Floats Like a Butterfly -Digital Collage

My grandfather grew up along the banks of the Mississippi River in Muscatine, Iowa. One Saturday morning when he was ten or eleven years old, he and his friends happened upon a man rowing a weather-beaten skiff toward the shore. The man called out to them and asked if they would give him a hand unloading. The boys tethered the boat to a birch tree and proceeded to help the man unload planks, canvas, and ropes. Thereafter, the man ignored them as he went to work erecting what turned out to be a small boxing ring. "What are you doing there, Mister?" asked the boys. "I'm settin' up for a demonstration by the greatest boxer of all time." The boys asked when the boxer would be arriving. The man replied, "He's over there in the boat." The man's statement baffled them. No one was in it. "What are you talkin' about?' they asked. The man had been tightening a turnbuckle, but put down his tools and walked over to the boat. He stepped aboard and retrieved a small mesh cage. "Here he is, Fellas." They looked inside and saw a butterfly. They fell about laughing. "Well now I can appreciate your skepticism," the man said with a smile, "but this handsome specimen here can lick any man in the county. You bring 'em here and I'll prove it." The boys didn't need any further prompting. They ran to town and told all the locals about the challange.

That afternoon a large crowd gathered at the shoreline. The man stepped into the small ring, a pair of tied-together boxing gloves draped over his shoulders and the small mesh cage held in his left hand. He raised the cage above his head and called out to the crowd. "I am willing to wager one hunnerd dollars that this here butterfly can out box any man among you all." The crowd laughed. "You just place your bets here and I'll prove it. Any man who can go five rounds with this little but mighty fighter and hit him before he lands on the challenger's nose will get my hunnerd dollars." Soon enough men were lining up and throwing down money for a chance at the bug. The first man to step into the ring was Horace Lundstrom, a strapping twenty-two year old farm hand. He laced up the gloves and signaled he was ready. The man reiterated the rules. If the butterfly landed out the man's nose without being hit the bout would be over and the bug declared the victor. The man released the butterfly from the cage and it floated onto a turnbuckle. The man stepped out of the ring and hammered the bell. Lundstrom came out swinging. The butterfly took flight and fluttered before the young man somehow miraculously avoiding blows. By the end of the second round, Lundstrom appeared fatigued. He could barely keep his arms up during the third round. By the fourth round his arms hung limply at his sides. The butterfly had no trouble coming to rest on his nose. The crowd erupted into laughter and cheers.

One by one the men of Muscatine squared off with the butterfly, and one by one each man lost. When the sun low in the sky, the man called it a day, thanked the citizens for coming out, gathered up his winnings and set about breaking down the ring. My grandfather and his friends loaded everything onto the boat and helped it shove off. The man thanked them, waving goodbye as he floated down river and into the night.