All city kids are born knowing the rules of the game:
Go up to house door.
Determine who will ring bell.
Sit on porch stoop.
Run when person opens door.
Last person to leave porch is deemed winner.
As neighborhood lore has it –
We six kids crept forward, up the steps.
Once on the porch, I pushed little sister
towards the screen door and whispered
“Eleanor, you can do it.”
She shrugged, rang the bell then stood, nose to screen
As the rest of us sat on the wooden steps. Door opened.
Big Timmy, just released from the psycho ward, Butterscotch Palace
Grabbed Eleanor. The rest of us ran curbside and turned.
“This isn’t good, one kid muttered.
“No, this is bad,” I replied
For Big Timmy had among other things
once poured a bucket of pink paint over his mother’s head
and once tossed a lawnmower at a police car window.
He also was said to toss a Volkswagen onto a garage roof
But this was never verified.
This was all before he began eating potato chips and smelt for dinner
and washing it all down with vodka.
Big Timmy, now potato shaped, had my sister by the shoulders.
Her small. Him big. Could hurt her.
“My sister!” I yelled.
Big Timmy, startled, released his grip. Eleanor pulled away jumped all five steps
Landing, as always, on her feet and running hard over to the rest of us.
Timmy, enraged, shook meaty fist and roared like a lion
or so neighborhood lore has it.
Little sister, surrounded by friends rubbed shoulder, now red, later bruised.
Amid pats on the back, she says “I’m badass, right?”
“Truly badass,” I say, choking back tears.