Jonahs by Jet

Water Tower Trouble

“Dad! Check out this neat tower!” David called.

David and Keri and their Mom and Dad were exploring outside their new house on the Ile-Ife SDA Mission compound. They had been “camping” in a small guest house for a long time. They were excited to see that their real house was almost ready for them.

“Look, Keri! Those pipes are as tall as the roof. This huge tank will be on top of the pipes for our water.” David banged the side of a huge aluminum box with his hand and listened to the hollow metal echo.

“Wow!” Keri exclaimed, inspecting the tank. “It’s bigger than our van. It will hold a lot of water!”

Dad walked around the tank. “It will probably weigh several tons when it is all full,” he remarked.

“Wow! Several tons? Can those pipes hold so much weight, Dad?” David asked.

“I hope so,” Dad raised his eyebrows, “because the work crew is putting the tank on top of the tower today and filling it with water.”

“Can we climb on it, Dad?” David looked eager. “Mom lets Andrew and me climb on our guesthouse water tower. It’s better than the monkey bars in the States!”

Dad’s forehead was creased in thought. “The guesthouse tower is made with strong iron bars, and it’s holding up a small tank. It’s a safe place to climb as long as you aren’t being silly. But I don’t want anyone to climb on this new tower until the tank is completely full of water and I can check it for safety.”

“David’s face sagged. “OK,” he mumbled with a disappointed nod.

“Keri, did you hear that?” Dad nudged Keri, who was bent over the grass observing a caterpillar.

“Hmm? What, Dad?” Keri looked up.

“I was just saying that I don’t want you or David climbing on this tower until I say it’s safe,” Dad repeated.

“We won’t,” Keri promised.

“Better tell the Saunders kids too,” Dad added.

“OK,” David replied. “I’m going that way now to play with Andrew on the guesthouse water tower.”

“I’ll come in a bit, David,” Keri said with a wave. “I want to catch this caterpillar first.”

Just then Mom came around the corner of their new house.

“Hey, Mom! See this neat caterpillar!” Keri exclaimed.

“Ooh, yes. He is kind of cute—so fluffy,” Mom came closer to look over Keri’s shoulder. “But don’t pick hum up, sweetheart. I’ve heard that some of the African caterpillars are poisonous,” Mom warned.

“Oh, Mom! He couldn’t be poisonous! Look how soft and brown he is!”

Keri reached out to pick up the fuzzy creature, ignoring Mom’s advice. She watched the caterpillar crawl up her hand onto her wrist. “Eee!” she giggled, “He tickles my skin. See, Mom? He’s harmless! Can I keep him?”

Mom looked skeptical. “I guess so, but I still wish you’d watch him through a jar! I know I read about caterpillars here having some sort of poison that makes people itch and blister.”

Keri wasn’t really listening. She was already headed for the guesthouse to find a jar for her new pet. But Keri and Mom hadn’t even reached the front door when Keri’s face puckered into a painful, surprised frown.

She shook the caterpillar off her hand onto the lawn and cried out, “Mom, my hand! It’s itching, itching, itching! Oooh!” she moaned. “It burns too!” Keri tried fanning her hand in the air and rubbing the painful skin, but it only burned more.

Mom caught up with Keri and pushed the door open, leading Keri toward the sink.

“Here, let’s wash your hand with cold water.” Keri held her hand under the cool, soothing flow, while Mom helped her scrub with soap and gently pat the skin dry.

“How’s it feeling now?” Mom asked.

Keri looked at her rashy, red hand. “It’s a little better,” she answered, “But it still burns like a sunburn.” Keri wrinkled up her face with regret. “Mom?” I’m sorry. I should have listened to you instead of handling that caterpillar.”

Mom nodded with a forgiving look. “I guess this is a lesson learned the hard way, sweetie.”

A little later, Keri said, “Mom, I think I’m better now. Can I go climb with Andrew and David?”

“Sure. I’ll call you for supper in a little while.”

As Keri walked outside, she felt the hot humidity of the African afternoon. She walked past a little clump of sugar cane and under a huge mango tree. She stopped to sniff the flowery fragrance of the yellow blossoms that grew on a tree near the guesthouse water tower. Then she heard the whisper of boyish chuckles above her.

“Boo!” Two voices shouted to surprise her! Andrew and David were on the highest platform of the guesthouse water tower. “Hi, Keri!” Andrew shouted. “Come on up!”

Keri noticed that David was higher than the roof and the flowering tree. She hesitated just a moment. Andrew noticed her concerned look. “It’s OK up here. You’ll like it ’cause you can see all around. My mom said we could climb here as long as we didn’t do any tricks or jump off. She said, ‘No circus stunts!’ ” Andrew smiled as he shook a finger, imitating his mom.

“Moms sure do worry a lot!” David grinned.

“Yeah,” Andrew agreed. “My mom says I’m pretty special and she wants to keep me around!”

David and Keri spoke together with a laugh, “Our mom says that a lot too!”

Keri scrambled up the corner post and swung first one leg and then the other over the middle bar. She stood on the middle bar and stretched on tiptoe trying to reach the platform where David and Andrew were standing. “It’s no use,” she complained. “I just can’t reach!”

Frustrated, she sat down on the middle bar and thought about better ways for short girls to have fun. “Hey!” Keri’s eyes brightened. “Let’s hang some swings from these bars!”

“Yeah!” The boys thought swings were a great idea. “Let’s find some rope!” Without thinking, Andrew started to swing off the top platform and jump from the middle bar. Half-way to the ground, he remembered the rule against jumping.

“Eeouwwww!” Andrew’s chilling scream brought David and Keri’s Mom running from her kitchen nearby. Andrew was gripping his left foot in both hands and hopping on his right foot.

“Oooeee!” He cried. “My foot! Oh my foot hurts soooo bad!”

“Oh dear!” David’s Mom gasped. A board was nailed to Andrew’s little toe! With one swift pull, she yanked the long nail out of Andrew’s foot, board and all. “That hurt!” Andrew pulled away.

“I’m so sorry, Andrew!” David’s mom apologized. “I had to pull the nail out so we can wash the wound well.” Mom helped a sobbing Andrew hop over to the back porch faucet. She washed the bleeding hole over and over with soap before turning off the tap.

“David, please bring me the first aid cream and a Band-Aid.” Mom said. She dried Andrew’s foot while David ran for the first aid box. Then Mom and Keri and David helped Andrew hobble home. Andrew’s Mom listened to all the versions of the accident story before she spoke. “It’s been a long time since you had a tetanus injection, Andrew,” she fretted.

“Oh, no!” Andrew groaned. “Like I haven’t had enough pain for today!”

Andrew’s older brother, Aaron, volunteered to ride his bike to the hospital. He pedaled home in a short while toting a black plastic bag with injection supplies.

“Eeouwwie!” Andrew yelled louder with the injection than he had with that huge nail in his foot. The other kids were just teasing him about being so loud, when everyone heard something louder!

“Boom!” A crash like thunder vibrated the air. David and Keri and Aaron and Sara and Seth all ran outside to investigate the terrible sound that came from the direction of David and Keri’s new house.

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