The sweet smell of honeysuckle lightly drifted over the back porch steps as I sit at the top of a thirty-step descent to the ground below. At three-years-old this was a surmountable achievement to navigate these without tumbling to the bottom. And in reality my mother was always watchfully standing by looking through the porch door as she ironed to make sure I did not rush beyond my abilities and go scampering down the steps. At this time of year though it was like the smell of the honeysuckle was placed there to tempt me to do it. To go barreling down the stairs and rush towards the back fence where a long run of honeysuckles were draped. They sat there fluttering in the breeze that carried their aroma. It was like they were calling out to me, hundreds of the them just wanting me to come and pick them, break off the end, and suck out the sweet between the petals of the blossom. As I sat playing with my match box cars, the pull within me built, I watched cunningly like a convict on an outside work detail anxiously awaiting a distraction to take his guard’s glance away, so he could slip out of site. The phone rings. There it is I think. Grabbing the chance, I begin the trek down the stairs and across the yard. I move as swiftly as my little legs would carry me jumping towards the bottom of the stairs to speed my descent and then carefully moving across the back yard using the trunks of the pecan trees as cover. When I reached my goal I began pulling at the low hanging fruit and enjoying the rewards of my effort. In my mind, I was only going to pull a few and then quickly move back into position before my mother returned from the call. The sweetness took me away though and I kept pulling as the time slipped away until I heard “Randall Franks” in a stern loud voice. I knew that I was in for it now. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, I had succumbed to the lure of the season and the desire within me had led my heart astray. Now it was time to pay the piper. The trip back across the yard and up the stairs was not as gleeful. As I went I heard, “You have to the count of five. One. Two. Three…..” I made it just in the knick of time. Who knows what would happen if I got the beyond five. It was bad enough when I made it in time. “This is going to hurt me more than it does you,” she said as she introduced my backside to the palm of her hand. Before I knew it, I was standing on the back porch again playing with my matchbox cars feeling stupid for the mistake that I had made. My mother had punished me, forgiven me, kissed me on the forehead and sent me back to play with the full knowledge that in all likelihood the experience would prevent me from straying the next time. You know what? It worked. Sure I did things again that would require some discipline, but I never again would succumb to the desire to traipse down the stairs out of mom’s reach doing something I was not suppose to be. The sweet taste, a pleasing aroma, beautiful flowers, these are things that created a desire within me that pulled upon my better judgment. The experience that followed taught me that one does not need to succumb to these pulls upon our senses. In fact, the ability to choose not to walk down an attractive path can save great pain in life. I know it has for me. Do you smell that? There is nothing quite like the smell of honeysuckle….
Actor/entertainer Randall Franks is best known as “Officer Randy Goode” from TV’s “In the Heat of the Night,” a role he performed on NBC and CBS from 1988-1993 and now on MeTV and other channels. He was part of cast of three other TV Series including Robert Townsend’s “Musical Theater of Hope” which aired on UPtv (Gospel Music Channel). His latest film is “The Crickets Dance.” In the film “Broken,” he stars with Soren Fulton, Felix Ryan, Bailey Borders and Joe Stevens. In another film “Lukewarm,” he starred with John Schneider, Nicole Gale Anderson, Bill Cobbs, Jenna von Oy and Jeremy Jones. He starred with Natalie Grant and Billy Dean in the teen drama “Decision“ and in “The Solomon Bunch,” a children’s adventure, Randall does a comedic cameo. He is also friends with Courier publisher Jim Clark.