Let Handed Shangeye

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs

Henry's mate was Jesse James, but not the Jesse James.

Left Handed Shangeye

Ma Kravitz was an old battle-axe! Well that was according her neighbours and to Henry’s Dad. She had a reputation of being frugal. ‘Wouldn’t give you the steam off her own…’ Well you get the drift. And what she lacked in size was made up with fire when things didn’t go her way. But Henry didn’t find her so bad… His Dad had sent him there when she first moved in to ask if she wanted milk delivered. It was a job Henry was often given, ‘People don’t like to say no to kids.’ He’d drag up the lame excuse. Well, Ma Kravitz did want milk and while he was there, she asked him to help her by holding out his hands while she rolled the wool into a ball from the skein she had him hold for her. She gave him a boiled sweet as a reward. The word about the district was that she had worked as a maid for Kaiser Bill’s missus, but all that went over Henry’s head…

One day when Henry headed out the door, he hid his shangeye in his pocket. Mothers have a sixth or seventh sense where pre-teen boys are concerned, or maybe it’s because boys haven’t quite acquired the skill of nonchalance. Anyway Henry wasn’t taking any chances.

‘Have you fed the chooks this morning?’ Mum asked, and before he could answer, ‘And where are you off to now my lad?’

‘I’m meeting Jesse over at the park,’ Henry replied, ‘and the hens are ok.’

‘That doesn’t quite answer my question.’ Mum insisted.

‘Yes, I fed the chooks.’ Henry affirmed and cautiously stepped way before any more questions came his way.

Jesse was waiting for him beside the seesaw. Henry used to like saying he was Jesse’s friend, because for Christmas he was given a book, Kit Carson Annual, in it there were some comic stories about Jesse James the western outlaw. It was kind of cool to have the association.

‘Look what I’ve got.’ Said Henry, slowly pulling out his shangeye.

‘Cor!’ enthused Jessie. ‘Give us a go!’

‘You can hold it,’ Henry conceded, ‘but not use it ’cos it’s a left handed one!’ He didn’t want Jesse buggering it up, or having more practice than him, so he used the best excuse he could come up with.

‘Left handed eh?’ Jesse stretched the rubber to test it. ‘I reckon I could fire it.’

‘Well let’s go down to the river then.’ Suggested Henry as he took the shangeye back a little too quickly.

‘Yeah, let’s get some ducks!’ Jesse suggested.

Henry wasn’t so sure he wanted to shoot at ducks, scaring sparrows in the garden was one thing, but shooting at ducks was another entirely. Anyway they went down to the river where Jesse found some good-sized stones to biff at the ducks. There were three mallards quaking in a friendly way because some people used to feed them bits of stale bread*. Jesse biffed his first stone. It missed by a mile and the ducks flew off, undaunted he tried to hit one in mid-air, that stone went astray too, but he’d lost his balance and fell, tumbling down the near-vertical bank! Luckily, he saved himself from a dip up the drink by managing to grasp the long grass on the way down.

‘Ha! You couldn’t hit a barn door at ten paces!’ Henry mocked, not too worried about him falling in.

Before Jesse had completely regained his composure, they heard a commotion coming from Ma Kravitz’ house and the pair looked up to see a man running out her drive, closely chased by Ma Kravitz wielding a rolling pin!

‘Halt, Halt!’ she was yelling in her broad accent.

Jesse and Henry watched open-mouthed! Henry’s mouth was still open when he saw that the man held something that glinted in the sunlight.

‘Catch him!’ The German woman ordered, ‘Quick!’ and the boys were quick to react. Jesse played rugby and was built like a brick dunny… his intention was to tackle the man. Henry’s intention was to use his left handed shangeye to knock the man out with a stone to the head. It turned out that Jesse was nowhere near fast enough and Henry’s stone shot way over the man’s head…

The stone landed on the roof of Major. Stern’s car… not just any car, his pride and joy car! He’d been in his garden spreading cow muck around his dahlias, and the stone hitting his car rankled him… a lot! So out he went armed with his shovel to confront whoever was responsible. But the retired Army Major, quickly assessed the situation. He waited behind his car and at the appropriate time, swung the shovel! Boing! The thief had been looking back at Jesse, so the shovel hit him square on the back of his head rather than his face, which was marginally lucky for him! He crumbled to the ground like a sack of spuds!

Ma Kravitz could run fast for a dot of a woman! And she was quick to retrieve the gold amulet and chain from the man’s grasp.

‘The Empress… she gave it to me when I left before the war.’ She explained to nobody in particular, as she tucked it into the folds of her skirt. Henry and Jesse were there too, still puffing but excited.

‘See I told you she worked for Kaiser Bill’s missus.’ Henry whispered to Jesse.

The old busy-body who lived next door to Ma Kravitz had rung the Sydenham police, and a small crowd had arrived to rubber-neck, which prevented the thief from making a run for it. The Major tried to quiz him in his deep authoritive voice, but the thief didn’t seem to know any English.

After a short time, two policemen arrived in new Zephyr, which made Henry feel a bit threatened so he wanted to make tracks. He motioned to Jesse, but he wanted to see what was going to happen to the thief. Henry left him to it! He didn’t want to be quizzed about the stone by the Major, and he was scared that if he was questioned by the blimmin’ cops, they were sure to search him and confiscate his left handed shangeye! Better to leave them to it!




*Never feed bread, or any bird for that matter, it’s not good for them.

Submitted: April 22, 2020

© Copyright 2021 moa rider. All rights reserved.

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Ha! Score 3 to the birds and a great big 0 to the thief!

Wed, April 22nd, 2020 6:55pm


Wish it was always the case Mama Hullabaloo. Thank you. Usianguke

Wed, April 22nd, 2020 2:23pm

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