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A Short Story - ''The Baltimore Oriole Nest '' by Eugene L. Benton - 7 pages - 3 photos - Revised 05-20-17.doc

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A Short Story - ''The Baltimore Oriole Nest '' by Eugene L. Benton - 7 pages - 3 photos - Revised 05-20-17.doc
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  "The Baltimore Oriole's Nest"By Eugene L. Benton The telephone rang repeatedly as Gene Leroy's mother, Frances, waled !rom the itchen across the dining room hardwood !loor to the telephone stand, which stood in the small hall leading to the two edrooms. #ctually, one edroom was his edroom and his three sisters$ Linda %ue, &eie, and &enise, who all were ery much younger than he was. Their edroom contained a twin ed and a doule ed, where they spread out across the eds in the summer and snuggled up in the doule ed in the winter. Gene Leroy could hear his mother's !amiliar !ootsteps tapping across the !loor to pic up the telephone. (e mused to himsel!, who would e calling that late a!ternoon in #ugust, )ust one wee e!ore the school acation ended. Li!ting the telephone receier, he heard his mother say. "(ello." Followed y a short pause, "Gene Leroy*" she summoned. "+t's Lynn Foster*" Gene Leroy guessed his high school !riend proaly wanted him to participate in some scheme, which always yielded unepected results. Lynn's last scheme was to snatch pigeons !rom -ourt %uare /ar in downtown 0emphis. The stealing went o!! without a !law ecept that one pigeon escaped on the us ride home much to the consternation o! the drier. "Gene Leroy," eclaimed Lynn ecitedly. "+'e !ound a Baltimore Oriole's nest* 1+t's hanging !rom a cottonwood in my neighor's !ront yard." "2ell* 12hy don't you get it down3 Gene Leroy said matter o! !actually. Lynn hesitantly said, "+t's aout twenty !eet in the air, hanging !rom a tree lim that is way out !rom the tree trun." "&o you want me to help you get it**" "+! you help me 1, + will share the eggs with you. 1 +'ll get one more than you outo! the nest." Gene Leroy rememered that Lynn had preiously ept his word when they retrieed a !lycatcher's eggs !rom the hollow o! ranch. O! course, Lynn was a!raid to stic his arm down the hollow een though he had seen the !lycatcher !ly out when he shoo the ranch. Gene Leroy had raely reached down the hollow to his shoulder to !ind three rown, specled eggs. Lynn rewarded him with one egg to addto his collection o! thirty4something eggs taen !rom yards, gol! courses, and cemeteries all oer south 0emphis in the Longiew (eights community. 5.%. (ighway 67 ound this area on the west to -ane -ree on the east as it meandered through Forest (ill -emetery and /ine (ill Gol! -ourse. The area was a patchwor o! residential, agriculture and industrial deelopment with plenty o! undeeloped and !orested lots containing the srcinal growth o! oa, hicory, sweet gum, pecan, persimmon, and lac walnut trees on the upper ridges o! the hills with willow, sycamore, cottonwood, and cane in the cree and hollows. There were at least !orty or more arious species o! irds to e !ound nesting therein the spring and summer months. 0ocingirds, cardinals, thrushes, starlings, purple gracles, shries, red4wing lacirds, sparrows, !licers, red4head woodpecers, and cat irds to name a !ew !rom Gene Leroy's collection. 1   Gene Leroy uicly said to Lynn, "+t's a deal* 10aye there will e a !ull clutch o! eggs in the nest3" Lynn replied earnestly, "Get on your ie* 1+t will e dar in an hour, which will gie us enough time to !igure out how we are going to get it down without eing seeny the neighors." #s usual, there was a catch in the scheme as Gene Leroy thought to himsel!. (oweer, another great summer adenture held sway, which would cap o!! that summer's collecting. "O* 1O8** 1 +'m on my way*" said Gene Leroy with ecitement, concern, and trepidation in his oice. Linda %ue, Gene Leroy's sister, who was eight years younger than him and in the !ourth grade at Longiew (eights Elementary %chool, piped, "+'m going too*" "No you're not** 1 No*** 1 No***," he said repeatedly as loud as he could withouthurting her !eelings. (e had carried her many other times with him to help him throw the eening newspaper, the 0emphis /ress4%cimitar. %he would ride on the handle ars o! his three4speed English icycle lie a paraeet latched to a perch. %heseemed to e always waiting !or him to dart out o! the house on /rospect %treet !or his net adenture in their neighorhood, which was composed o! post 2orld 2ar ++ housing constructed !or the returning G+s. Their !amily home was a typical two edroom dwelling with a athroom, itchen, dining room, and liing room, where the #dmiral lac and white T9 dominated in the a!ternoons, showing (owdy &oody, 8ola, Fran and Olie, /inie Lee, and Flash Gordon with 2in 0artindale as host, who gae away magical space guns to the ids on the show. Een though Gene Leroy had outgrown these shows, he occasionally watched them with his sisters, Linda %ue and the twins, &era and &enise, who also made an annoyance o! themseles y getting into his des and his collections o! coins, stamps, minerals, ird eggs, and whateer else that he might e interested in at the time. Linda said pleadingly, "0e too*** 1 0e*** 1Too***" oer and oer again proaly epecting Gene Leroy to relent. "+'ll tae you on the paper route tomorrow," he said casually hoping to shut her up and adding, "+'ll gie you a dime to tae the paper to the gol! course pro's house. 1 Not )ust a nicel, ut a whole dime." (e new that she lied dimes ecause she and the twins would snea into his coin collection !or the popsicle4oy on his three4wheel ie. By tolerating their small pil!ering seemed to preent them !rom getting too interested in his other collections, particularly his ird egg collection o! oer a hundred eggs !rom :; di!!erent irds in south 0emphis. Gene Leroy moed uicly through the dining room and itchen, pausing long enough to smell the pinto eans with ham hoc simmering on the stoe and the !ragrant odor o! homemade cornread in the stoe's oen. (opping on his icycle at the itchen stoop, he peddled igorously down the oil stain concrete drieway to the street with its sweltering hot sur!ace !rom that day's sun. (e always eep a straight pin in his shirt pocet !or lowing the ird eggs i! there were any in the nest. (e sped down /rospect %treet !or three locs to Gage %treet and turned onto Gage %treet to the second house on the right where Lynn lied with his parents. 2   Lynn was standing outside under the shade o! an elm in that hot a!ternoon with sweat on his !orehead, a sweat4stained white T4shirt, and dirty lue )eans, which hadtorn nees. "#lright* 1 #lright** 1" yelled Lynn. "2ell* 12here's the Oriole nest3" said Gene Leroy uestionaly and duiously. Once e!ore Lynn had lead him on a wild goose chase !or /urple 0artin eggs, which he had assured him were in easy reach. +nstead, they had to clim onto a garage roo! at night to get to the /urple 0artin irdhouse. The homeowners enteredthe drieway )ust as they had egun reaching into the nesting holes searching !or their small white eggs. They uicly sprawled out on the roo!, hoping that they would not e seen in the owner's car headlights. On eiting the car, the owner glanced up to the irdhouse haing heard our scampering. <uic thining y Gene Leroy saed the enterprise !rom discoery y the mimicing the sounds o! a tomcat y "0eowing" repeatedly. Lynn replied with a tomcat's screams and !ussing sounds to add a more elieale cat!ight etween tomcats. Gene Leroy etted that this scheme would e proaility at least as risy as the /urple 0artin deacle o! almost eing caught in the act o! roing the irdhouse. "+t's across the street, " Lynn said as he pointed across the intersection o! /rospectand Gage %treets to the southeast corner where stood a ery large and tall cottonwood arrayed in the late summer greenery. "+ can't see it* 12here3" Gene Leroy ased uestionaly. "There* 1There** 1On that third lim !rom the ottom*" "Oh** 1=ea 1+ see it now." There in the distance hung a small, ulous sac looing lie a grocery sac with acantaloupe inside surrounded y a stringy looing mass o! twigs, leaes, ines, cowes, and an odd piece or two o! yellow and red rions. "(ow are we going to get it down3" Gene Leroy said sarcastically. "#!ter dar with a three piece cane !ishing pole and my Boy %cout uc ni!e" replied Lynn enthusiastically. "2e'll tape the ni!e to the tip o! the pole and reach up and cut the nest !rom lim ... =ou'll catch it as it !alls to the ground* 1 >ight3" ">ight*" said Gene Leroy diselieingly. 2hat could go wrong he thought3 2hat a simple approach to cut without eing seen !rom the !ront picture window and !rom the headlights o! passing cars. There had to e a prolem somewhere in this simple approach. (e did not now what the darness might hold !or them. "-ome on* 1Gene Leroy," said Lynn with his nasal sounding oice. Lynn was talland lean looing with a large nose. (e had short sandy hair, which lay close aout his head in waes and a !ew curls with the stuy hint o! a eard. (e and Gene Leroy had )ust started shaing last year, when the >OT- sergeant reuired them to shae their peach !u?? !or inspection. +n many ways, their demeanor was typical o! teenage oys o! the 7@6;s in south 0emphis. They were proud o! their neighorhood, which included the >osewood usiness strip on south Lauderdale %treet on which the numer 7: electric us o! the 0emphis %treet >ailway ran eeryhal! hour to and !rom downtown 0emphis. Lynn's !ather wored !or Forest (ill &iary as a morning delieryman. (is mother was Aewish woman who had !orsaen her heritage to marry a gentile. Gene Leroy reali?ed that his own mother's heritage was a third generation 0emphian, whose great4grand!ather had emigrated in aout 76@ !rom #oyelles 3  /arish, Louisiana. Gene Leroy's !ather was !rom illage o! &'Lo in %impson -ounty,0ississippi. The Benton ancestors had srcinally emigrated !rom -aswell -ounty, North -arolina in aout 7C@; to >oertson -ounty, Tennessee. From there in the early 7;;s, some o! the Benton !amily memers settled in southern 0ississippi in -opiah -ounty. The Benton !amily men had !ought !rom the >eolutionary 2ar through 2orld 2ar ++. The !amily had settled in 0emphis in the 7@:;s where Gene Leroy's !ather wored !or the 2.T. >awleigh -ompany as a sales manager !or the mid4south area, which included all o! #ransas, northern Louisiana, and northern 0ississippi. Gene Leroy !ollowed Lynn into his parents garage where he retrieed the three piece cane !ishing pole, which was well used on their trips to Nonconnah -ree and the lae in >ierside /ar located on the eastern lu!! at the 0ississippi in the western oundary o! the city o! 0emphis. "Gene Leroy* 12e'll use some masing tape to attach the ni!e to the tip o! the pole," Lynn said with the usual annoying sel!4con!idence assurance. "=ou can hold the pole with the ni!e taped on up to the nest and cut the nest !ree while +'ll catch the !alling nest." "Bull shit** 1+t'll neer wor*" "2hy not3" said Lynn with a ui??ing oice with an arrogance implied y his hand placed on his narrow hip. "2e need a serrated ni!e lade to saw the nest down with. 1That uc ni!e isn't sharp enough to do it*" Lynn uicly swiped a serrated stea ni!e !rom his mother's itchen and taped it onto the pole with the masing tape, with his hands shaing with ecitement as he inoled Gene Leroy once again in an adenture. (e concluded that they must e ready ecept !or the darness reuired which was a hal! hour away. There!ore, they meandered into the dining room o! Lynn's home, where the window air conditioner roared lowing out cold air !rom the slots. They too turns li!ting their T4shirts in !ront o! the air conditioner in order to cool o!! !rom that hot humid a!ternoon in #ugust. Lynn's mother proided large glasses o! sweeten ice tea !rom a !rosted pitcher in which rolled a tray o! ice cues. The T9 was laring the "2ho &o =ou Trust" with Aohnny -arson. Lynn remared, "(ow dum that show is when compared to the uestions ased on the T9 show "D7."" +n Gene Leroy's opinion, the uestions on "D7" were too di!!icult toanswer and proaly the contestants lie -harles 9an &oren already had een proided the answers. They could see through Lynn's parent's large picture window in the liing room that the sun had set, and the street lights had turned on. %tanding on the !ront porch Gene Leroy could see the numerous lightening ugs with their !licering, golden yellow glow. (e could hear the u??ing o! that eening'smosuitoes. (e hated when he got a ite on his head ecause the swelling hurt so much. /icing up the pole !rom the garage, they headed across the street to the site o! thecottonwood with its waiting Baltimore oriole nest. Fortunately, there was no streetlight in !ront o! the house, ut the !reuently passing cars shown their lights into the !ront yard. 4   They cautiously approached the cottonwood maing sure to watch the !ront door in case someone came to the door or stared out their picture window, which presented the interior o! the !ront room as i! they were on a stage. The only other important item was the usual aluminum storm door, which also reeals to the isitorand passery their enious homeowner's picture per!ect home. #t -hristmas time, the interior was indeed a sight to ehold. From inside the homeowner could easily peer oer their !ront yard and sidewal including the street. Lynn positioned himsel! directly under the nest with his arms outstretched towards the nest, which was aout twenty !eet aoe him, swaying occasionally in the eening ree?e !rom an approaching thunderstorm, !rom which rolling thunder could e heard in the distance. Lynn directed Gene Leroy to gie the topmost strands o! the nest connecting it to the tree lim a !ew whacs with the ni!e attached to the pole. 5pon the !irst4whac, the setting Oriole too !light in a !lutter o! wings into the darness o! the tree. The second4whac roe loose a !ew strands, leaes and string. Lynn rather danced around underneath the nest waing his arms and hands in a econing motion. Gene Leroy ept one eye on the !ront door and one on the nest as he haced repeatedly. "+'ll tae a !ew more swipes to cut it !ree," he said in his low grunting oice. Lynn replied, "&on't hit it too hard* 1 + want it to !all straight down into my hands**" Aust then, Gene Leroy noticed out o! the corner o! his eyes the headlights o! an approaching car. The car's windows were rolled down ecause he could hear the radio announcer taling aout the net selection y Elis, "Let 0e Be =our Teddy Bear." (e dropped the pole and with Lynn lay prostrate in the damp Bermuda grasswith his heart pounding in his ears. #!ter the car passed y the house, they regained their preious dance under the nest resemling a roc4and4roll spectacle. The nest was moing around as he waced at the tenuous grasp o! the tree, which looed lie a piata party !rom a >oy>odgers moie with the %ons o! the /ioneers proiding acground music. 2hen hewas aout seen years old, he changed his name to >oy >odgers at /eaody Elementary %chool in southeast 0emphis called La Belle (eights in 0iss 9iian Newman's !irst grade class. 0iss Newman must hae een amused when she called out to the class asing who had changed his name to >oy >odgers. "2ho is >oy >odgers3" (e stood up immediately and said, "+ am* 10iss Newman*" "2ell Gene* 12hy did you change your name3" %he said with a comical loo on her !ace as i! she was aout to urst out laughing." "0y mother said that + looed lie >oy >odgers when + had my oots, riding pants, holstered gun, hat, and nec scar! with the siler ulls' head* 1 %o, + changedmy name to >oy >odgers." "=ou cannot do that Gene 1=ou can't change your name wheneer you want too. =ou can't do that*" To this day Gene Leroy did not lie eing told what he could or could not do !rom any authority !igure. 5
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