November 28, 2023

If I Survive This, I’ll Give Up Drinking…


Charlie Huffinger had spent the evening bending an elbow at the Faithless Dog saloon in Clarkdale and arrived back at Doodlebug Island in the not-so-wee hours of morning, driving more by instinct than by regulation. Truthfully, he wasn’t sure which highway he’d taken to get home, and he was only vaguely aware that he’d arrived home at all. His immediate problem was which of the three bridges he saw leading to the Island was the correct one? He debated the issue with himself, then chose the left one and promptly drove off into Oak Creek.

Early risers jogging along the creek found Charlie lying prone on the hood of his car, snoring like a pond frog, and with a fishing pole wedged between his knees. An unbaited hook dangled just above the water which lapped over the car’s hubcaps to a depth of perhaps eighteen inches. The joggers watched as Charlie turned in his slumber and rolled off into the cold waters of the stream.

In the sudden dousing, Charlie began flailing about, convinced that he had somehow been cast into water over his head, and, in that moment, was seized not only with wakefulness and sobriety but with the resolve that if he survived this tragedy he would forever give up drinking and live a life of some exemplary fashion which fate could define for him, if only fate would help him survive his present ordeal! It was at that point he became aware that he was actually lying in water barely covering his chest, and he felt a momentary pang of regret that he’d sworn to turn his life around when a moment’s reflection could have assured him he was threatened with nothing more severe than a cold bath.

“Well,” he spoke aloud to himself, “why not? I’ve been a rounder to the point there are no more corners left. Maybe it’s time to try what I swore to!”

With that, he got back into his only lightly submerged car, and, after starting it, backed out and drove home.

Needless to say, citizens of Doodlebug Island are holding their collective breath—that is, if such a thing is possible—rather equally divided in the belief Charlie will win his war with himself. Wagering on such an outcome appears to be rather gauche, so, naturally, that is the path more often chosen by residents. If anything, the heavier bets are on the side of slippage, while those given to the notion of rectitude and moral suasion are betting on the side of hope. Everyone worries about the kind of man Charlie will become once rehabilitation sets in–that is, if it does set in. While they earnestly hope he won’t yield to the influence of those friends whose bad habits he’s shared, most can’t bear the thought of what might happen if he becomes some sort of teetotaling evangelical bent on reforming the world.

In other Island news, members of the Philosophical Society held their latest dispute Thursday, and by normal standards it was fairly calm. Wilbur Perforce’ concussion has been found to be non-life-threatening, while Gilmore Morris’s jaw has been properly set and he’s able to eat through a straw. He needs to lose weight anyway, so a liquid diet should be just the thing.

The Creek-side Poetry Society held their annual presentation ceremony recently, but there were no winners. Seems that everyone prefers his own poetry to that of others, so consensus was out of the question. One member submitted a poem dealing with cattle and an open range and was subjected to the humiliation of being voted out of the society.  (Editor’s Note: It could be Cowboy poetry makes illiteracy desirable and hearing loss necessary).

Oil company representatives have been conducting sonar testing to determine whether or not Doodlebug Island has fracking potential. Island pranksters lured them here by pouring barrels of used motor oil into those natural fissures and cracks that form in an otherwise arid landscape.

Lastly and inexplicably, our mayor and council received a letter from the Hawaiian Tourist Commission inviting Doodlebug Island to become a Sister-Island in the fashion of Sister City associations, which appear to function largely as a means of allowing elected officials to travel to interesting places at public expense. We said, “Thank you, no.” We fear the influx of Hawaiians wishing to escape the possible cataclysm of their own volcano-prone paradise might swamp the tentative amenities of our lovely mountain kingdom!

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