When I wanted to play Mom or Dad would give me a chore. This time it was Mom. Before she left for work, Mom told me to water the garden. “It’s been hot. You need to water the vegetable garden for me today. There hasn’t been any rain, so the vegetables will die if they don’t get water. Don’t forget now.”
I didn’t see anything so wrong if the vegetables died. I didn’t like cabbage. The only time I’d l eat lettuce is if it was on a sandwich and then only with Miracle Whip. Carrots were yucky and tomatoes, I guess, were all right when Mom put them in spaghetti sauce. I couldn’t tell this to Mom. She’d tell me to pack up my portion and send it to China. There are plenty of starving kids there. She’d make me pay to mail it. I could only give in. “Okay Mom, okay. I won’t forget.” She knew I’d be watching my morning TV shows. I knew I better ask if could wait. “Can I finish watching the Lone Ranger?”
“I guess so, but make sure you get it done before it gets too hot.”
The Lone Ranger was getting exciting. He and Tonto were on the trail of stagecoach robbers. I wasn’t about to take my eyes off the television, so I answered Mom without looking at her. “I’ll go right after the show.” I added in my most convincing voice, “Honestly I will.”
I could feel the eyes on my back, not ordinary eyes. They were penetrating X-ray eyes, capable of seeing right through me, even hearing my thoughts. Lying was not possible with those eyes. Even the smallest fib would be caught. She was better than the Lone Ranger. Her eyes had the ability to force you to look at them, even though it was the farthest thing from your mind, so I wasn’t surprised when I found myself turning to face her. She asked, “Mickey Mouse comes on next, doesn’t it?”
“Don’t be watching it and water late, or forget. Are you listening?”
See I told you. Those eyes, they see and know everything. How did she know I was planning on watching Mickey Mouse? Wonder where she got that power? Do you think I’ve got it too? I’ll try it out on my sister later.
I could hear Lone Ranger calling, high ho, Silver and away we go. I was missing the best part. I’d promise almost anything to get rid of her eyes and get back to the television. “Yes, Mom, no Mickey Mouse.”
Mom’s eyes turned their attention to finding her purse. It allowed me to return watching the Lone Ranger. I listened for the screen door to close. It meant she was walking to the car, and soon I’d hear its wheels on the gravel driveway. Mickey Mouse came on at eight-thirty and ended at nine. There would be enough time to water after nine. It didn’t get really hot till around noon. Then I heard my sister. She thought she was boss when Mom was gone. “Aren’t you supposed to be watering the garden?”
“And aren’t you supposed to be making the beds and dusting?”
“Yeah, but I can do it anytime, and you’re supposed to water the garden before it gets hot.”
She turned and went to Mom and Dad’s bedroom. I could see her through the open door. I focused my eyes on her back and stared hard, willing myself not to blink. It didn’t work. She didn’t turn around, but she spoke. “Quit staring at me.”
Maybe it takes a little more practice, or it gets better as I get older. I kept staring to see what it would do. She was feeling it all right. “I said stop staring. I’ll tell Mom you didn’t go out after the Lone Ranger.”
She’d tell just to get me in trouble. One time she was so mad at me for not doing what she said she shoved me, and I fell out of my bedroom window. Good thing it was on the first floor. She never said she was sorry. That’s why I’m trying to see if I have the eye power. I can use it to get even.
I usually did what she said, so I went to my bedroom to get dressed. While I was getting out of my pjs, I pretended I was still staring at her. No response. I guess it doesn’t go through walls.
Giving up my experiment with x-ray eyes, I went outside to water the garden. Mom used the watering can because you had to put two hoses together, and, even then, it barely reached. She said it was less hassle with the can. Well maybe less hassle, but a lot more work. You had to walk back and forth to the faucet at least a gazillion times. No, I decided to use the hose and put my thumb over the end like Dad. I could get the entire garden wet that way, without a watering can.
The faucet was between the porch steps and the house. In order to make it reach the whole way, the hose had to go over the steps, and it had to stay in place. I got it just so and started watering. As long as it stayed put, it worked, but it kept falling off the steps.
I went to Dad’s tool shed to see what I could find to keep it in place. I decided on a couple nails and a hammer. Once I nailed the hose to the steps it stayed in place. There was less water coming out at end because it was spraying from around the nails, but I was still able to water the garden.
I was proud of how I had solved the hose problem, so I left it in place until Mom got home. I could show her that when she watered she wouldn’t have to work so hard. Excited, I ran out to greet her when I heard the car in the driveway. I didn’t want to miss the look on her face as she saw how I solved her problem, but it wasn’t the look I expected.
It started with the eyes again. They got wide as they saw the nails in the hose, like the bad guy when he sees the Lone Ranger’s gun. Then the eyes squinted as they searched and found me. “Timmy Joe what is this?”
Mom used Timmy Joe only when she was angry. She had the ability to yell it so loud I swear I could hear it at Grandma’s house, a mile away. I still thought if I explained it, she’d understand. “I solved your problem with the hose. It’ll stay in place now, and you won’t have to use the watering can.”
It wasn’t working, because this time the index finger joined the eyes. It’s almost an evil combination, enough to make a kid have nightmares. “But you’ve ruined the hose.”
“No, Mom, there’s still enough water to get the whole garden.”
She broke down then and started laughing. There were tears in her eyes.
“Your dad will not think it’s such a good idea. We better get it off the steps.”
I know we didn’t have enough money to buy new hoses, but Mom and I went to town to get them anyway. We got two longer ones this time. They reached all the way to the end of the garden. I told Mom to keep my allowance for two weeks to help pay for it. I don’t know if Dad ever knew, but I think he did. That night Dad was laughing so loud it woke me.
Bye the way, I’m still working on my stare.