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The Adventures of Willow Lake 


by Sam Younghans
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  Fallopi was his name, he was a tough hombre. They didn't make 'em any tougher or any meaner. He was born in the town of Tube, and the town will never forget it.
      At the time of his birth, they felt he was a mean one, but it wasn't until he was three that they were sure of it. One day while Fallopi was playing in his yard, a boy came along and began teasing him - making faces and stickin' out his tongue.
      Well Sir, little Fallopi toddled over to the fence with a cute smile on his face. When the boy stuck his tongue out - quick as a wink - Fallopi reached through the fence, grabbed that boy's tongue and started to run.
There weren't a soul in town didn't hear the scream, and, well -- it weren't a pretty sight. Fallopi just laughed till they pried the tongue out of his little fist. As for the boy, I hear he's working in a country band somewhere as a yodeler. Seems he has some special sound that no one else can do.
         Fallopi was so mean, that by the time he was eight years old, there weren't a dog in town that wouldn't run the other way when they saw him a comin'. One time I saw a cat a dozin' on a fence and Fallopi was a closin' in on it. The cat saw him, flew straight up in the air, shriekin' and a yowlin' with its legs a flying so fast you could hardly see 'em. When that cat landed on the ground, it clawed a trench a foot deep afore he could get traction enough to run.
         Fallopi was big for his age and he stayed that way. He was hardly ever in school but his teachers never complained, and he always passed. There were many theories about Fallopi, but no one knew for sure what caused him to be so mean. Some say he was bitten by a tarantula when he was four months old -- they say the tarantula died.
         Others say he was weaned on his Pa's corn likker; his Pa made some mean corn. Fallopi could drink anyone under the table; he never got drunk and he couldn't get no meaner. It was a fact that his pa's ranch was the only ranch in Elbert County that didn't have rats; even the rattlers stayed away.
         Now, I'm not tryin' to be unfair to Fallopi, 'cause he never done me no harm -- exceptin', one time he busted one of my ribs when he was comin' out of the men's room down at Pawdunker's Saloon. He didn't see me on the other side of the door when he kicked it. So that don't mean he was tryin' to hurt me, but he was just so damn mean that I can't say much for the good side of him. Why I've seen strangers come into town and no matter what their reason was for comin', the minute they laid eyes on him, they had a better reason for leavin'.
         When he was ten, most of the townspeople wore shin-guards. One time I remember, a stranger was laughin' at the shin-guards. Just then little Fallopi comes a skippin' down the sidewalk. No one said a word to that poor stranger; some of the townspeople weren't so nice either. Anyways when little Fallopi let him have it, he hollered so loud, the glasses on the bar at Pawdunker's Saloon rattled. They say he did one of the dangest one legged dances you ever saw.
         One Feller tried rentin' shin-guards to visitors when they come to town, but no one ‘ould listen to him until it was too late. So, he changed over to splints and bandages.
         Now that Fallopi has growed up, they don't wear shin-guards no more. Now they wear shoulder pads like them football players wear. A lot of folks had their collar bones busted, so, when this salesman come to town, sellin' those pads, they caught on like wild fire. He even took shin-guards in on trade, if they weren't to banged up. He really fancied himself some kind of salesman; that was until he tried to sell Fallopi a pair. Now, that was somthin' to see. Although he wasn't able to work for six months, he still won salesman of the year and a new pair of shoulder pads. They wanted him to keep on a workin' this here territory.
         I could go on a tellin' you more of his mean doin's, like the bee story or how he breaks horses, or .......shoot! I'm not tryin' to make you dislike him, 'cause he did do some good in town -- like the time he helped Mayor Teetsworthy.
        The Mayor got his shoulder pads stuck in the bed springs down at Madam Carrie's Pleasure Palace. Seems like one of her girls and the Mayor was both in them shoulder pads. Fallopi just picked up the springs, with the girl a screamin' and the Mayor a tryin' to hide under the shoulder pads, and marched them right through town to the blacksmith shop.
         Everyone got to see the Mayor's tattoo. They'd heard rumors of it, but never got to see it first hand. After that, the Mayor was real popular with the ladies in town, and Madam Carrie made everyone check their shoulder pads afore goin' upstairs.
         Then one day Sally Jo came into town. Sally Jo was a school teacher, and might have been bitten by the same tarantula, but that's another story. Some day when I have more time, I'll tell you that one -- it's a good one.
         Anyway, I have to go now. I'm meetin' a shin-guard manufacturer. You see, Sally Jo and Fallopi have four young boys. I know this town is goin' to be a good market for shin-guards and shoulder pads. I'm fixin' to be the distributor. So long now, I'll drop by again sometime soon.
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I told you! I told you I would come back one day and tell you about some of the things Fallopi did in his early years. Theses things earned him a reputation of bein’ one of the toughest, and one of the meanest hombres west of the Pecos. As I said afore, He was mean, but not all bad. So I don't want you to get any bad ideas about him. I think I'd better tell you some of the good things he done afore I tell you about his meaner acts.
         First off, he was honest; he never stole a single thing in his life. Second, he was truthful as a jaybird and fair as a church mouse; that is, in his own way. He weren't one to lie or cheat, and you don't want to get caught doin' either to him. He sometimes made demands that weren't never really unreasonable, exceptin’ to some of the more respectable, dishonest politicians in the town. Some of em tried gittin' rid of Fallopi one time. There I go meanderin’ agin; that's another story. I'll tell it to ya one day. It's a pip. Okay! I'm gittin’ back on the trail.
         When Fallopi was about 10 years old, he was a playin’ in the yard, same as he always done, only this day he was a eatin’ a piece of bread with honey a drippin' offen it. A butterfly with beautiful yellow, orange, and black colors fluttered past him. When he reached out to grab the butterfly it fluttered out of the yard and across the field with Fallopi hot on its trail. That there butterfly led Fallopi to a stand of old oaks and cottonwood trees near a small crick about 200 yards from the house.
         It weren't the first time Fallopi had been down to the crick. Matter of fact, it was one of his favorite places. He liked to climb the oaks and swing from the vines hangin' from the trees. When it was hot, which was most of the time in that part of the country, he dammed up the crick, so's he could splash in the water and cool off.
         Well Sir, that butterfly went straight away to that crick with Fallopi a tryin’ to catch up to it. He was just about to close in on it, when he almost bumped into a huge black bear that was a drinkin’ from the crick. Both the bear and Fallopi leaped backwards and fell on their beehinds. When the bear got a whiff of that there honey, he raised up on his hind legs and gave out a tremendous growl.
         Well Sir, Fallopi scrambled up the bank of that there crick and lit out after his favorite climbin' oak. The bear was a closin' in on his little beehind - it weren't really little, cause like I said afore, he was always big for his age. He made it to the tree, and was up it afore you could say "Uncle Ned." Well, that there bear started a climbin' that there tree, while Fallopi sat on one of the branches, munchin’ his honey sandwich.
         Now as you know, bears are pretty good climbers; Fallopi knew it too. So, as soon as that bear was a half-way up the tree, Fallopi climbed out on one of the branches that was close to another oak and moved across it into the other tree.
         Now anybody would have been happy to git out of that there tree while that bear was a tryin’ to cross over, but not Fallopi. No siree; when the bear was almost to the middle, between the two trees, Fallopi climbed up to the next branch just out of the reach of that bear, and crossed back over to the first tree. Well when he was directly over that poor bear, I say poor bear 'cause it didn't know it had gone up aginst Fallopi.
         Anyway, when he was directly over the bear and high enough so's that there bear couldn't reach him, he sat there and poured a little of that honey down on the bears nose. When the bear tasted the honey, he tried to stand up so's as to reach Fallopi and git the honey.
What the bear didn't know was that when Fallopi crossed over the first time, he had put a loop in one of his swingin’ vines and laid it across the limb where the bear would have to cross. I kin see by your faces that you done figured out what’s a comin' next. Well, you might have part of it figured, but I know you ain't got it all figured, so I aim to tell you.
         When the bear stood up, he had one paw in the loop. One other thing I forgot to tell ya. Fallopi had been chawin' tabacca since he was eight, and always carried a plug in his pocket. So, while he was a waitin' for that bear to get up there and cross over, he had took himself a chaw. The reason I'm tellin' you this, is cause, when the bear tried to reach Fallopi and stuck his nose up towards him, Fallopi let fly with a mouth full of tabacca juice, right in that poor bears eyes and up his snout. Fallopi’s aim was pretty good, cause he practiced a lot at hittin' flies and he was pretty darn good.
         One time he –- Oh, there I go agin –- that's another story. You remind me to tell you about the tobacca story sometime; it's a good one. Anyways, right after he spat, he gave a good tug on that vine. The poor bear, I know I keep a sayin' “poor bear;” wait to you hear what happened afore you git on me about repeatin' myself.
         Like I said, that poor bear fell offin that thar limb and was fetched up short, a hangin' by one leg about twenty-five feet offin the ground. You never heard such sounds as what come out of that bear. Bears don't like hangin’ upside down by one leg; or two legs for that matter.
         Well sir, that ain't all. Any other boy would have been happy to git down outta that there tree and run fer his life. Not Fallopi.  He did climb outta that tree; and he did run, but he ran to the barn instead of home - grabbed himself a couple of lengths of stout rope, and ran back to that thar tree. The bear was a yowlin' and a screamin’, and a kickin' tryin' to get himself free.
         Fallopi dragged some big rocks from the crick bed and put them under that poor bear. Then he climbed back up that tree, lassoed the other leg, climbed back down the tree, ran around in a big circle, a spinnin' that poor bear round and round, until it was so dizzy it didn't know up from down. Then Fallopi climbed back up the tree and cut the vine.
         Good Gawd a mighty! That bear let out such a roar as it plummeted down through the branches that the big window in Pawdunker's Saloon, all the way in town, rattled so hard it cracked in three places. When he hit, his head bounced offin one them rocks. He got up, staggered three steps down the hill and fell down, unconscious.
         You’d a thought that would be the end of it, but not with Fallopi. No Siree. He took the rope that was tied to the bear's leg and tied it to the tree. Then he took the other piece of rope and tied it to the other leg. When that bear came to, he staggered to his feet and sniffed the air, cause his vision were a bit blurry from that bump on the head. Fallopi was a standin' to one side of the bear and when the bear caught his scent, he started after him.
         This was a dazed, mad bear. He wasn't movin' to fast cause he ached all over from that fall. Fallopi kept circlin' the tree until the bear was fetched up tight against that big oak. Fallopi grabbed a holt of the other rope and ran the other way around the tree. Afore the bear knew what was a goin' on, he was tight up aginst that ole oak tree. The bear stood up and Fallopi ran around the tree, a holdin' the rope up so's that it pulled the bear's back tight aginst the tree. There was no doubt, that bear had met his match.
         Fallopi took up a long branch that broke off when the bear came down the tree, and started ticklin that poor bear. At first the bear got angry, but when he didn't feel any pain but a funny ticklin'; well Sir, did you ever see a bear laugh? Well, neither did I.
         Now, when that roar cracked Pawdunker's Window, everybody went out to see what was a goin' on. By this time the whole town was a walkin' out to the crick where they heard the sounds. When they got there, they couldn't believe there eyes.
         It were some sight to behold. There was Fallopi a sittin' on a rock near that ole oak tree. The bear was tied up tighter than your mama's corset. But, what was strange was; Fallopi and that thar bear was a laughin’ and a cryin' at the same time. Nobody wanted to say anythin’ to Fallopi, so they just stood there a watchin', with their chins almost touchin' the ground.
         After about a half-an-hour of this, Fallopi gave the bear the rest of his bread an' honey. The bear licked his chops and grunted like a contented pig. The town folks were a crowdin' in to get a better look, when Fallopi ups and starts untyin’ the bear. The townsfolk went wild. It looked like the first homestead rush. They was a scramblin' over each other, like dogs a breakin out of the dog pound. They was tryin' to get out of that thar crick bed afore he set that bear loose. I climbed up an oak tree afore I got trampled and watched the dangest site I ever did see.
         When Fallopi took off them ropes, the bear didn't move. He sat there the same way as when he was tied up. So, Fallopi took up that branch and started ticklin’ the bear agin. The bear rolled over on it's side, and I swear, he started chucklin and rollin' about with Fallopi jumpin up a down, a laughin' and a ticklin' like one of them Indians on the warpath.
         The bear started watchin' Fallopi, dancin' around havin' a good time. Now you don't have to believe this if you don't want to, but, all of a sudden, that bear got to it's feet and started jumpin' up and down and a dancin’ just like Fallopi was a doin'. Not many of the townsfolk saw this 'cause they was a still runnin', but I saw it, and by gum I will never forget it. I hung on to that tree 'cause I don't trust no bears.
         Well, Fallopi and that bear became the best of friends and any hot afternoon you could find them down at the crick, a splashin' in it, a jumpin’ and  a dancin' and eatin' honey sandwiches, from honey they got from one of them tall oaks. That's another story. Anyways, they had themselves one grand summer.
         Gotta go now. There's a circus a comin' to town this afternoon and I don't want to miss that dancin' bear act. Be back soon.

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I was a layin’ in bed this mornin’, a thinkin’ about that time when Fallopi ‘n Sally Jo got together, and it came to me, that I had better write it down afore I forgets it. I told you I would tell you one day, well here it is, as best I can remember it.
            As I recollect, fall was a settin’ in ‘n the town of Tube was once again lookin’ for a school teacher. A lot of teachers passed through this town. None stayed too long. By this time Fallopi had finished school ‘n was workin’ for his Pa. His Pa had a big ranch where he raised horses – I told you I would tell you that story someday. He also farmed ‘n sold his produce to the local market, so Fallopi brought the produce to town on the weekends.
           As I said afore, Fallopi was a mean one ‘n people stayed outta his way. Fallopi had just made a delivery to the Smothers Market, down the street from Pawdunker’s Saloon. Sam Smothers had just taken the last crate ‘n Fallopi was a walkin’ out of the store when Sally Jo came a bustlin’ in. Fallopi was lookin’ back at Sam, who was sayin’ somethin’ about the next week’s delivery; Sally Jo was a lookin’ at her reflection in the door when they collided.
            First off, let me tell you about Sally Jo. She was a mighty pretty lady that was mighty big ‘n muscular. She had been one of them female athletes in school. She was a comin’ from the city office, where she had just been hired as the new schoolmarm. She was a feelin’ mighty good ‘n full of energy. Oh, I almost forgot, she was a tough one ‘n almost as mean as Fallopi.
           Anyway, when they banged into each other, there was a big boom that shook the whole dang town, includin’ the glasses in Pawdunker’s Saloon. Seems they was doin’ some blastin’ at the mine just outside of town ‘n two guys put dynamite in the same place at the same time. They didn’t know the other one had stuffed it as well. It was a mighty blast that started Fallopi ‘n Sally Jo off on an adventure of a lifetime.
                       Well, Fallopi never got bumped like that afore, ‘n it almost knocked him down on his bee-hind. He grabbed at the bumper; they both went a rollin’ on the floor. Well, afore he could see who was down with him he got a bang on the head from her purse. I told you she was a mean one. Sam saw the whole thing – in the beginnin’ he thought the big boom was them two collidin’.
            They way Sam tells it, as they was a tumblin’ on the floor, she whacks him with her purse. That got Fallopi madder-n-a caged lion that just got a hot foot. He rolls over ‘n grabs her by the throat, all set to throw one of his jaw-breaker punches, when he realizes she’s a woman. He freezes, ‘n she whams him one right on the kisser. You thought that explosion was loud? You ain’t heard nothin’ til you hear Fallopi roar. Them glasses in Pawdunker’s was a rattlin’ off-n the shelf.
            Sam, realizin’ that it was all an accident, came from behind the counter and tried to break it up, while shoutin’, “It’s an accident. It’s an accident.”
            By this time, Fallopi is tryin’ to grab her arms. He missed one arm as it swung at him. She missed him but hit Sam; knocked him back up against the counter. By the time Sam came to his senses, Fallopi was a holdin’ on to her arms for dear life. Sam shouted again, ‘n Sally Jo calmed down. Sam said, “It was a sight to behold. There was Fallopi on the floor, a holdin’ on to Sally Jo’s arms with Sally Jo a sittin’ on his chest, lookin down on him.” He said, “it was a magical moment. They both sort ‘a relaxed and looked at each other.”
            Fallopi relaxed his grip on Sally Jo and she got off of his chest, and offered her hand to help him get up. Now, nobody had ever offered him their hand afore. He looked confused; she smiled at him. That never happened afore either. Well sir, believe it or not, Fallopi took her hand ‘n she helped him to his feet. Now, they both looked confused and embarrassed. Both started speakin’ at the same time ‘n then stopped ‘n then started again. Fallopi shut up and motioned for her to talk first.
            I’m not gonna tell you all that was said, because that would drag out this story more than it needs. You can always go to the Smother’s Market ‘n ask Sam. I am goin’ to tell you; it was love at first sight. Fallopi stayed in the market and helped Sally Jo do her shoppin’, ‘n then, carried her bags out a the store. The last thing Sam saw was the two of them a walkin’ down the sidewalk towards the school.
            Well that’s all I’m goin’ ‘a tell you about their first meetin’. It only took two months of courtship afore they was married. The romancin’ and the weddin’ are great stories for another time. I gotta put in an order for some more shin guards, the boys are comin’ to town more often ‘n seems there are more people a comin’ into town and I’m a gettin’ more orders. See ya around.


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