Life on Mesquite Lane

Posted: January 17, 2014 in Childhood, New stuff
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

DonotenterThe one thing you should never say to a child, “Don’t do (whatever you don’t want them to do).” The first time my mother said those words, we were living in Fallon, Nevada on Mesquite Lane.

On this sunny, summer day in mid June, my mom said to my brother and I, “Don’t go out into the desert at the end of the lane. There are mines out there you could fall into and we would never find you.”

What we heard was, “There are mines out there.” Mines with gold in them. Mines with amazing jewels. Mines with Pirate’s treasure like on TV. That’s all we heard.

“There are mines out there.”

The call of adventure was just too much to turn away. My brother, Brad, and I decided…

— okay, let me pause here and say, to be honest, my brother never really decided anything. He would agree with pretty much any hair-brained idea I could come up with. —

…that a fast jaunt out into the desert with our bikes wouldn’t be a bad thing. And, I reasoned, we could be back in plenty of time so that no one would know we were gone. The story we told Grandma was we were going down to the twins’ house to play for awhile.

The first problem was, we neglected to tell the twins we were pretending to be at their house.  The second problems was we also neglected to tell them where we were headed.

THE ADVENTURE

Because of this, no one knew we had gone to the end of Mesquite Lane and out into the desert, with its grease wood, sagebrush, scorpions, and lizards. Where the mystery of the mines waited for two industrious kids to find the millions in gold doubloons hidden out there.

I was a very imaginative child. I lived in the stories of my mind. The bubbles that floated inside my mind were half formed and not as rich in texture as they would later be. However, they were still just as vibrant as a nine year old girl could imagine. I was an avid reader since the age of three. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Dr. Seuss started me out, then the Berenstain Bears, but it was the Hardy Boys who captured my adventurous spirit.

We rode our bikes to the end of the gravel road and then past it. The line was crossed between the real world and my imagination. There was no going back now. The late morning sun beat down and warmed the sand to a temperature that would blister a bare foot. Summers were easily in the high nineties by June and mid one hundreds by July and into August. It was normal to have a day that the temperature would reach one hundred and fifteen degrees by two in the afternoon. The heat waves were stifling and the sand was scalding. Living in the desert, we learned not to go outside without a light colored long sleeved shirt on. The shirt would protect us from the suns rays. Water was scarce. It was a desert after all. But we learned to live in it. We always carried water.

My grandfather had given us an old, metal, boy scout canteen encased in a canvas BS Canteencover. If you got the canvas wet, put it in the refrigerator overnight, the next day, it would keep your water cool as long as you left it in your pack away from the direct sunlight. It was a faded army green color and I imagined that we were army soldiers. We were trudging toward the battlefield, with sticks of grease wood for rifles. I said as much to my brother. He looked at me with big, wide, hazel eyes, “What kind of battle are we going into, Belly?” Yes, he called me Belly. That’s another blog post in itself.

“We are in World War Two in the desert in France. The Nazi’s have invaded. Our unit is under attack and we have to save them. The battle is just over that little rise. Can you hear the gun fire?” I pointed toward the little bump that seemed far away in the desert, hoping it wasn’t a mirage. He nodded, his small seven year old hands gripped his rifle tighter.

“Our soldiers we are pinned down over there. We have to find them and help them. But first, we have to look for the mine where we hid guns and ammo out here last year.” I squinted my eyes, feeling the sweat trickle down my cheek, and scanned the horizon. There was no way I was going to tell my little tattle tale brother about the bags of Spanish gold doubloons I imagined lay out there in a mine. He would go tell every kid and adult he could find. No, I would keep it secret and be the great adventurer who found it. My name would be in the Stillwater Gazette.

“Lets go, soldier.”

We started out again, walking with our bikes because the sand was too deep to ride them. Within minutes, Brad started complaining, “I’m tired. Why is it so far out there?” His tanned face was squinted up in an ugly whining mask. “I’m thirsty. Can’t we stop for a drink?”

I sighed and kept walking, not bothering to answer. He wouldn’t be satisfied with what I said anyway. The grit settled into the creases of my face. It felt grainy, but also made me feel like I was a real soldier. Just like one of the Magnificent Seven.

It seemed like hours, but, finally, we reached the small hill and trudged to the top. There we stopped in wonder. Both of us put our hands above our eyes to shade them from any mirages. This was better than any mine, or battle, or anything I could come up with. I grinned and looked at my brother.

“Do you believe this?” I asked in excitement.

“No way!” His smile crinkled his face and the muddy sand cracked around his mouth.

Before us in a small bowl-like structure. It was the biggest, best, motorcycle track we had ever seen. It had hills and bumps and hard pan. We could play for hours on this. It was a bicycle rider’s heaven. This was so much more fun than a mine. We had found a playground in the desert.

We raced each other down the hill with our bikes. This was a kids nirvana and we played for hours, although it only seemed like minutes to us.  Not only did we save battalions of Army Soldiers, we won Grand Pris motorcycle races against impossible odds.  We jumped the Grand Canyon like Evil Knievel.  We were heroes for that gorgeously hot day.

THE AFTERMATH

The sudden chill in the air alerted me that evening was upon us. I looked up and it seemed as if the sun was setting much faster than I realized. The pink, orange, and deepening blue of the sun set was beautiful, but ominous. We were out in the desert, needed to get home and get home fast. I barked out, “Bud, we have to leave, now!” He looked up at the sky and without another word we both started running with our bikes toward home.

I didn’t know exactly what time it was, but it was probably close to ten p.m. That meant, we had missed dinner. Oh this was bad. My stomach growled and cramped, not in hunger, but in fear. There was no getting around the fact that we would be in trouble. We were much later than we should have been.

The trek home seemed to take a long It was full dark by the time we walked our bikes into the dirt parking lot outside my grandparents’ house.

My heart started beating faster when I saw that there was a police cruiser sitting there. Every light in the house was blazing. The porch screen door was open. This was definitely not good at all. I looked at my brother standing next to me, his bike leaned against him, his arms down, resting his hands on the banana seat of his bike. He face was ghost white in the pale illumination from the house. He looked so small and fragile in his fear. I felt guilty. The kind of guilt that you have as the oldest child. The one who always gets us in trouble and has to find a way to get us out. Only this time we both knew there wasn’t any way to get us out of this one. We were late, the cops had been called. We were in it deep.

I took a deep breath, walked my bike over and leaned it against the chain link fence. My brother did the same. I went first up the steps. I was the oldest after all.

What happened was a blur of adult activity. Questions were lobbed at us like hand grenades. So fast, direct, and explosive that we couldn’t answer them. So I just stood there, nodding occasionally, looking as scared as I felt.

Mom said quietly controlled, “Where the hell have you been?”

“We were out in the desert at this track…”

“Don’t you lie to me, young lady. You were out looking for those stupid mines I told you not to go after.”

I hung my head, “No, we found a motorcycle track…”

“Stop it! You know what happens when you lie. Dad, please talk to her. I’m so mad I can’t think.”

Grandpa – “Punkin’, you know you scared the hell out of all of us, don’t you?”

I nodded.

“You could have killed your brother. Do you want that?”

“No, sir.”

“I used to make your mother go get her own switch when I had to spank her, but we don’t have switches out here. I am going to have to use a belt.”

I cringe inside. “Yes, sir.”

My brother starts to cry softly.

Mom interjects, “See what you’ve made your brother do? He’s crying because of you.”

I look at him and then look up at my grandfather, feeling the responsibility completely. “Don’t whip him, Grandpa. I was the one who made us go out there. I wanted to see the mines and find the gold.”

Grandpa sighed, shaking his head, “There ain’t no gold out there, Punkin’. They would’ve found it by now. There’s just holes in the ground. You can’t even see ‘em until you walk right into ‘em. And they’re so deep that no one would ever find you or your brother. I don’t want to do this, but I have to teach you a lesson. You’ll get a spankin’ in the morning, before breakfast.”

My back end started hurting as I imagined what was going to happen. I wouldn’t cry though. I never cried. Hot tears burned in my eyes. I blinked rapidly, still looking at the linoleum floor. “Yes, sir.”

“Now take yourself and your brother to bed. I have to talk to Gary.” The officer took a step closer and stood straighter.

“Mr. Blakney, it looks like it’s all okay. I don’t have to make a report if you don’t want me to.” Officer Gary was mom’s friend. He was a boy friend. She sometimes spent the night with him. He owned a police dog so we couldn’t go see him, because his dog was mean. In 1979 he was shot in the face by a bank robber he had pulled over for speeding in Carson City. He didn’t know the guy had just robbed a bank. I heard they had to put down his dog because no one could control it. Mom went to his funeral. I never saw her cry though.

That night was sleepless and scary. I had heard stories of my grandfather whipping my mom. He wasn’t exactly easy on the task.

THE SPANKING

When morning came, I got dressed. My brother came in with a stack of his underwear, “If you put on a bunch of mine, maybe it won’t hurt so bad.”

I seriously considered it, until I realized that number one, his wouldn’t fit me and number two, grandpa would know. Parents always knew. “Thanks, Bud. But I will just get it over with.”

His hazel eyes filled with tears. “I don’t want you to get a whippin’. We were just playin’. Nothing bad happened!”

I awkwardly patted his shoulder, “It’s okay, Bud. It’ll be okay. When I’m done, we’ll go play in the wood pile. Does that sound good? I think we should go to Mars, what do you think?”

He straightened up, smiling brightly and innocently. He was such a good kid. So trusting and loyal for a little tattle tale brother. “Yeah, that would be great! I’ll wait for you outside!” He ran out, slamming open doors as he went.

I stood from tying my shoes and smoothed down my shirt. I was ready. Walking quietly into the kitchen was easy. Grandma was at the stove, frying bacon. It’s sizzling and popping sound so familiar. The smell was overwhelmingly delicious. I wondered if I would ever enjoy the smell of cooking bacon again. I walked past the kitchen bar and out to the side porch where grandpa sat, a brown leather belt draped over his knees, smoking a cigarette.

“Morning, Grandpa.” I said, as I walked up and turned to face him. I set my shoulders squarely. I might as well stand tall. It was gonna hurt like hell either way.

He looked at me with eyes so blue the sky was jealous of the color. “Mornin’, Punkin’. You ready for this?”

I didn’t look at him, but I didn’t look down either. I looked over his left shoulder at the mountain lion skin hanging there. “Yes, sir, I am.”

He nodded and stood up creakily. “Then turn around and bend over. Put your hands on your ankles. This is gonna hurt me more than it’ll hurt you.”

I did as I was told. The spanking hurt like hell and I never understood how it hurt him more. It stung, bled, and I grunted a few times as the slap of leather burned over a previously hit section. His aim wasn’t the best because he hit my back half the time.  I think I got twenty lashes. That’s what Mom told me when I was older. I don’t remember, I took my mind to a thought story bubble, of a girl running in a field of dandelions in the sun. No pain, no fear, just running and playing.

When I came back, it was over. I straightened up, hurting everywhere.

“Go have your Grandma look at that back and butt. Have her put some Mercurochrome on the cuts.”

I did as he told me. The cure was almost as bad as the cut.  I was stiff and sore for a few days and I also learned a very valuable lesson.

THE LESSON

Was it a lesson on how to listen to your parents when they tell you not to do something?

Short answer – No. Long answer – Oh hell, no!

I learned that if I was going do something I wasn’t supposed to do, I better pay damned good attention to the time. I asked, begged, pleaded for and was finally given an old windup pocket watch my grandfather had.

I cherished that watch and we were never late for dinner again. Our adventures took just enough time to fill the day and then we were done. It was a child’s version of the short story.

I think I learned it pretty well!

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for reading and follow me for more interesting tales.  The links are below.

Until next time…

M.

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Comments
  1. just read this blog to my mom and 15 year old daughter. We were captured from the very beginning!! We all hung on every word!! We laughed, and felt like we were on the same adventure as “Belly” and Brad!! Thank you for allowing us to share this adventure with you!!!!

    Like

  2. snapgrowl says:

    Loved reading your story. Do you still have scares? ; )

    Like

  3. Bud says:

    I remember most of the story, we had alot of fun on Mesquite Ln.don’t remember as much of the whoopin though….I do remember getting a few of my own though…we had so much fun on that dirt track….and the old haunted house across the desert from us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That old haunted house is in another story. I remember a story about you and five or six pairs of underwear to help cushion the paddling. That was your story. I hope some day, you’ll let me write it for you! Love you, Bud!

    Like

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