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The Miracle of Myrtle

October 9, 2008 by · 1 comment

Donna Ison

Photo: deerluvr


The scene was perfect…Fodor’s vacation guide perfect…way too damn perfect.

A generous October sun drenched the meadow with an amber glow that set each blade and leaf afire. The sweet song of cardinals and chickadees lingered in the air. God sighed and a cool breeze rustled through the tall pussy willows. A twelve-point buck trotted out from a grove of peaceful pines, glanced around, and began to graze beneath a massive Wabash oak with a heart stating “Beau loves Tancy Forever” carved in the gnarled bark of its trunk.

Something bad was bound to happen.

Directly above, in the hunting stand that was anchored in the heavy lower branches of the tree, Critter Johnson pulled a gleaming titanium-tipped shaft from its quiver and loaded it into his crossbow. On shaking matchstick legs, the tiny man crept to the edge, leaned far forward, and took aim. He had to down this deer.

His wife had warned him that if he didn’t come home with enough venison to fill a deep freeze, he was going to have to tear down his hunting stand and use the wood to make her a curio cabinet for her collection of yard gnomes—which she refused to actually keep in the yard for fear that they would be kidnapped and photographed around the globe.

Critter placed his forefinger on the crossbow’s trigger and smiled in anticipation of sending the arrow straight through the unwitting animal’s heart. Then, a powerful push from behind sent him to his knees. The board beneath him creaked, cracked, and snapped in two.

The buck’s gaze shot up. Critter somersaulted forward and impaled himself on the deer’s horns. The bewildered beast snorted and tossed its head. Critter slid from its antlers and hit the lush bluegrass with a muted thud. Blood the exact hue of his own world-famous barbecue sauce oozed from his camouflaged coveralls. The deer reared, spun, and bounded into the woods.

“Sorry about that little shove, baby, but you’ve been martyred for my mission.”

Through bleary eyes, Critter beheld a beautiful lady clothed in red robes floating above him amidst the vibrant fall foliage.

“Are you an angel?” he asked. Blood gurgled in his throat as he spoke. With her flowing hair, alabaster skin, and indigo eyes she looked like an angel—except, perhaps, for the fishnet hose visible through the hip-high slit in her vestments.

“Hell, no. I’m not some lame ass angel. I’m Myrtle.”

“Myrtle,” Critter moaned, and then took his last breath of fresh, country air.

At that same precise moment, across town, a shrill cry echoed through the delivery room of the Bath County Hospital. Clara Dean Lawson had given birth to a healthy, eleven-pound baby girl and insured that the population of Steadfast, Kentucky remained intact.

The home of the world’s largest ham festival always had exactly 1013 residents. If someone moved away or passed on, someone else moved in or a new Steadfastian was born. The converse was also true. So when the Woolum family rolled into town with ten children, everybody walked around on eggshells for a week. Then the Casey clan won the Powerball, moved into the Opryland Hotel, and renewed the status quo.

That’s just the way things worked in Steadfast.

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