The Suitcase – 6 (The Girl Next Door)

I thought the summer would last forever. It seemed like it anyway. I used to lie about, not doing anything productive, if you asked my mother that is, but hey that is what children usually do during summer vacation.

I had read all of the Hardy Boy Books from the local library. I had it down to an art, being able to read one book every 3½ hours! There just weren’t anymore, unless I wanted to re-read some of them. I decided to read other books, but detective novels were the best thing I could find. Like I said The Hardy Boys were out of the question, that is until Franklin W. Dixon decided to write more of them. There were other books to choose from, but I wasn’t much about saying their names, above a faint whisper….Nancy Drew! There, I’ve admitted it, but not to anyone outside of my room, and only to myself. She was almost as clever at the Hardy Boys, and there were almost as many novels to read. I found, I could read them just as fast, but that just made things bad again, when I had read all of  Carolyn Keene’s novels. I might even have read some of The Trixie Belden books, but again, I’d deny that to any-and everyone who asked!

I hadn’t seen much of my friend, the Girl Next Door, since our encounter in the woods. It did though have a calming effect on my mother, who seemed to think that “those” neighbors had most likely moved to another town, or had been arrested for unseemly behavior. I kept my mouth shut during her statements, not wanting to fuel the fire, whatsoever.

My Father was invisible once again, hurrying to the garage after work, as if selling insurance left some sort of bad taste in his mouth. I used to ask him about his job, but it wasn’t easy getting a straight answer from him. “You see, it’s like buying something to protect you from something else. Like an umbrella. It is raining, but instead of getting wet, you have an umbrella. The thing is that the umbrella doesn’t quite keep the rain away from hitting your shoes, so you need more protection” You see what I mean?” I guess, I didn’t look like I did, which made him think of another way of explaining it. “It’s like paying some fellows to protect you, like body guards, or something. These brave blokes, stop things from happening to you, but you need to pay them a decent wage, otherwise they will use all of their time watching TV and drinking beer. That means you need to get more protection, you see now?”

I’d read something like this with the Hardy Boys, but that involved illegal activity, the police, and someone getting themselves shot. “I did see”, and told him so, but I worried that one dark night some thug would break into our garage, and hit my father on the head with a blackjack, then speed away in their roadster! It would have been exciting if not for my mother’s comments at this point in time. “Jack, Stop scaring the boy!” You sell insurance, plain and simple. It’s not like you are bribing politicians, or selling Narcotics on the East Side of Town! Grow up and face the fact, that you are just a glorified pencil pusher, and nothing else!”

I understood more and more, why my father chose to hide in the garage. I would have hid there too, but someone had to spend time with mom, or else she’d hunt us down like dogs!

I was considering re-reading Nancy Drew when a hand appeared in the window across from my room. It looked like some sort of secret signal, or handshake, but there was after all just one hand visible. I cautiously opened my window and popped my head out. The drapes across from me suddenly opened, then closed, then opened again. I had read about something called Morse Code in school, but I wasn’t very good at understanding anything else than SOS. Suddenly the hand signals and curtains stopped moving, and a longish set of poles made their way sure as shooting in my direction.

I had been here before, but I didn’t like it, not like I had any choice in the matter. I grabbed the poles and waited for a new sign. Quietly but firmly a silent voice wafted across the distance between the two houses: “Now, You Ninny!” That was my cue, you see, and it was no good pretending that I didn’t hear it. I cautiously tested the waters, or the poles as it were and inched my way out on the contraption, toward the open window in front of me. It seemed to be going all right, when my mother’s voice was heard behind me. “What are you doing in your room? You are awfully quiet in there! You are not reading those National Geographic Magazines, are you?” I didn’t answer, hoping she would go away, just like I hoped that Sunday School would go away, if I coughed enough, and said I was sick.

“Oh Mom, do we have to go to Sunday School again?” That was a usual question for me to ask, hoping that we didn’t need to go there, on yet another Sunday. I don’t *cough-cough* feel so *cough-cough* hot today, Mom. Maybe I’d better stay home? I knew that while my church friends would be sweating it out in Sunday School, the TV would be showing Monster Movies on Channel 11, like they did every Sunday! “The Thing that Ate Milwaukee” or The Blob Brothers Take on Steve McQueen and his Motorcycle”. The Classics never got old! But mom wasn’t born yesterday, and she reminded me of that fact, every time I tried to stay home from Sunday School. “Do you think God ever took a day off?” Which I unfortunately replied, “He did, on Sunday, which by the way is today!” My mother was not amused. “That will be the first and last time that you Blaspheme the Lord our God with your lazy, heathen ways! Is it because of that Girl Next Door? Is she the one filling your head with such ideas? Sunday School is to learn about the Bible, and God and his Son!”

Funny how those things got to roll around in my head while facing a certain death, perched above the ground between our two houses. I waited with abated breath. Suddenly, I saw a hand come out of the window in front of me, and throw something up on my roof, causing it to roll down the other side ending with a resounding crash! “Jack” My Mother yelled suddenly. “Did you hear that noise? I swear it must be raining squirrels outside today! I don’t dare set my foot outside if those devilish vermin are scampering around trying to get into our house, our home.” And with that statement, she left her unfinished work of getting me out of my room, and proceeded downstairs to the garage to make my Father’s life less than happy, I was sure of it.

“Get inside you Ninny, before she comes back”, whispered a voice in front of me, then I found myself being grasped by two hands dragging me into the house, before I could get a word in edgewise.

There I stood once again in the bedroom of the Girl next door. The girl who had followed me and Dad on our camping trip to the local forest. The girl who made me go into a dark hole to fetch an old suitcase. The girl who had kissed me and called me her hero. The girl, who…

“Just what is your problem, Poindexter? I think that you daydream way too much. What in the world were you thinking about?” ” I, Uh, I was just….Should I tell her, what I was thinking about? About how I felt about her, about how I wanted to hold her hand and say….About how I –

“Look here you Ninny. I just asked you a question, but you just go and drift off to dreamland again. Sheesh. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that you were in love, or something. Well? Do I know who that unfortunate Girl is? What? No? Well, I pity her already!”

My mom would have said that the cat had gotten my tongue, which it did!

“Look here you”. She pushed me off the bed and proceeded to look in her closet for something or other, throwing shoe trees, hangers and the odd whatnot out in the process. She finally lugged out a large box of sorts, which actually was the suitcase that I helped to drag out into the opening deep in the forest. “Look closely what I’ve discovered”. We both bent over the darkened suitcase at the same time, coming rather close to each other in the process. “You see?” I squinted as I brushed away some of the dirt on the front of the suitcase. There were some letters, pressed into the suitcase, just beneath the handle.

“What do you think it says?” she said in a low voice, with her hair brushing against my face. I looked again, trying not to think about her being so close to me, and what I wanted to say at that moment. “It looks like DBC”. Her face turned towards mine and she kissed me suddenly, without warning. “Exactly, my dear! Clever Boy!” There, it happened again.I didn’t have time to prepare for that most precious of all moments, before it was over once again. If it were like the last time then the next thing, she’d say was….”Come on you Ninny! We haven’t all day” pushing the suitcase back into the closet, slamming the doors behind me. ”

“Upsy-daisy!” And with that statement, I found myself out on those poles once again, crawling for my life toward my home sweet home. Finally reaching safety, the poles promptly disappeared through the opening with the window being closed with a resounding crash!

“Are you still hiding in there from your loving Mother?” said a voice outside my bedroom door.

“Aw Mom, I guess I just fell asleep reading a Hardy Boy Book. That’s all!”

“Honestly, kids today!” “Jack, Jack, where are you now? Let me tell you about our lazybones son! My heavens. Sleeping in the middle of the day. I think he needs to go out and cut the lawn or something. Idle Hands are the Devil’s Workshop is something that I’ve always said, and this is the same as……..”

DBC? What was that all about? I hope she tells me soon, otherwise I might just go out of my mind thinking about her-, oops I mean the suitcase……..


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