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Sunny Hills Apocrypha


“The Rabbits”
By 1954, most of the families along Rideout had lost their cats to hungry coyotes. One aerospace engineer, however, was proud to have a lovely wife from his hometown in Texas, five daughters, one son, two cats and a dog. But one evening he checked his bookcase safe where he kept his rifles and pistols. He found them worn and in need of cleaning. He stepped into the hallway and summoned his son Keldon. His mother was too protective of the child, who’d begin first grade in September.
The engineer ordered his son to sit down and he locked the door, with his wife and daughters eavesdropping outside.
He stood above his son, whose face had flushed red from the effort not to cry. He was a small boy with freckles and red hair.
“Keldon, do you know why I’ve called you in here?” the man asked the boy.
“Yes, I guess it’s about your guns, Daddy,” the boy answered in a squeaky voice.
“Tell me what you did,” the man ordered him.
“I knew the coyotes have been killing family cats around here,” Keldon began. “So I got together some of my friends at school and led them on hunting parties. We used your guns, Daddy. We shot a lot of coyotes dead, in the box canyons where you can’t hear anything close.”
The engineer stared at his son, who’d curled his lips and begun to shake.
“That’s an unforgivable sin, young man. You failed to clean these firearms properly before you returned them to where they belong.” 
Keldon looked up with a miserable expression and said, “Are you gonna whip me good, Daddy?”
The father placed his hand on his son’s ear in affection and rubbed his head.
“No, Keldon. You did good work. But in the future, remember that, all right?”
“I sure will, Daddy!”
He rose and hugged his father around the waist.
“With your birthday coming up, it’s time you had a good rifle of your own,” the man added.
“Oh, Daddy! Honest?”
“Sure! I’ll take you down Saturday!”
When he opened the door to lead the boy out, his wife hugged and kissed him.
“You lucked out this time!” six-year old Susie told Keldon.
He ignored her and with a new swagger and a squint in his eyes, walked past her.
January 18, 2023