A hot sun baked my neck when I ran up an alley of my neighborhood, stopping when I saw a couple of my friends in Crazy Frazy’s backyard. Both Carol and Teddy were in the second grade at Arlington Elementary School, but today they were in a backyard we shouldn’t go in.
“Carol, Teddy,” I called over from the alley fence, but Teddy walked down the three steps into Crazy Frazy’s basement, “what’re you doing here?”
During the time she took to answer me – her slowness always made me mad – I noticed how quiet the house was – Crazy Frazy’s mom must not be home; otherwise she’d be on the back porch eating potato chips as always, and his dad, the original Crazy Frazy, must be drinking up the corner at North’s Tavern, as usual. Either way, when Carol finally said, “Making money for a coke,” I asked what I’d have to do to get in on it.
“Frazy is paying us to answers some questions for his seventh grade project,” Carol answered, glancing quickly over her shoulder to Crazy’s basement which did nothing to make me more relaxed.
Guessing there may be more to it, I shifted, getting ready to go to the Big Lot where the guys were probably getting a punch ball game going. However before I moved, a low moan came from inside the basement. I was ready to bolt, but Crazy Frazy, his white, frizzy hair sticky straight out from his pale head came out, came out of the basement, and put one arm around me, and opening the gate with the other said to Carol, “Bob, the original little smart-ass is here. Just let him go next.”
Kind of at the same time, Teddy came out the basement door, walking with all the weight on just one leg, and holding up a shiny coin. “Let me through to the Alley Store for my coke.”
My instincts told me to get out of there, but Crazy Frazy flashed another shiny coin at me as his beefy arm propelled me down into his basement. Next I stumbled into an inner room of many shelves, stuffed with rods and stuff, and a tiny half-window high on the outside wall, letting in a just a sliver of the summer sun.
“On the table,” Crazy Frazy said, shutting the cellar door, blocking my exit and raising my fears.
Popping up on the table, my mind raced from fear to thirst to curiosity and back in ever quicker cycles. Questions about my age, what games I played, did I run a lot, stuff like that were followed by questions about my health, what illnesses I’d had, what the doctors had done for me, what medicines had I taken, did I ever get injections, he asked it all.
Right when I thought it must be over, he ordered, “Get up and pull down your pants for your injection.”
Straight away, he pushed me so my stomach was against the wood table; I don’t even remember thinking, I just grabbed a curtain rod from the shelf beside me, turned, and smashed Crazy Frazy in the head with all my might. The blood was bright red against his frizzy hair; he staggered against the back wall. Using my chance, I grabbed the coin from the table, unbolted the door, and ran past Carol, yelling, “Run.”
Very few thoughts ran through my mind in the minute it took to run home – everything was crowded out by fear that Crazy Frazy was dead and that I would be next when his father came over to my house, to get me.
When I leaped up the porch steps and then into my house, I hid behind the sofa, grasping for breath, scared I’d killed the crazy boy, mad at myself for getting tricked, and unsure if I should have taken the coin I clutched in my sweaty palm.
X Rosarium, ten rosaries, would be the Latin minimum Father Flahaven would give me, since five Hail Marys was my sentence for wrestling at my first confession – that is, assuming I live to tell my second confession.
Yet later in the morning, when old man Crazy Frazy pounded on our door, ranting and raving his son, bloody bandage and all, at his side, my father made me to come out from behind the couch and explain myself.
Zero sense came out of my mouth when I stuck my head out, but when old man Crazy Frazy saw my little scrawny second grade self, he smacked his son on his bandaged head, calling him a stupid idiot who couldn’t do even win a fight with a pipsqueak.
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