Crown of Slop

Abbi G.

Cory Blake stepped quietly until he was right behind Jack Goodwin. Time for a little payback, buddy!
Cory grimaced at the unpleasant memory. Jack had thought it to be fun to get back at Cory for the hide tanning he had received from Cory’s ice scheme.
There was a square dance at the Carter’s barn, and Jack requested Cory be a little early. “To help with the setting up.” Cory had readily agreed, and upon arrival, he opened the door. When he opened the door, he was met with a surprise. A bucket of dirt rained from above. Jack had rigged a bucket with ropes to tip when the door was open. Angry now, Cory had charged through the back door to discover the culprit, only to be doused with a bucket of ice cold water; turning the dirt to mud. Those combined weren’t as bad as the scolding Chad Carter had given him when he saw Cory standing there frozen.
“Cory Blake, what are you doing? This is a square dance not a mud festival. You should have the decency to at least show up presentable. Now get home and change into something decent and get yourself back here before the party starts, because I know you don’t want Andi’s dance card to be full by the time you get back. That is, if I let her dance with you, and right now, that is one big ‘if.’ Now get home!”
“But it wasn’t my fault! I--”
“No backtalk. Go! And mind you, if you’ve dripped in the barn, you will be once sorry boy. Know why? Because if you have, you will be staying after the dance and scrubbing every inch of this barn! Ya hear me?”
Cory wasn’t worried until he remembered the dirt had dropped right inside the barn door. He clenched his fists in anger. Someone was gonna get it!
“I think there’s some dirt right inside of the door--”
A clatter from inside cut him off. Chad turned and pushed the door open. Nothing had changed, except the only evidence from which Cory could prove his innocence was no longer hanging from the ceiling. Chad saw the dirt and clenched his jaw.
“Get up to the house. I’ve changed my mind.” Chad’s sternness turned Cory around and urged him toward the house at a dead run. Chad had walked through the barn on his way out, and the culprit took this opportunity to unstring the bucket from above the back door; completely erasing any possibility Cory was innocent.
Chad followed Cory up to the house. “I’ll be back.” He entered the house and was back a few seconds later with some of his old clothes.
“Put ‘em on, and go scrub the barn.”
Needless to say, that had left Cory in a sour mood ever since. Jack had accidentally let it slip yesterday, and now he was gonna get it. He had gained a bucket of slop for the pigs from his Pa. Well, actually, he had taken it; however, it would still be worth it. He gave a slight grin of satisfaction, and then turned the bucket over Jack’s head. He pushed the bucket over Jack’s eyes and ran like the wind.
Cory finally slid down the wall of his Pa’s livery, and rolled with laughter.
“Hello, son. What are you laughing at?”
“What? Oh! Nothing really, Pa…”
“It wouldn’t have to do with the fact that I went to feed the pigs this morning and their food was gone, would it?”
“NO! Uh..maybe...uh...yeah...sort of.”
Mr. Blake raised an eyebrow. “Sort of? Don’t you mean definitely?”
“Yes, sir. I’m sorry. I--”
“I think I put the pieces together. You were all fired up about the joke that was played on you the night of the square dance. You figured it was Jack, so you stole my pig slop and tossed it over Jack’s head. Close enough?”
“Well, yes, sir. How did you find out?”
“You left the bucket with Blake’s Livery carved in the side over Jack’s head.”
“You know, son, the licking your gonna get will probably be a good reminder to let the good Lord fight your battles. It might be a good idea to remember Romans 12:19 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
“Yes, sir; I think I’ll remember next time.” Cory took a glimpse of his Pa’s stern face and cringed. “Um, Pa, I think I’ll go get that bucket now.”

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