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  • On The Pleasures Of Child Torture...

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        Wednesday, December 27, 2006

    On The Pleasures Of Child Torture...

    Sparrow sent me this link, which I enjoyed immensely. Read around in both of those spots if you want to see some fine writing.
    It got me to thinking how much I have enjoyed tormenting my own kids in the past, some of it chronicled here, on this hallowed blog.

    Of course, you can take it too far...

    I had an uncle, my Dad's Dad's brother, who terrified me. His wife would allow me to take refuge behind her big wood stove when I had to come over, to hide from him. Boy, those were the days, eh? Big old enameled iron stove, a few feet away from the wall to avoid a fire, the stove pipe going up into the ceiling of an immaculate kitchen, said pipe belching out sweet wood smoke and the smell of baking cobblers and such.

    Uncle Jack had a good sized orchard of varied fruit trees around his house, and between and around his barn and his shop, pretty typical of the urban farm in Oregon of that time period. The developers have bought them all up now, I suspect, as the oldsters died, and their kids sold out. Now they are stacked with apartments full of welfare cheats and Mexican gangsters and illegals and drug dealers, but back then, you could step out back and pick a basket of fresh peaches for your Aunt Alice and it seemed like, in just a jiffy, she was calling you to the table to let you eat a mini cobbler in a small pan that she kept just for you, when you came over.

    And that's where Uncle Jack would catch me, and make me go out into the shed and dig for the head, or wave a dogs severed arm in my face. Male bonding at its best.
    He told me he had 'found some little bastard' climbing up in his apple tree, stealing his apples, so he'd pulled out a pistol (and he produced a little silver revolver from a bib-all pocket and waved it around) and shot him right out of that there tree, and he took me over under the tree and showed me the blood.

    Then Uncle Jack drug me into this creepy old shed, all behung with sharpish looking tools, and animal skulls, and hides and suchlike, and he told me how he had cut the boy up into pieces to get rid of the body (waves bloody little arm I later learned was from a roadkilt dog, for emphasis) and then he tells me he put the boys head in this here bucket, and covered it with sand to keep the dogs off it, and lo and behold he's got three identical buckets filt with sand, and he has just plumb forgot whicha one has the head in it, so...

    It was to be my chore to dig through each one until I found the head, and then bring it to him. And he turned the light off in the shed, warned me on pain of death to not come out without a head (I believe there may have been some more pistol waving) and by the fell light barely making it in through smallish, flyspecked windows, I could see the three buckets of white sand staring at me, lined up, waiting.

    I believe I was around six, maybe seven years old. Maybe five.

    They tell me that which does not kill me, makes me stronger. Well, I'm not dead, as far as I know. So I blubbered for a bit, in fear, horror, but mostly a 'Why me Lord?' kinda self pity, and then I knelt down, and began to dig...

    I found out later that he had worked on this little prank for quite some time, and had already pulled it on my cousins and such. Likely a neighbor kid or two, as well.
    He was full of pranks, imaginative pranks, loved him his pranks, did old Uncle Jack, but this one was his crown jewel. You see, he had made, being a stone cutter and a stone mason, among other skills, molds of a boy-sized head, and poured in cement (or plaster of paris, I know not, regardless, the face was smooth, and cool to the touch, that I can tell you) and then took the further step of procuring costume wigs and gluing them on each skull. Three buckets, three heads, three chances to win. Chance of finding a head? 100%! You, too, can be a winner!

    I was okay until I hit the hair. I mean, I found the face almost right away, and my child's curiosity had me clearing the sand away and seeing a nose appear and then a mouth and then a forehead and oho, what's this? my fingers got tangled in the hair and I broke, and bolted screaming from the shed, pistol-fire be damned...I may have left one of those cartoon holes in the wall of the shed for all I know...

    I vaguely registered Uncle Jack writhing there on the ground, having some sort of spasm, and I'm sure I left a vapor trail behind me as I flew across the yard, slammed into the kitchen, dove behind the stove and had hysterics for a while and would not come out, could not be lured out, had some more hysterics, and didn't come out until my Dad showed up and made me and took me out to the car.

    I believe Dad was pissed. I just wanted out of Hell House.

    So, if any of my kids who are reading this think you had it bad, I just want you to know A) It coulda been worse, and B)...

    It runs in the family.