A False History of Nashville

catapult

If you’ve ever walked or driven around Nashville for any substantial amount of time you’ve likely smelled what smells like a city-wide collective fart. Nashville stinks some of the time and in some neighborhoods, depending on the time of year, most of the time. Many cities have this issue to varying degrees, but Nashville’s history offers some insight to why it stinks so often.

In 1864 the Battle of Nashville took place and during a two week break in the fighting, with rations dwindling and temperatures plummeting Union soldiers were unable to bury their feces as was the norm. As the feces piled up Union army commander General George Thomas had an idea to end the battle with a controversial strategy; they would collect the feces into a cannonball and fire it at the Confederate Army. “I cannot get that stench out of my mustache,” he said. “We shall fire it unto our foes.”

And fire they did. As the poop ball sailed from a catapult, across the Cumberland River, a scent was laid that would haunt the region from that point on. It was the turning point in a decisive victory for the Union, but the loss of dignity and incomparable scent would change Nashville from that point on.

So if you’re ever driving across the Cumberland River with your windows down and wonder if the river actually shit itself, the answer, in a way, is yes. But at least you’re not the guy the cannonball of poop landed on. What a way to go.

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Clickity-Clacks

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It was bound to happen one day. He knew he’d get old, he just thought it would take a little longer. The time just went by too goddamn fast and he was on the wrong side of the hill. Nothing ran quite as smoothly as it used to, the gears would slip occasionally, the seat would settle, the clickity-clacks wouldn’t click or clack much anymore, the tires were worn with a racing stripe down the center and the paint just didn’t sparkle in the sunshine like it once did. Huff knew he was slipping. He could feel it deep inside, the knowledge was still there and the memories of being able to pull off impossible feats lingered, but it was a young bike’s game and he was no longer a young bike.

Huff, the teal colored Huffy with worn white tires was depressed. When everyone was asleep he would sneak out of the garage and attempt wheelies and bunny hops and sliding stops that just wouldn’t stick like they used to, but every night he was out there, giving it his all. It didn’t help that the neighbor kid got a new bright yellow Schwinn that made him look and feel even older. That Schwinn would meet old Huff out at night once or twice a week and hot dog circles around him, making it all look so easy. Huff remembered those days and that was why he was out there every night putting in work.

“Hey old timer,” the Schwinn said one night, confident going on arrogant.

“Hey Schwinn.”

“Why are you out here every night?” he said, popping a wheelie. “What’s the point? You’re old.”

“I feel lucky that I made it this long and I’m not ready to put my kick stand down for good just yet.” Huff, always serious, always honest.

“Whatever dude.”

“You’ll understand some day,” Huff said, although Schwinn couldn’t hear him as he flew down the street at top speed.

The next night Huff was back out there, riding out a wheelie that lasted longer than they usually did these days, when he heard a tire screech and the sound of a chain slipping off it’s gears, a sound no bicycle wanted to hear. As Huff turned the corner he saw Schwinn barreling down a hill towards him, out of control and scared.

“Help Huff.”

“I’m coming,” Huff said, turning down the hill in front of Schwinn.

Schwinn was gaining fast, but Huff was pushing as hard as he could, gears warming, tires wobbling, clickity-clacks sticking to the edges of the rims. Schwinn was pulling even with him as they reached the bottom of the hill where a sharp turn awaited them. Huff stuck his tire into the front of the frame of Schwinn, pushing him gently into the turn.

“Ahh,” Schwinn yelled as he gained control of himself and made the turn, just missing the curb. He felt relief as he took a sweeping turn back toward the bottom of the hill when he saw Huff on the ground. Huff had saved Schwinn from certain danger, but couldn’t save himself from the large oak tree at the foot of the hill.

“Why? Why did you save me?” Schwinn asked, pulling up to Huff.

“You’ve got your whole life ahead of you kid,” Huff coughed out.

“You’re a hero.”

“Not a hero, just an old bike.”

And with that, Huff grew silent. Schwinn looked down at the bruised and broken bike at his tires for a long while before pulling up his kick stand and lying down beside him.

When he awoke hours later his boy was pushing him back to his home in the garage and away from the scene. He knew he wouldn’t see old Huff again, but he wouldn’t forget any time soon as the sound of a solitary clickity-clack played the sound track to an otherwise quiet glide home.