|Art, "Bock Bock," by Catherine G. McElroy.|
He was a book-loving city child, used to spending some of his Saturdays and allowance at the movie theater, the Early Bird as they called the monthly morning showing. For twenty-five cents you saw the chosen picture, not brand new but not old, a cartoon, one episode of Flash Gordon and got to enter your ticket in the prize drawing. He never won, never knew anyone who did, but that was the least of the experience. What dark treachery did Ming the Merciless have hidden up his flared sleeve?
When Robert's parents announced he'd be spending two summer weeks, without them, on his aunt and uncle's farm, a less well-behaved boy might have tried to kick a hole in the wall. His neighbor Bobby had done just that when his eccentric (they drove a funny, flat-sided German car and walked around the house naked) and indulgent parents told him he HAD to go back to school. They lived in a less substantial back house, two on a lot, without solid walls. His tempermental foot had gone right through to the outer boards and he was never punished.
This rural banishment, as he thought of it, was absolute, no discussion, no yielding. Fait accompli. At least his father drove him there, didn't put him on a bus and leave him to the indifference of the road, the company of strangers. How fortunate his aversion to people he didn't know eventually wore off. The aunt and uncle also read books, had senses of humor and, summer or winter, had cinnamon toast and cocoa before bedtime, at least when Robert was there. Whatever homesickness or notion of it he'd packed, heavy as an anvil in his suitcase was soon as poor a fit as his roller skates along the gravel driveway and country roads.
As he reached the highest point of his inland journey, Mr. Apotienne could feel his arms, with shirt sleeves now rolled up, absorbing what he thought of as appropriate seasonal heat. The weather in his aunt and uncle's valley was hellish, yes he spoke that word in argument with his parents, without swaying them, but they reminded him how it sweetened the ripening fruit, just as it did here less than ten miles from Billington's Cove. Ginger peach scones, berry cobblers and tarts. With summer in his mouth, he tried to shoo his thinking back again to the chickens but found he'd become stuck yet again in what he could easily believe was actual time travel. The memories were so present, his senses so alert, it would not have surprised him to find his uncle and aunt waiting for him at the end of the Brewsters' driveway. It didn't seem likely that he'd need to call for back-up.