Valley View to Paint Lick, part two
By Wesley Houp
Danny nudges me awake. The fire has relented to a glowing heap. I check my watch. It’s 3:43am. “What’s that noise?” he whispers. I listen, having momentarily lost my bearings to sleep. At first I hear nothing and look back at Danny’s dark and uncertain face. Then I discern a sound issuing from the back of the cave, a deep, raspy chirp sustained over several seconds. Suddenly, the presence of the stranger, Free Willy, comes rushing back. The sensation sends a ripple through my reptilian brain. The chirping ceases, and then the voice follows.
“Don’t be alarmed, good fellows. It’s just poor Jenkins. He’s singing a lamentation. Does it every night. Throw me one of your torches and I’ll show you.” Danny sits up and tosses his headlamp into the darkness of the cave. The light flicks on, and there is our strange guest, holding the lamp up to a mason jar filled with water glowing like a cathode ray. “Meet Jenkins.” He holds the jar up in the light for us to see.