|by Alias ||
Posted 05-30-2004 at 04:39:51
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If you recall from my earlier episodes about Old Tom, you will know how he saved me from a large venomous snake, the cotton mouth. Also, on another occasion, Tom again, came to my rescue when Frank McCloud was all set to stab me with a butcher knife.
Now, I donít think I was especially prone to bad luck. Quite the contrary, I suspect I have had more good luck than anyone one person is entitled. But, I donít think luck played much of a part in my molding and growing up years. For, one could say, quite convincingly, that I was lucky to have Tom to save me from the snake. On the other hand, a more convincing argument could be made that I was un-lucky because Tom took me fishing in the first place. So, you see, which ever way you look at it, there are two opposing points of view. And, one good luck and one bad luck cancels out each other. Therefore, Luck is purely an imaginary thing and is not a foundation or basis for fact. Now, the real fact is, all of the things that happen or does not happen as we grow have an impact on how we turn out. Although, Iím still progressing, I think I turned out pretty good. And, I have been fortunate to have had Old Tom as a friend and role model. For, much of what I am today stems from my association with that kindly old gentleman many years ago. And, in that regard, if a person was pressed, one could say that I was lucky.
Now, to get on with the story.
Directly behind our house and facing the street beyond lived a set of twins. A boy and a girl. Now, I never knew their real names. Although, the names they went by, could, very well, have been their given name. And, those names were Boodlem and Toodlem, gender respective. But, one thing is as certain as day, I never knew their last name. They were, however, about the same age as myself and when youíre that young, last names are unimportant. So from when we first met and until the last I saw of either of them, they remained, simply, Boodlem and Toodlem.
Now, Boodlem would do anything for the sake of friendship and/or money. A penny could get you nearly a whole days worth of his dancing and singing and general laughter and merriment. For, it was his way of going out of his way to please folks. Toodlem, on the other hand was a little further matured in her thinking. For, she was constantly telling her brother to stop acting so foolish and to behave himself.
I never knew the twinsí mother. For, she was mousy little woman who kept pretty much to herself. She was some years younger than my mother, but looked older. She had deep worry lines across her forehead and around her eyes and mouth. On the few times that I was at their house, she would stand behind the screen door and look out at us kids and never utter a word. But, she was a woman of faith. For, on occasion, I would hear her singing hymns. Sometimes, she would sing loud and strong, with joy and rapture. But, at other times she would sing the songs of sadness and despair. One such song that she sang keeps coursing through my mind.
Iím just a poor wayfaring stranger
traveling thru this world below,
there is no sick-ness toil nor danger
in that bright world to which I go.
But the one I liked best to hear her sing was, Jesus gave me a light, and I going to let it shine. Now, I donít know why, but, I always believed that her husband, the Twinsí father, had a direct bearing on whether her songs were happy or sad. It wasnít anything he said or did directly to me, but, I always had the opinion that he was a mean individual.
Of course, he worked during the day and, thatís when she would sing. But, in the evening, when he was home, a kind of gloom seemed to settle in and around their place.
Boodlem and Toodlem had to be in the house when he returned from work. They could not have playmates there and they could not visit other houses in the neighborhood.
At the rear of our lot was a stand of thorny locust saplings which extended well into the lot where the twins lived and to the rear of Tomsí lot to the south and the Gilliam lot to the north. The trees were very thick and to get through them one had to crawl on hands and knees. Now, to the average child in those days, adventures meant that you do the hard things as opposed to the easy. In your mind, you climb the highest mountain and swim the widest river. Or, if there was no mountain or river at hand, you blazed a trail through the locust trees and in the center, you built a fort. Never mind that you might be torn to shreds from the thorns, it was, Címom Boodlem, letís just do it. Letís build us a fort. And, as an after thought, you say, toodlem, you can help too.
And so it was that the newly formed building team know alphabetically as Alias, Boodlem and Toodlm, began the adventuresome fort construction endeavor. First, we commandeered a hacksaw from my dads tools. I wanted to use his handsaw. But, I remembered his words, which said, in part, ďIf I catch you with my saw, itíll be the last thing you ever take of mineĒ. Knowing that Mal was a man of his word, I wouldnít have used his saw for a twenty dollar bill. So, armed with an old hack saw and a butcher knife from Boodlemís house, we set out to prune limbs from the locust. Our plan was to create a tunnel into the center by taking off only lower branches. but, as we progressed into the thicket, we started getting higher and wider. So, a few feet from the beginning, we could stand to full height and two abreast. as we cut, weíd place the limbs along the side of our entrance. We had to be especially careful because none of us had gloves. And, ever so often, someone would cry out in pain as a thorn penetrated a hand or forearm.
After a while we had to take a break while I went to Pi Ryanís store for Mom. Now, Pi wasnít his real name, it was a nickname given him by my sister Edna. Thereís a story about how she gave him the name. On her last day of the second grade, her teacher gave her a dime for completing the year as a straight ďAĒ student. So, on the way home she stopped at Mr. Ryanís store to buy some candy. When she explained with pride how she had received the dime, and showed him her report card, he not only didnít charge for the candy, but, gave her a quarter to add to her wealth. So, she left his store with a bag of candy, 35 cents in her pocket, and a deep affection for the kindly old store keeper.
And, to Edna, such an act of kindness deserved some sort of special tribute. So, in her own notable style, she composed a little musical ditty just for him. It went something like this:
Old Pi Ryan, old Pi Ryan
will you be my valentine
he nodded his head and quickly said
Iíll be your valentine.
Now, for the life of me, Iíll never know why she called him Pi. Unless it was to be used in place of Pa. Because, the old man was nice to all us kids, But, he was especially nice to Edna. And, he would always tell my mother, youíve got a smart little girl there.
On that particular day, I had to go to Piís store to pick up 2 cans of condensed milk and a bag of sugar. The twins went not permitted to go, so, I went alone. When I returned, I
headed back to the area we had been clearing for the fort, only to find that they had gone home. As I stood inside the little partially cleared area, I day dreamed that I was the next Clyde Beatty* on an African safari tracking lions and tigers. In my mindís eye I visualized a giant python slithering down from a tree and attacking my faithful native servant and guide, Booderacus. I heard his frightened scream and drawing my knife, I rushed to where the snake was holding the man in a death grip as it wrapped and tightened itís length around his body.
[*Clyde Beatty was a renowned big game hunter of the day. He starred in several short documentary film which were show as selected short subjects at the movie theatres.]
I threw myself upon the creature and began to plunge the knife deep into itís flesh. For what seemed like an eternity, I continued stabbing the snake until my arms grew tired and sweat streamed from my face. But, I knew I must not let the beast win. Booderacus was not only my guide, but also, a trusted friend. Moreover, he had, not once, but twice, saved my life and I could do no less for him. When I thought I had used up every ounce of my strength, I made one last ditch effort to bring the horrible reptile under submission by driving my blade into his eye. Blood spewed from the socket and at last, the injured demon released his life constricting hold on the man and started to find safety in the brush.
I then run to where my faithful guide lay and up righted his motionless body. I dragged him to a tree and propped him up against the trunk. I then raised his hand high into the air and by moving them up and down, I was able to expand his chest and allow air to enter his lungs. After about a minute of this repeated action, I stopped long enough to check his breathing. I placed my face near his nostrils and could feel, faintly, the warmth of hot air on my check as he exhaled. I then returned to the arm moving exercise until I was sure he could breathe on his own. When his eyes were open, he said, What happened, Bíuoni?
I explained he had been attacked by the constrictor and that we needed to get back to came right away. For, I feared the Lions would smell the blood and weíd have another fight on our hands.
All of a sudden I was awakened from my imaginary dream when I heard the sounds of two people talking nearby. At first, I thought it was my older sisters, and I was a little angry. What right, I thought, did they have to invade upon my grand African Hunting Expedition? But, almost immediately, I knew it was not the girls. For, the voices were that of a man and a woman. I couldnít see who they were, but they were somewhere in or near the thicket behind Tomís house. All of a sudden, my adventuresome spirit turned to that of an investigator. And, this, I thought, was something that needed investigation. So, I crept through the thicket on hands and knees southward to where I could better hear and get a closer look at who was doing the talking.
To be continued...................................................................................................................