My childhood was pretty brutal. We learned hard lessons in unspeakable ways. You might want to get out the hanky now, this is yet another sad sad tale.
Wandering around the prairies as kids, trying to find something to do, I mean after we had exhausted looking at the cows and weaving wheat, making pictures with wheat, chewing the wheat, smoking the wheat, rearranging the cows . . . it was tough to find things to do.
So we wandered. We reeeeaaaallly wandered. . . as far as our little legs would take us in a given day.
And we would find awesome, abandoned buildings. Some were just granaries out in the middles of the field with some old grain, a dead mouse and/or bird somewhere inside that we pretended were dead cowboys and we immediately morphed in The Lawman, or the Lone Ranger and Tonto. We whipped out our imaginations from our back pockets and went wild. Sometimes we pronounce the old building a fort, sometimes a castle. The acoustics in those old granaries was awesome so they were, of course, some kind of stage and I made my brother tie his coat around his hips into a type of saloon girl special and we would can can the day away.
Surprisingly, we also found old houses in various states of left-overness. Some had furniture and odds and ends. Some were falling down and some housed other animals that had moved in. We had great fun with those.
But, the best one was this old run down house we found hidden by some trees. There was a dirt track leading up to it, almost hidden in the tall grass. It was stuffed to the rafters with old junk and furniture – and about 30 feral cats. First, we were pirates, rifling through everything for treasure, and then we started to think about the potential. CLUBHOUSE!!! So we raced home and convinced the grandparents that we should go camping and we promised up and down and sideways we would not go far and we would only leave first thing in the morning, stay one night, and be back the next day before supper. It was summer, we were bored stupid and probably the idea of getting rid of our whining little butts for a couple of days, sounded too good to miss. Besides … how much trouble could we get into among the wheat, cows and gophers?
We polished our little patent leather specials and skipped through the prairie grass, being careful not to scuff our shoes. One we got there we chased off most of the cats, who were happy to run the moment they saw us, and then we fixed the place up, sort of. We had limited cleaning skills owing to the fact we had a maid who cleaned our rooms at home. Our efforts consisted of shoving all the junk over to one side of the house, closing the doors on it all and focusing on a couple of rooms we proceeded to decorate with our finds. We painted a sign and stuck it on the outside of the door telling people to keep out and proclaiming it our own private clubhouse. We managed to stab ourselves with a rusty nail and we bled our then tetanus diseased blood into each other, swore allegiance to something or another and sat down and began to eat some of the sandwiches we had brought.
I heard, “I have a gun and I know how to use it,” right before the gun went off and sent a cat flying through the air and into a wall. I considered that he perhaps did not actually know how to use the gun, or at the very least he did not know how to use it well. I also considered that “I have a gun and have no idea how to use it,” would actually be a whole lot more scary to most people. It certainly was to me because even if he wasn’t aiming at me, I could still die.
Someone yelled, “Come on out with your hands in the air, the house is surrounded.” It took us a minute as it takes that long to actually pee your pants. I hope I peed my own pants or else it would mean my brother peed both our pants. We managed to get out from underneath the table and into the yard where a group of RCMP waited for us. They were actually mad at us and not the old cat killer dude standing there with the gun he clearly had no idea how to use. They asked him if he wanted to press charges and no-one even bothered about the cat or the fact my jeans were probably completely ruined.
It turned out the house was not deserted, old Mac Werthers lived there. People in drunken stupors, lying under piles of garbage dressed in camouflaged dirty smelly clothes that perfectly match the couch, rugs and walls , with feral cats howling and hissing to deflect your attention . . . are difficult to see.
I don’t know how long it took us to get over the whole experience. That was the first time I think we fully grasped that not everyone had a maid and how sad that really was. Some traumas stay with you a lifetime.
Some traumas stay with you a lifetime.