© 2011 by Raymond Alexander Kukkee
“ ‘The ultimate opprobrium is when boys giggle’, that’s what Uncle Chester said once. He ought to know, he drives buses. Bus drivers know that stuff.
“He’s a summertime boy” my mother said, raising one eyebrow.
“What? Who….?” I asked.
“That new red-head kid” she said, ironing the long-sleeved shirt. It was too hot to be ironing.
“Staying for the summer. Quick now, go get that hole dug, the shovel’s outside”.
“Who?” I asked again. No answer.
“Hello,” he said.
I was already sweating. He was pale and gawky and his blond-red hair stuck out from under a baseball cap. I squinted into the July sunlight. He sat on his bike watching me dig.
He was chubby and wore a wide belt on short pants. His legs were stubby and redhead white. He had freckles on his sunburned knees. The short pants had buttons, not zippers . A first in my neighborhood.
“Hello” I said back . It hurt to squint. I threw more gravel out of the hole.
I was digging gravel, the kind that falls back faster than you can shovel. His bike was red with fat tires and white sidewalls. Another first. No bike in my neighborhood had white sidewalls, they get dirty in the mud. No matter, he wasn’t from here, he was from the prairies where the buffalo roam and there’s only clean grass.
“There’s no blood-thirsty Indians either, ” he later advised when we asked about mud and living on the prairies, “the cowboys ride horses anyway” he said.
He wheeled around the hole.
“-What are you doing?” he asked, smiling. He was balancing, backpedaling and peering into the hole. He was happy looking. His voice rang like a bell and the pale face was round as a baseball. He pushed the spectacles back on his nose.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” I asked.
“The gravel is falling in faster than you can shovel” he said, giggling. “Wanna hand?”
I hate that, I always hate giggling. ‘The ultimate opprobrium is when boys giggle’, that’s what Uncle Chester said once. He ought to know, he drives buses. Bus drivers know that stuff.
“I see that,” I said, giving up, and sitting on the edge of the hole. “ I had it! ”. I put the shovel down .
“What’s your name anyway?” I asked, watching gravel flow like water. His face was a smile of white teeth. He said it was from eating apples every day While I was in the hole he was taller than me, so I tried the old new-kid ‘barrage of questions’ trick.
“How old are you?” “Where are you from anyway?” “Ya’movin’ here, or are you here just for the summer- time?” ” Are you a summertime boy?“
“*Dewie Orlafson, ” he said. “nine….“ I’m from Alberta,. -I’m going to live up at Orlafson’s, over there” he shot back, pointing. “– for the summer, every year”. It didn’t work.
“You don’t look like you’re from Alberta, your face isn’t wind-burned like real cowboys” I challenged. “You’re white as a mushroom”.
“I sunburn a lot” he said, smiling. He shrugged . He giggled. “I have to wear a hat.”
“A cowboy hat?”
“Yup,” he said. “Wanna go see it? I brought it with me.”
“Sure”, I said, “ better than digging an endless hole.”
“My mother bakes buns with bacon chunks in them” he said. “Wanna get some lunch ?”
“Okay” I said, trying to climb out . He offered his hand and gave me a pull up. He was strong for a redhead kid.
I picked up my bike. “Mine’s stuck in third gear. It doesn’t have tires like yours.”
He shrugged and grinned, his white teeth flashing. “They’re fat enough.”
“Let’s go get’em dirty!” He grinned and giggled. Off we went. He kept up, too.
We soon discovered serendipity lives in mudholes and puddles of all sizes. Our tires soon looked the same . We grew up together. “Dewie S.T ”; that’s what we called him.
He called me his brother, since he didn’t have any.
He always giggled. I still hate that.
Dewie S.T. the summertime boy died from a heart attack, way too young.
I hate that even worse.
Is that Incoming I hear?
‘The Summertime Boy’ was written to remember a friend.*Names have been changed to maintain privacy.
tags: friends, summertime boy, bicycle, reflections, memories