Flashlight Duty

Y’all seem to be ignoring me today, and you should know better! That’ll just make me pester you more! Kind of like my brother Billy use to aggravate our youngest brother Ken. Sometimes all Billy had to do was look at Ken with this taunting, one-sided grin he had, and Ken would go balistic: “Mom! Billy’s lookin at me!”

Did you ever have to hold the flashlight for your dad while he worked on something? Man, I hated that! I’m not kidding, flashlights seem to have a mind of their own; they won’t stay still, and it wants to point everywhere except where the old man wants you to point it.

I remember one time when I was about twelve, and the old man’s truck broke down. He had a friend tow it to the house behind his friend’s equally old truck, and he had to have it fixed before morning, or he’d need somebody to pick him up and give him a ride to work.

So there we are, the old man cussing and twisting bolts, while I tried hard as I could to keep the flashlight aimed where he was working. It was like the darn thing would get heavy sometimes, and just start drifting downward away from his hands. Naturally, he always noticed before I did, and his bark, which sounded sort of like my name, would cause me to come off the ground about a foot and a half. It also made it even harder to keep the flashlight still, since at that point I was shaking like a leaf in a dust storm.

So, now, he had two things to cuss about—the broken-down truck and my inability to hold the light still. Like I said, I hated flashlight duty!

And then the moth showed up. Without giving it a thought, I began to chase the fluttering creature with the beam of the flashlight, and failed to even notice my old man had stopped twisting on the bolt, and had also stopped muttering to himself. I was entranced by the moth. Round and round, zigging and zagging, gone for a second then back.

“BOY!” the old man bellowed. I’m not kidding, I think my heart stopped, and I know for a fact my brain ceased to function, because what I did next will live in the annals of boyhood blunders for eternity.

“What!” I yelled as my feet came back to earth. I pointed the flashlight right at my dad’s eyes, and the look of sheer rage almost made me wet my pants! I dropped the flashlight beam quickly to his hand as I saw it trembling and moving slowly toward me. I deduced I was about to be strangled. An angel saved me from certain demise.

“Roy,” mom sang in a voice as sweet as any I’d ever heard. “Supper’s ready.”

I shot the beam back up to the old man’s face, and watched him blink then raise his trembling hand to shield his eyes. I dropped the beam to his mouth where one side of his lips began to curl into either a grin or a vicious snarl. I clicked the flashlight off, dropped it in the grass, and bolted for the house.

Before he sat down at the dinner table, the old man reached over and laid the flashlight beside my plate. He was definitely grinning now, but one could never tell what thoughts were accompanying his grin. Most of the time his actions proved they were not good thoughts.

I glanced at the flashlight, then at him. I forked up some mashed potatoes, and as I swallowed, I thought, holy cow those are salty. I didn’t dare say anything, though. Turned out it was another of Mom’s cooking mishaps.

I’ll tell you about it another time.


  1. Brenda Lewis said

    I could see Uncle Roy’s face, as I read this! Not a pretty sight really! LOL I loved the story though!!

    • There were so many things like that. We literally lived in a state of fear. But looking back, some of it was pretty funny, in spite of it all.

  2. Juli said

    I love this story too.

  3. Sherry said

    The visual of you chasing that moth around is FUNNY!

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