My husband lived in Marked Tree and Jonesboro, Arkansas several times during his childhood. His father, Stan, originally from the area, couldn’t decide between Bakersfield, California and Arkansas. Much to my mother-in-law’s dismay, they moved back and forth several times.
Each time, Stan and Joy would find work in a factory or retail setting, keeping them just above the poverty line. Upon touring the family residences this past week, Rick didn’t realize they were ever “poor.” He remembers hanging out with family, hunting, exploring the woods and so forth.
Cousin Manuel and his wife, Carolyn, babysat ‘lil Ricky when he was around 3 years old. He was a mean little turd. Obstinate, stubborn and did the opposite of what he was told.
Not much has changed.
Manuel raised rabbits. Not for pets, for income. He would sell the baby rabbits to researchers at the University for $5 a piece. It kept him in tobacco, you see.
Each day Manuel would come home for lunch and check on his rabbits. His favorite doe was named Big Blue. Since I’m not into lagamorphology (the study of rabbits) I’m thinking she looked something like this:
Big Blue was his favorite not because of her color or size, but because she produced a litter of 23 kits every time. Y’all that’s a lot of rabbits.
When Manuel came home for lunch he always checked on his rabbits. ‘Lil Ricky would follow Manuel out and “help” him with water and feeding. ‘Lil Ricky was instructed to never mess with the rabbits.
Do you see where this is going?
Because ‘lil Ricky was the original little rascal, he just couldn’t abide by Manuel’s instruction. And, as all boys eventually do, he messed with the rabbit. He messed with Manuel’s tobacco money.
Manuel came home to find something sticking out of the rabbit cage. Upon closer inspection, he found a rather long stick was protruding from the cage and lodged in the eye of Big Blue.
She was dead.
There goes his tobacco money.
He stomped over to the house, threw open the trailer door and hollered, “Get your butt out here!”
He proceeded to give ‘lil Ricky a tongue lashing, informing him, “If I ever catch you in my rabbits again I’ll stomp on you and throw you in there as bait!”
As Manuel is finishing up the story, I look over and my husband is mortified. He does not remember, but clearly the loss of Big Blue is securely burned in the brain of old Cousin Manuel.