StoryRhyme After Dark: Westward Ho!

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Westward Ho!
By Harry Buschman


The way it all started was like this... There was me and Walter, Ernie, Harpo and Bunco. We made a pact twixt the five of us.
We decided we'd all run away from home together. Don't laugh. It was a major decision for five nine year old kids from Brooklyn. Each of us stuck the end of his thumb with a burnt needle and each of us grabbed the wrist of the other. So the pact was sealed in blood and nobody could go back on it. Each of us would pack a bag and instead of going to school the next morning we would meet on the corner, ditch our books and head west to Montana where men were men and there was no women allowed—not even sisters.
Well, we counted out all our money and it came to about fourteen dollars between us and we began to wonder if that was enough to get us out of Brooklyn, let alone out to the purple sage country in Montana. Even Bunco, the brains of the group, began to wonder if we had given enough thought to the financial side of our plan.
We stood on the corner of Ryerson Street and McKibben watching the vegetable trucks from New Jersey roll by. "There's our ace in the hole," Bunco said. "There's the answer! We hitch a ride with them going back to Jersey. They go back empty, see... They'll be glad to give us a lift."
It sounded like a good plan to us. All we had to do was wait for them to dump their load at the vegetable market in Brooklyn and we could be in New Jersey by early afternoon... Half way to Montana!
The trouble was we had to wait, and when you wait, you reconsider things...
It began with Walter. Walter was the least adventurous of us and along about ten-thirty he began complaining of a toothache ... "What'll I do if it gets worse in Montana?" he asked.
"You can't welch on your pledge," we reminded him.
"I'll catch up to you. I'll just go home, get it fixed... And..."
"Your family will notify the police. They'll catch up to us, and there goes our plan," Bunco said. "Suck it up Walter. A pledge is a pledge."
A little bit later Ernie wanted to go back and get his autographed baseball. "I didn't think I'd need it," he said. "But it's a real Joe Dimaggio from the '29 Series... You never know, you know."
Then Harpo wanted to get his sneakers. "They're in my locker at school," he said. "I'll just run back and get them, okay?"
Bunco put his foot down. "What's the matter with you guys ... you gettin' cold feet? What happened to that pledge... The blood oath?" Then he looked at me and said, "You wanna run home to Mommy too?"
"Well, no... But... "
"But what?"
"Tomorrow's as good a day as today, Walter can go to the dentist this afternoon, Ernie can bring his baseball tomorrow and Harpo can get his sneakers. Maybe we can get a little more money together.... Maybe we can be a little more prepared. Cut us a little slack, Bunco."
…And so began a lifetime of procrastination for four of the five boys from Brooklyn. None of us ever made it out to Montana... Out there where men are men. But we stayed friends until the war broke us up... After all a pledge is a pledge, right?

(c) 2014 Harry Buschman
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