Raining Cowboys and Injuns by Mike Cavanagh
When we were kids, my older and larger brother, Pete, and I spent most of the time goading, prodding, dobbing in (me on him) or just outright whacking (him on me, hence see ‘dobbing in’) each other, interspersed by occasional bouts of sibling harmony, bordering on true affection in rare times indeed. Apart from sibling mayhem, most of my earlier memories of the house we lived in at Burling Avenue are full of sunshine and running around like mad things. Pete was a sun and beach boy from day one, but I always loved the colder, grey, wet days, feeling snug inside, sitting near the window panes and watching the rain spatter on the glass. The smaller water droplets coalescing in their slightly manic zig-zagging, growing in size and picking up speed as they pulled in other droplets until they careened down the glass, leaving a thin trail of liquid silver that gradually broke up into droplets again. They seemed alive, and the whole process some miracle I was privileged to observe. It was my brother however who bestowed upon me what still seems a miraculous precipitatory experience.
It was one of those days that just couldn’t make up its mind as to whether or not it was a rainy one or a sunny one, alternating between moods for much of the morning. Pete was ten and I was eight and we’d just come inside out of yet another shower of rain that had interrupted our ‘cowboys and injuns’ out on the front lawn. We’d used the large sandstone fishpond as ‘The Old Lone Star Ranch Dam’ or some such where me and my ‘injuns’ were camped waiting in ambush for the brave blue coats of the 45th Cavalry to trot into all unawares, unsuspecting and stuff like that.
“Better keep a look out boys. Reckon it’s a might too quiet ‘round here,” had opined the devilishly prescient blue coat Captain.
I mean, how in heaven’s name could he suspect anything with we injuns well hidden on the other side of the ole dam? Yes, OK, we were in full view only three metres away but you know, story continuity and all that.
“Wampa-a-pampa-pa. Wamapa-pamp-a,” we injuns intoned as we danced around our fire.
Strangely it seemed to be night-time in injun territory and daylight where the blue coats were… oh well, can happen.
The massacre (of the injuns – it was always the injuns) of Old Lone Star Ranch Dam was just about to ensue as the brazen blue coats rounded ‘Rattlesnake Gulch’ (Dad had left the garden hose in the fishpond after last filling it) when a shower of rain hit, sending brave blue coats and injuns alike scampering up Stoney Creek Falls (the tiled, concrete front steps) and onto the High Chaparral (the verandah) to get out of the rain. Good thing too, as we heard Mum’s voice from inside the house,
“Don’t slam the …”
“… door. Sigh.”
Having come in out of the rain and settled into my fourth Toll House cookie I was oblivious to the change in weather, again, and that the sun was now shining. Pete noticed though and grabbing a fistful of cookies called over to me as he ran back outside,
“Come on, it’s sunny again!”
I forwent immediate response as I concentrated on sucking the last morsel of chocolate chip from between my front teeth whilst simultaneously stuffing another cookie in. Within seeming seconds, Pete came banging back in through the front door, grabbed me by the arm and fair dragged me outside.
“Come out here, it’s amazing!”
“Mmmph, flumpph, gaffgawg…” was the best I could manage as I was man-handled back out to the High Chaparral then down the Stoney Creek Falls. Heck, can’t an injun even eat a hearty meal before he’s massacred?
On the lawn in the sunshine the sky was mostly blue above us apart from one large grey cloud and there was no rain falling. Pete let go of me and ran two metres to our left, towards the back gate, laughing like a maniac. What the blazes was he… ? Then my eyes opened wide and my mouth opened. I think I made a small sound of wonderment and glee, like,
“Eeeek!” and I ran over to where he was.
And we stood there waving our arms about for three seconds, still in bright sunshine but now within a shower of sun gilded rain. Then we both ran back to where we’d been and hopped around shaking off the raindrops for three seconds in the sunshine but with not a drop falling on us. We ran in and out of the rain for about ten seconds more before the edge of the sun shower moved on across the house and away, to leave us giggling and laughing, bespeckled with raindrops glinting in the sun. For those brief moments my brother and I had literally run in and out of the rain, something I’ve never experienced since. A small wonderment had befallen us, and though of no importance in the great scheme of things, it’s still a thing for which I consider myself blessed and forever thankful to my brother.
Mind you, only a short time later the injuns were still massacred, but at least with far less complaint than was the norm.