Becca was an energetic, high-spirited, inquisitive little girl. She had long blonde curls that bounced when she walked and she was the apple of her mama’s eye.
Her daddy had gone away, at least that’s what her mama had told her. Becca had never known him or if she had, she didn’t remember him. All she knew was that he used to be a soldier.
Becca and her mama lived out in the country. Their house was made of logs and had a bright, shiny tin roof. Beccas’ grandparents lived just up the hill and she walked over to see them every day. Her faithful duck “Gadget” always trailed behind her, quacking and fluttering his wings as if he was going to take flight at any time.
One day, Becca was walking up the hill and noticed a little boy standing behind a tree. He was fiddling with a rope while watching her and Gadget. Becca didn’t pay him any attention. Her grandma had told her what little boys were made of and she decided that she didn’t like them.
As time went on, Becca started seeing him more and more. Being what her grandma called “full of spit and vinegar”, she decided to confront him. She walked up and said “I see you seeing me, seeing you.” The little boy just looked at her, like he was surprised. Becca put her hands on her hips and said “what is your name….peeping Tom?”
The little boy said “no, my name is Lonnie Lincoln but everybody calls me Lonlin.” Becca said “why are you hiding behind a tree, looking at me and playing with that rope?”
Lonlin said “I used to have a duck just like that.” Becka said with a haughty attitude, “well, he is MY duck…not yours.” Becca didn’t seem to notice that Gadget was quacking more than usual.
She asked again about the rope. He said he was trying to learn how to lasso. Becca mockingly said “what are you going to lasso…the tree?” Lonlin looked at her and said “someday, I’m going to be a famous bronc rider in the rodeo.”
Becca gave him her best “harrumph” and walked away laughing.
Becca told her grandma about the little boy. “He’s so annoying,” she said. “He hides behind a tree and plays with a rope.” Her grandma, half listening, smiled and said “he’s probably either shy or he’s up to some mischief.”
One day, Lonlin called to her and asked what her name was. She walked over and said “my name is Rebecca but everybody calls me Becca and my duck is named Gadget.” Lonlin said “that’s a funny name for a duck.” Becca was incensed and said “no it isn’t and who asked you anyway?”
Clearly irritated with him, Becca asked “why are you always hiding behind this tree? Why don’t you go home and hide behind one of your own trees?” Lonlin ignored her and continued practicing with his rope.
He said “would you like to try?” Becca was self-confident and was sure that she could tie a lasso and much better than he could. With a smirk on her face, she took the rope. She tried and tried but couldn’t figure out how to do it.
That day, things changed between them. They laughed and laughed. Becca picked grass and threw it in Lonlins’ hair. She pretended the rope was a snake and hissed while she wrapped it around herself. Gadget was joining in with his quacks and seemed to almost be singing to them.
When Becca finally made it to her grandmas’ house, her grandma said “I was wondering where you had gotten to.” Becca said “I was playing with the little boy who hides behind a tree.” Her grandma was busy canning fruit for the winter and was distracted. She just said “oh. Are you and your mama going to come eat Sunday dinner with us tomorrow?” Becca said “I’ll ask. Can I bring that little boy?” Still distracted, her grandma said “sure, if you want to.”
The next day, Becca and her mama were walking up the hill and Becca said “grandma said I could invite Lonlin to dinner.” Beccas’ mama stopped dead in her tracks and said “what did you say?” Becca said “grandma said I could invite Lonlin to dinner. He’s the little boy who hides behind a tree over there and sometimes we play with his rope.”
Beccas’ mama leaned down and put her hands on Beccas’ shoulders. She said “what are you talking about?” Becca pointed to the tree and said “Lonlin hides over there. He plays with a rope because he’s going to be a rodeo rider someday.” Becca took her mamas’ hand and said “come on. I’ll show you.”
When they got to the tree, Becca was surprised when Lonlin wasn’t there. She looked at her mama and said “I don’t know where he is but that’s his rope hanging from that limb.” Beccas’ mama took her hand and said “come on. We need to get to grandmas’ house.”
As they were walking up the hill, Beccas’ mama asked her what Lonlin looked like. Becca said “he has blonde hair and brown eyes. He’s always dressed like a cowboy and he has a red scarf around his neck…but I’ve never seen his puppy dog tail.” Her mama laughed and said “what do you mean?” Becca said “grandma told me that little boys were made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails but I’ve never seen his.”
When they got to her grandmas’ house, Becca heard her mama and grandma talking quietly in the kitchen. Their voices were muffled and she couldn’t understand what they were saying but she wanted to hurry up and eat so she could go play with Lonlin.
After Sunday dinner, Becca ran down to the tree but Lonlin wasn’t there. She was confused but she figured he must have gone home to hide behind one of his own trees. She never saw him again.
Years later, she heard a story about a little boy who wanted to be a rodeo star. He was always playing with a rope. One day, he accidentally threw the rope in a tree and when he climbed up to get it, he fell and got tangled. The rope wrapped itself around his neck. His trusty sidekick, “Quackers, the duck” stayed with him until he was taken away. Nobody could get Quackers to leave and he was eventually buried under that tree.
Some people still report seeing a figure hiding behind a tree as they are driving by. Some people still report their children making friends…with a little boy behind a tree.