Harney Simms drew a bead on the doe that was munching on the apples he put out as bait the day before. He squeezed the trigger, and his gun roared and spit fire, dropping the doe where she stood. Running up to her, he checked to make sure she was dead by touching her eye with the tip of his rifle barrel. Then he went to work getting ready to open her up and jerk out her innards. He looked about him a little nervously, because he was hunting on the Higgenbotham's family's land, and they were old-fashioned folks who didn't take kindly to trespassers, and even less kindly to deer poachers!
Old Harney was a 16 year old country-boy, a hillbilly to most people. He was born and raised in the mountains of southern West Virginia. Harney still wore the tattered bib-overalls, flannel shirts, and worn-out work boots that were the standard uniform in that part. He always seemed to be aware of the knuckly, too-large hands and big-ol' feet that his 5'10" frame had yet to catch up with. As he worked, he pulled off his sweaty baseball cap, and brushed his slightly long, sandy-blond hair back over his head, and then replaced the cap with a jerk. It was only September, and the day was warm. He'd have to work fast or the meat would spoil, that was for sure. Now Harney was a nice enough kid, and never did any harm to any living soul.
Being a particularly good-looking boy for his part of the country, he had a little bit of the "smart-ass" attitude, but no more than the typical 16 year-old. Harney did have something of "the devil" in him, as the country folks would say though. Harney loved to hunt, and his greatest vice was that he had a habit of hunting off-season; or hunting doe, when only bucks were in; and doing both whenever he felt like it. To make matters worse, he "baited" his deer with apples, corn, and salt.
He trussed the doe's carcass up and readied himself to drag her back to his pick-up truck when three figures materialized out of the forest leaves. It was a giant of a man, accompanied by two smaller, though equally well-built versions of himself.
"Hello there, that you Harney?" said a man's voice.
"Sure nuff is, who's that?"
Harney looked and realized it was Jim Higgenbotham and his two sons, Ronny and Randy. They walked over to where the boy was standing.
"Shot this here deer jes now eh Harney?" said Jim with a scowl.
"Yep, I reckon so..." the boy said, sheepishly.
"Well, now you're hunting on our land Mr. Simms, trespassin' no less, and you're huntin' illegally, to boot."
"I think you need to come back to the house with me and the boys so we can get this taken care of. And lemme have that rifle of yor'n."
Harney knew he was caught, fair and square. He handed the gun to the man and followed them, his head hanging down.
Ronny, the older son, asked "You gonna turn ol' Harney in t' the game warden for sure?"
"I reckon so son..."
Harney looked panicked, "Oh shucks Mr. Higginbotham, don't turn me in...y'all can do anything that you'ns want to me. Y'all can whup me good if'n you want, jes don't turn me in or my Pa will tan every inch of skin off'n me! And then some! He'll take my truck away, and I don't know what else! I could go to jail, or get fined so bad that I'll never be free of the payments until I'm ol'n gray!!"
"Well...I'll have to think on it, Harney..." he said, with a smile, "we'll think on it."
The four reached the house and Jim's two boys flopped down on the porch. The Higginbotham's house was little more than a large hewed cabin, but it was comfortable and clean. Mrs. Higginbotham had been dead for 13 years. She died giving birth to young Randy. Jim had managed to kep it tidy though, and the boys loved him.
Harney looked pleadingly at Jim, "C'mon Jim...please don't be a'callin the warden on me, gosh..."
"I don't know, Harney, but maybe...lemme talk to the boys fer a minute; you stay put, you hear?"
Jim and the boys talked quietly among themselves. Every now and then Ronny would look over at Harney, laugh, and then look back at his Pa and nod his head affirmatively. After a few minutes they walked over to the scared boy.
"OK, Harn," Jim said with a smile, "we'll see that you're punished for your crime without the warden being involved."
The teenager sighed a breath of relief. But now he was even more curious about what they had in mind.
"Harney, set down here on the edge of the porch." Harney flopped down.
"Now shuffle on over here near this post, and stick your legs on either side of 'er."
He did as he was told. Meanwhile, Randy and Ronny had gone in the direction of the shed. They soon reappeared carrying some stout rope and rawhide thongs. They grabbed the boy's ankles and began tying them to each other on either side of the stout porch upright, his feet hanging a little off the edge. Then they tied his wrists to the railing, about two feet above his feet.
"You'ns ain't a'gonna hurt me, are ya?" Harney was looking more anxious by the minute.
"Naw...in fact this punishment is an old fashioned way of correcting rascals like you without hurtin' em," Jim smiled, "in fact, it kind'a tickles..."
Harney looked puzzled.
Jim reached over and began to unlace the boy's work boots. He had them off in no time, and then peeled off his woolen socks revealing a pair of big'ol size 11 feet.
Harney wiggled his long toes nervously.
"Ahh...J-J-Jim...", the boy stammered, "what're you fellas a'gonna do to me?"
"See Harn, when young fellers yore age in the ol' days committed some minor crime, well, they used to lock ya'll up in the town stocks. Then they'd ease away, so all them folks could come up and tickle the bottoms of yore feet! Now you ain't ticklish, is you Harn?"
Jim reached down, and his big leathery index finger just brushed along the length of the boy's instep.
"C'mon Jim, hey...c'mon now, wait a minute...wahooooo-hehehehe, that tickles!!"
"Aww, does it now..." The man let his finger's pressure increase just enough to make the boy's foot jerk and wiggle. Harney started to giggle harder.
"Hahahahaha, c'mon Jim, hahahaha, oh my that tickles, oh gawsh hahaha.."
Now Jim pulled the boy's toes back a little, and started scratching his nails along the entire length of his ticklish soles.
Harney broke into a full scale belly laugh, "NOOOOO...Aghhh-hahahahaha, nooo Jim, I cain't take it like that... HAHAHAHAHAHA..STOPPP!!!"
"Whatsa matter, Harn? does that tickle you?"
"Yes what, Harn?"
The fingers scratched along the base of Harneys wiggling toes.
"Yessssss!!!! IT TICKLES, hahahaha, it TICKLES!!!, HAHAHAHAHAHA, HAHAHAHAHA!!! PLEEEEZE, NOOO, hahahahahaha, WAHHOOOOO!!! hahahahahahaha!! NO MORE, hahahaha, not the toes, pleeeze!!!!"
Jim stopped and gave Harney a breather. Then he turned to the two boys, "OK fellas, he's all yor'ns."
Harney's eyes went wide when he saw what the two youngsters had "armed" themselves with. They were carrying feathers, pine needles, and an old toothbrush, all of which they laid at Harneys feet like surgical instruments. Randy looked over their tickling "tools" like a doctor selecting a scalpel. He picked up a stiff turkey feather and twirled it in front of Harney's face.
"You reckon this ol' wild turkey feather'd tickle at all?" he said with an evil grin. Randy lowered the feather to Harney's foot, and the boy flinched before it even touched him. Harney looked even more panicked than before,
"C'Mon, Randy...don't use that there feather..c'mon...noooo, ahahahahaha..."
But it was too late. The boy had inserted the stiff feather between Harneys big toe and his second toe, and started twirling it around and around. Meanwhile his brother was working the sole of the other foot over with a split pine twig, letting it glide the whole length of his foot, up to and in between his wiggling toes, and then down again. This tickle assault had Harney literrally bucking against the porch post in agony, trying to escape from his bonds, but it was no use, the ropes were too tight and too well tied. He was laughing, screaming, hollering for mercy, "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...NO..PLEEEZE..HAHAHAHAHA, NOT THE TOES!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, NOT MAH TOOOOES!!HAHAHAHAHA, NOOOOO!!!"
Harney thought this torture would go on for twenty minutes. However, within that twenty minutes they used every tickle torture trick two devilish mountain boys could think up. One brother would use the pine needles to scratch along his soles, while the other boy was brushing the base of his wiggling toes. Then they'd take the pine needles and twirl them like a little bristly drill between his toes. They would spread his toes apart and brush in between them with the toothbrush again and again. They'd stop every now and then and give the guffawing, hollering boy a rest, only to pick up and make Harney laugh and holler and scream his head off.
After a while they stopped for good, and Ronny looked at his brother, whispering something in his ear. Then he disappeared behind the cabin. Randy now pulled a nail from his pocket, and drove it into the post just above the level of Harney's toes with a hammer he had brought from the shed. He wrapped the rawhide thong around each of Harney's big toes and tied them fast to the nail. Tied this way, Harney couldn't move his feet at all, not without dislocating something, so he resigned himself to his fate.
"What'cha gonna do to me now, you little son-of-a-bitch!" he spat out at Randy.
"I wouldn't cuss me if'n I was you, Harn," the boy said with an evil grin.
Randy looked at the house and hollered, "YOU READY YET, PAW?!?"
Jim emereged from the house with a small frying pan. He had mixed what looked to be cornmeal and bacon fat together, making a slimy, sticky mush. They smeared it all over Harney's feet and in between his toes.
"What're y'all up to now?" said Harney nervously.
"Puppy chow..." said Randy, laughing.
Ronny reappeared with two of their biggest blue tick coonhounds in tow. He brought the dogs near Harney's feet, where they immediately caught wind of the sticky treat that waited for them on his feet. He held the dogs just inches away from the boys ticklish extremities and they strained their leads to get at the bacon fat.
"Y'all ever had hounds lick yore feet before son?" Jim said with a grin.
"Nooo, yah cain't let them dawgs lick mah feet, havin' yore feet licked is...cruel and unusual punishment, c'mon Jim...pleeeze!!!" Harney looked more desperate than ever, "Pleeze not that, pleeze Jim, don't let 'em..hahahahahahahahhahaHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! NOOO, I cain't stand it... HAHAHAHAHAHA!!"
Both hounds were lapping away at the tied boy's helpless feet and toes. He tried to wiggle them, to squirm away somehow, but it was to no avail, the warm wet tongues did their dirty work. Harney had never felt anything so "tickly" in his life! It was like a million feathers working his feet over simultaneously. He laughed, he screamed, he tried to catch his breath, but the dogs wouldn't stop until every last morsel was lapped off. He was bucking up and down against the pole, but his feet stayed put, and the hounds were letting him have it but good! His laughter was so loud it could've been heard in the next county, or so it seemed. His eyes rolled, and tears ran down his cheeks. The boy tried to wiggle his toes away, but the dogs' tongues lapped and licked and slobbered at the sensitive, ticklish skin.
"Now, you gonna poach deer anymore Harn?" Jim said sternly.
"NOOOOO, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, NOOOOO..I PROHAHAHAHAHAHAHA..MISEHAHAHA, AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, PLEEZE, NO MORE, HAHAHAHAHAHA..."
Ronny looked amused, "I reckon it must tickle, bein' all tied up like that, and them dawgs lappin' away at yer puppies, huh Harn? Feel good Harney?"
Harney was screaming with laughter, "NOOOO, IT DONT, HAHAHAHA- I CAIN'T STAND HAVIN' MY FEET LICKED, HAHAHAHAHAHA, MAKE EM STPOPPPPP!!! JIM, PLEEEZE!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA...STOPPPPP!!!! AHM A-GONNA GO CRAZY!!!!, PLEEEZE!!!HAH AHAHAHAHA..."
Jim let the dogs finish their treat, after which he applied another coating of the bacon fat, and the torutre started all over again. Harney's idiotic screaming laughter boomed across the holler and echoed through the trees. Finally they figured Harney had enough, and Ronny pulled the dogs away. They all went in the house leaving Harney on the porch to think about his situation. After about an hour, it was starting to get pretty dark, and the three emerged back out the door.
Jim looked at the hog-tied boy, "Well Harn, I reckon you're gonna be sore if we leave you tied up like this all night long."
They untied the boy, and he breathed a sigh of relief as he stretched his aching legs and arms.
"C'mon Harn, over here..."
Randy and Ronny had prepared one of their wooden lawn chairs as a "bed" for Harney. As he approached it they jumped him and stripped off his shirt, bibs, and underdrawers, leaving him in nothing but his birthday suit. They quickly tied his ankles, knees, waist, arms and wrists to the rails of the chair, which was lowered into the "recliner" position. Then they stuffed a bandanna into the boy's mouth and tied it fast around the back of his head.
Jim pulled out a bag from his overalls.
"Y'know what this is Harney? It's yore deer bait, some of that there salt ."
He handed the bag to the boys. Ronny began to sprinkle Harney's prone body with the well hose, as Randy scattered salt all over him from head to toe.
"Now, we get lot's of deer comin' `round here, all night long. I figger that at least ten, maybe fifteen of them should use you fer a salt lick t'night!"
Harney's eyes went wide, he tried to holler, but the gag made what he was trying to say impossible to hear clearly.
"Mmmmmmm, nononommmmmmmm..." he grunted.
"Sorry, Harn, but I cain't hear what yore sayin'. Anyways, like ah was sayin', them deer will sure love lappin up that salt, and I reckon that should larn' you not to poach no more deer, you think?"
The three went back in the house, leaving the struggling teenager to sweat out thewait for his ultimate punishment. They didn't leave Harney out there more than a couple of hours, though. Just until it was time to go to bed. But, every so often, while they were watching TV, they heard something that sounded like a muffled laughing and screaming coming from outside the house. When it seemed to get particularly loud, Ronny got up to look outside, and outlined in the moonlight, he smiled as he saw seven or eight deer, licking poor ticklish Harney's prone, squirming, hogtied body. There were two on his feet, two on his flanks, two on his armpits, one on his neck, and one particularly satisfied-looking doe...