After a book promotion last week, let’s return to a short story for this post. Actually, we’ll do the first half of a bit of nonsense based on an incident from my long ago Oklahoma past. Hope you enjoy.
|Courtesy of Pixabay.com|
We were probably the little town of Left Bank’s only gang. Six ten-year-olds capable of getting into trouble without really trying. We terrorized our fourth-grade teacher and didn't even know it, which was probably a good thing. The not knowing, I mean. I remember that the preacher in my church used to flinch when he caught sight of me sitting with my family in his front pew.
Mostly, we were just about having fun—especially when school shut down in May for three whole glorious months. After chores, we congregated on the dock down at the river landing. The dock is what we called the plank platform set on thick posts jutting out into the river right beside the landing. This is where women used to climb into boats after their men floated their dingys or canoes off trailers or hauled them out of pickup beds. Hardly anybody used it anymore, so it pretty well belonged to us.
I remember it was a lazy summer morning about a month into school vacation when that initial feeling of liberation was pretty well replaced by “what are we gonna do today?” We were all lying around on the dock, semi-comatose from the heat and the smell of hollyhocks and the rhythmic thud of a motor somewhere upstream. Nobody was doing nothing except for Harley Jenkins. He was plopped on top of one of the anchoring posts that came up through the planking just high enough for a ten-year-old to sit on. Dressed in his usual bib overalls without shirt or shoes or socks but topped by a straw hat with a ragged brim, he put me in mind of Huckleberry Finn. I wasn’t sure who that was, but that’s who he reminded me of, anyway. He held a hickory branch with a cord tied to the end of it that drooped down into the water. I invited sarcasm by asking what he was doing.
“You’re not fishing. You’re wasting time.”
Willie Williams supplied the missing sarcasm. “Like you ain’t?”
“I’m resting. Laying on my back resting.”
“Lying. Not laying. You lay eggs. You lie on your back.” Despite his cornpone appearance, Harley was the class brain.
“How you know I’m not laying eggs?”
“Any eggs you lay, Charlie Schmidt—” put in Dickie Duggars. “—we’d smell them.”
“Aw, go eat your own eggs, DickieDu.” Feeling snide, I gave his name a twist before turning my attention back to Harley. “There aren’t any fish down there. Nobody’s caught a fish off this dock in twenty dozen blue moons.”
“And how long is that?” asked John Kuppernick. He sounded half-asleep—either coming or going.
“A blessed long time,” I snapped. “So you’re not fishing. You’re wasting time. Like the rest of us.”
Jackie Sousa butted in. She was the only girl in our little clique. “I’m not wasting time. I’m resting up for whatever’s coming.”
If it was up to me, she wouldn’t be here, but she was stronger than I was, so I didn’t put up much of a fuss about it. She could put any of us away at arm wrestling.
“I say you’re doing nothing,” I spit the words at Harley.
“And I say I’m just fishin’.” His calm, unruffled voice sent my dander rising.
“What do you do when you’re fishing?” I demanded. “You get a pole and a line and a hook—”
“That’s what I did,” he said in his unflappable manner.
Drove me crazy. “And you bait the hook.”
“Did that. Earthworm.”
“And you put it in the water where there’s some fish!”
“Exactly. So I’m fishing.”
“Wasting time,” I yelled.
“Fishin’,” he said.
“Not if there’s no fish down there!” That came out in a screech.
“Doesn’t matter. I did what I was supposed to do, so that means I’m fishin’.”
“Let’s vote on it. Hands up if you agree with me.”
I didn’t get hands, I got arguments. Willie and John ended up agreeing with me while DickieDu and Jackie came down on Harley’s side. Harley didn’t do anything except sit there jiggling his line up and down every once in a while, like he was really fishing.
Oh, my word! Can you see what's coming? I hope the first half of the story snagged your interest.
Think I’ll leave the links to me and my writing plus the DSP Publications buy links I included last week. I can use the advertising for The Bisti Business.
DSP Pub paperback: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-bisti-business-by-don-travis-361-b
As always, thanks for being readers.
New blogs are posted at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.