A contemporary short story By brian francis
“Stay down stupid,” said Charlie as he pushed down on my shoulder.
I laid my head to the side, my ear on the ground. I was looking at Charlie’s nose and I still remember counting the freckles. Just over the rise in the meadow below, were two city folk wrestling and smooshin’ their faces together while they giggled and moaned.
“He’s done took his drawers off now” Charlie exclaimed excitedly at one point. “Look at his skinny white legs Billy. Ya ever seen anything septin’ a chicken with legs like that.
And boy did he have white legs – bright red hair and pearly white legs. Three weekends in a row these two had appeared at the same secret spot in the Marsh Woods Hallow. There was only two ways into the hidden meadow and Charlie and I knew them both, most other folks could barely find the obvious one. But that didn’t matter much as no one ever came out looking for it anyway.
These two went to the same spot under the same tree and spent hours together every Sunday, during church morning. Charlie and I didn’t have to go to Church anymore since Grandpa told the minister that God should look elsewhere for assistance. He told the preacher that he should tell God that he would take care of the Hess Family and that the church and God could worry about everyone else. After that Grandpa held daily bible readings and prayer circles. And everybody had to be there.
On this particular morning Charlie and I had spent the early morning hours spreading leaves down under the tree where our friends always settled. We had collected the leaves one by one using long pliers we’d found in the tool shed. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac all gathered and laid out very carefully. As country boys we knew something about plants; good and bad. In fact, one of the first lessons I remember is how to recognize and avoid Poison Ivy. Of course it is much harder to identify if the leaves are all separated and strewn about.
Once the clothes came off it got real fun for us. We were laughing and watchin’ as they rolled around in the leaves. They even got up and ran around a bit with our leaves stuck all over them. But after about twenty minutes of fun and frolicking it seemed that their attentions turned to scratching and rubbing. It was the funniest thing I had seen in my twelve years as a living, breathing boy.
The next day we rode our bikes into town and hung around the gas station and diner watching as the fuel attendant and one of the waitresses tried to make it through the day. We just hung out always out of direct sight and laughed all morning at the spectacle. When we heard about the waitress being taking to the hospital we rode home as fast as we could; fear riding on our backs the whole way.
After lunch grandpa called both of us out onto the side porch by the carriage house. He stood us both by the stairs and staring us up and down he told us he could sense the devil’s presence. Oh, I’ll never forget the feeling of those creepy crawlies when he said the word D-E-V-I-L all drawn out and slow.
Well, either repentance is good for the soul or maybe it was the whippin’ we got, but either way we learned an important lesson that day. We learned about doing the devil’s work being fun. We also learned about how wrestling is even worse and how God can turn the devil’s evil deeds to good.
I was always thankful that God took my evil deed and used it to help teach others to abide his word. In the six months since, I have tried my derndest to avoid the temptations to do bad things, and I have been pretty successful too. I finally figured out that Charlie seems to invite temptation in some way. I guess he must keep God busy making the Devil’ s deeds into good ones.
Copyright ©2020 brian francis