“Mr. Peterson, you’ll never guess what I just saw!” From the bug-eyed look on Billy Dean Dickinson’s face, I know he’s about to spin one of his wild yarns. The boy’s eleven, the sixth kid in the Dickinson herd of eight, and has an imagination as bountiful as that guy who wrote Star Wars. Knowing this kid, he’ll say he saw Elvis or Michael Jackson … or maybe that Tupac fella. I sit back in my rocker and watch Billy Dean come flying across my yard like he’s got a pack of bees in his britches.
He runs up my porch steps and says, “I’m walkin’ home from the store when this little blue car comes barrelin’ around the corner. I have to skedaddle out of the way to keep from gettin’ run over cause the guy’s drivin’ so crazy. Then I see it in his backseat.” Billy Dean’s eyes widen. “My jaw dropped and yours would too, Mr. Peterson, if you got an eyeful of that thing. It’s gotta be the weirdest creation on God’s green earth!”
Some folks here would wager that Billy Dean is God’s weirdest creation.
My wife, Ellie, says the boy’s not weird, he’s just a little misguided. Says he needs attention so he makes stuff up. Personally, I think Billy Dean’s from the land of the whoppers – and not the good kind like they got at that Burger King place over in Fogerty. Everybody knows the kid’s a fabricator; I used to call him a liar, but Ellie set me straight.
Billy Dean was seven when he swore up and down he didn’t take his little sister’s candy. Said it was a chocolate-loving ninja who “snatched it from Tammy Lynn’s clenched little fist.” Right, like ninjas hang out in itty bitty places like Grove Hill. Bobby Dean, that’s the boy’s dad, asked the kid why his sister would accuse him if it wasn’t true, and the answer was, “I don’t know, Daddy. Maybe she’s stupid or somethin’. I mean – look at her!” When his dad pointed out the chocolate smudges on Billy Dean’s mouth, the kid’s eyes got even wider than usual. Then he turned on the tears. Between sniffles, he said, “I was real scared, Daddy. Why’d that ninja smoosh Tammy Lynn’s Hershey bar in my face?”
Now he’s pacing in front of me, muttering something about calling those tabloid people to get them out here to take a look. Says he bets the National Enquirer or The Globe would pay big money for a story this weird.
Last year Ellie was hanging the wash when she saw Billy Dean in his backyard with his friends. “Naw,” she overheard the boy say. “That’s not my dad. My real dad’s a big shot in the government – some sort of spy or somethin’. He’s got to keep a low profile – that’s what Ma calls it – so that’s why he don’t ever come around. Ya can’t tell nobody though cause it could get him killed. Then I’d really be in hot water.”
Ellie was agitated when she told me, insisting the boy’s mama was as faithful as an old dog. When my wife calmed down, though, she felt sorry for Billy Dean – said that with five older brothers and two younger sisters, there’s not enough attention to go around. Then she said that with most kids nowadays having at least one step parent, Billy Dean was probably just trying to fit in. I told her making excuses for the boy stunk as bad as a big ole pile of bull pucky. She set me straight on that one, too; said I’d best watch my big ole mouth.
Now Billy Dean turns to me. “It’s the craziest thing I ever saw, Mr. Peterson. A two-headed cow! Two heads right next to each other, stickin’ out the window big as you please.”
I shoo a fly away from my face then reach for my glass of lemonade. “A two-headed cow stuffed in the backseat of a little blue car, huh? Well, I gotta hand it to you boy; at least you’re original.”
“Dang it,” Billy Dean says, face getting all blotchy. “How come nobody believes me no more?”
“Well, son, if you’re gonna make up stories, you gotta make ‘em more believ …”
Right then a little blue car comes hauling round the corner – its backseat filled with the craziest looking two-headed cow I’ve ever seen; worse than that ugly-looking thing they had at the State Fair a few years back.
Just like Billy Dean said it would, my jaw drops. The boy turns to see what I’m gawking at then turns back wearing an ‘I told you so’ grin. The car barrels out of sight, and I’m left wondering if there wasn’t at least a little bit of truth in all those whoppers the kid’s told over the years, including the one about his daddy. I mean, but how do you explain the boy’s being the only one in that family with blonde hair, buggy eyes, and ears that stick out like off-road spotlights?
April Winters hopes her humor helps people forget their troubles … if only for a little
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