Friday, December 27, 2013

Little Red Wagon

My brother was back at our parents’ summer cabin in northern Vermont.  He was unable to walk on his leg after being in a terrible bicycle accident that resulted in the handlebar going through his knee. He was rushed to the Lancaster, New Hampshire hospital and spent two weeks there, in a semi-private room, shared by an older gentleman who died one night. I remember when it happened. It was tough on a 12-year-old to witness such an event:

“Mother, Mr. Glandeville died last night,” he said, muffled voice.
“Oh, that is sad. Well, that sometimes happens,” said Mother.
“But he was my friend. We played checkers,” said Paul. Mother continued hunting in her purse for something and did not really pause.
“He’s in a better place, probably,” she said.

He was finally released from the hospital and deemed well enough to stay home, but he could not put any weight on his knee. Paul was glad to be back and camp, and to sneak into his stash of C-rations and start to work on regaining the weight he had lost in the hospital.

It was not to be.

His only way to get to the cabinet where the C-Rations were stored was to use our little sister’s little red wagon as a wheelchair. When I realized what he wanted to do (and my parents were out), I rolled the wagon across the room, then in full view, opened up the cabinet, extracted a pack of C-Rations.

“Hey! Those are mine!” he shouted.
“I am hungry and want something,” I said.
“You can have the four-pack of cigarettes, but that’s all,” said Paul.
“I don’t want the cigarettes, and I don’t want the Kleenex packet either,” I said. “I like the fruitcake and that’s what I’m eating.” I said as I pulled out the can and prepared to grab the can opener.

Unfortunately it was precisely at that moment I heard the crunch of wheels on gravel and the return of adult supervision. I hustled the materials back into the cabinet, wheeled the little red wagon back to Paul’s bed, then left him to stew on his own new set of revenge fantasies.

If only I had been able to carry out my designs – grab, devour, gloat – right in front of him, it would have been great practice for the future. I would have been a much better wife and mother, and potentially even a captain of industry.