Little Boy Lost
I was in the middle of a new project a couple of years ago. I was adapting my “Buddy” book to a screenplay. As I read the different stories to refresh my memory for the adaptation, I was reminded of what a scamp I was in those days. One of many escapades of my youth contained in that book brought to mind the night I had nearly half the little town of Grace, Idaho, out looking for me until about 3:00 o’clock in the morning.
A bunch of us boys had been playing our made up version of kick the can in the village square, a game similar to soccer. The point of the game was to kick the can across the opponent’s goal line. The curfew laid down earlier by Mom was 8:00 p.m. It was already near that time when we finished our current game. We had played two games already and the score was one win for each team. The guys talked me into staying for another game in the hopes we could emerge as the champs for the night with two wins out of three. This put me about an hour late getting home. The guys had promised earlier that if I stayed, they’d come home with me and square things with Mom. But of course when the time came, they all reneged on their promise.
When I approached the house, one of my mother’s younger sisters was there visiting. In those days air conditioned homes were non-existent in the Southeast Idaho highlands; doors and windows were opened to let cool air circulate through the house. The front door was open to the screen door, so I was able to hear the conversation inside. I heard my aunt ask Mom, “Where’s Willy?”
My mother answered, “That’s what I’d like to know. The little scamp was supposed to be home an hour ago. His brain seems to go dead whenever it comes to dealing with time, but you can believe he’s not going to get away with it this time.”
Well, I was not one to like any kind of confrontation with my parents. I would do almost anything to avoid it (except, of course make sure I always arrived home at the designated time). Oh, Oh, I thought. I’m not goin’ in there right now. She sounds really mad. I wandered around outside for another half-hour or so trying to figure out how I was going to get out of this dilemma. Of course the simplest solution would have been to go in and face the music, but my eight year old mind couldn’t conceive that kind of logic.
We lived in an old lumberyard building. Dad had converted the store portion into a comfortable apartment, and there was a back room off the apartment with an outside entrance. Dad didn’t have a full time hired man, but he did hire people for seasonal work, and they sometimes needed a place to stay. There was a bed in this backroom where they would sleep, and Mom fed them their meals, and fixed a lunch for them to take to the farm.
By this time it was pretty late and the air was crisp. I was cold, and the hole I had dug for myself was getting deeper and deeper. I remembered the bed in the back room that had been unoccupied for the last while, so I decided to go there and bed down thinking my parents would soon go to bed and I could later sneak into my own bed with no one being the wiser.
By this time Dad was home from the farm and my parents decided something dastardly must have happened to me and that a search was in order. Dad rounded up some friends, and they rounded up some of their friends, and soon a goodly portion of the village was out looking for me. Around three a.m. someone who knew about that bed in the backroom asked if anyone had thought of looking there.
Dad said they had looked there earlier and I wasn’t there. The man said his instincts told him that’s where I was, and that they should take another look. They did and, lo and behold, guess who they found. What Dad wasn’t aware of earlier, was that as I approached the bed, I had seen them and ducked out before they saw me. When they left I sneaked back in and went to sleep.
Well, I have to confess that in spite of my parents’ relief that I was okay, that little act of mine did not go unpunished. But the punishment was not nearly as severe as what my imagination had conjured up for the earlier indiscretion of being late.
If you’d like to read more about little Buddy and his escapades, jump on over to upper right of my homepage and click on the “free download” button and receive a free copy(while they last) of the prologue and first three adventures of Buddy…His Trials and Treasures, where you can read a sample of Buddy’s many exploits.