The nearest town was 3 miles away. The nearest movie theater was 50 miles away. But the nearest outhouse was at our neighbors, just incase our one working toilet busted.
Southern Arkansas was a good place to grow up. I lived close to a small town called Hamburg. This just so happens to be the same town that Scottie Pippen grew up in. Yes, I have the yearbook to prove it. Our school was so small that K-12 attended the same building.
We didn’t really live on a farm although it masqueraded as one at times. At one point we had pigs, at one point we had chickens and we grew different stuff. And yes, I have ridden a pig before. When you are 6, how can you not? I lasted all of 2 seconds on it’s back before it decided that I was best suited laying in the pig filth of the pen. We later shot that pig.
But given where we lived when I was 6, there were not many friends around. There was my brother however, which was greatness. I ask you, which 6 year old would not want to grow up like this.
We had a trees behind our house so we built more forts than anyone I ever knew. We had a pond across the highway that we could fish in anytime we wanted to. I had an older brother to toughen me up. Seriously, it was some good living. This is where I learned and apprenticed as a toadie. I was a hanger on, constantly wanting my big brother’s approval and attention. As such, I was a butler, maid, punching bag, mud taster and all around handy man.
Anyone who has lived the life of a toadie knows that it can be good times. Sure, you get smacked around a little but you also get all protection you could ever want in the school yard.
A bully once punched me in the second grade. I saw my older brother pummel him. It was great. He was a big fat bastard and had it coming. He took the tire I was playing with and pushed me down. My brother, who is only a little over a year older than me, got my revenge. I had called down the thunder and I got my tire back.
My older brother was my Arkansas Mafia, he was my Luca Brazi.
Of course he turned on me sometimes. When I hear other people talk about some of the “fights” that they got in with their older brothers, I laugh. It’s mostly just wrestling and then pinning someone down. My older brother and I fought like Holyfield and Tyson. I was not the biter by the way. There were actual punches, knees and one time a hand mirror.
One of the major jobs of a toadie is to do exactly as the Big Bro says. If he says to get out of your top bunk and change the channel on our black and white, then that’s what you do. I always found it funny that he wouldn’t get up to change the channel but he would get up and punch me. That’s just lazy.
Most kids played cowboys and Indians. However, I don’t know how many played like we did because we played with real guns. You should not give an older brother a gun. I believe that as much now as I did then. It was his idea that we should not use sticks but instead the pellet guns that we got for Christmas. He never thought about how bad it would hurt if he got shot, mostly because I have very terrible aim.
But as a toadie, what are you going to do? Cowboys and Indians with real guns it is then.
There wasn’t any real running or strategy. My older brother basically told me to go stand by a tree.
Then he shot me in the knee.
I don’t remember any stories about cowboys kneecapping Indians gangland style. It hurt like hell and bleed. The pellet wasn’t in my skin so atleast I would only die from the infection rather than a bullet. Honestly, who aims for a knee?
That is when I made the decision that today I was not going to be a toadie. Today I was going to be the stalker. Today I was going to get my revenge. Today, I am Billy the Kid and you can be the god damned Indian.
I quickly ducked behind the tree as this seemed a better idea than letting him shoot me again. We were using air rifles that you had to hand pump. I lost count at about 15 pumps or so. I just remember that I had to stand on the lever to get the last five to go down.
I had visions of myself plunking him right in that big melon and sending him down like a water buffalo. I would then stand over him and spit, like Clint Eastwood, and remind him that buzzards gotta eat the same as worms. It was bastard payback time.
I leaned out of the tree and waited like a marine core sniper. I saw his head, held my breath, closed my eyes, and took a shot at my brother’s head.
This is where I mention again that I am a terrible aim. A terrible, terrible aim.
I heard a crash which I thought was odd because when he shot me it didn’t make any sound. I opened my eyes and saw my brother turned around, looking at the house. Dear Jesus no.
Breaking a window is bad. Breaking a window will get you licks, no doubt about it.
I shattered a two panel sliding glass door. I was dead. My life was over. There would be no Clint Eastwood moment.
My father was of the mind set of spare the rod and spoil the child. I’ve gotten whipped so many times, that I actually have full on strategy’s to deal with it. I was one of the few that had to walk out to the “switch” tree and pick the stick that was going to be used on me. Don’t go thin and wispy, those hurt like hell. Try to pick something of medium strength, with little bend. Trust me on this.
We walked over and saw that the bottom half of the door was gone. The top half was nothing but spider webs that spelled out my impending doom. I could not run. My dad would find me. I knew it and my brother knew it. He put his arm around me and decided that the best course of action is to make up a story. A good big bro never abandons his toadie. I however, had decided that I had a good life and that I’m sure that the orphanage would be nice.
I spent the next 3 hours crying on the couch, waiting for my dad to get home. I was a wreck. It was pathetic. We didn’t have much money back then and I was sure that that door was worth more than what I made mowing a yard for 3 straight days.
My dad comes home with my brother in front. He didn’t look mad, which is always more scary because you don’t know what was coming. I thought that as soon as he saw the door he would forgo the belt all together and instead reach for a good piece of iron, maybe a nice stout log.
But he didn’t. He came over and gave me a hug instead and asked if I was alright. What the hell is this? I was not prepared for this. I had already written my will and given my he-man action figures to my sister. What kind of story did my brother tell? What lie did he concoct to get me out of this.
I didn’t care. I was off the hook and I have no idea how or why. My brother grew up to be quite the smooth talker and I got to see it in action before anyone else. He didn’t let me stew, he stuck up for me even though I was trying to give him a new airhole in the forehead.
I have been a toadie ever since.