When I was in grade school, we lived at the opposite end of town from my friend, Micheal. Sometimes, my ma would take me out to his house, and pick me up after a few hours. I loved going out there...Mike was always a blast to be around, and his people were cool, especially his dad.
This one summer afternoon, back in '66, we're playing out in the yard with one of Mike's birthday presents, a Zero-M Sonic Blaster, which was a really sharp gun that fired air as the missile. We'd been playing for a few minutes, and had already exhausted the possibilities of blowing apart the cardboard targets that came with the gun...we were starting to get bored.
Then, Mike noticed the swarm of muffleheads on the side of the house; that time of year, they were everywhere, sheer clouds of them, like big, but harmless mosquitoes. Mike walked over to the wall, pumping the Blaster as he went, then stuck the muzzle over a bunch of muffleheads, and pulled the trigger.
When he lifted the muzzle away, there was this big red blotch on the wall, like something from a modern art painting. I took the Blaster from him, and tried it myself, producing the same result. We took turns, so wrapped up in what we were doing that we never noticed his Dad pulling into the drive....
"Micheal...Alan....what're you doing"? said that deep, silky voice. We froze, waiting to see how much trouble we both were in-Pop McDowell had my ma's permission to discipline me when I was there.
"Now, you boys get a couple buckets, and some water, and clean my wall," was all he said, or had to say...Pop was cool, but he didn't play around. We hove to, and were scrubbing the wall in a trice.
Over the years, I heard that voice many times, the last time being a couple years after Mike had passed...I couldn't bring myself to come out to the house, it hurt too much, and I told him so.
"Alan....that's okay....I understand", he said, and I knew that he did. Pop himself was gone about a month later.