Christmas Rakes (Part 4)

Five minutes later, the grandchildren were geared up and ready to do battle. Grandfather peeled off a couple US Grants from a rubber-banded roll and the brats stuffed them in their pockets.

Grandfather knew how he would coax these Freddy freeloaders into hard work. He borrowed a rake and began dancing with it like it was Ginger Rodgers to his Fred Astaire. Then he held the rake like a Tommy Gun and blasted the coppers like James Cagney in White Heat. You’ll never take me alive! yelled Grandfather in his best gangster voice.

The grand kids quickly got into it. Thank God Grandfather had read Mark Twain and knew how Tom Sawyer tricked the boys into whitewashing the fence for him. Oh yeah, that was the old man’s cagey strategy! He was going full tilt Tom Sawyer on them. Plus he was paying good wages! Tom paid diddly squat.

The son pulled up in his sedan. He carried out three rakes to the yard and leaned them against a picnic table. His wife gave him a smile and a nod. They went inside to change their clothes. The grand kids and Grandfather kept raking and horsing around.

At one point, Grandfather instructed the grand kids to try out a James Cagney-gangster insult on him. He ripped off one, C‘mon you filthy geezer, get to work and then it was their turn. They gave it a try and cracked up before finishing. They tried again and pulled it off. It was such glorious fun! Then they riffed on their own. Hey you old fart wizard, fork over the loot. Hey you senile incontinent coot, cough up the cash. Grandfather yukked it up with every new improvisation.

The parents showed up and they went to work. They raked as a family. The piles grew. They developed a unique system to their raking and piling of leaves, just like every American family used to do when American families raked leaves together in the football fall afternoons.

Two hours elapsed. They had created two enormous piles the size of haystacks. The grand kids stood in front of the piles and glowed with admiration. Then on pure instinct, the boy and girl sprinted toward a pile and dove in screaming headlong. They tunneled through, stood up, and dove in again. Their dad joined them. Mom was next.

Grandfather watched it all with a rake in his hand. A few minutes later he called the grand kids over. They were soaked with sweat and panting. While the parents tidied up the piles, Grandfather peeled off three Ben Franklins for each kid. They rubbed and kissed the dollars with delight like Tiny Tim might have done with a toy, had he ever received one.

It was time to load the leaves in the cart and dump them on the street. Grandfather told the grandchildren to get cracking. He was off to the truck for their real Christmas present so get ready. He’d be right back. Real Christmas present? More dough!

Grandfather jogged to the truck, took off his coat, and strapped on Satan. It was already gassed up and ready to wake the dead. A few seconds later he was standing in front of the leaf piles. The grand kids looked perplexed. The son did not.

Merry Christmas bellowed Grandfather. He yanked the starter on Satan. It roared to life and belched smoke from hell. He extended the barrel toward the pile. The grand kids were sore afraid. Ho! Ho! Ho! Grandfather turned on the blower and walked toward the piles. The kids backed away.

Grandfather blew the piles to smithereens. He blew leave into the bodies of his grandchildren. His son and daughter in-law burst into laughter.

Satan blasted the grand kids to their knees. Then they collapsed. They were giggling like drunken hyenas. The yard was an unholy mess. Grandfather turned off Satan. The grand kids stood up. Peace ruled the yard. Okay, who wants to go first with this machine and get these damn leaves on to the street? Forget the cart! I’m still paying $150 an hour! His grandchildren sprinted toward him. Sure, a brawl would ensue to see who got to wield Satan first. Satan is like that. There might even be Christmas Day blood spilled. All in the name of leaves.