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‘Emergency Drains’ by Shane Brown


My son walked into the kitchen this afternoon while I was playing a game of Trouble with Rilee, his sister.

We were at the kitchen island that’s still decorated with Christmas ornaments in a carved wooded bowl as we sat on high-raised stools. He had his new shiny, black air gun in two hands and a camouflage backpack on his back and he said he needed a flashlight. The look on his face was out of concern if he wouldn’t afield his task, his mission that he was soon to be on.

He has talked all week of walking around Tula, shooting squirrels and rabbits and birds with his new Christmas present. We have been to the local Wal-Mart and purchased a decent four-power scope now mounted on his gun. He has talked of us skinning and dressing his game with me cooking them for supper. I’ve been questioned a few times on the limit of animals needed to make this feasting happen. We agreed that five or six of anything could be enough for supper. I warn him that robins and blue jays were off-limits. And of course he has read about the mockingbird at school.

I told him to let me finish the game with Rilee before we would find a flashlight. The puzzling thoughts surrounded my head: why he needed a flashlight in the daylight and how to get Rilee to not let me beat her. I watched him pack more things into his camo bag and felt Rilee tap my hand to take my turn. I took my turn of the game and she smiled easily to me, knowing she will beat Dad soon.

I told the kids to hop in the truck so we could ride down to the cabin and get a flashlight. I had been living in the cabin since moving back home for about nine months now. A rental came up about three weeks ago and I had moved up the hill about a hundred yards away.

It’s the old Tula Grocery store. It’s a place that has a lot of history and I am lucky to lay my head down here at night.

We drove down and made our left turn through the black iron gate. The sky was gray and rain and wind sliced across the trees and pastures of Tula. The drive was soft and held water from tires that have spun coming out from the bottom of the place causing ruts in the ground.

As we got closer Maddux yelled out how high the pond was. I stopped my truck then Rilee and I agreed with him. We toppled out of the truck. Rilee and I walked through the cabin to the back porch. Maddux had already ran around the side of the cabin and beat us to the bottom of the steps.

His nose was red from the cold and his cheeks started to glow too. He wiped his nose with a finger and gazed over the pond and levee. He told me to look at the emergency drains. I shook my head in hopes they would finally get a chance to be in use.

The water has risen so much and so fast that the pond’s spillway is not functioning correctly. It’s strange seeing this because we never thought the drains would be able to release water since they were so much higher than the spillway.

Maddux ran in the cabin in search of a flashlight and Rilee walked out onto the dock. I told her to look how close the water was in rising above the dock. She was thrilled. I snapped pictures of her, something she or Maddux does not like. But I can’t help it when I have so much beauty to capture. Or so much beauty to capture while being in beauty.

She stood at the corner of the dock where we had a better view of the emergency drains. She squealed with excitement again and covered her mouth with her hands and I snapped another. Maddux shouted from the back door, requesting permission from finding a small pocketknife. I said to that it’s fine and I grabbed Rilee’s hand. We walked up the back steps and into the cabin to meet Maddux so we could leave.

Maddux swung a gallon-sized Ziplock bag over his head that contains about twenty .22 bullets. He told me that I need this bag for my gun sitting right by my bedroom stand.

We shut off the lights and closed and locked doors. Rain hit our hair and faces as we piled back into the truck. The truck’s motor was still running with the heater on so we appreciated the warmth. I backed the truck up and pulled its gear down into drive.

The truck slid and span up the hill until the ground was firmer. We made it safely back to our house (the Tula grocery store) where Maddux packed his flashlight and knife. I packed his phone in case if anything were to happen.

A towel was laying in the backpack so I stuck the phone in between the middle of its fold. He notified me that the towel was to be placed on the ground because of wetness. I smiled at him and zipped up his belongings. Rilee and I wished him good luck and watched him walk out the door.

I am proud of my son and his interest in the woods, in these woods. I sat back down with Rilee at our game and she popped the bubble to start Trouble. She smiled at me already knowing…

Rilee had beaten me again so she started playing with other things she go from Christmas. Maddux came in from his hunt empty-handed but not empty-hearted.

My mind was still thinking about the pond and the drains. I gathered food for a cookout with my brother, Billy Ray, as our guest. We were watching football and he talked about our new place.

He loves walking around here and telling stories of our childhood in Tula. Memories he had when our parents owned it. Memories when our grandmother owned it as well.

I showed him pictures of the emergency drains. He can’t believe the water was that high and that they were probably being tested right as we talked. He never thought they would be used either.

New water has filled Tula since October and there was no fish in the pond yet. It’s a new pond: a new life for new things. Time and work will be put into Tula. The emergency drains are there to help out the process. The process started a long time ago…

Shane Brown

Shane Brown is a HottyToddy.com contributor and the son of noted author Larry Brown. Shane is an Oxford native with Yocona and Tula roots. Shane is a graduate of Mississippi State University. He has two children — Maddux, age 9, and Rilee, age 7 — and makes his home at “A Place Called Tula.” He can be reached at msushanebrown@yahoo.com.

Copyright Shane Brown, 2015.

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