Seen and Heard about the Delta

Swamp Bandit

“Me and Carla was up late one night. I stepped outside to pee. I thought I heard somethin’, and I looked off in the woods and seen the outline of a man out there, ” he tells me.

“In the swamp?” I ask.

“Just out there standin’ in the mud.”


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“He had pistols draped all over him like a Mexican bandit. After I squinted at him a minute, I could tell that it was ol' Crazy Dan.”

“What was he doin’ out there?”

“That’s what I asked him. I said, ‘Dan, what you doin’ out there?’ And he didn’t answer me. So I said, ‘Dan, what the hell you doin’ out there?’ Still didn’t answer me.”

“I finally walked back inside. I said, ‘Carla, Crazy Dan’s out there with guns all strapped to him. He’s starin’ at me and ain’t sayin’ nothin’. You call his wife and let her know.

“I walk back outside to keep an eye on him while Carla’s callin’ Stacey. He’s still in the same place, starin’ at me with those guns. We get to watchin’ each other for a while. Little bit later I hear lee-lee-lee-lee-lee. Lee-lee-lee-lee. Lee-lee-lee-lee.”

“What was it?” I prod.

“He gets to twitchin’. Finally, he reaches down and pulls his cell phone from his belt and slams it to his ear and says, ‘What?! Gimme a minute,  will you?!’”


“Me and this old boy was puttin’ in at the landin’ one night. They had a juke joint back then where that old green buildin’ is now. I was sittin’ in the boat, and that other fellow was backin’ me down. I was about halfway in the water when I seen a gun barrel flash from the porch. Next thing I know, I hear the blast, and there’s lead shot hittin’ the motor behind me.”

“Somebody shot at you?!”

“Yeah. They shot again too. I got down on the floor of the boat, and I heard the pellets hittin’ the side.”

“They tryin’ to kill you?”

“I don’t know. But I said to myself, they try that again, and I’m gonna pick up this thirty aught six and give ’em somethin’ back.”

“They shoot again?”

“Yeah. I raised up with that deer rifle and squeezed off about five rounds at ’em.”

“What’d they do?”

“They went back inside.”

Corn Heater

“Gas gets much more expensive, I’m gonna start makin’ my own.”

“You know how to make gas?”



“Just get you some barrels and some corn.”

“And you can just pour it in your truck and it runs?”

“Long as it’s 60 proof. And if you ain’t got nowhere to go, you can sit there and drink it.”


“I know about a corn heater, too. Dump a bushel of corn in it, and it’ll go 24 hours, droppin’ one kernel at a time.”

“How much corn does it take to make a gallon of gas?”

“I can get two and a half gallons a bushel. See that sack over there? That’s about a bushel. You can eat it. Bait hogs with it. Make whiskey. Drive your car. I’m like to go all corn if them gas prices don’t start droppin’.”

Shipwrecked Woman

“I tell you about that old girl I found last week?”


“I was out there on Raft River, headed to the landin’. I seen this big shiny bass boat with a 225 Yamaha stacked up in the swamp. You could walk around it. I didn’t see nobody in it, so I just kept on. About two hours later, I come back by, and I seen a woman’s hair hangin’ over the side. I said ‘Hell, there she is. It done knocked her out.’”

“Was she dead?”

“I pulled up to the bank and set to hollerin’ at her. That hair pulled in, and she sat up. I asked her if anything was wrong. She said, ‘No, I’m just takin’ a nap, waitin’ for the tide to come in.’”

“I told her, ‘You gonna be waitin’ a long time, sweetheart.’”

Big Tooth

“Where’d you get this pottery?”

“Over there in Oak Bayou. It’s all over them shell mounds.”

“Indian pottery?”

“Yeah. I ever show you the jawbone I found with the big tooth?”


“Check it out. They gonna have to carbon 409 this rascal.”

“What in God’s name is that?”

“Looks like a big panther or somethin’, don’t it?”

“But there’s a molar behind it. Do cats have molars?”

“I don’t know. Whatever it is, them Indians killed it and ate it, or it them, one.”

Spoonbill Catfish

“What is that thing?”


“That platypus bill lookin’ thing. In your boat.”

“Shoot. That?”


“That’s the front end of a spoonbill catfish. You never seen one of them?”

“No. Looks prehistoric.”

Man swells with pride. “Hey, let me tell you somethin’. The government says they’re endangered, but I catch the ever livin’ hell out ’em.”

text by Watt Key • illustration by kelan mercer

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