It’s been more than fifty years and my brother Bill still has nose out of joint over a little goose bite that he suffered way back in first grade. Hard to imagine holding a grudge against poultry that long. Billy was Daddy’s shadow, making every step he made. Though I was normally with them, somehow I missed this day. Had I not discovered a note very much like this he wrote to his friend, Donnie, I’d never have learned of his misfortune.
On this particular day, Daddy and Uncle Dunc swapped lies over coffee on the high front porch of Uncle Dunc’s place while Billy played with the twins, Fats and Little Boy on the hard-packed clay underneath. Despite the descriptive names, I couldn’t tell the boys apart. The decrepit, unpainted house might have been sound at some point in the distant past, but it wouldn’t have withstood much of a windstorm now. The corners perched crazily on stacked piles of iron-ore rocks, oxidizing to dust in the weather. Chickens, ducks, and geese roamed freely over the yard and under the porch. We were warned to watch for snakes in the shadows under the porch, but a far greater danger was the ever-present foulness left behind by the numerous fowl pursuing insects into the shade.
Daddy called out to Billy, “Son, go get me a pack of Camels off the dash of my truck.”
Unhappily for Billy, as he trotted toward the truck on his mission, he made an attractive target for an aggressive gander patrolling the yard. Honking, the monster pursued Billy, chomping down on the backside of his jeans. As poor Billy fled, the goose hung on tightly and flogged him roundly. Of course, Daddy rescued him, but it must have seemed like it took forever, as the kids and adults all around him laughed at his misery. He came home sporting a big bruise and a lifelong dislike of geese.