BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, Chapter 7. Annie Over

In this next chapter of the backwoods novella BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, Ben finally gets permission to stay after school with Danny for a basketball game, but he’s got to come right home to Piney Hill afterwards to help in the café with the game crowd.

To read BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, Chapter 7.  ANNIE OVER, right click here and select “Open,” or to download as a free pdf file to read at your leisure whenever, select “Save Target (or Link) As.”  You can access the previous 6 chapters for reading or download from the list on the book page .


Excerpt from Chapter 7. – Annie Over

            After school, I tossed my annual and play script in my locker for tomorrow and left with Danny, walking down the shady street beside him.  I was so happy to be with my buddy instead of on the Ben Lomond bus.  At the corner of Main Street while we waited for the light, Danny gave me a pitiful look and mumbled sadly, “Shit, I’m so horny I can’t see straight.”

I tried to comfort him and took his arm.  “Here, I’ll help you across the street.”  He laughed and gave me an affectionate poke.

In Phillips’ Drugstore where Danny worked on Saturdays, he made us a couple chocolate sodas, and we sat together leaning on the cool marble of the counter top.  Danny whispered, “Do Catholics really truly believe it’s a sin to jack off?”  Excited to spread the Truth of the Church, I assured him we do and then wondered for a moment if I still did.  He shrugged and asked, “You don’t never play on the skin flute?”

Without looking at him, after a chuckle and a slurp of soda, I admitted, “Only when I simply can’t resist the temptation.”

Danny slurped his own soda and laughed, “I can resist anything but temptation.”  Seeing another opportunity, I talked about keeping our souls free from mortal sin so as not to go to hell when we die.  With a serious expression, Danny broke in, “But all you gotta do is take Jesus for your savior.”  I argued that we’re still responsible for our own personal sins.  Danny snorted, “Including tooting off.  Well, I’m sure glad I’m no Catholic and wish you wasn’t neither.”

I was so shocked all I could do was stare.  This wasn’t at all where I wanted our conversation to go.  Besides, I was getting less and less confident about arguing the sinfulness of doing those things, and I still wasn’t at all clear on what sex had to do with God.  The best thing was to drop the subject and get back to being best buddies.

It was only five blocks to Danny’s house, which was all quiet since his Mama didn’t get home from work at the Sheriff’s Office till five, and his Pop was on the evening shift, three to eleven, over at the paper mill.  In the yard we were greeted by a bounding puppy named Nina, almost as overjoyed to see her master as I was to be with him.

Danny found his basketball lying by the steps and suggested we play Annie Over.  So we wound up on either side of their long brown house pitching the ball back and forth over the roof to each other.  To let the other know you were throwing, you had to shout, “Annie Over!”  I always hollered, “Danny Over!”  Nina got super excited, running around and around the house each time we’d throw the ball.

Most of Danny’s throws kept coming down in the big legustrum bushes, and after a half dozen more tosses, I got bored.  Besides, I really didn’t like not being able to see my buddy.  Catching his next throw, I raced around the house with the ball.  He was looking expectantly up at the roof when I hollered, and the ball whopped him upside the head.

“You rat-fink!” Danny yelled and chased me hooting and growling off across the yard.  A tackle sent us crashing into the tall bushes at the back of the house.  “Gotcha!” he shouted triumphantly as we fell through the crunching branches.

He landed smack on top of me, face down on the ground, and was pretty heavy.  I wiggled to try and roll him off and suddenly felt him hard against my behind.  He started rubbing and panting in my ear.  Again all I could do was laugh, especially since Nina was jumping all over us, and try to pull his arms loose.  Finally he let go and moaned piteously.

Struggling to stand up, I scolded, “Bad puppy dog!”  Danny sat on the ground looking ashamed, and I patted him on the head like a good dog.  He grabbed me with a growl and pulled me down to the ground, humping my leg with great fervor, and Nina again joined the fray.  We both collapsed in laughter.  Crawling out of the bushes, he grinned at me and blushed.  Wrestling with him like that had somehow caused me to get hard too, so I’m sure I also blushed.

With Danny dribbling the basketball and Nina nipping at my heels, we strolled out to the front yard and found his mother pulling into the driveway in a blue Buick.  Ethel was a sweet-looking heavy woman with one of those beehive hairdos.  Danny quickly explained about inviting me to supper to go to the basketball game.

Opening the back car door, she said, “You’re that smart kid he’s been talking about?  Ben?  Well, I just been to the grocery and got a bunch of pork chops.”  She looked hard at us.  “You two been rassling?”  We nodded and let her pick grass out of our hair.

“Look what you done, buster,” Ethel chided Danny.  “You done tore Ben’s shirt.”  She pointed out a small rip in the side under my arm.  I assured her it was there already, my old red plaid shirt.  As we climbed the porch steps with the grocery bags, behind us Ethel said, “Dirt all over you boys!  Into the tub with you two.  Supper be ready in a half hour.  Get cracking!”



Aztec Icon #7 – HUITZILOPOCHTLI, Hummingbird of the South

Let’s get back to my coloring book of Aztec icons called YE GODS!  THE AZTEC ICONS.  Here comes the big guy, the patron deity of the Aztec tribe (the Mexica), a war god, oddly named for a tiny bird.

In all good conscience, I must apologize for the exuberance of miniature detail in this drawing, but it’s all necessary to tell his story. The motifs in the icon are modelled on images from several codices too numerous to mention.  If you find the vignettes too tiny to work with, all I can suggest is to blow the image up to maybe 200X.

Meanwhile, since this icon is so detailed, I’ll give some more notes below, after the caption.

Don’t worry, you can still see or download the previous six icons by clicking on them in the list on the page for the coloring book .


(Hummingbird of the South)

To download this icon as a pdf file with a page of caption and model images from the Aztec Codices, right click here and select “Save Target (or Link) As.”  You can also download it in freely sizable vector drawings from the coloring book page.


HUITZILOPOCHTLI {hwee-tsil-o-poch-tłee} is the god of war, power, force, action, accomplishment, and nobility, as well as patron of the city of Tenochtitlan and god of the South. As patron god of the Mexica (Aztecs), he was credited with both their victories and defeats on the battlefield, requiring sacrificial human hearts in either case. He is sometimes called the Blue Tezcatlipoca, the sun at mid-day, and as Lord of the warriors of the day, the Eagle Knights, he wields the Xiuhcoatl (Fire Snake) with which he slew his 400 brothers.  Son of Coatlicue (Snake Skirt), he led the Mexica people on their epic migration from legendary Chicomoztoc (Seven Caves) into the Valley of Anahuac.



The god surmounts a symbol of the sun at zenith. Central above him rises the Tree (cacao) of the South in which sits an unidentified Bird of the South.  To the left of it crouches an Eagle Knight, and to the left is the god’s birth day-name, One Flint.

The figured frame, starting on the upper left and running traditionally counterclockwise, presents episodes in the many-year migration of the Mexica. Largely it reflects Fray Durán’s account in his 16th-century “History of the Aztecs.”  The vignettes down the left side represent:

  • Departure from the mythical homeland of Aztalan and long wandering in the desert.
  • Settling down in Chicomoztoc (Seven Caves) for many years.
  • Birth there of Huitzilopochtli (including the beheading of the god’s mother Coatlicue and slaughter of his multitudinous brothers).
  • Migrating on and conquering the Red City (probably Gran Chichimec in Sonora).
  • Abandoning the god’s sorceress sister Malinalxochitl.
  • Settling down at Coatepec and executing the god’s conspirator sister Coyolxauhqui.
  • Migrating on and killing the god’s nephew Copil, son of Malinalxochitl.
  • Flaying the “Woman of Discord,” daughter of the king of the city of Colhuacan.
  • The five day-signs, Lizard, Rabbit, Grass, Vulture, and Flower (bottom center) are symbols of the South as well, noting the direction of the migration.

Rising from the lower right, the vignettes represent:

  • Arrival of the Mexica at Tenochtitlan, Place of the Cactus, an island in Lake Texcoco (with volcanoes Popocatepetl and Itzacihuatl in the background).
  • Merchants (pochteca) with their god Yacatecuhtli trading with many cities.
  • Warriors conquering many other cities.
  • Warriors capturing prisoners for sacrifice.
  • Priest sacrificing people atop the double temple of Huitzilopochtli and the storm god Tlaloc, now known as El Templo Mayor in Mexico City.

BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, Chapter 6. A Cheer of Champions

In this next chapter of the backwoods novella BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, Ben travels to Little Rock to a state conference and enjoys socializing with the other 4-H County Champions.

To read BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, Chapter 6.  A CHEER OF CHAMPIONS, right click here and select “Open,” or to download as a free pdf file to read at your leisure whenever, select “Save Target (or Link) As.”


Excerpt from Chapter 6. – A Cheer of Champions

            The big banquet room was full of long tables with white tablecloths and chrysanthemums with some kind of silver leaves.  Mr. Lacey and Miss Mannis sat at a table with the other adults, and we found places near the back corner of the room.  Right away I saw that the leaves were just legustrum leaves painted silver, like those big bushes back home in our yard.  It was an interesting idea that maybe we could use in our café.

In a minute, a young Negro in a white jacket brought our plates.  He was real handsome with his skin so black.  He saw me looking at him and gave me bright smile, reminding me of that waiter in Atlantic City.  The dinner was turkey and dressing with sweet potatoes and green beans.  You’d have thought it was Thanksgiving.

Leroy looked at the waiter suspiciously and when he was gone, leaned over to me and said seriously, “I sure hope he didn’t stick his finger in my food.”

Shocked that he’d even think such a thing about a fellow waiter, even if he was a Negro, I remarked as sternly as I could, “I wouldn’t worry about that none.”  Then I gave him my turkey, explaining about Catholics fasting on Fridays.

They gave me blank stares. Leroy protested, “But you ate a hamburger for lunch.”  Awkwardly I explained how it was only a venial sin because I’d forgotten.

Annette [This is a real, live girl and not the TV star.] looked surprised, laughing uneasily, “You mean forgetting’s a sin?”  Fortunately the program started right then, and I was saved from any more religious conversation.  Trying to explain sins like this was pretty hard.

A guy up in front of the room bellowed through a microphone, “Ladies and gentlemen!”  A tall kid said a strange prayer—about all kinds of things and lots of “for Jesus Christ’s sake.”  It was all I could do to keep from giggling because that was the way Daddy always cussed.  Then a man with wire glasses gave a speech about striving for excellence that lasted until dessert, which was scrumptious lemon chiffon pie.

The State 4-H Secretary, a curly-headed girl, recited all the “equal training of the head, heart, hands, and health” stuff, and then three kids sang “Danny Boy,” one of my favorite songs, of course.  It got me all sentimental missing my buddy.  The two girls and a boy harmonized and sounded especially nice on the line, O come ye back when summer’s in the meadow…

After two more speeches on something or other, a man read off the names of all the County Champions and said what we were Champion for. You had to stand up so everyone could see you.   It was sort of monotonous, so I wondered what a bunch of champions is called.  How about a cheer of champions?

Pretty quick the man called my name over the microphone, adding, “For raising a prize-winning Poland China shoat.” I stood up waving ironically to the folks, and it was great the way they all looked at me with admiration.  Or maybe they were just impressed by my resemblance to Abraham Lincoln.  When I sat back down, I fell into a trance of words bouncing off the walls, names of people I didn’t know and wouldn’t remember.

At long last they let us out of the banquet room, herding us over into the ballroom for something called a Share-the-Fun party. They passed out sheets of paper with lists of careers.  You had to meet enough people to get a new acquaintance’s autograph by each one on the list.  Leroy signed up with me first thing on the line for welder.  Naturally I signed his by nuclear scientist, which was at the top of the list.

With everybody asking, I quickly got bored always wanting to be the same thing.  So I’d just pick one, like game warden, grocer, farmer, or fireman.  If I chose something already taken, they’d just rush off for someone else.  It was a fun game pretending that I passionately wanted to be a dairyman.  Once I even tried nurse, but the girl looked at me like I was crazy.  So I admitted it was a joke and said what I really wanted to be wasn’t on the list:  King.  She added career no. 23:  Ruler – and a line where I signed “Benjamin I.”  Then I started adding careers all over the place, architect, poet, Senator, and such.

Finally they announced a dance, and a band of five kids banged around on the stage adjusting the microphone, blowing on it, and saying, “Checking, one, two, three,” just like professionals.  First they played “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog,” but the boy wasn’t very good at imitating Elvis.  He couldn’t really sing worth a hoot either.

When the music started, we were supposed to dance with the person next to us.  Well, right then I was talking to a nice guy named Jerry who wanted to be a police officer.  We laughed and had to look around for some girls.  I found one named Sheila Renfro with buck-teeth, and she turned out to be a pretty good dancer.




Aztec Icon #6 – HUEHUECOYOTL, The Old Coyote

I guess it’s time to post the next Aztec icon in my coloring book called YE GODS!  THE AZTEC ICONS.  Looking almost Egyptian with the animal head, this one emphasizes dancing, music, and sex, which is a combination close to my heart. I must admit to identifying closely with this deity while drawing him. It’s full of the music of Aztec instruments and singing, all shown in graphic symbols. Details are based on various codices, but mostly Codex Borbonicus.

Don’t worry, you can still see or download the previous five icons by clicking on them in the list on the page for the coloring book.


(The Old Coyote)

To download this icon as a pdf file with a page of caption and model images from the Aztec Codices, right click here and select “Save Target (or Link) As.”  You can also download it in freely sizable vector drawings from the coloring book page.

huehuecoyotl icon

HUEHUECOYOTL (Old Coyote) {hwe-hwe-koy-otł} is the trickster god of mischief and pranks and can lead one into trouble. (His tricks on other gods often backfired.) Patron of the day Lizard, along with Macuil Cuetzpallin (Five Lizard), he’s a deity of sexual indulgence, and with XOCHIPILLI and Macuil Xochitl (Five Flower), he’s also a deity of music, dance, storytelling, and choral singing. Personifying astuteness, pragmatism, worldly wisdom, male beauty, sexuality, and youth, he’s a balance of old and new, worldly and spiritual, male and female, and youth and old age. He is a shape-shifter, turning into animals or humans with sexual partners female or male of any species. Among his male lovers were XOCHIPILLI and Opochtli, god of hunting. He brings unexpected pleasure, sorrow, and strange happenings, and people appealed to him to mitigate or reverse their fates.