Whiskey Dan And The South Seas Princess

By Steve Griffin

old man telling a story

“She’s been around the block,” Whiskey Dan said to his two cronies seated beside him on their bench in the park next to the train depot. He said this in reference to the woman who had just walked by. Davie Lewellyn was only seven and had no idea what Whiskey meant. He had followed Whiskey to the park, because he always gave him a dime, sometimes a quarter if he stuck around long enough. Even if he hadn’t, the boy loved listening to his stories. The old man had lived an exciting life, filled with more adventures and famous people than any book the boy had ever read, more than in any movie he had ever seen. He had played baseball against Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, even struck out the Babe with his famous looper pitch that only he could throw because of his crooked finger, broken by a bullet—or an arrow—in one of the many battles he had fought. He only played a single game with the Cubs, because the baseball commissioner had outlawed his looper pitch since he deemed it unhittable and therefore bad for baseball. He’d gone on after that to charge up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, then gone out West to fight with Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers at the O.K. Corral, in Tombstone.

There was no place in the world he had not visited and in all of them he had experienced thrilling, often harrowing adventures. He’d barely escaped cannibals in Africa, mounting and riding away on an elephant he’d befriended years before. He’d only been one step ahead of headhunters in Borneo, or maybe it was New Zealand. It didn’t matter to the boy. He loved all his amazing tales and marveled at this man and his adventures.

Blackie, one of the other two men, chuckled at what Whiskey Dan had said about the woman, and interjected, “Around the block? Hell, Whiskey, she’s probably been around the world.”

All the men chuckled until they snorted and spat tobacco juice on the ground. Big Bob (Davie didn’t understand why they called him that since he was no taller than him and skinny as a rail) added, “I know what you mean, Blackie. She just had that look. You can always tell. When she walked away in that tight skirt, it looked like two tomcats tied up together in a gunny sack.”  They all laughed, snorted, and spat again.

Dan bit off a fresh chaw and chewed a minute, then said, “She reminded me of the girls in the South Seas, the way she walked like she knew she was the most beautiful thing in the world, and she knew any man would do almost anything to have a taste of her.”

Blackie said, “I know just what you’re saying, Whiskey, I surely do. And it’s not just the way they look or move that makes us crazy, it’s the way they smell too. When she walked by, I smelled lilacs, but something even better than flowers underneath, the smell of a woman.”

“Yeah,” Big Bob added. “I smelled it too, like a field of mushrooms after a rain, something earthy, but clean, like the smell of the ocean approached through a grove of damp eucalyptus trees, or maybe like—”

Whiskey interrupted, “Never knew you to be so much of a poet, Big. Must have been a long time since you’ve had your nose close to anything female, except for that mangy dog of yours, to get so worked up over a woman’s smell, not that it’s not a mighty fine thing indeed.”

“Speaking of smells,” Blackie put in, “Big, your aroma would keep any woman as far away from you as humanely possible.” Blackie and Whisky chortled and spat.

Big Bob sputtered. “I haven’t seen either of you two with a woman lately.”

Whiskey replied, “Big, that’s because a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell. But if you must know, you remember the widow Brady, who lived across the street from me last year before she moved to Florida to be with her daughter? Well, suffice it to say I painted a smile on that woman’s face a mortician would have been proud of.”

“I remember the widow,” Blackie said. “She walked with kind of a lopsided limp, used a cane, as I recall.”

“Well, she might have walked that way after spending a night with me. A man with my appetite can be mighty hard on a woman, mighty hard if you get my drift.”

Big said, “I get your drift, you big liar. The only thing hard about you is your head.” He and Blackie held their sides and rocked back with laughter.

“Here’s a dime Davie,” Whiskey said. “Why don’t you run along and get you a sody pop.”

As Davie walked away, he heard Whiskey say, “Yeah, she reminded me of those girls down in the South Seas, except they all walked around as naked as jaybirds, their beautiful brown breasts just winking at you as they jiggled. Well, one of those bare-breasted beauties walked up to me and cupped a breast in each hand like she was making an offering of two plump birds, and I was the god she was sacrificing them to. She was the chief’s youngest daughter, and by the laws and mores of her tribe we were considered to be man and wife. I was informed, as the chief’s son-in-law, I would be expected to lead the tribe’s army into the upcoming battle, scheduled for the next morning at sunrise. And, well, you know me, boys. I’m more of a lover than a fighter, so just before the sun came up the next morning, I snuck out of the honeymoon hut, untied a canoe, and paddled off toward a nearby island I remembered seeing before my shipwrecked. I had barely left the shore, but what did I see? The entire invading enemy army coming straight at me waving their spears and war clubs and screaming the most bloodthirsty war cries I had ever heard, and me with nothing for a weapon but a single paddle. I said to myself, ‘Whiskey, you’ve been in some tight spots, but this may be the tightest yet.’”

Davie froze, all thoughts of the cold strawberry Nehi forgotten. He just had to hear how Whiskey got out of this one.

 

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