Smoky Strikes Again

Ellie S. Thomas


© Copyright 2011 by  Ellie S. Thomas



Photo of the "Tin Lizzie."
      Smoky was at it again. At least, they presumed it was Smoky, who else was bold enough to leave the offal, the hides from his kill right there under their noses?  Yep, it was Smoky all right.  Well, this time he wasn't going to get away with it.

     And Smoky had been taking game. His family hadn't had meat for some time now and his kids were getting right peaky looking. Tell the truth, he wouldn't mind a nice toothsome hunk of roast going in the old woman's oven right now himself.  It was tiresome all right; he'd behaved himself all summer, snaring a few rabbits, and living off chicken but now he had to have something to fill his belly.

     Smoky watched the signs and he didn't see any of the tell-tale official cars, didn't hear tell that any of the officers had been nosing around so he decided to make it down to the crick  and try for a trout but right away he could tell he'd been followed. He continued on as far as he dared along the riverbank and when he felt they were catching up, he'd thrown his pole and knapsack into the bushes and all they saw was a good farmer walking his fence line when they came along.

     'What are you doing today, Smoky,' they'd inquired.  Smoky rocked the fencepost back and forth in the hole, making sure it was going to stand up and then he added a couple more staples to the wire that formed his fence.

     'And howdy to you fellas today.  What's going on?  Were you looking for some of these delicious berries, or maybe picking up some brushwood for kindlin?' he asked innocently. He bent over and pulled a handful of blueberries from the bushes, cramming them into his mouth.  'They're purty good if I do say so myself.'

     They glared at him. 'We weren't looking for any special thing, Smoky,' they assured the slippery old weasel. 'We're just doing our duty. Making sure nobody's killing out of season, you know, the usual.  You haven't seen or heard anything have you?' they asked, knowing darned well he'd never tell them if he had. He didn't rat on anybody and his neighbors wouldn't rat on him, he felt quite sure.  The game wardens paused for awhile and chatted aimlessly but they could see they'd get no where today, Smoky had been put on his guard so they left after a few more minutes. They'd continue to watch and they'd question the locals but mostly, they were on their own.

     It went on for a few more weeks of parry and thrust, they'd drive down lonely roads and watch the night skies for lights crossing back and forth, a sure sign of someone 'jacking' deer but  they had to be cautious. It hadn't been long since one of their peers had gotten himself shot in the foot when he followed someone a bit too closely through the woods and another had been beaten up when he followed others into a roadside tavern and accused them of being the local outlaws. Nothing had come from these labors and they were getting more and more frustrated...and then, a summer camper reported that he'd been hearing shots in the woods around the lake and complained he was afraid of being shot, himself.  That was all they needed. Smelling blood, they raced for the car and spun the wheels, today would be the day.

     The game wardens gunned the sturdily built vehicle over the rutted roads and tersely planned their strategy.  They knew that the narrow woodsy roads that encircled the lake only went in so far and then there was no other way out.  They chuckled to themselves. This time they had him cold.  They rubbed their hands together; they just couldn't wait. Soon the woods would be safe from this destroyer, this killer of innocent wildlife but for now...    

     Actually, the game wardens were wrong about Smoky to some extent; he was not a wanton destroyer of innocent wildlife, a ruthless killer of game. While he truthfully did take game out of season, he only took what it required to keep his family fed, no more. And there were few who appreciated the velvety moss covered woodland trails more than he did, the cooing and trilling sounds of the birds echoing through the treetops, the gentle sigh of the breezes that he found so refreshing as he slid through the verdent growth. No, Smoky loved the woods, his habitat. But today he would be on wheels; he eased his old jalopy along the ancient trails.

     It was just the thing for the paths Smoky wanted to follow. It was high on wheels and gave good clearance to get over the outcropping stones. Mostly held together with baling twine and bits of fence wire, the old thing chugged along, getting Smoky where he wanted to go--in behind the lake where he'd left a carcass that he didn't feel like dragging through the bushes. He'd cut it up and get it home in his old Tin Lizzie but there came that official car following on his tail. And no way out- they had him now.  Or did they?

     They rode hard on his tail, they followed him along the grass filled lake, over the little wooden bridges erected years back when the CCC was in full swing, across the corduroy filled sections that transversed the swampy bits. 

     'We've got him today,' they chortled. 'He's almost to the end.'  But where had Smoky disappeared to?  They got out and listened, then chagrin and frustration showed on their faces. He'd slipped past tghem once more.  While they were following and laughing appreciatively, Smoky had given them the slip; they could hear his old car racketing along down the railroad tracks.  He would be home and safe before they could follow back along the lake for nearly twice the distance as the jolting run down the railroad line, where they didn't dare put their car.   They ground their teeth and clenched their fists as they got back into their vehicle, there'd be anotherday, they assured themselves. There always was, wasn't there?

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