The Boy Who Cried Wolf
I don’t have the greatest memory for fables.
It still escapes me why Rumpelstiltsken wove golden thread and was then dragged to Hell, or how exactly the Chinese brothers escaped execution with their far-fetched buffoonery. I never learned anything from these stories. Satisfied that I was “learning a lesson” rather than being punished, I would space out and think about Canadian children’s programming while my mom convinced herself she was imparting effective punitive measures on my impressionable mind.
Not that I don’t kind of remember these tales of high morality. The names are usually enough to prompt a vague memory of olden days and Dutch children playing under windmills and leagues of anthropomorphic animals. I also recall my grandfather announcing (much to my mother’s chagrin) that these age old tales used to have nasty endings to scare the bejesus out of kids, which was the point, but they’d been sissified by generations of liberal nancy boys whose heads were too deep in the sand to teach their children how to be men.
Despite all this, I did grow to be a man. And while much of this folklore is buried too deeply in the crevices of my mind to be excavated, I can beckon some to the surface. And I feel that it is my responsibility to the next generation to commit one of the world’s most important fables to the page.
So, without further ado, I present to you dear readers, the ghastly tale of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
Several years ago, probably around the time that doctors were pretty damn sure that mercury was good for baby’s hair and Camel cigarettes provided the greatest comfort for your “T-Zone”, there was a town of about fifteen hundred people in an area where wolves were indigenous; for the sake of believability, we’ll say it was a few miles outside of Jacksonville, just north on I-295 near Dinsmore. It was a quiet community, with a grain elevator and a school house, and a pool hall for children’s fathers
to conduct business without the interference of nagging womenfolk who didn’t know their place. A small town is a nice place to raise a child, and thus there lived in the town many nice children who caught mackerels near the draw bridge and other boring olden day shit. The coal mine in the center of town belched out a lot of poisonous soot, and that mixed with the Camel smoke has since been linked to countless child asthma cases and consistently low birth rates in infants, but otherwise Town was a pretty dope place to be back then.
In Town there lived a boy named Cornelius Bronson, who was like 13 years old and about five foot two, probably not much more than 105 pounds or so. Like many boys his age, he was confused about his self-image and felt he identified with the pop culture of the time. Thus, he demanded to be regarded as “CoMoney” by his family and peers. He was basically a little shithead, and his parents had pretty much given up on him getting anything out of his public education years before. Really they just appreciated the solitude that the Town’s mandatory youth warehousing facility, “Vladimir Thurston Public”, provided them five days a week. There at Vladimir Thurston, CoMoney and his peers were oft to inhale cleaning solvents and skip out on class to smoke Camels, one of life’s greatest pleasures. In truth, who could blame them?
But, one day, CoMoney came stumbling home around 8 PM, reeking of inhalants and American Turkish tobacco blends, when he was met by his mother at the front door. “Your father wants to have a talk with you, Cornelius, and I suggest you listen to him right good.” She stepped aside and ushered her son through the door and into the humble abode. Inside sat Mister Bronson, a short, mustachioed tough guy with a sock full of quarters in his right fist. “Charles,” CoMoney’s mother pleaded: “Go easy on the boy. It’s just inhalants.”
“First inhalants,” Father growled, “then marihuana! Forget about conventional drugs like heroin and cocaine! Harmless performance-enhancing amphetamines be damned! I’ve been around the block, woman. These kids start with the mild stuff, like bleach. Then, they look for the ultimate high when the shit stops working. They turn to the Mexicans. And they get em hooked on reefer.”
In one fluid motion, faster than the blink of an eye, Bronson released the bludgeon from his fist and blasted CoMoney in the nose, busting his shit all up. “And I’ll be god damned if any boy of mine will be a god damn REEFER ADDICT!”
“Shit, Pa!” CoMoney cried. “Daz my shit u just busted up! My smellin shit!”
“I’m sorry I had to bust your smellin shit, Cornelius,” Bronson consoled. “But there’s something I need to tell you. I’ve been speaking with Farmer Pritchard just outside of Cary.”
“You mean Cary State Forest?” CoMoney inquired.
“No, the town of Cary, just south of Thomas Creek Conservation Area,” Father Bronson corrected. “Seems that Olde Man Pritchard needs some help with some farm stuff.”
“So where do I come in?”
“Don’t get wise, boy. I told ‘im you’d be a’ comin up there to Cary every day after school from now on. He’ll be payin’ you in Camels, on account of his not havin enough money for a real farm hand, and on account a me thinkin’ that your love for Camels is about the only sensible thought your brain ever done had.”
And so it was that CoMoney would begin working for Olde Man Pritchard on weekdays around 4PM or so. Little did the people of Duval County, Florida know, CoMoney Bronson was going to be like the decade’s biggest A-hole.
* * *
“Let’s get one thing straight,” Farmer Pritchard hissed sourly at CoMoney on Day One. “I don’t like your shitty face. Your smellin shit is all broke ass, and that makes you look like a sack of shit. Plus, I reckon you can’t smell worth a shit, which means yer gonna haf te use yer eyes a lot gooder.”
“A lot gooder for what?” CoMoney inquired.
“A lot gooder,” Pritchard coughed through a pluming exhale of Camel smoke, the pause adding some mildly dramatic anticipation, “for spottin wolfs.”
CoMoney lit his last Camel and inhaled greedily. “If it’ll keep me good in Camels, I’ll catch every last wolf in a sack and release them into the Conservation Area, where the Department of Natural Resources can tag them and keep close tabs on their numbers to study the fluctuations in the natural wolf population over a designated period, Old Man.”
“Like hell you will,” the farmer barked. “You just get on the CB radio and tell me when you sees one, and I’ll come out and blast it right to hell with my thirty aught six.”
CoMoney stomped out his Camel in the dirt and coughed. “Hey, they’s your Camels.”
Well, CoMoney, who ironically had very little money and was not too committed to obtaining more, figured that this gig might not be half bad. Sure, he’d have to skip out early on inhalants after school, but if he took New Kings Road back from Cary, he could swing through Jacksonville Auto Auction and dip a rag in a gas tank to catch a mellow. And of course he’d have to cut through a subdivision and cross Braddock Road just north of Wayne’s Tree Services to get back to Cattleman Court in Dinsmore, but these were the carefree days of childhood. Looking out for wolves seemed kind of fun.
After a couple days, however, CoMoney hadn’t spotted one cotton pickin’ wolf, and he was getting right frustrated with the whole thing. And since he didn’t get his pack of Camels until the end of every shift, and they were always gone before the end of the following school day, he was starting to wonder if it was all worth it, in like, the scheme of things or whatever. So he hatched a plan.
On Tuesday the seventeenth, without a wolf in sight, CoMoney picked up the CB radio. “Aw shit!” he cried into the microphone. “There’s some wolfs out here and they’re gunnin for Cary! We best stop them or they’ll make their way to Dinsmore, the County Seat!”
The receiver crackled after but a moment, a frantic Farmer Pritchard on the line. “Dinsmore ain’t the county seat, you ignorant shit! The county clerk operates out of Jacksonville! Lemme grab the thirty aught, I’m a comin!”
CoMoney chuckled as Olde Man Pritchard came flying around the barn, thirty aught six in hand, a slippin and a stumblin amid the mud and the loose gravel. Huffing and puffing, he slid to a precarious halt, thrust the thirty aught up to his shoulder, and took aim. At nothing.
“Well, where is he?” Pritchard gasped, the epithelium in his lungs destroyed from years of Camel abuse.
“I didn’t really see no wolf,” CoMoney yawned. “I was runnin’ a drill. Testin’ response times and what such.”
“Eh! Wazzuh! You tad gum – grrrreh.. Ah… Huh…. Uh….” Pritchard doubled over and caught his breath for a full two minutes before speaking again. “Don’t… do that… shit! I… got a… bad knee… for runnin!”
Needless to say, if CoMoney hadn’t done that same shit again, there’d be no reason to give all this build-up for such an anticlimax. No, he did it again. He did it a few more times. He still never spotted a wolf, and he was beginning to figure he never would. He even considered the fact that perhaps all the wolves had died out in the area due to deforestation and poorly managed conservation efforts. Long story short, he pretty much let his guard completely down and just started doing inhalants at work.
On Monday the 3rd, CoMoney had the greatest bout of connecting thoughts to formulate an idea ever. Pritchard was pissed about all the false alarms. What if he promised never to call another false alarm in exchange for his pack of Camels at the start of his shift? That way, he could keep good in Camels, immediately bail on wolf lookout, go huff some 87 octane, and who would ever be any the wiser?
The plan worked, and Pritchard fell for it bad. For a whole two weeks he thought CoMoney was sitting out there watching for wolves until nightfall, when really that lousy bastard was off doing who knows what, and getting Camels for it besides. Until Friday the 22. That was the day that it all went to the dumpski.
A whole pack of wolves, about eleven of them, came gunning out of the Conservation Area straight toward Pritchard Farms. The farmer was half in the bag inside, two packs of Camels in for the day, and basically incapacitated, but if he’d a heard that CB buzzin, he would have mustered the energy to grab the thirty aught. But, no – CoMoney was not watching for wolves. He was all the way back in Dinsmore, 4.3 miles away.
The wolves were merciless on the farmer first. They busted into his house and ripped him limb from limb. Oh, he did his fair share of screaming first, but in a short time they’d devoured his crusty, tar-burned flesh and set fire to his house. The Duval County Gazette would call it “The Fire at Pritchard Farms”.
The wolf pack razed the quiet town of Cary after slaying all its inhabitants. Thirsty for blood, and having traveled a long way from Manitoba, the pack would not be stopped without Crack Shot Pritchard and his trusty thirty aught six. It had been Duval County’s only hope.
At the end of the day, the body count was in the hundreds. Precious wetlands were demolished, some rare species extinct by sunrise the next day. Dinsmore sustained some considerable damage, too. I won’t go into too much grisly detail, but it was more or less the worst catastrophe that the Dinsmore area and surrounding communities had ever experienced. It was some really awful shit, and it was all CoMoney’s fault.
Despite this, CoMoney Bronson sat at home and played Atari during the entire massacre. After a few hours of mayhem he’d become privy to what was going on, but he was truly a soulless sociopath and was really only mildly distraught that he’d need to find a new source for Camels.