Rattleheads

Rattleheads

A Story by Debby Pillitteri
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A short story about a father and son going out to cut wood one morning so they can sell it.

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I hear the roosters cocka-doodley-doo and poppas feet shuffling in the kitchen. Johnny, you arising? and yes, Poppa. I be out soon.
What happened to the way it used to be? Momma here, and we'd awake to the raw smell of whites and yolks sizzling in the pan, the crackling of the shells. Momma loved to bother my sleep in the morning, brush my covers on my arm. "Hey hodey ho, Johnny! The sun is up! What you gotta leave him alone for?" Without a doubt she'd be back if I didn't get up in five minutes, hey-hodey-ho-ing as loud as she could, pushing me and laughing in a comfy way that makes a kid smile when he's gotta get up to yet another plate of birds.
"We headin' over to the Rattleheads today?"
"Yep." So load up, thick heavy coats on and our working gloves for when we need grabbing and lugging at the wood; mine are much smaller. Haul on our boots and we off and ready for the days work.
Big red faded blade swinging in his hand, duct tape to patch up a hole in his jeans, a hole in his shoes. Walking across this little way from our cabin to the northern woods, Florid Hesters, most silent part of the woods that encircle our house, sort of. Lots of sounds, eerie and surreal, out of them woods. Too many sad and racking stories for anyone to even suppose to visit that side. Quiet and forsaken so we all edge to the Rattleheads, east, or Zaid Glebe, west, most popular part of the woods, where people can grow their pumpkins, corn, tomatoes- whatever it is they sell to make some money, whatever they need themselves to save their money.
"Johnny, you head on, pick out a tree we oughta cut down." So I run on ahead and find one, maybe twice Poppas height. When he comes up, he lays the chainsaw on the ground and knocks a couple swings on the tree for its soundness.
"Good choice, Johnny." He finally heads over to one side and makes the horizontal cut with the saw, about up to his hip.
"What's next?"
"Wedge cut, Poppa."
"Atta boy. You 'member wher' to start?"
"Up here, make something of a slice, gettin' wider. Then you make the bottom cut, like this."
So, he goes on, does what I said, sliding the blade deeper side to side every two seconds while cutting the top slit. For the bottom, he starts on one corner, slants the blade away from the tree, and with his feet a mile apart, he leaps off a foot to the other, bouncin' to the other edge of the face cut.
I take the ax, wave it in the air, and make it sing the knock, knock, knock against the trees. Poppas making another cut on the opposite side, same level where the previous was, but this is the boring part, so I keep fighting the zombies and monsters.
He places a wooden wedge into the back cut and hands me the hammer with a grin.
"Woo-hoo, Poppa!" I bang the hammer on the wedge, which was supposed to move. Poppa helps get it started for me with a big swing and gives it back.
"All set Johnny?" I nod my head with excitement and take a big breath.
Hit. Nothing. Hit.
"Gettin' closer, Johnny. Make this strike smaller." Hit.
"Here we go, son. This is the last one! As big as you can, okay?" I look up to the tree and see it teetering there on the last of its hinge.
Bang! Poppa grabs my shoulder and pulls me back.
"Timmbbeerrrrrr!!," we shout together as we watch the last of the collapse onto the ground, and the limbs and leftover leaves bounce.

© 2014 Debby Pillitteri



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Added on January 27, 2014
Last Updated on January 27, 2014
Tags: short, story, boy, son, father, wood, cutting, tree, timber, dad, rooster, morning, woods, forrest, ax, saw, chain saw, gloves, wedge cut, slice, zombies, monsters