The Flying Flexy Brothers
By Fernando Garcia Davila
“Be careful over the summer, I want to see every one of you back here next September,” warned Sister Catherine, our sixth grade teacher. We had tragically lost our classmate Phillip in a caving accident. “Let’s say our parting prayer.” Like programmed robots we stood and recited the Act of Contrition, I didn’t like praying so much in school but I was assured salvation if I died on the way home.
“Good-bye Katzenjammer Kids,” said Sister, as we raced by her desk. It was the nick-name she gave my brother and me, taken from the Sunday funnies.
“Goodbye, Sister, see you next year.”
“What do you want to do when we get home?” asked Armando on our walk.
“Burn our uniforms.” We liked making each other laugh. “Do you think you got any D’s this time?”
“I don’t think so,”
“Yeah, me either, ma should be happy.”
When we got home we changed into jeans and walked into the kitchen. Ma served us pinto beans in broth spiced with onion and oregano with her flour tortillas on the side. Amazing how good Ma could make a simple meal taste. She shooed us out, “Andale, para afuera.”
We were primed for an adventure, “Let’s go see what Chuckey’s doing, we’ll take the Flexy.” We inherited the four-wheeled sled from our older sister’s boy-friend. Chuckey smiled when he saw us on his porch. “Come on Chuckey, let’s ride down the hill across the street from our house,” I said.
His high strung dog, Inky, trotted after us. Inky like his snotty-nosed owner was scruffy except for his obsession with keeping his genitalia clean. We got to the top of the ominous dusty dirt road.
“Let’s try half way down first.” Chuckey said. Six high-top tennis shoes and four paws made their way down.
“Let me go first.” I laid on the Flexy, put my hands on the steering grips, released the brake and bumped my way to the bottom. I hit the sandy wash and came to a smooth stop.
“That was cool,” I smiled. My brother and Chuckey took one turn each.
“Hey, let’s try a double-decker,” said Armando. He went first with Chuckey on top of him. Then I tried it with Armando on top of me. This was a lot more fun.
“Let’s go to the top.” I said. We trudged up the hill and sat on the ground to catch our breath, a slight breeze carried dust up towards us. I got a brilliant idea. “Let’s do a triple-decker!”
“Okay,” said my brother, jumping to his feet. Chuckey wasn’t too sure.
“Gee, I don’t know, its’ awfully high, and the road is really rocky, what if we crash?”
“Aw, come on, I’ll keep the brakes on.” I laid on the Flexy, my brother laid on me. Chuckey was still not sure. “Look, just hop on and see how it feels, if you don’t want to, you can get off and we’ll go down by ourselves.” He relented and got on. I released the brake. I shouldn’t have. Chuckey was right. The hill looked a lot steeper and longer as I lay on the Flexy.
My brother rode with his arms resting on the sides of the Flexy where my arms would have been had I not been steering. We were off to a fast start. Chuckey panicked, he shot his arms around our necks and pulled hard.
“Chuckey, let go, I can’t breathe.” I yelled. He refused. The two bodies on top of me pushed the air out of my lungs. The bumpy ride made breathing nearly impossible. My brother was whooping in my right ear. Inky running alongside was barking in my left. Chuckey on top, screamed, “Slow down, slow down!”
“I’m trying!” I yelled back. I got a mouth full of dust. The brakes were useless. We were traveling faster than I could have imagined. The vegetation on the side of the road, a blur. I tried with all my strength to keep a straight line less we topple to our deaths. I drug my tennis shoes off the end of the Flexy in a futile effort to brake. We hit a rut. The Flexy bounced, I was nearly crushed when they landed back on top of me. The Catholic Act of Contrition raced through my mind. Was this going to be the end?
The wash was almost here. We were going to make it. I braced for impact. We hit the sand. The wheels stopped dead. We didn’t. We slid off the sled. The weight of the guys forced my head and arm under me to scrape along the abrasive surface. They tumbled off, did a roll, jumped up and howled. A cloud of dust enveloped us. Chuckey wiped snotty mud from his nose and mouth. Inky still barking ran in happy circles then lay down and began licking his dusty balls. I rolled over and opened my eyes. I saw a nasty scrape from wrist to elbow, my forehead stung.
“Let’s do it again,” hollered Chuckey.
“Heck, yeah,” answered my brother.
“I think I should go home.” I said weakly. After looking at me, they agreed. We started for home, as they talked excitedly about the ride. I felt woozy.
“Que te paso?” Mom asked.
“We rode the Flexy down the dirt road across the street and I fell.”
“Andale, al bano.” Ma washed the grit from my wounds with soap and water then applied one of her ointments and wrapped me with bandages. She told me to stop squirming as she cleaned and scolded me for being such a dummy in the first place.
At dinnertime Dad asked what happened. I explained the events of the fateful ride. Hardly looking up from his meal, he raised his hand, wagged his finger and said. “No more Flexies.” Dad’s word was law. The Flexy was retired. Sister Catherine wouldn’t have to worry about the Katzenjammer Kids coming back after summer vacation.