Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Snakehunter of Liberty Grove: LitStack Flash Fiction Challenge

The following flash fiction piece is my entry in LitStack's Flash Fiction Challenge #1, based on the photo prompt you see on the left. (By the way, everyone is invited to join in! Just check out the photo prompt,  let your imagination take you where it will, post your story up to 500 words and leave a link in the comments of the challenge post at Happy writing!)

It was said that Corey Mayfield’s soul must have been owned by the devil, for how else could anyone look right into a serpent’s eyes, hypnotize the wicked adder into submission, and send it to kingdom come with a single flick of his knife or, under certain circumstances, the blunt end of his pistol? Corey’s pitiable lack of salvation didn’t stop the farmers and ranchers for sending for him when a particularly menacing rattler or sidewinder made its way onto the property and threatened the livestock, but it did stop their wives from inviting him to stay for supper after the job was done, though not from gossiping about him in town or at church socials. As one might expect, Corey kept his own company, with the exception of venturing into the saloon on the occasional Saturday afternoon for two beers and a whiskey, but never a game of cards, and rarely a conversation.

You could have heard the flick of an asp’s tongue the day Maisy Jaspers strolled into Davison’s just as carefree as you please, chin high, basket tucked into the crook of her arm and the brazen notion that Mr. Mayfield might possibly care to join her on a picnic down yonder by the creek. And damned if Corey didn’t look her fixedly in the eye and declare that yes, ma’am, indeed he might, especially if that fine aroma meant blueberry pie. Damned also if he didn’t take one last sip of his beer and leave the whiskey right there on the table, push back his chair, stand up, place his hat on his head, take her arm, and go.

After that, Maisy and Corey were often seen in each other’s company.  Maisy’s family were decent folk, her mother active in the ladies guild and her father in The Grange. No one understood what could cause Maisy to behave in such a fashion, though several of her friends confided that that Mr.Mayfield certainly was an attractive man, albeit an unusual one, and giggled about what Miss Maisy must have come to know about Mr. Mayfield that they didn’t. The older ladies outwardly expressed their horror and inwardly sighed a breath of relief that here, at last, was gossip of a truly juicy variety. Maisy’s mother pursed her lips;  Maisy’s father was grateful for the farmwork that kept him mostly in the fields and out of the town, where people tended to stare.

Maisy and Corey raised five beautiful children, each of whom could charm a snake every bit as well as their father, and though they were odd, people came to accept them. When Corey passed on at 83, having encountered a copperhead he hadn’t (what with age-weakened eyesight and hearing) seen or heard with fair enough warning to pull his knife or pistol, all the townspeople came to the service. He was buried in his finest, the ones you see here, and that is how we remember him to this day, the Snakehunter of Liberty Grove.


Thanks for visiting - thoughts welcome.