“Wish I were a bird,” Ricky says, more to himself than to me.
I watch the town from our bird’s eye view for a minute and then say, “you wouldn’t like it.”
Ricky doesn’t react at all for another minute, he just looks out over the town with me and then he asks, “why not?”
“Your brain would be this small,” I show him a space between my thumb and index finger about three eights of an inch long.
He thinks on that for a few seconds, “I could be a really big bird with a human sized brain,” he states real mater-of-factly without even cracking a grin. Just something about the totally serious look on his face starts me laughing and I almost fall out of the tree. Ricky waits until I’ve settled down and says, still dead serious, “we need to find something to build some walls out of.” Which just starts me laughing all over again.
As we slide down the rope my father’s nineteen fifty-four Chevy Bel-air power glide pulls into the driveway and stops. He comes through the carport to the back yard to greet us but before he speaks he sees the tree house. He walks around the tree and looks at the deck from several angles. He mumbles to himself, shakes his head a few times and heads back to the car. In the trunk of the car he finds a tape measure. He returns to the tree and leans the ladder against one side of the deck, climbs up so that his arms are above the deck, stays on the ladder and takes some measurements. He writes down a bunch of numbers on a pad he always keeps in his shirt pocket. He looks over the branches real good and makes a couple more notes in his pad before he nods happily to himself and puts the pad back in his pocket. Instead of a greeting or an I’m home hug he suggests we stay off the platform until he can make a few changes and leaves us in the backyard as he goes into the house.
Ricky looks at me and raises his shoulders, his way of asking why?
“Somehow he heard about the cave cave-in,” I answer his unspoken question.
He keeps looking me in the eye, which means he needs more answer.
“He thinks we are going to kill ourselves,” Ricky accepts this answer.
“So, what now?” Ricky asks, using his words now.
“Wait and see,” I think for a second and add, “he wasn’t mad. He was kind of excited,” I look over at Ricky, “did you see the way he was smiling when he put his pad back into his pocket?”
Ricky just nods.
“He has a plan. I don’t know what it is, but the wheels were turning,” I point to my brain and tap the side of my head a couple of times. Rick calls for Sally who has been sleeping under my back steps waiting for us to come down to her level. It’s Friday evening. Ricky’s parents are having people over for a swim and barbeque so we are not allowed to mess up the pool. The three of us run and walk around trees and down the sidewalk toward town. It’s kind of scary when a parent takes an interest in one of our projects. We check into the bookstore and try for forget about what the morning may bring by reading the latest comic books but in the back of our minds we both are pestered by thoughts of a huge sledge hammer knocking all of our hard work out of the tree.
When I get home, just in time for dinner, my father asks me to give Ricky a call on the phone and ask him if he can be ready by seven in the morning. He gives no explanation and all we talk about at dinner is stuff like, “pass the gravy,” and “would you like some more milk?” My dad can play the cards pretty chose to his chest when he wants to.