Grandpa

Another family story. My grandpa died when I was very young but from the way my mom talked I always imagined him to be a strong man who carried responsibilities well. So when my grandma told me this story I was floored because not only did it undo what I thought of him but also because I had to face the fact I was related to that sort of tomfoolery. We all like to think our parents and grandparents were always grownup and mature, but it’s quite obvious to me now that’s just not the case; which in the long run is alright because it gives me an endless resource of the quirky things people do. Enjoy!

 

Donald ate supper quietly with his grandparents, their home his home. “Going out tonight?” His grandmother asked out of habitual need for small-talk.

“No, I worked really hard today. I’ll probably hit the sack early.” Donald said, compliantly eating the fourth plate of meatloaf and vegetable soup served that week.

“Hmm, I agree. An early night sounds good.” She said, glancing for a moment to her husband to see him nose-deep in the newspaper of the day, read five times through since the morning. Dinner concluded easily and the three bade each other a good night.

An hour later Donald heard a tap on his bedroom window. Rising from his bed, still fully dressed, he crept over and pushed the glass pane up. Looking out into the backyard he saw two slim figures, ushering him to join them. No further provocation needed Donald slipped through the window, dropping to the ground with a soft thud. Jogging to the edge of the yard he smiled at his two best friends, already heading around towards the front of the house. Like a well-oiled machine the operation clicked along; approaching his grandfather’s truck, his much beloved truck, he opened the driver’s door and climbed in. Shifting the gear to neutral Donald motioned to the others. They pushing, he steering, they moved the truck down the driveway and up the road. A safe distance away from his grandfather’s ever primed ears Donald started the truck and motioned to the others to hop in.

Driving down one country road after another the boys rowdily chatted and listened to the radio. “Hey, let’s go tipping.” One friend suggested.

“Yeah,” Donald immediately agreed, turning down another road.

“Didn’t Leona learn about your bad habits?” The other friend piped up, snickering. “She wouldn’t like it.”

“Eh, don’t worry about her. She’s my girlfriend, not yours, remember?”

Living in the country there were only so many things to keep a teenage boy entertained. Stealing onto private property to tip over outhouses was Donald’s favorite. The boys would chose at random, taking opportunities when opportune, but above all else stood on man in particular. An older bachelor, Mr. Road lived at the end of one particularly long stretched of land, far away from any other houses. It might of been his unyielding orneriness towards everything moving or their inability to let sleeping dogs lie, but for whatever reason the boys always paid him a visit when looking for trouble.

Stopping at driveway of said man Donald parked the truck and turned it off, staring down the long dark pathway. Without a word the boys jumped from their seats and crept along the fence, keeping as quiet as possible. Reaching the backyard they found what they sought; knowing it was always more fun to tip an outhouse when it was occupied the boys hid behind a cluster of bushes and waited.

A few minutes later they heard the back screen door to the house swing open and closed. Watching the dark figure of Mr. Road sleepily stumble his way to the small structure the boys waited until he firmly shut himself in before they joyfully skipped their way across the yard. Silently mouthing a countdown three pairs of hands pushed with all their might. Jumping back to see their handy-work the boys were dismayed when the house sprung right back into place, failing to tip over. Donald looked closer and saw thin bungee cords anchoring the outhouse to a nearby tree. So the old fart was learning, he thought in an awed sort of way. A moment later the outhouse door swung open and out stepped Mr. Road, shotgun in hand.               

A sound like thunder echoed over the many surrounding fields as he shot a warning into the air. Donald and his gang ducked to the ground; the sound of Mr. Road’s anger all too familiar and close. “Schomberg!” Mr. Road’s voice rang out. “You little bastard, come on out!” Turning, he spotted the three boys on the ground and raised his gun.

Taking off in a scattered line the boys ran through the yard and jumped the fence, chased by another gunshot and loud curses. Kicking up dirt the boys pealed down the gravel driveway until reaching the truck, sitting patiently where they left it. Jumping into the cab Donald fumbled with the keys while the two others kindly encouraged him. The truck roared to life and the young men drove away, limbs and life intact.

The boys leaned against the cool glass windows to catch their breaths as they drove back to Donald’s grandparents’ house. Stopping the agreed distance away from the property they turned the engine off and once again pushed it down the driveway into the yard, careful to leave it right where the ground was worn from the wear of tires.

“Same time next week?” Donald looked at his cronies. They agreed, having already forgotten the fear of buckshot. Slipping back into the house through his window Donald collapsed into bed and fell straight asleep, content with life and all it held.

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