When we were old enough to attend school, our parents sent us to what I can only describe as “the little schoolhouse on the hill”. Seriously, it was a big white building that sat on top of a hill. Thinking back, it truly looked like something from “Little House on the Prairie”. Lunch was the same thing every day… English peas, with an orange slice and a piece of cornbread. I can vividly recall the teacher constantly saying “Ro- Shellllll, don’t fork your bread”. As if spending your day in a hauntingly scary looking house wasn’t enough, we had to look at and listen to “Mrs. Congeniality” all day, too. Luckily, my brother and I were in the same classroom since she was the only teacher.
I’ve mentioned before that I followed my brother everywhere. One day, just before dismissal, the sky turned dark and a torrential rainstorm pummeled the area. My brother and I stood inside the building looking out for our parents. A fellow classmate, who just so happened to be Mrs. Congeniality’s kid, approached us, and for lack of a better term, baited us. The little demon dared us to walk home, in the rainstorm, all alone. Here’s where I have proof that my dear, sweet, older brother loved me from the start, he grabbed my hand, and led me out of the building into the storm. He told me that we would be okay and that he knew the way home.
I suspect, had I looked back, I would have seen that evil kid and her mother laughing at the poor little drenched idiots who were trudging along holding onto one another for dear life. The rain was coming down so hard I could hardly see what was going on in front of me. We made it down the hill and to the main street, which was generally a very busy two lane street. On this particular day, traffic was almost non-existent, probably because the entire area was under a tornado warning. Anyway, as we made our way in the direction that my big brother assured me would get us home, we approached a bridge that was completely unfamiliar to us. That’s when an older model blue car drove past us then pulled over on the shoulder of the road. We held on to one another and kept walking when suddenly the driver’s door opened and a very tall, thin man stepped out into the rain, basically blocking our way. When he bent down and spoke to us, we, being brought up to be polite and respectful, stopped and greeted the man. He smiled and told us that he was our “Uncle Jeff” and that we should get into his car so he could take us home. I was so happy that “Uncle Jeff”, whom I’d never met nor had I heard of before, happened to be in the neighborhood that I gladly let him pick me up and put me in his trunk., I guess my big brother was happy too because he allowed “Uncle Jeff” to pick him up and put him in there with me.
To our horror, he wasn’t really our uncle and he didn’t have a clue where we lived. He had lied… and so have I, but only about the trunk. He didn’t really put us in the trunk, and by the time my big brother remembered that we didn’t have an uncle named Jeff, the man was pulling into the driveway of that darn little white schoolhouse. He had taken us back to the scene of our escape. “Uncle Jeff” parked, opened the back door, picked both of us up and carried us to the front door of the school. Mrs. Congeniality stepped out and acted surprised to see us in the arms of that stranger. I heard her thank him for saving us as she closed and locked the door behind him. She immediately called our mom and dad, and I specifically recall sitting in a chair in front of the open oven door eating cookies when they arrived. Was the pilot lit in that stove? Was it set on 500 degrees? Was she trying to kill us with gas fumes or make chocolate chips out of our little drenched bodies?
Mom and dad arrived and mom cried when that crazy old lady told her what happened. They carried us out to the car and took us home.
To this day we don’t have any idea who that man was, where he came from or where he went. Needless to say, that was our last day at the little schoolhouse on the hill.