Boys Will Be Boys (short story)
True Story by Lowell
Being a Pastor's kid has special perks; like getting to mow the church yard on the riding mower. Which is what I was doing when my dad came out of the church and walked toward me. I pushed the brake and clutch, disengaged the blades, and waited for him.
"I've got to run these to the post office," he waved a handful of white envelopes, "do you want to go or stay?"
I patted the steering wheel. "I'll stay," I yelled back.
He gave me a smile and nodded. "I'll be back in about twenty minutes."
I felt grown up as I engaged the blades and popped the clutch. The mower lurched into a pile of loose gravel. I heard dad yelp as a piece of gravel nailed him in the leg.
"Sorry!" I yelled, feeling ten again.
I concentrated on driving straight--because I was afraid dad would change his mind about leaving me if I ran into anything else before he left.
He limped to the car and waved at me before getting in. I didn't wave back because I was afraid to let go of the steering wheel.
I was more scared than I'd like to admit when his car went out of sight. The field I was mowing was plenty big and I knew I wouldn't be done before he got back, but it was scary being by myself.
The church was set on about five acres just outside the city limits in our little town of Shawnee. There were a few neighbors, but most of them were at work. I didn't see anyone outside.
I made a few rounds and began to feel a little more brave. In fact, I thought of a way where I might actually be done before dad got back...the mower had five forward gears...dad had always told me to keep it in second gear so it would cut better. I wondered if he would be able to tell the difference. I shrugged, won't know unless I try, I thought.
Okay, I'll admit, fifth gear was pretty fast. I couldn't see any difference in the way the mower was cutting, but it was all I could do to make the turns. I held on tight and leaned over as I swerved around a corner, dust boiled up around me making me cough. It was fun and scary at the same time. I hit a bump that almost threw me off the mower so I decided to slow back down. I pushed the brakes and slid to a stop. When I changed back to second gear, it seemed like I was going really slow.
About the time I made the first turn, the mower hesitated and then it died. I sat there for a minute, wondering if I had blown the engine by driving it too fast. Then I decided to check how much gas was left. The engine was popping and hissing as I raised the cover and strained to loosen the gas cap. Empty. Well, that was a relief!
I got a little too close to the engine and burned my arm a little on one of the pieces of metal; it was hot! I sucked in air through my teeth and hopped around on one foot while trying to keep from crying. It really hurt.
"Ouch!" I said. It felt good, so I said it again louder, "OUCH!" The neighbor's dog barked at me and let out a little growl while lowering his nose against the fence. The dog was a doberman pincer, and he was mean. I looked around and found five smooth stones to throw at him--you know, in honor of brave Little David in the Bible. I took aim, wound up, and let fly with all my strength.
My aim, as a ten year old, left a lot to be desired, so I took flight without a backward glance when I saw the smooth stone arcing toward the neighbor's window.
I prayed as I ran.
Now, how could such a small tinkling sound be the forerunner of such dreadful punishment? You'd at least hope for a resounding crash; or a roar of glass falling; or an explosion; but no, 'twas but a wee sound, a little plink. Woe is me; I am about to be undone.
I ran around the corner of the church and slowed down, my breath was coming in ragged sobs. I didn't mean to do it. I sighed and rubbed my eyes.
Maybe it didn't break. I squinted at the sky. "Lord? I need a miracle right about now. I promise to tell everyone about how You rescued me if You'll somehow keep that window from being broken...Amen." It was fervent, even if I wasn't righteous.
I pondered for a moment about what to do. I decided to put more gas in the mower and finish mowing. I'll try to remember to tell dad about the window when he gets back from the post office.
I tugged on the door to the storage building and then propped a brick against it. Last year, I had gotten trapped in the building when a gust of wind slammed the door and the latch fell into place. It took my parents a while to find where I was "hiding". It took a lot of explaining to convince them it was an accident. (I had a reputation for hiding out when I didn't want to leave--I never did that again!)
I found the gas can and carefully picked it up. I tried not to look around for any matches as I walked back outside.
I didn't spill very much of the gasoline as I poured it into the tank. The neighbor's dog was barking furiously at me (I guess he was mad at me for breaking the window). I chanced a glance at the window. It was definitely broken. I put the cap back on the gas tank and carefully closed the cover. I put the gas can safely out of the way and started the mower.
I didn't get very much done before I saw dad turn in the driveway. He waved at me and went back into the church.
I was really close to getting done. Soon I would have to tell dad about the window. The sun was getting pretty low, so I had to turn on the lights that were on the front of the mower so I could finish.
Dad came outside and watched me make the last few rounds. When I made the last turn and drove toward the storage building, he walked out to meet me. He turned on the light in the building.
I drove the mower up the ramp and grinned at how loud the engine sounded inside the building before I turned it off.
Dad put his hand on my shoulder. "You did a good job, son," he said.
I stood up and reached in my pocket, pulling out four smooth stones. I looked at them for a second, then handed them to him.
He took them. "What are these?" He looked puzzled.
"I had five."
"Where is the other one?"
"In the neighbor's house." I felt tears forming. Suddenly I felt really tired.
Dad knelt down in front of me. "I was going to pay you for mowing today."
"Let's use that money to get the window replaced, okay?"
I nodded again.
"I drove the mower in fifth gear while you were gone."
Dad slowly shook his head and smiled a sad smile. "Boys will be boys," he said.
I hate to admit it, but things were feeling pretty cozy. I thought fleetingly that maybe dad would let me off the hook this time. I returned his smile.
A knowing look came into his eyes, "...so dads have to be dads."
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