Old Man Abernackey

When I was but a boy, about yay-high, growing up on the old farm back in Upstate New York in the good old days when boys did men stuff like shoot guns and traverse the muddy terrain in off-road vehicles and girls did women stuff like helping mom with the laundry and making pies, we had all the animals — all the good ones — like sheep and chickens and the ones that do the milk — the cows — and some days we’d do farm stuff like milk them or cut their balls off or slaughter them for food to eat or to sell in the square in the town on the weekend, or feed the pigs, or slaughter them, too, for food to eat or to sell in the square in the town, and other days we’d collect the eggs of the chickens frolicking freely across the range, again, for food or to sell, where else, but in the town, in the square, where obviously we sold lots of stuff. And all of it was fun. It built character. That’s what they say about farm life and selling stuff in the square in the town — it builds character. But nothing was as much fun or built character like when we’d go to Old Man Abernackey’s.



Old Man Abernackey, what a great guy, he lived up yonder on the hill. He didn’t get out much. He had this cool, high-tech ankle watch given to him by the CIA so they always knew where he was because apparently, he was some kind of secret agent or spy when he wasn’t drinking. Although I don’t ever remember him NOT drinking. But regardless of all the booze, he was a nice guy. He loved children. And all the children in the farm neighborhood loved him, too. Our parents would all let us go and play at Old Man Abernackey’s on the weekend because he had one of them swirly water sprinklers out on the front farm lawn that he let all the kids enjoy in the heat of the summertime.

We’d run around in it for hours, laughing and playing and getting wet. Old Man Abernackey would sit and watch and drink his booze and he was very encouraging. He was always trying to get us to wrestle. He loved wrestling. He didn’t have a TV, but he had stacks of wrestling magazines. “Greek Wrestling” if I recall. That’s what he called it, anyway. “WRASTLIN’!” Sometimes, when we got tired of running around the sprinkler and wrestling, we’d sit on the porch with him, and he’d show us the magazines of the boys wrestling. It was quite interesting some of the things those boys did in those wrestling magazines and Old Man Abernackey was always going out of his way to teach us those same moves. He liked to teach us and coach us. In another life, I think he would have made a great gym teacher at an elementary school full of young children, especially young boy children.

Our clothes would get all wet and so we wouldn’t get in trouble going home in wet clothes, Old Man Abernackey came up with this great idea of having us all run around the swirly sprinkler and wrestle naked. That is, IN THE NUDE! We were all kind of weirded out about it at first, but then he’d take his clothes off, too, just to make us more comfortable. Oh, what a hoot that was — all of us boys skipping and scampering and laughing and wrestling around the swirly sprinkler and Old Man Abernackey right there with us! Sometimes we’d play fun lightsabers or sword fight games and he’d always let us win and get to stab him. Apparently, he had some kind of weird birth defect where his heart was in his butt so he was always trying to get us to stab him there. Or perhaps he was just being silly. Whatever, those were good times!



But alas, like all good things, it eventually came to an end. The father of one of my friends happened by Old Man Abernackey’s place one day while we were all running around the swirly sprinkler naked and wrestling with Old Man Abernackey and just shot the poor guy dead right there in front of us. And as the old man was gurgling up blood and stuff from getting shot, the father just kept shooting him and kicking him and calling him bad names — very bad names, using words I wouldn’t dare repeat here — and then of all things, he unzipped his pants, brandishing a rather large penis, er, male member, if I recall, only to URINATE all over Old Man Abernackey as he took his last breaths of air …until there was no more life left for him to breathe. It was quite traumatizing, actually — even more so, probably, for Abernackey.

Then the kid’s father made us all get dressed and we helped him load the old man’s lifeless body into the back of his fancy F150 truck and that was the last we ever saw of Old Man Abernackey. It’s such a shame what happened to him. “He’s in the wind!” they’d say around the town square — “Old Man Abernackey’s in the wind…”

And now legend has it, on a quiet night, in the heat of the summertime, whenever there’s a slight breeze, just right, if you go up the hill, up yonder, by Old Man Abernackey’s old place, you can still smell the piss.

It’s in the wind.

—PP

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