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The Jacksons – for Mar. 18, 2010

Brady Jackson turned his shiny black Firebird onto Main Street. “Watch this,” he said to Amanda who was in the passenger seat as usual. Brady jammed the accelerator hard against the floor and the nose of the car lifted as the rear tires squealed on the sun-warmed blacktop.

By the time they reached the speed limit sign on the outskirts of town they were doing a good 70 miles an hour.

“Awesome,” said Amanda grinning. “Illegal though.”

Brady laughed. “See, that’s what I love about you,” he said. “First you’re totally cool, and then you’re just a little bit like Mom.” He eased off on the accelerator. “What’s that noise?” he added.

Amanda cocked her head and listened. “Sounds like a siren,” she said.

“No way!” Brady glanced at his rear view mirror. “Oh crap!” He took his foot off the gas and as the car slowed he began to edge off the pavement and onto the shoulder. “You might as well get my registration out of the glove compartment,” he suggested. “And you could also stop laughing.”

“I’ll get your registration,” said Amanda, reaching for the glove box, “but I won’t stop laughing!”

She opened the glove box and was reaching inside when the police car flew by, siren blaring and lights flashing and by the time Amanda had lifted her head the car was disappearing around the curve a quarter of a mile ahead. The two of them sat there for a second, then looked at each other and burst out laughing again.

“I can’t believe that just happened!” Brady stopped laughing and sat shaking his head.

“Well son, I hope you learned your lesson,” said Amanda, still chuckling. “And I had a perfect story I was going to tell to get you off the hook.”

“Did you now?” said Brady as he shifted gears and eased the car back onto the highway. “Do tell.”

“I was going to tell him that you’re a mechanic but not a very good one so you accidentally put in a Toyota part, so it’s not your fault that the car burns rubber sometimes,” said Amanda.

Brady laughed again. “Thanks for being willing to help,” he said, “but that story probably wouldn’t have worked unless you made sure your parka was unzipped and you were leaning forward and fluttering your eyelashes while you told it.”

Amanda grinned. “Well obviously that was the other part of my plan,” she said. “But actually, if you put the accelerator in yourself, then it would still be your fault wouldn’t it?”

“True enough,” said Brady. “I wonder where he was off to in such a hurry.”

Amanda raised her eyebrows. “Good question,” she said. “Isn’t that how it always is? If it’s good news for you it’s bad news for someone else.”

Brady nodded. “Hope it’s nothing serious.” They drove in silence for a couple of miles. “So, what do you think of Dad’s new plans for the farm?” said Brady eventually.

“You mean getting into the sheep business?” asked Amanda.

“Yeah,” said Brady. “That’s what I mean.”

Amanda pondered that for a moment. “I have no idea,” she said. “I don’t know anything about farming. What do you think?”

“All I know,” said Brady, “is, I ain’t shearing no sheep.”

“You ain’t milking no cows and plucking no chickens either,” said Amanda. “I think your dad knows that. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to be part of his decision-making process. But outside of that what do you think?”

Brady shrugged. “I got nothing against sheep,” he said. “People want to knit, they need wool. And some people like mutton.” He paused. “As do coyotes.”

“I’ve heard that coyotes are particularly fond of sheep. Your dad’s going to have to find himself a Ralph,” said Amanda.

Brady looked confused. “Ralph?” “You know, the sheepdog from Bugs

Bunny,” said Amanda. “Oh yeah, Ralph!” Brady laughed.

“Ralph wouldn’t last a day in the real world. Coyotes don’t shop at Acme.” He took his foot off the gas and the car slowed as they approached the driveway leading to the Jacksons’ yard. He stared out at the pasture, which had a few bare brown spots showing through the white snow. “I guess that’s how it will look all year round when it’s full of sheep,” he said.

Amanda followed his gaze. “If each of those brown spots is going to be a coyote, the business is not going to succeed.”

“On the other hand,” said Brady, “if each of those brown spots is going to be a donkey, then it probably will.”

Catch Rollin Penner and the Travelling Medicine Show in Winkler on April 6,

opening for Ugandan comedian Arthur Simeon as part of the CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

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