Monday, February 18, 2008

Rusty Pails #16
The Slaves

by Rocky Macy

I bought the boys at a “slave auction” sponsored by the Sprung Hinge Sewing Circle and Bucket Brigade. Their names could have been “Spuds” and “Max,” leastways that’s what was printed on their t-shirts, so that’s what I called them. They were mine for a day!

Saturday morning was pretty near shot when the boys finally showed up for work, but I could tell by their sleep-worn faces that it was somewhere near the middle of the night by their standards. The two strappin’ youngsters had just about talked themselves out of knocking when I came pushing my wheelbarrow through the break in the lilac bushes that border the front porch.

“Choose your weapons, boys,” I greeted, pointing to the rake, hoe, and shovel that were leaning on the porch railing. “Time’s a wasting!”

Spuds backed off so fast that he tripped over Max and they both went sprawling to the ground in a heap. I’ve seen some brush piles that were easier to pull apart that those two tangled teens. When I finally got them upright, I handed the rake to Spuds and gave Max the hoe. I figured that the shovel, which requires the use of both hands and feet, was probably too advanced for this twosome. After demonstrating the fine arts of raking rocks and chopping weeds, I headed to the house for my lunch.

Now it doesn’t take too long to wash down a baloney and onion sandwich with a bottle of cold root beer. But brief as my snack was, it was interrupted by each boy wanting a drink of water, and Max made a second trip in to use the facility. Somehow I knew not to expect to find the yard work done when I re-emerged into the late morning sun.

“Break time,” Max explained when I asked why they were parked on their rears under my old walnut tree. “Can’t be too careful in this heat.” As if on cue, Spuds took off his jacket. “Besides,” Max continued, “We’ve already hit a pretty good lick – considering the tools we have to work with.”

The little pile of rocks and weeds next to the driveway wouldn’t qualify as a “good lick” for a government bureaucrat, but it was the remark about the tools that grabbed my interest. “What’s wrong with your rake and hoe?” I asked.

“Why, Mr. Pails,” Max exclaimed, “They’re left-handed!”

All at once my old brain began to kick itself into gear. “Just how did you boys wind up in that slave auction? How come I’ve not see you around Sprung Hinge before?”

“We’ve here visiting our aunt and uncle,” Max said. "Aunt Ermine was afraid if we sat around the house we’d slow down Uncle Shadetree."

‘Nuff said. It was going to be a long afternoon!

Thanks a bunch, Ermine!

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