But, what if he is still alive and I can get help?
"Howdy!" A bright welcoming voice but I still winced at the sound of it.
I turned back around and the old dude was looking at me, still leaning in against the tree. "Are you alright?" I asked.
He raised up off of that tree, wrinkled up his eyebrows and put his hand up under his chin. He looked up and off to the heavens somewhere and worked his jaws and lips as he seemed to put every ounce of his energy into thought.
After about 3 minutes of that he looked at me with crystal clear eyes full of understanding and knowledge and said, "What?"
Well it was obvious that this was some nut and now I was starting to worry about whether or not he might have a weapon or even some contagious disease. I was going to get out of there! I turned around and took about three steps, slowly listening, I don't know why. Maybe it was that same feeling you have when you are trying to sneak away from that baby who has finally fallen asleep.
Suddenly a big bony hand, stained with time and who knows what, gripped my shoulder. He pulled me around and started talking; clear as a bell but very slowly. You could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice; that fellow was "abbynormal" something.
"Well, Lord they just tore down the old school house. I loved that old school house. We did a lot of sneaking around and getting into trouble there over the years. Did you go to school down there?"
"Down where?" His eyes were looking all glazed over and he was starting to drool just a bit. He talked as if he were getting paid by the hour for it. Long drawn out words and pauses between them all. If he heard my question he gave no indication of it. He continued, giving me no chance to get a word in edge ways.
Here, to the best of my recollection is what that old Tree Leaner told me:
"Ole Ben was one of them fellers what got blamed for most things that went on. If the teacher had been out of the room for a moment and then returned to find trouble there was no hesitation, "Ben!" Then ole Ben would be sent to the principal's office to get the paddle.
Bulldog would take the paddle from his hand and motion for him to turn around. The whole time he would be saying, "I didn't do it!"
When Bulldog was a commencing to administer a paddling that woman would put her hand down the back of your pants and grip your belt line and pull up so that you would be standing on your tip toes. You were off balance and those whacks from that paddle really made contact with nothing but stretch thin material separating your buttocks from the slab of wood she was swinging.
Now Ole Ben got that paddle more than anybody but I had more than I ever wanted of it too. Let me tell you there weren't none of us boys ever wanted that woman's hand down the back of our pants.
Of course that was just one teacher out of many we had to survive through in those days. But now let me tell you there is something that you got to know about teachers and that is they're not all bad. I know you think I'm just a foolish old man who don't know what he's talking about but its true."
I was standing there about that time and all of a sudden I noticed that it was silent! Not even the birds or the wind to settle upon the ears. "ahhh" Then I was hit with it, "Escape! Get out before he starts talking again!"
Before I made it three steps he had started talking again, "My old uncle was eating a corn dog..."
I didn't hear the rest of it, I just kept right on going. I made it out of the woods and back to my laptop on the back deck with my tea and crumpets and now here I am just looking out over the fields and the barn.
I was a lucky man indeed to have escaped with my sanity this morning. Some of us have to go out and put ourselves in danger just so we can bring you these Too True Tales. If this tale can save just one person from becoming a victim of the Tree Leaner then it will have all been worth the trip. And What a Long Strange Trip It Still Is...
Watch Out For That Talking Tree leaner Y'all!
So if you ever go out into the woods and you see this old fella leaning up against a tree just go around the long way.
They say that cat is still talking to this day and if he gets in your ears you'll probably be there listening for years!
I even heard of one deaf mute who got to close and started reading the Old Talking Tree Leaner's lips and he was stuck there for 4 days and nearly died.
All of this reminds me of a teacher I once saw, the meanest teacher ever. That woman had red hair and sharp gnashing teeth and I knew from first sight that she was going to kill me before it was over.
I tried to come up with some kind of scheme to get my parents to move so I could go to another school! Well, it turned out that she was one of the nicest and coolest teachers I ever knew. I hope she doesn't see this. If she does she just might realize who I am talking about and I am sure she would give me a low grade on this.
Note To Teacher
Also, while I have your attention, you may recall that big rubber gorilla you took away from me in 6th grade. Well a few days later you left the room and I snuck into your drawer and retrieved a load of confiscated toys and handed them out to the other kids. The usual tattle tell wasn't there that day so I got away with it. I am hoping the statute of limitations has already passed and I am safe.
And Now For Something Completely Different
A good spanking