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The South


Are There Creepy Hillbillies Like The Ones in Deliverance?
My Mother Met a Monster Once...

Creepy hillbillies are a city man's worse nightmare. North Georgia is not crawling with them, but there was this one time...

I was a child, riding in the back seat of our car. My mama and daddy were up front. Mother was driving. We pulled up to a four-way stop, and that's when it happened. A creature stuck its head in the window. It was a horrible thing ~ but it was human. The half man, half creature had black hair and a black almost-beard. Two big pop-eyes bulged nearly out of his head, and the grotesque mouth formed a garbled sound, as of a growl or a yell. My mother looked at him and calmly said, "Hello, Andy." I sat back in fear and awe, a changed child. My mother knew a monster.

My mother knew a monster and she called him by his first name. I could not comprehend. His name was Andy, like Andy Capp of the old comic strip. He had that same 5-o'clock shadow; only darker, as of ten o'clock or midnight. He even wore that funny little cap, as I recall ~ though that might be a false memory. You see, those two personas ~ Andy Capp and Andy the monster ~ are forever linked in the hazy, back corners of my mind: a vague, disturbing, dark meme that I might pass down through generations, had I any offspring to mold and shape. It unsettles the mind, to know that one's forebear knows a monster.

I know Andy's last name. I know it, but I wouldn't dare to say. Andy was the product of inbreeding, or so I'm told. Andy's parents were brother and sister, they say. What's more, there were several more worse than him, locked in the basement... all the neighbors said so, but I take that as suburban neurosis, myth, legend. I hope. I never quite believed those stories. Andy's inbred blood was apparent in his features. And, people hinted, his parents were themselves the result of incest. How many generations of inbreeding went into Andy?*

Andy was like nothing human that I had ever seen. In my mind's eye, I can see him with such clarity. He was a dark, sinister thing, a grotesque of the sort you see only in nightmares. That evening, I had butterflies in my stomach for worrying. My equilibrium was unsettled. What to make of it? What to make of it, when a monster sticks its head in your window, and gives a blubbering croon, as of a hound that has treed a 'possum... and your mother says simply, "Hello, Andy."

"Mother knows him, so it's all right." That was how I reassured myself, but my confidence was shaken. Even now, I feel sure that Mother was bluffing. Yes, she knew who the poor fellow was. Everyone knew him but me. But up close and personal? I don't believe it. My mother is a stoic. Not one to let folks get the upper hand of her, she'd not likely back down. Not even from a dark, sinister, babbling cretin, of bulging eyes and gaping mouth; whose flecks of spittle must have sprinkled her face. As I look back on it now, I feel sure that Mother flinched. In my heart of hearts I know that, deep down, my Mother was just as scared as I.

*My brother swears to this day that he visited the old neighborhood some time ago and learned that Andy and his own sister bred a daughter of the sort that looks like a creature from sci-fi films. Once again, I never know quite what to believe.


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