I was pulling some stubborn crab grass from around my own crumbling steps when I was called away by the insistent ringing of the phone (it was my daughter from the next county wondering if I would join them for their annual 4th of July barbecue – I answered with my usual agreeable “No”).
By the time I had returned to my task, a boy I judged to be about 10 stood, slowly, but with great delight, peeling strips of bark from a birch clump on the boulevard in front of my house.
“Hey!” I yelled, startling both the young chap and myself. My voice has always been gruff. Even as a youth it stood out like thistles next to new grass. Age had given it as low a note as time had supplied an edge.
“You can’t do that! It’s agin’ the law!” I scolded, and was, for a minute, reminded of my old bloodhound who’d been dead 5 years last month.
The boy looked at me with fear in his eyes, but his posture remained unchanged and his brows scrunched together in a wide “V”.
Soon he replied, “Why?”
“Cuz it’s, it’s . . . agin’ the law, that’s why!” I spat back, irritated with his, by now, expression of disbelief.
He took hold of the bark again.
“No intelligent person would make a law about a tree,” he said quietly. It appeared he had decided I was belligerent and crazy, both.
I proved him wrong at once by running over and bodily shoving him into the street. He fell, and I could see one hand was skinned; tiny pricks of blood began at once to trickle to his wrist. I turned back to my house, and by the time I’d reached my steps he was gone.
“Stupid crab grass,” I muttered.
Not many days later I was sitting on my porch, reading the paper. I had read the obituaries – first, as always – and was now engrossed in the comics. It was evening, but the sun tenaciously held its place these waxing days of summer. I swatted in the air at a fly, which promptly landed on my nose. I have a respectable nose. No small speed bump this, but rather long and straight and glad-to-be-noticed. Impatiently, I let the paper fall to my lap and swatted with one grand smack. Unfortunately, I caught sight of a woman standing at the bottom of my steps just as the fly, now as flat as flypaper and sticking to its chosen landing spot, met its demise. I’ve always been a good aim. This was one of the rare times I regretted it.
to be continued . . .