“MICHAEL DID IT! MICHAEL DID IT!” June-bug came running out of the woods as fast as his feet could carry him. He knew somebody was going to be in trouble and it wasn’t going to be him. A few seconds later and quite a bit slower Michael came out holding a Daisy lever action BB gun with the genuine solid wood stock. Michael had a look of shock on his face as if he’d just seen a ghost. He and his cousin June-bug were playing out in the woods that Saturday morning looking for something to shoot with the new BB rifle Michael had gotten just that Christmas before. For some reason there were no squirrels or birds in the trees (they knew better), so Mike and June-bug had to find something else to use for target practice.
Just when they were ready to give up on the whole thing and find something else to do, they saw a truck coming up the dirt road. It was the McClacken brothers. The two brothers were renters on the Bowen property and they drove their truck up and down Piney Ridge Road several times a day. This would turn out to be a bad day to be doing that. Michael perked up, he had an idea. “Watch me shoot the tire when the truck goes by”. He laid on the ground and took up a shooting position, that of a sniper, but before ‘sniper’ was a household word. The truck slowly came up the hill headed for the gate and cattle guard that kept the Bowenses cows in. June-bug watched the truck, turned to watch Michael, then looked back to the truck, “Shoot! Shoot before its too late!” The muffled puff of the BB gun going off could be heard throughout that section of woods. The driver of the truck hit the brakes and the tires skidded to an abrupt stop. A yelp could be heard emanating from the cab. “I been hit!’, the driver put the truck in reverse and the brothers backed up to the Brown driveway, jumped out and approached Michael’s father, who was busy changing spark plugs. His head was under the hood of his car. He could be found in that position most any Saturday, Sundays too. “They shot me”, the bigger of the two brothers came toward Ellsworth, one hand clasping the other for support, tears were flowing down his face. That’s when June-bug came barreling out of the woods proclaiming his innocence.
The other, smaller brother rolled out of the passenger’s side of the truck laughing as loud and as hard as he could, “You got shot in the finger! It was a BB gun, I heard it go off. What are you yelping about?” The younger McClacken stood, bent over laughing while his older sibling winced in pain, showing Ellsworth the spot under his fingernail where he’d been hit. He’d been driving with his elbow on the window sill and his hand resting on the outside top of the window.
Ellsworth looked at the red mark made by the pellet and told Mr. McClacken that if he wanted to go to the emergency room, he could bring the bill back to him for what it cost. Mr. McClacken and his little brother went back to the truck, got in and headed back down the road, you could hear snickering coming from younger brother as they drove out of sight. Ellsworth turned to Michael with his hand out, “Give me that before you shoot somebody’s eye out! What in the world were you thinking about? Don’t ever expect to get this back!” Michael began to explain that he was only trying to hit the tire but his aim was off, he realized he wasn’t helping the situation by making excuses and his words kind of trickled off to nothing. Ellsworth sent Michael into the house and June-bug back to the ridge, play time was over for the day.
About an hour and a half later, the two brothers pulled back into our driveway and they got out. Young being a relative term, both being at least 35 years old, young McClacken didn’t even let his brother start talking, “They put a band-aid on it! It wasn’t even bleeding!?”. He was getting a real kick out of this whole ordeal. He teased his big brother relentlessly, “They didn’t even charge for the band-aid”. Ellsworth apologized again and assured them that it wouldn’t happen again.
Even though Ellsworth promised Michael that he’d never see his gun again, about a year later he gave it back to him with a stern warning and just as promised, it never happened again. Michael didn’t so much as point that gun at another living creature from that day on. A lesson well learned.
This incident happened over 40 years ago when things were much different, for instance:
1) A 13 year old could traipse around the neighborhood pointing a BB gun at anything that moved and no one considered calling the police.
2) The victim went to the boy’s parents to resolve the situation and it was successfully resolved without government intervention.
3) Someone went to the emergency room and was treated without being charged an outrageous fee. Actually, there was no fee charged at all!
4) Race was never an issue in a situation that would have been first viewed from a racially charged perspective, if faced today.
Over the years we seem to have lost the ability to use common sense. We need to get back to letting common sense resolve day to day problems, not the federal and local authorities.