Do Mermaids Have Intergluteal Clefts? (no. 1)
Some folks will believe anything. Take Ossie Finch. When I was young he would pump our septic tank about once a month and always told my Dad if the family would cut down on toilet paper consumption we wouldn’t be paying half his annual salary. He said we must’ve had the cleanest behinds in town. My Aunt Ada always answered that toilet paper was not an area to cut expenses and perhaps Ossie should simply lower his prices and not concern himself with the relative cleanliness of Wetzel butts. Anyway, Ossie claimed he was visited by aliens on a fairly regular basis. Now, there are folks who believed him and that’s the truth. What Ossie said was this: He’d watched them lots of times but they never detected him, on account of his being so slick when he was “on the sly.” Claimed he spied a gang of them one night when he had driven out to Nippy Keen’s pasture to watch stars, slithering all over the septic truck like “a clump of snakes.” [His truck was parked on the hillside shown in the photo at left] Ossie said these particular creatures were so advanced they could learn everything about the human species from a clump of feces, which is the word Aunt Ada said I ought to use if I insisted on writing about it.
My mother always says Burt Flowers, who pumps septics in Leetonia, saw them messing around his septic truck which he parks in Franklin Square. So I asked Burt about it one day in church. He doesn’t believe in aliens but can’t figure why anyone would break into a septic truck and steal three-hundred-thirty-two gallons of human waste either. But his truck was busted into, and it was empty next morning. Those were the facts. Then Burt laughed and told me he couldn’t figure why creatures would travel five million light years just to fetch poop, but he don’t know everything.
So I expect there are people who still believe in mermaids. There were reported observations by knowledgeable, learned people well into the 19th century and numerous newspapers have published accounts of sightings and catches. No, I don’t believe in them, but like Burt says, I don’t know everything. I’ve spent many hours fishing and sketching near the water and there have been some splashes and flashes that didn’t quite seem fish-like. But I do like them, whether they exist or not. And no, it’s not because they’re topless. There are plenty of topless females without scales from the waist down. Obviously, there’s just something about mermaids. Homer mentioned them, Shakespeare wrote about them, there have been movies, and paintings, poems and fairy tales; all about mermaids. I may have taken a photo of one.
One night in July 2002 I was fishing alone in the evening, a few miles from my car. It was a fine night and there weren’t many mosquitoes flying about so I sat on a rock to enjoy the darkness, the smell of the woods, and the singing critters. I keep a small camera with me when fishing and I took it from my pocket and held it, not intending to take photos. It was total woods-darkness, which is darker than yard-darkness, when hearing a splash in front of me, I instinctively pointed the camera and pressed the shutter-button several times. I thought nothing more of it until a few days later when I was downloading photos to the computer and noticed the photo at right.
Like I said, I don’t believe in mermaids; I just cannot explain the photo.