Not a cat: Forest Park firefighters rescue Curtis Horras, who went out on a limb. (Courtesy John Rice)

In our last episode of “The Perils of Curtis,” Curtis Horras, age 8, became stuck in the mud at The Park and had to be rescued by maintenance workers wearing firemen boots. 

This season, Curtis found himself in an even more dramatic situation: hanging upside down from his backyard tree. 

It all started on the morning of March 18. Curtis, wearing his favorite black and white plaid pajama pants, shoes and a shirt, climbed atop a Little Tykes Playhouse to reach the branch where the rope swing was tied. As usual, Curtis had a daring plan.

The swing wasn’t high enough for his tastes, so he planned to drape it over a higher branch and swing from there. Instead, he fell forward and found himself dangling from the tree. His left leg was caught on a branch and his right leg tangled in the rope. 

Curtis’ younger sister, Adrianna, who had been an eyewitness to Curtis’ misadventure at The Park (“Bubby’s stuck in the mud”), ran into the house to tell their mother, Nicole, that “Bubby’s stuck in the tree.”

Nicole ran out and got on top of the playhouse. She tried to climb the tree to help Curtis but lacked the upper-body strength. She returned to the house for a pair of scissors. Nicole cut off Curtis’ left pants leg but was still unable to free him. She called the non-emergency number for the Forest Park Fire Department.

“This is really silly,” she told the dispatcher, “But my son’s stuck in a tree.” Nicole heard a distinct chuckle. “We’ll send the fire department,” the dispatcher assured her. “I don’t think I need the whole fire department,” Nicole countered, “I just need one guy to help me.” The dispatcher would have none of that. “No, we’re saving your son — not a cat.”

The fire truck arrived. Four firemen dismounted and grabbed their ladder. By this time, Curtis had been dangling for more than 30 minutes. He was no longer laughing. He was scared and cold — thanks to his missing pants leg. “Are they going to have to cut my leg off?” 

The firemen put their ladder against the tree while Nicole retreated. She said she wanted to “let you guys do your job.” But really she wanted to grab her phone to take some priceless photos. A fireman climbed the ladder and unhooked Curtis’ leg from the branch. Another unwound the rope to free Curtis’ ankle.

Afterward, they asked Curtis if he could walk OK. Like any brave action hero, Curtis said he was fine and didn’t mention his tingling legs and bruised ankle. “At least you have some new shorts,” one of the firemen said. 

Nicole plans to bake some cookies and take them to the firehouse to reward the rescuers. But these firemen need to remain on the alert. When Curtis was asked if would be continuing his tree-climbing, the fearless one warned, “I will do it again.” Tune in next week.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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