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Woodchuck and Hank Williams Zombie

Let us hear another story of Woodchuck.

One day in his travels Woodchuck saw a man whose western shirt was drenched in blood streaming also from his mouth.

In his teeth were small clumps of flesh and gore.

It was Hank Williams Zombie.

Woodchuck had heard shrieks and crying on his amble into the country town and had ignored them.

It was Woodchuck’s way to wander both in body and in mind.

As tall as the Zombie Woodchuck shrunk himself down to the size of the people who live underground.

The Zombie was Williams alright and not the son nor the grandson.

He wore a cowboy hat stained with blood and an entire western outfit heeled boots matching jacket and slacks powder blue in spots not drying reddish-brown string tie cinched up gait not so other-worldly as drunken-seeming.

Instead of a guitar he held in one hand a rifle by the stock.

Yet who would believe this creature next tilted back his head and yodelled oldle-oh-dee-odle-oh-dee-oh-de-odle which I cannot accurately reproduce here except to say that Woodchuck is said to have found it the most beautiful thing he had ever heard on earth and perhaps for this reason also the most unearthly detached and terrifying.

Hank Williams Zombie hitched his head front badly aimed his gun at Woodchuck and fired.

Woodchuck shrunk himself further so as to be an even smaller target.

When Woodchuck was this small the world was very distant far-off and toy-like.

Woodchuck saw that the seemingly vacant town was not at all empty its residents merely hidden small like himself.

Hank Williams Zombie at this moment turned as zombies do in movies lurching without speed into a doorway left half-ajar and pulled out into the street a little human girl.

He put his hand or claw into her chest in one movement and ripped out her heart chomping it to his mouth like a soft peeled orange gushing with red juice over his thin cowboy lips and down his chin the blood ran.

Far-off to Woodchuck the blood ran over the hand and down the arm of Hank Williams Zombie globbed onto the pavement pooled there and got tracked further down the road as the zombie stalked off gun in one hand heart in the other to his mouth like one dead or drunken or unearthly.

Woodchuck took advantage of the creature’s turn away to resume his normal size and run to shelter behind a gas station building.

Again the zombie yodelled odle-lo-dee-oh-dee-oh-dee-oh-dee-lo-dee-odle-oh and Woodchuck out of sight now burrowed underground where he found his people cowering worse than they had with the sportsmen.

What is this thing they said to Woodchuck who paid no attention but sat down to be served food and beer.

The people were honored to host Woodchuck.

They remembered the stories they had heard of him.

They looked in awe at the box which held his penis.

And said let us smoke and think on these things.

Let us Google Hank Williams Zombie and see what we find.

They kept excellent connections underground not really what we call Google today but something we cannot explain but must trust how the story comes to us.

This all took place not yesterday or last year or even when your grandparents lived but in No-Time when all things happened that would ever happen.

All the people smoked and sweated and asked themselves what could be done with a raging death-in-life zombie seeing Williams had died badly and no one could say exactly where nor how drugged and drunk aged twenty-nine laying in the back seat of a car headed for a Hank Williams New Year’s party he would have played if not dead.

All agreed Williams had good reason to have gone zombie but none said a word because what was the use in bothering Woodchuck who was made by God with things one didn’t know anything about not of this world.

So they sat and smoked and Woodchuck looked out before him into the middle-distance with eyes that seemed unfocused or focused upon something no one else could see.

Later the people would know that Woodchuck was looking into the future and seeing what would happen not because the future has to occur in one way but because the future like the present unfolds as a series and must be played out.

They smoked and sweated for three days and at sunset of the third day Woodchuck stood up and left the hole never having uttered a word the entire time he was among the people.

Above ground now the streets were strewn with half-gnawed body parts and large swaths and small clots of blood everywhere one looked.

Woodchuck emerged from the hole and went to the clot of blood which three days before had been the little human girl whose still-beating heart Hank Williams Zombie had seized and chewed whole and Woodchuck began kicking the clot along the ground.

He kicked and kicked and the clot rolled in the grime of the street and began to gather energy.

The dead material now gained life force through the motion Woodchuck gave it and the clot grew until it was the shape and size of the little human girl.

Woodchuck went from one clot to the next kicking life back into the dead blood and restoring them and did not rest when night fell but kept moving one to the next kicking.

It was at dawn of day four with a crowd of humans and people watching when Hank Williams Zombie reappeared staggering up the street at the opposite end of the town square.

Woodchuck stopped kicking.

Williams shouldered his rifle but lost his balance and fired wildly.

Woodchuck stood firm while bullets whizzed about.

Now the very air seemed to have changed.

It may have been the sun growing brighter and hotter in the morning sky at that moment and it may also have been emanating from all of the newly living creatures Woodchuck had brought to life who glowed and smiled happy and alive as a warmth began to envelop one and all.

The zombie seemed to respond to this and take on some life-feeling.

It began then to sing.

You’re looking at a man who’s gettin kinda mad.

I had lots a luck but it’s all been bad.

No matter how I struggle and strive.

I’ll never get outta this world alive.

And then for a time all was silence as the warmth of life as those who tell this story say enveloped us all.

Woodchuck walked down to the other end where Hank Williams Zombie stood motionless.

He pushed over the zombie with one arm.

Williams Zombie fell and crumbled in ash.

Woodchuck took the gun and broke it in one movement over his knee then began to dance on the ashes of the Hank Williams Zombie.

The people joined and all of the creatures of the town restored its horses cows sheep cats birds squirrels rats toads insects and humans all danced a dance to drums and beat the dust of the Hank Williams Zombie back into the earth where all dead things go.

Day into night people kept on dancing and whooping until they began to look around and no one could see any sign of Woodchuck.

Then a child said I saw him wander off and the people knew Woodchuck had left to travel again.

There is a moral to this story.

It shows why today though the humans do not have such things to fear as they once did in towns in the country you will find that they have no hearts and they are numb and murderous raging and brutal insensible as the dead.

It is because long ago their hearts were eaten by the Hank Williams Zombie who was then reduced to dust by Woodchuck who danced to drums until he wandered away.


Ted Pelton

Ted Pelton is the author of several books, all fiction: Bhang, Endorsed by Jack Chapeau 2 an even greater extent, Malcolm & Jack (and Other Famous American Criminals), and the novella, Bartleby, the Sportscaster. He is also the Executive Director of Starcherone Books, and a Professor of Humanities at Medaille College of Buffalo, NY.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2007

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