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Old 08-01-2017, 08:01 AM   #1
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Cobb, Irvin S.: The Escape of Mr. Trimm (collected shorts). v1. 02 Aug 2017

THE ESCAPE OF MR. TRIMM
A collection of short stories BY IRVIN S. COBB (1876–1944)

The contents of this book first appeared 1909–1913 in various magazines. “The Escape of Mr. Trimm” was published in 1913. Text is in the public domain in countries where copyright is “Life + 70” or less, and in the USA.
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Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb was an American author, humorist, editor, and columnist from Paducah, Kentucky who relocated to New York in 1904 for the remainder of his life, writing for the New York World, The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, and other newspapers and magazines. Cobb wrote more than 300 short stories and 60 books (most of these being collections of his stories and articles). Some of his works were adapted for film.

Cobb was one of America’s most popular humorists during the first third of the 20th century, but his writing was not limited to comedy only. His descriptive writing was masterful, and his stories were often dramatic, poignant, tragic – even terror-ridden. Indeed, some of his works were greatly admired by H. P. Lovecraft (“Fishhead” [included in this collection] is cited as the inspiration for Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”; “The Unbroken Chain” was a model for Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls.”); and a number of his pieces appear in Ellery Queen anthologies

EXCERPT (from “Fishhead)
Spoiler:
Reelfoot is, and has always been, a lake of mystery. [ … ] It is a wonderful place for fish – bass and crappie and perch and the snouted buffalo fish. [ … ]

But the biggest of them all are the catfish. These are monstrous creatures, these catfish of Reelfoot – scaleless, slick things, with corpsy, dead eyes and poisonous fins like javelins and long whiskers dangling from the sides of their cavernous heads. Six and seven feet long they grow to be and to weigh two hundred pounds or more, and they have mouths wide enough to take in a man’s foot or a man’s fist and strong enough to break any hook save the strongest and greedy enough to eat anything, living or dead or putrid, that the horny jaws can master. Oh, but they are wicked things, and they tell wicked tales of them down there. They call them man-eaters and compare them, in certain of their habits, to sharks.

Fishhead was of a piece with this setting. He fitted into it as an acorn fits its cup. All his life he had lived on Reelfoot, always in the one place, at the mouth of a certain slough. He had been born there, of a negro father and a half-breed Indian mother, both of them now dead, and the story was that before his birth his mother was frightened by one of the big fish, so that the child came into the world most hideously marked. Anyhow, Fishhead was a human monstrosity, the veritable embodiment of nightmare. He had the body of a man – a short, stocky, sinewy body – but his face was as near to being the face of a great fish as any face could be and yet retain some trace of human aspect. His skull sloped back so abruptly that he could hardly be said to have a forehead at all; his chin slanted off right into nothing. His eyes were small and round with shallow, glazed, pale-yellow pupils, and they were set wide apart in his head and they were unwinking and staring, like a fish’s eyes. His nose was no more than a pair of tiny slits in the middle of the yellow mask. His mouth was the worst of all. It was the awful mouth of a catfish, lipless and almost inconceivably wide, stretching from side to side. Also when Fishhead became a man grown his likeness to a fish increased, for the hair upon his face grew out into two tightly kinked, slender pendants that drooped down either side of the mouth like the beards of a fish.

If he had any other name than Fishhead, none excepting he knew it. As Fishhead he was known and as Fishhead he answered. Because he knew the waters and the woods of Reelfoot better than any other man there, he was valued as a guide by the city men who came every year to hunt or fish; but there were few such jobs that Fishhead would take. Mainly he kept to himself, tending his corn patch, netting the lake, trapping a little and in season pot hunting for the city markets. His neighbors, ague-bitten whites and malaria-proof negroes alike, left him to himself. Indeed for the most part they had a superstitious fear of him. So he lived alone, with no kith nor kin, nor even a friend, shunning his kind and shunned by them.

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Text was obtained from gutenberg.org. Transcription errors were corrected; punctuation, diacritics, and italics formatted; American spelling restored (as in initial magazine publication); some spelling and punctuation modernized to provide consistency.
This work is assumed to be in the Life+70 public domain OR the copyright holder has given specific permission for distribution. Copyright laws differ throughout the world, and it may still be under copyright in some countries. Before downloading, please check your country's copyright laws. If the book is under copyright in your country, do not download or redistribute this work.

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Last edited by GrannyGrump; 08-03-2017 at 05:32 AM. Reason: add excerpt
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Old 08-03-2017, 05:33 AM   #2
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Edited post to add an excerpt from “Fishhead”
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