Through the Fence 1-2-12
January 4, 2012
Lots of country kids start driving trucks and tractors as soon as their feet reach the pedals. My daughter’s boyfriend, Clark was driving a small four-wheeler by the time he was 8-years-old. His family owned an auto parts store in town, and they were glad he was able to help out at home. But in every spare minute, he rode around on their property, usually ending up at a little pond where he loved to go fishing.
There was a run-down cabin by the pond that had once been a lean-to on an old trailer house. His parents had added a fourth wall to it and installed a window unit to provide cooling and heating. That was a good thing because Clark practically lived down there. There was no toilet, but it had a ceiling fan and an old broken down couch – a perfect “man cave.” His mother and brother took turns bringing supper to the boy who usually refused to come home because he’d rather fish than breathe.
There was only one problem with his home away from home – the geese. A family friend had some big white geese and had given them to Clark’s granddad, Horace. When he got tired of them, he gave them to Clark’s dad, Joe. They looked so graceful when they were out swimming out on the pond. But when they weren’t in the water, they were making a mess – shedding feathers, tracking mud all over the cabin porch and pooping everywhere.
Clark spent lots of time shooing them away from the cabin. One afternoon, he got his pole, hopped onto his little four-wheeler and headed down to the pond. As usually, the gaggle of annoying geese were waddling around the pond, honking. He was just not in the mood to fight them off that day, so he started chasing them on the four-wheeler. It was an exercise in futility. He got so mad he jumped off the vehicle and gave chase on foot. The problem was that he left the ATV running and didn’t set the emergency brake.
He chased the geese about 50 yards over the dam. He turned back around just in time to see the four-wheeler easing into the water. He dashed back toward the pond to try and avert the catastrophe, but it was too late. He heard the disheartening “glug, glug glug” sound as the four wheeler slipped into the water. The wide tires were already oozing into the slimy silt.
He started hollering for help. His mama heard him and knew something was terribly wrong. She could only see the top of his head from her kitchen window. “At least he’s alive,” she thought. She and Joe rushed down to check on their boy. By then the water had reached the top of the four-wheeler tires. Desperate to salvage the vehicle, the boy was standing waist deep in the water tugging with all his might on the bumper. But his little arms were no match for the strong suction of the sticky mud and the weight of the vehicle.
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There was no time for parental scolding or for Clark’s apologies and explanation. Before it was completely submerged, his dad wrapped a chain around the bumper and pulled the four-wheeler to shore. As he did, the waterlogged engine sputtered and died. Into the deafening silence, Clark’s blurted out, “You gonna kill me. I’m so sorry. I know y’all are just gonna kill me.”
Right then his mother spied something on the bank of the lake. It was Clark’s brand new tennis shoes. She looked down at his muddy feet and smiled. “The only reason I’m not gonna kill you is because you took off your new shoes and didn’t ruin them.” The boy breathed a sigh of relief.
He and his dad spent the next few days draining all the muddy water out of the engine, refilling it with gas, and draining it again. They were able to salvage it with no lasting mechanical problems. As for the geese, they eventually met their demise … but that’s another story.