As Andy walks up the steps of the Taylor home, the light shines out onto the porch from the double windows in front of the wicker loveseat. Andy pauses on the top step to smile as he hears Aunt Bee calling to Opie from the kitchen.
Andy enters the house and stops in the kitchen doorway and listens as Aunt Bee gives Opie a short list of items she wants the boy to pick up at the market. Opie sees his father out of the corner of his eye and turns. "Hi Paw," he smiles.
Bee turns her attention to her nephew. "Hello Andy. I forgot a few things when I went shopping this morning so I'm sending Opie to Foley's. Do you want to add anything to the list?"
"Well, how ' bout pork chops...did you get any pork chops this mornin' Aunt Bee? Ever since me an' Helen went to see that William Holden movie over at the Grand the other night, I've had a hankerin' for pork chops." Aunt Bee replies, "No I didn't get pork chops, so I'll put it on the list. But I suppose if William Holden was eating fish and chips over at the Grand the other night, you'd have a 'hankering' for that too, umm?" Andy looks up at the mention of 'Fish n' Chips' and replies, "No, but now that you mention it, why don't you add that to the list too!" Now flustered, it takes several seconds before Aunt Bee realizes her nephew is only having fun with her - as Andy can no longer contain his laughter and is immediately shooed out of the kitchen.
3 Finishing the list, Aunt Bee goes to the living room closet, takes a bill from her purse and gives it to Opie. "Here's five dollars, more than enough. Now don't dawdle," she says, giving him a stern look. "I won't Aunt Bee," Opie promises and heads for the door. Andy, who is sitting in a chair opening the afternoon paper, looks over at his son. "Hey Ope, get a quart of ice cream too. Pick a flavor we all like,". "Oh boy!" Opie says and hurries out to his bicycle.
Racing down the street, Opie fails to notice an approaching pothole just off Maple Street. Too late to avoid it, he ends up slamming the front end of his bike into it while he winds up flying head over heels, finally landing on a patch of grass near the curb. With just a few scratches and bruises, he ends up faring a lot batter than his bicycle, whose front end and frame is now bent slightly out of alignment. Looking up, he notices what appears to be two pieces of paper blowing away in a gust of wind, and as he fumbles around in his pockets, his worst fears are soon realized - as he comes up empty in his attempts to find either Aunt Bee's grocery list or the five dollar bill. 5 Leaving the bike, Opie runs down Main Street in the direction of the papers and other debris swept up by the wind on that gusty day. Rounding a corner, he stops short to look up and squint at the sky for any trace of the now airborn grocery list and five dollar bill.
At around this time, little Leon is holding a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while kicking a can over on Elm Street, when he happens to notice a funny looking piece of green of paper dancing along in the gutter. He chases it down Elm and over to Central Avenue before finally cornering it in front of a white picket fence. And before it has another chance to get away, it becomes quickly snared under a kid's ten-gallon cowboy hat - courtesy of Weaver's Department Store. 6
Losing hope of ever finding Aunt Bee's money, and thinking about the consequences, Opie runs down Elm, quickly scanning yards and gutters for the bill. At Central Avenue, he sees Leon and goes up to him. "Hey Leon, did you find any money? I lost a five dollar bill and it blew this way." Opie looks down hopefully at the small boy, who offers a bite of his sandwich. "No thanks, Leon. Have you seen Aunt Bee's five dollars? She's gonna kill me when she finds out I lost it." Without a word, Leon reaches into his pants pocket and pulls out a crumpled bill which he hands to Opie with a big smile. Opie gives Leon a bigger smile as he takes the money. "Thanks Leon. I owe ya one," Opie says, turns and runs back to his bike. Leon walks on, looking for another can to kick. 7
Before Opie rides off, he ponders one last question to ask Leon. "By the way Leon, you wouldn'tve also happened to notice a piece of paper blowin' around with a list of groceries written on it, would you?" With the mention of the list, Leon points in the direction of an empty field where there are two boys playing. One is holding a kite as he runs swiftly in his attempt to get it alfot, while the other boy follows close behind. With all the blustery wind this day, Opie thinks to himself what a perfect day it is to fly a kite. He then looks up and notices stray bits of paper attached to the tail. By the time Opie approaches the boy with the string, the kite on the other end is soaring high into the clouldless sky. "Hey kid, you wouldn'tve happened to find a piece of paper with some writing on it would you?" Peering out of one eye, the kid sizes Opie up and then asks "What's it to ya?" Opie answers, "Well the paper I lost happens to be my Aunt Bee's grocery list, and if I don't find it soon I'll be in real trouble." The boy thinks it over and then confesses, "Yeah, I ran outta newspaper and found it in the street, so I added it on to stabilize the tail." Relieved, Opie asks if the boy could please reel it in. No sooner does the kid agree to bring the kite down and retreive the missing list, than the string snaps somewhere about 300 feet up. The kite now free of it's tether, soars away in the wind on a random course, with Opie down below in a frantic pursuit. 8
The kite begins to topple end over end until it ends up getting snagged at the top of a radio tower in the middle of a field just outside of town. The tower carries radio signals from all the local AM stations, like WMPD of Mt. Pilot and YLRB. The two boys follow Opie to the base of the tower. Opie asks either one of them wants the kite badly enough to volunteer making the climb. One boy says no while the kite's owner admits his fear of heights. So Opie looks up and begins the long climb, reminding himself not to look down on his way up.
Sweeping up in the courthouse, Barney periodically looks up at the clock from time to time in eager anticipation of the top of the hour - as 2 o'clock will signal the beginning of another installment of the masked singer himself, "The Leonard Blush Show" aired live and in living mono sound from Mt. Pilot at 96.3 Radio YLRB am on the radio dial.
At two minutes before the hour, he rushes to put the broom and dust pan away before honing in on the radio dial with all the fidelity of a seasoned safe cracker. In order to capture the true essence of the masked wonder's melodious, albeit slightly nasal sounding voice, he obsesses between bass and treble - fidgeting with the 'tone' knob. As the top of the hour finally arrives, Barney can hardly contain his excitement when the radio announcer introduces Leonard himself - which happens precisely at the same time Andy enters the courthouse. "Hey Barn, that street sign over on Elm Street blew down again, so you'd better..." Barney hushes Andy with a stern "SSSHHHH!!" then turns, and with undivided attention nearly caresses the radio as Leonard sings the first few bars of the show's opening number: "JUST BEFORE THE SUNSET MOTHER, I HEARD THE DISTANT CHURCH BELLS CHIME..." when the program is suddenly interrupted by loud static interference. Insulted and assaulted by this unexpected turn of events, Barney suddenly explodes, "NOW WHAT THE HECKS CAUSING THIS TO HAPPEN FER HEAVEN SAKES!!?" and begins to attack the wooden box, pounding on it with both clenched fists and knocking out a tube. Andy quickly grabs his deputy from behind in a bear hug - in what turns out to be a vain attempt to seperate him from further abusing the courthouse's only means of entertainment. 10 "Easy, Barney! You never know what George will charge to fix that, could be an arm and a leg. Besides, it's just a little radio program, a means of entertainment", said Andy. "Yeah, you're right, Ange, I'm sorry.", said Barney. The courthouse phone rings, "Sheriff's office", said Andy. "What?!", Barney then looks confused at Andy's reaction. "Opie's where?", Andy continues. 11
"No, don't do anything!" Andy shouts into the phone. "I'll take care of it. Thanks, Jeff." Andy hung up the phone.
Barney is aware that something is wrong, his lawman qualities honed razor sharp. He's staring at the sheriff with his fists pressed against his waist when Andy turns around to talk.
"That was big Jeff Pruitt," Andy begins.
"Well come ON, GIVE!" Barney replies excitedly. "What's all this about Opie?"
Andy's face is grim. "Big Jeff was out tending to his field when he saw Opie and two other boys in the field next to his, standing at the base of a radio tower."
"AND?" Barney presses.
"And before Jeff could turn around, Opie started climbing the tower, and now he's about half-way up, hangin' on for dear life, and Jeff says he looks scared out of his mind."
"A radio tower...Then that's why..." Barney's voice trailed off, his glance shifting to the still-staticky radio on the desk. Barney reaches over and turns the radio off. The click sounds hollow, final. Barney didn't like it at all. He asks quietly, "What are we gonna do?"
"We're gonna go out there and see what needs to be done," Andy begins. "I'll drop you off at the firehouse on the way there. I hope they can get the old hook-and-ladder running, I think we're gonna need it. Let's MOVE."
12 Later at the scene, Opie hangs on for dear life as he hears the siren of the squad car approaching. Barney gets out, frantically: "Back, everybody back, and keep the kids out of the way. Come on, move, move!!!" Andy approaches with the necessary equipment to free his son. "Opie, son, you alright?!", he asked. 13
Opie, some sixty feet up the spindly tower, clinging for his life to a rusty crossmember, breathed a sigh of relief when he heard his father's voice. "Paw, I'm too scared to move and I can't hold on much longer," Opie said in a quivering voice, without looking down. The grim look on Andy's face was not reflected in his voice as he talked to his son as he strapped on the lineman's belt. "Don't you worry, Ope, I'm comin' up to get you right now. Just keep holdin' on for another couple minutes." Andy stepped up onto a crossmember and swiftly started to climb. Barney and the small crowd of onlookers were quiet as Andy climbed up the tower toward his son.
14 "He could get hurt!", said one of the citizens.
"Andy's a pro. He knows what he's doin'", said Barney. Now, cheers start as Andy steps down with his young'un is his arms. "Opie, you've got to be more careful. Why didn't you call me and I would've helped." 15 ? 16 "Well, I did call you, Pa. I was callin' you from the top of my lungs, but I reckon you didn't hear me 'cause I was up there so high. I was probably so close to Heaven that God heard me callin' you an' sent an angel to tell ya. Is that what happened, Paw?" Opie looked into his father's eyes hopefully. "You know, that's exactly what happened, son," Andy answered and the two hugged each other for some time.
"But let me just ask you one question son....what were you doin' up yonder in the tower when you was supposed to be on an errand for Aunt Bee?" Before Opie has a chance to answer, Barney chimes in... "Well if you ask me, I'd say that was one heck of a detour!" Andy turns to Barney and says "No one is askin' you Barney, I was askin' Opie and I'm still waitin' for an answer..." Now wounded, Barney storms off to the squad car muttering to himself out loud, "Boy, just try to help out some people and what do you get fer all yer trouble...HEARTACHES!!" Opie turns to his father and confesses to him about his fall on the bike and adventures trying to recover the lost money and grocery list that were 'gone with the wind' that blustery day. 18 "And that's the whole story, Pa, so help me.", said Opie. "Well, alright, Opie, but, you have got to promise me that you'll be more careful, next time, or I'll have to punish ya. You understand why, don't ya?", asked Andy. "Yes, Pa", responded Opie. "Let's go home", said Andy. 19
Just as they turn to head back to the squad car, a strong and unexpected crosswind dislodges the kite from the upper beams of the radio tower, as it now gently descends in a zig-zag pattern to the ground below. It crashes just a few feet away from Andy and Opie who stand there staring in amazement. Opie runs to yank off the tail and liberate Aunt Bee's grocery list, holding it overhead like a trophy while the boy who owns the kite comes forward and holds a private reunion of his own. Andy looks at Opie and laughs, "I do declare son, if you was willing to go halfway to heaven just for a grocery list... I'd hate to think how far you'd go if it was sumthin really important!?" Opie smiles as they head for the squad car. Destination: Foley's...to finally purchase the groceries on Aunt Bee's well traveled list before heading home. 20 The squad car pulls up to the courthouse, Andy and Opie get out. "Ok, Ope, you take care of the groceries and get them to Aunt Bee as quick as you can. I have to go into the courthouse, here, and tend to a few things and then I'll see ya after awhile, alright?", said Andy. "Ok, Pa", Opie responded. They both go their seperate ways.
Opie kicks down the stand and hops off his bent bike, which Barney had picked up on their way to Foley's, and carries the sack of groceries into the house. Already figuring out the best way to repair the damage, he takes a moment to look thru the screen door at his two-wheeler before heading to the kitchen. As he enters the kitchen and sets the sack on the table, Bee turns from the sink. "Opie!" she calls and scoops him into her arms and hugs him tight. "Are you alright?" When he doesn't respond, she asks again. "I can't breath, aunt Bee, you're hugging me too tight," he finally says, looking up at her. 22 "Oh, I'm sorry, Opie", she says as she lets go and dusts him off. Back at the courthouse, Andy is working when Barney asks. "Ange, do you think Opie is really ok?" "Yeah, I'll keep a eye on him, tonight, if anything should happen, but, I don't think it will", Andy said. 23 After a pause Barney adds, "Don't assume that just because the boy may be keeping mum on the subject, that he hasn't been traumatized by this whole turn of events...and that there may be some deep leftover sickalogical scars festerin' around inside of him!" Andy slowly looks up from his paperwork and asks, "Well what would you suggest I do then, Mr. Sigmund Freud?"
With that cue, Barney starts to get more animated, "Well man if he's holdin' it in, he needs to let it out. Just let me have ten minutes with the boy so I can get past his defense mechanisms n' I promise...he'll be a different person from hereon..." Andy says, "Now THAT I wouldn't doubt!" Barney pleas, "Now Andy for once in your life just be open minded. Believe me, talk therapy can do Opie a world of good! What do'ya say?" 24 "Well, alright, but, if it don't work, I'm takin' over in my own way", responds Andy. "Fair enough", says Barney. "I got to go up to the mayor's office, but, let me remind you one more time to be careful", Andy said. 25
Around 3:15 pm the next day finds Barney peering through the blinds of the courthouse window, anxiously awaiting Opie's arrival from school. He reviews the last chapter from a psychology book he borrowed out of the library before running to the back room to transform the cot into a makeshift couch. As he smooths out the wrinkles he suddenly hears the click of the courthouse door opening and then slam shut. "Paw, you here?" asks Opie as Barney suddenly appears from the back room. "Hi Ope...your Paw had to run some documents over at the county clerk's office an' he won't be back until sometime after 4." Opie says, "Oh." Barney then suggests, "Hey, while you're waitin for your Paw, why don't you come back an' lie down fer awhile. You must be kinda tired after all that school work..." Opie matter of factly replies, "Nope, it wasn't that hard." Frustrated, Barney tries another approach... "Well why don't you just come on back here anyway n' help me test the mattress ...so we'll know whether or not we should order a new one?" Opie shrugs and says "Okay". "Now that's the spirit!" Barney says.
Several minutes later, Opie is laying face up on the cot while Barney moves a chair alongside. He starts to clear his throat before asking, "Now don't go fallin asleep on me there Ope. Speaking of sleep...how have you been sleepin lately?" Opies says "Oh I been sleepin pretty good." Barney smiles, "Fine fine. What about nightmares? You been havin any nightmares lately?" Opie thinks awhile and says, "I don't think so Barney. If I did, I'd be sure to remember 'em." Frustrated, Barney then asks, "Well what about a fear of falling from high places, like a cliff, a tall building, or a bridge or something?" Opie stares up at the ceiling for awhile to think, as a nervously excited Barney reaches for his note pad and pencil in eager anticipation. 26 "Well, I was pretty nervous, honestly, while I was on that radio tower", says Opie. "Good, good, keep goin'!", Barney says, excitedly. "I couldn't let Aunt Bee down, so, I had to do what I had to do to get the list.", says Opie. "I can't really relate it to any other experience I've had", he continues. "Uh-huh", Barney says as he dictates what Opie is saying. 27 "But it was kinda scary though...being that high up. I could see for miles all around and it'd feel like I could almost reach out with my hand and touch the clouds. I didn't even realize how high up I was until I...looked down." Barney breaks the tip of his pencil, runs over to the sharpener before catching up in his notes. Looking up from his notepad he asks, "What happened then?" Opie continues, "Well, I remember I looked down and saw the tops of the trees below me, and then I saw what was a boulder that now looked like the size of a pebble. Pretty soon after that I started feelin like I was losing control... my knees started knocking together and then the butterflies in my stomach made me feel like I was gonna throw up. But I told myself not to let go and grabbed onto the metal beam even tighter..." Opie turns to see Barney's notepad on the floor, and then notices Barney looking very pale and gasping for air. "Are you alright Barney?" With a wave of his hand Barney says, "I think you'd better be runnin along now Ope."
28 "What happened, Barney?", Opie asked. "Oh, nothing, just a little nauseus", responded Barney. The courthouse door opens and Andy enters. Opie comes out: "Pa, Barney's actin' kinda funny, maybe you should check on him". "What's he doin'", asks Andy, "Well, he was listening to me tell about my nightmares, and I started telling him about my experience on the tower, then he turned pale and hyperventelating.", Opie said. 29
Andy tells Opie to run along and he'll take care of Barney. "Okay Paw". Concerned, Andy then turns his attention to Barney. "You alright Barn?" he asks. Trembling and looking slightly pale, Barney replies "Are you kiddin? Yeah I'm alright, no problem here..." Andy then asks "So your talk therapy helped?" After an awkward pause, Barney says "You know Ange, sometimes some things are better left unsaid, and it can be more thera-pedic if you leave the worms in the can...without prying open the lid!" Covering his mouth with one hand, Andy asks "So is that what it says in the book?" Barney replies, "Andy you can't believe everything you read in books, sometimes you just have to use common sense!" Andy reples, "Oh, I see." 30 He helps Barney up, "Well, here, let's get you up, and I'll pour you a cup o' coffee 'cause we got work to do", said Andy. The courthouse phone rings, it's Jeff Pruitt. "Hello, Sheriff's office", Andy answers, "Oh, hello, Jeff. Yeah, Opie is safe now, everything seems to be back to normal", he says. 31
"Well you know I think the world'a that little guy Andy. I was just thinking, since I was coming your way today anyway, maybe I can check him out myself. You know, I can always tell when one of my heffers ain't feelin quite right - once I lift'em and hold em up over my head..." Andy tries to get a word in... "Now Jeff, younguns is not the same as livestock, an if they was anything seriously wrong with Opie I'd be the first to know it...so there's no needin you go out of your way. Opie's fine, BELIEVE me...just fine!" But over Andy objections, Jeff Pruitt insists on coming into town for a visit and hangs up before Andy can make any further attempts to convince him otherwise. "What's the matter Ange?" asks Barney. A dejected and defeated looking Andy Taylor puts the earpiece back on the cradle, turns to Barney and answers, "Jeff Pruitt is comin into town to give Opie a checkup, an to cheer us up..." 32 "Oh, brother!", says Barney. "What makes him think he can tell better than I can!?". "I don't know, Barn. I wish'd you both just leave him alone, and let me tend to him, he's my young'un." Barney acts hurt and walks to the filing cabinet. "I'm sorry, Barn, but, the boy's been through a bad time and he just needs to forget about it. I thank that's the best medicine for him", says Andy. 33
One hour later, Andy bends over to sort through the bottom drawer of the file cabinet as Barney is still recovering from the after effects of Opie's tale of high anxiety - when Jeff Pruitt bursts through the courthouse door like a white tornado. "HEY ANDY, BARNEY...ANYBODY HOME?" Barney is jolted awake after dozing on the backroom cot, as Andy emerges from behind his desk "I do declare Jeff, you enter a room about as graceful as a bull in a china shop. You know you scared me half to death!?!" A startled Barney stumbles out of the back room and accidentally collides with Jeff, who catches him on the rebound under one arm. Jeff then grabs Andy under the other arm and lifts them both three feet off the ground while wildly swinging them from left to right in all his excitement over meeting up with two of his best buddies. 34 "Put me down!, put me down!", protests Barney. "Oh, sorry, little buddy!", he releases Barney, who straightens his tie and picks his cap up from the floor and dusts it off. "I declare Jeff, what'cha so exited about? I tried to tell you on the phone that Opie was fine.", says Andy. "Well, Andy, I just thought I'd come down and see for myself", said Jeff. "Oh, well, that's fine, Jeff, but, Opie's not here.", said Andy. "Well, I'll just wait and see if he comes back.", said Jeff. 35 Andy says "Jeff, I don't know if Opie's coming back anytime soon. You see, he was already here a earlier...and and and then he left. You know how young'uns are, specially when they is 'healthy' an feelin their oats!" Jeff asks, "You mean he's out running around after all he's been through?" Andy says "Yep, and that's a whole lot more'n he'd be doin if he was not fully recovered 100%...so I wouldn't worry about it if I was you Jeff." Jeff thinks it over, then looks over at Barney and asks "What about you little buddy, are you feeling ok? You look almost as white as a sheet!" Caught off guard, Barney goes on the defensive, "Me? Why I've never felt better in my life, fer heaven sakes. It's just the lighting in the room that causes that Jeff." Trying to divert all the attention away from himself he adds, "As a matter of fact, you look a little pale yourself Jeff!"
36 "No. I'm fine.", Jeff said. "Hey, instead of talkin' 'bout bein' sick, why don't we all go fishin'?", suggests Andy. "Hey, that's a great idea, what do you think, Jeff? Have you ever been to Meyer's Lake?", Barney asked. "No.", said Jeff. Barney looks at Andy: "Do you think we should ask Opie, since Jeff came all this way to see him?" 37 Andy says "Well it is kinda short notice. Besides, if Opie has other things goin on, Jeff may be too busy to stay on until the weekend comes?" Jeff replies "Well HECK, I just have to drive my truckload of cow manure over to Mount Pilot...but I could be back before dark, that is if you don't mind putting up with me for the night?" Barney adds, "I think you mean 'putting you up' for the night Jeff." Jeff turns to Barney and says, "That's what I like about you little buddy, you know just what I'm thinkin whenever I have trouble saying what I mean!" - as he near sends him flying across the room with a friendly slap across Barney's back.
38 "Which would you rather do, Jeff?, all we got are cells. Might not be too comfortable here, or we could check you into the hotel, or you could come home with me. Aunt Bee has half a turkey and apple pie left over from last night.", Andy said. "Well, that settles it, I'll go with you", Jeff responded as he heads out the door. "The trouble with Jeff, he never got over his shyness", Andy says to Barney. 39
"Well gosh Andy, that's mighty kind of you to go to all that trouble for me..." says Jeff. "No trouble atall Jeff." Andy replies, "Just give us a call from Mt. Pilot when you're done delivering your truckload of manure. There is just one more thing though... Maybe you can do us all a favor an' pick up some clean duds on the way back, so as you'll have something to wear back at the house after your done taking your bath." Jeff suddenly looks confused, "MY WHAT?" Andy repeats, "Your bath Jeff, your BATH. I reckon you might understand how someone like yourself, who works with cow manure all day long, begins to give off some pretty offensive odors after a spell. And besides, Aunt Bee happens to have a verrry sensitive sense of smell!"
Jeff begins to have second thoughts, then asks "Ya mean I hafta get into one of them newfangled bathing troffs and use that perfumey soap?" Barney answers, "Well yeah Jeff, you don't want Andy's wallpaper peelin' off the walls now, do ya? And besides, it's like they say 'When in Rome..." Jeff interrupts, "Yeah well, if ya hafta take a bath ta get inta Rome...then maybe it's time ta turnaround an'go back home!" 40
"We're sorry Jeff..." Andy says, "But the honest to goodness truth of the whole thing is that...well, it's hard for anybody to be in your company unless they is standing downwind!" No sooner said, then Barney puts in his two cents "By the way Jeff, whens the last time you took a bath anyway? You REEK!!" Jeff pauses awhile to think back, "I guess it was two months ago when we had those heavy rains and the creek behind my barn crested over it's banks. I gave my prize bull Angus a good scrubbin in it, and had enough suds leftover to do myself..." Andy says, "Well if you want to go fishin with us, you're gonna have to give yourself and Angus another one. That's all there is to it!" 41 Jeff gives in: "Oh, alright, Andy.", and leaves. Next scene has Andy, Barney Aunt Bee and Jeff sitting at the Taylor house's kitchen table eating one of Aunt Bee's fine breakfasts. "Ain't Bee, you have really outdone yourself with this breakfast", says Andy. 42 Jeff says "You sure did aunt Bea" then he looks over at Barney "Pass the muffins little pal. And let me have some more of that homemade marmalade while your at it!" Andy and Barney look at each other in astonished disbelief as Barney hands the dish of Aunt Bea's marmalade over to Jeff and waiting to see what happens next. 43 Jeff runs to the sink and opens his mouth under the faucet as he turns on the cold water. After taking in about 2 gallons, he straightens up, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and says "Well what do ya say we get going and catch ourselves some fish fellas!" He tucks his bait and tackle box under one arm with Opie under the other as he heads out he door. Andy and Barney follow as Aunt Bee hands off four sacked lunches on their way out. "Have a good time boys!" she says. 44
Andy and Barney try to keep up with Jeff who's toting Opie under his arm and a few feet from his truck. Opie tells Jeff to stop and turn around so he can tell his Paw something. Jeff obliges and spins around. Andy says "I think it'd be OK if you put Opie down now Jeff." Barney adds, "Yeah and besides, his feet need to be back on the ground... especially after what he'd been through, up in that radio tower the other day!" Jeff places Opie gently on his feet. Andy then asks, "What is it son?" Opie matter of factly states, "Well Paw, at the rate we're going...I don't think we're gonna get much fishin' done today." Andy asks, "And why is that son?" Opie replies, "Cause we left all the fishin' poles in the hall closet, including ole 'Eagle-Eye Annie'!" 45 "Why don't you run in and get 'em", suggested Andy. "Ok, pa", Opie responds and runs back into the house. Aunt Bee comes out: "Andy, what time do you think you will be finished?", "Oh, 'bout 3 o' clock, I reckon", answered Andy. "Fine, that'll give me enough time to take a stroll and run some errands in town.", Aunt Bee said. 46
Hours later, the boys are in the middle of Meyers Lake with all four lines in the water. After sitting for close to an hour Jeff starts growing restless. "Keep'er steady there Jeff" Andy says, "Remember, the name of the game is patience." Jeff replies, "Yeah I know Andy, but what do'ya do when you gotta itch ...and there's no room ta scratch?" 47 "Well...", Andy looks on the ground and finds a thick "V" shaped stick to put Jeff's pole on: "There y'are, lay 'er on this.", says Andy. "Wow, that's convenient!", said an amused Jeff as he puts down his pole and scratches. "Well, golly, Jeff, you're itchin' like nothin' I've ever seen before. Maybe we'd better quit early and go see if Ain't Bee has anything to put on that", Andy said. 48
Jeff rests his pole in the bow of the rowboat and stands up to tend to his itch. Andy warns, "Now be careful not to rock the boat too much Jeff." Jeff reassures Andy, "Don't you worry Andy, I'll be as steady as a polecat on a flagpole!" as he heaves a sigh of relief in finding the elusive 'itch looking for a scratch'. Suddenly Opie points to the starboard side of the boat and yells excitedly, "LOOK PAW, THERE'S A BIG CATFISH!" Without thinking. Jeff Pruitt dives headfirst into the water, as Andy, Barney, and Opie look on in dumbfounded amazement. They wait 1,2,3,4, and finally 5 full minutes before they see Jeff resurface in the middle of the lake, some 50 yards from the boat. He somehow manages to manhandle the giant fish with both hands while treading water. The huge fish soon slows in it's pace of flopping and squirming, as Jeff's huge hands morph into a human vise - tightening it's grip around the fish's scaley trunk. Holding it overhead like a trophy, his voice echoes across the lake, "SORRY I ROCKED THE BOAT ANDY!" 49
Andy rows the boat over to Jeff while Barney holds out a large net. Once they pull alongside, Jeff deposits the big fish into the net as Andy, Opie, and Barney struggle getting it into the boat. Jeff tries to pull himself up, but almost capsizes the boat and throw the boys overboard in the effort.
"JEFF STOP! Now either you hang on, or swim to shore... cause there ain't no room in the boat here for all of us!" Andy says. 50
About an hour later Jeff is pacing back and forth shivering, wearing nothing except a blanket while his clothes dry out near the campfire. Opie is stoking the flames with a stick while Andy is gutting the fish, when all of a sudden Jeff lets out with a loud "ACHOOOO!!!" A startled Barney looks up, "Did'ya hear that Ange?" Andy replies, "Yeah, Jeff sneezed. So what of it?" Barney continues, "No I mean after that!" Andy looks puzzled "No. Why, what did you hear?" Barney answers, "Sounded like a rockslide comin' from the other side of the mountain!" Andy says "You don't think there's a connection now do ya?" Barney says, "Ya never can tell about these things Ange. It's a Scientific fact that I read once in the National Geographic - if vibrations from a cannon shot could trigger off an Avalanche in the Alps, there's no tellin what the a sneeze from a big guy like Jeff could do!!"
Andy's eyes roll over, "Barney, that's the biggest crock'a nuthin I ever heard. An besides, you been acting edgy ever since we made that pot'a coffee. So for all you know, that "rockslide" could've been nuthin more than a deer scamperin' in the woods!" 51
Barney replies "Yeah well, ya can never unnerestimate Einstein's theory of relativity - which says for every action, there's a corresponding reaction. It's a plain and simple Scientific fact Ange (sniff). And besides, I just had three cups of coffee when we put that pot up about an hour ago." 52 Andy counters "Well considering your slight build and low threshold for caffeine, I'd say three cups is more than enough make you edgy n' more sensitive to noises and all..." Just then Jeff Pruitt stumbles over to check on the condition of his clothes drying out by the campfire while Barney mumbles aloud to himself, "us Fifes may be high strung by nature, but there's one thing we ain't and that's 'edgy'..." Andy pretends not to hear as he seasons the frying pan over the fire with a generous slab of butter followed by the sizzle of that day's big catch, courtesy of Jeff Pruitt. 53 Later,Andy, Barney and Jeff are eating their catch: "No offense, Andy, but, you have to admit Aunt Bee couldn't fry a fish that good", Barney said. "Well, that's a fine howdy do and I do take offense to it, Barney!", Andy shot back. "I'm sorry, Andy, but, facts is facts.", Barney said. 54 Andy says, "Now this here is quite a feast...fit for a king! An we got nobody but our good friend Jeff here ta thank for being such an expert at catchin fish!" Barney adds, "Yeah, and if we had any idea how good he was at catchin'em with his bare hands, we would've saved ourselves all the trouble of hauling our fishin gear up here! Can you pass some more of that cider here Ange?" Opie asks, "Does anybody want that last baked potato?" "Don't mind if I do!" says Jeff. "And thanks fer askin' little Buddy." Turning to Andy he says, "I gotta give ya credit Andy, you shure done a good job'a raisin up your youngun right!" 55
After finishing the meal with one of Aunt Bee's homemade pies for dessert, the boys stretch around the campfire while letting out their belts a notch - except for Jeff, who is still wrapped in a blanket. "How're your clothes doin there Jeff, is they dried out yet?" asks Andy. Jeff reaches up to touch a sleeve from his shirt draped over a tree limb, "I think so Andy...but I don't know if I'm gonna fit back into 'em after all that good eatin!" 56 "Well, let's try 'cause we gotta be gettin' on back, it's purt near 2:30 and I told Aunt Bee we'd be back by 3." "Ok, little buddy", Jeff responded. "You ready, Ope?", Andy asked. "Sure am, Pa, except for my shoes, gotta put 'em on.", said Opie. "Alright, well, hurry, we don't want to be late, Ain't Bee'll wonder whatever happened to us. Come on, Barn, help me put this stuff in the car.", Andy said. 57
Jeff stubs his big toe on his way over to the campfire to collect his boots, then hobbles over to the tree where he'd hung all of his clothes up to dry.
Still wrapped in his wool blanket, he looks up and notices that his underwear is now missing. Opie passes by as Jeff asks, "Hey there little fella, you haven't happened to see my longjohn underpants anywhere now would ya?" Opie squints his eyes as he looks further up the tree. "I see 'em, there they are!" he says. "Where?" asks Jeff. Opie points skyward, "Up there, near the top!" Jeff nearly falls over backward as he gazes to look up at the top branches, a good 60 feet off the ground. "They must've caught some wind and took off like that kite a'yours little guy!" Opie replies, "Yeah well I'd climb up and help ya get 'em down, but my Paw says he doesn't want me climbing in any trees or other high places since I had ta get rescued from that radio tower the other day!"
After several minutes, Andy and Barney return from the squad car to put out the fire, and their eyes soon grow wide at the sight of Jeff Pruitt sitting butt-naked in a 60 foot Evergreen tree. "HEY JEFF, WHAT IN TARNATION DO YA THINK YER DOIN'?" yells Andy. "HI'YA ANDY...my britches flew up to the treetop and I'm aimin' ta get'em down!" Suddenly Barney gets an idea, "DON'T GO NO FURTHER JEFF, I'LL GET THEM LONGJOHNS FOR YA!" Andy scratches his head and asks, "Now Barney, what do ya think your gonna do?" Barney says, "You'll see. Just watch, learn, and save your questions for later Ange..." Barney then walks briskly back to the squad car and returns soon after with his rod and reel. He casts his line and misses the underwear by a good 5 feet. On his second try he snags a hornet's nest and yanks it right out of the tree, which then comes crashing to the ground below. It lands just beneath Jeff Pruitt's bare butt - perched on one of the lower branches, and now suddenly the prime target for hundreds of homeless and angry wasps. 58
Jeff loses his balance while swatting at the wasps, causing his weight to split the branch and him falling out of the tree. Landing in a bed of pine needles, he gets to his feet and is soon surrounded by the angry swarm. Looking as if he were covered in a dark cloud, Jeff runs in the direction of Andy, Barney, and now Opie - who desperately try to redirect him away from them and towards the lake. But poor Jeff can't make out their signals as he continues to run in their direction, with all of the boys now leading the chase. 59
One by one the boys plunge headfirst into the lake. When they come to the surface Andy says, "HOLD YOUR BREATH UNDER WATER FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN, SO WE CAN THROW 'EM OFF OUR TRAIL!" Several minutes go by until finally Jeff Pruitt pops to the surface like a cork, soon followed by Barney, Opie, and Andy. Relieved that the plague of wasps have disappeared, Andy voices his displeasure at Barney's fly fishing tactics. "Next time, save your fishin' pole fer the fish... You beat everything Barney, you know that?!!" 60
After Sunday morning preaching, the next day finds Andy and Barney relaxing on the front porch swing. Opie is sprawled on the floor reading the comic section of the Sunday papers while Aunt Bee is busy inside preparing a roast for Sunday's supper. Both Andy and Barney have several welts on their hands and faces, the effects of their encounter with angry wasps the day before on the exposed parts of their anatomies. They both appear pale, the result of generous applications of drawing sauve mixed with calamine lotion to reduce the swelling. "How'd ya sleep last night Ange?" asks Barney. "Oh I'd say it wasn't the best night I ever had. Why, how'd you sleep?" Barney replies, "Like a log, it was as if nothing ever happened... Oh what's the use, I was tossin' an turnin all night. An' if the pain from bein stung wasn't enough, the few times I did fall asleep I'd wake up in a cold sweat from the nightmares! It was all my fault Ange..." Andy tries to cheer Barney up, "Now don't go blamin yerself Barney. At the time it seemed like a good idea, an there's no tellin it would have turned out like you intended if, if... ye just had a little more experience with fly fishin'! Besides, it could've always turned out a lot worse." Barney reflects a moment and says, "Yeah, we could've ended up like poor Jeff! How's he doin' anyhow?" Andy replies, "Well, last I heard he was still laid up in the ER over at the county medical center in Mt. Pilot, an' the head nurse says they'll be taking off the bandages in three days..." Opie looks up from 'Terry and the Pirates' and asks, "Did they ever find Mr. Pruitt's underpants Paw?" Andy answers "No son, but I'm sure the hospital's provided him with a nice CLEAN pair." Barney winces. "You alright Barn?" Andy asks. "Don't worry about me Ange, it only hurts when I laugh..."
After a pause, Barney concludes "You know Ange, I bet if people like Jeff had brains as big as their hearts, they'd be a lot better off in this world." Andy says, "I reckon ya just might be onto sumthin there Barn... you just might be onto sumthin!"
Back at Andy's, Andy, Barney and Jeff are standing by the driveway: "Andy, it was mighty nice seein' ya again. You too, little buddy!", said Jeff as he playfully punches Barney on the shoulder, to which Barney feigns slight pain. "Well, Jeff, same here. Next time you're in town we can get together again and find something else to occupy our "tahme" for a afternoon", said Andy. "Yeah, Jeff, you shouldn't be such a stranger and come around more often.", Barney said. They shake hands and Jeff says: "Well, fellas, it sure is nice here in Maybery, maybe I'll just do that. Well, I'll be seein' ya!" He gets into his truck and drives off as Andy and Barney wave and say goodbye. "We sure have a lot of good friends that pass through, don't we, Barn?...Jeff, Jim Lindsey, and the Darlings.", said Andy. "We sure do.", responded Barney. "Friendship's mighty important because it enriches your life in a whole lot o' ways. Can't never go wrong if you're a true friend.", said Andy "You're right about that, Ange!", said Barney. They walk back in to the house smiling.
62 And Opie was a funny boy.
63 Opie was a smart boy also 64 He knew that he could only wear his underwear for three days before having to turn it inside out and wear it another three days. Aunt Bee did not like it when he did this. She always told him not too, but he hated doing laundry. 65
THE END 66
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