He had a crooked front tooth and a cowlick in his hair. Macho was his middle name and his stubbornness defined him like hot butter on a skillet…nothing…ever…could get between him and his feisty ways. His speedy red Schwinn with the banana seat was always ready to go at a moment’s notice and today it better not have a flat: trouble could be on the horizon and he’d be nowhere to be found. Maybe down at the ditch fishing for crawdads under the old rickety bridge made of wooden planks (his secret spot). Maybe with the dog and his slingshot 8 rows deep in the cornfield just off the dusty, rocky road pretend hunting for coons. No, sir. Trouble wouldn’t find him today. By suppertime, he’d return and sit down for beef stew and biscuits. The news would be on and the table full of stories. He hoped. If the chow-down was quiet, if he felt twelve other eyes throwing glances his way, he’d start planning his next escape (maybe to the secret treehouse?) after filling the pig troughs and stringing the hoses in the yard. It’d for sure blow over by bedtime-and the worst would be the burn of the paddle as his sisters and brother watched. Maybe-just maybe-that hushed conversation he witnessed Dad having with Mom by the kitchen sink wasn’t about how his brother saw him steal the Popular Mechanics magazine from the convenience store after school. Did his brother see?
Speaking of school, what a bore! He’d had enough of the bible and the strict rules of the parochial school for one day. The boys down the street wondered why the yellow bus never picked him up. They’d tease him every time they flew by on their bicycles en route to the nearest shady spot to shine their BB guns before shooting up pop cans on the fence down at the edge of ol’ Mr. Schmidt’s property. His jealousy burned inside as the tears made little streams through the dirt on his cheeks every time he let it get to him. One day, he’d fight them for their insults. One day, he’d have a BB gun. Heck, one day he’d be old enough to pass them by in his Dad’s F250 and shoot some spit out the window as they rode their bikes or hoofed it down the country road. Why he let them get to him, he’d never know. Those were plans for another day… but tonight, trouble was to be avoided—or was it? Was it all in his mind? Was his conscious getting to him since Sister Judith told the class to prepare for confession with Father Fox on Friday?
The dinner bell rings like a thousand church bells on Christmas day. The neighbors always know when his family is being summoned to the table. It must have been his younger brother ringing the bell tonight! He rolls up on his Schwinn, throws the kickstand down and runs inside to wash up. Walking as cool as a cat to the table, his eyes steal a glance towards his brother: he knows. He sits down at the table and the laughter erupts about the nasty customer on his sister’s paper route. He breathes a sigh of relief as his digs into the homemade stew. After this, he’d grab the magazine hidden under his bed and head out to the tree house to finish the evening.
Trouble wouldn’t find him today.