My second attempt at writing a book is called HELL’S GATE, unveiled on the waterways surrounding Bogalusa and Lee’s Creek. Let me set the stage for you. Allie and Jaxon have been out on the town, celebrating Allie’s birthday when they decide to go to Cassidy Park to attend a nighttime re-enactment of local Choctaw legend called TADPOLE’S SHILUP.
Shortly, the Mayor addresses the audience from the small, temporary platform. Setting the stage for the drama about to unfold, he asks whether anyone in the audience has ever seen Yalabusha in the park. As numerous hands dramatically shoot up, the lights slowly dim to total darkness.
The crowd claps, whistles, and otherwise displays their impatience for the drama to begin. The play starts with two actors on stage dressed appropriately in beautiful Choctaw apparel. The courting ritual of two Choctaw youth, Tchula Homa and Yalabusha, quickly captures the attention of the audience. Although party to something of an arranged marriage, the two are fortunate in that they feel a real attraction for each other, a firm foundation for a fledgling relationship in any culture. After courting for the appropriate period of time, Red Fox and Tadpole set up housekeeping in the village at Easterling Landing.
The Revolutionary War is on-going, with colonists battling Great Britain both through legal maneuvering and on the battleground. The American Militia often relies on those more familiar with the land, that is to say the Indians, to scout for them and to guide them from battlefield to battlefield. Red Fox steps forward and volunteers for such service.
Certainly Tadpole does not want him to go, but accepts the reality of his decision. She surely establishes a daily routine revolving around life with her in-laws and waiting faithfully for Red Fox to return. Months pass, many months, before the tribe receives word the scouts are on their way home.
Tadpole and some of the other squaws pack supplies needed to set up camp atop the waterfall in Cassidy Park. There, they are ever-vigilant as they await the return of their warriors. Sadly, Red Fox is not to return with the others. He has died in battle near the mouth of the Yazoo River. Although the other squaws try to console her, Tadpole agonizes over her loss and feel unable to go on without Red Fox.
With theatrical perfection, the park goes dark again. Those in attendance surely notice how the clouds seem to move in front of the moon at exactly the right moment so that it gets even darker. A slight breeze begins to blow through the park, making a low, rustling noise as it plays through the leaves on the trees. The crowd gasps in unison as a series of white lights intermittently flash above the dam.
Haloed by light, Yalabusha appears and then disappears into total darkness. A subsequent ball of light tumbles through the air toward the creek below. What sounds like a forlorn Indian chant breaks the silence and then ends in a terrifying splash. Dramatically, the park is engulfed in darkness for the third time. As the lights slowly come up, no one in the audience moves or makes a sound until the crowd breaks into vigorous applause.