Trainy’s possums (by Kely Braswell)

Hey y’all! After a break from my regular Wednesday guest posts, I’m bringing them back starting today.

Today’s guest blogger is Kely Braswell, aka @kelybreez. Kely is a husband, father of 6, church planter, writer, reader, runner and sports enthusiast. He lives in Eastern Tennessee, but is originally from Texas. While his blog Dangerous Breeze is relatively new to the blogosphere, don’t let that fool you. He’s an experienced writer who knows how to tell a story. I suspect you’ll be hearing much more from him in the future.

In the following short story, there is mention of a ferret in a dishwasher. To read the rest of that story, be sure to visit Kely’s blog today.

Trainy’s possums

image courtesy of photobucket.com

I was sitting in the living room chair, the one with flowers all over it in a hundred and twenty colors, except the whole thing had a distinct tan hue to it – from me sitting in it every day when I got home from running, no doubt, just like right now.

“Truman Able, I told you a thousand times not to sit in that chair after you run. You’re drippin’ sweat and you’re ruinin’ my chair!”

I got up and laid on the floor, which I hated to do, because the carpet left three inch green fuzzes all over me. Plus, it smelled like carpet that had been around for twenty-five years, which is exactly how long it had been around. Which is why it smelled that way.

The back door popped open, and there stood my brother Trainy. Two and a half years younger and six and a half inches taller than me, a baby possum on top of his head, and another standing up on his shoulder, getting a grip on the hair at the side of Trainy’s head, what was left of it. Trainy loved that about those possums. You could put them on your foot, and they would slowly scratch and claw the full reach of your body until they were resting contentedly on top of your head.

“How’re the possums, Tra?” He looked at me. He didn’t talk much, ever. But even less now.

“Fine, Stupid.”

“Trainy, don’t call your brother Stupid.” Mama said, that resigned sound in her voice, knowing another remark was coming, more than likely.

“Okay,” Trainy smirked. He looked back at me as he walked past. The possum on his shoulder got two fistfuls of hair and began ascending to join his sibling perched on top.

“Fine, Doofus.”

Mama rolled her eyes and sighed. It wasn’t fair that she had to raise two smart alecks and an accidental menagerie at the same time. Nothing was fair. “What am I gonna feed those stupid possums you found, Trainy? Why do you always bring home more animals?”

“Don’t call them stupid, Mama,” he said as he disappeared into his room.

Mama looked at me and sighed, yet again.

*****

The next morning I went running again. I went running every morning.

It was cool, but I was still sweating buckets when I walked in the back door, shirtless, one embarrassingly short pair of vee-notched running shorts the only thing between me and indecent exposure. I was training for the State Track Meet.

But I wasn’t training in CPR for possums.

All I heard when I came in the back door was the saddest tone in my mama’s voice as she plaintively wailed out, “Oh, Tru!” The light was on in the hall bathroom; that’s where her voice came from.

I began to see the tragedy as I turned the corner. Mama’s back was to me. One baby possum was backed up in the corner between the wall and the bathroom, hissing at me.

“Truman, did you forget to put the lid down?”

“I don’t know, Mama, I was asleep when I left this mornin’. It’s dark this time of year.”

“Truman, you’ve drownded him, sure as thunder in April! Look at ‘im, so pitiful in there.” The sadness in Mama’s voice kind of rattled me.

In the commode was a small, gray body floating face down in the water, its little limbs splayed out flat on the surface of the water, its tail lying in a curve up the side of the bowl. His long snout was submerged.

I felt terrible. What was Trainy going to do when he found out I had killed one of his new possums? He’d only had them a few days.

“Move over, Mama, you’re standing there like a goldurn mule in front of the first row. I gotta get ‘im outta there.”

I reached in and put my hand around the little body. I was shocked at how firm his little belly felt. He must have swallowed a lot of water as he kicked and swam and fought to scramble up the slick sides of that bowl.

I knelt down there, and I laid him on his side in the bathroom floor, between my knees, and I said, “Mama, now you pray, just like you did the time you realized you’d washed the ferret in the dishwasher.”

“My prayers didn’t work that time, Tru. I don’t think they work for anything.” But we didn’t have time for theological oppressions right then.

“I know, Mama, but pray anyway. We got another animal casualty on our hands, and with Trainy slippin’ away a little more each day, I don’t want him to have to face this grief.”

Mama prayed and I turned the miniature marsupial on his side. I began to stroke, massaging from the bottom up, along his belly and chest, in a repeated, rhythmic motion designed (hopefully) to accomplish something. I picked him up by the tail and shook. I laid him back down and started chest compressions again.

We waited, and Mama looked heavenward.

And the little thing moved, almost imperceptibly. A whole bunch of water came flowing out his nostrils, and a little possum cough escaped his throat. I kept up the lifesaving massage for a few seconds more, while he regained the use of his legs. He turned his head and looked at me, I swear he did, and then he sluggishly walked over to my foot and began to climb, using the hair on my leg, until he reached the top of my head.

Mama laughed and laughed, and big tears streamed down her face, way more than were absolutely necessary for the salvation of a possum. “Oh, let’s don’t tell Trainy anything about this, okay? Ya hear me, Tru? Not a word. He don’t need this.”

Trainy sure loved his animals.

*****

Those two possums entered the lore of our family. We still tell the story of the day I performed Possum CPR and saved Boaz’ life. They were with us, Boaz and Jachin – Trainy named them as a joke one night when we were reading in the Kings out loud together. We kept them for several months.

But we couldn’t keep Trainy. He quietly slipped away from us in the middle of the night. Like I said, he was always quiet. We didn’t know he was gone till I got back from running that morning and turned on the light in our room to wake him up for school. And there he was, just lying there in his bed, looking for all the world like he was asleep, a possum under each arm.

I finally just took those possums one late afternoon and set them on top of his headstone. I figured, with as much time as they had spent on top of his head when they were babies, it was an appropriate place.

I watched as they skittered around on top for a minute, sniffing. Finally each fell off onto the ground, and unceremoniously disappeared into the woods at the edge of the cemetery.

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9 Responses to “Trainy’s possums (by Kely Braswell)”

  1. *~Michelle~* November 24, 2010 at 7:37 am #

    What a great story….. (even with the lump in my throat at the end)

    Happy Thanksgiving Kathy!

  2. Louise November 24, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    Fabulous story — I hear the south resonating with each word — and what a fascinating voice it has! (especially sitting up here in cold and snowy Alberta)

  3. Wendy November 24, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    Perhaps this post should have come with a warning – “Emotional rollercoaster ahead.” And what was wrong with Trainy? I need to know these things!

  4. jasonS November 24, 2010 at 11:53 am #

    Yeah, I’m with Wendy- a few questions, but a great story nonetheless. Thanks Kely (and Kat).

  5. @kelybreez November 24, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Short story alert: Must read between lines to see what was “probably” happening… But short stories don’t answer questions… They share a mood.

    • Wendy November 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

      Yeah, whatever. Now tell us what happened.

  6. Maureen November 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    Thanks for the great post.

  7. Jason November 25, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    VERY nice.

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