Summary: “You gotta be smart, boy, fast…” Who outsmarts whom?
Word Count: 850
“Where in blue-blazes have you been?”
Adam froze. Dang! He could have sworn it had been the second step of the staircase that creaked, but obviously it was the third. He wasn’t sure if the second step had infected the third with creaking before recovering from the disease or if he had simply forgotten which of them was the invalid while he had been in Boston. Well, be it as it may, the step had creaked and woken Pa. And there was one thing Adam had not forgotten while he had been away: that it wasn’t recommendable at all to wake Pa by coming home in the wee hours of the morning after a boozy Saturday night with Ross at the Bucket of Blood. And sure enough Pa made no bones about it.
“Are you aware how late it is? The sun’s nearly up. What in tarnation makes you think you can come home at this time?”
Adam’s face was hidden in the shadow, so Pa couldn’t see the telltale signs of quick thinking on his son’s face, and when Adam finally looked up, all he showed his father was hurt dignity
“But Pa, I’m not…” Don’t lie. If you don’t say it it isn’t a lie. “Pa, I’m going out.”
“You—what? Where are you going at this time on a Sunday morning?”
“Adam, there are about four hours before the service begins.” Pa’s tone, his raised eyebrow: suspicion. But Adam’s mind had been trained in college to be quick and creative.
“I want to help Rev. Oldman with the preparations. There’s always an awful lot to do before the schoolhouse turns into a proper church…and I’m sure Rev. Oldman could use another hand.”
“That’s very kind of you Adam; but just a little unexpected, don’t you think?” There still was a lot of doubt in Pa’s voice. He wasn’t easy to fool. Adam sighed inwardly.
“Yeah, I know. But after that… discussion about his sermon last week I thought I ought to make up to him for it. And so I decided I’d give him some help today.” That wasn’t a lie, either. It wasn’t. Adam had made that decision. Only about a minute ago, sure, but he had never mentioned when…
“All right, that sounds quite reasonable.” Pa sounded pleased. “I’m very proud that you are taking responsibility for your actions, son. The reverend was rather upset about that argument, and I’m sure he will appreciate your…redemption.”
“Yeah, well, I better get on, then. Bye, Pa.” Well, that didn’t go too bad.
“Bye, son, I’ll see you at church. And, Adam, I’m sure Mrs. Oldman would be delighted if you’d help her with the church picnic, too. She’s always asking for some strong young arms to help her setting everything out.”
“Oh, yes…good idea, Pa.” All right, this was going to be a long morning. But escaping Pa’s clutches was worth it. So Adam waved his father a last goodbye, turned and headed to the barn to re-saddle his horse and drag his tired bones back to Virginia City.
In fact, not only did the morning become a long tiring sequence of ministries, favours and services, but the whole day also turned into an endless succession of tasks and duties. After the church picnic was over, Adam, prompted by his father and to the utter delight of all women present, had cleaned away the whole mess and single-handedly washed up all the plates, dishes, forks and knives, and whatever else had been used. When he had finally gotten home, planning to go fishing at the lake and have a direly needed nap, Pa was already waiting for him, and asked for a favour. That one favour had turned into two, then three; and Pa, time and again praising Adam for his exemplary willingness to volunteer, had never tired of providing Adam with fresh chores.
Eventually even that day had found an end, and Adam, who could barely keep his eyes open at supper, had fallen asleep on the settee the moment his bottom had touched the seat. When he woke up the next morning he was still lying there; someone had put a pillow under his head and draped a blanket over his body.
On the coffee table lay a book flipped open. On closer inspection it turned out to be the Bible; and Adam wasn’t surprised at all to find it open at Deuteronomy 32. Just to concede his defeat he read the 35th verse, “To me belongeth vengeance and recompence.”
They never talked about that Sunday, or about getting home in the wee hours of the morning. And Adam made sure never to tread on the third step again.
At least not in the wee hours of the morning.
Cleverness is not wisdom. ~ Euripides