Normally we would be playing baseball on a summer day, but the football had somehow fallen off the top of the closet shelf that morning and Pete had brought it to the breakfast table along with my replica Baltimore Colts helmet.
It was summer in Texas, sometime in July of 1959 is my memory and the temperature was hovering around its customary 100 degree mark. It didn’t really bother Pete and me though. We were outside most days in the summer and today was just the same as any other day, except for the fact that we were throwing a football around.
Pete, being 12 that summer, could throw long arcing spirals with the ball. I was only 9 and my hands were not really large enough to grip a football and make it spiral the way Pete could.
The helmet was a prize of mine. My Uncle Jay had taken us to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to see an exhibition game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts and I had come home with the helmet. Uncle Jay had told the man at the booth to find one that fit me and "Turn it over to me." Then he said, “There you go Repeat, don’t ever let me see you wearing a Giants helmet, now you are always a Colt.” He always called me Repeat because he said I was just like my big brother Pete. Uncle Jay had been the first to actually call me Repeat. Now it had become my name the same as if God had tattooed it on my butt end in the beginning.
So now, I was a Colts fan, going by the name of Repeat. And on this morning I was running sharp cutting pass patterns just like the Colts Raymond Berry would do it, the helmet dancing around loosely on my head, the face mask obscuring my vision as it went up and down across my eyes, reminding me of the windshield wipers on dad’s Ford as they passed up and then back down the windshield again. The helmet had no choice in doing its little 'cha-cha' on my head, its chin strap was lost long ago to my dog White Sox who had chewed on it all night long as though it were one of the jackrabbits he was forever chasing in the fields around the house.
I dove across the edge of our yard in a futile attempt at one of Pete’s beauties of a spiral, the dirt and grass imprinting my jeans with the green grass skid marks my mom hated so much. I knew I had also entered the ‘domain of the fat lady’ and I tried with all my energy to corral the pass as it skittered along the grass and dirt and at the same time trying to come to my feet and skee-daddle back to my yard. I knew I would be too late though. The fat lady kept constant watch from her bedroom window. My mom said she was always in bed and that was why she was so fat. In fact mom said she was so fat she could hardly even get out of bed.
No sooner than I could get to my knees she was screaming like always about ‘bastard neighbor kids and their damned noisy games’ ............ ‘ didn’t kids have any respect anymore,' and finally having saved her most ear piercing scream for a direct assault on little Raymond Berry himself she bellowed out “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY YARD YOU LITTLE HALF-BREED MEXICAN BASTARD!” Apparently she didn’t know about my new name being ‘Repeat’.
Pete and I made it to our porch the same time as our mom arrived. In what was now a ritual she told us to stay out of fat Mrs. Davenport’s yard and don’t be throwing balls over there. Then like always, she brought us both Kool Aid.
After mom went back inside Pete asked, “Repeat do you know how to get a fat lady into a bikini.” I thought about it for a minute but Pete got tired of waiting on me and said, “You take the ‘F’ out of way.”
I told him there "wasn’t any F in way," and then Pete started cackling like he was Red Skelton or somebody really funny like that. When he was all through laughing he told me dad told him that fat old Mrs. Davenport has so much hair in her arm pits that it looked like she had Bozo the Clown in a headlock. Then Pete started rolling around on the porch laughing again. I was still a little afraid of Mrs. Davenport so I didn’t laugh near as hard.
I asked Pete “What do you figure makes her just lay around in bed and holler at us for being in her yard?”
Pete didn’t answer right away. Then he looked at me like he had come up with another joke of some kind, but he didn’t tell one after all. He said “Repeat, dad says that she just doesn’t know God lives inside her. He says God lives inside everyone and that makes us all have the power of God and because its that way we all have to make a decision about how to use that power.”
As usual, dad's wisdom coming via Pete left me feeling a little blank at first, but Pete went on. “Well, see Repeat, its like the wind sort of; the wind is always blowing on the ocean. You can’t see it. But you can feel it and you can use it. If you set your sails one way the wind can blow you onto the rocks, but if you set your sails in the right way, the wind will blow you into the harbor. God lives inside you the same as the wind is always blowing at sea and we have to figure out how to use that power the right way.”
Pete could see the confusion in my face so he tried again. “OK Repeat, imagine it this way. You can’t see electricity can you?” I told Pete I couldn’t see it but I figured he already knew that was my answer because he went right on without listening to me. “But we can use electricity to do all kinds of things that are good. We just have to use the power of things we can’t see. Have faith they are really there and then learn to use them the right way. Like knowing God is in everyone but we have to use the invisible power just the right way, the same as electricity.”
“Pete, do you mean that dad says Mrs. Davenport just doesn’t have her sails set right?”
Pete started laughing again, then he pounded his open hand down on the top of the helmet, smushing my head into the padding at the top so that I could barely see out. He said, ”Yep Repeat, you little half-breed, now you get it.......maybe”
Copyright 2006 - Riddle