasels, and more left their nocturnal tracks behind. In the sky circled eagles and hawks and buzzards and crows, looking down on us. Every time that we plowed the garden, the furrows turned up stone arrowheads, tomahawks, knives, and less recognizable things.
I wandered the wooded valleys and hills, fishing, swimming, just looking . . .
I still have a bit of the wild in me . . . so you'll understand if I scratch this tag off, shake the transmitter loose, and escape . . .