Praise the Lord and Save Your Kitties From the Heathen

Our little church held periodic revivals. For the benefit of those not blessed with a Southern Baptist upbringing, a revival is a series of nightly evangelical preaching services culminating with a baptismal service on Sunday for converts. There was a good bit of Hell-fire promised, so a quite a few errant souls joined up. Our small church had no baptistry, so baptism was conducted in a creek, exciting business for kids.
Dressed in old clothes, a stark contrast to usual his usual church garb, a stalwart deacon led the candidates to the preacher waiting in waist-deep water. After a few words and a prayer, the preacher dipped the candidates for baptism backwards in the murky water, then raised them up a moment later, gasping, sputtering, and cleansed of sin. It must have been quite a workout for the preacher and an unnerving experience for the baptized. Seeing the redeemed folk led from the water with their clingy garments served as a pretty good anatomy lesson for us kids, as well. Afterwards, the crowd quickly dispersed, out of concern for the soaked.
I chafed, all through the prayers and scripture, awaiting the creek side baptism, anticipating an outing with a picnic and swimming. Verily, there was no swimming for us, only baptism for the redeemed. Though Mother had warned me not to expect such a party, I’d thought perhaps I could engineer the opportunity to fall in the creek, resulting in a swim, after all. Lo, it didn’t happen with the death grip Mother had on me and Billy. My major impression of the day was disappointment.
My brother Billy and Cousin Evil Larry took the opportunity to put all they’d learned in practice the next morning. Our cat had hidden away a litter of kittens, but apparently not well enough. Billy and Evil Larry rounded up those sinful kitties and went to work on redeeming their mewing, little souls. After dunking them in the repeatedly in the water trough, a couple of them straight to Heaven, assuming the baptism worked. Mother caught the boys and saved the rest. I guess she just wasn’t into religion.

Best of the Worst of Evil Larry

imageSince a lot of you seemed to enjoy hearing about my cousin Evil Larry who tormented my poor brother so, I thought I’d give you a little more. Like I said, we were periodically subjected to cousinly visits, whether or not we wanted them. Hence, Evil Larry was often around to inflict mayhem. Once he stood on a fence post in our front yard shouting racial epithets at black people passing by. Naturally, we flew in the house to report it. Mother would have murdered us for this type of behavior. She came flying out in a fury, snatched him off the fence, and dragged him back in the house. I was in high hopes, she’d kill him, at the very least, but all she did was threaten him with death by fly swat if he dared show his face in the front yard again. She must have scared him, since he spent the rest of the day out of public sight. That was quite an intimidation act for her, but still disappointing for us.

Another time, when Bill was in high school, he had the bad judgment to let Evil Larry drive his 1949 Ford Truck. Evil Larry took a curve too fast and tore out about a hundred feet of the neighbor’s barbed wire fence. Typically, he said, “Oh ^%#*@ let’s get out of here before the old #@^% catches us!”

Knowing there was no hope, Bill said, “I don’t think that’s gonna work. There’s his son right there, watching us.” It would have been useless to hope for escape anyway. In our community, everybody knew everything that was going on. Besides, it didn’t take a genius to put the scrape marks on the truck and the track marks together. Bill went home and ‘fessed up to Daddy before heading back up the road to face the neighbor and do fence repairs. Of course, Evil Larry had done his part when he tore the fence up.

Evil Larry lived up to his early promise. He never really worked, engaged in petty crime, though he lacked the organization and skills to get into anything really impressive. He was involved with numerous women, fathering several unfortunate children along the way, none of whom he supported. He greatest gift seemed to be a high sperm count. He has made some claims about getting into big time drug-dealing and organized crime and being in the witness protection program, but unfortunately still shows up from time to time, so that achievement seems unlikely. Not too long ago, Evil Larry’s son called up his grandmother asking for money to go to Evil Larry’s funeral, but when she checked, it turned out the whole story was a sham. I guess the bad apple doesn’t fall too far from Evil Larry’s tree.

I spoke to Evil Larry’s mother recently.  She doesn’t really keep up with him but did recently hear that Karma bit him on the butt.  Somehow, through the years, Evil Larry worked enough to qualify for Social Security and filed for disability, the only steady income he ever enjoyed.  When he turned sixty-two, Social Security kicked in.  The State of Louisiana caught up with him then and docks him $100 a month to repay the state benefits his kids got when he was a deadbeat dad.

Some people can’t catch a break.

Christmas Nightmare with Evil Larry

christmas-santa-boy-define-goodMy brother just called to remind me of his troubles with our cousin Larry, the bane of his existence. Larry was probably the only reason I had to be glad I wasn’t a boy when I was a kid. Thanks for that, Larry. Larry was fifteen months younger than me, falling right between me and Bill in age. Back then, our families had lots of overnight visits. Poor Bill was stuck sleeping with our cousins Larry and Tory, both power bedwetters. Though it was remarkable that Bill hadn’t wet the bed since he was a baby, when Larry and Tory visited, they both arose in the morning accusing him of drenching them. He still recounts the horrible sensation of sleeping between them, feeling that initial warm, then slightly stinging feeling that quickly cooled to the shock of awakening in a puddle. It must have been awful for kids who wet the bed to have to sleep over in the days before protective pants. Thank goodness for the advances that saves kids’ precious dignity and pride today.

However, Bill’s major complaints weren’t about the innocent concern of Larry’s bedwetting. He was a malicious kid, who reminded me of nothing more than a rat. First of all, no one wanted him around. Secondly, his personality revolved around his urinary habits. Not only did he wet the bed, he ran around with his pants unzipped so he could sneak up and pee on other kids. The fastest kid around, he normally escaped before we could catch and mutilate him. He didn’t seem to need friends, his social needs seemingly satisfied by his constant meanness. We used to joke that he would wind up on the Pea-Farm, the local penitententiary, which he certainly did.

One Christmas, Bill managed to slip into Mother’s walk-in closet and discover his major Christmas gift, a magnificient electronically controlled car. It was huge, probably more than two feet long. He’d turned on the light and was quietly playing with it in the closet when Mother sought him out and caught him in the act. She played out her big guilt act, “I hope you enjoyed yourself, because you’ve just ruined my Christmas. I am taking that car back tomorrow!”

Of course, Bill was just sick with guilt and loss, like he was supposed to be. On Christmas day, he was overjoyed to find the wonderful toy sitting under the tree, after all. Since Christmas fell on a Sunday that year, the kids couldn’t miss church that day of all days. He didn’t get to play with it then, just admired it and put it away till after church. Mother stayed home to get Christmas dinner going. Daddy stayed to make sure she did it right. The invading hoard of relatives descended before we got back. Though we had carefully locked all our loot away, the evil Larry had gotten a hair pin and picked the lock on Bill’s door. He found his precious car apparently just as he’d left it, except, when he tried to run it, nothing happened. When he turned it over, all the wires had been snatched loose from their connections. The only time he’d gotten to play with it were those few guilt ridden minutes in the closet.

More about the evil Larry later. There’s far too much to end it here.

Evil Larry Update

Since a lot of you seemed to enjoy hearing about my cousin Evil Larry who tormented my poor brother so, I thought I’d give you a little more.  Like I said, we were periodically subjected to cousinly visits, whether or not we wanted them.  Hence, Evil Larry was often around to inflict mayhem.  Once he stood on a fence post in our front yard shouting racial Continue reading

All He Wanted for Christmas Was an Ax!

It’s hard to imagine why, but all Billy asked for that Christmas was an ax. Maybe he was remembering the year before with Evil Larry. That’s not a typical item for an eleven-year-old to ask for, but he stuck to his guns.  The ax was his only request.  Christmas morning he got up to find the tree mounded up with presents, but no ax shaped gifts, though it’s Continue reading