Monday, December 26, 2011

Tales About My Dad: The Magic Horses

A holiday story....

When I was about 8-9 years old, I had a couple of plastic horses that I used to play with all the time. They were my best excuse for not going to bed at the appointed time. I'd leave them downstairs and then tell my Dad that I forgot them and absolutely had to go back down and get them. It was a kid's attempt at stalling and delaying the inevitable. Of course, my Dad saw through the ruse and proceeded to tell me that I didn't have to go downstairs to get them. All I had to do was whistle the special tone that only they could hear and they would come galloping up the stairs into my room. The only condition was that I had to be on my bed after I whistled the magic tone.

Dad: Come here to the bedroom door and whistle the special tone. When you hear them coming up the stairs, run to your bed and they'll come.

Me: Right. (8 year old sarcastic tone) They're just going to come up the stairs by themselves.

Dad: Trust me. Whistle like this.... and listen. When you hear them come up the stairs, run to your bed and they'll be there.

Me: (ok, I'll try it once and then run downstairs to get the horses). 2 tones that sound like Wee Hoo! Wee Hoo!

Scratching noises on the hardwood floor suddenly are heard. I look at my dad and he says "run to the bed". No sooner do I land on the bed when WHACK! The horses hit me in the chest and land on the bed. I stare at them totally amazed.

The next night, I follow the standard procedure 8 year olds follow when they've witnessed an unexplained event. We do it again. But this time, I'm ready. I figure, my old man put the wool over my eyes and had them in his hand and threw them at me when I wasn't looking. So, before I go to the door, I have my Dad sit down on the chair by the bed so I can keep my eye on him. I go to the door, stick my head out and whistle the special tone "Wee Hoo! Wee Hoo!". Then, I hear the scratching sounds of the horses hooves on the hardwood floor below, I run to my bed, keeping my eyes on my dad who's sitting in front of me when WHACK! The horses hit me from behind! How could he have thrown them while in front of me and have them hit me from behind? What's going on here? Then it occurs to me that my Mom must be in on this.

The next night, he sits on the chair by my bed. I go to the bedroom door but before I whistle, I yell for my mom. She answers from their bedroom right next to me. I go to the head of the stairs so that she's in front of me and my dad is in my room. There's no one downstairs. I whistle the the special tone "Wee Hoo! Wee Hoo!". I listen but there's no sound. Hah! I've got my parents trapped in their "trick". They can't throw the horses at me because I'm between them and the stairs. I whistle again "Wee Hoo! Wee Hoo!". Then I hear a scratching noise downstairs....the noise made by plastic hooves on hardwood floors....I look down the stairs and I see the first of the horses appear at the foot of the stairs! I did what any self respecting 8 year old would. I RAN! I didn't even make it two steps to my room and the horses hit me from behind! They hit me as my mom stood in front of me wondering what affliction has struck her son (that boy ain't right!). They hit me as my dad looked out from the chair in my room. I was dumbstruck! How could this have happened?

My dad lived to be 100 years old. The day before he died, I was at his bedside playing some music on my hammer dulcimer for him. He laid there with his eyes staring into space, no words coming from his mouth. When I stopped playing for him, he blinked and looked at me. I don't know why but those horses popped in my head. I leaned over and I asked him if he remembered the horses from years ago. I didn't expect him to remember something that happened 43 years earlier but he looked at me and smiled. He did remember!

Me: Dad, you remember that horse trick when I was a kid?
Dad: (whispering) yes.
Me: I have to know. How did you do it? I never figured out how you did it. How?

My dad smiled faintly and motioned with his hand to come close to his mouth so I could hear what he was going to tell me. A silly childhood mystery was about to be solved. I leaned over to hear his answer.

Dad: Magic.