October, the wind is cooler, sometimes cold; the trees are shaking off their leaves; the days are shorter. Halloween is coming.
I am working on a story which might be finished by Halloween. Here’s the first part:
The pumpkin patch was almost bare. That was a good thing, actually. The three of us had waited weeks for all the people to pick their pumpkins–cars driving up, families pulling wagons, picking big pumpkins, orange, green and even white pumpkins. White pumpkins showed up this year in the patch. I couldn’t see wanting a white pumpkin but people were buying them up like hot cakes. Daycare buses rolled in and little kids who could hardly walk, stumbled around in the rows of pumpkins–day trips. Pickings were slim now and come evening, we could sneak out of our house, climb the fence and see what pumpkins were left for us–the poor kids next door to the pumpkin farm.
It was hard to hold Sammie back, she was so excited about getting a pumpkin to carve.
“Shh, Sammie, keep quiet or we won’t get a pumpkin,” Linwood told her. He was the oldest, fourteen years old and being the oldest he always carved the pumpkins. This year, I could help, I was ten and Linwood said I could use a knife, if I was real careful. I grabbed a hold of Sammie’s hand and pulled her back from the fence.
“You hush up Sammie, now or I’ll bop you one good,” I whispered.
Linwood looked at me real hard like and so I told Sammie I was sorry. She is only five and she can’t help it, I reckon–being excited. Linwood lifted her over the fence and then we jumped it. It was barbed wire, so you had to be careful. Jerry, a friend of mine in school had put his eye out on a barbed wire fence. His bad eye was sort of a smokey color and kind of dead looking. He didn’t seem to mind. He could see okay, he said. But even so, it’s best to be careful when it comes to barbed wire fences.
It was getting dark and Linwood and I switched on our pen lights. Linwood pulled out another pin light from his jeans pocket, turned it on and handed it to Sammie.
“Shine this on the ground, Sammie. Don’t shine it on me or Dale, ya hear? We don’t want old man Davis catching us out here, even though there’s only–mostly rotten pumpkins left–he’s a stingy old fart. He wouldn’t give his own mama a glass of water if she was dying of thirst.”
Sammie nodded and whispered, “okay”.
She’d do exactly as Linwood said. She always did. It was me she wouldn’t listen a lick to, no matter what. She can be hard headed if she wants to.
We wandered around on the edges of the field and found four pumpkins that were not all busted up or rotten. Linwood put them in a old pillow case and we headed back to the fence when we saw the tractor lights flicker on. Linwood handed me the pillow case.
“Run quick, Dale. Put this sack under that bush over there and high tail it back to the fence. You wait for me there, don’t let Sammie climb over it or under it. Just wait. I’ll be along in a minute.”
So I did. I grabbed a hold of Sammie’s hand and for once she minded me and we ran to the line of bushes that bordered the field. I stuck the sack of pumpkins under one of them and spread some leaves over them. Then we went to the place in the fence where we’d come over and waited. We sat down and both of us were real still. Sammie was still holding her light so I took it from her and turned it off. I put it in my pocket. She was about to whine about that but I just gave her one of those looks like Linwood uses and she shut her mouth and got still
I could see the tractor coming, straight up the field and its lights shining on Linwood. He just stood there facing the tractor until it stopped right in front of him.
“Who’s out there?” old man Davis called out.
Linwood put his hand up to his eyes so he could see and he yelled back.
“It’s just me, Linwood Sprouse from next door, Mr. Davis.”
“What ya doin out here in the dark, in my field?”
“I’m looking for our cat, she’s done gone off and she’s got herself a litter of kittens that needs feedin, so I’m out looking for her,” Linwood said.
“Humph, you sure you ain’t out here stealing pumpkins?” Mr. Davis yelled over the sound of the tractor engine..
“No sir. I ain’t got no use for pumpkins. And by the looks of it, you ain’t got no pumpkins worth stealing out here in this field,” Linwood said.
“Don’t get sassy with me boy. Just get on home. Ain’t no cat around here. And you stay out of my field, ya hear.”
“Alright, I’m going. But if you see my cat, can you…”
“Get, I said,” Mr. Davis yelled. He revved up the engine and moved the tractor a little closer like he was fixin to run over Linwood.
Linwood turned and walked away–slow. He didn’t look scared or nothing. Old man Davis watched him for a while and then turned the tractor around and headed back to his house. When Linwood reached us he grinned real big.
“Where those pumpkins?” he asked.
“Over yonder,” I pointed.
“Well leave ‘em for now. We’ll get ‘em later. Let’s get outta here.”
It was too dark to be jumping over the fence, so Linwood held up the barb wire making a space for us to crawl through. And then I held it for him and he crawled through. We headed for home. We didn’t need no light to find our way, across the field to our house. We could get home with our eyes closed.
When we got to the porch, Sammie stopped dead and wouldn’t go up the steps.
“What’s wrong with you?” I asked her. She just put her hands on her hips and stamped her foot.
Linwood stooped down in front of her. What’s wrong Sammie?” he asked real nice.
“I thought we was gonna carve jack-o-lanterns,” she said.
“We will, but not tonight. We’ll go back tomorrow and get the pumpkins from under the bush–then we’ll carve them up. Okay?” he smiled at her.
“Okay, I guess.” she said and walked up the steps. “Can I have the flashlight, Linwood?”
“Sure, Sammie.” Linwood got the light out of his pocket and switched it on. “Here ya go. Whatcha need the flashlight for? We’re going in the house, now.”
“I’m gonna look for the kittens,” she said and started shining the light under the porch chairs and Mama’s potted plants.
“What kittens?” Linwood asked.
“The ones the mama cat needs to feed.”
Linwood laughed and then when he saw the look on Sammie’s face–she thought he was making fun of her, he stopped short.
“Sorry Sammie, that’s just a little white lie, I told old man Davis so he wouldn’t think we was out there stealin–I mean gettin some of his pumpkins. There ain’t any kittens or mama cat.”
“Oh,” Sammie said. I could tell she was disappointed but she didn’t cry. She only cries when she is mad. She’s that way. You don’t want her to get mad enough to cry, I tell you. It’s something fierce and you better just clear out of her way.
She handed Linwood the flashlight and we went on in the house and had our dinner. Mama had made us stew in the crock pot. It’d be a couple hours before she’d be home from work at the factory. Mama is in charge of all the shipping that goes on there, so sometimes she has to stay late–paperwork and stuff. Linwood gave me a hard time about doing my homework but I did it so we could watch T.V.. It won’t nothin but a dumb old sheet of arithmetic–multiplying. Linwood tore out a page from Sammie’s exercise book and had her sit down with her crayons and do homework, too. It wasn’t real homework–preschool don’t have homework. But she likes to pretend. I don’t get it. Homework will be coming soon enough–ain’t no need in pushing it.
When Mama got home, she asked us about school and checked our homework. Sammie almost let the cat out of the bag about being in old man Davis’s pumpkin patch. But then she yammered on about wanting some kittens. She wanted to know what a white-lie is and Mama looked at us boys real suspicious like. We don’t usually keep stuff from Mama but we really wanted those pumpkins and besides she’d find out soon enough when she came home and see the porch all lit up with jack-o-lanterns. Course we’d have fess up and Linwood would do what he called “out logic” her. He was real good at “debating”, he said. You just have to do it nice.
…to be continued
© Glenda Kotchish