Wow. Mom can sure yell. I heard it, even though I had my music turned up rather loud. Loud for me that is.

Mom hit the roof. It’s lucky that our house had two stories, otherwise I’d hate to think about the poor birds in the area. “Jack!” she yelled. “Jack, where are you?” My Dad was probably fixing something in the garage, or something like that. He seemed to fix a lot of things lately. Nothing ever seemed to be broken for very long, before he scheduled time for himself, in the garage to get things back to normal.

Mom couldn’t seem to find anyone to complain to. I guess, that made me the logical choice. “Have you seen, what has happened to the Oak Tree??”. “Some hooligan has pounded nails into the tree trunk, not just once, but many times – all the way up to the top!!”

I tried to look concerned, as she led me outside to show me the damage.”How could anyone hurt a living thing like that?” I tried to agree by shaking my head. First back and forth, until I figured that was the wrong way, then up and down in agreement with her. “Do you know anything about this young man?” I tried to look as astonished and innocent as possible, as I approached the tree with amazement, and disgust on my facial expression. “No Mom, of course not. ” Then I added for good measure, “Maybe it was a Canadian, or something?”.

Mom just looked at me, like I had fallen off the apple cart, or something. “Why would Canadians do something like that?”she replied with an exasperated look on her face.

“Maybe they thought it was a Maple Tree, or something?” “You know, they put nails in the bark to get the Maple Syrup out.” I tried to look as if that was the most plausible answer to be had, and waited for her to agree with me. “Oak Trees don’t give Maple Syrup, young man. Oak Trees give….well, they give…. they give acorns! Acorns, and not Maple Syrup! My Lord, what do they teach children in school these days!?”.

I don’t know if my Father was going to come out of the Fix it workshop and agree with my Mother, but I guess, we would have died waiting for that, or Heck to freeze over, which might just as well come first. “Jack, Jack where are you right now?”

It was times like these, that made me wonder why my Parents had gotten married in the first place? I mean, just what did they see in each other? Mom would probably have said that it was Love at First Sight, but my Father may or may not have agreed with her. Not in her presence anyway. He would have liked to tell her, what he really meant about the whole thing, but then there were things to be fixed, and there is nothing like doing things today, instead of putting them off until tomorrow!

Mom just threw her hands in the air and stomped into the house once again. I listened for a few minutes, making sure I didn’t have to accompany her, so I decided to look next door and see what my friend was doing. Mom would’ve said that That Person is No True Friend, but I thought of her as a friend, no matter what anyone else said.

We seemed to be on the same wavelength, her and I. I used to listen to the AM-Radio at night, trying to see how many faraway radio stations could be heard while I squinted my ears to hear them. Some of them were as clear as a bell, but they were just probably broadcasting from Mexico with 1 million Watts of power, something that wasn’t allowed in our Country. Clear as a bell. That’s how I thought of my friend! We thought the same way, or mostly anyway, or perhaps because she helped me to think the same way that she did. It all seemed perfectly natural to me, but Mom just looked wryly at me, if I happened to mention her name aloud.

“It seems you’ve been spending a lot of time with That Girl!” She always called her That Girl, as if that helped to make her out to be the troublemaker, that Mom thought she was. “That Girl is always getting ideas, and that is not good for impressionable minds like yours.”

I tried to nod, when she told me things that I should be concerned about, but I really didn’t believe it in my heart. I kept nodding the wrong way, wondering if she had caught me doing so, but by that time she was off to another room in the house, chancing to look out of one of the windows, hoping to catch my friend in some sort of scandalous act.

I tried to keep out of sight of her wary gaze, as I inched my way over next door. I didn’t see any signs of life, but I had been fooled before into thinking like that. I slyly mounted the steps of the front porch and tapped gently on the front door screen. I couldn’t see the point in having a screen door, as most of the wire mesh seemed to be missing. If my Father had seen it, he would have carted it off to his workshop and proceeded to flay the damaged wire off, getting it ready for a new and improved look, both in Art and Functionality! Alas, he wouldn’t dare show his face around my friend’s house, lest Mom saw him and yelled bloody murder, ordering him back to our hallowed ground, away from Those Neighbors!

Mom seemed to thinkt that the neigborhood was being infested with Foreigners. “Zambians or Tierra Del Fuegens, that sort of Rif-Raf won’t be tolerated around here”, she said. She even considered changing from drinking Coffee to Tea. “Everytime I buy Coffee, it tastes like Burned Zimbabwe. I hate that taste. I think it’s some sort of Foreign Conspiracy, The Burned Zimbabwe Conspiracy, or something like that”

I waited for a bit, then tapped once again, wondering if I should have tapped some sort of signal in Morse Code, then waiting for a return reply telling me that the Coast was Clear, or that There were Darker Deeds Afoot!

In the background I thought I heard footsteps. First far away, then closer and closer.

The door was opened just enough for someone to peak out. “Oh, it’s you! Get in here quick-like, before anyone sees you.” I didn’t need to hear that more than once, and squeezed my not-so-thinnish body through the crack-like opening. We hurried past the livingroom furniture. “Uh, why is the furniture covered with white sheets?” She just looked at me, like I was some sort of an unknowing boob. “Those are furniture protectors, they help the furniture retain the look of being new!” I felt that one of her parents had taught her what to say, in the event of that question ever being asked. The drapes were dark and velvety, hardly allowing any light whatsoever into the room. “Uh, rather dark in here, isn’t it?”.

She shot me a “Be quiet” look and motioned me up the stairs towards her room I admit to never having been inside her house before, and it just filled me with more questions as we went. “In here”. She waved me into her room, which was lacking just as much light as the livingroom. “Uh, Kind of dark. Aint it?”

“I like the dark”, was her reply. “I prefer the darkness to the light. It helps me think.” I tried to peek out of her drapes, and was surprised to see my own bedroom, in the blazing sunlight just across the way. “Close enough to spit”, as they say. “Close those drapes, you fool. Do you want someone to see you?”

Then she turned to me and said, “I have a surprise for you”. I waited until the other shoe fell, waiting as patiently as possible, crossing and uncrossing my knees nervously as we sat upon her bed. “Have you ever been kissed before?”

That came from Left Field. I never saw that one coming, but if I had, I would have caught the ball, and won the game to the din of the roaring crowds.

I thought to myself, before I answered. There was my Grandmother, of course. She came to visit us once or twice a year, smelling of mothballs and stale perfume. “Come here and give your Grandmother a great, big kiss”. My mother always expected that of me, and I dreaded the moment. I wish, I had someting to repair like my Father, having to excuse myself and rush away to the garage to do God knows what with my tools?

The dog ran away in fear of my old smelling Grandmother. He did a good impression of hiding under my bed, hardly allowing me room to do the same. “Where have you gotten to?” said my Mother with a hint of anger in her voice. “What in heavens name are you doing under there?”

I tried to explain how the dog had been chasing his ball, and I had to help him find it under the bed and all. There was unfortunately no escape from my Grandmother’s loving kisses. I thought of taking a shower immediately afterwards to ward off the bad spirits that had clung onto my body after that harsh encounter. She did kiss me, after all, but did I really want to admit that to my friend. Her with the long hair, and soft skin, sitting next to me on her bed, asking about being kissed?

“No, not really. Not at all, I’m afraid”. And with that I mustered all of my courage, and closed my eyes, and puckered my lips. Then I waited……..