Casper Osborne and I went jump-shooting for puddlers in a low-tide Southeast Atlantic Coast river. Marsh grass and migratory songbirds abounded on either side. Estuary life teemed all around us. Sun-dappled shadow painted the pristine landscape. Beautiful! A sight to behold.
Casper was impressed.
"Right purty swamp, ain't it?" he offered.
"Marsh," I corrected. "On the coast it's called a marsh."
With that, Casper suggested I perform a difficult physical feat: Something involving an eliminatory body function exhibited in ascending vertical fashion. Something gravitationally impossible. Something I couldn't do even if it was not. I didn't have a rope.
Casper scanned the water ahead and made no further comment, except a muttered, "Ain't no bleepin' ducks in this worthless bleepin' creek."
"River," I interjected. "On the coast it's called a river."
Ensuing circumstances made it prudent to pause to check my shotgun chamber for moisture, allowing a perturbed Mr. Osborne to proceed upstream and create ample (and safe) distance between us. Soon he was a mere speck in the distance, and I was out of range.
Minutes passed. I glanced inland and noticed the mere speck exiting the river. Rapidly.
"Strange," I murmured. "Is that my stalwart companion dashing headlong across yonder marsh? And what, pray tell, is that mad conglomeration of debris falling in his wake?"
My eyes did not deceive. Casper was in full flight. Reaching the spot where I last saw him, I found hard evidence. Gun, shotshells, and duck call littered the bank. A trail, spontaneously and haphazardly constructed, wound through streamside flora and cut zig zaggedly across the salt flat.
I surveyed the debris field. Here, a hat. There, waders. Yonder lay shirt, pants and a bedraggled pouch of chewing tobacco.
Carefully, I crossed the marsh, painstakingly gathering these telltale shards of frenzied flight. I followed the trail to an island causeway and crossed to an overgrown hammock on the other side. The path was lost in the storm-tossed litter of the dunes and sand spits. I stopped and looked about.
"Now where," I said aloud, "did he go from here?"
"I'm right over here, fool," growled a gnarled windblown live oak.
No, wait. It's Casper, peering sheepishly from the other side of the tree. He stepped out, completely naked save the waistband of a saw-palmetto-ripped pair of Fruit-of-the-Looms.
With downcast eyes (the sight of a nude Casper Osborne has turned more than one viewer to stone) I tossed my burden of discarded clothing at my friend's feet. While he dressed, he explained.
"Dadblasted crab," he said. "Great big 'un. Stepped right on 'im and thought it was one a them stingrays you said to watch out for. I jumped out of the water and bumped into one a them round wasp nests on that old boat dock. Got three in my clothes, took off like a striped ape, and got nekkid. Now you can just shut up and lead me to the truck!"
Silently, we trekked back across the lovely coastal marsh. Suddenly, in disgust and frustration, Casper blurted, "Wasps! Dadblasted wasps!"
"Hornets," I instructed. "On the coast they're called..."
Ouch! That Fruit of the Loom elastic could choke a fella to death.And I hate to admit it, but the boy was right. There wasn't one bleeping duck in that whole bleeping "creek."