NT Franklin - I write after my real job hoping one day to have it be my real job. When I’m not reading or writing short stories, you might find me fishing or solving crossword puzzles.
Me and Bart and the Snowstorm
School was out for Christmas break and I was awake and up early. I hated to waste school vacation. If allowed, I’d sleep in and be late for school, but vacation? No way.
A good six inches of snow had fallen overnight. It was a beautiful sight. Fresh snow meant me and Bart could shovel driveways and make some money. Christmas was a week away and it is the season of giving. I liked the getting better than the giving. I don’t count socks and shirts as getting. No matter. It was the way it was.
I put the black flag up in my window to signal Bart that I was up. No black flag in Bart’s window meant he wasn’t up. Breakfast called. Chocolate milk on Wheaties, breakfast of Champions. At least the breakfast of me and Bart. We liked the same things. By the time I finished eating, I saw the black flag was up across the street in Bart’s window. Time for action.
Off I went, a couple bologna and cheese sandwiches in my pocket and a snow shovel over my shoulder. Could be an all-day deal.
Bart was ready when I arrived, complete with sandwiches and a shovel, too. Old Mrs. Scovil would be our first driveway. She always said yes and didn’t care exactly if we did a good a job or not. Besides, she lived next door. Honest work for honest money. Not always the fastest way to get funds, but times being what they were and Christmas so close, a fella’s gotta do what a fella’s gotta do.
The snow was heavy and her driveway seemed longer than either of us remembered. But with cash in our pocket, we were already successful. Some of the houses had driveways that had been plowed out by pickup trucks. I didn’t want to go to them and knock, but Bart did. He said it would be easy money. Four of the seven houses we tried paid for their sidewalks and front steps to be hand shoveled by enterprising young men. A few more “no thanks” before we scored our second driveway. Two driveways and four sidewalks, we were seriously into money.
Snow shovels on a snowbank make a passable chair if you’re tired. And we were. “You have to fuel the engine,” Bart said as we ate our sandwiches. Hard to beat bologna and cheese sandwiches on a winter day. Maybe any day.
“I think we have enough, don’t you?” asked Bart.
“Gee, I don’t know. I have to buy a present for my Mom.”
“We got enough, you’ll see.”
“Okay, Bart, if you say so.”
“It’s not dark yet,” Bart said. “Let’s walk to the Town Diner. We earned a coke and plate of French fries. We deserve it. Besides, I guess we didn’t bring enough sandwiches ‘cause I’m hungry.”
He was right on that account. Anyways, who doesn’t like fries and a Coke? Bart thought the shovels dragging behind us made a pattern like a big tire in the snow. I didn’t see it, be he was convinced. We leaned the shovels against the outside wall and went into the diner. The lady at the counter gave us a little smile when we walked in and unloaded our coats into one side of a booth.
I think she gave us extra fries because the plates couldn’t hold all of them. When we told her how we earned our reward, she filled our cokes again, for free. Nobody but the three of us were in the diner so I don’t think she got in trouble.
Darkness wasn’t far away when we started walking back. We both had to admit, it had been a good day. We made some Christmas money, had fries and a Coke, and it was still school vacation.
When I turned around to see why Bart lagged behind, he nailed me with a snowball in the shoulder. It was game on.
I wound up and let a fastball go as Bart turned around. SPLAT! A direct hit. The air went out of him with an “oof.” Being a pitcher for our baseball team had advantages in snowball fights. Mostly I threw fast, not accurate. We ran along and laughed our fool heads off. Bart got me a good one or two, but pretty much, we were even in direct hits. Nearly home, that needed to change so I wound up and let one fly.
Our garage window was busted out. The whole neighborhood musta heard the window break. For sure, my Mom did. She was in the picture window, hands on hips and not looking happy. We were dead meat. She motioned me and Bart to come to the door. The thought of running away went just as fast as it came. She had that look that told me she would hunt me down and it would be worse.
“It will be alright, just wait and see,” Bart said. He never seemed to be scared or worried about anything. Me, I was sure I was going to die. We went to the front door to get our punishment.
“Again, boys? How many times are you going to throw something and break that window? Baseballs, footballs, snowballs. What next? You two know it will have to be replaced again.”
I’m sorry, Mom,” I said.
“Yeah, we really are,” Bart said. “But we have money right now to cover it.” We dug into our pockets and pulled out what we had left from snow shoveling minus the fries and Coke.
“Perfect,” Mom said. “Bart, you best be getting home before it gets any darker. And you, young man, inside. Now.”
Yup, I thought taking the black flag down, it had been a pretty good day. And there is always tomorrow.