Building a Log Cabin

Billy’s Backyard Log Cabin

Bobby and Billy were eight years old. Bobby lived directly across the street from Billy. Billy and Bobby did not like each other very much. Bobby was the most popular boy in the neighborhood. Bobby never had to go to anyone else’s house and ask them to come out and play. All the boys would go to Bobby’s house and ask him out. Billy was the least popular boy in the neighborhood. Billy always had to go around to the other boys’ houses and ask for someone to come out and play. Billy and Bobby did not like each other very much. Sometimes, they would play together, when there was no one else to play with and nothing else to do during the long, hot summer.

Bobby’s mother, Gazella, was the cub scout den mother for the neighborhood. Billy could never join such things, because he was very sickly, always catching colds and missing school. Billy was unpopular because he was so different. Billy spent a lot of time in a world of his own, alone. He watched a lot of television. Davy Crocket and Daniel Boone were depicted as big frontier heroes on television. Manliness seemed to be defined by bravery, and a knowledge of hunting and the wild. Even legendary Abe Lincoln was said to have built a log cabin and lived in it.

Billy wanted to be great and famous. He tried to learn everything and anything he could about survival in the wild. Billy had a hunting knife, just like Jim Bowie, except not nearly so big. Billy had a bow with real hunting arrows. The tips of the arrows had razor sharp edges. Such an arrow could have been used to hunt deer using a more powerful bow.

One day, Billy decided to build his own log cabin in the back yard. Behind the house was an acre or two of swampy woods. Billy took an axe and a saw and cut down many small trees which were only an inch around. He placed them in a square pattern, one on top of another, as he had seen in the Lincoln Log toy sets. There were spaces in between each tree. Billy could not figure how to get rid of those spaces.. Billy kept working day after day, until the log cabin was 3 feet high. There was no door. Billy could not figure out how to make a door. Finally, Billy cut a number of leafy branches and lay them on top as a roof.

Billy’s mother thought that building the log cabin was a marvelous accomplishment for an eight year old. She called Gazella across the street to come and see. Gazella came and brought the six or seven boys from the Cub Scout Pack. They all looked at the log cabin with surprise. Billy felt very proud, as though he had out-smarted all the Cub Scouts who rejected him. From that day on, the boys in the neighborhood seemed to like Billy even less.

The log cabin was really not a very good one. After a week or so, Billy’s mom made him take it apart and drag all the branches back into the woods. The grass had turned yellow where the log cabin had been. Billy was happy. He had set a simple goal for himself and then accomplished it. He never realized that the cub scouts across the street talked about doing such a project.

Bobby was Roman Catholic. Billy was never baptized or brought to any sort of church. Some of the other boys on the street were Protestants. One day, Bobby was holding court with all the boys in the neighborhood, in Bobby’s back yard. Bobby lectured about how the Catholics were definitely going to heaven, the Protestants had a chance, but definitely Billy was going to hell because he was a heathen and did not belong to any church. Bobby was mean and powerful. Bobby was powerful because he was popular, powerful because he was much bigger than all the other boys, and powerful because he was popular and had influence with many.

Bobby was a year ahead of Billy in school. They always road on the same school bus, but never sat together. There was always an undercurrent of snide jealousy and animosity between the two. Bobby was usually the snarky one.

Once Billy and Bobby finished high school they never saw one another again. Years later, Billy found Bobby’s e-mail address in a search engine, and sent Bobby an e-mail. Bobby answered and said, “Oh, are you that weird guy who lived across the street from me?” Bobby was always the snarky one. Billy never bothered to write Bobby again.

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