Francis McDonald Harris Bartholomew,
known to his friends as Chigger,
tired of his tree-climbing peers and
decided to spend his summer perfecting
the subtle craft of sabotage.
Waiting until the carrier disappeared
around the corner, he stuffed the
Millers’ mailbox with flyers from the
Sunday paper and ducked behind the
hedge to watch Mrs. Miller
throw up her hands in disgust.
He picked a hundred dandelions from
a vacant lot and snuck out at
midnight to blow their parachute
seeds over every lawn on the block.
He saw his neighbors, every weekend,
on their knees, yanking and cursing.
He snuck into the toolshed stash of
Davey Chen, legendary firecracker dealer,
and snipped a half inch from every fuse.
He spent the Fourth of July watching
his friends suck on their throbbing
fingers, suppressing his laughter.
He smuggled a pair of scissors into
Ted’s Toys and snipped each spool of
string at mid-point, then made
regular circuits of Braly Park to
watch the kites fall from the sky.
In late August, he sat for hours at
the Cambrian Shopping Plaza,
charting the pedestrian flow patterns.
Early the next morning, he took a
jumbo pack of gum and placed
freshly chewed wads at strategic locations.
It was the best Saturday ever.
At a meeting of the PTA,
a week before school,
the parents compared notes and
discovered that they had all
suffered summers of incessant,
a son with no feeling in his index finger,
fierce invasions of weeds,
kites dangling from telephone wires,
gum on every other shoe.
Unable to finger a culprit,
they decided to set an example.
Chigger’s primary concerns were the
growing pressure in his bladder,
the imminent arrival of his classmates,
and the tricky matter of
removing the duct tape that
held his body to the top of the flagpole.
Still, he had an excellent view of
the neighborhood – the fields of
his summer campaign – and all in
all he would have to conclude that
it was totally worth it.
From the collection Fields of Satchmo
Photo by MJV