Maudie Mae, Part I
My grandson Tanner and I were at Home Depot, and I spotted a woman who looked like she could use a hand. She had two carts full of cabinets alongside her Toyota truck, more than the truck could bear, I would think. Wanting to set a good example for my grandson, I approached the dark haired woman in her late 50’s and offered our assistance, which she declined. Knowing her truck couldn’t handle that load, I asked her if she was sure she didn’t need some help.
After speaking with her for a second time, I recognized her. It was Maudie Mae Robinson. Maudie was my Indian girlfriend more than 30 years ago. Ten years younger than me, she was still very pretty. When I see Michelle Malkin on TV, I tell myself, she looks like Maudie. Like most pretty girls, Maudie was nice to look at, but sometimes she was moody and had some serious problems. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, her most serious problem was me). Both of Maudie’s parents were Cherokee Indians. To me, Maudie looked Asian; she was drop dead gorgeous. I never asked myself why she liked me, I just figured it was “chemistry.” You know, if she likes you, she likes you.
One weekend long ago, in the fall time of year, she and I decided it would be nice to go camping. We chose as our site to go to Blue Springs near Jasper, Fl., long before it became a State Park. This area was right next to the Withlacoochee River that ran into the Suwanee River. This area was full of high ground with ridges and spooky hollows in between. Almost each hollow had a large sink hole, with crystal clear water, a haven for local divers. They were said to be bottomless pits and the final resting place for many an unlucky cave diver.
Maudie and I had just finished restoring an old truck at her Daddy’s paint shop. We filled it with our camping gear and headed out to spend the weekend at beautiful Blue Springs. I had been there a few times. Its beauty was eye catching during the daylight and spooky and mysterious after dark.
As far as camping gear went, we had just the bare essentials: a small axe, a ball of twine, one sleeping bag, an over an under 410 shotgun/.22 rifle with two shotgun shells and about six .22 long rifle bullets. I was hoping to get a few squirrels for breakfast. Back in those days, every guy I knew had a knife in a sheath on his belt. Some used a Buck or an Old Henry, or like me, carried a “Shrade.”
We got there a few hours before dark and drove around looking at the scenery. At the entrance was a 60 foot wide swimming hole next to the river, filled with clear blue spring water, and at the bottom was a huge cave. A great place to swim, which we did, butt naked. When we got ready to get out of the water and dry off, we were accosted by 3 twenty-something year old jackasses that looked like they came straight from the movie A Time To Kill, with Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey.
I climbed out of the water first, acting like it was no big deal. I wasn’t being too friendly about it. These three were in a redneck four wheel drive, a short bed truck with large mud tires on the back, covered with rust. They weren’t paying me much attention as I headed toward my clothes and put them on. They didn’t seem to notice me, they were too intent staring at Maudie. She knew what she was doing. She swam out to the middle of the spring to keep them ogling her, while I made my way to the truck. I grabbed my gun off the rack in the window of the truck, and walked toward the fellows. I got their attention, while holding my gun pointed to the ground in the crook of my arm. I started the conversation by asking them about what they did around here for fun.
They responded by telling me that they liked to either hunt or f—-, kinda casual-like. Not missing his disrespectful tone, I asked them what they hunted, and they told me, “Something to f—-.” Oh, that wasn’t nice. Taking offense to their remarks and holding my piece where they could see it, I approached the front of their truck and smashed both of the headlights with the butt of my gun. I told them that it was gonna be dark soon, and they better go get them headlights fixed, or they just might get a ticket for driving with no headlights.
One of the mealy-mouths bellowed out, “We ain’t afraid of no ticket. My step-daddy is the Sheriff of Hamilton County.” Holding my rifle across my chest with both arms, I warned them that even so, right now might be a good time to leave before something else happened.
I thought they took my advice and left, so after that, Maudie and I searched for a suitable spot to camp. We found one on top of a ridge near the river, facing a hollow where we could see anybody driving in from the main highway. It took me a few minutes, but I built us a lean-to with a big log in front of it and a then a fire between the log and the lean-to. We forgot about the redneck clowns and started enjoying our trip. We cooked a pack of hot dogs on the end of a sharpened stick and started telling ghost stories and family tales. I had brought a six pack of beer, two black beauties, and a rolled up joint. We sat in the moonlight watching the current flowing past, the river below us, and drank our beer when Maudie offered me a deal. She said, “I’ll trade you my half of the joint for your hit of speed.” It sounded like a good deal to me, so I went for it. Maudie really got animated, telling me what it was like to be an Indian. She was Cherokee, big deal, so were her parents. I guess the two hits of speed really opened the flood gates, because she didn’t want to quit. But me, after a full day’s exertion, building the lean-to, swimming, 3 beers, and a toasty joint, I was bushed. I told her I wanted to turn in. Then I spread out the sleeping bag under the lean-to and backed away from the heat of the fire. I don’t know how long it was after that, I was tired and fell asleep quickly, but Maudie woke me up and said, “I hear something out there.”
It was dark alright, and the fog off the river had filled the hollow below us like a blanket. The tops of the moss grown trees eerily poked above the fog, like masts on a sailing ship, spooky enough for anybody. I said, “Aw, Maudie, give it up, you’re tripping on that speed. Why don’t you just curl up beside me and go to sleep?” She wasn’t with that at all. I had my gun in the lean-to beside me, and she wanted me to let her “hold” it. Well, my Momma didn’t raise no fool. I wouldn’t let her have the gun, no way. Can you imagine a half drunk Indian chick running through the woods, strung out on speed with a loaded gun?
I did let her talk me out of my Shrade. She took a fallen limb and sharpened the end to a point and sat on the log, staring out into the fog below us. That seemed to satisfy her. I was bushed and just fell back to sleep. It wasn’t long after that when I heard some screams in the distance. I looked up, and Maudie was gone. Crazy Indian b—- I thought, Pocahontas is on the warpath, and I fell back to sleep. Just before dawn, I had to pee. I got up, trying to find my bearings, and there was Maudie sitting on the log, holding a gun and staring at the dying embers of the fire, smoldering from the lack of fresh wood.
The fog had risen some, so that the smoke from the fire formed a cloud underneath it. In front of the fire, about 5 to 10 yards away, were two strange looking bundles. Upon closer inspection, I could see two of the guys from the day before lying on their bellies, with their hands and bare feet tied up behind them, “hog tied” with the twine I used to build the lean-to. Their mouths were stuffed full of socks, so they couldn’t talk. Words can’t describe how shocked I was, embarrassed that I didn’t believe her, and ashamed of myself for not doing my part. But you know, she did fine. She didn’t need my help, but what a mess.
One guy’s step-daddy was the county sheriff. Oh man. I removed the socks from their mouths so we could talk about it. Immediately, they started shouting at me. “You ain’t heard the end of this, we’ll get you back. Ole Leroy is still out there, and he’s got a gun.” About this time, Maudie broke her silence and said, “You mean this gun?” then brandished the weapon she was holding. Up to this point I had thought it was my gun, but no, there it was in the lean-to by the sleeping bag. I started thinking, “Oh no, my Shrade, she’s done cut the guy’s throat.” Then she walked over to the back of my truck, lowered the tailgate, and removed a tarp. Low and behold, there was Leroy, still alive. She had him trussed up just like the other two, hands and feet tied behind his back, lying on his belly with a sock stuffed in his mouth.
It didn’t take me long to load up our camping gear, forget about squirrel hunting, and make plans to beat feet outta there. I snatched ole Leroy outta the back of my truck, none to gentle, and cut the twine holding his feet. I told Maudie that by the time he gets to his truck, they’ll be hot on our trail. She said, “No they won’t, unless they can drive on four flat tires.” Then she handed me back my knife.
This whole scenario came back to me in a flash. I decided that Maudie was right, she didn’t need any help loading those cabinets.