Horny Toad Beware
How it all Started
Emma and her brother Beau lived on a small farm in the hills of Arkansas with their grandparents. Neither of them had been educated beyond sixth grade, but they were fairly smart by learning from nature and common sense. Their grandparents taught them well, and, though mountain folk they were, Emma and Beau were intelligent about life in general.
Emma was very good with numbers. Her grandfather taught her how to count and calculate for farm business. She also had excellent sight and aim with her rifle. She could spot and shoot a small animal for the supper stew pot long before anyone else even saw the critter. Another remarkable thing Emma had was a memory that was near to unheard of.
Riding With Beau
Emma loved to go out riding with Beau in their Grandfather's old car. She loved Beau above all else in her small world. About the only thing she did not like about her brother was his choice of friends, like Josh Wakely who ran the general store for his father in the little town down in the valley. Josh was not too swift when it came to knowing how to act around girls and he was head over heels in love with Emma.
Josh would go all stupid and make no effort to hide his feelings for Emma when he saw her. He said stupid things, tried to make her laugh, flirted outrageously with her and just acted like a fool. Emma would totally ignore him and slap his hand if he tried to touch her. He could tell the funniest joke and others would laugh crazily, but Emma would roll her eyes, turn her head in disgust and walk away.
Long about the end of each month Grandma would send Emma and Beau down to the store with a list of things needed for the next month. "Now, Emma", she would shake her finger,"you be nice to that fine boy Josh. He would be a good catch for you." Emma just said, "Yes, Grandma." Respect for elders was high priority for mountain folk, so Emma never sassed her Grandma.
Emma loved the ride down to the valley and back each month. It was a time her and Beau could just be teenagers and laugh about the silliest things or gossip. Every time they got to the store Emma would stay in the car, she hated going inside because Josh would follow her around trying to make her laugh or notice him.
It was in late August one time when they stopped in front of Josh's store and Beau went inside by himself to get the foods and other supplies. It had been an unusually hot summer. Emma sat in the car for awhile, but it became increasingly hotter, so she went inside and sat at one of the checkout counters that was empty. It was cool inside because of the swamp cooler blasting away.
Josh did not see her sitting there till some customers with their purchases started going to the counter where Emma sat and he heard the cash register dinging away.
Josh said, "Oh Lord ahmighty! What's she all doin'?" and started to head over there. Beau caught Josh's arm and said, "Leave her be! Emma's smart as a whip and knows her numbers." Josh kind of feared to ever go against Beau who was a backwoods bumpkin, but strong as an ox. Beau actually had a very good-nature and would harm no one, but he was rather fierce looking with his long hair and beard.
Josh put his hands on his hips and watched till the last customer left Emma's counter. For the first time when near Emma, Josh was more concerned about what Emma had punched into the cash register than flirting with her. He pulled up the tape and was shocked to see a bunch of amounts but no totals or item numbers. He knew his dad would nail him to the wall when he saw this. He ripped out the tape, sweating like a hog and ran to Beau, fear of what his dad would do overcame his fear of Beau.
"You lied to me! She ain't that good! She's blind as a bat. Why she probably cain't even see that turtle and horny toad sittin' by a log out there," he swung his arm out, pointing out the window. "Now I gotta fix the sales on the register and it will take me all night!"
Emma marched over, grabbed Josh by the neck of his shirt and pulled him close. With her face inches from his nose and jerking hard on his shirt with emphasis on some words, her blonde curls and pigtails shook like crazy as she spoke.
"I can see TURTLES and I can see HORNY toads and I can see LOGS! And I can take the ears off a VARMINT with my rifle from a long ways yonder! So don't you get all uppity with me or I'll take something off YOU next time you show up at the farm! Now I know my numbers, but I cain't unnerstan' what those crazy little doo-dads are on the machine. I was just sittin' there waitin' for Beau when people came up to me and started askin' for things to buy so I started punchin' the costs in on that masheen. Now, I just sold over a hunnerd dollars worth of JUNK for you, I got it all in my head, so don't you go insultin' me!"
She let go his shirt and pushed him away. Emma stayed long enough with Josh to tell him every single thing she sold as he rung it up on the register and cancelled the numbers Emma had punched in.
All the time that was going on, Beau was laughing himself silly as he loaded stuff in the back of the car. "He's gonna learn the hard way not to mess with Emma," he muttered as he leaned back against the truck, crossed his arms and watched through the window of the store.
When Emma and Josh were finished she grabbed a cold soda and told Josh, "Don't you evva insult me again, Josh Wakely! You horny toad!" She punched him on the shoulder hard. With that Emma stomped out of the store leaving Josh standing there with a look of shock mixed with embarrassment.
Two months later Emma and Josh got married.