The Queen of the Everglades Walter E. Ledwith “Jedidiah Bozeman, you is the craziest man that evva’ walked the face of dis earth,” she said…
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The Queen of the Everglades Walter E. Ledwith “Jedidiah Bozeman, you is the craziest man that evva’ walked the face of dis earth,” she said…
The Queen of the Everglades
Walter E. Ledwith
“Jedidiah Bozeman, you is the craziest man that evva’ walked the face of dis earth,” she said holding the screen door open, pontificating while clutching the railing. The aroma of her cooking escaped through the kitchen door and joined the lazy summer air. The falling sun seemed to set the landscape in the distance on fire. As Jedidiah worked, a flock of pelicans swept in on a breeze from the canal. He counted thirteen birds flying in formation with a choreographed Tetradactyl grace. Stationary in flight, riding the wind as though they were resting in lounge chairs, the pelicans hovered, observed Jedidiah for what seemed to be a long time and flew on. From the corner of his eye Jedidiah saw one from the flock sweeping around, flying back. Like a parachutist, the pelican landed on the roof of the shed, tucked its chin into its chest, and there sat motionless.
“You stop dat craziness right now for yo dinner gits cold.”
The cigarette dangling from Eunice’s mouth issued smoke signals at regular intervals as she spoke. “You listenin’ to me! . . . Damm skeeters,” she said cursing to herself under her breath. “Ya’ know I hate ter eat alone!”
She waved her hands about her head fighting off a cloud of mosquitoes. With the waving of her hands the seagulls leapt into the air with hysterical calls of surprise and the ground critters scurried about with much anxiety.
“Come on now, enuf’ is enuf’,” she said, punctuating her soliloquy with the slamming of the screen door.
“Yeah, yeah, be right ther.” Feeling unappreciated Jedidiah consoled himself. “Women never know when a man is upta big things.”
He grumbled in a low thunder as he limped across the yard balancing a large box that seemed to pull him forward with its own momentum. His short arms barely reached a third of the way around the box.
Pointing his nose in the direction of the brown shingled house, he yelled at the vacant screen door. “It’s all fer you Eunice that I’m doin’ this ya’ know.”
He knew Eunice could hear him, and he also knew she wasn’t listening. Dropping his burden, he opened the door of the shed. Without lifting the box, he tried to negotiate it through the door, twisting it and rolling it as though he was trying to put a square peg into a round hole. He worked it through the doorway and disappeared along with the box into the shed.
Jedidiah Bozeman was a troll of a man with a head the size of a basketball. Clumps of hair protruded from his ears like some primeval flora, which he would twist unconsciously at times with an apprehensive intensity. The wart at the end of his bulb-like nose exaggerated the features of his shiny round face. The red and grey patches on his face marked the places he would inevitably miss while shaving in the morning. His eyes were set deep behind big, bushy, eyebrows, which cantilevered over the dark pools that searched nervously like a squirrel in an open field. He walked with an undulating limp, which raised his head a full six inches into the air, rising and falling like a buoy bobbing on the ocean. Some people in town complained of seasickness while watching him walk down the road. Others complained that poor people shouldn’t own such valuable property as theirs; and some folks complained because they were just plain mean. But anyone who bothered to look closely could see that Jedidiah Bozeman had a beautiful soul.
He emerged from the shed, as would a thief checking to see if the coast was clear. Satisfied, he closed the door, put three heavy locks into their hasps, nodded to the pelican and hobbled off to the house to have his meal.
“Ain’t gonna’ get no more in the shed, that’s for sure,” Jedidiah said as the screen door slammed, ushering him into the kitchen. “Just as well, done spent all my money anyways.”
Eunice had been waiting to tell him what she’d heard at the market that morning.
“Emma Crowley said she saw the manager of the Lucky Market chasin’ ya outta’ the store da otha day, yellin’ like hell, tellin’ ya not to come back no mo’. Sit down and eat somethin’ Jedidiah.” She set a bowl of cabbage and sausage in front of his place at the table while he washed his hands. “She said he was yellin’ somthin’ ‘bout ya buyin’ all he had, and wasn’t gonna’ sell ya no more, dis and dat. . . . Uppity fella that store manager. I never liked him anyways.” She sat down at the table, lit a cigarette and finished her dinner in a cloud of smoke.
The kitchen was farm-size and in former times had been the hub of a growing family. Now it needed painting and was occupied only by Jedidiah and Eunice and the spirits that filled their memories.
“Yup. . . .He said I was nuts, but we’ll see who’s nuts once dem ‘puters don’t work no more. Good cabbage, Eunice. Some people are so smart they don’t know what’s right in front of them. Pass the biscuits, please. I figure were gonna’ take advantage of what folks don’t see.”
Jedidiah explained to Eunice that on one of his trips to the public library in town, he’d read about a change in the future. All about the coming event called “Y2K.” He told her that the letters meant “Year Two thousand” and that the “Experts” were saying that the world, as people had come to know it, would grind to a halt. He told her that computers couldn’t tell time too good and come New Year’s Day computers weren’t going to be so smart any more. The experts—he liked the word expert and pronounced it slowly while emphasizing the X—were telling folks to save up their money and put away food for the coming hard times. He told her that was how he came to have the idea of selling toilet paper to people figuring everyone would overlook the simple things that they would be needing every day.
“What you goin’ on about Jedidiah Bozeman? You’re talkin’ ‘bout turlit paper not somthin’ nobody ever heard of before.”
“That’s the beauty of it, Eunice. While folks are puttin’ away their money and gettin’ their gasoline stored-up, they’re gonna’ be too busy to think about the little details, the things that might be hard to come by. Paper money won’t be worth nothin’ no more, but turlet paper will become precious, you’ll see.”
“You’re a crazy man!”
“Crazy I may be, darlin’, but I’m gonna’ make ya the “Queen of the Everglades,” he said, talking with his mouth full, wiping his plate clean with his biscuit.
“Jedidiah, the Everglades be a hundred miles from here!”
“I know that. We’re gonna’ move there when we buy ‘em. Didn’t I tell ya Eunice?” He washed his biscuit down with iced tea. “I picked out a big house just outside the town of Chosen, where your Granddaddy is from. That’s where we’re gonna’ live in sublime splendor Eunice, like I always told ya we would.”
“If ya did tell me I wasn’t listenin’. Jus’ like the time ya was gonna’ put saddles on Alligators so the tourist could ride ‘em, I wasn’t listenin’. Or the nature walks thru the swamp you was gonna’ take folks on with dem wearin’ 3-D sunglasses, I surely wasn’t listenin’.”
“Folks get bored, they’re always lookin’ for somethin’ new to do.” Jedidiah smiled acknowledging his stroke of brilliance.
“Or the miracle tonic you were gonna’ sell what cured ingrown toe nails.”
“It worked for you didn’t it?” Leaning back in his chair, he grinned like the Cheshire cat.
“I was just tellin’ ya that Jedidiah! I didn’t wanna’ hurt your feelin’s.”
“You was glad when ya got my tonic, and ya could walk regular again.”
“You’re a crazy man!”
“Well this time you’re gonna’ see. Like Shakespeare William said, ‘There is a method in his madness’ and my two-ply in assorted colors are gonna’ make me the Kingfisher ‘round these parts.”
“Well I ain’t listenin’ to any more of dis craziness. Next thing ya know I’ll be standin’ ‘beside ya sellin’ rolls of turlet paper, talkin’ ‘bout peoples privies.”
“That’s my dream Eunice, you and me. That was a ‘specially good dinner darlin’.”
“Now wake up and smell the coffee, will ya Jedidiah!”
Eunice Bozeman cleared the plates from the table and began to clean the dishes. Her appearance was close to that of her husband. What they say about people and pets beginning to look like each other over time was true in their case; though by now it was long forgotten who had absorbed the features of whom. Eunice stood about five foot two, a robust woman with a low center of gravity. Her hair was as wild as the surrounding landscape. Her ears reached her shoulders and she had a large gap between her teeth. The housecoat she wore kept a record of the meals they’d had for the past week. Her face was a happy one, and when Eunice laughed everyone laughed whether they wanted to or not; Eunice had that effect on people. Like Jedidiah you really couldn’t say how old she was exactly, just that she was somewhere around “getting old.” She had lived in the same house for most of her life, except the one summer she spent in Biloxi Mississippi with her Aunt Flora. Her father was on trial for robbing a Federal train, and Eunice filled her summer by playing in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. She never saw her daddy again and her father’s brother moved in to comfort her mother. He would take Eunice fishing and tell her all about how the critters in the swamp lived and how the plants grew. He knew all about the medicine of plants and was respected throughout the county as a healer. A couple of years later, Eunice’s mother died and her uncle moved away. Folks said he couldn’t live with the fact he failed to heal her, and one day jumped on a freight train to parts unknown. Sometimes, people still talked about him and his knowledge of healing plants.
Eunice’s grandfather, on her mother’s side, moved in and things were pretty stable for Eunice for several years. Her grandfather was a tall, thin, weathered gentleman who read aloud to her, books by authors with foreign names. Eunice, to that very day, would tell you she learned more from her grandfather’s books on those quiet evenings—about life, the world and its people—than she ever did in school. Sometimes her grandfather would work at the local truck farms; mostly cause he liked to work. Sometimes he fished. They enjoyed each other’s company and talked a lot about anything that came to mind. When her grandfather passed away, he left a small fortune in local real estate. During the time she lived with her him, Eunice became a young woman, and soon after his death she met Jedidiah.
Jedidiah was passing through town on his way to Miami, collecting seashells and trying hard not to have to work. They met at the Harvest Festival. Jedidiah was standing on a milk crate, pointing to the sky and telling the crowd of people before him about Thuban, “the star between the dippers” and how it used to be the North Star at the time of the building of the pyramids. Something about him reminded her of her grandfather. They fell in love, married themselves to each other, and had never been separated a single day since that time.
The summer months turned to fall. Jedidiah made plans for the coming of winter and the approaching millennium. He went to work cleaning and polishing the old trailer beside the banana tree. Each morning the pelican would return to its place on the roof of the shed, tuck its chin on its chest and follow the progress of the work with its eyes. Jedidiah cut a big opening on the trailers best side and attached the French window shutters he had found alongside the road. He put air in the tires and gave the body a new coat of paint. Jedidiah, as he worked, would step back, wink at the pelican and admire the old trailer as though it were a fine painting in a museum.
Sometimes Eunice would stand on the deck and call to him, “You’re a crazy man, Jedidiah Bozeman, and ya made that bird crazy as well.”
Jedidiah just went about his work humming to himself, delighting in each improvement he made to the trailer. Occasionally he would take a rest from his work, hobble over to the willow tree, where he had a chair set under its canopy, and smoke his pipe. He would sit, admire the trailer, and concoct elaborate daydreams.
“Gonna’ be the prettiest damn trailer in all of Okeechobee, Florida. Folks gonna’ pass by just to look at it.”
In his reverie Jedidiah saw himself, Eunice by his side, standing proudly at the window of their wondrous trailer being interviewed by newspaper reporters.
~ ~ ~
“My name is Jedidiah Davidson Bozeman. I’ll try to recollect the best I can ‘bout my personal history. I ain’t sure about the year of my birth exactly, but I can tell ya I was born sometime before the World War of the Forties, ‘cause I remember my Pa wearin’ his army uniform around town and tellin’ folks ‘bout the war and the foreign’ lands he been to. We was livin’ in Hehaw Louisiana at that time. Not much of a town, Hehaw. Mostly a couple muddy roads with some houses strung along them haphazard like. That’s where I got my first schoolin’. Went to the fourth grade there. Missus Vance, that was my teacher’s name, she said I was purty smart and would do real well in the world, if I stayed in school and learned somethin’. She was real nice Missus Vance was. She was the person who taught me how to read and write, cipher and study maps. After fourth grade, we moved around a lot, and I never went to school regular no mor’. My Ma would save the books that the rich folks throw’d out when she was cleanin’ house for them, and I kept up my readin’ that way. I guess readin’ from the books my Ma give me, helped me to calculate what folks ‘round here consider to be my peculiar ideas on things. Peculiar or not, that’s how I come to be the man I am today. Now, if you’ll be so kind as to step aside Mister Reporter, my customers are lined up to make their purchases.”
The next person in line stepped up the window of the trailer.
“I got a chicken Jeb. How much paper can I git’ for it?” Ed Tyler said, searching Jedidiah’s face for conformation of the new respect he has found for him.
“Been gettin’ lots of chickens Ed. I had to build a whole nuther chicken coop jus’ to keep em’ in. What else ya’ got?”
“I’ve got a baseball card with a picture of Babe Ruth on it. How much for that, Jed?”
“Humm. Let me see that.” Jedidiah examined the card closely. “One hundred fifty sheets Ed. That’s all I kin’ give ya’. Take it or leave it.”
“I’ll take it,” Ed said, hands in his pockets. He kicked the dirt. “You sure become the businessman, Jeb. I always know’d there was more to ya’ than folks said.”
“Folks is always gonna’ be sayin’ somethin’ ‘bout somethin’, Ed. Ya’ can only pay so much mind to it.” Jedidiah smiled, carefully unraveling the toilet paper. “I’m gonna’ give ya’ the aqua marine green.” He slowly counted out the sheets. “Pretty in the privy and has a nice smell to it. Here’s some xtra, Ed. Give our best to the family and to Grandma Taylor.”
In his mind he could see the rich and famous folks from nearby Palm Beach parking their cars alongside the roadway, causing traffic jams in both directions. They were coming to negotiate with Mister Bozeman.
Jedidiah decided he would talk respectfully to everyone that came to the trailer.
“Mornin’ Governor, back so soon?”
“Good morning Mr. Bozeman. How are you, sir?” the gentleman in the white suit said, wiping his forehead with his handkerchief.
“Just fine Governor. Ain’t ya got air conditioning in that fancy car of yours?”
“No, I’m trying to save on gas. I had a mechanic in town disconnect the air conditioning hose. He charged me three hundred dollars to do it, can you believe it?”
“Sounds like a bargin’ Gov’. That money you got ain’t worth hardly nothin’ now a days. What can we do for ya’ today?”
“I would like to purchase eight rolls Mister Bozeman. My wife asked if we might have the pastel blue rolls . . . if you have any left.”
“I think we can oblige ya’, Governor. What ya’ wanna’ trade em’ for?”
“I’ve brought this fine fur coat that your wife admired so much the last time we stopped by.”
Jedidiah smiled to himself thinking about Eunice in her new fur coat. He knew Eunice didn’t really think he was crazy, but when he gave her a new fur coat, she would see that all he had been telling her was true. Soon, she would see that she was the “Queen of the Everglades.”
“Jed . . . I mean Mister Bozeman . . . I happened to see the mayor’s car in the wait line and would appreciate you not mentioning my stopping by”
“Not a problem Governor . . . happy to oblige. Have a good day and our best to the misses.”
~ ~ ~
Jedidiah reveled in his dream-time. Sometimes leaping from his chair, laughing wildly, he would begin clogging and dancing around the old willow tree, hooping and a hollering. The screen door of the kitchen slammed, and Jedidiah awoke from his dance.
“Now what’s all this ruckus about?” shouted Eunice, hands on her hips, trying to figure out what was going on. “You’re a crazy man, Jedidiah Bozeman, and ya’ got da’ chickin’s all upset. Dey ain’t gonna’ lay no more eggs with you carryin’ on like dat’.” She turned to the pelican. “And you ain’t makin’ things any better goin’ along with him.”
The pelican just smiled stoically, motionless. An armadillo scurried into the brush, a doe jumped into the canal with a big swoosh and the squirrels ran to the top the tree. Eunice disappeared behind the loud clap of the screen door.
Jedidiah returned to his chair and sat back down to resume his daydreaming. The pictures that drifted from his pipe floated under the canopy of the willow tree, circling around and around like a carousel.
~ ~ ~
Jim Lubberly, the manager of the lucky market came to the trailer’s window.
“Mornin’ Mister Bozeman.”
“Mister Lubberly. How’s things at the market?”
“We had to close for a few days. Can’t get no deliveries due to the Y2K, and we run out of almost everythin’.”
“Well . . . things will be back to the ways they were ‘fore too long. What kin’ I git’ ya’ Mister Lubberly?”
“Jed, I’d like five rolls of your paper for this case of Van Camps Pork-n-Beans,” he said, holding up the case for Jedidiah to see. “I know how much ya’ like ‘em by how much y’all buy.”
“I can give ya’ (hand to his chin) three rolls of the white single ply.”
“How’s about four?”
“I don’t haggle Mister Lubberly. Take it or leave it. Three rolls of white single ply. What’ll it be?”
“I’ll take it.”
“Pleasure doin’ business with ya.” He handed him the paper and took the case of beans. “Now if you’ll kindly stand aside, the Mayor has been waitin’ patiently.”
“Mornin’ Mister Mayor. How are ya?”
“Not so loud Jedidiah.” His hands pushed down on the air as though he were lowering the volume of their conversation. “I’ll take three rolls of your basic white.” He nervously looked over his shoulder, shifting his hat into different positions to cover his face.
Jedidiah always liked the mayor. A quirky little man who squealed a lot when he got excited, which was often as he was always in a state of confusion, always overwhelmed by the details of any given situation. But he had a good heart and things eventually got done. He was too scatter brained to be dishonest, and Jedidiah figured folks voted for him so they could just do what they wanted.
“Good to see ya’ Mayor. You have a good day now.”
“Shuuush! Not so loud.” He placed a finger to his lips, nervously looking in all directions. “If anyone asks—”
“If anyone asks, you’ve not seen me. Goodbye.”
~ ~ ~
Jedidiah’s preparations were nearly complete. It was time to move the trailer from underneath the banana tree to the center of the backyard for its finishing touches. Though a small man, he never doubted for a moment that he would be able to accomplish the task. He cut down a young pine tree and removed all of its branches. He would use the pine as a lever to move his palace.
Eunice would open the screen door several times a day, puffing on her cigarette, scaring the critters in the brush, calling him a crazy man. Only now it was more from curiosity than ridicule that Eunice watched Jedidiah’s progress. Little by little the trailer rolled from underneath the banana tree toward the center of the yard. Jedidiah would work long into the night until he could do no more. He would hobble into the house, dirty and exhausted, collapsing onto the bed with his clothes on. Sleep would overtake him before his head reached the pillow. Echoing through the caverns of his dream-time he could hear Eunice whispering in the distance, “You’re a crazy man Jedidiah Bozeman.”
Eunice awoke the next morning to find the trailer on display in the center of the yard. The pelican stood motionless like a sentinel, casting a shadow as would a sundial. Jedidiah was on the roof of the trailer, sun rising behind him, nailing shingles down and sealing them with tar.
“Wouldn’t want rainwater to ruin the merchandise,” he murmured to himself as he hammered away.
Slowly and methodically he carried buckets of water to the roof of the trailer and poured them over its surface to test its inviolability. Eunice watched him struggle up the ladder, one exaggerated step at a time. He held a pail of water in one hand, the other grasping the rungs of the ladder to pull himself up. Once on top of the roof, he would raise another pail of water with a rope that was tied around his waist. This went on until Jedidiah was satisfied the roof would not leak. He saw Eunice watching from behind the screen door and called out to her.
“I know what yer thinkin’ and ya’ don’t have ta say it.”
But it was no longer true, for Eunice had begun to admire Jedidiah’s determination, and his crazy scheme began to look as wondrous as he said it was.
Jedidiah spent the rest of the day unpacking boxes of toilet paper and arranging them in the trailer. Each roll was neatly stacked in rows according to color and type; two-ply tissue went to the left, single ply on the right. Eunice stood on a crate beside the trailer, looked through the window and watched as Jedidiah meticulously placed the rolls of paper one on top of another. The layered bands of color formed a rainbow stretching end to end. She gasped when she saw the beauty of it and had to run away. Scurrying back to the house she heard a crash and Jedidiah cussing loudly. She ran back to the trailer, climbed onto the box and looked in the window. Jedidiah was on his back and she could hardly see him except for his feet kicking wildly. He waved his hairy hands in the air in an attempt to clear the rolls of paper that blanketed him. She covered her mouth so he wouldn’t hear her laughing and hurried back to the house.
“I can hear ya’ out there woman.”
Opening the screen door, she turned to look back and found the pelican smiling at her.
One evening after dinner, Jedidiah sat outside enjoying the night air, smoking his pipe and calculating the arc the moon would travel that night. The trailer was but a shadow against the turbulent orange horizon. Eunice arrived with her beach chair and a tray with mint tea. She quietly opened her chair, poured the tea and sat down to join Jedidiah.
“How many boxes are lef’ in the shed Jed?”
He gave her an exact account of what was in the shed and what was stacked in the trailer. He told her how he had found that some of the boxes were labeled incorrectly. Inside two of the boxes marked blue, the contents were all white. He had thought about returning them to the Lucky Market store manager, but he didn’t think it really mattered.
“Ya’ know, Jedidiah,” she began, “afta’ ya’ told me how dem ‘puters are gonna get stupid afta’ New Years, forgetting how ta count an all, I got ta thinkin’ maybe I should put aside some things so as we ain’t spendin’ all that money we gonna’ be makin’.” She lit a cigarette and continued. “So I went and got some big trash barrels, brand new, and filled ‘em with beans and rice and lentils and stuff.”
“That’s good thinkin’, Eunice,” he said, nodding his approval, puffing on his pipe, “real good . . . not that were gonna’ be needin’ them.”
“Well, I was jus’ thinkin’, it might take a couple of weeks or so for people to run out of der own paper. You know, ‘till they start comin’ to the trailer an all, and I don’t want us needin’ too much whilst we is waitin’.”
“I like what you’re sayin’ Eunice.” He took her hand and gently pressed it to his face. “It’s no wonder I loves ya’.”
The cars on the Canal Bridge behind them beat out a syncopated rhythm as the dogs in the distance called out to each other. They sat, quietly holding hands until the moon disappeared behind the pine trees. Jedidiah smoked his pipe and Eunice watched the stars through the smoke-rings she created with her cigarette. They were content knowing that as long as they were together, there could not be a more perfect world.
The next morning Jedidiah awoke to the smell of coffee and biscuits. He could hear the bacon sizzling and Eunice stirring the gravy. A little startled, he threw his stiff leg out of the bed, reached over and pulled aside the window curtain. It was still dark, and he didn’t remember hearing the cock crow. Jedidiah was always the first to rise in the morning. He would make the coffee and listen to the weather report on the radio before starting his day. He put on his robe and went into the kitchen.
Eunice greeted him without turning around. “‘Bout time you got up.” The cigarette in the ashtray on the table burned unattended, its long ash sending a column of smoke straight to the ceiling. “Sit down and have some breakfess’ The gravy ‘ill be ready in a minute.”
He sat in his chair and watched her, amazed, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as she served him his breakfast.
“I was a thinkin’,” she said, moving nervously about the kitchen as she spoke, “that it would be real nice if we mixed up the colors, one after anodder to make ‘em look like beads ‘stead of a rainbow.” She sat down in the chair across from him, “You know like dem Mardi Gras beads from Nawlins.”
“Beads? Rainbows? Nawlins? Eunice, what are ya’ sayin’? Have ya been ta sleep yet?”
“I’m sayin’, suppose, ‘stead of stackin’ ‘em on atop each odder, we string ‘em togedder on some clothes line or somethin’. Make ‘em look like dem throws the kids bring back from carnival, not that your rainbows ain’t real pretty, Jedidiah.”
Having had his first cup of coffee, her idea began to make sense to him. Eunice said if the rolls were strung like beads, they wouldn’t fall so easily. They could stretch ropes from end to end in the trailer and slide the rolls on, alternating the colors, so that they looked like beads. They would be easy to get off and easy to put back when they needed to. She put her elbow on the table, rested her head in her open hand, leaned forward while staring intently at Jedidiah.
“Wha’d ya’ think?”
He liked the idea Eunice had come up with, and he was glad she was beginning to take an interest in his preparations for the millennium.
“That’s good thinkin’, Eunice, powerful good. Two heads is always better’n one and yours is so pretty.”
“Hurry up den. Finish yer breakfess. We gots work to do!”
“Why Eunice, I do believe you is blushing!”
After finishing the breakfast dishes, Eunice started immediately to work on the trailer. She greeted the pelican and went about her work singing and humming gleeful tunes from long ago. She took down the clothesline that ran from the kitchen door to the shed, promising herself she would get a more modern one at a later time. She put the lace curtains she had been saving for a special occasion in the window while Jedidiah placed rows of nails on either side of the trailer for her to hang her colored beads. He hummed along with her as they worked. Eunice went about adding her feminine touches to the trailer while Jedidiah made signs to advertise their new business.
The trailer was ready and it was time to move it to its new location alongside the roadway. The millennium would arrive in a week and Jedidiah wanted everything in place so they could open for business the first day after the New Year. He never doubted that most people would be absorbed in the revelry and would neglect to provide for their privy. He chose a spot a short way from the canal bridge, giving people plenty of room to park their cars. He walked the route they would push the trailer along, clearing rocks and tree limbs and other obstacles that might be in their way. He knew it would be difficult, but now he had Eunice to help him.
Jedidiah approached the problem of moving the trailer to the roadway as he had any other task. The only way to get it done was to get started. He recalled finding a dusty book in the attic of the house and from that book the myth of Sisyphus came to mind. He could see old Sisyphus laboring to push the huge boulder up the mountain, but he quickly dispelled any similarity between Sisyphus and himself. Hills were hard to find in South Florida and for the first time Jedidiah was glad of it.
Everything was ready and both he and Eunice rubbed their hands together as though cleansing themselves of any other chores they might have. They set about the work of moving the trailer to its new home. Jedidiah would place his pine tree lever under the axle, move the trailer six inches or so and Eunice would place large rocks behind the wheels so it would not roll backwards. Each move of the trailer was an event and they treated it as such, as though no other existed. They studied and discussed each move and patiently repeated the process day after day for the next six days. When the trailer reached its designated location and the wheels were locked in place, Eunice pulled beach chairs and a jug of apple cider from inside. Jedidiah set up an umbrella to provide them with shade and together they sat and toasted a job well done. Jedidiah stood and raised his glass in a toast, “To the ‘Queen of the Everglades’, long may she reign!” Pressing a clenched fist to his breast, he bowed and blew her a kiss.
“Jedidiah Bozeman, you make me wanna’ cry! You stop that right now ‘cause people can see when they drive by.” She wiped the corners of her eyes delicately with her apron, as delicately as any lady that ever lived.
They sat beside the road until the sun fell behind the thin line that marked the end of the earth, and watched as a red moon rose in the east. The highway, now deserted, was quiet and peaceful. They talked and made plans for the future. It had been a full, satisfying day. It was time to return to the house, to sleep and then greet the millennium the next morning.
Jedidiah folded the umbrella and put it in the trailer along with the cider. Eunice closed the French shutters over the window and locked the door. Together they hobbled back to the house holding hands, carrying their beach chairs. They stopped before the shed. The pelican stood tall on its legs, spread its wings and rose into the air. They waved goodbye as it flew away. The soft glow from the kitchen diffused through the screen door casting a spotlight on the couple, who cast towering shadows over the lawn.
Eunice threw her arms around Jedidiah and whispered, “Jedidiah Bozeman, you is the most wonderful man that has evva’ lived!
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