Crazy Polly

a writing by Leslie M. Owens

Now Crazy Polly was our nearest neighbor in the swamp. He was called Crazy Polly because he had one glass eye that always looked toward the bridge of his nose giving him the appearance that one eye was crossed and he had a strange obsession with armadillos.
He had lost his left eye during WWII, many stories ran around the swamp as to how he lost the eye but the one commonly held to be true and also the most believable of them was that he was with a platoon of infantry, he was the company cook and they had just moved into a small German town that had a small amount of strategic value. The company took over several buildings in the town, including the house of a family with a teenage daughter. This house was to become the dining facility for the soldiers and as the cook he was responsible for getting the mess hall set up. The family was allowed to stay in the upper rooms of the home leaving the first floor as a dining hall and kitchen. Late one evening as Polly was peeling potatoes, he heard a strange keening noise. Thinking a stray critter had somehow gotten into the house Polly went to investigate, probably intending to add the critter to the next day’s menu, he crept quietly through the house with his paring knife ready. Peering intently into the darkness, his heart skipped several beats when a slight wispy figure seemed to come floating down the stairs. Polly was frozen in terror, he knew it was a spook, probably the spook of ol’ Nick himself. His feet were frozen to the floor, his breathing became shallow and panicky. The apparition approached him keening and crying, it reached for him with its long cold fingers touching his shoulder trailing down his arm to where he held the paring knife limply in his hand. Then with an ear shattering shriek the apparition, who was in actuality the teenage daughter of the family that owned the house, grabbed the paring knife began slashing and stabbing at Polly. Unprepared for the onslaught Polly was slashed in the face several times and stabbed in the the eye when the young girl pulled the knife out to stab again his eyeball popped out like a meatball from spaghetti albeit a white meatball. Luckily the knife had a short blade so the eye was the only thing seriously injured. The military Dr.’s were unable to reattach the eye and so he was issued a glass eye, somehow the measurements for the eye were not quite right and so it always a bit cockeyed.
The issue with the armadillos apparently started one day when Polly was out checking his moonshine mash and he had left his rifle a little ways up the path not thinking he would need it anytime soon. Well when he uncovered his mash barrel there was an armadillo swimmin’ around in it. Polly realized immediately that this could ruin his reputation for white lightning (which he was quite famous for) and he reached in and grabbed the critter by it’s tail and sent it flying out into the bushes. After that it seemed that the armadillo had developed quite a taste for Polly’s brew and started coming back regularly for a dip in the mash barrel becoming quite cunning and sneaky about finding ways of getting into the mash. Polly tried everything to keep that armadillo out of his mash, he set traps, he stayed up nights watching for it in the dark, but everything he tried failed. Over time, Polly became preoccupied with catching the armadillo it was all he thought about he stopped eating and sleeping regularly, he stopped brushing the 4 teeth he had left, he quit hunting gators for food and hides and he began neglecting his wife.
Peggy Sue Jean, his wife, was quite a beauty in her younger days and was used to bein’ the center of attention, she couldn’t handle being neglected. In her last year of school she was voted Gator Queen of the 6th grade graduating class. After it became quite apparent that Polly was going off the deep end of the swamp and she wasn’t the center of his universe anymore she ran off with a traveling used hairbrush salesman and it was many, many years before we ever heard from her again.
With Peggy Sue Jean out of the picture Polly was able to let his Armadillo obsession completely take over his life. He would be seen slogging through the swamp, with his rifle, his shaggy beard and long unkempt hair tangled with bits of twigs and grass, muttering and cursing to himself. He stank so badly that even the gators wouldn’t go near him. Swamp residents avoided him, outsiders who were unlucky to come across him, told stories of a gibbering wild man with a crazy eye who accosted them and accused them of harboring and abetting armadillos in the vandalism and contamination of his hooch.

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