The neighbourhood kids nicknamed the
cranky old couple Crazy Jack and Ruby Rednose. Rumour
was that they sat inside and drank whiskey all day.
It was true that Jack and Ruby Jones preferred to
keep to themselves.
The rosebushes were seventy beautiful floribunda shrubs that served as a fence between our house and theirs. The rose fence took quite a bit of abuse, since our house was the neighbourhood hangout.
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I was eleven at the time and the oldest of six active girls. We should have played our softball games elsewhere to avoid hurting the roses, but we secretly enjoyed irritating Crazy Jack and Ruby Rednose.
Jack and Ruby had a son whom we nicknamed Crazy Jack Junior. He was due to come home from Vietnam. We heard he had been discharged because of a nervous breakdown. The neighbourhood had thrown a big party for Jimmy Brown when he came home from the war but no one offered to have a party for Crazy Jack Junior.
The day Crazy Jack Junior was scheduled to come home, we had a neighbourhood softball game in our yard. Johnny McGrath was trying to catch a flying ball. He stumbled over one of Ruby Rednose's thorny rosebushes and fell on top of several more. Boy, did he yell. But the roses were the ones that really suffered.
From my vantage point at second base, it looked like about ten of them were damaged pretty badly.
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Johnny's timing was terrible, because as he lay there swearing at the roses, the Joneses' pickup rolled into the driveway. The truck screeched to a halt and Crazy Jack Junior sprang out. He ran full speed towards Johnny.
"You little punk!" He screamed.
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