It was that magic time of morning for those of us at the Mule Barn; the time when we’re so full of coffee we can’t walk, and it’s time to decide whether to order lunch there or go home. That’s when Bert walked in. Kinda limped in, actually. He made his way over and sat down and turned his coffee cup right side up.
“I’m hurting boys,” he said. “That’s a fact. ‘Course Maizie told me it was a fool thing to do, but you know how she is, so I did it anyway.”
“What’s that, Bert?”
“Grandfathering, that’s what. But what the heck, guys, you gotta do it, don’t you? I mean, we owe it to the kids to start them on the road ... yes, that straight and narrow road leading to a fulfilling future, filled with...”
“Bert,” said Doc, “you get tattooed with a phonograph needle? Just tell us what happened.”
“My granddaughter, Gina,” he said. “She’s eight now, you know, and she’s been staying with us for a while. Well, she’s the best girl you ever met, but it’s hard to get her up on time. Seems like every other day she fools around and misses the school bus, and then we have to drive her to school. I just got tired of that, and figured I’d teach her a lesson.
“Well, she missed the bus again this morning and said, ‘Grandpa, you’ll have to take me to school.’And I said, ‘OK, Honey, get your books.’ So she got her little backpack with the books on and I walked her to school.”
“All the way to school? How far is it from your farm?”
“Eight miles, boys. Eight very long miles.”
He grinned. “Several times people stopped and offered us rides, but I just said no thanks, and explained that it was an object lesson. Gina just mumbled that she hated object lessons, but she kept walking. Walked all the way up the canyon and didn’t sit down once.”
“How about Grandpa?” Dud asked.
“He didn’t sit down, either. Hey, how would it look?”
“No wonder you’re tired, Bert.”
“Well,” he said, grinning. “I don’t expect I’ll ever need to do this again. I believe the lesson got learned just fine.”
Brought to you by the personally inscribed new book “Home Country,” at www.slimrandles.com.