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06/12/2002 - 6:45 p.m.

Wilkins' Apples

So, I decided to just write my No Shame piece here tonight, rather than write it in Word and then transfer it later. So, if you're reading this before 10, you're at the premier showing of my No Shame piece, whatever the hell it turns out to be.

Now before grace and you, go I.

Wilkins' Apples

The Wilkins' apple trees were widely known as the best apple trees in the county. The orchard was situated right next to the road, in a sort of prideful advertisement. Every fall when the red globes waxed to perfection, anyone who rode past stopped to take a look. Children considered petty theft so that they might taste an apple surpassed only by Eve's. But few ever did, Mr. Wilkins had a formidable temper and an even more formidable shotgun.

One fall day, on their way home from school, Bill and Fred passed by the Wilkins' farm and saw Mrs. Wilkins in the yard. She called out to them to come talk to her.

"Well, boys," the woman said, "you've happened by at just the right moment. I'm wondering if you can do a job for me. Mr. Wilkins left a space ago for town; he's got an order due to arrive today. Anyroad, I'm in the middle of a cake for the pastor's visit tonight and I've run out of wood for the stove. Would you boys run up to the woodpile and fetch some for an old lady? It's just up past the orchard, and I don't need too much."

The boys agreed heartily to the task and set off in the direction of the forbidden apple orchard. A visit from Eve's serpent proved unnecessary for as soon as they saw those trees hanging heavy with apples, Bill decided were going to tempt fate.

"After we get the wood, let's come back this way and sneak us some apples, Fred. Wilkins is gone, and nobody'd be any the wiser as to what we'd done."

Fred, who was not quite what you might call the sharpest knife in the cupboard, agreed.

They delivered the wood to Mrs. Wilkins, bid her good day, and set off again in the direction of the orchard.

"Where are you boys off to?" asked Mrs. Wilkins, noting their direction.

"It's quicker to get home cutting through your property," said Bill, thinking fast.

"Well, it's OK this time, since you helped me out and all, but when Mr. Wilkins is to home, I think you ought not try it. He's none to forgiving at trespassers, you know. Thanks again fellows, that was real nice of you."

Mrs. Wilkins went back in the house and Bill took off at lightening speed with Fred following him. In no time they were perched high in a tree with their mouths and pockets full of apple. And such apples! Bright, juicy, Red Delicious warm from the sun, crisper than a Rome and sweeter than a Granny Smith, there was nothing to compare with these fruits.

At this moment, just when they assumed that they were free to eat apples for another half hour or so, they saw Mr. Wilkins' team coming up the road. Fred panicked, let out a yelp and jumped from the tree. Mr. Wilkins saw his leap and stopped the wagon. To Bill's horror, he saw Mr. Wilkins actually getting out of the wagon and climbing the fence. He too, took a wild leap, grabbed Fred, and with Mr. Wilkins in hot persuit, the two pelted faster than they knew they could, shedding apples the whole way. Bill saw they were pretty far ahead, but still not close enough to a fence to get off the property. Ahead of them rose the barn, and Bill made for it.

They ran up and hid in the haymow, Bill peeking out of the open loft door.

"Is he following us?" asked Fred.

"No, he's just standing there. I think he can't work out where we've got to," replied Bill.

At that moment, the man on the ground called out.

"You theives had better come out if you know what's good for you! I ain't got my shotgun, but when I get back, I'll have it, and if I catch you, you'll know it pretty sore. And just know, if you think about trying it again, I saw you pretty good."

The man turned and began to walk back towards the house. Bill breathed a sigh of releif, he was going to let them go. It was at this moment that Fred did something not so very clever. He still had an apple in his pocket and as the farmer retreated, lobbed it in his direction. It was a lucky thing Fred wasn't a good shot, but Wilkins stepped up his pace towards the house pretty quick.

The boys beat a hasty retreat out of the barn, back through the orchard, and over the fence. Safely out of harm's way, Bill asked Fred why he'd thrown the apple.

"I only had but one left, and I didn't want to get caught with it. Course, he knows it's us, though." Fred replied.

"No he don't," said Bill, "he was just saying that. He never got close enough, he just knew it was somebody, that's all. Now come on, let's take his team back to him, he just left it in the road. That'll prove it wasn't us, if we're taking his team back."

Bill grabbed hold of one horse, Fred of the other, and they began to lead the team up the road to the gate. Bill glanced at Fred, who was trying his best not to look scared. They saw Mr. Wilkins come out the front door with his shotgun, and a cold fear shot through both boys that was probably worse than a bullet. The man seemed, however, happy to see them.

"Well, hello fellows, thanks for bringing back my team! I was just going to get them myself."

"Why'd you leave them out there, sir?" asked Bill.

"Some theiving kids jumped out of my apple trees when I drove past. Helping themselves, I suppose. I got so mad, I just up and went after 'em. I lost them, so I told them if I caught them on my property again, they'd get something pretty sharp in return for stealing my apples. I turned to go, and they chucked a tomato at me. What do you boys think of that?"

Fred spoke up, "Why, it wasn't a tomato, it was an apple!"

Hmmm, now that I'm finished, is there No Shame this week? I don't know... I guess I can go check it out. Oops, no, there isn't. So, hey, you're reading this a whole week in advance.

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