Sunday, June 10, 2018

My Cousin Billy's Joke




If I close my eyes, I can almost   .    .    .

hear the sounds of Grandmama's switch red-striping Billy's legs. Ten-year-old me chortled, but restrained myself from peering around the corner of the back porch. Grandmama believed that punishment should be private. But I wanted to see him suffer. Lord knows I was suffering. I ran my tongue tentatively around my mouth, wincing as blister met blister. 

Jimmy, sitting listlessly on the porch steps, wiped his nose on his sleeve and sniffled; his mouth was blistered too. Sprawled on the black wicker swing, her head pillowed on her arm, Betty tried to cry herself to sleep.  Bobby noisily ate the cold biscuits and slurped the buttermilk that Grandmama said would ease the burning.

My cousins were totally absorbed with the pain in their own bodies--I was much more interested in Billy's pain, in Billy's punishment. Did the switching hurt? Bad? Would he have to do our chores? All of them? For how long? Smiling at the steady sounds of switch justice, I could hear Billy's bare feet dancing as he jumped up and down on the back porch in rhythmic thuds, trying to avoid the switch, yet not daring to move out of Grandmama's reach.

Maybe next time he'd think twice before he set me up--talking about how good those elephant ears tasted! Who would've thought that those pretty green leaves could raise such blisters! Maybe next visit I wouldn't be dumb enough to fall for another one of his practical jokes.
 
If I close my eyes, I can almost   .    .    .

hear the sounds of Mama's switch red-striping my legs and the rhythmic thudding of my feet dancing up and down on the kitchen floor. Why was that dumb little kid across the street stupid enough to believe me when I told him about those good-tasting elephant ears?

No comments:

Post a Comment