Read an excerpt of one of the short stories here...
HARVEY MINER AND THE TOAD
This was back in the days when I was travellin the ‘Pachey Trail headin towards Globe ta see if I could get me a job at the copper mines ther. The day was getting mighty warm, enough ta fry a buzzard’s brains, as Arizona days do get, an I was lookin around fer a spot a shade where I might set myself down fer a spell an rest my feet. A little ways off the trail I seen a middlish palo verde tree, and although they don’t throw much shade I figgered it was better’n what I was standin in, so off I heads to claim a patch a relief from the blisterin sun.
I gits ther an finds a man hunkered down on the ground under thet tree, his knees wrapped around a pack a provisions in a ol’ canvas gunny sack. So, nice an polite I asks, “This here shade big enough fer another traveler?” Figgered if th’ old guy didn’t want company, I’d give him the chance ta say so.
He nods his head at the dirt, invitin me ta set, so I set. After thet greetin the man don’t speak a word or even let on he knowed I was ther for several minutes. Finally, I offered that I was headin ta Globe ta find work in the mines. Jist sociable chatter, ya know. Didn’t see many people on The Trail in those days an after a while ya’d begin ta wonder if ya still had a voice in ya. Sometimes ya jist wanted ta hear the sound of a human voice, even if it was yer own. Made a heap more sense ta talk ta somebody instead a yatterin ta yerself, if ya git the chance, that is.
So all he does is nod his head agin, sittin ther hunched over thet pack, starin at its innerds like he’s forgit what he started out ta do with it. So I says, “Lookin fer somethin, are ya?” I’m thinkin mebbe the sun has git ta his brain an he’s lost his reasonin. ‘Stead a answerin, he reaches a big gnarly paw inta the pack and pulls somethin out an sets it on the ground a’tween us. Why if it aint a ol’ puffed up toad the size ‘f a small fryin pan! What the dickens would a growed man be carryin around a toad fer, in the middle a the desert, I’d like ta know.
I guess it was the surprised look on my face thet finally git through th’ old man’s reserve, cause he broke out in a grin so wide I could count all the gaps in his chompers, an ther wer quite a few, I’ll tell ya.
"That ther’s Mo – short fer Mau-rice,” says he in a gravelly voice thet sounded like it didn’t git much use, neither. Well now, I aint never been interduced to a toad afore, an I don’t know if th’ old guy is teched in the head ‘r not, so I figger I best take ‘er cautious and humor ‘im. So I says, “How ya doin’ Mau-rice,” to the toad fer gawd sake.
Th’ ol’ man, he says, as solemn as ya please, “Well, Mo caint talk ya know, he’s jist a toad.” Didn’t even crack a smile, like he might be makin a little joke on me. Now I’m wonderin how ta take th’ ol’ guy. Nachally, I have ta ask him why he’s carryin a toad around in his pack. So what’s he say ta me? It’s cause the toad caint keep up on the trail!
Right about this time, I’m figgurin it might be wise ta mosey on my way an git shut a this crazy ol’ coot. Never did git around ta askin ‘is name, but I found out soon enough who he was when I got ta Globe an heerd some interestin stories about him an his toad.
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