The Shadow Knows

As a frenzied crowd gathers in a frigid Pennsylvania glade to observe a ridiculous rodent centered “holiday,” (many of them probably wishing they were instead bellied-up to a well-worn bar in a toasty warm pub, munching on an equally-toasty cheesesteak and nursing an ale) a lesser known ritual is about to take place hundreds of miles away.  There, in a remote corner of swampy  Terrebonne Parish, Pontchartrain Turdeaux is beginning to stir.  “Turdee,” as he’s known to locals (they think it’s “he” no one can get close enough to tell for sure) makes his home beneath the rotten wooden remains of Dicky Lafourche’s long-ago retired deer-stand.  Or gator stand, wild boar stand, giant bullfrog, cottonmouth or gar, or whatever he could draw a bead on, including plenty nutria as well.  But never the nutria, the chosen prognosticator of seasonal change, the great greasy orange-toothed giant nutria that was Pontchartrain Turdeaux.    Dicky was no longer on the hunt, having been called to the big ol’ deer stand in the sky, but what’s left of his stand, long since fallen to the boggy earth from high in a cypress crotch, made prime housing for Turdee and his nutria minions.  There were millions of ’em across the land, existing in the shadows and stanky dankness repulsive to other creatures.  Turdee the king of nutria, on that February morning while nestled beneath the rotten pallets that once comprised our proud late hunter’s perch,  atop what was left of the bench seat of a Chrysler Cordoba, gnawed lazily on the discarded remains of a two-piece mixed box from Chicken Excess.  Some thigh meat still on the bone, yum.  A piece of a biscuit was still in the box, having survived the fall from a freeway overpass not far away.  The little coleslaw container was empty but he ate the container anyway.  Then he ate the little knife they give you.  Even Turdee the nutria wondered why they give you that knife.  Who eats chicken with a little plastic knife?  When sufficiently sated, Turdeaux dove into the murky swamp to rinse his whiskers and test the waters.  He pushed down to the mossy bottom and tasted the earth and wet vegetation.  When he surfaced, a single ray of sunshine shone through the branches of a gnarled old oak, and he heard the ker-plunk, and then frenzied reeling from a nearby angler.  Turdee thought, “Aha! about six more weeks ’till dem mudbugs is just right!”

-Bobby Cook

“Nutria?  Whatever it is lemme at it!!!”




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