A novel by Danny
"Wow what was that all about?" Nugget asked once the two of us had managed to pull Whiskey into the barn.
"Here hold Whiskey so she don't go running out there again." I said, "Ya got to hold her tight or she'll bolt."
I took hold of the edge of the barn door and pulled for all I was worth to get it to slide shut. As soon as it was closed I reached up and clicked on the barn lights before I answered him, "I think my older brother has gone and run off with his sweetheart."
"No kidding?" Nugget exclaimed.
"Ok you can let Whiskey go." I said.
As soon as Nugget let go of Whiskey's collar she took off like a shot for the back of the barn. I guess she figured that the back barn door would be open but it weren't. She went to where May-Bell was still recuperating and seen that her door was closed to the outside too. Whiskey weren't none too happy and was whining while she scratched at the door to try and get me to let her out.
"Sorry girl, pa said you got to stay in here." I told her but it didn't help none.
"You know that is the second time I have ever seen Basset like that. He scares me when he is like that." Nugget said but the sound of his voice didn't seem to match up with what he just said. He sounded kind of like a little puppy at play.
I quickly dismissed what he'd said and motioned for him to follow me, "Come on."
"Where we going?" Nugget asked.
I led him to May-Bell's stall; opened the half-door, pushed him in and slipped in behind him before Whiskey figured out that we were leaving.
"Wow that's a big cow!" Nugget said with a shudder in his voice.
"Don't worry, she's harmless. Besides she's still not feeling so hot." I said patting May-Bell as we made our way through.
"You sure?" Nugget asked and I looked back to see he was still standing next to the half-door we'd just come through.
"Honest, it's OK!" I said but I ended up having to walk back to him, take his hand and escort him past May-Bell.
We were back outside, leaving Whiskey inside barking and whining. Unfortunately going through May-Bell's stall meant we had to go the long way around the barn to get back to the front side `cause of the pigs being in the way the other way `round.
"Why are we going this way?" Nugget asked, "Wouldn't it be quicker this way?"
I didn't mean to but couldn't help it when I laughed as I said, "You don't want to step into the pig pin, they are eating right now and might think you are food too."
We were rounding the first corner of the barn when I stepped in a pile left by one of the animals. And by the feel and smell of it, it was fresh and I guessed that one of the pigs had got loose earlier but I knew that once that slop was put out for them any stray pigs would have grown wings to get back into the pin. Steppin' in a pile of pee normally wasn't such a big deal really; I mean I done stepped in every kind of manure loads of times but this time was different `cause I had a hole in my bottom that wasn't supposed to be there and was wearing four layers of diapers as well. My foot slipped out from under me and if Nugget had not been right behind me to catch me I would have fallen right onto my diapered bottom and into the manure. Nugget had managed to steady me and even though I hadn't fallen on my bottom, it still hurt nearly as much. When my foot slipped my leg went forward and a pain shot from my bottom reminding me, as though I had forgotten, that I still was tender back there.
"Oh, that looked like it hurt." Nugget said mimicking the same expression I was doing.
His face was only inches from mine with my back against his chest and I was taken off guard by the peanut-butter on his breath. "You smell like peanut-butter," I commented without thinking.
He laughed, "That's because I always have peanut-butter on my bagel in the mornings unless I have a muffin and then I smell like blue berries."
He gave me a little shove to get me back on my feet and when he saw the condition of my school shoes he made a retching sound.
"You going to blow chunks?" I asked.
He closed his lips tightly together and shook his head.
"Pa always says that if you live around a farm and your shoes don't look like this, then you ain't doing something wrong."
Nugget put a hand over his mouth and nose and attempted to speak, "Yeah but still, that is nauseating!"
I didn't know what that word meant and had to ask, "What's nos-ate-ing?"
Nugget rolled his eyes back into his skull, "Sick, gross, pukified!"
"No, gross is when it has been raining all night and you come out in the morning to feed the pigs and they knock you down face first into their pin when your mouth is open." I said laughing as we walked past the back of the barn.
"Oh man did that really happen to you?" Nugget asked.
I weren't laughin' none when I said, "Yep, about a month or so back! I never thought that taste would leave my mouth neither!"
Nugget gagged and pleaded, "Oh please stop or I will be sick!"
We were rounding the other corner of the barn only to come face to face with my pa.
"Pa?" I said with shock.
"What are you two doing back here?" Pa asked.
"I didn't want Whiskey to get out so we went out through May-Bell's stall." I said thumbing over my shoulder.
I didn't realize until too late that Nugget was standing literally right behind me and when I had pointed over my shoulder with my thumb I jabbed him right in the eye.
"Oh dang Nugget I am so very sorry! I didn't know you was so close! I am so very sorry!" I apologized profusely.
Nugget hadn't cried out or nothing, he just rubbed at his eye and made a joke out of it, "Good thing God gave me two of these things huh?!"
I was surprised to hear pa chuckle.
"You ok there son?" pa asked calling Nugget son.
Still rubbing his eye Nugget grinned much the way I do when I am being particularly wicked. He also did a great job of imitating the way I talk, "I recon I'll live pa."
Pa pulled Nuggets hand away from his eye and tilted Nuggets head backwards to get a good look at his eye before saying, "Yep, that's what I need, another broken-down, smart mouthed kid around here." And then pa added, "It's a bit red but otherwise..."
The change in pa's attitude was striking but then I understood why he'd been headed around the back of the barn, "You feel up to running over to the old house and seeing if your brothers hiding there again?"
I remembered that a few years ago when Kevin had been caught stealing something from the corner store in town he had run away from home and three days later the sheriff had found him hidden in the old house. I have always thought it was so neat that he was able to catch rabbits and squirrels and found wild berries to live on.
"Sure pa! Come on Nugget!" I said but pa stopped Nugget.
"Not you lad; I don't recon your pa would like you getting all spoiled before school."
"I'll be right back!" I said to both of them but that turned out to not be completely truthful.
I couldn't sprint, not only because of my bottom being sore but also because Karen had put so many layers of diapers on me and my legs were held too far apart to do more then waddle quickly.
It took me more than ten minutes to reach the old house and when I did get there I didn't find Kevin or anyone else there but I did find signs of life. Long before my pa and ma got hitched pa's grandparents lived in the old house. Great Grandpapa and Great Grandmamma had built a new house for pa and ma as a wedding present. When Great Grandpapa died Great Grandmamma moved out of the house and ever since then no one has lived there except animals.
It wasn't until I reached the front porch that I realized something wasn't right; or maybe I should say that something was right. The roof over the front porch had fallen down long ago but now it was back, good as new.
"What is going on?" I said aloud.
I stepped up onto the porch and suddenly a grey fox shot out from under the porch steps like its tale was on fire. It startled me so bad that I screamed, and soiled myself.
"Ah dang it! Not now!" I said critically.
Frustrated, I kicked the front door but instead of it thumping, it swung open revealing a nearly spotlessly clean home inside. It was still empty but it looked like someone might just be living inside the house.
I took a step inside and the floor creaked beneath my shoe. I got scared, jumped off the porch and took off as fast as my diapered butt would let me go. I was a good piece away from the old house before I allowed myself to look back. I didn't see anything or anyone but I still didn't slow down. I quickly discovered that though I couldn't run, I could do a sort of skip-hope combination that allowed me to move swifter than I was able to do when just walking fast.
I could just see the top of the barn when I stumbled and fell to the ground. I had been moving along fairly steadily so when I went down I did a sort of belly flop on the tall dew drenched grass and slid several feet before coming to a stop.
The wind had been knocked out of me and I gasped to try and get air back into my lungs. As it turned out, tripping and falling into the grass saved my life. If I had continued going I would have skipped right onto a Timber Rattlesnake. As it was, I had skidded to within a few feet of the scaly pit viper. I could see it through the grass, coiled up on a large flat rock and poised to strike if I so much as twitched. I couldn't see its tail but I could hear it rattling and knew I was in trouble. With the snake all coiled up there was no way to tell just how big it was but I knew enough about them to know it if it bit my face, which was the closet part of my body to the snake, that I would be a goner and that is for certain. I'm sure had that gray fox not startled me so badly before, I probably would have soiled myself when I seen the snake.
It is strange the things that go through your mind when you are looking a deadly snake in the face. I was wondering what it was doing around here this time of year. Normally, once the night temperatures drop all the snakes, except for the black rat snakes, disappear to hibernate until spring. The black garter snakes usually head into the barn or under the house where it is warm and they can feast on mice, rats and the occasional mole until the first snow and sometimes even longer. There is one big black garter snake that makes a showing every few weeks right up until the first frost. Ma calls it Blacky and it is nearly six feet long and so dang fat. Pa once seen it go into the chicken coop and he was going to shoot it but instead of trying to get a chicken it caught a huge rat that had been stealing the chicken eggs. After that day pa didn't mind Blacky being around so much. Heck, even Whiskey lets it alone though she is still very watchful whenever she spots it slithering from place to place.
I'm not sure how long I had laid there motionless staring down the fanged serpent; it seemed like forever but it was probably only a few seconds. The Timber Rattlesnake was making a lot of nose, which was not a good thing for the snake. Even though I was looking right at it, I only saw a blur of feathers and the snake was gone.
I looked up and seen a relatively small eagle flying away with the snake dangling from its claws. The eagle must have been watching the snake all along and took advantage of my distraction. Eagles are another animal we don't see much in these parts and though I had been told there are some, this was the first one I had ever seen that wasn't in a book or on TV.
When I finally was able to catch my breath I pushed myself up onto my knees and seen that the front of my school uniform was covered with grass stains. The palms of both of my hands were scrapped and stained green and my chin was hurting.
I reached up and touched my chin with my finger, "OUCH!" I exclaimed.
When I looked at my finger there was a little blood and I was glad no one else was around to hear what I said. I won't repeat it here incase someone ever reads this.
Anyway, I got up, brushed off as much of the dirt, mud and grass from my clothes and toddled back to the house.
When I rounded the barn I was panting and out of breath, "Pa!?" I gasped.
Mr. Griffith's truck was gone, as was Mr. Goldberg, Nugget, Basset and the limo they'd come in.
"Pa!" I gasped again.
Whiskey was out of the barn again and had started running toward me before pa had even seen me coming.
Pa came around the far side of the house, "What's wrong?" he asked and before I could answer he asked, "You fall?"
I told him what I had seen at the house, about the Timber Rattlesnake and about how the eagle had saved my life.
Pa pulled his handkerchief from his back pocket and held it to my chin.
I ain't sure but I think I heard pa cuss as he stormed into the house. I was following him in, holding his handkerchief against my chin, but he slammed the door before I was even up on the porch. A moment later the door opened again and out came Karen, Kathy, Kristen, and Kane all looking worried and scared.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"I don't know but pa..." Kane started to say but stopped when he saw the condition of my clothes.
"What happened to you?" Kathy asked.
"I tripped," is all I said leaving out the rest of the story.
"I'd say so," Kane commented.
"Where's Kyle-Lee?" I asked.
"Pa sent him down to the creek to see if Kevin is down there fishing or trapping." Karen answered.
As though we had summoned him Kyle-Lee came jogging around the house, "Wheren't pa?"
"Inside," Kristen answered.
The window to ma and pa's bedroom opened and pa's head poked out, "Did you find Kevin?"
"No pa, no sign that anyone had been down there." Kyle-Lee answered.
Pa withdrew his head and slammed the window shut again.
"Whoa, pa's mad!" Kyle-Lee observed.
"You just figuring that out?" Kristen said and the two of them stuck their tongues out at each other.
"You two stop being so hateful," Karen chastised them.
"He just came in the house and told us that we had best get to school now or else." Kane said.
Karen put her hand on my shoulder and sounding sad she said, "Come on I'll walk you to your bus."
I pulled away from her.
I stammered, "I-I can't go like this."
I must have blushed slightly `cause she finally figured it out that besides having grass stains all over the front of my uniform and a scuffed chin, that there was a more urgent reason that wasn't obvious at first glance. Unfortunately, Kyle-Lee picked up on it two.
He was kneeling on the porch tying his shoe while the others had started walking up the drive without him.
"Why don't you just come right out and say that you pooped your diapers!" his words came out sounding lethal and filled with hate.
I don't think Karen actually thought about it when she swung around and backhanded Kyle-Lee across his face. For several seconds Kyle-Lee stood there holding his cheek and looking utterly shocked.
Karen sounded more like mom than ever, "Honestly Kyle-Lee! I don't know what's gotten into lately but I have news for you. No one here has any need for your smart mouth or your attitude!"
Kyle-Lee was crying now and at first I thought he was going to say something back to her but instead he took off running up the drive.
Karen looked down at me and I seen that she
too was weeping. "I'm sorry he said that little, I mean
"It's ok, you can call me little pants if you want. I don't mind so much."
She smiled, leaned down and kissed my forehead. "I recon you probably missed your bus anyway."
I looked down at my shoes they were muddy, covered in grass and the one still had some manure on it despite having run through the dew wet grass between here and the old house.
"That's ok, I didn't much want to go today anyway." It wasn't the truth but since Nugget and his pa had left without me I was figuring that his pa wasn't ever going to let me be around his son again.
Right then the door opened and out came pa
all red and angry. He didn't even acknowledge either of us as he stormed past
us and got into his truck. The truck started and pa threw it into gear but then
stopped, re-opened his door and whistled for Whiskey. After Whiskey jumped in
the cab of the truck pa said, "You two stay here with your mother," it was the
first time I ever heard pa call her that in such a nasty way, "I'm going to go
look for your brother. If that loudmouth
Karen and I watched him drive away before she ushered me into the house to get cleaned up.
"Why don't you go upstairs while I check on ma, ok?" Karen asked.
"Can I check up on her with you?" I asked back.
She smiled, "Sure come on."
We found ma sitting up in her bed crying really hard. She cried and cried and wouldn't stop crying. Karen was holding ma and after a while I started to feel really weird like I didn't want to be there no more. I don't think either one of them noticed when I slipped out of the room.
I climbed the steps and made my way to the bathroom where I started to get ready to take another bath.
As I was slipping off my shoes I mumbled to myself, "I bet I take more baths than any other kid alive!"
Kevin, Meggin, Ma and the new baby were racing around him my head as I stepped into the tub and started to strip off my clothes. The diaper pins took me a while. Karen had pinned the diapers on so tightly that I had trouble getting the pins to open up but eventually I did.
Boy when that smell hit me it was like I'd been rolling around in the pig pin. Talking to myself I said, "How can food that smells so good going in, smell so bad coming out again?"
"I don't know." Nugget answered and I slipped in the tub and crashed down on my sore bottom.
"AAaaaahhh!" I cried out.
Nugget raced over to the tub to help me. "Oh
boy, I am sorry
"Nugget? Get out I'm naked!" I squealed.
"But, but, but..." Nugget hemmed and hawed.
I reached up and grabbed the towel from off the wall, "Stop saying butt and get out!" I ordered.
"No!" he argued.
"NUGGET, GET OUT!" I yelled.
"What?" I said and held the towel over my privates and twisted in the tub until I seen blood slowly flowing toward the drain.
Now what I had meant to say was, "Dang, I must have broke open my stitches in my bottom," however that's not what came out of my mouth; instead I said, "Dang, I must have broke my bottom."
The look on Nuggets face was priceless and as soon as I realized what I had said I started laughing. Not just giggles but full out laughing and Nugget joined in.
"You broke your butt!" Nugget snorted with laughter and tumbled over backward to the bathroom floor.
Thankfully Karen had heard me fall in the tub and came to check on me. When she came into the bathroom she found Nugget curled up on the bathroom floor holding his stomach and laughing frantically while I lay in the tub, nude except for a towel and covered in my own poo. However, she couldn't see that I was bleeding from my rump, at least not right off.
"I thought you left?" she said to Nugget.
Nugget was shaking his head and kicking at the air, "No, I went next door!" he managed to say though through his laughter he could hardly be understood.
The laughter was contagious and Karen couldn't help herself. She chuckled, "Sounded like you fell?"
That only made the two of us laugh so much harder and I think maybe that the laughter wasn't just coming from what I had said but was maybe partly fueled by all the stress and tension of the morning.
I nodded my head and laughed out the words, "I did, I did!"
Karen was laughing almost as hard as us now as she asked, "You did fall?"
"And he broke his butt!" Nugget roared and flopped his arms causing his hand to fly off and land in the tub with me.
Karen squealed, "Oh my!"
I was gone after that. I honestly thought I was going to die laughing there in the tub. "Please stop!" I pleaded though my laughter.
Karen's expression didn't help matters at all she stopped laughing when Nuggets hand came off and seemed to be catatonic with shock.
There was a siren outside and Karen rushed from the bathroom leaving the two of us to try and stop laughing but one or the other would do or say something to get the other going again.
I picked up his hang and said, "I've heard of giving someone a hand but this is ridiculous."
Finally Nugget was able to lift himself from the floor and was kneeling next to my dirty diapers which I had rolled up and left lying on the floor. He took his hand and said, "Ah man, you got my hand dirty."
"Well you shouldn't have had your hand on my bottom!"
That set us both off again until Karen returned and saw that I'd pulled out all but one of my stitches and tore open the wound again.
To be continued . . .