I thought since Buzz did what he did and became what he became that I would tell you some of the stories about me and him when we were kids. Me and Buzz hope you enjoy them and maybe paint a smile on your face.
Buzz’s pappy left home only a day or two before Buzz’s fifth birthday and if I can re-call all that way back, his pappy told folks he was real ashamed that he couldn’t support his family and then disappeared to Tijuana with a flamenco dancer.
Somehow I don’t think it was his family he wanted to give his support to.
The day he left, me and Buzz were fishin’ down by Pastor’s Creek which sits next to the Big River which flows all the way to the coast. We always talked of taking a raft to the sea but like most things we talk about, it never did happen; least ways not yet.
Anyhoo I’m shootin’ off here - so on the day that his pappy left, Buzz asked me where the tide went, as it was way out on this side of the Big River.
Me being me, told Buzz that it went to the other side.
I explained to Buzz that when it was low tide on this side it was high tide on the other. He took my word without question. He just gave one of those – that seems right to me – nods and went on with his fishin’; not another care or another word - that’s why I love Buzz like a brother.
Now I ain’t stupid, not like Buzz and I knows the real god’s honest may I spit on your hand and hope to die truth - just like my grandmama told me. She said there’s a big hole under the river where the water runs through to the other side of the world – kind-a like that sand in an egg-timer – like the one our teacher with the bad teeth from England showed us once.
When all the river water goes through their holes, the world turns upside down and it becomes night for some and day for others. Then the water comes back down the holes and we turn over again. If that ain’t the simplest explanation, then I don’t know what is.
My grandmama always had a big smile on her face when she told me that one. I guess I’ll tell Buzz the truth one of these days.
Buzz’s pappy never did head back up this way, but I did hear that the flamenco dancer once drove through town in a big red Cadillac – although this town is always full of stories like that.
You just ain’t sure what to believe.
Buzz always wanted to be a movie star and so from a real young age, he got to practising. Not with anything sensible like acting, that would have been too clever, no – he got practising with signing his autograph.
“You got to start somewhere” was what he told me.
When people on Main Street saw Buzz coming their way they used to cross over just to avoid him. Buzz put it down to folks being overwhelmed with his natural good looks.
If ya didn’t avoid him, before you knew it, Buzz would be staring into your face and asking if you wanted his autograph. Everyone and I mean everyone in town, had several copies of Buzz’s signature.
I remember seeing the minister walking to church one Sunday morning with Buzz’s writing on that white bit of the collar they wear. How Buzz got it there, God only knows (and he probably does).
“I’m a good looking kid and if they don’t want me to act in their movies, then they don’t know what they’re missing.”
One Saturday Buzz decided he’d do just that – show them what they were missing, that is. That weekend the weather was real toasting and Buzz got me to borrow (borrow without askin’) my granddaddy’s movie camera.
“I kinda see myself as a cowboy, don’t ya think?” I just nodded, hell it was best to just go along with anything Buzz said.
I ain’t sure where Buzz got the gun from, but I do remember a story a while back about Buzz’s uncle Joshua who was thrown in jail for holding up a burger joint. Somehow the store owner convinced his uncle Joshua to take some French fries and a soda rather than the contents of the money drawer. Still, he went to jail all the same. I don’t remember any gun being used but I guess that’s where Buzz got it.
Buzz wanted me to be the baddy and the plan was for me to walk down Main Street and pretend to call him out; cussing and saying he was a coward. Then Buzz would come out of the saloon (it was really Mrs Bat’s Craft Shop) and challenge me to a shoot out in the street.
I was the one that was to get shot; Buzz felt that a man about to make his mark in the movies shouldn’t take the bullet.
I guess you should really check if a gun is loaded or not.
I’m just saying, as it would have saved a lot of trouble. I’ve never seen a grown man being shot in the bee-hind before but Samuel Brooks hollered and screamed like the world was coming to an end. It was only a bullet in the butt, what was the big problem?
Mrs Brooks wanted to hang Buzz right there and then, the way they did with her Daddy years back. I guess two people don’t make a lynch mob, but it scared the hell out of me all the same.
Buzz was hauled in front of Judge Pickering and folks were telling me that Buzz would probably get the electric chair or something. At the time (I was young then) I thought giving someone an electric chair was a real strange thing to do. Where would ya keep it?
Anyway a lot of people were saying that Buzz came from a real bad family, didn’t he have an uncle who’d stolen diamonds?
Funny, how French fries get exaggerated like that.
Anyways, I had filmed the whole thing and we were allowed to show it in court. The judge said it was okay to show a movie. Some folks brought in popcorn. From the movie, you could see that as Buzz was pulling the trigger, he shut his eyes and didn’t really mean to hit anyone. At the end of the movie some of Buzz’s family started clapping – so Buzz got up and took a bow. Which I have to say was pretty cool. Buzz started waving, movie star like, to the folks upstairs in the gallery.
As I left the courthouse that day, I saw Buzz up at the bench giving Judge Pickering his autograph.
One night, me and Buzz were lying out back in his mama’s yard just hanging. We wanted to go hiking across the top of Yellow Ridge but his mama was having none of it. Since Buzz’s pappy had gone, she was feared people coming to her house and stealing things; to be honest with you, his mama had nothing worth stealing.
So there we were looking at the stars, we must have been about five years old and right there and then I convinced my friend that the fireflies were little people and the lights were their little city. I kind-a guessed back then that Buzz wasn’t gonna be no Einstein.
Now Buzz would tell you that he’s a gnat’s wing taller than me but he ain’t telling the truth. All thru’ schooling he was always the small one - I guess he thought back to the fireflies and was hoping that he wasn’t the smallest thing on this here planet.
Nope, between you and me and the kitchen stove, I was always the first between me and Buzz to feel the rain, I swear on a stack of bibles that’s true.
Then one day he grew more than me and I was kind-a suspicious until I check and see he’s been messin’ with his boots, stuffin’ them with old socks so he looks taller.
In his naked feet he still ain’t bigger than a grasshopper – I tell ya he could look one right in the eye.
I swear that boy has an inferiority complex, at least ways that’s what Stevie (the cleverest kid in school) told me. Not too sure what it means.
One day Buzz says to me ‘Jay, ain’t it time we headed over to Duchess County a spell’ and of course I asked him if that was where all the short kids went these days.
He said nothing until his fist hit my face. He was that quick that I didn’t see nothin’ till it was right there on the end of my nose - which was now as flat as Corry Mitchin’s chest.
Of course I ain’t for hittin’ my best friend, on account that he’s so stupid – no sir, so I did what anyone would do, I threw his boots into the river. Even the Sunday preacher would have said I had a right.
No man should put a fist to his best friend’s nose.
Buzz keeps saying that on account of his good looks – only his mama told him that – that maybe we should think of headin’ out west to California.
I drag him to the old barber shop to show him on the Civil War map that hangs on the wall there, how far it is.
Buzz says, ‘it can’t be more than 11 or 12 inches at most’ and that wasn’t too far - from where he was standing. Can you believe my best friend, just how stupid he is?
So the upshot is, me and Buzz are heading out west just as soon as he finds another pair of boots.
Guess he’s scared he might get beaten up by the grasshoppers on the way there.
When Buzz was about ten years old, he stole my Daddy’s car.
One minute he was askin’ me where the keys were hangin’ and the next, he’s starting the engine up. If my name ain’t Jay then call me a liar ‘cause I swear that he just started her up and took off. He didn’t look back.
I ran after him and just as he turned the corner, I jumped in the back with my legs all flappin’ in the air and my head stuck under the seat.
“You okay?” Shouts Buzz
“I think so” but I have to be honest with you, the blood was running to my head so bad, I thought my eyes were going to pop out. I really did.
Then he slammed the brakes on and I nearly went shooting out the side of the car. I ain’t lying, I mean as if I would do that.
When I sat in the front, Buzz stuck two pieces of paper up my nose to stop the bleeding and that seemed to do the trick. That was when he told me of his idea. Seems, I had been mighty hard on Buzz judging him like I did, he wasn’t stealin’ the car. No sir, what was happenin’ was that me and him were going to see some of the world. I mean, did I think he was stupid or somethin’?
“Nah, I ton’t tink you toopid.“ With the paper up my nose I was talking all funny like.
Buzz reckoned that ten years of age was just about the right time for a boy to ripen into a man and make something of himself. So Buzz just hit that gas tap and we flew outta town. Now you know what I think of Buzz, he really is as stupid as the day is long but when it comes to cars, well I guess a man has to have one thing he’s good at. Well two, if you count the fact that Buzz says he’s good at lookin’ good as well.
You know full well that Buzz is always claimin’ to be taller than me even though he ain’t.
Well, although Buzz could stop the car, or make it go quicker, he could only do one or the other on account of his legs not really reaching the pedals properly.
“You’re goin’ fatter.” I was hollering at him.
“Stop goin’ so fat.”
I will tell you here and now and I may I be turned into a toad, if I’m lying. I wasn’t scared, honest injuns, I wasn’t. I just didn’t want my Daddy’s car all crashed.
I don’t know if Buzz’s feet were stuck but that car wasn’t goin’ to halt in a month of Sundays.
“Can’t you top it?”
Seems that was an impossibility and we shot through Dead Man’s Creek in the blink of an eye. We barely made it around the bend into Schummann’s Road when Buzz kinda lost control and the car flew over the grass and into the Park where the Daughters of the Revolution were holding their weekly meet.
When those ladies saw Buzz headin’ straight for them, they all dived into bushes and two even ended up in the creek.
“Tolly” I shouted back at them but I don’t think it did any good ‘cause they were real mad.
At the far end of the Park is Sad Sadie’s Sarsaparilla Drinking Emporium. It’s real popular with the kids when they just want to hang out.
“Top. Top, you gonna hat the tore”
“Get ready Bud, I think we might just hit the store” said Buzz.
We didn’t just hit it - we went through it taking with us every flavor of ice cream that you could imagin’.
Sad Sadie dived off to the left to avoid being squashed in the crushed nuts drawer.
“Tolly.” I shouted but I don’t think she was listenin’.
Then we hit the fountain and that was when we came to a stop.
As the cops were taking Buzz away, he just hollered back at me “We’re men, Jay.”
I guess we were.
When my father came to collect us from the police station, the sarsaparilla was still runnin’ down my nose.
The first time that me and Buzz attempted to fly, Buzz broke his arm in two places: in the yard and on the driveway. Yeh, Buzz didn’t think that joke was funny either. Now you’re going back to read it again in case you missed something ‘cause you didn’t think it was so funny.
The truth of the matter is that Buzz’s arm was good and busted all because he tried to fly from the roof of my house to the roof of Mister Huckerby’s.
Mister H was the man who ate children or so the story went. We’d tried to have a look in his windows but he always kept all his curtains closed except for the attic windows and they were too high to get at, unless you got on to his roof.
“I know what I’ll do, I’ll fly” was Buzz’s suggestion, with a real proud look on his face. He had thought of it all by himself.
“You’ll fly to the top of Mister H’s house?”
“What you gonna use, a jet pack?”
“Nope, I’ve already thought of this. I’ll find a place that’s higher than the Child-eater’s and I glide over and land on his roof.”
If Buzz really thought about this all by himself then I’m sure the world is coming to an end or he ain’t tellin’ the whole truth. He’s probably seen the whole thing on Scooby Doo or something.
There never was any proof that Mister H was actually eating any kids on account that no one had disappeared or anything but that didn’t stop the stories. You know how it is? You get the rep for eating kids and it just doesn’t go away. I mean Buzz has got a rep for being really stupid but I have to tell you, he worked really hard at that rep and deserves it.
I’m making this all sound as if Buzz had come up with an idea that was as reliable as the day is long. To be honest he had had several other really bad ideas. Last Easter, he tried to climb up the pipes to Mister H’s roof but there was a bird’s nest about three quarter ways up and those little kiddy birds started peckin’ at Buzz’s face. You know Buzz hates anyone touchin’ his face so he tried to shoo them away and that’s when he let go. Luckily he fell into a bush and didn’t do any real damage although the pipe was hanging at a weird angle.
Around June time, Buzz tried to lasso a rope around one of Mister H’s chimneys. He got the rope on to one of the corner ones - the kind that crash to the ground real hard when you pull on them, especially with a boy and a rope hanging off them.
You could say Buzz escaped with his life, which is more than can be said for Mister Huckerby’s pride and joy, his car. It was all smashed up. I think he thinks that the street was hit with a tornado that day.
I guess I never really asked Buzz until just now what he was going to do when he landed on the roof. Was he gonna rescue the kids? Or what?
“I’m gonna look in that attic window.”
Buzz strapped a kite to each arm and he reckoned this was gonna let him glide from our roof and across the street.
“Even if you do make his roof Buzz, how are you gonna get down?”
Ain’t it just dandy how the world and even the laws of physics belong to the really stupid?
“Fine” I said, but by which I meant so many other things.
Buzz wanted me to stand at the front of my house when he did eventually jump. I’ve no idea what he expected me to do – catch him?
“You can help me...” he shouted.
“Navigate?” I shouted back.
“Give me directions” he shouted.
Then Buzz stood at the edge of the roof and started flappin’ his arms and I tell you, I nearly let some pee out, I laughed so hard. He just looked completely stupid. Like a bird that had its behind set alight.
He counted down and shouted that I should count with him.
“10,9,8....” He was still flappin’ and I was still keeping my legs crossed in case I pee’d again.
Then we got to zero and he jumped and what do ya know? He kinda glided, not as far as Mister H’s roof but to the tree in front of his house. That was where Buzz got stuck until we called the fire engine folks over at Toolaville. I think some of them tried to stop from laughing as well. I could see tears running down the Chief’s face.
It took us about 3 hours to free him and his wings and he was fine - surprisingly.
As for the broken arm, it was as he crossed the street and into my driveway that he stood on the skateboard and that’s when it happened. He broke his arm on the drive way, got up and then stood on the skateboard again and broke his arm again in my yard.
I swear to the almighty I had to run all the way to the toilet as I nearly pee’d myself again, what with all that laughin’.
...more stories in The Heart Academy on Amazon (Free Download until 13th May)
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bobby stevenson 2013