I had to make a gas stop at a little rag-tag convenience store at the corner of two state roads the other day. After filling up I went inside for something to drink. There was a single cooler with Waters and Cola's, yet double or maybe triple the amount of beer selections. While making my soda selection, a small drama played itself out between the apparent proprietor and her Son. It was one of those serendipity moments that give you an inner chuckle.
A young boy walked into the building and went immediately to the counter. "I need the keys," he told the clerk.
"What is it this time?" She reached under the counter and brought out her purse.
"Batteries for her hearing aid," he answered.
"Grandma "could" wait..." she reasoned.
A slight gasping exhale, then the clerk determines,
"Lyle, Don't you let nobody see you, understand? Stay on the back roads."
"Yeah, I knowww-ah"
She clutched the keys as she offered her final sensibility, "Come from behind the store and walk around to the front, hear?"
"I know, I know." He took the keys and sauntered out the door with a sense of duty, but somehow now his shoulders were confidently more square, and his head taller above his body. There may have been a bit of John Wayne bravado in his steps even. That handful of keys transformed this lil guy into what might indeed elevate him to Man of the family role.
Now if you're like me, you are wondering about this little incident. Keys to what? Why shouldn't he be seen? What is so mysterious about a trip to buy batteries?
Meanwhile the kid was simply what he appeared to be, a tanned country boy. He was wearing old sneakers with no socks, a pair of ragged denim pants and a blue T-shirt with a faded American flag on it. His hair was brownish-blond and sort of choppy in the way it fell, but there were no sideburns. He was just a boy with an errand to do.
The kid had taken the woman's keys ambled outside and around the corner of the store. Then there was the slam of a car door followed by the brief grinding of a vehicle's starter and a reckless roar of power.
Immediately the boy steered a white Ram pickup across the driveway and out onto the road. I couldn't help staring. He looked even younger than before in that big truck, even more like a child.
"Your boy?" I asked the clerk.
"Yes. And the sheriff warned him about driving into town again."
"Well, yeah. He's only twelve."
Oh, for the life of a country boy!