The Willapa River Monster
by Arthur Ruger
copyright (c) 2000
Back when I was a kid in Bankrupt, Idaho, my Grandaddy ran the only bar in town. On one of the petitions
that was built to separate the card players from the pool players and from the bar itself was a picture -- a old photograph
that looked sorta like the pictures on those old cards you could look at through them viewers you held up to your eyes and
the image came out in what you folks call "3-D".
The picture was of a great big sturgeon be'in pulled outta the Snake River by a team a horses and a bunch
a men looking like sod-busters from the 1890's. Some guys have told me that was a trick picture like them one's floatin around
nowadays showing a cowboy riding a jack rabbitt.
Well, be that as it may, I've been in these parts long enough
to know that sturgeon's can get that big. If not, whatever is in the Willapa around Raymond is somethin else.
Back in the 1920's or so I've heard, a real long-looking large shape appeared one day on the river. Most
people thought nothin of it cause it looked like a log floatin downstream ta log-slaughter or whatever fate awaits logs.
the dang log didn't go with the flow of the river and since it was out in the middle, folks couldn't understand why it would
float down river and then back up river.
Then one day, the "log" appeared with a row a seagulls standing on it and at one end a bigger gull was flappin
it's wings and hoopin and hollerin. That dang bird was wearing a sea-captain's hat and every time it screamed and flapped
its wings, the log would move, or change directions, or stop.
One old codger got suspicious. I don't rightly remember his name, but somethin like "Ebeneezer the Geezer"
comes to mind. Anyway, old Eben was a river navigator and had had his own boat, the "Lady-Be-Naughty", or somethin like that,
up and down the coast and the Willapa fer yers.
He took his boat out to investigate the seagull, which
the longshoremen had jokingly nick-named "Captain Nemo", and christened the log the seagull was commandin the "Nautilus".
Eben was surprised the seagull didn't fly off when the Lady-Be-Naughty came close. Folks on shore watched
as Eben leaned over the side and seemed ta be talkin to the bird. Then Eben started shakin his fist and the bird started screechin
and flappin its wings.
Next thing ya know the log starts movin away and in a circle. Well, old Eben starts a
circle of his own and the shorestanders watched fascinated-like when the Lady-Be-Naughty and Captain Nemo and his log were
facin each other about 200 yards apart.
Folks heard Eben power up his motor and watched the seagull commence screechin and flappin. Then the boat
and the log are moving toward each other hell bent fer election.
The log seemed to rise up out of the water
a bit and with Captain Nemo now standin on the head of the biggest sturgeon anyone had ever seen, the boat and the sturgeon
charged each other.
Eben was always a stubborn old cuss but I guess that day he met his match. He lost his nerve
at the last minute and swerved to the side, only bumping the sturgeon as it passed going the opposite direction. But the bump
knocked Eben overboard and the Lady-Be-Naughty was left to her own devices.
Eben musta put the motor in
neutral cause the boat just sat there. Well, Captain Nemo got that sturgeon turned around and sent it right into the side
of the Lady-Be-Naughty and she exploded and went down in a cloud of smoke in less than five minutes.
Nobody could see Eben and after 4-5 hours it got dark and everybody figured they'd seen the last of Ebeneezer
the Geezer. But two days later Eben was found across the bay over by Oysterville all wet and worn out and nekkid.
was never the same after that and for the rest of his life he swore he was swallowed by the sturgeon. Eben said that Captain
Nemo, the seagull, could talk and spoke english but that the sturgeon spoke some old and foreign sounding talk. Says the reason
he got into a joustin match with them two was because a something disrespectful Captain Nemo said about the Lady-Be-Naughty.
Eben's memories get really weird after that and nobody knows quite what to make of things. Eben says that
the sturgeon swallowed im up right after the Lady-Be-Naughty went down.
When he woke up he was layin on the
beach on the peninsula all bare-butt nekkid. Ever after and to his dyin day he complained a dreams of little critters with
big black eyes pokin needles and things inta him while he was inside the sturgeon and Captain Nemo was singing some song about