The trials and tribulations of living in today’s modern society can tend to wear on your nerves. One can grow very weary of dealing with bills, taxes, insurance, traffic, and pollution; not to mention anything about keeping food in the refrigerator. Often times the whole thing can make you wanna holler, throw up both your hands!
And that’s exactly what old Bill Smith did. He gave up all the luxuries (and, if you ask me, some of the necessities) of modern life. He loaded up just the barest of essentials and his three hunting dogs into his truck and moved way up into the north Georgia mountains. Smitty (that’s what all of us folks in town called him) figured it wouldn’t be that much of an adjustment – after all, he did love hunting, fishing and the “Great Outdoors.” And he did have the companionship of his three best friends, his dogs Iknow, Youknow, and Comptiko Callico. What more could a man ask for?
Smitty built himself a nice little cabin way back in the woods. It wasn’t very big, but it was just enough for him. The cabin only had two rooms, one he used for a bedroom, and the other for every other room (living room, dining room, den and kitchen). He had built himself a nice big fireplace where he could cook his food and warm his body on chilly nights. He planted himself a nice little vegetable garden on the side of the house and would hunt and fish for most of his food. But at least once a month, he would drive the twenty-five miles down the mountain to the little store to buy those things that he couldn’t provide for himself. During the warm months, Smitty had no problem catching as much small game as he needed. But the colder months proved to be a little more difficult to keep his stomach full.
Well, it was on one of those cold wintry nights that Smitty went out to his storage shed to see what he could find for dinner. All he found was a small piece of fatback meat and a handful of rice. There was too much snow on the ground to travel the twenty-five miles to the store, so he had to make do with what he had. He ate the fatback and a little of the rice, but he gave most of the rice and the water where he had boiled the meat to his dogs. After all, they had to eat too! He called out, “Iknow, Youknow, Comtiko Callico, come on doggies and get you some of this heyeah dinner!” And those dogs came running in as fast as they could and lapped up all of that rice mixture. Smitty was still a little hungry, but there wasn’t much he could do about that. So despite the protests of his grumbling stomach, Smitty stoked the fire in the fireplace to keep the cabin warm and he went to bed.
The sound of the wind blowing around (and in some places through) the tiny cabin had almost lulled Smitty to sleep, when he heard something. He opened his eyes and saw a shadow on the wall. He eased out of bed and tiptoed into the other room. There, he saw the oddest looking creature he had ever seen. It was short and stubby, with pointed ears and short fat feet with long claws, and it had a long bushy tail. There were no open doors or windows, so Smitty was confused as to how the funny looking thing had gotten in. Smitty quietly picked up his ax, crept over to the odd critter, who was devouring an insect of some sort, raised his ax, and came down squarely on the creatures tail!
Smitty turned to catch the varmint, but he was too quick. It hurriedly escaped — through the wall! So Smitty was left standing there with this long bushy tail and a blood-laden ax in his hand, and no sign of the funny looking creature.
Smitty was about to throw the old tail out the door, when his growling stomach reminded him of how hungry he still was. So he took that tail, cleaned it, cooked it with some of the herbs from his garden he had stored away, and ate it. It didn’t taste that bad –why, it kinda tasted like chicken! With his stomach finally full, Smitty got back into his warm cozy bed.
Smitty had just drifted off into a deep sleep when a strange sound awakened him. It sounded like something trying to scratch its way into the cabin — perhaps a raccoon. Smitty knew that if he stayed real quiet it would probably go away. So he stayed as quiet as he could, but then he heard a strange, otherworldy voice, which hissed, “Taily- Po, I want my Taily-Po!!” Smitty thought the wind was playing tricks on his ears, but he heard it again, “Taily-Po, Taily-Po, I want my Taily-Po.”
Smitty jumped out of bed, flung open the door and called out to his dogs, “Iknow, Youknow, Comtiko Callico, come on over heayah and see what’s making that noise!” The dogs came running, barking and sniffing around, but they didn’t find anything at all. So Smitty put the dogs back outside and went back to bed.
Sleep had just eased itself into Smitty’s body when he heard the voice again. This time, the scratching sounded like it was at the window. Whatever it was, it really, really wanted to get in! But the scratching seemed to be on two walls at one time. Smitty called out, “Hey, hey, hey, who’s that at my door? Get on away from heyeah!” Then he heard the strange voice again, only this time a little louder: “Taily-Po, Taily-Po, I want my Taily-Po. Taily-Po,Taily-Po, I’m comin’ to get my Taily-Po!”
Old Smitty, who wasn’t one to frighten easily, was getting a little shaky — this was getting really weird. So he eased to the window and called, “Iknow, Youknow, Comtiko Callico, come on over heyeah and see what this is scratching at my house!” The three dogs bounded up to the porch and they sniffed around and barked, barked and sniffed, but they never found anything at all.
Smitty decided to stay up for the rest of the night to protect himself, his dogs and his little cabin. So he pulled a chair next to the fireplace, grabbed a blanket from his bed and settled in for the rest of the wind-chilled, wintry night. Sleep soon overtook him, and once again he dozed off.
It was almost dawn when Smitty woke with a start. The sound of scratching seemed to reverberate from every area of the cabin. Smitty searched frantically for his ax, his rifle, or something to defend himself with, but he was so frightened he couldn’t find anything. The scratching grew louder and louder and louder, and then the voice — “Taily-Po, where is my Taily-Po? Give me back my Taily-Po!!”
Smitty yelled back, “Leave me alone, I ain’t got your Taily-Po!” Then he called, “Iknow, Youknow, Comtiko Callico, come on in heyeah and protect your old master!” This time, the dogs didn’t come. So he called again, “Iknow, Youknow, Comtiko Callico, don’t you hear me calling you? Come here doggies!” He waited and waited, but still not one dog came running. Smitty had never been so scared in his life. He ran to his bed and jumped in. The scratching and the voice grew louder and louder and louder. Smitty yelled back as loud as he could, “I ain’t got no Taily-Po, so why don’t you leave me alone and go on about your business? I ain’t never hurt nobody or nothing, just leave me alone!”
The scratching seemed to be inside the house now and the voice was so loud it was deafening: “Taily-Po, you took my Taily-Po, and now I’m back to get it, give it to me NOW!!” Smitty pulled the cover up over his head and stayed as quiet as he could, but the scratching was now in his room! “Taily-Po, you better give me back my Taily-Po!” Smitty then felt the thing scratching up the bottom of the bed and onto the cover. Smitty eased the cover down to see what was steadily approaching. Then he saw it — a short, stubby creature with pointed ears, fat feet with long claws and bloodshot red eyes that glowed in the dark — eyes that seemed to burn straight through Smitty! Before he could pull the cover over his head again, the thing pounced on his chest, looked straight down at him and said, “You got my Taily-Po, and you better give it back to me NOW!”
Smitty yelled, “I ate it! I ate your Taily-Po, it’s gone!” And that thing started to scratch and claw and tear away at poor old Smitty, trying to get that Taily-Po back. Smitty tried to fight back, but that thing was too strong and those claws were too sharp. Smitty’s screams echoed throughout the dark mountains, then stopped, leaving a chilling silence.
After a month or two without hearing from Smitty, the folks who owned the store at the base of the mountain went up to his cabin to make sure everything was alright. When they got there, they found his cabin torn to shreds, but no sign of Smitty or the dogs. They searched the woods and called for them, “Smitty, Iknow, Youknow, Comptiko Callico!” But they never found a thing.
As the search party was heading down the mountain, the wintry wind began to blow and a strange voice could be heard saying, “Taily-Po, Taily-Po. Now I’ve got my Taily-Po!”