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Watermelon Vengeance

Allan Heard

From about age 12, I had a handful of close friends--three in particular--with whom I spent most of my free waking hours and lots of my sleeping hours, as well. I guess that, by a hair, Clyde Porter was my best friend. His family owned the run-down farm that was my paradise found. One summer Clyde and I, with lots of help, built a twenty-by-forty, tin-roofed house, complete with a center-post for swinging our hammocks and with a small wood cook stove. We roughed it there lots of winter days and nights, harassing squirrels with shotguns and foxes with steel traps.

One summer we had a beautiful watermelon patch. We carried buckets of water to it daily. But we made the mistake of telling about it. One night before the watermelons were quite ripe enough to eat, someone raided the patch and pretty much destroyed it. We were pretty sure who had done it, but not positive. We looked forward to vengeance.

A week or so later at a drive-in, we overheard our buddy, Guy, and another fellow, Bobby Joe, discussing taking their dates to steal a watermelon. We were not positive, but we figured the patch they had in mind was John Littlejohn's. His farm was across the road from the Porters'. Since that was our only remaining source of melons, we decided it would be worthwhile to scare the living wits out of friends, if they did in fact try to steal Mr. John's melons. We raced to the farm as fast as the old GMC pickup would carry us and parked it out of sight.

We were barely in position across the road from one end of the patch when we heard a car crunching along the gravel road. It stopped perhaps 75 yards away, and we soon heard two people crunching along the road, heading our way. We marveled at their total lack of stealth. We figured that had he been mindful, Mr. John could have heard them at his house several hundred yards in the opposite direction. But he always went to bed with chickens, as the saying goes.

For the occasion we had armed ourselves with a cherry bomb. Cherry bombs have a louder report than a shotgun blast, but we figured that in the confusion that would not matter.

As the two figures mounted the bank and stepped into the edge of the patch, their backs were to us. One of us lighted the bomb. We could hardly control our mirth as the dynamite-type fuse spewed. At the same millisecond the cherry bomb exploded, the two figures broke the sound barrier heading back whence they came. Simultaneously the engine of the car fired up, and the car sped past us. The two guys yelled, but it kept rolling.

We rolled on the ground laughing. Eventually, the would-be thieves realized what had happened and came back to where we were to get a ride. Bobby Joe normally had a very minor stuttering problem, but that night he could not get beyond the syllable level. The girls finally came back hunting the fellows. They had been so scared they had not recognized the guys--they said. We all had another laugh and headed our separate ways.

It was a week or so later that we stopped by to chat with Mr. Littlejohn. I don't remember what caused him to speak of its, but he told us that on a recent night he had been in the melon patch with his shotgun, guarding the melons. He said he fell asleep, and when he woke up somebody was shooting at him. He decided he'd best get out of there, so he ran to his house and went to bed. We never told him what really happened, but after careful evaluation we decided we would pass up the opportunity for free melons for the rest of the summer.