Tony

 

Tony was a very different kettle of fish to Reg. He had an uncanny knack of getting into strife without really trying hard either. The bane of Tony (and Bill) was girls. Their showing off to the girls led them to do some stupid things. One day while climbing the Blackwood tree in front of Mrs. Nicolson's a couple of girls walked past. To show off a bit, Tony tried swinging from branch to branch a-la-Tarzan or should I say a-la-Cheetah. He missed a branch and broke his arm in the fall. Not to be outdone, Bill did almost the same thing in the same tree. The only difference was that Bill caught his head in the vee of a branch on the way down and nearly pulled his head off. Mom was talking to Mrs. Brown a while before this about one of the locals losing his head over a girl. If he lost it the same way that Bill tried to, he must have been a mess.

 

Tony had just got his arm out of plaster. He was demonstrating to some girls his great balance by running along Mrs. Simpson's veranda railing, slipped and cracked his arm again. Tony knew instinctively that he was a dashing debonair man about town. It would be very remiss of him not to spread himself around all the girls that he could. But unfortunately, most of the girls did not know how dashing and debonair he was, so he organised a scheme to let them know one at a time. He wrote them love letters. He did not want to deliver these letters so he talked me into delivering the first letter while Tony stood about twenty-feet away, posing like a movie hero looking over the prairie, steely eyed, hand on his six-gun. A tough hombre to be sure, while the fair maid stands a short distance away heart pounding and knees trembling. So I approach this group of giggling, tattering girls and pass the letter to the chosen one. Oh god, what a terrible embarrassing thing it is for me to do. I swear then and there that I will never, never, never do this again. But after a talk with Tony, we came to an agreement. A penny a letter soothes my embarrassment a bit. I think Tony sent at least one letter to every girl in the school. He missed out on the teachers though. But they were either too old or too ugly.

 

I came home from school one day and found Tony on the spare block next door digging a shallow hole. He told me to get lost; he did not want me around when he set his bomb off. A bomb, wow, there was no way he was getting rid of me. Tony had a beer bottle into which he put different ingredients. A screwed up newspaper wick was stuffed into the top. Tony made me get behind a tree about fifty-feet away. He lit the wick and dived behind a tree. 'Poof' went the bomb and cracked the beer bottle. This went on for about a week. Every afternoon after school with the same result. I was losing interest in this project but Tony reckoned he nearly had it right. On afternoon Reg and Tony put their heads together. I was behind my usual tree, not very optimistic. The wick was lit and Tony sauntered to his tree when 'boom'. Glass whistled around like shrapnel. The roof of our house rattled. Where the shallow hole was a big one appeared. Both Tony and Reg ashen faced staggered out from being their trees. That really put a damper on the Oliverís urban terrorist lessons. It frightened the daylights out of all of us. I asked Tony how to make the bomb. I could have done things with technology like that but he wouldn't tell me. Thank the lord for that.

 

Tony lit a campfire in our backyard. He talked mom into giving him some potatoes. He put the potatoes into the coals. When they were completely black, he pulled them out and handed them around. Mine had the first quarter on an inch burnt to a cinder. I broke it open and put salt on it. I ate the whole lot, the burnt outside and all. Delicious. Reg and Bill said so too. We had some great times in our own backyard after that. There is no better fun than eating, is there?

 

When a few extra boys were around and we were sick of kick-to-kick, we would have a game of soccer on Mrs. Nicolson's spare block. We played with a big rubber ball. It was interesting for a change. If Tony's team were winning, the game went OK but of Tony's team was losing, Tony would start changing the rules and then everyone got sick of it and went home. When Reg wasnít around, Tony kept an eye on me. I never had to worry about anything or anyone. My Brothers made sure I was looked after. The Oliver boys were very different and that is why we got on so well. If it all were to happen again, I could not think of a better pair to grow up with.