Oh, it’s been so long-ago Buddy Lee, but do you remember the time you and I took off in dad’s truck because we wanted to go fishing? It was almost as if we had planned a heist or something, and really, I guess you could say we did, sort of. I wasn’t old enough for a driver’s license, but Buddy had his. The evening before we had planned to go fishing, no one knew but us. We got our hooks, rod and reels, a box of worms from Alton’s and a box of shrimp ready and we were going to be big time fisherman and bring home a fish fry, right? Buddy was 17 and I was 15, just at that age when kids want to test the waters, literally, you’ll see. As dad had taught us forever to take something with you to eat, we had gotten a couple of cans of beanie weenies, Vienna sausage and some crackers, just enough for a snack because we knew we would get hungry later. Morning comes and I’m sure, unfortunately it was the Lord’s day because we weren’t go to church that day (heathens). We wondered what aunt Velma would say, she’s the one that nearly always drove down the old dirt road to the house to pick us up for church, anyway we were going fishing. I guess the explanation would be worth it later. Dad was already on the tractor and I’m sure there were chores he had lined out for us as always, but not today, rebels we were! Mom kind of knows something is up and so does Rodney, because if one went anywhere, the next one always wanted to go. We told mom that we had some things to do in town and would be back later. She said, “what kind of things”? Buddy off the cuff said, “we have to go clean out Miss Gibson’s flowerbeds today”, and of course my mom said, “why today, it’s Sunday and she’s going to be at church”. Everyone knew Buddy didn’t know how to lie, but we went with that story anyway. Daddy did radiator and mechanic work for nearly every county connected to Cottle county, so he knew one of the managers at the Triangle Ranch over at Crowell and he would often let us in to fish. There were several nice stocked tanks to fish in on the ranch. This is an old saying my dad used to say, whether it works or not, who’s really to say. Dad would say, “there’s an art to catching fish”. “If the wind is blowing from the north, don’t go forth. If the wind is blowing from the east, fish bite the least, If the wind is blowing from the west, fish bite the best and if the winds blowing from the south, it blows the hook in their mouth”. I don’t know who told him this old wives’ tail, but the wind must have been blowing from all the wrong directions. We stayed out there for hours hardly getting anything to bite at our lines. The day was getting on, getting pretty hot actually. We are getting hungry and of course by now thirsty as well. We go to the truck for a break to have a snack and wouldn’t you know it, there wasn’t any water, no soda, nothing to wet your whistle in the truck. How are you going to eat Vienna weenies and crackers without something to drink? We thought and thought and thought about what to do. We hardly had any money and certainly hoped we had enough gas to get back to Paducah on, so what did we do? We found an old beer can in the back of the truck, cut the top of it off, poked a hole in the top of it, put it on the rod and reel and cast it out in the water, all the while knowing we would probably die from amoebic dysentery. We would throw it out as far as it would go and reel in mossy, nasty, greenish colored water. We each drank a little but knew this wasn’t going to work. So, unable to drive myself, (But I could, I learned to drive in an old 1963 Ford Fairlane, column shift when I was 12, and had already learned to drive the tractor by age 10) Buddy starts out from the ranch to make it to Crowell, probably about 10 miles from where we were. I stayed behind with the pellet gun, you know just in case a confrontation with nature occurred. “I’m sure I could have done a lot of damage to a wild hog or something more ferocious than that with a pellet gun”. But, it has killed a lot of rattle snakes. Forty + years later, you can find that old pellet gun in my mom’s little house. It was my brother Johnny’s, so it is older than that. With what seems like forever, Buddy returns with a gallon of water, looks as if at least a third of it is gone by now, that’s ok because another third is fixing to be gone. I turned that water up and never tasted anything sweeter and more refreshing. It was after that that our cotton mouths were able to eat our Vienna’s and crackers. It’s getting on into the afternoon and nothing was happening, a few perch a small catfish or two of which were thrown back and we decided it was time to go face our adversary, our dad. It had been a great day though, spending time with my best friend, laughing, talking about the future, girls, football, “always football with him”, being away from the house without permission was in its own way casting all to the wind. Going forward, we packed up our tools of a fisherman’s trade, put it all in the truck and started home. About an hour later we were back home, thinking none the wiser, for dad was still on the tractor. At this time, Buddy and I were the oldest left at home, the older ones had moved on. We washed up outside with the water hose, as we always did before going in, and the first thing mom said was, “I guess you know your aunt Velma came by to pick you boys up for church this morning”? Yes ma’am we said, we were sure she had. “Well I just want you to know that I went with her and the kids this morning and Kenneth (dad) isn’t to happy with your disappearing act today. Where’d y’all go? Buddy began to tell the story and how it ended, mom mussed his hair and told us both that daddy knew we were gone and she had no idea what the consequences would be. Before sundown, we see dad washing up at the water hose, spraying water in his hair, washing his face and drying it with his wet hands. Supper was almost ready when dad came in. He didn’t say a word about us being gone, not one word. Not one word the rest of the whole evening about it. Yes, “we said”, we did it. Well, not so fast. Dad usually went to bed about nine or 10 in the evenings after he had drunk his beer and eaten supper. He was on his way to bed when he came and found both of us, remind you it is pitch black outside. There was no farmhouse light at our house like there were at many of the country homes. He looked at each of us, thrust a flashlight at us and said, “Now get outside and clean the yard, do what I told you to do earlier (well, that came out of nowhere, because we didn’t hear it. I guess our plans obscured the booming voice and orders we had been given) and if it’s not done right you’ll do it again tomorrow”. Oh, man, yes, we were done for, because the yard was already clean, it had been mowed, raked and the whole nine yards. One wonders, did he hide something out there that we were supposed to find in order to validate his orders? We were out for hours past mid night before we came in. Dad was sleeping. Not much had been done, but he awoke and said did you get it all done”? We said, “yes sir”, and he said, “I’ll see in the morning”. Morning came, and we were still breathing so I guess he hadn’t killed us, or at least not at that point. Dad was getting ready for work, Buddy and I were up too, because we worked for a school program for a summer job. The only lecture we got, low and behold was, “don’t do things behind my back, don’t lie to me, and make sure your work is always as good as the work y’all did last night”. My dad had his tender moments and was good, often! I paint a despairing picture of him in many stories and they are real, but one must ask the question, how do I continue to have so much love for this man? We all truly adored my father, with all his demonic, adversaries. We knew it was the alcohol, not him. The pain we suffered was not from the man, but the demon that changed the man. I carry fond memories of him, I carry authentic, relevant teachings from him. I miss him, always! But, the one thing for sure I remember was the day I became a rebel, if only for a day with my best friend. Buddy, thank you for making my childhood so much better than it could have been.
Copyright @coffeewithcharles.blog (Charles D. Grant)