Our friends Bob and Linda Bray, along with their ever-present dog, Sister, arrived around three bearing wine. They had parked their RV on our lower property and trudged up the steep hill to our home in 100 degree plus weather. I was still waxing Quivera the Van in preparation for the trip to Alaska.
I wiped the stinging sweat from my eyes and greeted them. The Brays were joining us on our adventure.
Bob and I have been hanging around together since first grade, which was a while ago. In the beginning, our friendship faced a serious obstacle. Bob’s mother had a rule: he was not to play with the Mekemson boys. We were Trouble spelled with a capital T.
Rightfully, or wrongfully, Marshall and I were blamed for most of the bad things that went on around Diamond Springs. Who shot Tony Pavy’s pig, broke into Jimmy Pagoni’s wine cellar, went joyriding on Caldor’s rail car? It was the Mekemson boys, of course.
Most of the mischief I got into involved tagging along with my older brother. When he graduated to girls, my reputation made a miraculous recovery. I was, however, able to pull off one last coup and live up to Bertha Bray’s expectations. For some unfathomable reason, Bob’s parents bought him a Wham-o Slingshot.
I mean, how do you expect your son to resist temptation when you buy him a slingshot? The fact that I owned a Wham-o as well almost guaranteed trouble.
Bob and I agreed to meet for a clandestine hunting expedition. It had to be clandestine because I was still on Mrs. Bray’s ‘don’t invite’ list. Our only rule for the adventure was that anything that moved or didn’t move was a valid target.
Things were going great until we came upon the old abandoned bum’s shack that was just off the Southern Pacific railroad track about a quarter of a mile away from Bob’s home. Typical of such structures, it had been created out of anything that was available for free: old aluminum roofing, miscellaneous boards, an occasional nail, a thrown away mattress, etc. It had one crowning glory, a window.
Bob and I looked at each other and had a simultaneous thought. Out came our ammunition, a shiny new marble for Bob and several bee bees for me. We took careful aim, counted down, and let fly.
To this day, Bob claims he saw his marble harmlessly strike the windowsill while my bee bees were smashing the glass to smithereens. I of course saw Bob’s marble hit the window dead on while my bee bees formed a neat pattern around the edges. There was no doubt about it; we were both innocent.
The current occupant of the not abandoned home, who was washing dishes behind a willow bush in a small stream, saw something entirely different– two little boys smashing his pride and joy.
He let out a bellow of rage and came charging up the trail. Once again the Mekemson Gang, along with its newest recruit, was on the run. The good news is that we escaped. The bad news was that the bum/hobo/homeless person with a home recognized Bob and went straight to his house. Mrs. Bray’s worst fears had been realized.
The story didn’t end there. On the 50th anniversary of our starting the first grade together, Bob sent me a present for Christmas, a slingshot. Somewhere, I suspect Bertha Bray rolled over in her grave, or maybe she chuckled.
Next Blog: The wonderful totem poles of the First Nation People.