Five Alive

The Handyman

Chapter 27

by L. H. Hall

Living Water at the Oasis
Living Water at the Oasis

Five Alive
Chapter 27

The Handyman

After I built the toilet, I learned that I could put the end of a stick into the fire and rub the burning end on the rock in the coals to form a point. Then, I could touch the burning point to a bamboo pole, and with patience, burn a round hole the right size to insert a smaller bamboo rod. I don't know how I got the idea. In a dream, I think.

After that, in my mind I saw how I could make furniture, chairs, beds, tables, just about anything we would need. Not all of my ideas worked the first time; like our first try at the bed. We still all slept together, and wanted to continue. We spent days making a bed the size of the one on the floor. The frame was made of bamboo tied solidly with vines. For a sleeping surface we wove a mat of tough thin vines. It looked so beautiful. We were so proud of it. Poor Jamie! The first time we lay on it, we all sank to the center. It was like a big dog pile with him on the bottom. It was not easy to get off him either.

We were disappointed! Sure! But after studying the situation and praying about it, I visualized the remedy. I installed four bamboo poles across the bed under the mat. We each had a place, separated by a pole on each side. We were still close enough to touch the ones next to us for comfort if we awoke frightened in the night, as some of us did occasionally. We did not have to spend another night on the hard floor, but still, it was not right. The heavier ones sank down in their compartments, and the lighter ones had little give in theirs. During the night I got the solution. The next morning we cut the mat off the bed, and made five little mats suspended from the frames of each compartment. It was successful. Each section had its blanket and sheet to protect us from the mat.

During the weeks and months that followed, we made a table, five dining chairs, some chairs like the folding lounge chairs with the canvas seat, a cupboard for the dishes, a book shelf, and a special little Bible table.

Nothing was allowed to be laid on that table but the Bible which was always open, usually to the Ninety-First Psalm. We memorized that psalm and many others, and rehearsed them daily to plant them deeply in our hearts.

My toughest challenge in furniture making was Sarah's rocking chair. She was the mother. Mothers were supposed to have rocking chairs, and she wanted one. Obviously, I could not use bamboo with its sections for the rockers. I tried bending limbs and holding them with vines. That did not work. If the pole was big enough for a rocker, it was too big to bend, or the vine would stretch or break. I studied the situation and worried over it for nearly two weeks, seeking the solution. I could not find the answer.

Really, what happened was, that I had been so successful, I became over confident, and I failed to ask the Lord for guidance. One night, in desperation, I said aloud, "Lord what do I do?"

"What do you do about what?" Sarah wanted to know.

"The dumb rockers for your rocking chair. I am at my wits end. I've tried everything I can think of."

"Surely in all this jungle there must be two bent limbs that would work."

"OH! How dumb can I be? I never even thought of that."

"You didn't ask the Lord for help until just now, did you?"

"How do you know?"

"I hadn't thought of it either until you told me what you were praying about. It had to be your answer."

The next morning Jamie and I went into the jungle looking for limbs with the proper bend for rockers. We were both happy and playful. I remembered the vow of vengeance I had made months earlier under the great canopy on the eastern side of the island. Pay back day had come for Jamie. He did not know it yet. I would pick the time and place where it was safe so neither of us would get hurt.

We had rejected several promising candidates for rockers for one reason or another; but finally, found one that seemed just about right. We were looking for another when we came to a little clearing. It looked like we could wrestle around here and not get hurt. It was time. "Jamie, have I ever lied to you about anything since we came to the island"

"Not that I know of. At least I ain't caught you in one."

"I would be committing a sin, if I broke a promise to you wouldn't I?" I put my arm across his shoulders, letting it drop down in front of him so he could not get away, if he suddenly remembered.

"Yeah, you would."

"You wouldn't want me to commit a sin, would you?"

"I guess not. I don't want you breaking any promises to me anyway."

"Do you remember that promise I made to all of you at the other end of the island the morning after your birthday?" I could not hold back the laughter any longer.

"OH! NO!" He remembered and tried to run, but I had him. "You don't have to keep that promise. It won't be no sin."

"Oh! Yes I do!" We were already wrestling around on the ground. "Now it's your turn to be tickled 'til you cry, and can't be tickled any more."

"This ain't fair. You're bigger'n me."

"But it was fair for you to help hold me while I was being tickled to death. Right?"

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Please stop!" He screamed trying to get away.

"I know you're sorry. You're sorry I'm getting even. Your not sorry you helped hold me. You'd do it again in a minute." I had my legs locked around him tickling his sides.

"No I wouldn't! I promise I wouldn't! Please stop!"

"Go ahead finish it."

"Finish what?" He was starting to cry.

"The statement you started to make. Finish it so you won't tell a lie."

"What statement?"

"You promised you wouldn't do it again, didn't you?"

"Yeah, and I meant it!"

"Didn't you mean you wouldn't do it again unless you got the chance?"


"Didn't you?"

"Well, maybe." He was laughing again, but he had relaxed. He was tickled out. He couldn't be tickled anymore.

I let him up and we went on about our business, almost as if nothing had happened. We were even, and he knew it. I tried to get him to promise not to say anything about it to the girls so they would not be afraid of me again. I wanted to surprise them like I did him, but he would not agree. "It might take years, but I am going to get even."

After another hour of picking and rejecting we found a very near match to the rocker we had. I would have no trouble carving off the extra bump or two.

When we returned, the girls, having eaten, were in the cave, making grass skirts. The things I had made months ago had long been worn out. Now it was grass skirts, or nothing, for all of us. Jamie and I had both relented. We preferred the grass skirts. They did not cover much, and they were worthless in the water, but they were better than nothing. At least we had a little privacy.

We ate some jerky and a couple of oranges, and I had just started trimming the rockers when I heard laughter in the cave. I surmised that Jamie was tattling on me, but I kept working.

"You did it!" Sarah slipped up behind me, and hit me about as hard as she could on the shoulder.

"I told you I would. I did. I will!"

"How dare you?"

"There's no dare to it. A promise was given, and a promise was kept."

"You waited 'til he trusted you!"

"I told you I would."

"An' I was mad 'cause you didn't take me 'stead of Jamie," Debbie came out of the cave. "I'm sure glad I didn't go. I won't never go anywhere with you again."

"Me Neither!" Julie joined us. "You're mean!"

"Monday's July fourth. Are we going to have a holiday?" Sarah changed the subject. She knew my day was coming, and they would not be able to change my mind.

"Of course. It's our nation's birthday, isn't it? We'll celebrate even if we're not there, and don't have any fireworks. What have you got in mind to do, Sarah?"

"We haven't been to the lakes for a long time. I thought it might be nice to go down tomorrow afternoon through Goat Field and camp out. Maybe we can hitch a ride home on the dolphins."

"Sounds good to me, but the raft is up here on the beach." I had made a bamboo raft to carry our things when we went somewhere on the dolphins. The extra dolphin always seemed happy to pull it by the long vine attached.

"I'll take it down to the cove, now." Jamie jumped at the possibility of a dolphin ride.

"Can me an' Debbie go too?" Julie started jumping. "Please."

"I guess so, but don't be too long."

About ten minutes after the others had gone, Sarah came screaming out of the cave. "Oh! No! They left me here alone." She ran across the patio into the pool.

I had been so busy concentrating on what I was doing. I probably would not have thought about pay backs. I dropped the sticks and ran after her. I left the patio about the time she hit the water. The chase was on, but in the water she did not stand a chance. I caught her and pulled her up on the bank, very much against her will. It was quite a chore keeping out of the way of her arms, fists, elbows, knees and feet. "Thanks for reminding me.  I was so busy, I would have overlooked the opportunity."

"Turn me loose! I'm a girl! This ain't Fair! You're bigger than me."

"None of that made any difference the three times you attacked me, and they don't make any difference now?"

"Timothy Allen Davis! You turn me loose! Right now!!! I didn't attack you three times I only tickled you twice."

"Really, you got me four times. I can't remember what the first one was, but you got me once at the lake and twice in the Jungle. Now it's pay back time. Like I said, 'Pay backs are fun.' And I'm having fun."

She laughed and giggled and squiggled and squirmed and tried to get loose but I had her firmly in a leg lock. After a couple minutes I stopped momentarily. "That's for the first one."

"Let me up then."

"Oh! No! We got two more to go." I grabbed her again.

"No!" She started screaming, laughing, and giggling again. "You're hurting me. Let me up!" You big brute! This ain't fair! Turn me loose! Please! If you love me, you'll stop!

"I'm not hurting you, and I am not letting you up."

I was getting a little tired. After another couple minutes, I relaxed again.

Thinking I was finished; she pushed at my legs. "You've had your fun. Now let me up."

"Oh! NO! This time you get tickled 'til you don't tickle any more."

"NO!" She screamed and kicked and beat my legs. "I give up! I give up!"

"No you don't! I ain't gonna let you."

Soon the laughter turned to tears; and finally, she relaxed and stopped screaming.

I stopped tickling her and unlocked my legs from around her hips. She did not try to get up. We just sat there panting.

I gave her a little hug and kissed her on the back of the shoulder. "I really do love you, ya know."

"You sure don't act like it." She turned around and hit me playfully on the chest.

"I really do."

"I know you do."

"You gotta admit, you had it coming." I gave her long brown hair a little tug.

"No I didn't. You started it."

"No. I didn't start it, but I finished it."

"It ain't finished yet! She turned to face me."

"You got me a lot more'n I got you, but I'll call us even if you will."

"Oh! No! This ain't finished!"

"Then I'll get a head start on the next round." I started to get my leg lock again, but she screamed, and dove into the water before I could catch her.

We were still water fighting. She was still screaming at me and laughing when Jamie called down from the patio, "Are we too late? Is it all over? We didn't even think about you being left here alone with him 'til we got all the way to the cove. We got back as quick as we could."

"It's all over, but she won't call it even. She was tickled 'til she won't tickle any more for a while." I threw a double handful of water in her face.

"Ooh!" Julie held her sides. "I'm glad it wasn't me."

"Your time is still coming. Hers is all over with unless she does something stupid, like trying to get even."

The others joined us in the lake until Bruno came to let us know that our supper had arrived. The pups did almost all the hunting by this time. If Sheba went out with them, we could almost count on them bringing in a young goat or a large piglet.

July Fourth came and went as planned, and before her birthday: Sarah had her rocker; I had gotten even with the other two girls; they had ganged up on me again; but I still would not tickle.

When they had tickled me before, it stopped tickling when I relaxed. I realized they could never tickle me if my muscles were loose and flexible. While I was meditating on a problem one morning after breakfast, they attacked me. I had heard some giggling, and knew something was up so I had a little warning. I went completely limp, and they could not tickle me. I made a grab for them. Everyone of them tightened up. They could still be tickled, but after that we had little teasing bouts but no more serious tickling.

Copyright © 1995
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.

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