Robert Kirby had the day off. This is a reprint of an earlier column.
When I was a kid, Leon, Duncan and I would drag a smelly old tarp onto the lawn at night, crawl into our sleeping bags and eat Oreos until we fell asleep.
The old tarp was our Mississippi raft, flying carpet and Fort Apache. We rested back on it and peered up into the skirts of the universe, dreaming of becoming astronauts and quarterbacks.
Not even rain could derail a sleep out. In a drizzle, we simply folded the tarp over us and hoped that Duncan’s dog Petey hadn’t eaten roadkill or leftover enchiladas.
If it poured, we ran for the back door praying the old man hadn’t watched the weather news and bolted it shut before going to bed.
Only one thing could prevent us from sleeping out: the Ghost Pig.
The summer before, Duncan’s grandpa had told us about a slavering, tusked horror that roamed the night looking for unwary sleep-outs to feed upon. It was a tale so horrific that even Petey whined when he heard the words "Ghost Pig."
Rumored sightings of the Ghost Pig, regardless of how sketchy, were enough to keep us safe behind locked doors.
Of course, during the day we laughed about the Ghost Pig. It was silly to believe that an enormous Ghost Pig roamed the night, rooting the entrails out of young boys.
But it was the ’60s, and we were naive. We didn’t know there were worse things out there.
Recently, an entire California elementary school went into lockdown because of a "violent squirrel."
What sounds like an emo screamo rock band, was an actual squirrel attack. It seems a student at Evergreen Elementary in San Jose, Calif., was walking to class when she was set upon by a brutal squirrel.
The squirrel later stormed into a classroom and reportedly demanded school vouchers from a couple of teachers. We know for sure that the teachers were scared.
Short story: The entire school went into lockdown, abandoning the playground and all of its expensive equipment to a violent squirrel.
This must have been some squirrel. We’re probably talking front teeth the size of garage doors, with maybe red eyes and claws like switchblades. Hell, there’s no telling how many fifth-graders he’s killed and eaten by now.
In the middle of all this, Sonny called and wants to go camping. He says it will be just like old times. A bunch of guys will sack out under the night sky in the Tintics and ponder why we aren’t astronauts or quarterbacks.
"You can come along if you’re not still afraid of the Ghost Pig," he said.
Obviously, he hasn’t heard of the dreaded Violent Squirrel.
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