Tim and Ben were standing behind the counter one day in Papa’s store. Papa had gone in the back to get something. They had taken something off the shelf and were whispering to one another. I should have known they were up to no good. They called me to join them. Like an idiot, I did.
Tim held up a small pack of something wrapped in plastic. I could make out on the label: “Cannon Ball.” “What’s that?” I asked. Tim said, “Just the best candy in the world.”
“You’ll love it,” Ben added.
Tim took out his pocket knife, which was cool since I didn’t have one. He cut a piece off for himself and another for Ben. They started to chew it as if it was the best tasting thing they had ever had.
Then Tim cut off a piece and handed it to me. “Go ahead,” he said.“Yeah,” Ben said. “Chew it real fast so that you can get the full flavor.” He gave Tim a sly grin. So I did…
Well…I thought I was going to die! My mouth and nose felt like they were on fire. I started coughing and choking, and right there behind the counter I started spitting as much of it out as I could, but still managed to swallow about half of it. The whole time those two were laughing their fool heads off and slapping each other on the back. I knew it was a story they would tell everyone and probably still are. For the rest of that afternoon, I think I literally turned every possible shade of green.
Papa found out later what had happened. He gave them a good talking to as if that would make any difference.
Later he said to me, “I hope this has taught you a lesson.” “Yes, sir,” I replied. “Never, ever trust those two.”
He smiled. “Right, but also it’s probably a good idea to not take up chewing tobacco. It’s a nasty habit.” “Papa,” I said, “you don’t ever have to worry about that.” I was still feeling sick to my stomach.
On my next visit, the cousins heard I was there and so it wasn’t long before they had galloped over and ambled inside the store. They wanted to know if the “City Boy” wanted any more “candy.” They laughed and laughed. I laughed, too, and said, “You got me alright. That was a good one.”
The next day was a cold one. Besides sugar coffee, Papa made some great hot chocolate. He didn’t have a mixture like in those small packets you can get today. He just melted some chocolate bars in hot water. It was delicious. Tim and Ben especially liked it. I helped Papa make it that day. I even brought the cups of steaming chocolate and gave them to Tim and Ben, along with my own. Before long the cups were empty. They said that it tasted especially good that day. I agreed with a smile.
After about an hour or so, Tim stood and turned to Ben and said, “I don’t feel so good.” “Me, either,” Ben replied.
Tim said, “We’d best be getting home.” And out the door they went, hopping up on the horses and heading toward home. I walked out front and stood watching as they rode away.
Suddenly, they pulled the reins to the left and headed towards the woods that bordered Papa’s property. They leapt off their horses and ran toward the woods, doing their best to pull down their britches, not caring if the whole county saw their scrawny, bony, white behinds. They disappeared into the woods and stayed there a good while. I made sure to go back inside before they wandered back out. They didn’t jump on their horses this time, but led them by the reins down the road.
When I got back inside, Papa was standing behind the counter with a puzzled look on his face. He said, “We seem to be missing a couple of these,” and he held up a packet. “You know anything about that?”
Now Papa had been looking out the window. He saw everything that had happened. I shrugged my shoulders. “You didn’t, did you?” he asked. Again I shrugged. We both looked at each other for a moment and burst out laughing.
Now the fact that I am alive to tell this tale renders evidence that those two knuckleheads never did find out what had happened. I really wanted to tell them. I wanted them to learn a lesson – don’t miss around with city kids. They know stuff, like what a good laxative like Ex-lax can do, especially when mixed with hot chocolate.
But since I have now spilled the beans, my “Cannon Ball Cousins” just might find out, that is, if they have learned how to read. So I might have to change my name, or go into that witness protection program, or move to the Bahamas. So if you don’t read any more of my stories, you will know why.
And some of you might even be thinking you will look them up and send them this story. That’s okay. Go ahead. But if one day you find yourself drinking some hot chocolate or even coffee that tastes especially good, best be near some woods. That might be difficult to do for city folks.