idol season 11 | week 6 | 908 words
Solvitur ambulando (It is solved by walking, or a problem solved by practical experiment)
Long about twenty years or so ago, there lived a boy down in Moonshine Holler, name of Peanut Durang. Peanut was a nice enough kid, a little puny maybe, but he didn't have the sense God gave a boot.
He was his mama's only child, and she despaired of him every day.
"Peanut," she'd say, "how d'you get yourself into these predicaments?"
"I dunno," Peanut would answer. "Just fall into 'em, I guess."
"'Fall' is right," she'd mutter, bandagin' his cuts or tryin' to get the mud stains out of his pants.
When Peanut was a young'un, his mama used to harness him to the clothesline, until the authorities said she cain't.
It was easy for them to talk, with no Peanut of their own. They didn't know how it was, the things that cain't be helped.
Peanut was always that kid with scrapes and scabs on his knees and elbows, always wearin' tore-up shirts and raggedy pants. He had a chipped-tooth smile and this sorta white-colored hair cut bristle-brush short, on account of he once got pine tar stuck to his head.
The real problem wasn't just that Peanut didn't have sense, it was that he was actually purty darn clever. And stubborn too, truth be told. He never knew when to quit on somethin', and he'd find a way past all kinds of rules and protections that kept other people out of trouble. What a terrible situation—there was no explainin' just how aggravatin' that could be.
Peanut would work up a notion to get inside someone's barn or shed, and he wouldn't let something like a padlock stop him. He'd take a screwdriver to the latch and just remove the whole darn thing. The neighbors and such were fit to be tied.
"Peanut Durang, I will tan your hide!" his mama would shout.
"What fer?" Peanut would ask. "Didn't hurt nothin'."
"That ain't for you to decide!"
Peanut's padlock-slippin' days came to an end when he opened up Hank Wilshire's barn, and Hank's Bluetick Coonhound Maisie bolted off toward the main road and nearly got hit. Peanut was sorry about that, real sorry. He'd never had a dog of his own, so he had no inkling of how dogs could get loose sometimes and just run.
With Peanut's love of animals, that whole muddle with Maisie finally got his attention. But it didn't keep him away from trouble for long.
"Peanut," his mama said one day as Peanut clomped into the kitchen, "just exactly where is your other shoe?"
Peanut shrugged as he poured a glass of water from the tap. "I expect one of Mr. Jackson's goats has it now."
"Now, why on Earth would a goat have your shoe?"
"It fell off while that big gray billy-goat was chasin' me around the pasture an hour ago."
"Peanut!" his mama said. "You know you're not supposed to be gettin' onto other people's property!"
"Them goats needed pettin'," Peanut said.
"Well, I guess that gray one didn't! And Mr. Jackson put up that big, high fence and locked the gate for a reason."
"Found a way around 'em, though," Peanut said. "I mostly always do."
Peanut would climb over, crawl under, or sometimes just worm his way through all manner of impediments to get somewheres he wasn't supposed to be.
His mama had to take him to the doctor once, to get stitched up from runnin' into a rusted plow blade hidin' in an overgrowed field two towns over.
"How exactly did this happen?" Doc Buford asked.
Peanut shrugged. "Just lucky, I guess."
"Boy, that ain't what luck looks like," Doc Buford said.
Peanut scowled at the ugly gash bleedin' down his leg. "Don't I know it."
Would a father have helped? There's really no tellin'. Just knowin' how Peanut was, and how he made his mama so crazy, there weren't too many men even thought about steppin' into that family picture. And who could blame 'em?
Now, school finally slowed Peanut down some as he got older. The more homework there was, the less time he had for mischief. It didn't stop him from diggin' into hornet's nests or fallin' out of trees on the weekends, but it took some of the tar outta his curiosity and cussedness. Peanut had always enjoyed learnin', and his schoolbooks gave him a lotta new things to learn about.
He still found himself in the briar patch purty regular, and tumbled into the creek a couple times chasin' dragonflies. The last time left him with a busted arm for two months, and he was sorely bitter about it. He never got into trouble at the creek again, and folks were right surprised.
That arm wasn't the last bone he broke, but who knows if it didn't save him from someday breakin' his neck?
There was some as thought Peanut would never make it out of Moonshine Holler alive, includin' his mama. But Peanut never gave up easy, and somehow or other he growed up just the same. He even left town and wound up drivin' a bus over in the city. Who'd've guessed?
It's possible Peanut had already made all the mistakes a person could by then, and didn't have no more left.
Or a bettin' man might say maybe the odds came through for him at last.
Either way, with a history like his, you gotta hope his luck don't go sideways on 'im and finally run out.
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