Killin’ Time!

Another story from my logging days has been stuck in my head all these years. The hook tender on this occasion was a guy who’d been dubbed, “Killer.” He was about five-foot-six, and weighed probably two hundred pounds, and most of those pounds were rock-hard muscle. He was known throughout the Mt. Rainier area as a street-fighter you didn’t want to tangle with. Naturally, none of us on the crew gave him any lip.

One hot summer afternoon, he came sauntering up, and stood atop a log above where we were all sitting with our backs to logs. We were waiting for the rigging to return so we could hook up another load of logs to send down to the landing. Dog-tired, our faces flushed and sweaty, we were all hoping his arrival signaled the day was almost over. None of us wore a watch, because watches wouldn’t last long doing what we did all day. The guy running the tower would usually signal us with his whistle when the day was done.

Killer stood over us, sneering down upon us like we were worthless, weak, and unworthy of the oxygen we were using. One of the guys—he was either too, tired to care, or perhaps had taken temporary leave of his senses–had the nerve to speak and asked Killer what time it was.

Killer grunted, demonstrating his utter disdain of the question then pulled a pocket watch from his jeans and then donned his familiar evil grin. “Better’n an hour to go, boys,” he snarled. Quitting time was 3:30; we started early to beat the heat.

One of the guys groaned and said, “Are you kidding me? What time is it?”

Killer stuffed the watch back into his pocket, spit snuff juice on the ground then after attempting to glare the poor kid to death, said, “Five after three.”

The guy who’d asked him what the time was, squinted up at Killer with a puzzled look on his face. “That’s only twenty-five minutes to go,” he said.

Killer smiled—even his smile was scary; teeth stained and speckled with Copenhagen—and said, “That’s what I said. Twenty-five minutes is better’n an hour ain’t it?”



  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    See . . . tough guys have a sense of humor, too!

  2. Neeks said

    Logging huh? I knew a bunch of loggers when I was a kid growing up in NH, they were a tough bunch of guys!

    I enjoyed your post, you set the scene very well.

  3. Abby Kelly said

    That’s so clever – enjoyed it!

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