When the weather becomes unbearably hot I always find myself nose deep in a Carl Hiaasen book. Over the years, I’ve read and reread everything by Hiaasen. I even read his Sunday columns in the Miami Herald. I’m a big fan of his journalism, his stories, but mostly his characters. All of his books are ridiculous accounts of the bizarre type of criminal activity that only Florida can take credit for, featuring loathsome politicians, environmental exploitation, and mangy rednecks with moronic master plans. My favorite character of Hiaasen’s is a wild hermit named Skink. Skink, or Clinton Tyree, was the former Governor of Florida. After a futile attempt at shutting down corrupt developers who aimed to destroy Florida one strip mall at a time, Clinton Tyree disappeared into the wilderness, a changed man. A man known as Skink.
Skink, lover of fresh roadkill and crispy snakeheads, is a reoccurring character who’s appeared in six of Hiaasen’s novels, all of which I highly recommend.
Here’s Hiassen’s description of Skink in Sick Puppy:
“…he stood formidably erect and broad-shouldered. . Beneath a thin plastic shower cap his pate gleamed egg pink and freshly shorn. He had taken to wearing a kilt and little else; a kilt fashioned from a checkered racing flag. Jiffy Lube 300, the man said, I sort of stole it. He offered no explanation whatsoever for the origin of his weapon, an AK-47.
The man had grown out his silver beard in two extravagant tendrils, one blossoming from each cheek. The coils hung like vines down his broad leathery chest, and were so intricately braided that Jim Tile wondered if a woman had done it. Fastened by a ribbon to the end of each braid was the hooked beak of a large bird. Vultures, the man acknowledged. Big fuckers, too. His tangled eyebrows were canted at a familiar angle od disapproval, and somewhere he had gotten himself a new glass eye. This one had a crimson iris, as stunning as a fresh-bloomed hibiscus. Jim found the effect disarming and somewhat creepy.
The one-eyed kilted man had once been a popular and nationally famous figure, a war hero turned political crusader; brash, incorruptible and of course doomed to fail.”