Of Rats and Bats
When I was four, rats stopped by daily. They scared me so I carried my baseball bat. I swung and missed a half dozen times. If I connected, I would have made it to, at least, second base.
Every so often, I patrolled the house and yard. Just the sight of me, no doubt, scared the rats. Sporting my dime-store, black-woven, straw, cowboy hat, short sleeved red and yellow tee-shirt, Salvation Army shorts, black-from-use white sneakers and carrying a normal ball bat, that was oversized to me, I was ready to repel rats. My cap pistol was snug in my low slung gun-slinger style holster tied to my right thigh. I was ready to slap leather.
We lived there about three months. Mom kept saying something about this being, "no place for kids." Dragging me into the argument, my Dad made clear his expected answer to the question, "You ain't afraid to be here ... are you?"
Not wanting to be a "candy ass" or "chicken shit" or, worse, called something bad that I didn't even understand, I said, "I'm fine." He grimaced his approval and I hitched up my gun belt.
A pile of junk, left from previous tenants and a couple of cars dumped there by the owner of our tar paper rental, menaced me when I was in the back yard. One of the Studebakers in the heap studied me through its one unbroken head light. I always thought the broken side should wear an eye patch.
I gave the trash heap a wide berth until, that one day, I didn't. Sidling up closer to the junk pile fortress than I'd ever been before, I listened. Today, there was no rustle, no unseen sounds of slithering, creeping or crawling. So I edged a little nearer and listened even more intently.
Nothing. No sound.
I hauled off with my bat and knocked out the Studebaker's good eye. The pile erupted with such noisy fury I thought I had awakened something I wanted to stay sleeping. The junk heap was vibrating from so many places that it was moving ---- toward me. I dropped the bat and ran, through the weeds, slamming open the back screen and went to the securest point of an unsecure house.
We moved five days later. Sitting in the borrowed pickup truck, l peered out the back window for one last look at the pile.
My mom was moving slowly and gingerly toward the pile and whatever possessed it. The closer she got, the slower she moved and, then, I saw something I'll never forget. Bending at the waist she picks up my bat out of where it was hidden in the weeds and sprints to the truck. Her teary brown eyes look into mine, "Didn't think you’d want to forget this."
About the Author: Tim Philippart sold his business, retired to explore, write and discover. He ghost blogs, writes poetry, nonfiction and an occasional magazine piece. He loves writing and wishes he had not waited decades to pick up the pen. He sees baseball as a metaphor for…. Oh, he’s sorry. firstname.lastname@example.org.