Once upon a summer night in the Central (Confederate) Time Zone, along the lower spine of the Appalachians just above the tush of Alabama, the Birmingham FBI SWAT team soldiered up and set forth into a dense and inhospitable forest to catch a federal fugitive holed up in a cabin with a heavenly variety of beans. His age could best be described as looking older than he was. We will call him, Earl. The SWAT team was going to sneak up on Earl and arrest him on the spot for being a thief. Earl had no history of being violent. However, since everyone in Alabama was armed….
Our task was to creep, crawl, walk, and paw our way through the impossibly thick under brush, over brush, spiders, weeds, fire ants, poison ivy, snakes, mosquitoes, bushman with banjos, and demonic roosters, as quietly as possible. Speed was not an option is these hostile woods, a wall of living obstacles and creatures you would not find in downtown Birmingham. We began, single file. Five of us. The word was QUIET. Keep down the noise. Whisper if you speak at all. Do not alert Earl that we were coming for him to take away his freedom and beans.
The going went badly straight off and continued for hours. I was miserable. Roughing it for me was running out of ice. I tripped, spit, coughed, sneezed and wheezed into holes and gullies, was speared in the legs and other parts of my anatomy by sharp objects, scratched on the face, entangled with vines and hostile roots, and bitten by critters within an inch of my life. Along the way, fellow SWAT teammate, Leon Sizemore, accidentally turned on his over-sized searchlight and blinded me in my eyes and ears. Leon apologize and threw salt into the air, his way of blessing the terrain to court favor with the almighty.
It what seemed to me to be a month later, we found the cabin as the sun nudged up, surrounded it in FBI fashion, yelled for Earl to come on out, that he was under arrest. However, Earl did not come out. After a fashion, we looked through the crude windows into the cabin and saw Earl sitting comfortably in his rocker with a spoon and bowl of beans in his lap, content as could be. We knocked on the front door. “FBI, come out!” Earl did not come out. Just sat in his rocker. Rocking. We bust through the door and nearly into Earl’s lap. “You’re under arrest!” we told Earl. “WHAT!” he said, over and over. “WHAT!”
We could have landed an FBI helicopter on Earl’s head and he would not have heard.
Earl was deaf.
I blame Leon.
At least there were no roosters in Earl’s cabin.