Night of the Frogs

I was driving from Limerick to Sligo with a police sergeant one foul winter’s night and I was as guilty as sin.

I wasn’t a bank robber or even a drinker in those days. I was twenty-one and amazingly well-behaved for my age.

This guilt I felt was all of my own imagining. Still it hung over me like a pall.

It was my brother’s fault that I came to be driving with this policeman. He was engaged to the policeman’s daughter and we had been down to admire the home they were busy making.

I wanted to get back for the weekend and Joe had to get back to police-work so it was obvious that we should go together.

Obvious but awkward.

Although Joe was, and still is, one of the most congenial, accessible men on earth, I knew it was going to be hellish. You see, I had never been in a car with a real live policeman before.

We bade farewell to Limerick and started out all brightness and lively chat but soon enough dusk and silence fell. The radio went on the blink.

And then it started to rain. It started to pour. I had never seen precipitation like it in my life. We both leaned really close into the windscreen wipers and willed ourselves down the road. The rain even opened a brief conversational ploy.

“It’s very heavy”, I said.

“It surely is,” said Joe.

And that was it.

The downpour became hypnotic and I was just starting to doze when I suddenly thought I saw a large green frog jump up in the headlights of the car. I jumped too.

“Are you all right?,” asked Joe.

"Fine!"

I wasn’t going to tell him I saw a big frog, no way.

Suddenly there was another one and another and another. They leapt up into the full-beams, did a little flip and were gone. I rubbed my eyes but still there seemed to be amphibians in the headlights. Were they real? I wasn't at all sure. The heavy rain was throwing up huge splashes which looked a bit like frogs too. It could all be just an optical illusion.

The silence in the car got very heavy indeed.

If I were to tell Joe I was seeing frogs, and it turned out that he wasn’t, I could find myself in some trouble. Conclusions involving substance abuse could well be drawn. I decided to hold my peace.

For an age we drove through the downpour as a constant roll-call of little green Kermits did their party piece in front of my eyes. Finally a particularly large one jumped up and winked at me. Then it was my turn to flip.

“Joe...," I said quickly, "are you seeing frogs?”

The police sergeant looked over at me, indicated left, and eased the car to a stop. He glared at me.

“Thank God,” he said, “I thought I was going mad.”

Over time I'm sure I would have learned the truth - that policemen are often regular guys just like the rest of us. The frogs just taught me it that little bit quicker.

And I’ve since found that it is a well-documented occurrence. Heavy rain fills the ditches with water and hoards of frogs get evicted up onto the road to hop around in car headlights.

It may be hard to believe but I saw it.

And, in case you don't believe me, the policeman saw it too.



(c) Ken Armstrong

22 comments:

glam said...

Still laughing, but more than that, admiring your gift for writing. :)

Beamer said...

Driving and animals reminds me of one night I was tooling around in the local mountain roads, curvy as all get out, with a good friend of mine and his 15 year old Fiat two seater sports car. A little red one with a terribly complicated carburetor system. We were driving around basically wasting gas (It was like $1.15 back then - 1973) when this large owl that easily had a wingspan longer that the car was wide decided to travel just above the headlight beams, following the curves of the road for about 2 or 3 minutes. I had never seen anything like it before or since. He just was drifting with the wind, coasting at about 35 to 40 miles an hour, not flapping his wings or anything. He then went to my side of the car (Passenger) and slowly drifted away. It was truly amazing.

Beamer

Jennifer Robin said...

That is funny; it made me think of the frog scene in the movie "Cannery Row"! (Apologies if you've never seen it, it's only available on VHS, but well worth hunting down.)

hope said...

That was funny! Living in the country I've seen some strange stuff but never that many frogs at once.

Your last line reminded me of something Dad use to tease us with but I'll e-mail it rather than tie up your blog.

Debbie said...

it's not easy seeing green....

glam said...

Stumbled this for ya, Ken. :)

franscud said...

A great story, and wonderfully written. I don't think I would have been able to hold my tongue that long.

Jared said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
clockworkpink2 said...

You are very good at writing! This story reminds me of a time I was driving home from a beach in Florida. It was storming outside and instead of frogs I saw tons of crabs all over the road. It was rough trying to dodge them. BTW, my sister shares a birthday with you!

Jenaisle said...

This story reminded me of times during my teenage years when I opted to stay silent because I thought I was hearing and seeing strange things around me. Just like you, I realized, I did see those things and other people saw them too, but my over-creative mind, had added icing to the cake.

Thanks for sharing such a poignant and amusing story - brilliant as ever in your genre of writing.

CelloBella said...

I love your stories. :)
I've seen frogs too but not big ones. Usually in dry deserty areas where rain causes a very quick egg-tadpole-frog turnaround and there are heaps of tiny wee frogs all over the road.

Ruthie said...

Thanks! I needed that little giggle. :P

Rachel Fox said...

Is it 'Magnolia' where it's all frogs at the end?
x

Henson Ray said...

You spin a good tale, Ken. Excellent writing.

TOCCO said...

OMY! What a lovely story!!! I laughed until I cried!
christina

wngl said...

Of course this recalls Magnolia, though with less biblical overtones. However, I am curious, what do you call a group of frogs? A herd? flock? pride?

Kimmie said...

Hi Ken,

Stopping by via Jennifer Robin's blog.

What a funny and very cute story. I also weave little tales in a meme called Wordzlle on my Blog. I missed last week because of company, but I really look forward to them on Saturdays. I think you would have fun playing, maybe you could stop by for the link to or hostess Raven of Ravin's Views.

I think I would call a group of frogs a "Hop"! ;-)

Kimmie

kexbrown said...

Imagine what the frogs were saying about the "car" with big eyes they saw.

Ken Armstrong said...

Thanks guys!

Glam: Nice laugh, like crystal tinkling... :)

Beamer: Your owl wins, hands down. but a wingspan the width of the car... wow!

I'd forgotten Cannery Row, Jennifer - I often think of Magnolia as referred to in comments above.

where's that email Hope? Who's teasing who now? :)

Debbie: Ha! I'd sing that for ya with a few Jameson's in me... or maybe "someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection..."

Hi Francis, I was scared man, I thought I was in trouble if I mentioned those frogs.

Clockwork: dodging the crabs is not always easy...

Hi Jen, 'imagine if you didn't come visiting me and saying such good things, whatever would I do??

Cello: my other frog story goes back to Queensland and, of course, they were toads. I'll get to that.

Ruthie: your giggle is music around here.

Hi Rachel: yup it is 'Magnolia'. respect. (teehee) :)

Henson/Tocca: Too kind...

Wngl: apparently it's a Colony of frogs. (!)

Hi Kimmie, you've had a good read here today and that just makes my day.. thanks again. :)

Kexbrown: Richard Pryor would probably have the frog, upon seeing the car, say, "I don't know what it is but I'm gonna try to hump it."

There! 'Lowered the tone again, bed, I think. :)

hope said...

Hmmm, sent the e-mail five minutes after my post using the e-mail link on your site. Perhaps it was the "name change" that threw you off? [As in my real name vs. the one here. But I did mention that in the subject line.

I'll try again later.

Ken Armstrong said...

Hope: I got it, I did!

The name thing did throw me... but I am easily thrown.

I see the similarity - yours reminds me of another which is far too rude to repeat. :)

TLC said...

Thank God! A decent blog to read from entrecard..with all the monetizing, foreign language and niche-readers blogs I find from clicking cards, I was beginning to despair of finding good writing. I enjoyed your story, and am subbing.

T @Send Chocolate