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True Stories by Steve Keely
Hobo Memoirs


The Winner Is, by Bo Keely

I just went eight rounds on the desert floor with Boy Quick and here is the blow-by-blow until the cramps set in.

We cleaned up my ten acres of the debris of six years of construction that ended yesterday. He bounced up my drive at dawn in a homemade dune buggy, hopped out pulling off a jacket, and declared, "Lets get at it!"

The Quick Family--Ma, Pa, sis Rose and Boy is the oldest remaining in Sand Valley having driven from a battered Chevy pickup piled with belongings from the deep South twenty-two years ago. They lived under a giant parachute scavenged from the bombing range for a year and then moved into three trailers parked side-by-side and knocked out the common doors. Boy Quick, a child then, grew straight, tall and feral. He don't go to town and knows no woman. Compared to him, I am a city slicker.

The first round was lumber that went for one hour as the sun climbed. We sneaked glances back-and-forth but saw no weaknesses. The second round was corrugated tin that lasted another hour. The third was pipes and the fourth old tires.

He works smart and fast. By noon I was exhausted but didn't call a timeout. We didn't stop for lunch but drank water every half-hour. Finally, as I rocked on my heels before a stack of plywood, he caught the first scorpion barehanded. It was red and 4 inches long. Boy petted it until the stinger quit flailing. It was my first rest all day.

He handed it to me and I just let it crawl around my hand. In the next five hours rounds of railroad ties, brush, and 55-gallon drums - he caught nine more scorpions, a mouse, two barking geckos, a big spider, many lizards, stink bugs, and a bee; handing each to me as I caught my breath. The longest break was a 14 in. baby gopher snake that he pinned, gentled, and stuck into the right jacket zipper pocket in the dune buggy.

As he walked easily to a five-foot woodchip pile for the last round, I sneaked a Spook Box of recorded screams left over from Halloween into the left jacket pocket, and then went to his side to throw chips. We battled till sunset.

Now a glint in the dirt had him bend and scoop a 3 in. tube with two wires. "It's a broken electric propane lighter!" he exclaimed. He put one wire to his palm and the other to the tendon on the back of his wrist over his middle finger. He raised the hand to me and the finger twitched straight up.

Giggling, he put on the jacket and laid a patch out the drive giving me the finger repeatedly on the steering wheel. At the end of the driveway, I pressed the remote control to the Spook Box and the snake screamed.

That night with a 3mph north breeze, after the helicopters left the nearby gunnery range and no telltale smoke could be spotted by neighbors, I put a match to that side of a trash heap the size of a room topped by a dozen car tires, and stepped back. The flames licked the stars and I judged it was a TKO by Boy Quick in the eighth round.

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