The “near” and “far” from the previous post was all around me. All of the houses my friends had lived in had shrunk somehow to about two thirds of their original size. The yard between Jeff and Scott’s where we played out our own world series every fall looked too small for any sport but I couldn’t believe we played baseball there. As a kid I saw a foul pole, a home run fence and the automatic extra bases if we hit it past the back road behind left field. At 43 all I saw were windows that could be broken, places where my kids could trip, flower beds that could be destroyed, a dangerous road kids might run into chasing a ball. It didn’t seem possible that this was the same place.
Passing my friend Tom’s I remembered an unfortunate time in our friendship when I killed his dog.
I ran over it.
On my bicycle.
Tom and my next door neighbour, who I’ve told you about, were out on the driveway with Tom’s mom. I had been out and wanted to hang out with them but instead of just walking over and saying, “Hi.” I decided it would be better to ride my 10 speed bike around he circle and wait for them to spot me and then call out to me and invite me to stop. For some reason this seemed like a much cooler approach to me at the time. When you’re not cool it’s amazing the things you will think look cool just because the complete lack of cool in your life totally impairs your ability to judge what is and isn’t cool.
So there I was, flying around the Circle on my 10 speed and as I pass the house and my friends out on the driveway, their tiny little ugly beast of a dog comes running out right at me. I was going pretty fast but the dog was pretty quick. He went for my ankle but got my back tire instead. I flew off my bike and ate gravel, creating a skid mark from my cheek all the way down my left arm and leg. As I lifted myself up off the gravel and tar road I saw that everyone had ignored me and had run over to the side of the little fiend that had caused this mess. Then everyone turned and looked at me and it wasn’t compassion in their eyes. “He’s dead,” one of them said. “Good.” I thought but wisely kept to myself. I started to protest that it wasn’t my fault, he’d attacked me but Tom’s Mom was lifting little Foo-Foo’s limp body in her hands and carrying him back to the house with tears in her eyes and no one wanted to hear what I had to say.
I was in trouble for that one, persona non grata at Tom’s until they got a new puppy to replace Foo-Foo. One the puppy arrived my dogicide and Foo were suddenly forgotten. Nobody ever asked me how I was doing from my hit and slide across the gravel. Passing by Tom’s old house that day I realized that the distance between where they had been, where the diabolical beast had shot out from was actually very close to the road. My memory of the incident that had assigned some supernatural evil powers to Foo-Foo to be able to match my speed had been off by about 30 feet or my whole neighbourhood really had shrank.
A couple more houses down from Tom’s on the way to my parent’s around the oval we called ‘The Circle” was the home of 3 beautiful girls and their little brother. My brother and I were friends with the little brother and we accepted every invitation to come swim in their pool. Looking back I can only hope that we didn’t stare as much as I imagine we did. Who knows, maybe it was an ego boost for the sisters but it was worth every 3rd degree sunburn I got hanging out over there.
On the left I passed a house where for two summers in my early teens I was enthralled by two sisters who came to live with their relatives for the summer to baby-sit their two small kids. They were like sirens that called me to certain doom on the shores of their boredom. To this day I bear the marks of deceit from my flirting with them and one of them with me. “I don’t want you in the house with them when the parents aren’t home.” My mom had said to me. So when I cut open my neck just below the collar line on a sharp corner of the duct work in their basement I had to play my own doctor instead of coming clean with my mom. For almost 30 years now I’ve seen this 4 inch long scar in the mirror and remember that the Shadow was right, crime does not pay.