Saturday, May 5, 2012
Rickey the pancake
I ran out of the house, the crack of the screen door sounding behind me.
"Don't slam the screen door!" My grandmother yelled from the washroom. It was one of two rooms attached to the garage. The other was a bit smaller and stored tools and junk.
"Yes'm!" I yelled back. She never understood that when I was in a hurry the screen invariably slammed. It was forgotten as I pulled out my brand new slingshot. Clyde had shown me how to bend a coat hanger into a square 'Y" shape with a looped handle below. At the end of each part of the wire a bend was made to hold rubber bands in place. Six thick, strong rubber bands were tied together and attached to the wire with a leather patch at the other end looped through the elastic. It might bend a little when pulled to its ultimate but it let a china berry fly high into the sky. It was my intention to find as many china berries as I could for my ammunition bag which was my pocket full of odds and ends.
The best berries were still attached to the tree. The branches were low enough that I could swing up and over to reach a higher branch and climb up. I picked berries with one hand while hanging on with the other. I stuffed my pocket so full my circulation in that leg was hindered. When the pens and needles began to pass through my leg I decided I had enough. Swinging down I let out a cry, "Yah Eee Ahh!" Dropping to the ground I crumpled into a ball.
"Oww!" No Tarzan yell, that. I thought better of the china berry stash and began to transfer some to the other pocket.
Over in the fig tree a Blue Jay squawked. My grandmother hadn't picked any figs yet. It was my duty to protect the fig crop. Not that I cared for the fig crop. It just gave me a chance to let fly a china berry at a bird. I loaded one into the leather patch. Holding the slingshot directly in front of me I sighted the Jay and pulled the berry back as far as my ear. The release was followed by a whack in the fig tree. It missed the Jay a mile but the sudden noise gave him cause to rise up streaming the air with his jay epithets aimed at me. Up and away he flew.
I smiled saying to myself, "You just need more practice."
Loading another berry and holding the slingshot to my side at the ready I looked around for more varmints. Over in the weeping willow sat a Red Bird eyeing the ground. In his sight, I imagined, a worm wiggling upward above a blade of grass. The bird dropped from the limb to light on the ground. His beak opened as he dipped his head down. Up into firing position flew my weapon. The bird squarely between the two upright wires I loosed my hard green china berry. It flew straight into the trunk of the tree because I jerked my hand forward. The Red Bird jumped up with a flap, resettled, scooped up the worm, then took flight worm wiggling in his beak.
"I gotta do better," I said reaching for another berry.
"Just what do you think you are doing young man?" asked my grandmother standing just behind me. I hadn't noticed being so wrapped up in my duty of scaring off varmints.
"I ..I was shooing birds from the fig tree. I know how upset you get when they eat the figs."
"Well, you just let me worry about those figs. You don't need to be shooting at my birds."
"That's right. This area is a bird sanctuary. I'm quite proud that so many feel comfortable in my yard. So don't you go frightening them anymore with that slingshot."
"Yes'm," I said handing it over to her outstretched hand.
"Now you go find something else to play with while I go fix us some lunch."
I watched her walk inside with my brand new slingshot. Figured I might as well unload my pockets and did so a handful at a time aimed high in the treetops where squirrels laughed at me being without a weapon. They just came back down on my head in a shower. They were hard berries.
"Ow! Ow! Ow!" I shouted as I pelted myself.
"What are you yelling about?" my grandmother asked from inside.
"Oh, nothing," I shouted back.
My pockets empty of berries, I walked over to the washroom and listened to the water sloshing inside. I opened the washer to watch the clothes in the sudsy water. I was quickly bored. Then the washer stopped and the dirty water began to drain with a loud click. I watched it go, leaving the soggy clothes inside. I noticed the rollers above the tub. Thinking back I remembered that my grandmother flipped the switch over there. I flipped it. The rollers began to move in opposite directions.
"I know what I can do!" I said aloud. "I can help my grandmother with the washing."
Picking up a piece of wet clothing I placed part of it into the space between the rollers. It passed through to the other side having all the water squeezed out. It was flat and damp instead of a soggy lump.
"That was easy," I said, patting myself on the back.
So I tried another with the same result.
"I might as well do it all," I said. "Won't my grandmother be proud that I helped her so much."
So I picked up a soggy shirt with my right hand while rummaging around with my left. My eye was not on the shirt going into the rollers. Grabbing another piece of clothing in my left hand I noticed I couldn't move my right hand. My fingers began to scream pain. That's when I looked up. My hand was passing through the rollers. And so began the screaming.
"HELP! Granmomma! HELP!"
"Oh child do stop your yelling," she called out from the kitchen.
"NO! HELP! HELP ME!"
"Rickey, do please hold it down out there," she answered from inside.
My wrist was now crunching through the rollers and my screams became even louder.
"HELLLPPP!" I shouted at the top of my lungs. I was being pulled up and through as my elbow began to reach the roller's entrance.
"HELP! I'M GONNA BE SQUASHED! I DON'T WANNA GET SQUASHED! HELP!" I let out another yell as my elbow began to pass. I pictured my body going through and coming out flat and damp like the clothes.
My grandmother strolled in wiping her hands on her apron.
"Goodness gracious, child, what are you yelling so... OH MY GOODNESS! What have you done!"
"Help me, please!' I shouted again.
"Do, child. All you have to do is flip this switch."
That done she pulled my arm back through to my side.
"There. You'll be all better before you're twice married."
I kept looking at my arm thinking it was supposed to be flat.
"Those rollers have some give to them so that foolish children won't be made into pancakes. It might bruise a bit but you're going to be OK. Now wipe those tears and go inside so we can have some lunch.
Snuffling back more tears I headed in. She followed me. I heard tsk, tsk tsk behind me. I turned to see her shaking her head hiding a smile with her hand.
"I tried to help."
"I know you did, child." I could have sworn I heard a chuckle.