They say that they saw marks on the side of a slag heap like he just clawed his way out of the Earth. The regular hard working folks of Beards Fork Hollow had heard tales for as long as they could remember. John Henry, Paul Bunyon, men born of purpose. Men born to a time. Names that made people with bad intentions falter just a little. Names that made Hillbilly kids go out in the yard and train to be woodsmen, superheroes, ninjas.
So there he was. No name. No home. Big as life. Big as the bulldozers that pushed the mountains of coal around.
Mountain folks aren’t in the business of letting strangers starve. We certainly don’t like strangers in our yard, post office, or banks. If you crawl out of a slag heap and don’t know what’s going on though……..somebody will give you some corn bread.
It was determined that the working theory would be that this was a giant kid, and kids (giant or not) go to school. So off he went. Upon his arrival, they figured out that “the slag heap kid” was a lousy name. The responsibility of naming the child fell to Earl Watkins, the Principal of the elementary school. Earl was a 4th generation useless turd, and a generally spiteful bastard. Through the haze of his rail booze rage Earl first wrote what would come to be known around the world. A name that will echo down the halls of eternity. That name, Dingus Stinkfinger.
All 6’9” of Dingus was introduced to his kindergarten class. As you may expect, Dingus was not met warmly. Dingus cast his gaze squarely upon his size 14 shoes as he shuffled to the back of the class while most of the other kids laughed uproariously at the mention of his shiny new name.
This probably comes off as sad, but this was one the greatest days young Stinkfinger was to gather. I say this because at the back of the class, sitting quietly in the scorn corner, was Martha Wilson. Dingus sat in the floor beside her after collapsing the desk assigned to him. When the small scale riot that ensued died down Martha leaned over and gave Dingus this gift. “Dumb people laughing at you don’t count for nothing. Do you want some of my corn bread?”
So for the next 13 years Dingus and Martha rocked out. They mostly ignored what was happening with the other kids. They didn’t hate them, they didn’t really even dislike them, they mostly didn’t see them. They were too busy looking at the pictures in books, dreaming of a time when they could go see for themselves.
Dingus, while officially a child, knew how to do stuff. He got tired of staying at different places around the Hollow. He found himself a cave that was tall enough and moved in. He installed a floor and door that he made from some trees around the cave. He got some old pipe and mirrors that people had thrown out and installed his own light tubes in the cave way before the gluten free Birkenstock crowd found out about them. He made a giant fireplace out of stone and that provided plenty of light and warmth. He got an after 2nd grade job carrying railroad timbers. All was well.
Things chugged right along. The kids at school figured out that Dingus could slay them if it ever occurred to him, so they left him alone. They made the decision to leave Martha alone too, just in case. He made good grades by accident. He carried a shit load of rail road ties.
Then a week before high school graduation Martha taught him another lesson. Martha was on the side of the road with her copy of The Flora of West Virginia identifying some spring flowers when a coal truck wheel flew off the back of an overloaded Mack truck and killed her instantly. The lesson learned: life is short and things go wrong. Do everything you can while you have the chance.
Article by Sean Kinder