It Was The Cats Fault...
It all came to a head one hot July day as the afternoon was winding down. But let me begin at the start where all tales have their kernel of truth planted.
He inherited his parents home after they passed away. A forty something mama's boy, overweight with a bad sinus condition and no prospects of a wife in sight. In short he was at the time long ago one of the original nerds.
Don't get me wrong he did have a job as a Fuller Brush man. For those of you not familiar with that line of work he rode around in a big box van selling cleaning supplies to the ladies at home many of which were during those years.
In our little neighborhood everyone tried to get along and look out for one another. Perhaps he did with the adults but he seemed to hate children for some unknown reason. I and my merry band of friends were the source of his constant aggravation and as young lads full of piss and vinegar we defied anything that held a modicum of authority in our lives.
His lawn was pristine and the hedgerow was as manicured as a hollywood starlets toes. Under threat of death you did not set foot on his property and you dare not lay a finger on the hedges when passing by. We took that as a personal affront and a direct challenge to our mean spiritedness. To wit.
Whenever the opportunity arose we took turns peeing on his hedges. I can say with some certainty he fervently battled the strange yellow fungus that crept over them. Often he was seen spraying them with chemicals in hopes of returning them to their Kelly green former selves. Not a chance.
Now and then, usually during a heavy rain where footprints would be quite evident, we would run through his lawn stomping around like we were trying to kill snakes. This invariably bought his fat ass out on his porch screaming threats as he huffed and puffed after us always stopping at the edge of his property line. He would call our parents and we in turn would suffer the beatings. Small sacrifice for the sheer joy of seeing him turn beet red and clutching his chest.
He built remote controlled airplanes as a hobby and often entered them in competitions where he won awards for his designs. His pride and joy being a tri-wing world war one replica. A bright yellow and black plane replete with the correct insignias and a marvel to watch fly. As you may suspect this ends in tears. To wit.
One afternoon as he launched it from the bridge spanning our river he sent it flying downstream high above the sparkling waters. It glittered in the sunlight and the drone of the small gasoline engine echoed along as he ran it through it's paces.
Luck favors the prepared so they say. My friends and I happened to be on the little island in the middle of the river. With our small caliber rifles in hand we were shooting frogs as the plane approached overhead. By now you should be getting the picture.
Just like in a war movie someone yelled, "enemy at high noon." The guns of Navarrone erupted in unison. Crack shots we were. Pieces of yellow and black plastic showered down as he vainly tried to turn his pride and joy away from the gunfire. The engine sputtered, just like in the movies, and finally having no control and not much for wings left the small craft plunged into the drink.
To this day I have yet to see a fat man run as fucking fast as he did. He took off on foot over the bridge and along the grassy top of the dyke that bordered the river. We in turn scattered like cockroaches caught in the kitchen light. Seeing a grown man cry is a pitiful sight indeed.
I will not go into detail over the hell we caught for our thoughtless actions but let it suffice to say that to this day the nightmare still haunts me and there remains a slight but noticable red mark on my left cheek.
The culmination came near the summers end with only a few scant weeks before school would resume it's monotony. I can only blame it all on the stray cat that crossed our paths early that fateful afternoon.
As always the mail had run just before noon. We had the cat in our clutches and had not yet decided what to do with him when a stroke of genius hit us. Put kitty in the big black mailbox that belonged to the fat bastard and wait to see what happens when he gets home. It gets hot in a mailbox with the summer sun beating down on it.
His routine was always the same. He would arrive and pull his box van alongside his mailbox whereupon he would open his sliding door and retrieve his mail before pulling into his driveway. Perfect storm.
Biding our time with other interests involving a magnifying glass and some really angry ants we waited until we heard him coming. Hiding across the street in the not so manicured hedgerow we watched as he performed his ritual.
Kitty clawed his way up the fat man's arm and into the van. Lots of hissing and howling and screaming as he panicked and hit the gas. The van ran through about twenty feet of his hedges, across his lawn spinning the wheels and digging ruts whereupon it came to a halt as it slammed into his front porch. The cat bailed and took off running down the street. Hilarity ensued,as they say in the movies.
Neighbors rushed to his aid. He was battered and bruised and made to lay on the ground as an ambulance was called. The van was somewhat crunched and a large section of the porch was hanging loose and swaying under its weight. Eventually it broke free and crashed on top of the van. Nice.
I will end this tale at this juncture in the telling. The rest is too gruesome for print, but that particular day still lingers in memory evoking both a smile and a wince.
Many many years later as a grown man with two small boys they one day asked me for a gasoline operated plane they could fly around the neighborhood. Being the type of parent that would not deign to treat his children as if they were ragamuffins I made the purchase and spent many happy hours watching them master the wonders of flight. The only issue I had was when they chased the cat across the yard with the plane. Life is good.
"Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy." Fitzgerald
Last edited by Gaines; 02-28-2012 at 11:35 AM..