The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Path To Revenge

By Marlys Bradley Huffman © 1988

Issue: October, 1988

Some people think Lucy Belle Adkins got what she deserved. A few others clucked their tongues against the top of their mouths and rolled their eyes upward. Even the ones who patted Lucy Belle's shoulder admitted privately that putting on airs inevitably brought disaster.

Me and Georgy listened to the uproar and slid down the hillside to our favorite fishing hole. We were with the "she got what she deserved crowd." Lucy Belle put on airs.

But worst of all, Lucy Belle Adkins was our teacher. In school we had to call her Mrs. Adkins but the rest of the time we called her, "Old Lucy Belle."

Old Lucy Belle made out lives miserable all school year. She bragged. Most of all she bragged about her conveniences.

All of us had to run through the rain and slip down a hillside to our own version of an outhouse, both at home and at school. Not Old Lucy Belle. She'd talked her husband into building a covered walkway from their house to the outhouse. All school year, Old Lucy Belle rubbed it into us with her smirking, "Too bad the school doesn't have my conveniences."

One day Georgy slipped in the mud and when he came back into the classroom, all covered with dirt streaks and ferns stuck in his red, curly hair, Old Lucy Belle laughed. She stood there and laughed while Georgy turned redder and redder. "It's what happens when you don't have conveniences like mine," she said.

By the time winter was finally getting over, me and Georgy were sick of hearing about Lucy Belle's conveniences.

Georgy got the idea when we were watching Georgy's dad clear off another ten acres of stump land. We stayed way back while the dynamite was put into position, and then watched while pieces of wood soared up into the sky over the cloud of dust. Georgy's eyes glistened at every explosion. He even sniffed the air like my golden retriever and said he liked the smell of dynamite.

He liked it so well, Georgy kept yapping about things he'd like to blow up. He rejected the school house because it was so big. Then Lucy Belle's outhouse came into his mind and I admit I started giggling.

We must have giggled for half an hour before Georgy said, "Let's do it."

We weren't sure how much dynamite it would take so Georgy got three sticks along with the caps and the fuse.

Well, we figured afterward, it was way too much but by that time Lucy Belle's outhouse was only a pile of splinters and the shingles from her house were scattered all over the yard. Even the windows blew out and glass was stuck in some of the pine trees by the road.

"How long you figure it'll be before they come looking for us?" Georgy asked. He stared down into the pond and didn't even look for a willow branch. Neither of us felt much like fishing.

I broke off a blade of grass and put it between my thumbs but I didn't feel like blowing on it either. "Soon as your pa counts his dynamite sticks," I answered.

We must have sat there staring at the fishing hole for hours before anyone found us. Sure enough, Georgy's dad had figured it out.

We aren't going to watch any more land clearing. After school, we go home with Mrs. Adkins and work on her yard. Saturdays and Sundays, we work for Mrs. Adkins and when her conveniences are all rebuilt, we have to do Mrs. Adkins housework every weekend.

Doing Lucy Belle's dishes isn't any fun. I tried to tell my pa that a boy shouldn't have to do dishes but all he said was, "A boy shouldn't destroy someone else's property."

Me and Georgy are real careful not to break any of Old Lucy Belle's dishes and she hasn't said one word about her new conveniences.