The Linnet's Wings Summer 2014 - Page 124

by Bill Frank Robinson The dwarf, Whitey Van Ness, a loner and outcast, rescues a comatose boy and changes his (Whitey’s) life forever. The Archie Cleebo Saga Continues. w hitey Van Ness was sitting on the tall grass in a clearing and talking to himself. “Damn! That was one hell of a storm. Good thing I found this open spot to hunker down in; if I was in the trees all that lightning would have nailed me for sure. Wonder where Hoover got off to? I hope he didn't get mixed up with a skunk or porcupine.'' He pulled his pipe from his pocket and inspected it, turning it over and over, and pressing it to his nose. "That tobacco smells so sweet; I could use a smoke right now.'' He grasped a pouch and shook tobacco into his hand; it's soaking wet. He returned the unusable mush to the pouch and fished out his matches; they're ruined. He shook his head and climbed to his feet. "I'm one hell of a woodsman. First storm that comes along puts me out of business. I've got to get back to civilization. Now where in the hell is Hoover?'' He walked into the woods, pausing every few yards to shout for his dog. Whitey was born and raised in San Francisco. His dad, Solomon, told him to be proud, dignified because Van Ness Avenue was named after his great grandpa, or was it his great uncle? Whitey never put much faith in his ancestors and the legacy they left him: where's the dignity of being the runt of the litter? Whitey was always the shortest student in school and, consequently, the brunt of ridicule from his classmates. He was ugly beyond normal ugliness. People would say, "What happened to your face? Did you have an accident or did somebody beat you up?'' Whitey would reply, "No accident; that's the way I was born.'' If they insisted that he must have got his misshapen face in a fight he would tell them he was a lover not a fighter. That was one lie he was guilty of, he never had a girlfriend in his life. The wilderness had swallowed Hoover: he can't be found anywhere. Whitey stopped walking and looked around. He had been so concerned for that hound that he didn't pay attention to the territory he was passing through. Now nothing looked familiar, he's lost. Whitey started laughing; he has been a klutz all his life and what's more fitting than to get lost in the woods? He bellowed into the trees. "Damn it, Hoover, if you don't get over here right now, you're on your own.'' He laughed some more: Hoover will probably do well without his owner around. Whitey drew his short, stocky frame together and began searching for the highway. The hours passed and Whitey was more confounded than ever: how in the hell did he ever get himself in such a predicament? He walked all day and he hadn't come across anything that even gives a hint that he was close to a way back to town. He could have starved or froze to death out here and there sure as hell's not going to be anybody looking for him. For the first time in his life he regretted that he had never