August 2012
Through the Fence

Delayed Revenge

Delayed revenge is often sweeter than immediate payback. My buddy, Dean, found this out when he was a young boy avenging an offense that nearly cost him his life. He was about 12 years old and staying at his grandparents’ farm. Since he was there so often, Dean was a favorite among the many grandchildren. Usually he had lots of fun hanging out with his grandpa, helping him with chores and spending time with his grandmother in the kitchen. But when two of his cousins visited, it was torture. They were two years older — both city kids, one from Dallas-Ft. Worth and the other from Anchorage, Alaska. Since Dean was much smaller than them, he was an ideal target for their bullying.

One day when the three of them were playing in the barn, the older cousins grabbed Dean, tied a rope around his ankles and hung him up from the rafters. They left him screaming, squirming and twirling helplessly. They thought they were pretty clever, but were surely unaware their childish prank could have had deadly results.

Some time elapsed and eventually the squirming and screaming stopped as the blood flowed to the boy’s head. He had passed out when his grandpa found him hanging there — still and silent, his face blue and swollen. The grandfather quickly cut the rope, eased the boy gently to the ground and untied his ankles. In a few moments, Dean regained consciousness, but was sore and groggy from his ordeal. When his grandpa realized the boy was all right, he went to find the naughty cousins. After he confronted them and heard their sheepish confession that they forgot to go back and untie their young victim, he took off his belt and thrashed them both soundly.

That incident surely did nothing to endear Dean to the two older boys who were already jealous of him and the time he got to spend on their grandparents’ farm. But the ill will they felt was nothing compared to the anger smoldering in the younger boy’s heart. It didn’t have a chance to ignite until much later.

Several summers went by, and all the boys grew bigger and stronger. But the two older cousins, Tony and Terry, were still much bigger and stouter than Dean, who at 15 barely topped the scales at 100 pounds. Again the boys were together at their grandparents’ farm and their grandpa conspired with Dean to get even with the two bullies. He said he ought to pay them back for nearly killing him. But the skinny teenager was intimidated by the other two since they outweighed him by at least 75 pounds. In fact, Tony, the eldest, a tall brawny football player probably weighed close to 200. Dean knew he was no match for him, let alone both of them at once.

"How on earth can I whip them?" he asked his grandpa.

"You gotta hit Tony first and surprise him," his grandpa replied.

The granddad had placed a cedar stay inside an empty corn crib and then invented a reason to get all the boys down to the barn. He shoved them all inside and shut the door. As the dumbfounded tyrants stood there in shock, Dean quickly grabbed the post and knocked Tony out cold with the first blow. He then set to work on Terry, his youthful rage in high gear. With each strike, he reminded his cousin of the pain they’d caused years ago. Their grandfather peeped through a crack in the door a couple of times to make sure things weren’t getting out of hand. When the old man decided the lesson had been learned, he opened the door and dragged out the bruised and bleeding brats, and dunked them in a nearby water trough until they revived.

Thirty years later, at a family reunion, another cousin, who’d had more than a little to drink piped up and said he believed it would be a good time to whip Dean.

Tony, who’d been dozing in a chair in the shade suddenly roused up and said, "Oh no! You don’t want to do that! Trust me; it’s not a good idea!"

Dean just smiled to himself and went to the ice chest for a chilly beverage.

Lisa Hamblen Hood lives near Priddy, Texas, where she teaches English, Art and Spanish. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..