Old Timers Become Life Savers!


By Norris Chambers

                  It was earlier than usual when Clifton and I started our daylight ‘possum hunt. When we hunted ‘possums by night we had carbide headlights that could make a ‘possum’s eyes shine at least a hundred feet away. Usually the prey was moving around slowly, apparently looking for food. To take the quarry all we had to do was point the head lamp in its direction, hold a steady sight from the .22 rifle and pull the trigger. In most cases the bullet scored a hit on the head and the ’possum was ready for us to retrieve its body and do a nice skinning job. The daylight hunt was a simple matter of looking in hollow trees. Most of the hollow areas had been transformed into nice nests by ambitious creatures and were highly regarded by ‘possums searching for a soft, safe place to sleep after a hard night of hunting for food.

            When we emerged from the brush we were at the top of a rough, rocky hill that abruptly flattened and made room for the pastures and small farms that extended west for many miles. When we were ‘possum hunting we didn’t go down the rocky hill. The sleepy ‘possums preferred the hollow trees in the brushy areas. In a small clearing at the top of the hill we saw a man sitting on a large rock with his elbow on his knee and his hand supporting his chin. When he heard us he hurriedly jumped to his feet and greeted us.

            “Hi!” he said. “I wonder if you could tell me where I am. I’ve been walking around since I was dumped somewhere not too far from here a few hours ago. Which direction is Cross Cut and how far is it?”

            Clifton asked him who dumped him and without waiting for an answer he pointed in a northern direction and told him that it was about six miles to Cross Cut if he walked through the pastures and probably eight if he used the road. The road was about two miles south of our position.

            “Tod! Tod Brown.” the stranger exclaimed.  “I‘ll kill him. He calls something like this fun. – just a harmless shivaree where everybody has fun! What have they done with Sue?” Suddenly I remembered that Sue Sparks had married a newcomer in the community. This was apparently the man that married Sue and the fun-hunting group had staged the usual shivaree for newlyweds. He told us his name was Elvan. We told him who we were. I’ll kill him!” He repeated. It was evident that he meant what he said.

            “There may be a better punishment.” Clifton continued, “If you kill Tod you will just be bringing a lot of trouble on yourself, like jail, prosecution and perhaps prison – or even worse! Listen to my plan and think it over.”

            “About halfway down this old rocky hill there’s the little Cornwell shack. Nobody seems to know how long it has been there or who built it. I guess his name was Cornwell. There are a lot of tales about the old man and some of the things he did. I suggest that Elvan stay in the shack two or three days. There’s plenty of water in the creek and we can bring him food every day. As soon as he doesn’t show up today or tomorrow Tod will be in hot water. The longer Elvan is missing the hotter the water will get!”

            I thought it was a brilliant idea. Elvan was apparently thinking about it. For the first time I saw his face relax and a big smile appear. “You’re right!” he said “That might, indeed, get even with him without any violence! When do we start?”

            I suggested that we go down to the cabin and see what we needed. It wasn’t much different from the last time we visited it. It was not a desirable home but it could serve as a three or four day dwelling without any major discomfort. I think Elvan was favorably impressed. He was still grinning as we left him standing in the doorway with enough supplies for a few days.

            When Elvan did not return the next day Tod became a little worried. Maybe they had taken the groom too far into an unfamiliar area, removed a blind and expected him to find his way back to town. If he stayed on the road someone would surely find him and help him return.

            When there was no word of the lost man the second day Sue’s dad went to the county seat and reported the incident to the sheriff. He insisted that Elvan had been taken by Tod and a few others against his will and was still missing. Two deputies came and arrested Tod and questioned two accomplices.

            Meanwhile Clifton and I returned the missing newlywed to his home. We told Sue and her family that we had helped Elvan get even with Tod and might have saved his life. No charges were filed, Clifton and I were not questioned and the incident ended without any real fun.