.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Three score and ten or more

Monday, December 29, 2008

I wrote few words about my brother when I, more or less, announced his demise. He was an interesting guy, and I wanted to tell you about a few of the things he/we did. When my sister was born we moved to the basement if the house. It wasn't fancy, just a basement with a coal room in one corner and a large furnace with a hand fired stoker (which meant that we didn't have to put coal directly in the furnace, the stoker would keep the coal coming as long as we shoveled it into the furnace. We slept in an old fashioned wrought iron double bed that, if I had it now would sell for enough to pay my house payment.

A few years later, my dad would build us a beautiful knotty pine walled bedroom beside the coal room (actually we called it the coal bin). At the time of this incident we were still out in the open, so to speak.

My mother had baked lemon meringue pies early in the day and the left for her job in the beauty parlor. She came home only a couple of hours later and quickly noticed that one of the pies had lost its meringue. Recognizing the fact that no "mystic meringue eating monsters" were free in the neighborhood she quickly determined that one or more of her two sons was the likely culprit. She called and Doug, who was busily puttering with something on the workbench answered, and quick as a wink she was down the stairs with the denuded pie in her hand and fire in her eye.

"Which one of you is responsible for this?"

Doug, always ready to fire things up a bit said "responsible for what?"

"This pie!!" countered my mother.

"I dunno, I didn't make any pie"

"I dont mean make the pie, I mean stole the meringue from it/"

"Oh, then, not me"

I don't know what blinded my mother's almost unerring eye for being scammed, but she took the "not me" from my brother as if he hadn't been baiting her before and she turned to me. "Richard, did you take the meringue off this pie?" I knew I was in trouble as I had only recently graduated from Dickie to Dick, and I only ever heard Richard if I were in trouble.

"I didn't touch the pie." I exclaimed, raising my arm to the square in the Boy Scout sign, as if that might help.

"Am I to believe that with no one home except you two boys, this meringue walked off the pie on its own"

"Well" began Doug, then catching Mom's eye quickly understood that he had pushed the mockery bit further than was healthy, "Well, I only know that I didn't do it."


"Not me!!!"

Mom then spotted, on the other side of the bed, a shelf with a stack of comic books sitting placidly upon it. She marched to the edge of the furnace, placed the pie upon the stoker and picked up the entire stack of comics. I began to quiver, I had just spent several hours sorting my comics, picking out the best ones on top and throwing away the ones which had been read to death.

"One of you had better admit to this, or I am going to throw this entire stack of comics in the stove." With this she threw open the furnace door, behind which the fire roared appropriately.

I broke instantly. "I confess, I confess, please don't burn my comics".

"You admit that you took the meringue off the pie?"

"Well, not exactly, I didn't really , but I confess and will take the punishment because I don't want you to burn my comics."

This confession was significant because Doug and I both knew the regular punishment for "serious" crimes was to be given a pocket knife and ordered to go out to the hedge at the side of the house, cut an appropriate sized switch, bring it in to mom, hand it over and bend over and get, what mom deemed, an appropriate number of swats (not usually more than two, but two were enough.)

"We are not going to play games, did you do it or not?'

Tone of voice meaning clearly that unless I said yes my comics were ashes, I meekly replied "I did it".

"Well, I'm not going to punish you any more. Put your books away. I want you boys to be honest with me. If you aren't honest with me, and with each other, no one will trust you." With that, she took the nude pie and went up the stairs.

"You RAT", I exclaimed to Doug. "You did it, and I saw you and told you you would get into trouble. Why didn't you own up to it?"

Across his face came what would later be called an Eddie Haskel smile, and he replied "They weren't MY comic books"

I spent the next month plotting ways to get even, but finally just gave up when it seemed like anything I did would make it worse for me.

In a contrasting story, but one just as frustrating to me, Doug went on a Mission to Northwest Canada near Dawson Creek and all the frontier towns of legend. ( I wish I were energetic enough tonight to tell you some of his missionary stories) When he came home, he was seriously "righteous". I don't mean he was self righteous or anything like that but he was trying very hard to be the best person he could be.

I don't remember what I had done that was obviously not a good thing, but as he drove me to school one day he was seriously getting to me, and my consciounce was raw, and I began to shout at him and threaten him. He pulled the car to the side of the road, turned to me and said, "Would you like to hit me? If hitting me will make you feel better, go ahead." There was a pause, and he turned to face me, dropping his hands, "Go ahead, hit me if you need to. I won't tell anyone, or do anything to embarrass you." I sat back, shook my head and acknowledged to myself, that, even though I was as big as him, he had won again, and there wasn't a thing I could do or say about it.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home