James Edward, co-conspirator with The Orphan in The Great Watermelon Raid, also joined The Orphan in many other boyhood adventures.
The Orphan and James Edward learned that tying one end of each of two strips of “real rubber” to the upper two prongs of a forked stick and the other ends of the two strips to a leather pouch that was a “rock-holder” made slingshots. The lower single fork of the stick was the handle. This slingshot was mentioned in
Chapter Three but not all of the slingshot stories were told there.
Once when James Edward and The Orphan were experimenting with their slingshots, The Orphan discovered that substituting a marble for the rocks normally used as projectiles greatly increased the accuracy and deadliness of this weapon. The Orphan experimented with moving targets called chickens.
The Orphan was a marksman of renown. The Orphan fired a marble at the rear end of a chicken that was in full flight away from The Orphan. The marble entered the only opening at the rear of the chicken at great velocity and continued well into the chicken. The chicken went “…awrkk…,” fell beak down and ceased any
form of motion.
The Orphan’s next shot took off the starboard leg of a second chicken that immediately began to make very tight but rapid clockwise circles -- since the remaining leg was still in a hurry.
Gramma Brown and Pappy, hearing the raucous complaints of the chickens, came to the back door and reacted with horror and fury. Pappy who, unlike The Orphan, had never cured his stuttering, sputtered,
“…whawhawhat are yuyuyuyou chachachaps doing…?”
Gramma Brown said,
“…Your parents will hear of this. Give me those slingshots right now…!” and she took the slingshots and cut up the rubber pieces with scissors.
Little did Gramma Brown know that when James Edward and The Orphan were cutting up the “real rubber” inner tube for the strips (for which punishment would be visited on the duo at a later time when the inner tube was needed for its originally intended use) the duo had cut many spare strips.
But there were many risks associated with these strips. There was the risk of a scissor-wielding Grandmother and the risk of retribution for cutting up the inner tube. There was also a risk from the “real rubber” itself. Occasionally, when an especially long shot was needed and the bands were overstretched, the
bands would fail catastrophically, and the torn ends would fly backwards and slap the user in the face. This was called “bad luck” and hurt like hell!
Later, during the day, The Orphan and James Edward were surprised to find Gramma Brown and Pappy laughing almost uncontrollably – and then wondered why the two ceased laughing and resumed their scowls when sighting the duo.
That night there was a great pile of fried chicken on the supper table. Because a third chicken had also been complaining loudly, it was discovered to be limping severely and was dispatched by Pappy along with the “whirling-in-a-circle” chicken. The first chicken, anally broached, had been demised instantly. Pappy
was especially displeased about this “shot-up-the-ass” chicken because the damage to its innards made it hard to clean while being dismembered for cooking.
But fried chicken was a good thing!
Gramma Brown did make good on her threat and ratted on The Orphan and James Edward to their parents and, after a subsequent discussion with The Daddy (who tried mightily to assume the Forbidding Giant role but kept breaking out in sniggering), The Orphan decided to find other targets to practice on than chickens.
James Edward was to deny any knowledge of or participation in such episodes but James Edward lied. James Edward was less trained in corporal punishment than The Orphan. James Edward lived in great fear of a thing called a “…whuppin'…” To James Edward a ”…whuppin'…” was a light tap to his forehead – which resulted in
James Edward caterwauling as if he had been grievously injured. James Edward was a pussy – but a sly and cunning pussy – since his “…whuppin'…” was so mild.
The Orphan knew what a “…whuppin'…” really was.
Another escapade of James Edward and The Orphan that was to have worse consequences was when they decided to create a lifetime supply of peashooters. A peashooter was a piece of hollow bamboo-like cane that was just the internal diameter of a medium dried English pea. The plan for the lifetime supply of peashooters
came to the duo when they were crawling under the home of Gramma Brown and Pappy only to discover a large pile of dried and cured canes.
Thus came a major problem – part one of the problem was that only one section of a complete cane near the middle of the cane was the right size for a peashooter. The second part of the problem arose because Uncle Edward and The Forbidding Giant were under the impression that the peashooter materials were really to
be used only for fishing for a small bony thing called a crappie fish, and half canes were not sufficient.
This major problem of the peashooters versus fishing poles was exacerbated because Uncle Edward and The Forbidding Giant had waded for a day in the swampy areas of The North Fork of The Wolf River (see map in Chapter Nine) to gather the canes.
When Uncle Edward and The Forbidding Giant discovered the half canes and subsequently found the large cache of peashooters, all hell broke loose. It is not an accident that The Forbidding Giant was not referred to as The Daddy in the telling of this incident.
Suffice it to say that a desperate offer to either glue or tie the pieces back together was not accepted.
The half canes were put to use. Have you ever had your butt, back and legs striped by the slender end of a half cane? This was called “…stripin'…” The Orphan recommends that you get this experience by reading this story rather than directly.
This “…stripin'…” was another form of The Forbidding Giant’s “…whuppin'…”