#51 MY LAST MURDER:
A giant vulture paused to rest-- high in the town's biggest cottonwood tree---a terribly tempting target. I did not ask myself why I wanted to shoot it. People in my town rarely asked that question. A living, moving thing makes a far more interesting target than a can or bottle. Mary Franklin lent me her 22 rifle and I walked back to the tree. It was still there---resting---an easy shot. I took aim and fired. It came crashing through the limbs to the ground with a feathery flop.
I watched its dying--in agonizing pain---lolling its head from side to side---blood spurting from its neck where the bullet struck. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with shame----feeling dirty---I asked God to let me take it back. FOR A SPASM OF SATISFACTION I HAD COMMITTED MURDER. Thus--- I know---better than most---how the "ancient mariner" felt when he shot the albatross with his crossbow.
Stunned by remorse---I watched it die----returned the rifle---got a shovel---dragged it by a wing to a hidden spot and buried it. I could pinpoint the spot to this day. And While I was there, I found it---- remembered---- asked again for forgiveness.
#52 BLACKIE---A TERRIBLE MISUNDERSTANDING
Blackie was my dog----I built her a cozy doghouse---she was so much fun to play with. Then one day she came into heat---attracting a lot of attention from the neighbor dogs. I tied her up inside a fence for the night. (to prevent her digging her way out)
Next morning I found her dead---in straining posture---at the end of her rope. She had choked herself to death. You see---I had tied her with a slip knot instead of a more proper one----a terrible price she paid for my ignorance.
#53 DEATH OF A GATOR
Uncle George gave me a 4 ft gator "for a pet". I was 12-----seemed cool at first---people dropping by to see my gator----kept it in a pen about 6x6. It wouldn't eat. I swung meat chunks into its mouth via a string----it ignored them. . One day, I looked in horror as Big Jack---my (Catahoula cur dog) jumped into the pen to get the meat. THE GATOR DID NOTHING---When I got there Big Jack had one foot on the gator's head---gobbling down all the meat pieces I had offered it. I could only watch the drama---afraid I would stir the gator to action by intervening. Big Jack finished and jumped out---unharmed. Summer turned to winter and still it did not eat. When I approached, it would open it's mouth and hiss threateningly. One day I found it dead----dragged it to my personal "cemetery" and buried it. Gators make terrible pets.
(oddly---the BIBLE says so! (Job 41:1-5----"Can you make a pet of him?" Leviathan=Crocodile )
#54 BRINGING BAD NEWS
One of my strangest responsibilities in Sondheimer was notifying folks when their relatives had died. This fell to me because we had about the only telephone in town. We would receive the notice and Mother would tell me to take word to the family. I would knock on the door and say: I'm sorry to tell you we were notified that so and so
has died. I remember taking some pride in the gentle way I could break the news.
#55 Mother takes us 'cross the nation
One day she decided to takes us kids---and a neighbor lady and her kid---across the entire nation. We had a Pontiac----7 of us loaded up and drove clear to San Francisco, stopping at all the scenic spots---Carlsbad Caverns---Painted Desert etc---staying in Motor hotels. I was 8 years old. We had a flat on the Oakland bay bridge---I remember sleepily getting out and looking over the edge. It took weeks---was wonderful. Could my vagabonding ways have started there? Don't know!
#56 SINGER IN THE WILLOWS
Uncle Gip was considered the brains of my fathers family----graduated from college at age 19----taught school for one semester---AND NEVER WORKED AGAIN. Somehow he acquired title to a thousand acres of good farmland and thereafter rented it out to sharecroppers. His wife taught school and they slowly accumulated a minor fortune---till at their death---they gave all us kids $10,000 each and arranged a scholarship fund with the rest. They had no kids---so they enjoyed us.
Uncle Gip amused himself fishing sometimes. One day when I was about 13 he took me in his fishing boat across the Mississippi river. It was springtime and the river was very high---spreading perhaps 2 miles bank to bank. On the far side was a vast area of young willows inundated by the water. We reached the edge, stopped the motor. He said he wanted me to meet someone. Together we pulled ourselves deeper and deeper into the willows. Then I began to hear singing----operatic style as I remember. I was intrigued. Finally a fuzzy brown shape lay ahead of us. Uncle Gip yelled out and we were invited closer.
There it was: A tiny homemade houseboat perhaps 20 feet long with a cheerful, bald headed, little man of 60 or so---sitting on a chair at the rear porch---fishing line in hand. He was alone. He was happy. He was hidden from the world.
Ahh yes---sweet people---I was charmed---dazzled---imprinted perhaps, because I have become that man---thousands of times over--- in my 38 years of travel--I have hidden myself and sang my song. (this blog)
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: OK----I'm done with Sondheimer Stories---with one exception to come later. There are many left untold---but this is enough. You get the drift. What remains is to share with you what I think it all means. I'm working on that.
UPDATE: We are still at Grand Canyon---happily ensconced in the forest just outside the entrance. TV crews are on their way---should be exciting--will explain later.