Hangin' Offense

When I was eight, my older sister tried very hard to get me killed. I looked it up, and at that time, horse theft was still a hanging offense in Oklahoma.


Yes, I said Oklahoma. Proof that hell is full and the dead are walking the earth. Up until two years before, myself, and my step brother and sister had been raised in Northern California. To say we had culture shock moving to one small town in rural Oklahoma after another is like saying (insert really awesome comparison here). To say we were unhappy with our parents about their questionable relocation skill is (insert second more really awesome comparison here).


We’d arrived in Roff, Oklahoma about two weeks before the horse incident. My father was to be the “town’s” new Methodist minister. Town is a very generous word here. Much like the hanging fact I looked up earlier, I have consulted the internet: Roff is a total of 576 acres. The population in the 2000 census was 770 people. This was... well, significantly before 2000. I found this picture of Roff on the internet:




That is one of two paved roads in Roff.


Mostly, it looks like this:






And finally this:



Oh, and at the end of the “street” we lived on there was a bonafide pig farm. And it smelled like a pig farm. I mean the whole town. It’s hot there in the summer. Averages are in the low 90s, with 61-80% humidity. Like I said, proof that people in hell are looking for a place like home to go and hang out in for a while.


The parsonage was a teeny-tiny little two bedroom number. My little brother slept in a pantry-like room between the kitchen and the garage. My sister and I shared a small bedroom that had a door that opened into the side yard. There was no air conditioning.


We were the minister’s kids. So the town knew when we arrived. They came by for a “poundage” (the town brings food for the minister and his family – called a poundage because historically the residence would bring a pound of sugar, flour, eggs, or meat) and we kids were introduced to the town’s kids.


We made a couple of friends. One little girl in particular, probably at her parents’ urging invited us over to play. When we got to her house we were led out to the backyard to play with this girl’s pony. She. Had. A. Pony. We couldn’t believe it. My sister was mad for horses, had taken a few riding lessons, and wanted nothing more than her own horse.


This young girl was also...well, let’s go with...unpleasant. Okay, the kid was a bossy brat. We didn’t like her. But we kept going over to her house because, say it with me, folks: she had a pony.


She didn’t deserve that pony, my sister whispered into my ear several nights in a row. We would be much better owners. That pony deserved to have people who loved it. It would be easy. We should go take the pony.


I lasted maybe five nights before I caved. I’d help my sister steal, urm, rehome the pony.


I don’t remember how we woke up early enough to carry out the plan, maybe just the nerves kept us awake, or maybe it was just so fucking hot by 4 in the morning no human being could be expected to sleep. But we were up before the town. We snuck from our room and stole one of my step-mother’s macramé hanging plant holders to use as a bridle.


We crept through the lightly graying town and over to the little girl’s back pasture. Her pony was there, twitching its tail at flies. We maneuvered the plant holder onto her muzzle and led the pony out to the yard. My sister hoisted me onto it’s back and we led the animal back to the parsonage, where we tethered it, badly, to a bit of fence in our backyard – clearly visible from the kitchen. Then we stole back to our beds and fell asleep.


“GIRLS!!!” My step-mother’s whisper was no less terrifying for its lack of volume. We both flew awake and bolted up in our beds. She stood in our doorway. Her face was livid. “Why is that girl’s pony in our backyard?”


I gapped at my older sister, I knew if I opened my mouth I’d ruin it for both of us. “What pony?”


“Cathy’s pony.”

“Really? She must have just walked here in the night!”


My step-mother had perfected the “I’m trying to not wring your neck” sigh, and she pulled it out at this point. “With my plant holder on its muzzle?” She shook her head and held up a hand, silencing our further lies. “Take it back. Now, before they realize it’s gone.”


The pony didn’t want to leave our yard. We had an apple tree it had decide was an all-you-can-eat buffet. In the end, my step-mother had to help us strong arm the animal back to its rightful home. Which I’m sure was exactly how she pictured the end of her second week as the young wife of the town’s new minister.


My sister was incredibly put out about the whole thing. The girl didn’t deserve that pony. We did. It liked us better AND we had the apple tree. Why couldn’t our parent see the logic here? Our summer, nee, our every lives had been ruined this day, and she would personally never forgive her mother. Nor me, for that matter, as I was not nearly outraged enough at the loss of our beloved equine companion.


Later that day, my step-mother loaded us onto our bikes and we found the town’s library (it was at the school – but they had books and air conditioning), she signed us up for cards and told us to be home before dark, or when we heard my father’s whistle.


And, at least for a few hours, my sister forgot she wanted to kill me.


She remembered later, but that’s a story for another day.