No longer are Thevictorians living on the edge of redneckness. Nor are we hurtling down the two-lane blacktop at breakneck speed, approaching the precipice overlooking the abyss of redneckness. We are there. Imbedded deep in the hardpan at the bottom of The Valley of the Utmost of Redneckness.
But let’s not put the cart before The Pony.
Yesterday we got home from school and visiting my mom at that time when dusk flips the switch to dark. I turned on the Christmas lights strung around the soffits. It was simple, really. No great big industrial lever to pull down. No two extension cords to connect, like Clark Griswold trying to figure out his National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation display. All I had to do was lift the light switch lever on the wall of the garage as I went out. That’s because we leave our Christmas lights up year round. But WAIT! That’s not what makes us upper tier rednecks. Nor the goats and chickens and guineas and turkey roaming the yard. Nor the dented refrigerator in our kitchen.
I went into the house, and noticed The Pony was missing. Unusual. He always unlocks the kitchen door and goes in before I get there. He unloads his burden of backpack, lunchbox, Kindle Fire, mail, and my school bag. Then I usually see him sitting on the couch, plugging in his phone to set on the windowsill so he can tether his unlimited internet. He had not been ordered by Hick to feed the animals. He was simply missing.
A few minutes later, The Pony burst through the kitchen door. “Well, it looks like somebody’s not getting a Christmas present! Look what I found in the front yard. It’s all there was. It just caught my eye.” He held out a scrap of a shipping label, about the size of an orange slice. The fruit, not the candy.
“What? Where is it from? Who left it, FedEx or UPS?”
“I don’t know. This is all there was. It has your name on it. I’m going out to look some more. Maybe I can find what was in it.”
Off he went. Hick came in.
“The Pony found part of a package label in the yard. I guess the dogs got it.”
“Well, they ate my Case Collector knife truck that time. I don’t know why UPS leaves the packages on the porch.”
“I know. I put that note card out there saying to leave stuff in the garage. That one guy’s afraid of dogs. I think he tossed if from his truck. The lady we used to have hopped out with dog biscuits, and left the packages on top of Juno’s doghouse on the back porch, gave two knocks, and left. And that one year, the new guy left five packages for the people up the road. The one who came out of his garage wiping blood off a knife. I felt bad for having Genius get out to hand him the packages.”
The Pony came back in. “This is what I found. Barely. It’s okay. I didn’t look.” He held out a black plastic case, like those DVDs come in, face down. It was a computer game that he had asked for, the one Genius ordered for him and had sent to our house. The top and bottom corner where the case opens were chewed and ragged.
“Oh, Pony! I’m so sorry. I’ll get you another one.”
“It might be okay. We can open it and look. Here. The disc isn’t marred. But it’s wet. I’ll lay it down on the pool table to dry. I think it will work. And I still have the cardboard with the keycode I’ll need to make it work. We’ll have to explain to Genius why it’s open.”
Hick did not even lay the blame on my sweet, sweet Juno. It is possibly possible that my sweet, sweet Juno chewed up a bubble-wrap envelope and used black plastic to remove plaque buildup from her canine teeth. However…Hick knows that we didn’t even have Juno when his Case Collector knife truck was masticated. He’s treading lightly after the refrigerator dent affair.
This morning, Hick said, “I put a basket by the door for the packages. Surely those idiots can figure out that’s to put the stuff in.”
You know me, ever the Pollyannna. I was sure our problem was solved. I could imagine a wicker basket that Hick had picked up at the auction, right near the door, awaiting my future packages. It was dark then, so I did not run to look out on the porch. I did not think to turn and look back as we went up the driveway in the light of dawn.
“So your dad put a basket by the door for packages?”
“Uh huh. If you want to call it a basket. It’s more of a lunch crate.”
“It’s a milk crate. Faded red.”
“Is it sitting by the door?”
“No. It’s on the wall. Right by that little black mailbox.”
“He nailed it to the wall!”
“No. He SCREWED it to the wall!”
“I hope that didn’t split the cedar siding.”
“Don’t know. But we have a pink milk crate screwed to the front of our house, by the green door.”
Imbedded. In the hardpan. At the bottom of The Valley of the Utmost of Redneckness.