Volume 9, Issue 1: Pictura
A Day in the Life of Pookies
Bekah, Nathan, and Rachel Wilson
Our small voices drifted into the kitchen where Mom was working.
"Do you believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?"
"But wait! I said I wanted to be the pastor and then you just started doing it!"
"But I'm the pastor so you have to say yes."
"But I hate getting baptized! You guys always drop me!"
"No, we don't. And besides, you always squirm."
Unfortunately, baptisms in our household tended to end in conflict. If there wasn't a disagreement about who got to officiate, then someone ended up with a bad attitude and a goose egg from an attempted immersion in our living room floor. We didn't believe in sprinkling. It wasn't the cowboy way.
Usually at this point Mom sent us outside. We then began to S-P-Y (our code for spy) on the evil heathen empire next door, Curtis. Unfortunately our expedition proved a failure because the dreaded Curtis saw us hiding in the raspberry bushes and came over to chat. All three of us immediately attempted to assume a nonchalant demeanor. We thought we had him fooled, but apparently not, because he leaned over the fence with a nasty smirk and asked, "What are you PK's doing now?"
The word was new to us and we thought it was another code word for a spy. Possibly French. We all stashed it away for later use. Nevertheless we were a little peeved that he had guessed our occupation so easily. So the three of us remained casually squatted in the bushes, each waiting for one of the others to respond to his question.
But then Curtis brought us all to life by repeating his remark, but this time he spiced it up a little. He said . . . the Big H! We all immediately sprang into action. We didn't tolerate tacky talk and he would soon know it. We told him to go home at once. Imagine our dismay when he coolly pointed out that he already was in his own yard. We were taken aback, yes, but only for a moment. When bad words were involved we were quick thinkers. "You can't say that around us. Our Dad's a pastor," retorted the smallest among us.
The logic escaped him, and he said as much. But we assumed our wit had overwhelmed him because he went back inside, and the three of us returned to our virtuous activities. "Now we can't be Peekays anymore, cuz there's no one left to S-P-Y on." We liked the way the new word sounded, and so thus it was added to our vast repertoire (though as the day progressed our new word assumed many forms). Our vocab was already stunning, but this gave it a foreign smell.
We christened our organization "The Paykays" and began to establish a network of hideouts. Although there was no one left to S-P-Y on, a Pakey must always be prepared. As it turned out, we were a team of immense intensity but very little focus. The construction of our three hideouts led to unbelievable amounts of side projects. The first fort under construction was the underground house. The decor, of course, was the most pressing need, due to the fact that two of us were girls and had our brother outnumbered. Some of the items we immediately procured were essential, such as potholders, and a whale carved out of soap, while others were more comfort-oriented such as the grass rug that was to be woven, and that right quickly.
The more crucial but less tended-to aspect of our underground house was its actual digging. But this wasn't all our fault. We weren't allowed to dig in the grass, where, as everyone knows, the best digging is to be done. Our mother's scruples on this point were not shared by the dog Tyler, but that is another saga. No, we had to dig under the pine trees, where the ground was a teeming mass of roots. No sooner would we get some good action in with the shovel than we would strike a root and be forced to begin all over again, a few feet to the left.
After a while, the work on the underground hideout began to wear on us and someone suggested that the Pokeys begin work on the plum tree project. This was going to be our office headquarters, where our three minds would together weave some of the more incredible stratagems of our time. With such an office, Curtis's vile career would soon come to a quick close. The plum tree was perfectly suited for this use because of the emergency rope swing exit. One never knew when one might be called upon to leave the office in a hurry. However, one had to be highly trained to use this exit properly. Any non-Pokies could be easily detected by the grand manner in which they missed the rope and spread eagled in the pea-gravel below. In this way the rope also doubled as a testing ground. If any agent, leaping out of the plum tree, failed to catch the rope, we knew they were no true Pookie. The Pookie annals would be full of such occurrences, if we had only thought to keep Pookie annals.
Construction on the Plum Place began immediately. Boards were hauled up and placed in the best spots. Nails, that would some day be handy for hanging something on, were nailed into every branch within reach. But most importantly, a basket was rigged onto a string so that Mom could place our PB&J sandwiches in the basket at ground level, and we would eventually manage to haul them up. By means of this trusty elevator much time was saved in the construction of the Plum Place. We Pookies didn't have time to climb down for lunch, although unfortunately, we did have to make a few trips down to retrieve half-eaten sandwiches out of the pea gravel below. In one such rescue mission, the smallest of us was sent for the lost goods.
It was a kind of training run. She was still earning her spurs and attacked the dangerous project with an intensity that belied her size. While we admired her attitude, her judgment was less commendable. Upon reaching the lowest branch, some four feet above the earth's crust, the small one made her tragic bloomer. Instead of the two-handed reverse drop we had been taught in training, she slid into a sitting position and straddled the branch . . . the small one was stuck. The others immediately came to the rescue with laughter and helpful cries of, "Just jump! Quick, Curtis will see you!" The prospect of Curtis casting his eyes in this direction was scary for one of such stature and so she panicked. Plucking up her courage, she pushed off the branch to plunge to the ground below. However, she did not plunge. A small stub on her perch had pierced her shorts and had forbidden the drop. She was swaying gently from side to side parallel to the gravel below. Because it was a small one who wore them, the shorts held firm. Curtis was no longer in our thoughts, laughter was. We laughed and laughed while the smallest of us wept bitter tears. Rescue mission number two was soon under way. We must free the small one. However, we were unable. Four feet was too immense a height for our short arms. For while the smallest of us was small, the rest of us were none too large ourselves. So we requested Federal aid and Mom got her down for us and we quickly scampered back up to our Plum Place before Curtis saw too much.
Once the Plum Place was completed we sat up there feeling extremely pleased with how our lives were going, and gorging ourselves on plums. At this point we should have been satisfied. We were not. We did not dream big; we dreamed huge. We were children of vision, although perhaps a tad shortsighted.
"We hafta have more forts if we wanna S-P-Y on the Russians (Curtis). We can't just watch `em from the tree."
"Let's eat more plums."
"Ya . . . let's make more forts. We can take lots of plums as supplies while we're building so we don't die." So it was decided. So it was done. There were to be more forts and more plums. Morale was high among the Pookies. For the time being we had decided not to mess with digging, so we elected to place the next fort in the center of the wood pile. The evil Curtian traitors would never expect us to be there. This was because the fiend Curtis lived behind us and the wood pile was in the front yard. But the most important thing was that we had a fort, not necessarily that it was helpful in our mission.
The work was hard, but was made much easier by multiple plum breaks. After restocking our supplies twice, the fort was complete. It was the "Secret One." No one was to know of it, not even our neighborhood allies in the anti-Curtis faction.
After much back breaking labor and multiple splinters, the Secret One was operational. We had hollowed out a space in the center of the pile that was just big enough for the three of us to squash into. The entrance was in the very top of the pile and the hole could be covered with a few extra pieces of wood in a very nifty manner. It was a truly great hideout. We could even see part of the house through a gap between two of the logs. Of course, we didn't really need to see that part of the house, but it was an important advantage nevertheless, and we spent much time taking turns at the watch. Eventually however, we decided that perhaps more could be accomplished if we returned to the office to plan a mission. This would also conveniently allow us to replenish our failing supply of plums. So with great stealth and mystery we climbed out of the wood pile and snuck back to the Plum Place. We were up that tree so fast that even if Curtis had been watching he would have only seen a kind of childish blur.
We refreshed ourselves with plums and then held a council of war. After a heated debate, it was decided that the best and most effective plan would be to throw pine cones at Curtis's evil dog, Christmas. We accordingly slithered over to the fence and began launching pine cones into Christmas's kennel. The results would have been better if Christmas had been in the kennel. We determined to strike again later when the enemy was at home.
It was then that we heard Mom, calling us all into dinner. The trek back to the house was the close of a great day in the fight against evil. We had successfully constructed two of the best forts in the neighborhood and had contrived to be seen by the Curtis only once. Pookies, we decided, was the game of choice.
"You kids go wash up," the boss said. "What were you playing for so long?" The small one committed a beginner's error.
"We were playing Pookies!"
"Shhhhhh!! Don't tell her!" the veterans whispered.
"What's Pookies?" mother asked.
"Oh, somethin'," we replied. We liked bein' Pookies.