THE INSTIGATOR & THE IMPLEMENTER
By: Wayne Brown
There was about a four year difference between my little brother and me in age. Still, we made a pretty good team with me usually being the brains behind the operation by virtue of my age and wisdom, the “instigator” with him being the “implementer”, the guy who carried out the plan. Sadly, we got caught in our actions more times than not which probably kept both of us from ever seriously pursuing a life of crime. We learned at an early age that crime does not pay and thus vowed to stay out of prison.
When my brother, Larry, was about five, my mother decided that she needed to have a job outside the home. She hired a lady to come to the house and “keep us” along with doing a bit of cooking and cleaning. The woman always seem to be at the sink or the stove with her back to us thus our minds began to work on taking advantage of the element of surprise. I searched about looking for some way we could have some fun. In a short time I came across a hatpin lying on my mother’s dresser. Seeing the pin immediately put my mind into motion and I hatched a plan. Of course, I would need the “implementer” to carry out the mechanical aspects of the plan. At age five, the implementer was more than willing to do anything that he could reach.
The plan was a simple one. I gave Larry the hatpin and told him to sneak into the kitchen with it. When the lady was at the sink, slip up behind her and stick her in the rear with the pin. Once that step was carried out, he was to run into the bedroom and crawl up under the bed where I would be awaiting his arrival far in the back corner. We had to get way back there so the old gal could not get us with the broom. Larry was on board and ready to go as he held out his hand for the pin.
The minutes seemed to tick by like hours as I pushed myself into the corner underneath the bed and awaited the results of our plot. I wondered whether or not Larry had been caught or maybe just chickened-out at the last second. Then, suddenly, there was this loud, ear-piercing scream and lots of commotion along with what sounded like a woman cursing in a high-pitched voice. I cringed and pushed harder into the corner. In seconds, Larry came sliding under the foot of the bed head first and laughing all the way with excitement. The little rascal had done it and that woman was mad. Still, the corner spot proved our haven as her broom fell just slightly short of us as she waved it back and forth under the bed. We were having fun!
To the best of my recollection, that was the last time we saw that lady and mom was not too happy with us. Word must have gotten around pretty fast as I do not remember her ever being able to find anyone else to stay with us little hellions while she worked. I think she just finally gave up and came home herself realizing the only other alternative was to donate us to the zoo and visit on weekends. Larry and I didn’t notice as we were too busy hatching another plan and figuring a way not to get caught.
Actions such as the one we pulled on our baby-sitter usually got us a trip to the farm…my grandpa’s farm, that is. He lived about 20 miles south of town on a small farm where he had been self-sufficient most of his life and hard work was the order of the day. That place had all the isolation of a deserted Pacific island. There was no kids and no “town food” available for our pleasures thus an extended stay was more aligned to a prison sentence than a thing of joy. Our grandpa seemed too busy to notice us and we were not yet old enough to work so we were useless to him. Grandma followed us around most of the day with something or other stuck between two layers of her home-made biscuits wanting us to eat. We ate a lot of biscuits on those visits.
Larry and I could not deal with boredom. We would bring our cap pistols along and ride our stick horses but there was only us two so it did not take long for a shoot-out to end the story causing us to move to other pursuits to keep us entertained. Grandpa caught us dropping rocks into the well and scolded us good. He had no idea that we were timing the fall of the rock in an attempt to figure out how deep the well was and how long either one of us would fall before we hit water. From that scientific experiment, we moved on to a more cowboy- like activity of enlisting the chickens as our “herd of cows”. It is a little known fact but chickens will hang together naturally but absolutely despise being herded by two cowpokes on stick-horses. They worked hard at escaping and we rode hard to round them up. Chickens were squawking and flying up into the air attempting to escape us. Feathers were strewn about indicating the violence of the struggle. Before long, the noise and commotion caught my grandma’s attention and she sent us packing stating that we were “frustrating” the chickens which would cause them to stop laying eggs. That conclusion was beyond the scope of our scientific minds and we seriously doubted her conclusions. Besides, who ever said that eggs came from chickens anyway?
We gave up herding chickens and put some distance between us and them. We might not be able to herd ‘em and brand ‘em but we still had a plan for them. At a distance, we began to lob rocks up real high and let them fall among the chickens. Boy did that send the scurrying and for what appeared to be no real reason. They would run from a rock like a fox was after them. We’d let them settle then do it again. It was fun and we were almost rolling on the ground laughing. Then the inevitable happened! My brother launched a rock and it caught one of the chickens right in the head. The chicken folded like a bad hand in a poker game. We immediately fell into shock as we had not devised an escape plan for killing a chicken…we were fresh out of lies and experiencing one of our first real dilemmas caused by our own actions.
We looked in all directions to make sure that no one was about then we ran to the chicken lying there all alone. The other chickens seem to be totally disconnected and wanted to be far away from our presence. The chicken was motionless and a little bit of blood was oozing from a wound on its head. “Oh! Gawd!” I yelled to my brother. “You’re in trouble now…you killed a chicken.” You might notice that I did not include myself in the part about being in trouble as I already plan to testify for the prosecution once the trial started.
We went back and forth with ideas as to how we could rid ourselves of this damning evidence before it was discovered. We could bury it quickly but then we wondered whether or not my grandmother kept a count on the chickens. Still, there could always be a rogue chicken on the yard who decided to pack up one night and head for Detroit…wherever that was. It could happen! We decided that was the best idea and set about looking in the nearby sheds for something to dig the hole. While our attention was on finding a shovel of some type a miracle occurred right there in the yard. That dead chicken got to its wobbly feet and staggered off toward the henhouse like a drunk coming home from the tavern. My brother and I watched in total amazement realizing there truly was a God and that I prayers which we didn’t remember praying had surely been answered. Assured that the chicken would probably live, we quickly put the issue behind us and started looking for other things we could do to entertain ourselves.
I headed for the barn to climb in the hay. My brother had other ideas setting off on a journey to figure out where eggs really come from…he was convinced that it was not chickens. While I played in the hay and got all itchy, my little brother was in the henhouse checking to see if there were any eggs in there. Things seemed to be going just fine and I quickly realized that we got in a lot less trouble when we split up and went our separate ways. That was a short-lived thought as I heard my grandpa yell, “I ought to kill you boy!” Out of the barn I came and went running to the henhouse to see who was getting killed and why.
Grandpa was beside himself and grandma was now close at hand restraining him. My brother was standing in the back of the house by the chickens’ nesting boxes with a funny look on his face. There were a few chickens setting about in places as high up as they could get. They were clucking madly as if someone had taken their best underwear. The rafters and the walls of the building were dripping in the remains of a thick, syrupy, liquid that I later found out was broken eggs. Bits of white and brown egg shells littered the henhouse floor. My grandma was attempting to drag my grandpa out of the henhouse and I could see by the look on his face that my brother’s life could be in danger. Suddenly, I was really glad that I had played in the hay. My grandma led my grandfather off toward the house speaking low and gently to him. My brother and I just stared at each other both of using in that moment that it was true… eggs really did come from chickens.
A few days passed and we kept a distance on grandpa figuring that it was the healthy choice for us. We stuck close to grandma and she fed us biscuits. She rolled them out of a big pan of flour and buttermilk forming what she called “dough” and turning it into little biscuits that she baked in the oven turning that dough into big golden brown globs that tasted delightful with some butter, syrup, and sugar on them. She always had some dough left over and she would give it to my brother and I to play with…this turned out to be a really bad mistake on her part.
My grandpa was raising crops and also operating a small two stall dairy barn across the road near the hay barn and the tool shed. The cows would collect in the pen on one side of the milking barn every morning knowing that if they showed up, they would get fed in exchange for letting my grandpa put a milking machine on them and collect their milk. He had a methodically process in place whereby the cows came into the stalls through a single entry. Once inside they turned to the right or left and occupied the empty stall which was a concrete platform that stood about four feet above the floor and allowed the operator to reach through the metal railings forming the sides of the stall and work with the cleaning equipment and milking machine. Once the cow had been milked, a rope was pulled which released a spring-loaded door on the outside wall of the stall by the cow’s head allowing the cow to exit. The process then was repeated until all the cows were milked. My grandmother was there to help. The cows were milked in the morning and then again at night. These babies produced some liquid.
My brother and I were intrigued by the idea of a “milking machine” and wanted to see it in action. Since my grandpa and grandma were both engaged in the process and we were not asleep, they had no choice but to allow our presence in order to keep an eye on us. We sat over to the side and watched the process and stared into the big eyes of the cows as they eyed us like some strange animals that they had not seen before. The milking machine got our attention as it pumped away. Grandpa and grandma had a routine. Once the cow was in the stall and caught up in eating the feed, grandma washed the udders in warm, soapy water then dried them off. Meanwhile my grandfather was milking the cow in the other stall. When he finished, he removed the milking machine, pulled the rope and turned the cow out, then turned his attention to the cow which my grandma had just prepared for milking. She, in turn, turned her attention to filing the empty stall with a new cow. They worked in unison was it required their full attention…leaving us to our mischief.
My grandpa had just hooked a cow up to be milked. He turned on the pump and each of the little deals began to jerk on the cow as it pulled the milk into a nearby container. The cow settled in content to eat at the feed and allow the milking process to be carried out. My grandpa turned away to get something and in that instance my brother went into action. Larry reached up and pulled the rope on the stall. The cow, thinking the milking was over, turned and headed out into the pen with the milking machine still attached. Hoses began flying everywhere; milk was squirting all over the place. My grandpa was yelling “Whoa!” Whoa!” and the cow was ignoring the whole thing as she continued back into the pen with the remnants of the milking machine still attached to her. The place was in chaos.
My grandma saved our lives and quickly removed us from the dairy barn. I think that might have been the last time we were in there while the dairy was in operation. My grandpa always looked at us as if he were expecting something to happen. This was probably the longest two weeks of his entire life and I am quite sure he was totally relieved when it was over and done. That was a few days away yet and danger still awaited the man who was now wary of our presence on his farm.
Grandpa worked all the time except Sunday when he would put on his best overalls and go to church. Otherwise, he was either milking or out in the fields working. He liked it…we were convinced of that fact. At noon, he came out of the fields to eat. Grandma always had a big, hot meal waiting for him and lots of sweet ice tea. After he ate, he went into the living room and turned on the little black and white television. He would then take a straight-back chair and lay it on the floor so that he could put a pillow against the upper back side of it and lay there watching the noon-day farm &market report. As ritual would have it, he always fell asleep for a half-hour nap before returning to the fields. He slept noisily with his mouth open attracting the attention of my brother and me.
You might remember that scrap dough my grandma gave my brother and I to play with as she finished up her morning biscuits. Well, Larry had some of it which he had shaped into a round orb about the size of a golf ball. He had been rolling it in his hands all morning trying to think of something else that he could do with it. We had thrown it back and forth in a tradition game of ball but soon tired of that effort. Now, grandpa lay on the floor sleeping and making noise. Larry quietly stepped over his bulk and held the ball of dough between his fingers perched about two feet above my grandpa’s mouth. Larry looked at me with that look in his eye that begged, “Do you dare me?” I nodded “Yes” and prepared to run. Larry released the dough and his aim was oh-so-true. The ball went straight into my grandpa’s mouth and lodged in the back of his throat helped along, I am sure, by the air he was ingesting at the time through his mouth. All the plumbing malfunctioned at that point and my grandpa was suddenly awakened totally deprived of air. I yelled “Run!” as he came up spitting and gurgling for air completely unable to communicate in any way an flailing his arms about like a man drowning in a pond. My brother and I immediately ran out the front screen door and headed across the front yard for the road. At that point we split up and he headed north; I headed south figuring that my grandpa would go after him if he lived. If I was lucky I could get away scot-free.
It was hours before my grandma rounded us up and we were convinced that grandpa was out hunting us down. She saved us from him again sending him back to the fields to work and getting the whole thing off his mind. We were blessed to have a really good grandma.
Mom and dad soon came and took us back to town ending our fray down on the farm and leaving my grandpa to his own life once again. I am sure that he prayed to God that we would never come back for an extended stay until we were adults and had a bit more sense. I am also sure the chickens and cows were quite relieved as well. Grandpa and Grandma stood in the road waving as the car drove away with the “instigator” and the “implementer” stowed safely in the back seat very ready to get back to town.
©Copyright WBrown2013. All Rights Reserved.
13 January 2013