Sunday, June 26, 2011

April first

Alright Jesse, here's your story.

My Papaw and I had one holiday we celebrated. It was April first, the annual pull a prank on someone day. He was the king of it and would always seem to get me even before I realized what day it was. That is until I was eight years old, the age you will be next year. That year I waited for April first. Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday, whatever. Those were just distractions for the real holiday.

It took some planning, an accomplice and a hike to the softball complex. I included Stephanie Holland, Ben's older sister, on the plot. Now I wonder why but I think maybe I had her there as a witness so someone else could see Papaw's face once I yelled out the joke's on you exclamation.

I walked to Stephanie's house early that morning since Papaw got up before the sun and it was crucial my little hijinx lead the day. After what I was going to do he wouldn't be able to follow up. Nothing he'd do would do anything but pale in comparison to what I had planned for him. He'd be stumped.

As we walked the mile or so down the road to where most of us kids spent our summer nights, girls playing softball, boys playing baseball, I explained to Stephanie what would be happening. This seemed more of a test than anything. If I could get her excited about it just with the story of it then the actual act would be all that much better. It worked. The more I talked about it, the more she giggled and the faster we walked.

It wasn't long before we were standing in front of the pay phone at the brick concession stand right at the entrance of the park. I had brought a quarter and before I put it in to dial Papaw's number Stephanie and I looked at each other and began to laugh. We needed to get all the giggles out before I got on the phone. The whole plan would be ruined if at any point I even smiled during the conversation with Papaw. He'd know I was up to something. Surely he knew it was April first. I figured he was waiting on me.

Once I felt calm enough I turned away from Stephanie, put the quarter in the phone and punched in the number. It was early enough that I figured he'd be reading the paper, drinking a cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette. (I know, Jesse, he should have known better). I could just picture the steps he would take in my mind, out the kitchen down that dark hall across from the bedroom to where he finally picked up the receiver on that big, black rotary phone.

Hello, he answered.

Papaw, I need help. I cried with as much desperation and fake pain I could muster.

What's wrong, Shea? Where are you? He seemed to be falling for it, but I couldn't be sure. He was tricky.

I'm at the softball field, Papaw. I tried to break up as if I was sobbing. Stephanie and I were practicing. Pretending to cry is easier on the phone than it is in person. Nobody's here, Papaw. Frantic, I had to add frantic as well. I think I broke my leg. Complete desperation. I think I need to go to the hospital, Papaw. Then the clincher. Please help me.

I'm on my way, Shea. Just stay right there.

Okay. Okay, I'll be right here. Hurry, Papaw, it hurts.

I hung up, turned to Stephanie and she wanted to know if he bought it. I didn't really trust that he wasn't onto me and going to do some alternate ending to my little joke so I simply said, I think so. Bottom line is we had no time for any doubt since part two of the plan was for me to be on the ground writhing in pain as Stephanie paced around in great fear of what could have happened to her dear, dear friend.

We had to be quick 'cause I knew Papaw would be jumping in The Silver Streak and running stop signs to come get me. I was right. He was there in no time and Stephanie and I were amazed at how he got outta that car and ran up that hill. The sheer disbelief that we had been able to trick him so thoroughly kept us from laughing.

I don't think I can walk, Papaw. I said in the tiniest of voice and Stephanie shook her head in agreement.

As he was scooping me up and I was doing an ouch here and another ouch there Stephanie and I looked at each other in awe. We had pulled one over on Papaw, which I had thought was impossible. I almost started giggling right then but covered up the need with a moan. Stephanie had to look away with a smile.

Once we were down the hill to the car, which was still running, Papaw got Stephanie to open the rear passenger door where he slid me in ever so gently. I groaned enough to overcome the fact I couldn't fake cry. They closed the door behind me. Stephanie got in the front passenger seat, Papaw jumped in the driver's seat and in the very moment before he pulled the car from the P to the D I yelled out with the biggest grin on my face,


Now, Jesse, you gotta watch this 'cause there are some adults who will pull you out of that car and whoop ya'. No doubt about it, but your great grandfather was not one of those adults. His eyes looked up in that rear view mirror and began to dance, a smile filled his face and he started laughing. We all started laughing, and I said I got you in one of my proudest musta won the Super Bowl moments.

I think I gained some respect that day.

Sweet Jesse, I do wish that you and Slater and Wyatt could have known him and he you, but I am so very grateful that I have at least this story to tell you.

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