Rudy the Red Rocking Horse
Years ago my children had a red rocking horse we named Rudy. Rudy had a hard life. Not only my young’uns but all the neighborhood kids didn’t think twice to hop on the horse’s back and spur him on without mercy. Over time the coat on that poor paint pony cracked and peeled, and he lost the lower half of his right rear leg in some long forgotten accident. Rudy was suspended on a couple of rusty springs, and he became quite creaky with age. I guess he had a bad case of wear and tear arthritis, ’cause he strained with a God awful noise.
Back in those days, Neuse River practiced at my house. Whenever we’d crank up, the kids never failed to jump on and rock to the music. Man did Rudy make a racket. As long as I live, I’ll never hear “Reuben” without Rudy’s eek eek eek eek sound track in my head. My boy is a fine bass player. He keeps perfect time, and I think it is from all those years of rocking on Rudy while Moose picked ‘Reuben’ on the banjo.
Moose thought the same. (So much so that I’ve often thought he built his picking barn where we now rehearse to escape Rudy.) One day he was by the house, and noticed the horse was gone. “Hey Doc. Whatever happened to old Rudy?”
“Gone to the great glue factory in the sky, Moose.”
Moose laughed at the memory. “I gotta tell ya Doc, that pony like to have drove me crazy. Eek eek eek eek. Mercy.”
“Yeah Moose. That was one bad animal, no doubt. But you gotta admit- a man who can keep time on ‘Reuben’ while the kids rock on a horse with bad springs is a player.”
One day Neuse River had a practice scheduled at the picking barn. I got there early so me and Moose could set up the sound equipment. We opened the door and a familiar sound drifted out of the barn.
“Oh, no,” said the Moose. How could it be?
Eek eek eek eeeekkkk……
“Daddy, Daddy. Look what Dr. Bibey brought us. He’s just the horse I always wanted.” Little Janie was in love.
“Honey, you don’t understand. We can’t keep up a horse. Who’ll feed him….” Moose began to protest.
“But Daddy, look- he has a hurt leg. Dr. Bibey says if a family
doesn’t adopt him he’ll end up at the glue factory in the sky.” Her lip pooched out. “Pleease…?”
Moose is a hard bitten bluegrass boy, but there ain’t no way to say no to a tow-headed blue-eyed cherub like that. Janie brushed a ringlet of curls out of her eyes, held back a tear, and awaited the verdict.
“O.K. Sweetie. O.K.” Moose knew he warn’t gonna win this battle.
“Oh thank you daddy, thank you.” Janie ran over and hugged the Moose’s leg, then hopped back on Rudy and began to rock. Eek eek eek eeek.
I handed him a small can of three-in-one oil. “He don’t squeak so bad if you oil him once a month,” I advised.
Moose started to respond, then gave me a disgusted look and muttered a few words about how my mama wore combat boots. We proceeded to get ready for practice without another word.
Years went by and Simpkins, our bass player, got married. (The last one to fall- see ‘Bluegrass Bachelor Party.’) He hadn’t been married two months when the Moose called.
“You know Bibey, I guess now that Simpkins is married they’ll have some young’uns someday.”
“Yeah, I guess so, Moose.”
“Don’t you reckon they’d want to adopt Rudy? My kids are fixing to go to college you know.”
“Why don’t you just send him to the glue factory, Moose?”
“Are you kidding?! Janie would pitch a fit.”
“Hm. I understand. Yeah, I think Simpkins would make Rudy a good home. We need to raise some more good bass players.”
I called my kids to let them know- Rudy lives on. They were pleased. I always was a good Dad, and I think the last thing they want is that dang squeaky horse at their place.
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