Friday, July 18, 2014

A Memory that Still Haunts



No one knew it was us.  Watching from our hidden perch, up in our tree house, my brother, Ronnie, and I, held our breaths.  Mean Mrs. Northrup walked to her mailbox.

The dump had caught on fire, that morning.  Ronnie and I had ridden  our bikes, to go watch the firemen put out the fire.  Much to our surprise, and Ronnie’s delight, snakes galore came slithering out.  We caught hundreds of them. Well, maybe not hundreds, but lots of them.  Ronnie draped twenty two snakes over a stick. 
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     We didn’t want to waste this natural treasure.  We thought of cooking them, but then what?  We rode around and showed all our friends.  But after a while, the snakes were kind of dead, and weren’t as good, anymore.  Before they all died, we had to put them to good use.
     Of course we had to scare someone.  But who?  Someone who deserved it.  Mrs. Northrup immediately came to mind.  She lived on the corner.  No one liked her because she was always yelling at everybody—even grownups.  She wouldn’t let us cross her property, even when late for the school bus.  She wouldn’t return our baseballs, when they landed in her yard.  She kept her lights off on Halloween, so no one would go trick or treating to her house.  She was the neighborhood witch.
     And there we were, belly-down in our tree house.  We had shoved all twenty two snakes in her mail box and then put its flag down.  We watched and waited. 
     Once in a while we’d giggle because our stomachs were jumping around with excitement.  We couldn’t stop smiling.  We wiggled and giggled. 
     We didn’t have long to wait.  Ronnie jabbed me and pointed.  Mean Mrs. Northrup walked to her mailbox. 

We stopped breathing. 

She opened the mail box and looked.  She jumped back and yelped.  Then she moved even farther away and clutched her heart.  She kept walking backwards while shaking her head, back and forth.  Eventually, she turned around and ran to the neighbor across the street. 

We could hear her sobbing.


I tried to remember which of us spoke first.  But it was too long ago.  I remember Ronnie had covered his ears, and hid his head.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of Mrs. Northrup.  I just sat there a very long time, staring...just staring.