Daddy, Mr. Pryor & The Big Mistake (Pt. 2)

Like I said…

Like I said, locking Mr. Pryor’s utility meter shut wasn’t our smartest idea. But buying the lock at the Wide-Awake was the big mistake. How big, I didn’t really understand until the sheriff served me with a Summons to appear in Court.

“Robert, you’re being charged with a serious crime. You can have an attorney if you want one, but be in Judge Brown’s Court at 7:00 p.m. tonight. And you’d better tell your folks.”

Like I was going to do that! Mimmy might believe her boy, Bob, was a good boy, but your Papoy knew better. And, as much as my Mama fussed at all of us, it was Papoy who laid down the law. So I figured I’d keep this news to myself.

I got ahold of Jack and Ick and found out they’d been served as well. We didn’t have time to talk right then, so we agreed we’d meet early at the courthouse, come up with a smart story, and keep our parents out of it.

Just getting to the Courthouse was a Problem

So, right after supper that night, I said, all casual, “Well, I think I’ll go downtown. Same as I’d said a bunch of times without a word from my folks. But this time, your Mimmy speaks up.

“Oh, don’t go downtown tonight, Bob. Stay and listen to the radio with us.”

“Uh, what? Mama, I’d like to but I’ve got to go downtown. I promised I’d meet Jack and Ick.”

“You see Jack and Ick every night,” my Mama said, unperturbed. “You can sit home for once..”

Now, this was a pickle. I had to leave, but I couldn’t tell her why, not if I wanted to keep my skin. Part of me wondered if she knew about the court hearing, but I kind of guessed she didn’t. Knowing would have made your Mimmy mad and she never kept those feelings to herself. So I kept saying over and over that I’d like to stay home, that I’d rather stay home, that I’d stay home for every night for the next three weeks, but tonight I’d needed to leave. After ten minutes of sweating, she finally let me.

All Rise….

I drove to the courthouse as fast as I could and got there with about seven minutes to spare. Jack and Ick were mad at me being late but I think they were more scared than angry. Anyway, just as we sat on the first bench in the courtroom to try and get our stories straight, the courtroom door opens up and in walks Jack’s Dad. He doesn’t say anything but “Jack”, but we all know what that means. Jack goes and stands by his Dad. Then Ick’s Dad walks in the same door.

Well, after that, I sat by myself, on that front bench, watching everyone filter into their seats. The bailiff and court reporter, behind the judge’s bench, and other people clutching summonses in front. And Jack, and Ick, both standing by their Dads and looking pretty puny. Still, the clock’s getting pretty close to seven and I’m beginning to hope I can at least keep this from my folks. Just as the clock clicks to seven and the bailiff says”All Rise”, that back courtroom door open again and my Dad walks into the courtroom.

Well, there wasn’t any point fighting after that. Mr. Pryor testified about his power getting locked off, and the man from the power company testified about having to cut the lock. Then the sheriff talked about his investigation into the lock and the cashier said her piece. Tell you the truth, I wasn’t feeling pretty sick by then. So when the judge said, “Boys, are you sorry for all the trouble you’ve caused here tonight? “, we all answered, “Yes, Sir, we are.”

“Boys, you need to apologize to Mr. Pryor.”

“We’re sorry, Mr. Pryor./”

“Are you’re going to harass this man again?”

“No, Sir. We won’t, Mr. Pryor.”

“You boys are going to pay the Power Company back for the time their man spent cutting off your lock.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“And you’re going to pay the costs associated with bringing all these people to Court tonight.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Fine. Next Case!”

And last…

I turned up the center aisle, glad the Judge hadn’t decided to throw me into jail. As I passed my Dad, he opened his hand, and quietly said “I don’t think you’re going to need the car for awhile.”

I gave him the keys.

The Day Daddy Rolled the First Grade

You know Grandfield’s always been a small place. Shoot, there were only sixteen in my graduating class. And of that bunch, only four of us were boys. I liked that; it meant I had lots of girlfriends. But that also meant Jack, and Ick, and I got put in every school play and program

Like the year, they cast us in the senior play. We weren’t seniors but, because we were boys, they cast us anyway.

We only had little bitty parts when we had to be onstage. During the rest of the rehearsals, we were supposed to wait in the auditorium. Well, one afternoon, that teacher directing took forever getting to our scenes. That’s when we remembered the First Grade class was down the hall.

I told you that school system was small! They taught all twelve grades in one building. And I don’t know if it was Ick, or Jack, or me, but one of us thought we’d wake up the first grade.

First, we snuck out the side door of the Auditorium into a school hall. I remember, there were only three doors on that hall: our side door, the one to the janitor’s closet, and the one to the first grade classroom. And we were going to open all three.

The janitor’s closet was always full. It held his brooms and mops and buckets and all the cleaning stuff a school uses. And it had those big, industrial-sized rolls of toilet paper. We each hooked two of those rolls, and we snuck down the hall to the last door. Then Jack threw open the door to the first grade, and we bowled in those rolls of toilet paper, just like we were down at the bowling alley.

We slammed the door, and ran before they could see anything but unwinding toilet paper. But from our hiding spot in the janitor’s closet, we heard plenty. First, we heard that classroom door slam open, BANG, when it hit the wall. Then we heard the tack, tack, tack, of that teacher’s high heels, making for the principal’s office. And we heard all those little first-graders behind her, tee-heeing, fit-to-bust.

Well, the second those high heels faded out, we snuck back to the Auditorium, and sat down in our seats. And we got called to enter and say our lines a few minutes later. The director was telling us where to stand on stage when the back door of the Auditorium banged open too, BANG! And in came Mr. Pryor.

Mr. Pryor held all kinds of jobs at that school. He taught shop, and drove the school bus. And he was both principal and School Superintendent. He didn’t like me too much. Anyway, he stopped what we were doing and asked if anyone had left rehearsal.

The director, she told him no one had left, but for some reason, he didn’t believe her. And he had all us boys stand up in a line. Then he questioned us, one at a time.

“Jack, did you disturb Mrs. Hillenbrand’s classroom?”

“No, Mr. Pryor.” Jack says.

“Ick Nault, did you interrupt Mrs. Hillenbrand’s First Grade?”

“No, Sir.” Ick says, looking right back at him.

Of course, I was stuck at the end of the line. And I began to get tense. So, when Mr. Prior said, ”Bob Zumwalt, did you roll Mrs. Hillenbrand’s first-grade class?” I tried to boom back my answer. But my voice broke just as I opened my mouth so ”No, Mr” came out real high, like a girl, and then ”Pryor” bullfrogged out of my chest.

Well, I turned red, and everyone started laughing. And Pryor knew I was guilty as sin. But, whatever my punishment, it wasn’t near as good as hearing that first-grade teeheehee over toilet paper.