I was forbidden to play with the retarded girl who lived next door in the dilapidated home with the empty underground pool, so I made a point of visiting Brandy every day my parents were out. Mom and Dad hired Wanda, an older-than-middle- aged, obese, laid back woman to watch me during the days mom spent time with brother Eric, and Dad was at work or traveling. The childcare consisted of Wanda sitting on the lime green sofa in front of the floor model TV while I walked around the neighborhood or played at Brandy’s. Brandy had three older brothers and a dad named Rex, who substitute taught in the elementary school. Their house was full of cob webs, dusty chess sets, and board games. We were a great team, and quick to activate the neighborhood scene with our walk-abouts…up and down the street.
One afternoon we created a backyard circus, and sold tickets to the neighborhood kids. We took the ladder down from my above ground pool so kids could swim, and collected all the pillows and blankets we could find. We scattered the pillows and blankets around the yard, and brought out as many of our board games, balls, stereos, tapes, puzzles we could manage. I closed the fence to my yard, and Brandy and I went on a canvass door to door. “The twenty five cent circus…was happening right now,” we said. Kids came, the event was a hit, but rumors spread, unfortunately making their way back to my parents, who once again forbade me to play with Brandy.
The second major neighborhood event may have been the cause of mom and dad deciding to move away from Creeklane Way, take me to see Dr. Clark, or both. Mission two: we walked the neighborhood circuit, I convinced Brandy to steal all the mail. I carried the bag of stolen mail. Our plan was to search for money. After taking all the mail, we sat in an enclave on the side of my house and tore open every piece. We found a bunch of papers that looked like trash, lots and lots of trash; we crumpled them up, and then, I found something good. A birthday card… with a five dollar bill, I ripped up the card and took the money. We stashed all the trash and mail behind cinder blocks. We had no intentions of covering our tracks any further.
I wonder what dad felt the moment he saw the entire neighborhood’s mail in a pile on the side of our house, I think I have a good sense. Later that evening, dad led me around the neighborhood, door to door with all the crumbled mail in my arms to apologize to every person on the street. He stood back on the road watching me, while I made the solo march up to every adult’s home. Knocking on doors,
“Here’s your mail, I’m the one who stole it.”
By Allison - Poplar Grove Muse