Even before I open my eyes I know it’s going to be a good day. It is the first day of summer vacation. No school, no teachers no homework for the next nine superb weeks. I stretch out in my bed; I think my bed is starting to feel smaller.
My whole body feels weird, I feel like my skin is too tight around my insides. I feel like those inflatable guys you see outside of stores, those sky dancers. I want to wave my arms around in the wind – YES! I take a look out into the hallway, score! No one’s in the bathroom now’s my chance.
Something is definitely different today. I lean closer to the mirror to examine my 8th grade face; it doesn’t look any different from my 7th grade face. But, inside, I can tell that things are changing. A slam on the door reminds me that to my chagrin, I am not an only child. “Leave me alone, creep I’ll be out when I’m out you mutant!” What a jerk, I better get out of here, last time he got mad at me he took all my shoes into his malodorous and fetid room. Some things will never change!
A quick check of my room reveals no obvious sneak attacks by the mutation. But I better make sure; I shove my hand under the mattress. Where is it? If he touched it so help me…OK, got it, my notebook. I cleverly disguised a spiral notepad with a label that says “My Favorite Recipes”. Today will be a good day to work on my novel. My title (for now) is, “Mutants Walk Among Us”. Some of the other names I came up with are, “Malevolence is My Brother” or maybe, “The Foul Breath I Breathe” – not sure. I better take the old Merriam Webster along for reference.
Grabbing my favorite breakfast repast, I decide to sit on our front stoop. I like our stoop. I can see our whole street from here. The concrete is still cool even though the sun is already hot; it stays cool most of the day, our house is on the shady side of the street.
The construction guys are already at their appointed labors, hammering and banging away; most of them have their shirts off. I’m glad they can’t see me down here; they stare at me when I walk down that way. I don’t like it. I know mom and dad are not happy about all these condos. I’m not sure why. It sounds like a good idea to me; maybe some kids my age will finally move into this neighborhood.
Ol’ Mrs. Pauley across the street has no kids; she’s over there all-alone. Her kids, 6 sons, all moved away, I only remember the youngest one. He used to roar around in his cool ‘vette, once he tossed a lit cigarette at me, mutant. She used to creep me out until me and mom went over one day to bring some food. Ol’ Mr. Pauley died; talk about creepy. I was looking in the front door while the ambulance guys were working on him, Mrs. Pauley was holding his hand. He was just slumped over in a big brown chair; his mouth was open and he was just kind of staring. That was the first time I ever saw a dead person – ugh! I don’t know why we had to bring food cause he was dead but Mom said it was the “right thing to do”.
Turned out that Ol’ Mrs. Pauley’s house was really nice inside. She had these little white things on every chair and table. (Expect for the big brown chair Mr. Pauley died in, that was gone.) She called them doyillees; I had to look it up (Dad always says, “Go ask Merriam”, he thinks that’s so funny!). Its really spelled doily (from 17th Century English). Ol’ Mrs. Pauley made all of them herself. I don’t what they are for but I could tell she liked them since they were all over the place. When she saw me looking at them – she gave me one to take home! I keep in on the table with my lamp on it; I think it looks nice, kind of old-fashioned; I like old-fashioned stuff.
Her house smelled like an old person, not malodorous like the mutants, just old, like dust and oatmeal and old flowers. She wanted us to come in the kitchen for tea (which I despise by the way). Then I knew why Mom said we had to bring food. There was nothing in her fridge except for an old lemon, a little thing of milk and a box of that stuff Mom keeps in our fridge so it doesn’t smell – that’s it!! No plates with leftovers, no eggs, no soda – nothing! I peeked in the cabinet when she got the tea bags and there was not much in there either! She had one box of breakfast cereal that looked about 100 years old, a box of tea bags and some sugar, that’s all I saw.
Now sometimes when I see Ol’ Mrs. Pauley she always waves at me; she doesn’t creep me out any more. I know Mom goes over there sometimes to “Check up on that poor dear lady”, she says. But, I don’t see Ol’ Mrs. Pauley too much; she hardly ever comes out. It’s like she in hibernation.
A black ‘n’ tan is coming down the street. He’s going pretty slow, too. I’m just sitting here but seeing a cop car roll down my street makes my stomach feel jittery, they never come down here unless something’s wrong. When he stops right in front of Ol’ Mrs. Pauley’s I know there’s a problem. A big black Escalade rolls up right next to the black ‘n’tan – who’s this guy? Nobody’s in there but old lady Pauley, she don’t bother nobody. I’m not sure what’s going on but I have a bad feeling; I better get my mom.
Looks like some drama on Highland Avenue (I gotta remember to write that down, it might make another good book title). I can tell my Mom is upset when she starts running her hands through her hair and rubbing her forehead. When we get across the street we find out that Escalade guy is the landlord. That repulsive tub of guts is here to throw Ol’ Mrs. Pauley out of her house! This is so not fair, she’s an old lady; where is she supposed to live! Mom grabs my shoulder and hangs on; she knows I want to start yelling at Fatty Escalade, squeezing my shoulder is her (not so) gentle way of saying, “Be Quiet.”
Mr. Hideous is yelling, “Officer, do your duty! I have the law on my side! I sent several warning notices!” He needs to stop waving his papers around and just shut up! The cop is trying to help Ol’ Mrs. Pauley pack some stuff, Ol’ Mrs. Pauley is cryin’, Mom is cryin’ and rubbing her forehead; this is a big mess over here! This is the saddest thing I have ever seen except for the time when that old stray cat got hit by a car down the street – that was pretty sad. It kept trying to get up but its back legs were paralyzed. Dad took it to the vet but the cat died he told me. I didn’t know what to do for that poor cat and I don’t know what to do to help Ol’ Mrs. Pauley. I look at Mom, she’s just standing there, not saying a word; I think she should do something, anything. So I just stand there too, feeling useless.
Finally, finally, one of Ol’ Lady Pauley’s sons shows up. Seriously, what took him so long? I want to scream in his flabby face, “Where were you, you egocentric idiot out buying cigarettes? Didn’t you know your mom needed help? She needed groceries!” But Mom starts squeezing my shoulder even harder with her fingers like talons. Ol’ Lady Pauley has SIX sons! Only one of them can get here to help his mom? Are all sons and brothers useless mutant creeps? He loads some of Mrs. Pauley’s stuff into his big brand new fancy Lincoln. She was cryin’ the whole time, walking around, touching everything in the house, just kind of patting it, like you pet a dog. Even the cop looked like he was ready to start bawling it was so sad.
At dinner I told Dad everything that happened over there. He just kept shakin’ his head. I could tell Mom was still pretty upset because she would sniffle and do the hair and forehead routine every couple minutes. One thing about my Dad, he always knows what to say. But for once, he didn’t. All he could say was, “Shameful, how sad.”
Now that I’m an eighth grader I know more things about life. Today I learned some things about people I wish I didn’t need to learn. I learned that life isn’t always fair. Bad things happen to good people. And even the people who are supposed to love you can let you down…