The Secret Life of Dalton Williams

“What’s on your calendar today?” my lovely wife, Grace, asked as I ambled into the kitchen to get a morning cup of coffee.
As I silently filled my cup, my Aunt Toogie stated in a stage whisper, “I think he’s either lost in thought or just lost.”
“I heard that,” I shot back, to which Toogie chortled, “So it’s just lost.”
Joining the ladies at the kitchen counter, I explained, “I was just thinking. I’ve agreed to do a story for Sue at The Daniel Island News for humor month in a few weeks, and I don’t have a story idea.”
“You’ll come up with something. Humor is what you do, dear,” Grace encouraged.
“I’m trying,” I replied. “But it seems there isn’t much funny going on right now. We got wars in Gaza and Ukraine, the border mess, our country deeply divided on politics. No humor there.”
“True that,” Toogie declared.
After a pause, Grace mused, “Maybe reduce your focus from the global or national level. How about things in just Charleston or Daniel Island?”
When I didn’t answer, she suggested, “Like the Union Pier project.”
“Yeah,” Toogie interjected. “Maybe it will be a Six Flags or Topgolf.”
I gave them a slight shoulder shrug to signify “maybe.”
“Well, you keep thinking,” Grace declared. “Maybe go back and read some of your old stories or some of your favorite humor writers while Toogie and I go shopping.” With a pat on my shoulder, she added, “Will you clean up the kitchen? We’ll be back for lunch.” I shrugged my assent, still pondering something funny to write about.
“I got one,” Toogie offered before she left the kitchen. “I read recently our state legislature is going to allow farmers to hunt feral hogs from helicopters.”
“You’re kidding?” I exclaimed.
“No, look it up,” Toogie answered. “Sounds crazy to me, but there may be something there.”
After the ladies left for their shopping trip, I did look up the feral hog thing. There is proposed legislation to allow farms of over 500 acres to hunt hogs by helicopter. Apparently, the hogs can do a lot of damage to farm crops. I mulled that awhile, and when it didn’t lead me anywhere, I took Grace’s advice.
Retiring to the den, I looked over my collection of stories by humor writers I admire: Mark Twain, P. G. Wodehouse, Garrison Keillor, Lewis Grizzard, James Thurber. I pulled The Thurber Carnival off the shelf and began re-reading some of my favorite stories: The Day the Dam Broke, The Night the Bed Fell, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I closed my eyes and pondered thoughts and themes.
“Williams!” the Master Sergeant hollered. I stepped forward, at attention.
He walked toward me, looking me over from behind to front. Now, standing directly in front of me, he shouted, “Add some more lamp black to your cheekbones and nose, Gunny. I don’t want any moonlight reflections coming off your ugly puss. Understand?”
“Yes, Sir!” I yelled, remaining at attention.
“At ease, Soldier,” he stated. “Now, listen up. You’re going out tonight with the best we have. I don’t know how he does it, but Colonel Mitty can rustle hogs out of hiding like no man in this unit. He thinks like a hog. He can smell ’em from a mile up. It’s going to be all-out warfare tonight, son. You reading my book, boy?”
“Yes, Sir.”
“We’re flying the CH-47 on this mission, so you’ll be firing the M60 machine gun from the back ramp. Don’t shoot until the Colonel gives you the word, got it?”
Before I could answer, the Colonel entered the room. Tall, angular, and weathered. Camo uniform and face paint. Cowboy boots. And a toothpick protruding from one side of his mouth. The Master Sergeant and I snapped to attention. 
“At ease, boys,” he uttered, pulling the toothpick from his mouth as he sauntered over and looked me up and down. After a close inspection, he smiled, pointed the toothpick at me, and asked, “Williams, you ready to go pop some pigs?”
“Yes, Sir!” I shot back. 
“Good,” he replied. “Grab your gear, put a little more lamp black on that nose, and meet me at the bird.”
Minutes later, we were airborne, flying low over farmland. Through my headset, I could hear readings and instructions from Colonel Mitty. “Five Point Oh Niner knots to target. All check. Report.”
I rechecked my ammo clips and gun site and replied, “Tail gunner, ready, Sir.”
A few moments later, he declared, “Night vision on. We’re going in.”
I donned my night vision goggles as the Chinook swooped low over trees and tall grass. That was when I first saw them. A large group of animals – hogs – stampeding onto a soybean field.
“Hold your fire, Gunny,” the line cracked. “I’ll come in from behind them.” We pivoted and flew lower, feet above the ground. Again, the line cracked, “Target Zero Seven Five. Just off your right side, Gunny. Now, on my mark. Three, two, one, fire!”
I pulled the trigger and let loose a cannonade of firepower. Pocketa-pocketa-pocketa. Hogs were falling all over the place. And then, Colonel Mitty had his hand on my shoulder. I didn’t know how he got from the cockpit to the back of the helicopter or who was flying the bird now. He shook me harder.
“Wake up, dear,” a voice intoned.
When I awoke, Grace was standing next to the chair where I had been sleeping. “Did you have a nice nap?” she inquired.
I muttered some reply as Grace announced, “Put a nicer shirt on. Toogie and I are going to take you to lunch. We’ll help you with that story you want to write.” As I started toward the bathroom, she added, “And wash your face. Your nose is shiny.”
From the hallway, I asked, “Where are we going for lunch?”
Grace answered, “Home Team BBQ.”

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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