I used to think our little town, tucked away in the mountains of West Virginia and buried in the backwoods, was the most boring spot on the planet. This was the place where nothing exciting happened and nothing was ever going to change. The place felt like it was a movie set from the 1950’s. Each morning, as the sun began to peek over the ridge of the valley, you would hear the old milk truck shudder down the back alley as he made his delivery just like it had been done for over 75 years. People liked tradition, and change was not easily welcomed.
As the sun would reach the crest of the ridge, people would be up and about, which irritated the teens in our town. My Grandma Tucker always said, Be thankful for another day, you never know when it might be your last, so don’t miss a second of it, which was usually followed with, Get your butt out of bed! People were early risers, and by the time I was out of the house the old women would be sitting on their front porches, slowly rocking with a steaming cup of coffee clutched in their hands, watching everything that happened.
Our little town was great for kids because we were allowed to run wild. No one worried about someone snatching a child like they did in the big cities. In our small town, everyone knew each other, and kept an eye out. While we had our freedom, there was a price. If you did anything wrong it beat you home, and there was an ass whupping waiting for you. My granny was an expert with a hickory switch.
I think the worst one I ever got was from telling a joke behind the church. My best friends were twins that no one could tell apart. I had grown up with them and I sometimes got them confused. Everyone referred to them as SamorTim ... yep, all one word for Sam or Tim. You can thank me for naming them that in Sunday school when we were four. When they were that young, it didn’t matter and they would answer to it. When they turned twelve, they decided it was no longer appropriate and wanted their own identities. That wasn’t how things worked here though. We had tradition, and you didn’t just up and change your first name. I tried to warn them, but they had hung strong for nearly six weeks by refusing to answer to their joint name until Missy Edwards decided they were cute and kissed them.
Missy was the preacher’s daughter and thought to be untouchable. She made it clear she didn’t care which one it was, she just wanted to explore boys. So SamorTim was back. I of course was jealous my two best buddies had beaten me to the punch and were actually kissing a girl who wasn’t related to them. I was the leader of our little group and it rocked my world order that they would be doing something before I did. SamorTim were followers, to my lead. They always looked to me for direction. When I found out Missy was kissing them I wanted to be selfish and tell them it was a sin, seeing as we lived in a very religious town, but I encouraged them. Guys needed to stick together when dealing with the fairer sex, or they would lead us around by our noses. Jake Hass was four years older, and our idol as far as dating girls was concerned, and he substituted balls for noses. I tried to clean it up in case word got back home.
I looked at my two friends as they walked with Missy into the woods. There was just something strange about being with someone you care about – not bad strange – the best strange. The three of them clung together like when you spilled your water at the diner and the napkin clung to the silverware. There was so many ways to be knotted together. Arms wrapped around waists, hands in the others back pocket. The trio didn’t even seem to be able to walk without touching each other.
So, after church, we would all sneak out into the woods and Missy would kiss the twins senseless. Missy made it clear she wasn’t going to kiss me, because she knew her virtue was safe with SamorTim. I had never even kissed a girl, but it seemed I had a reputation as a troublemaker. Funny how things work out, but I guess I deserved it when I had a brilliant plan. I thought I was funny, so I decided to tell them some jokes.
“Last night I was having a great dream ... it is the one where you can fly,” I said, and SamorTim both nodded at me in understanding.
“I was looking down on the valley and I drifted down to farmer Johnson’s pond. You know, the one on the back forty that we go swimming in,” I said with a grin.
That was our favorite swimming hole. It was secluded and had a gravel bottom. It was much better to swim in than the river, where you would sink to your ankles in mud. I gave Missy a wink and she blushed, making her even more beautiful with her flushed cheeks. I knew that Missy and the other girls our age would sneak out and watch us guys swim. None of us bothered with swim trunks, because no one would be watching. It was not a big secret that the girls had seen our skinny naked butts.
“Suddenly I felt a great pressure build and I had to pee. I looked down and everyone was watching me fly, and they all seemed to be in awe,” I said as stood a little taller.
One of the twins snorted at my antics and the other rolled his eyes. They knew I was full of ... well you can guess, because my eyes were brown.
“Then I felt a calmness settle upon me, and the pressure magically released. I felt a warmth go all over me as if I were in the presence of God,” I said with an overwhelmed look on my face. “Then I woke up and found I’d pissed the bed.”
Missy was confused, but the twins began to giggle.
“My granny always tells me that if God gives you lemons you need to find a way to make lemonade. I thought and thought how pissing my bed could be turned into a positive. I mean I’m twelve and haven’t had an accident since I was a baby. Then it struck me ... I think what God was telling me was since I dreamed I was peeing, and I actually did ... that my dreams really do come true.”
The twins really did try not to laugh at my bad joke, because Missy still looked confused. I could see her mind working and then she gave me a serious look.
“Jeremy, do you really believe in God?” she asked.
“Of course I do. I think he is a great guy. I think his son is a jerk though,” I said.
It took her a moment to realize what I had just said. Her eyes got big and she ran off, and I was sure it would beat me home. SamorTim both punched me in the arm to show their displeasure of me running off a girl who would actually kiss them.
My granny was not amused when I came home. I think if I had pulled my dick out in front of the preacher’s daughter, it would have been more acceptable behavior. Who knew, but I guess lesson learned. I didn’t even bother to defend my actions, because I knew deep down that I probably shouldn’t be making fun of Jesus. Plus, back talk was a sure way to get your whupping upgraded from granny doing it, to my pa. When he did it, you knew it!
Our town had a rhythm. Monday’s were back to work or school, Tuesday was laundry day, Wednesday evening was church, Thursday was for doing the grocery shopping at the Shop N’ Save, the only grocery store in town, Friday was for football, Saturday you did your chores, and Sunday was church and family day.
This town held us in the palm of its hand, and it knew everything about us, the good, the bad, every sin, every secret, and everything was known about each and every resident. Most people were from here. You could trace family trees back many generations to the Founders. Only a few ever left, and if they did, you never saw them again. My secret desire was to be one of the few. I wanted to be a writer, and to do that I needed to experience life outside our little town.
Our quiet little town was about to change and all because I put an ad on craigslist.
While normal folk were cutting their grass, or making out at the overpass, my imagination was taking flight. Some would say I was a genius, while others would accuse me of being the Devil himself. What they all agreed upon was that I was justified in what I’d done.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had a big sister, if you have you know they were put on this earth to torment their little brothers. The morning she returned from college it was pitch black outside, I’m sure that was the same color as her heart. My room was chilly with the window open, but I didn’t really care. I liked having my window open to let the fresh air in.
I remembered the last time I’d seen my sister, Glenda. She’d been on the porch roof sneaking off with her boyfriend, Kyle Masson. He was some highfalutin city boy she’d met at college. He’d come to visit her over Christmas vacation and complained about everything. He absolutely couldn’t believe we didn’t have a Starbucks, or something similar for his morning coffee. Our claim to fame was we’d gotten an Arby’s the year before, out by the highway. The town fathers had rejected their application to bring the chain into the city limits, because we didn’t need that kind of restaurant when we had the diner on Main Street.
Kyle had worn out his welcome when he’d tried to sneak into my sisters bedroom after we all went to bed. Old houses make noise when you walk around and our pa had caught Kyle. I admit I had a little smile on my face when he was escorted out. My pa and sister had gone at it after he left. My sister was in full attack mode.
“Of course Kyle is a good guy. Why else would he be doing eighty hours of community service,” she huffed.
I was sent to my room when I burst out laughing. Why indeed?
My dumb sister put her foot into it when she snuck off the next evening to go back to school with him. I was a little surprised she would want to come home for the summer, but I’d been informed two days ago to expect her.
I woke to the sound of Kyle’s Mustang rumbling down the street when the good people were supposed to be sleeping. I think my sister thought she would sneak home, but as I looked out the window, I saw lights coming on up and down the block to see what was making such a racket. Kyle must have wised up some, because he dumped her bags at the corner and took off. I could see my sister was pissed.
“Jeremy, I see your scrawny ass spying on me. Get down here and help me with my things,” Glenda said as way of saying hello.
I knew there was no use arguing with her. The quicker I got her inside the quicker people could get back to sleep. I scurried out the window and shimmied down the trellis to the front porch. I hurried over, grabbed two of her bags, and tossed them onto the porch roof.
“What the heck are you doing?” my loving sister asked.
“I’m getting your stuff inside before you wake Pa. You know he has to get his sleep,” I explained.
Pa worked in the mines, which wore him out, and we both knew not to wake him. If we went in the front door he would hear us for sure, and then there would be hell to pay. My sister just nodded her understanding that I was telling her the truth. We had been using the porch roof to sneak in and out of the house all our lives. I grabbed her other bags and soon had them on the roof, too.
I went up onto the porch and was about to step on the railing so I could reach the trellis to climb up to the roof when I looked at me sister and she looked nervous. I wondered why she was acting funny.
“Jeremy, would you help me?” she asked.
“Uh ... sure,” I said.
I stepped up on the porch rail, and she grabbed my hand, so I could pull her up with me. I heard the railing groan, and worried the two of us might be too big for it to hold our weight. I had just started growing now that I was fifteen, and it looked like my sister had put on her freshman fifteen while off at college. She suddenly tilted back and I let go of her hand and grabbed her around the waist to keep her from falling off the rail. She screeched and gave me a shove.
“Pervert!” she yelled.
I found myself falling off the railing head first into the bushes. I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder and I was scraped from head to toe from the branches. My psychotic sister climbed up the trellis, leaving me laying in the side yard. I couldn’t believe the evil girl would do that, and not even check on me. I hated her with a burning passion, because this was typical of her. She would demand I help her, but if I was on fire she would just walk around me. She had been home less than ten minutes, and I was already dreading the rest of the summer.
I got up and walked next door to my Grandma Tucker’s house. She would have heard my sister come home, so I knew she was up. I gently knocked on the front door and it was quickly opened.
“Good Lord, what happened to you?” she asked.
“Glenda,” was my one-word answer.
“Come in and let’s check you out.”
I cringed when she said that. Grandma Tucker was old school, and that meant she would be digging into her medicine cabinet that, I swear, had supplies that were older than she was. When you didn’t have much, you were frugal. She sat me down at the kitchen table.
“Don’t bleed on my good tablecloth.”
I just shook my head because that was so wrong on so many levels.
Sure enough, she came back with a bottle of something that you could see the label had started to turn brown from age. She had a big cotton ball she dumped the foul smelling liquid onto so she could treat my wounds. The label read: Purex Tincture of Iodine. Underneath the name, it had a skull and cross bones in the center and the words POISON in capital letters on each side of it. I knew it ... she was trying to kill me.
“Now hold still,” I was ordered.
It felt like she had put liquid fire into the scrape over my left eye. I squirmed to get loose, but the crazy old bat had me by my ear.
“I said hold still,” she said.
“But it burns!” I howled.
“That’s how you know it’s working. Now let me finish before you get these cuts infected.”
The whole time my grandmother doctored me I was thinking about my sister being home for the summer. It had been pure heaven when she went away to school last August. I didn’t know if I would survive three months of her being back. I needed to figure out some way I either could leave for the summer or get rid of her.
When my grandmother was done torturing me with the iodine, she went and got some butterfly Band-Aids to close a couple of the cuts. We didn’t go to the doctor unless we had to. Then she checked my shoulder and shook her head. She used a towel to make me a sling.
“It looks like you broke your collarbone. I’ll take you to the doctor and have it checked out,” she said as he looked out the kitchen window. The sun was starting to come up. “Go home and get changed and then come back and I will make you and your dad breakfast.”
I knew Pa would be getting up by now, so it was safe to go home.
I found myself in Doc Hollis’s waiting room contemplating what I was going to do about my sister. She would just call me a wimp for going to the doctor, but my shoulder was killing me. Doc Hollis’s office was an old Victorian home that had been converted into his doctor’s office many years before. I hated coming here because there was a curious smell when you walked in. Grandma Tucker went to the front desk and checked me in.
“Jeremy Tucker,” was called as soon as she sat down with me.
“Go on,” she urged.
I got up and followed a cute nurse into one of the three exam rooms on the second floor.
“Get undressed and put this on,” she said as she handed me a blue paper gown.
The door was closed and I looked around the room. Everything was meticulously maintained, but had to be at least fifty years old. I had a flash from some history books I read about how doctors used to bleed their patients. I wondered where Doc Hollis kept his leeches.
Another young nurse came in and I recognized her. It was Shirley Reutter. There was a clan of Reutters in the county. Shirley was one of the few that didn’t have an arrest record. Everyone knew what they were up to, but they never bothered any of the town folk so they were left alone. I’d had a crush on Shirley for many years. She had long curly brown hair and the bluest eyes I’d ever seen.
“Hey, Jeremy, what happened?” she asked as she looked me over.
“Glenda,” was my one-word answer.
“Oh. Did your granny use the iodine on you?”
“I think the cure is worse than getting hurt,” I said.
“Hang on,” she said, and then got into the glass cabinet where they kept the supplies for the room and she found a bottle. “Switch this out with her bottle. Hers has an alcohol base and this is water-based iodine. It doesn’t sting.”
“How will she know it’s working if it doesn’t burn?” I asked.
“It’s magic,” she teased me.
“You know my granny has a hickory switch,” I said as I raised my eyebrows.
“I’m sure she does, so don’t get smart with me.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said, and bowed my head.
Getting smart would get you whupped for sure. She checked me out and then had me stand up so she could weigh me and see how tall I was. Then she started laughing.
“What?” I asked.
“Where’s your underwear?” she asked.
“I was told to get undressed.”
“Next time, leave your underwear on,” she suggested. “Cute butt though.”
I felt my face get hot, which made her chuckle. I had grown. I was now five-nine and weighed 140 pounds. I was just sitting back down when Doc Hollis came in.
“Hey, Jeremy, what happened?” he asked.
“Glenda,” was my one-word answer.
He just nodded and then checked out my wounds.
“It looks like you need some stitches and your collarbone is broken. Shirley will get you a sling for your arm. I’ll send in Doctor Wesley to do the sutures. I think he has some catgut that we can do a zigzag design so you have a big scar when you heal. How does that sound?” he asked.
I rolled my eyes at him. Doc thought that he was funny. He messed up my hair and left. Doctor Wesley came in and he was new. He looked like he was about my age. I looked at Shirley and she just smiled at me.
“So what happened to you?” he asked.
“Glenda,” was my one-word answer.
He gave me a funny look and then just shrugged. Someone might want to warn him about my sister.
Shirley prepared a needle and handed to Doctor Wesley.
“So tell me about craigslist?” he asked Shirley as he began to poke me with the needle around the wounds he was going to sew up.
“You can sell anything on it. My cousin actually sold kittens!” she said.
“No way,” I said, knowing that no one would ever make any money selling kittens.
“I know, right?” Shirley said.
“I just bought the old Wilson place and there is a ton of junk. You’re telling me I can sell anything on this website?” he asked.
“That is what my cousin says. You just post it on craigslist and tell them how much you want. They bring you cash and your problems go away,” Shirley said.
“Seriously, you can sell anything on this site?” I asked.
“My cousin says that if you have good pictures and write something catchy you can even sell kittens,” Shirley said, making me wonder.
Could it be true? I had my doubts, because everyone knew kittens were free. But what if it was? I could get rich selling cats. There had to be ten feral cats on my block alone. All I had to do was catch them. I would have to go to SamorTim’s house, because they had internet. Their dad had put some blocks on their access ever since I found naughty pictures, but I figured craigslist probably wasn’t blocked.
“Did your cousin give you any tips on how to sell things,” he asked as he began to stitch me up.
“He said to be creative in your ad, but not to lie. You want someone to buy what you are selling, not be pissed off when they find out you are selling a bunch of crap,” Shirley shared.
That didn’t sound good. If I had to tell the truth about the cats, then who would want to buy them? I would have to think on that.
Editors: XofDallas and Zom
Last one through: Jim7