by Mark Poe
His name was Hezekiah Adams. Ol’ Hez. That was the moniker he would answer to. He was a hard man. A man of the woods and river. Some had referred to him once as a river rat. Only once to his face, mind you. The gentleman that called out to him had been rewarded with a swift and intense throat grab by his vise-like grip and reminded that his name was Ol’ Hez. In Ol’ Hez’s mind, the term river rat had connotations of trash. A person that came to his mind as a river rat was one who stayed on the river to avoid an honest job. Yes, he lived on the river. It was true he had no daily job. But his case was different in the way that he had turned his back on society. He came to town once a year to resupply his most basic of needs. He had followed the belief for years that the idea of living was a good job, nice home and family. Only when these basic truths were stripped from him did the American dream become a recurring nightmare and shake loose the hidden darkness of his inner self. He was sickened daily by the idea that one of the most precious gifts from the Good Lord above, the gift of living, was being squandered when the level of existence became tilted more to the chase of wants than cherishing the blessings given. He watched people go about their daily lives in a snow globe. When the world would shake that globe containing their own understanding of the peace and contentment that inspired the daily chase, lives would be turned into a frantic scramble to gain footing needed to climb back to where they were. This would lead many to an inner search for a more spiritual presence, treating God like a candy machine. Plug in a few prayers and watch the right answers and rewards fall for their easy grabs. Others chased it through the bottom of bottles, both pill and whiskey. Once the flakes settled back to the bottom of the globe, then they dealt with the prices of the paths they chose. It was on one of these times of turmoil that led to his decision about his future. The choice was his, but the inspiration was a woman. Not just any woman, but his wife. The innocent of all was one who carried the same dark eyes that Ol’ Hez has passed through birth. Caleb was his name. The dark-haired, dark-eyed son of Ol’ Hez Adams.