My cousin, Richard passed away a little less than fifteen years ago. I didn’t know him well as a kid because he was seven years older than I was. Even so, I saw him at least once each month during those years because my aunt and her two children, Richard and Judy lived next door to my grandmother. He was a quiet person with tendencies toward the arts. In fact, he ended up being a draftsman as an adult. He did admirably in English and Drama in high school. I don’t know what year it was, but when Richard was somewhere in his high school years, he wrote a story that got him state recognition. This is what I remember of Richard’s story.
It was the late 1950s, when children still had the freedom to go and come as they pleased as long as they adhered to their parents’ rules and curfews. Dean, Allen, and Kathy were three of these children living in the city of Englewood. As soon as they would get home from school, their respective mothers would ask them how their day went, pour a glass of milk for them and insist that they sit at the kitchen table and do their homework. Back then, there really wasn’t much homework because there was a class called Study Hall at their school. Most homework was done then. It was usually things like vocabulary words, memorization of dates, and special projects on occasion that made it to the kitchen table. After homework was done, the children could go hang out with their friends outside. Sometimes they’d play a game, other times just mull around the neighborhood. Weather wasn’t as big of a deterrent then. If it was chilly out, the kids would wear sweaters or jackets. If it was downright nippy out, you would see them in wool coats. The only things that would stop them from their outside socializing were rainstorms and snowstorms. October was a rather dry month in Englewood. Most children were outside in long sleeves but still didn’t think they needed a jacket or sweater. It was the playoffs for baseball that year so the children were still enthralled with the game. Dean, Allen and Kathy were in the vacant lot at the end of their street using the sides of their shoes to draw the playing field for their game of baseball. Afterward, they decided to warm up while waiting for the three members of the other team to finish their homework. Allen played the field. Kathy play pitcher and shortstop and Dean was up to bat. Kathy threw the ball. It didn’t even come close to home plate. She tried again. It was closer but still too far for Dean to even reach to hit it. She tried again. It wasn’t directly over the plate but she grinned at her achievement. Dean swung his bat, hitting the ball on the lower half. The ball went sailing across the gray skies touching down on the cracked sidewalk of the old Taylor place next door to the lot, and bouncing to one of the windows shattering it. “Great,” Dean said under his breath frowning at the Taylor house. “You’re our star hitter, Dean,” Allen said as he trotted in from the outfield. “Who’s going to go get it?” Kathy asked. “You’re the pitcher. You go get it, Kath.” Dean averted his eyes from her. He knew what her comeback would be. “Dean, you’re the one who hit it over there. You should get it.” Allen just knew that if this kept up, the ball would stay right where it was. “Hey! Why don’t all of us go? We can snoop around while we’re in there with a ready-made excuse.” All of them looked around at the other ones. This may be a fantastic idea. Kathy frowned. “What about the other team?” Dean looked up the street. “I’d say they aren’t coming. We’ve been waiting a while. They can’t get mad at us for not waiting forever.” The other two nodded in agreement. Dean picked up his bat he had thrown when he started to run the bases before. They sauntered over to the cast iron fence of the old house and stared at the gaping jagged hole that use to be a window about six feet away.
I’m going to leave the rest for next week. Call me wicked. 😛
Can’t wait until next week? Here is part 2.