Hangman’s nooses, Teasing, Girls, Cats, Dolls, Switching
Not Nary ’Nother Noose
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If Jaybird, the old black man who was my boyhood mentor, hadn’t shown me how to tie hangman’s nooses, I wouldn’t have lynched Gloria’s dolls.
My sister’s passion was dolls. In her upstairs room, they cluttered her bed, dresser, and bookshelf. These weren’t ordinary five-and-dime Raggedy Ann dolls: They were aristocratic debutantes, celebrities, princesses, and queens.
Some were coiffed in bouffant hairdos; others wore pigtails like Gloria’s, which were so long she could sit on them. Each doll had multiple ensembles of dresses, purses, shoes, tiaras, bracelets, brooches, and pendants. It irked me that Mama spent hours sewing beautiful outfits for those dolls, while my wardrobe was jeans and t-shirts.
One day, when Gloria and Mama went shopping, I committed the heinous hanging crime. The heebie-jeebies came over me when I crept upstairs, partly because my sister’s room was off limits to all males, but mainly because those staring dolls made me feel like I’d entered Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.
In preparation for the dolls’ date with the Grim Reaper, I fashioned four nooses and tied them to the stairs. Then I abducted Barbie, Scarlett O’Hara, Marilyn Monroe, and Gloria’s favorite, Queen Cleopatra.
What fun it was to loop nooses around the elegant necks of those pouty-mouthed, glossy-cheeked beauties, their cornflower blue eyes a-blinkin’.
So that Gloria would know they agonized while asphyxiating, I twisted their arms and legs grotesquely and mussed their hair. The deceased dolls were a ghastly sight, slowly rotating at ropes’ ends, eyelids at half blink.
By the time Mama finished frazzling me with a willow switch, I was an even ghastlier sight. Months passed before she forgave me, and Gloria still hasn’t.
But I kept making hangman’s nooses. One day Reverend Mortimer came calling, and he, Mama, Gloria and I were sipping sweet tea and munching cookies in the parlor. Mortimer’s monologue became boring, so I eased down on the floor to harass Stokely, Mama’s Siamese cat, fast asleep under the table.
Noticing Gloria’s pigtails hanging behind her chair, I made a noose from a piece of twine I had in my pocket and slipped it over one of the pigtails, and tied the other end of the line to Stokely’s tail.
What happened next precipitated pure pandemonium. Gloria reached across the table for a cookie, and instantly that which the preacher warned would be the eternal destination of malicious miscreants like me — hell! — chaotically broke loose in Mama’s parlor.
When the pigtail pulled the string, it pulled Stokely’s tail. He shot up Gloria’s back and across the table. His claws jerked the tablecloth, spilling tea, cookies, and sugar. Mortified, Mama froze; Gloria and Stokely entwined each other, one hissing, one screaming; and His Reverence blurted out an extremely un-ecumenical expletive.
When the twine finally broke, some semblance of sanity returned, but only after Mortimer, my sister, and Stokely witnessed a switching even more severe than the one I got for murdering the dolls.
From that day to this, I’ve knotted not nary ’nother noose.Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives | Click to view Comments