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a red-and-white checkered dishcloth. “I told you before about messin’ with the chickens. Now you leave them chickens alone or I’ll tan both your hides. And don’t be scarin’ your brothers and sisters with ‘em. You hear me?”
“Yes, mom,” answered Willy in a sarcastic voice as he crossed his arms and slid down and slumped in his chair so as to irritate his mother with a show of bad posture—his head resting against the chair back, his back sitting on the chair seat, his butt hanging over the edge of the chair, his legs splaying out onto the floor.

“Sit up straight William Allen!” said Willy’s mom through clenched teeth and with exaggerated lip movements as she quickly rolled up the dishcloth she was holding by grabbing opposite corners in each hand and spinning it around; then she let fly and snapped Willy’s butt with it.

“Eeee-ooouch!” responded Willy as he hurriedly resumed a better posture.

“Ooooooh,” I said, astonished with the woman’s skill in wielding the cloth,

“Good wrist action.”

Willy’s mom shot a look at me that made it clear I should shut up, and so I did.
“Remember what I told you,” said Willy’s mom as she went back into the kitchen, “Don’t be messin’ with the chickens. I’m just about fed up with your shenanigans.”

“Okay, okay,” said Willy.

Then Willy and I went outside to mess with the chickens. We had an ingenious plan that was based on two items. First, Willy’s brothers and sisters were deathly afraid of the chickens (which, by the way, may have possibly been due to a story we had told them about chickens killing young children as they slept during the night as revenge for humans eating their eggs). Secondly, based on past experiments Willy and I had conducted, we knew the chickens to be terrified of the machine-gun-like BLAP-BLAP-BLAP-BLAP-BLAP sound produced by the spokes of a bicycle’s spinning front wheel slapping several playing cards taped onto the bicycle’s front forks and extending into the spoke’s path. Riding said bicycle within the vicinity of the chickens would send them into a wild, stampeding frenzy.

We dubbed our wondrous scheme “The Running of the Chickens.” Although the memory of a tanned hide pains me to recall, I will recount the events as I remember them, keeping the facts as close to the truth as I care to make them.
Willy’s young (compared to us mature 10-year-olds) siblings were playing in the backyard near the house. Most of the chickens were milling about peacefully approximately fifty feet away, near the chicken coop. The remainder of