The Floodsman’s Tale
March 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
Youse gotta keep yer lights bright, down low-side. There’s hobs what’ll come fer ye, quick as quick. Ghasties and Whispers a-floatin’ right up fae ‘oles an’ cracks, chokin’ out yer breff. Least it’s quick, like. Seen a boy drop without a peep one time, din’t know nuthin’ ‘bart it. Still. Them ol’ bones is t’worst, I reckons. Creepin’ alon’, they is, an’ you ‘ears ’em waitin’ in t’shadders. Clacker-men they calls ’em an’ it’s a daft ol’ soak ‘oo dun’t feart t’Clacker-man, dun’t care ‘ow long you been a-walking the floods. Thinks they owns it, I reckons, an’ mebbes they does. Don’t like no folks a-vistin’, they don’t.
This one time, see, I was down t’wester drop. Blockage or summat, they sez. Bungin’ up the whole mess o’ pipin’ down there. So I goes alon’. Young I was. Young an’ daft. Jus’ me anna lamp anna big ol stick fer pokin’. The ol’ guv’nor then, wassisname, sent me down but ‘e got ‘is in the end so we’s even. ‘E sends me down an’ I goes a-whistlin’ on me way. Daft begger. Even then I knows t’place like me own face so I gets there pretty sharp an’ starts on a gander. I’m down t’bottom of t’drop an’ I see some kinda lump up on t’top edge. Up I goes, easier than you might fink ‘cos of this lump blockin’ off the watter and even then I was a good floodsman, y’see. Knew me footin’s. So I gets up there and this ol’ lump turns out to be nuffin but some bloomin’ tick ‘oo got issel’ all bladdered and fell down an ‘ole, no doubt. Not a pretty sight. So I checks ‘im over but ‘ee ain’t addin’ to the scent o’ the place, if’n you know my meanin’, an’ I starts finkin’ about ‘ow to shift ‘im.
Then I ‘ears it. There’s drippin’ but there’s always t’drippin’, Ol’ Weeper we calls t’place sometimes, but there’s summat else. Like Jonesy playin’ his bones but all low, like, and reg’lar. Low, I sez, but getting’ louder quicker’n I likes an’ I starts gettin’ a shiv’rin’. But I turns round anyway, ain’t no way around it. An there ‘e ‘is, stood in t’catch up to ‘is knee-bones. Bold as owt. An’ ‘e looks at me, I swears it. That ol’ Clacker-man stands there an’ ‘e looks right at me. They calls ’em a skellington, y’see. Animalated skellington, they sez. But they ain’t, not really. I seen a skellington when we emptied out the nor’wester sump an’ it were dead as dead is. Even these boxer fings they got now. Nuffink in ’em, y’see. Jus’ cogs an’ that. A Clacker-man, now, ‘e knows yer there an’ ‘e dun’t like it not a bit. Dun’t say nuffink, ‘e don’t, jus’ sorta slaps ‘is jawbone all up an’ down. Clacks it, I guess. Hah!
But I weren’t laffin’ then, see. I clocks this cleaver in ‘is ‘and and I straight does a runner. Tries to, see, but I trips over that ol’ tick still lying’ there and goes a-tumblin’ down t’drop. Nearly drowns but I come up on t’grader and I thank Ol’ Weeper for that bit o’ mercy. Better’n a Clacker-man’s sticker through y’belly. Been in t’flood nigh on three dozen yar now an’ I never seen one o’ ’em fellers again but I dun’t go lookin’, don’t mind to say. An’ we never done seen that tick again, neither. Reckon that Clacker-man took ‘im off. Pressed ‘im into their crew, y’might say. Ain’t a right business but I dun’t reckon the Clacker-man gives two hoots for me ‘pinion on it all.
Gor’! Pass us that fiery jack will ya, mate? Why’d you gotta go arksin’ ’bout it, eh? Gives us the right bloomin’ willies, it does!
Phototype of the so-called ‘Clacker-Man’
Reproduced by the kind courtesy of Ms C Irving
Resident Curator, Department of Anatomical Curiosities, Constant University