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The Deeson Devil

By Phillip Dominy

 


    Anyone that grew up in the Georgia backwoods will tell you that there were plenty of ghosts, boogers, Haints, monsters, and unknown animals around to scare the heck out of them. My home town was no exception; in fact, it was the prototype for strange and scary occurrences. We had one major monster that I knew for a fact wasn’t real. In fact some people (namely, my momma and granny) knew that I was responsible for its “birth”, so to speak.  

     It all started (as most things did) because we were poor. Of course I didn’t know it at the time so it was o.k. The only real luxury that I was denied was having a pet. At school my classmates would tell about their dogs, cat, or parakeets, while I had to listen and wish I could tell about my dog or cat but I never could. Any pet I had was always a stray. We had four or five mangy or mentally ill dogs that showed up at our house and stayed only long enough to embarrass the heck out of momma then no matter how mentally deranged they were, they soon perceived that our meager bill of fare was not temporary, and lit out for the proverbial greener pastures. I did have a flying squirrel which was a pretty good pet but my momma didn’t like it. She called it ”a rat with wings’’ and one day when I came home from school she told me that it had “escaped”.

     It was about then that “PUFFS” showed up on our back porch. Puffs was obviously a cross between a domestic cat and a bobcat. He, or she (we were never quite sure), was a ball of gray fur with no tail, huge feet, long fangs and big yellow eyes. Its temperament was to put it mildly volatile. It didn’t like anyone or anything. It tolerated me because I fed it sardines which were its favorite food. I thought that it had run away several times but within five minutes of opening a can of sardines it would just appear as if by magic. 

    When provoked Puffs would do just that- puff up into a basketball sized ball of fur with razor sharp claws and fangs. It would light into anything regardless of size, emitting a ferocious growling screech and immediately attack whatever it perceived to be the cause of its ire. I saw it jump on dogs, cats, and once a large wild boar that had strayed into our yard. I was secretly filled with pride that an old Puffs was so ferocious. Of course mamma didn’t much cotton to Puffs and they would tell me “that things gonna cause us a heap of trouble one day“. My theory was that even a mean and uncontrollable pet was better than no pet, in hind sight I wish I had listened to my momma. I had to keep Puffs a secret from my class mates except for Ellis, who knew about Puffs and had the same sort of problem as I did, lack of a pet.  

    One summer a big event was announced, the Governor was coming to give a speech for his re-election. Now in our town we had a big vacant lot that was used for that sort of thing and it just so happened to be right next to our house. Me and Ellis got a ringside seat as preparations were made for the big event. First, they brought in a big hay trailer and got the podium from the high school and put it on the trailer. Then they set up five or six grills to cook hotdogs and hamburgers on, and they started stacking up cases of beer and liquor for the men and most notable to me and Ellis, then had eight or ten washtubs full of cherry bombs, t-n-t’s rockets and innumerable strings of firecrackers. Soon they began to set up microphones at the podium and stated setting rows of folding chairs up on the stage for the dignitary’s and on the ground in front of the stage for the common folk.  

    Me and Ellis were leaning against the stage when Mrs. Deeson and her pet poodle Fluffy climbed on the stage and came over to where we were. Now Mrs. Deeson taught eighth grade but most notably she was the wife of Col. Deeson the local judge and lawyer who quite literally, called the shots in our county. Fluffy growled at us and made lunge for us that Mrs. Deeson stopped with the leash. “You ragamuffins! Quit harassing my dog, run along and play somewhere else!” “Yes, ma-am ”we said and we moved toward the end of the stage. “ What’s a ragamuffin?” Ellis asked. “I dunno.“ I replied, “but I bet it ain’t good.” Ellis said, "I wish Puffs was here”. Me too! I exclaimed. I’d love to see old Puffs get hold to Fluffy that would liven things up around here. “Yeah “Ellis said “it would be funny but I’d bet we wouldn’t be able to go back to school as long as old lady Deeson was around.”

    I thought about the implications of what Ellis had just said and I told him-“I’ll be back with PUFFS in a minute! ” I ran in the house and got a can of sardines out of the cabinet and was back at the stage in no time. I opened the sardines and cast about for the optimum place to put them, finally I decided that under the podium would be the location with the best prospects to get Fluffy and Puffs together. As it turned out it proved to be the wrong place to achieve the intended results, of course the results it did achieve proved to be legendary!           

     Predictably, it took Puffs less than five minutes to detect the delectable odor of sardines. Ellis poked me in the side,” Puffs “. Sure enough, Puffs homed in on the podium like a heat seeking missile. “Here we go “, I said, as Mrs. Deeson almost on cue, climbed up on the stage and approached the podium. “ Dang it”, I told Ellis “she ain't got Fluffy, We can’t have no fun!” I wailed, “We’ll be bored to death until the fireworks start.” We worried too much, we were in peril of death and bodily injury but it wasn’t by boredom!  

      Old lady Deeson stood at the podium and cleared her throat; she addressed the ladies of the town who were assembled in front of the stage. “Now ladies I will instruct you on the proper way to greet the Governor, I realize that you have never done it before so just do as I do and you will be all right!” “Now when the Governor approaches you, you may curtsey and say something like honored to meet you, please enjoy your stay in our little town, or if he might offer to dance with you do thissssssssssss!

     Eeeeeyooooowwww! It was at that precise moment that the Deeson Devil was born. Mrs. Deeson had managed to step on one of Puffs oversized paws as she was eating her sardines. As usual, Puffs took exception to that unseemly assault on her person and immediately launched into a counter attack which took the form of an all-out assault up Mrs. Deeson’s dress where she commenced to do some rather bizarre and painful things to Mrs. Deeson's nether regions.

     Our eyes bugged out of their sockets as Mrs. Deeson, despite her generous proportions, launched into the greatest display of dance moves that I or anyone else, have ever witnessed! The sheer range of her repertoire was staggering; she did a West African demon dance (I learned this years later on National Geographic), Calypso moves from the Caribbean, some moves from the Bolshoi, Soul train, even Curley's dance from the three stooges! It was remarkably entertaining, especially as the women including my mamma and granny looked at each other shrugged their shoulders and did their best to follow Mrs. Deeson’s example! Of course they were wasting their time. On that day no-one could equal Mrs. Deeson's gyrations! Admittedly the ladies lacked Mrs. Deeson’s motivation but all in all they acquitted themselves well.

     Puffs, having wreaked her revenge now had a big problem, how to get loose from Mrs. Deeson without getting trampled to death in the bargain? The enraged thing bellowing and heaving danced around the stage as Puffs grimly hung on. Then Mrs. Deeson gave a mighty pirouetting leap and Puffs saw her opening and let go. She hit the stage and with a yowl she made her exit right through the dancing women. Half of whom had fainted with fear as they had witnessed Puffs exit from under Mrs. Deeson’s dress. They were and still are convinced that Mrs. Deeson had given birth to a hairy demon!

     Mama had witnessed that too, but, she recognized Puffs and she had a pretty good idea that me and Ellis were right in the thick of it. She ran over to where we were rolling on the ground laughing, and proceeded to make some pretty dire predictions on what our futures might hold. Unlike some of her predictions about other things, these were 100% accurate! Just about the time that mamma was finishing up her ominous tirade we heard one of the men backstage yell”Good Gawd a-mighty, run!” On her last mighty leap Mrs. Deeson had missed the stage and fell into one of the grills tipping it over into one of the tubs filled with fireworks. That bit of news had an immediate and galvanizing effect, lending wings to everyone’s feet, including me and Ellis, although it is very difficult to attain much speed when your side is splitting with laughter!

      Just then a mighty “ BOOOOOOOOM” rent the air followed by a series of “BA-BOOOOOM-BA-BOOOM, BA-BOOOOOOOOM!” as all the other washtubs of fireworks went up! Chaos reigned, men, women and children scattered. It was everyman for himself, as windows shattered, fires broke out and general mayhem ensued. Miraculously no one was seriously injured and no major property damage had occurred. Unbelievable as it may seem some good actually came out of the situation. Several people who were disabled were miraculously cured on that day, including my uncle Buck who couldn’t walk without the use of a cane. He led the pack away from the stage leaping cars like a deer. Many who had witnessed the “birth” of the Deeson Demon, swore off alcohol. Some who were known atheists came to Christ with an unmatched fervor! Generally church attendance shot up and still is very strong even fifty years have passed.  

      We never saw Puffs again after that day. I guess the trauma of Mrs. Deeson’s dance exhibition coupled with the explosions and fires caused her, or him to revert back to the wild. From that day though, the Deeson Devil has haunted and terrorized my home town. It is still seen lurking in the shadows, on roofs, in dark alleys, in the woods and fields. Mamma, Granny, Ellis and me know the truth and tried to tell everyone but no one would listen. To this day many women will not go out to their mail boxes without toting a .38, as you might imagine, word of this got out and tramps, and hobo’s still give our town a wide berth.  

      The Governor? He didn’t show up. His entourage got word that the liquor supply had been blown up and he decided not to come. That was not the first time or the last that a slippery politician has disappointed people. Who would have guessed?

Copyright 2013 Phillip Dominy

 


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