…an ill advised experiment
A long post today, Gentle Readers.
The Doclopedia #947
Pie!: Lemon Meringue Pie
It was 12:15 on Saturday, May 22, 1966 that Porky Patterson’s mother put a nice fresh lemon meringue pie in the fridge for dinner. At 12:45, she left to go visit Porky’s Aunt Hilda on the other side of town, leaving Porky alone in the house with the pie. Had his dad or siblings been home, he would have never gotten into the fix he did, but his dad and older brother were off fishing, his older sister was out shopping and his two younger sisters were at a birthday party. So it was just Porky and that pie. That lovely, delicious pie.
As you might imagine from his nickname, Porky liked food the way a sailor likes the sea. It called to him and he went to it. So it was with the pie. By 1:30, Porky could resist the siren song no longer, even though he knew his mom would skin him alive if he ate any of the pie. After maybe two minutes, he decided to cut a narrow slice of pie from exactly in the center, a long narrow strip of pie from one side to the other. He figured that then he could just push the sides together and nobody would be the wiser. Now, that might have worked if he had made the slice a quarter of an inch wide, but Porky cut it more like a full inch. This meant that when he pushed the halves together, the formerly round pie was now more of an oval.
In true Porky Patterson style, he then panicked and formulated a plan that was risky at best and doomed to spectacular failure at worst. Had any of his buddies been around, they would have put their money on the latter.
Stopping only long enough to raid his secret stash of birthday money, he left the house as fast as his 10 year old legs would carry him, jumped on his trusty bike and started pedaling to the bakery over on Main and Third where he planned on buying a replacement pie. Time was of the essence, since his mom would be home by 3:00 to go get his little sisters from the party down the street, then start dinner. If she saw her pie, Porky would be a dead man.
Now, the Patterson family lived on the west side of town, which was up in the hills and about 5 miles from the bakery. Getting there would not take Porky too long, but pedaling his pudgy self back up the hills would take up valuable time, so he decided to shave minutes off the downhill ride by going down Suicide Hill.
Known to everybody but the bicycle riding children of the town as Hanford’s Hill, it was a 3 mile long stretch of mostly woods on a very steep grade. Several trails ran though the woods, but the widest and most straight ran from top to bottom and ended at Pine Street about a mile from the bakery. The trail was fairly smooth, but crazy steep and you never knew when you’d find a rock or tree limb or species of wildlife in your way. Local kid legend had it that the last person to make it safely from top to bottom on Suicide Hill was Brian Hobbles, way back in the spring of 1955. Even then, they said, he was afraid to ride a bike downhill for years.
So Porky’s fear of his mom trumped his fear of Suicide Hill and down he went. By the time he’d gone 100 yards, he was doing about 60 miles an hour and screaming at the top of his lungs. His screams only got louder when he realized that recent light rains had made the trail slick and it was all he could do to keep the bike from sliding sideways. He passed a couple of kids that were out for a hike and later, they would relate to others how wide Porky could open his mouth to scream. Mention was also made of how his eyes looked eerily like car headlight, they were so open.
About halfway down the hill and still screaming, Porky encountered a cow, most likely belonging to Mr. & Mrs Duglemann who had a small farm on the less steep part of the hill. In the three seconds he had to make a decision, Porky opted to go off to the right, forsaking the trail and an impact with a Holstein heifer. Of course, going off the trail upped the Danger Factor to about 1,000, which Porky soon realized as he plowed through high weeds and several small bushes that scratched him and filled his clothing with various types of stickers.
As he came out into shorter grass and could devote more time to avoiding fatal impact with trees, the terrified boy began steering back towards the trail. This took great concentration, which is why he did not see the skunk. Unfortunately, the skunk did see him and even though the bike never touched it, the skunk released what skunks release. The effect upon Porky was immediate, since he went from screaming to gagging and coughing. Even so, he made it back onto the trail at about 50 miles an hour.
Of course, the latter half of the trail was also the steepest part and also the part that crossed the most other trails, so it was probably inevitable that he would meet up with other humans and animals. The first of these were the Richards brothers and their four huge Dobermans. Porky barely missed hitting Olaf Richards and that pissed off the dogs who then started chasing him. Going down that steep hill as they were, the dogs made good time and were less than a yard behind the bike. At that point, Porky found his ability to scream had returned.
A couple of minutes later, the trail went under a low hanging tree branch. Porky ducked, which kept him from getting hit, but did not keep a large cat from falling off the limb onto his back. Given the speed at which he was now moving and the pack of dogs behind them, the wise feline decided to dig in his claws and hold on. Just for good measure, he added his own yowls to Porky’s screams of terror and, now, pain.
Soon, Porky saw Pine Street in the distance and was hoping the dogs would stop following him then. The cat would have to wait until he could stop. He was beginning to think he would survive Suicide Hill after all when he saw Susan Leems step out onto the trail in front of him.
Susan, a pretty young lass of 12 years old, had been cutting across Suicide Hill on her way home from her regular Saturday art class at the YWCA. In one hand she carried a bag full of containers of paint and in the other, she held her 5 year old Dachshund, Fritz. Fritz was well known around town as liking absolutely nobody but Susan. He had bitten a couple of dozen people and was roundly hated by humans and other dogs. Actually, aside from Susan, pretty much every other mammal in town hated the surly little bastard.
As Susan turned to scream at the approaching Porky, she threw her bag of paints into the air. Porky swerved to miss her, but got pelted by several pots of paint. He, the cat and the bike were now quite gaily colored, not that any of them cared.
Susan was falling backwards now and Fritz, seeing both a human and a cat he could terrorize, made a mighty leap that put him right into the handlebar mounted basket of the bike. About a minute later, holding a snarling weinerdog in one hand to avoid getting bitten and his handlebars in the other, Porky entered Pine Street at roughly 55 miles an hour. Since Pine Street started at the bottom of Suicide Hill, there was no immediate cross traffic. There were, however, many people outside on a nice weekend day to see a multicolored boy wearing shredded clothing and a crazed cat on his back as he rocketed past on his bicycle while being chased by a pack of dogs. Nobody much cared about the part where it looked like he was strangling Fritz.
After flying through about four intersections and causing at least three fender benders, the Dobermans stopped chasing Porky. Sadly, they were quickly replaced by a couple of police cars, one of which was telling Porky to pull over and stop. Being a law abiding kid, Porky tried to stop, but it soon became apparent that wet paint or mud or cat urine had made his tires too slippery for his brakes to grab onto. He was going to tell this to the cops who pulled up on his left side, but it was at that moment that Fritz broke free of his grasp and chomped down on his left hand. With a yell, Porky began waving his arm, trying to break free of Fritz. He was successful, but at the cost of actually tossing the vicious little hound into the open window of the cop car, where Fritz landed unharmed on the front seat between Sgt, Foley and Officer Zims. With no respect for the law, Fritz went on the attack, causing the car to swerve off into the rose garden in front of the town library, where it knocked over a sundial after uprooting a dozen rosebushes.
By now, Porky and the bike were doing less than 10 miles an hour and the cat decided to get off. With a sigh of relief, Porky headed up onto the sidewalk at Broadway and third, a mere two blocks from the bakery. He stopped right in front of the fabric store and collapsed as the policemen got out of their car to question him. They did this from several feet away because of the skunk stink. Porky was just babbling to them about lemon pies and Suicide Hill when his mother and Aunt Hilda came out of the fabric store and nearly tripped over him. At that point, Porky just gave up and asked Jesus to come take him.
Once he was cleaned off, washed until he was much less stinky and patched up by a doctor, Porky went home where his mother told him he would never get to eat pie again in her house and by golly he was going to go to church every Sunday and he could expect to be grounded for a month. Add to this the teasing by his siblings and Porky was doing hard time. He wished the police had arrested him instead of letting him go.
Speaking of the police, they informed the Leems family that if Fritz ever got loose again, they would ship him off to San Quentin.