I sit here on my porch at least a couple of hours a day. My mom won’t buy an Xbox or PlayStation. She tells me it’ll rot my brain. She keeps telling me that if I want to be a writer I have to be able to capture life. So I watch people come and go, laugh and cry, kiss and fight. My friends, what few of them I have, call me a peeping Fred. I tell them when I get published I’ll mention them in my forward as the chumps who played Xbox and PlayStation instead of learning about life. I still would rather play, but I want to be able to sit for a week, so I listen to mom.
She is right you know, my mom. I think most of the time my neighbors should be on TV they can be so entertaining. Not many of us have cars, so there is always people outside. Of course that could be the cockroach problem as well, but hey, my sister wants to be an entomologist, so she is getting job training as well.
Old John Marley comes wandering down the street and I know things are about to get good. He owns most of the block, but you would never know it. The only time he visits his little slum is when it’s time to put someone to the curb. My mom was barely able to keep us in our place last time he came calling. She had been a little short on money since her habit kicked in. Don’t ask, she says she is over it. She took him inside and kicked me out of the house. By the time the cops got there Marley had said they had settled the differences. He took a bit of hell from the cops, but Marley had left happy, and my mom didn’t seem too bad off afterward. She told me she gave up her habit to get rid of him. I don’t know any better, after all I’m only twelve.
So old John Marley stops across the street, right in front of Mrs. Pauley’s house. She is the resident crazy lady minus the cats. She had lived there for like forever, at least forty years. She had like six kids, all boys who used to try to hang with my mom. She told me they had a bit of the crazy like their mom. Mr. Pauley used to keep her mostly in line, but he passed away about three months ago. I had to go to the calling hours dressed in a tie. I think ties were created by the devil. Put on something for church or a funeral that you can get killed with easy if someone wanted to. I mean, come on people.
After Mr. Pauley’s death, Mrs. Pauley pretty much lost reality. She would come out on her steps and yell to me how one day she was just going to make this whole place disappear. She would tell me in her loud six-pack a day voice that no one gave a damn about her anymore, so she might as well disappear. She was going to show us all a trick or two then.
I would laugh at her and ask her if she had a habit too. Mrs. Pauley would wave her finger at me and tell me just wait, one day I’ll give you something to write about. I stopped laughing at that. I didn’t tell anyone that I wanted to be a writer. I mean, I would get harassed even more than I did now. Then I figured my mom must have told her as she walked the street. But still. Mrs. Pauley would then wink at me and pick up an ‘elixir’ that smelled of cheap beer my friends tried to make me drink, but even stinker.
Marley waves at me. I could see him look past me to see if my mom was home. I just keep on my blank stare since that keeps me out of the most trouble. I just hope he doesn’t try to talk to me. Especially if he wants to ask me about my mom, that still creeps me out. He opens his mouth as if to help the devil answer my fear when God sends a police car to save me from sinning more than I usually do. I will have to remember to say a prayer someday about that.
Before the police even get out of their car, the front door opens up and Mrs. Pauley is right there, dressed to the nines with a suitcase next to her. I am surprised at how good she looks, without the crazy in her eyes.
“Good morning, John,” says Mrs. Pauley. “I see you are prompt today. I just need one more minute and you can have everything that sits on this piece of land.” With that she waved at me. “Remember how I said I would disappear. You just watch.”
I can’t help myself. “You said no one gave a damn about you,” I say. I point at Marley. “He seems to care about you right now.”
Marley gives me a death stare, but Mrs. Pauley lights up like those Christmas trees I see in some people’s windows. “Oh, just wait. Everyone will be talking about me when I am gone. I promise you that one.” With that she turns and walks back into the house, closing the door.
As the police got out of the car the wind begins to rise up, stronger and stronger. The sky gets dark and the rumble of thunder seems to surround everything. I put my hands to my ears, trying to keep some hearing. Marley tries to say something to the cops, but one of the cop’s hat flies off and he goes after it down the street. The other guy has both hands on his hat and keeps shaking his head no to every hand gesture Marley is using. Suddenly I swear a tornado pounds down, surrounding Mrs. Pauley’s house. I swear to God it just drops out of the sky and stands there. The train sound is so loud I am sure someone has punched my ticket and I’m about to go on a one way trip. The cop who still has his hat ducks behind the cop car, and Marley is just flat on the ground making good with his savior just in case, you know.
I am just about to do the same as Marley when the tornado just rises straight up and bam, nothing is there except spurting water from where the house had been still attached to the water lines. Good thing she had them turn her gas off a week before. Marley lifts his head and says so many swear words I think he was trying for a world record, or at least score himself a rap deal. The cop who had lost his hat comes back and assumes the “what the hell just happened here” pose, while the cop who had ducked behind the car looks like he needs to change his pants. I take a mental picture and just began to laugh.
I hate living here, but the stories I will be able to write.