Squeaky was my best friend growing up on the farm.
Unlike the other boys who spent their days playing softball and lacrosse on our huge back lawn, Squeaky was an indoor boy who preferred to play cards or Monopoly or watch the Rifleman.
Today, he would have been a video game nerd.
Occasionally, Squeaky and I would venture out of the canvas tent we constructed in the backyard to go hunting for tadpoles over at Cole's Farm which had a dangerous little pond with all kinds of warning signs, "Keep Out" and "Danger" but it wasn't very well secured. So it was a complete magnet for kids like us equipped with mason jars for the trapping of all kinds of vermin.
Our quest was to catch the taddies then watch them grow to be regular frogs which would, no doubt, fall victim to the older boys who liked to blow their heads off with firecrackers.
Squeaky and I weren't exactly Steve Irwin. We always trapped too many and by the time we got home, they were nothing but a squishy, smelly mass of tails and heads covered with grey body matter.
It was gross, yet utterly fascinating, an experiment tried over and over again with the same result.
We never did see any of our tadpoles turn into frogs.
We were never swallowed up by Cole's Pond, either, which was a blessing for both our mothers.
Squeaky was always getting himself into trouble because he was, frankly, not very bright or self-aware.
I remember one day, Squeak was out in the fields where his dad Art grew gladiolas. Somehow Squeaky got himself run over by a tractor.
His brother, who was the culprit and to this day I am not sure he didn't run Squeaky over on purpose, dragged the boy back home. Word spread like a brush fire and soon we were all standing outside until the signal came.
Miraculously, there were no bones broken, but he did have bragging rights to a very prominent tire mark that ran right across his stomach.
After that, Squeaky became the local legend, the boy who couldn't be killed.
On one bright and sunny afternoon, Squeaky and his brothers decided to go to the creek for a little catfishing and illicit smoking of roll-your-owns.
It is there they came across a gigantic snapping turtle with jaws that could very well have been used by the fire department to extricate an unfortunate motorist. Delighted with their slow moving find, the
boys managed to corral it into a wagon, and bring it back to Art's place for inclusion in the family trophy pond which, until this point was filled mainly with golden carp. I believe Squeaky's family was ahead of their time, given the enormous cost of building a koi pond for rich folks.
They could have made a fortune with their invention which was made for free from peach crates.
But these guys, these guys did not have a profit motive. Nor was their quest to beautify the family farm, which frankly needed a bit of fixing up. Their mission was to build a torture chamber they could use to tease the turtle with large pieces of wood.
Mrs. H lost a lot of broomsticks that summer.
One day, Squeaky came out to feed the turtle and discovered that it had disappeared. He searched high and low, and there was no sign of this dangerous prehistoric creature.
Being the sensitive sort, Squeaky lay awake, sweating beads of panic believing that the turtle would exact his revenge in the middle of the night and snap Squeaky's head off. This is the stuff of nightmares in the country.
Days went by and nothing happened.
Pretty soon, the turtle became a distant memory.
That is until one day when Squeaky was picking strawberries. He reached down for a particularly luscious berry and put half his arm into the gullet of the snapper.
At least that's the way he told it.
Knowing Squeaky, he might have invented the whole story just to get out of picking strawberries.
But being the local legend, the boy who couldn't die, we accepted his story at face value.