(How does a bully see the world?)
“Judy,” my little sister calls to me from across the basement. “Momma wants to know. Do you want a sandwich?”
I jump back from the basement window, which I’d been watching the backyard. “Clara, don’t sneak up on me.” I soften my tone and bite off the end of a red licorice stick. “See. Tell Momma I’m not hungry.” I wag my finger at her, “And nothing else.”
“Okay. I won’t, Judy” Clara promises. She waited on the step until finally she asks. “If you tell me, what’s you doing?”
I take a deep breath. Would my six year old sister understand? I make it simple. “I want to see who’s throwing rocks at Tippy. When I catch them, I’ll make them so sorry. They’ll never do it again. Now get out.”
When she goes, I return to the window. All the yards are fenced, but ours is best. It’s like the wall of castle. Tall, thick, woody hedges, at least six feet tall, cover all the alley side. In the center, an iron trellis holds a double high gate. That’s how we go out our backyard. People come to the store all day long, right by my yard and somebody’s been stoning my dog. I’m going to get them.
We’ve been in this house since I was 5, three years. Lately Tippy’s been running down and jumping high and hard against the metal gate every time somebody walks by. I want the noise of barking and gate screeching under the force of Tippy’s weight to stop.
Oh, that little sissy boy walks slowly in the alley. He’s so polite in the store. I know he’s faking it and him only five. How’d he learn how to fake so young?
Tippy runs down from his doghouse and leaps high against the fence. The metal frame rattles and shakes, but it holds as always.
The little boy pulls his arm back, to throw something. I latch the cellar door and run out slanted door that makes up the little indoor-outdoor area where Mom keeps her yard buckets.
“Tippy,” I call and slap my leg. My good dog turns and runs to me. I put him in his doghouse, close the door, and slide the bar down so he can’t get out.
“Little boy,” I say to the boy who’s looking around my yard through the gate, “you have rocks in your hand.”
He shakes his head. “No, I don’t.” He drops something behind the hedges.
The boy looks like he’s going to run away, to the alley store, so I say “Don’t be scared. Tippy can’t get out.”
The boy stops, his eyes open wide.
Fool. “I have some candy in the basement. Would you like some?”
He turns again, toward the store.
I open the gate. “What’s your name?” I ask again. “Mine’s Judy.”
“Ch…hhe..ett,” the little sissy boy says, lips quivering.
“Come on in, Chet. Let’s be friends.” I show him the red licorice.
He reaches for it. I retreat and make him enter to take it. “I’ve got really good stuff inside.” He follows me into the alcove before the basement.
As soon as he’s in, I slam the slanted door shut behind him. “I saw you throw rocks at my dog.”
“Not me.” He shakes his head. “I just tried to shoo him away.”
But I know what I saw. I tell him I saw him drop a rock behind my hedge. He lies, claiming it was a shopping list. He sobs, begging me to let him out.
I hate his weakness. I shut and bolt the inner door behind him. We’re in a little closed area for rakes and stuff.
I let myself out, back into the yard. He presses his face against the window grill. I let Tippy out. Tippy yelps and lunges against the outside door. Little Chet starts whimpering.
Momma sticks her head out the back door. “Judy, did I hear crying? What’s going on?”
I kick the doghouse. It rattles loudly. “No, Momma.” I point to the gate and yell, “People in the alley.” Like the trusty guard dog he is, Tippy rushes to the gate, bounding against it with his full weight, bearing his long teeth.
Two kids in the alley scream and run down the alley as fast as their legs will take them.
Momma shakes her head and returns into the kitchen. That little wimp,
Chet is still crying.
Carefully, I slip into the little room between the outside and the cellar. Chet tries to see through the crack between the slanted door and its post into the backyard. It keeps him quiet, so I let him.
Finally he stops crying. I’m relieved until Chet yells, “Let me out.” A little curly-headed girl is walking on the far side of the alley away from our gate on her way to the store. I’ve seen her before. It’s the little wimp’s sister. Tippy runs up to the gate to greet her in his doggy way.
Normally she runs away, but today she stops. “Chet, is that you?” I put my hand over his mouth. He bites my palm. She inches closer to the gate, trying to see beyond Tippy’s leaping body.
I pull the little biter away from the crack. “Go away, Raggedy Annie, or I’ll let Tippy give you a kiss with his wet lips.”
She turns and runs. Not to the alley store, but the other way, back towards the way she had come.
When Chet’s father came to our front door and says to Momma that his son was in her basement, she denies it. But he insists and finally Momma, says she’ll go down and see. That’s how I got caught. That little red-headed snitch.
Momma locks Tippy in his house and sends me to my room. She says she deal with me later.
Out my second story window, I watch his father lead the little wimp out the cellar, past the doghouse. Chet pounds the roof with his hand. My faithful dog barks and jumps against the doghouse door.
Chet gets a good loud smack on the rump from his father. “After your experience haven’t you learned anything? Leave innocent things alone.”
Dog photo. By U.S. Air Force Photo by Josh Plueger – http://www.offutt.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/070417-F-7797P-001.JPG