This is a bit long. If you don’t make it all the way through, sorry about boring you. If you did, thanks for that.
“Mom,” I called out as I gave the TV set a glazed and bored stare. “Mom, I’m bored. There’s never anything to do.” I pause to listen to the silence, now that I have the TV clicked off. “Mom… mom…” a little louder, so she can hear me from where ever she may be in the house, “Mom!”
“What do you want? Don’t you have feet? Get off your butt and come in the kitchen if you want to talk to me. There’s no reason to shout!” she shouted back at me through the house. “Mom, I’m bored,” I began, but knew a second too late that it was the wrong thing to say when I looked into those furious eyes that shot daggers back at me. “I mean, there’s nothing to do. Nothing ever happens around here.” There was still no sympathy in those hardened eyes.
“You want something to do?” she said to me, her mood shifting slightly. Suddenly, I felt a dark cloud on my horizon. Why didn’t I see this coming? She continued, “I have laundry to do downstairs, if you want to lend a hand.” All I could muster was a deer in the headlight stare. “If you prefer, there’s weeds in the garden that are calling your name. The grass could use cutting. Is your room clean?” Her list grew, and began picking up steam, like a steam train pulling out of the station. “Your dad would love it if you’d clean up your mess in the garage…” I had to cut her off, “Mom.” It was too late, she was on a roll, and picking up steam, “…the trash cans never got put back where they belong. It wouldn’t hurt to run the vacuum over the living room. There’s dusting…” Oh no, I’ve unleashed the monster, “Mom,” I repeated. “What.” It sounded more like a command than a question.
“Can I have a popsicle?” I asked, hoping it would derail the Mom Express train to hard labor. It worked. “Sure,” she said after a pause, “get one for me too.” As I handed one over to her, and started to give the wrapper a rip to open it she said, “You. Outside. I don’t want any messes in here.”
“Mom,” I said a little plaintively, “I’m not a baby, I’m 12 years old.”
“No you’re not, you won’t be 12 for at least 2 more months,” she corrected me. “Out!” There was no arguing, so I turned to head out the door. Taking a long pause, I turned back in hope of a reprieve. “Get out, and shut the door. I’m not paying to cool the outside,” she admonished me.
“I’m bored.” I called over my shoulder with a grin, and slammed the door as I tried to out run her last words, “Go! And don’t slam the door!”
I sat on the front steps, and saw my friend riding down the block. “Bobby! Over here!” I called. “A popsicle,” he began, “got one for me?” I knew better than to go back inside at the moment, so I asked “Can I ride the unicycle?
“Sorry, no Popsicle then.”
“What you been doing since school let out?”
“Nothing. It’s been pretty boring. Nothing ever happens in this rinky dink little town.”
“This weekend my dad’s going to take his .22 rifle out to Losch’s field. They’re going to cut down the wheat, and scare up some rabbits.”
“Really what does he do, shoot them or something?”
“Won’t he shoot the people in the field too?”
“No, you dummy, he rides on the tractor with old man Losch.”
“Oh, but what about…” my question trailed off as we watched a police car pull up at the house across the street. It was our one and only cop, or sheriff, or whatever his title was. He just sat in the car for a while. “I wonder what he’s doing,” Bobby said. “Maybe its Mrs. Warren,” I replied. “Maybe she’s hurt or something,” I continued.
Bobby replied, “No, he’s just sitting there. If she was hurt, there’d be ambulances here, and he’d be breaking down the door to rescue her.
“Maybe he got a report of an unlicensed unicycle driver, and he’s coming to give you a ticket.” I teased.
“Ha-ha,” Bobby said without a shred of humor, “that’s so funny I forgot to laugh.”
As we sat there watching Mr. Matthews, our police man, looking over a clipboard, and making a radio call, another car pulled up. Mr. Matthews got out of the patrol car and went to talk to the other man. We could hear them talking.
Mr. Matthews said, “I told you before, you don’t need to be here. It’s time to let the law handle this.”
Bobby and I just sat there to watch, and see what was going on. The other guy looked pretty old, he had to be at least 40, and he looked pretty mad. “He looks like somebody made him put on a shirt with the color button buttoned.” Bobby said quietly to me. “Yeah, and a few sizes too small,” I said. “Look at how red and purplish his face looks.” Bobby gave a little giggle; his eyes might pop out and hurt somebody if he doesn’t settle down.”
Mr. Matthews tried to make him stay by his car, but he wouldn’t stand for anything less than marching right up to the door with him. “Let me do all the talking,” Mr. Matthews commanded. The man muttered something, but I couldn’t make it out.
Mrs. Warren came to the door, and it looked like she was about to slam it shut again, until Mr. Matthews spoke. “You do know why I’m here today ma’am?” he asked. Mrs. Warren seemed a little terrified and nervous, but she said, “I have a good idea what it’s about if he’s here.” She indicated the man with the bulging eyes. She sounded really upset. That was unusual for her. I’ve been cutting her grass for this summer. I started helping her out last winter, shoveling the walks, and stuff like that. Mr. Warren used to do it, but he got sick and died just a few months ago. I really don’t know what it was, he was just old, and… Well… that’s just what happens. Hey, I’m just a kid, go ask the doctors. It’s just that Mrs. Warren always had a smile, and wasn’t the kind of person to be in trouble with the law, or anybody for that matter.
“I want this woman out of my house!” Bulgy Eyes shouted. Mrs. Warren started crying. I never saw her cry like that, at least not since the funeral. Sometimes I’d see her on the front porch on the glider, looking like she wanted to cry. Then she would get up and rush in the house, like maybe she did cry, but didn’t want anybody to know it.
“What did he say?” asked Bobby. “He wants her out of his house?” he asked. “That’s what he said? I remarked. That was news to both of us, don’t all old people own their houses? They even have that sign next to the front door, “The Warren’s, Established 1974.” That was before my parents were even born. Well, I think my dad might have been, but not my mom.
Mr. Warren was a Viet Nam vet, and they got married when he was in boot camp or something like that. I know that because after mowing the yard, Mrs. Warren would let me come inside to cool down, and have a glass of lemonade. She has pictures everywhere. There’s some of her in her wedding dress and Mr. Warren in his Navy uniform. She told me they lived on base, and that four of her kids were born in Navy hospitals. I don’t remember where, but there’s no bases around here, so they might have been married even before that sign says. I like to sit and talk with her, and look at the pictures of her kids. It’s kind of neat. All six of her kids have their own picture frame. Mr. Warren made these special, but I saw some like them in the store. They’re just not as fancy. There’s a circle of pictures for each grade of school, and a picture in each.
The argument across the street was getting Bulgy Eyes even more worked up, and Mr. Matthews had a hard time trying to keep Mrs. Warren from crying. Another car pulled up just as Mr. Matthews finally made the decision, “Look, Mrs. Warren, I’m not going to do anything today. I’m going to leave now, but the eviction notice says you have to be out by next Friday. Do you think you can do that?” Mrs. Warren just nodded as she shut the door, but Bulgy Eyes pointed his finger right into Mr. Matthews face and said, “You get paid to enforce the law. I expect you to do what the law tells you to do sheriff.”
“Pop, what’s going on?” the young guy who just drove up asked. “Mom told me you were coming over here.”
“Then you should know what it’s all about.” Bulgy Eyes said.
“Pop, this is Mrs. Warren you’re doing this to.” the young guy, apparently the son of Bulgy Eyes. Only he didn’t look like his dad very much.
“I’m not doing anything to anybody!” shouted Bulgy Eyes. “That’s my property, and payments need to be made. People just can’t expect a free ride.”
“But pop, you’ve been friends with Mrs. Warren forever. Wasn’t her brother in your class in school??” the son tried to sooth Bulgy Eyes temper. “Remember when her son Phil and I were in Cub Scouts together…”
It sounded like he was going to say more but he was cut off.
“You’re on her side!” Bulgy Eyes screamed back at his son. I think he turned a few shades deeper purple, and his eyes bulged out farther than ever. “You just don’t get it…”
Now it was Bulgy Eyes turn to be cut short. He grabbed at his chest, then made a funny sound, and fell over. Mr. Matthews tried to catch him but he just kind of deflated, and fell down like dropping a sack of laundry.
“Pop!” the young guy shouted, and closed the distance with a leap. Mr. Matthews was doing something to Bulgy Eyes, it must have been CPR. It was just like they do on TV. He managed to get the young guy’s attention, and told him to call 911.
I went back in the house. My Popsicle was gone, and it was probably long enough for mom to not get freaked out at me.
“Mom!” I called out. “Mom can you hear me?”
No answer. Good. “Mom, can I have a popsicle for me and one for Bobby too? If it’s OK then don’t say anything.” I waited. No answer. Remembering my manners I added, “Thanks mom,” as I grabbed a pair of the frozen treats, and went outside. Bobby and I enjoyed the popsicles as we sat on the steps, dripping Popsicle juice down our elbows, and onto the sidewalk. I guess mom was right about me making at least a little mess.
It took a while for the ambulance to get there, it didn’t have a siren blaring, just the flashing lights. Mr. Matthews didn’t spend much time doing the CPR stuff. I think Bulgy Eyes must have had a heart attack, and was dead before he hit the ground. We watched them take Bulgy Eyes away, and then Bobby asked, “What time is it?” I looked at the nonexistent wrist watch on my arm and said, “A hair past a freckle. Why do you want to know?” Bobby said, “You dork. I’m going to go home and see if I can go to the pool after lunch. Want to come?” I had a season pass, so all I had to do was get my mom to say it was OK. “Sure, I’ll check with my mom, and meet you there,” I told him.
Bobby rode off, and as I stood there, watching the now empty street, I felt like I needed to do something. I went over to ring the bell at Mrs. Warren’s house. “Can I help you?” She asked as she seemed surprised to see me there, and touching a worn piece of Kleenex to her red rimmed eye. “Not exactly,” I said. “I just came over to see if you needed a hug.”
She started crying, as she gave me a big, grandma style hug. I don’t know why I didn’t expect that. “Thank you,” she managed to get out once the tears stopped. “I needed that.” I told her that I hoped she was around in the neighborhood for a long time, and she gave me a curious look. It made me wonder if she saw me sitting on the steps earlier, but I just told her I should probably be going home.
As I let myself back in the door, mom was coming up from the basement with a laundry basket in her hands. “Are you just coming in,” she asked?
“Yes,” I answered.
“Didn’t I hear you slam the door earlier?” she asked.
“Maybe? What’s that supposed to mean? She asked.
“It depends on how mad at me you would be when you find some extra popsicles missing.”
“Yeah, Bobby came over for a few minutes, and I got him one.” I admitted.
“And another for yourself, I’ll bet.”
“Of course. It would be rude to have Bobby eating something in front of me. Wouldn’t it.” I teased, testing her mood some more.
“What’s new with Bobby?” mom wanted to know.
“Nothing much. He’s as bored as me.” I told her. “He wanted me to ask if I can go swimming with him later.”
“Because he’s bored.” she commented.
“Yeah,” I answered.
“And nothing ever happens in this boring little town.” she said with a mocking tone in her voice.
“Nope. Nothing ever happens.”