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Friday, July 20, 2012

Puddy Miggs and Buster


Puddy Miggs sat stunned on the pavement staring at the scuffed toes of her old Sunday shoes. The rounded ends of her little maroon buckled shoes displayed in tiny splits the white scars of lost battles over rocks and stones that conspired to trip her as she skipped her rope down the sidewalk. Now on the sun-blazed sidewalk, her buns toasted through her cotton dress and the backs of her tender legs sizzled like bacon. She fought back the growing thundercloud of cry. It was the crack in the sidewalk that did her in and she was angry.

Buster glided toward her his . . . well, she didn’t know what it was. Nobody knew what it was because nobody in the whole wide world had one like it. Buster didn’t even know what to call it, but he was in it approaching with a look of concern on his face. He was seated with his legs out in front, nearly identical to the way Puddy landed on the ground when she fell. The seat of the vehicle rested in the middle of a saucer-like body that rolled along on two large wheels, one to the left and one to the right of its driver. Buster propelled himself along by turning the wheels, pushing and pulling the built-in handles, rowing his way up and down the street. Sometimes he rowed the wheels feverishly then let the hand-pegs go, throwing up his hands into the air and set the contraption into a spin like a flying saucer. The pilot shrieked, “WheeEEEEE!” from the middle seat. Sometimes he just threw up.

Puddy did not want Buster to come near. She wanted him to go away, her bottom numb from summer’s sudden sidewalk spanking.

“Go 'way, Buster.” She said, drawing her legs up underneath her skirt, covering her shoes. Puddy found a rock and threw it.

“Are you ok, Puddy? I saw you fall down.” He rolled up, skidding to a stop, hands firm on the wheel-handles. He was terribly strong for a 6-year old. She sorta liked that.

“I said for you to go away, Buster.” She stood up and dusted her knees, which did not need dusting. The back of her legs stopped sizzling. She absently wiggled as the feeling returned to her burning backside—and the relief showed on her face. Buster saw it but said nothing.  

“Well, I’m jus’ trying to be nice and make sure you’re ok, Puddy. I saw you fall down from over there.” Buster navigated his device around, turning one wheel rotating on a dime to point and to show her where he was, like she needed to know. Those boys on their Big Wheel couldn’t turn like he could in that orange space-ship looking thing of his. Those wheels reminded her of a picture she saw on the cover of a paperback book her grandfather read, a boy and a black man on a raft waving their straw hats to a churning river boat driven by two great paddle wheels.

Those boys in their Big Wheels always wanted to race. The event was so comical teenagers appeared from their hiding-places, lining up along the curb to watch along with the little kids. Buster silently answered the challenge to race by rolling up to the starting crack in the street. Leaning forward slightly, he set his grip on the wheel pegs, squinting his eyes on the finish crack a few of houses down, ignoring his opponent, ignoring the cheers and the taunts of other kids. The boys in their Big Wheels took on the faces of their fathers and uncles on their motorcycles, peddling into the start position.

“GO!”

The Big Wheel boys peddled, and Buster rowed and rowed. Faster and faster, the muscles in his arms burned as he pumped. The kids along the curb laughed and pointed while Buster’s arms flew in circles. The hollow plastic shells of the riding toys rumbled down the race course.

Buster never won, and the smiles of the boys in their Big Wheels never lingered as they could only watch as Buster flew across the finish line, then throwing hands in the air with everything spinning like a top, screaming the cry of victory that only could feel. “WheeEEEEE!”

Puddy Miggs sorta liked that. 

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