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Tippy by Robert Hamill

“Judy." My little sister calls across the basement. "Judy, Momma wants you to come up for lunch.”

I jump back from the basement window, where I'd been waiting. “Clara, don’t sneak up on me.” I bite off the end of a red licorice stick. “Tell Momma I’m not hungry." I wag my finger at her, "And nothing else.”

“Oh, I won’t, Judy” Clara promises. She waits on the cellar step. Finally she asks. “Tell me, what’s you doing at the window?”

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 sorry. Now go. Tell Momma I'm not hungry.”

With her gone, I turn back to the window, watching the approach to the Alley Store. 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. Lately Tippy’s been running down and jumping high against the tall gate every time somebody walks by. We’ve got thick hedges, taller than anybody on both sides of the gate and a wire fence too. A nice secure backyard, but at the back gate he's wild.

Oh, here comes that little sissy boy. He’s so polite in the store. I know he’s faking it and him smaller than Clara. How’d he learn how to fake so young?

Tippy runs down from his doghouse and leaps high against the wire mesh. It rattles and shakes, but it holds, as always.

When the little boy pulls his arm back, I run out the cellar door towards the gate. “Tippy,” I call and slap my leg.

My good dog turns and runs back to me. I put him in his doghouse, close the door, and slide the bar down so he can’t get out.

“Little boy, what do you have in your hand? You were going to throw something at my dog, weren't you?”

His right hand disappears behind the hedges. "No. He scares me."

The boy looks like he’s going to run to the alley store. “If you didn't do nothing, there's nothing to be scared of. Tippy can’t get out of his doghouse.”

He nods his head stupidly, his mouth and eyes wide open.

Fool. I unlock the gate and swing it open. I wave my red licorice in front of him. “Would you like some?” I ask again. “What’s your name? Mine's Judy.”

“Bo…boo..booobby,” the little sissy boy says, lips quivering.

“Boobie, come on in. Let’s be friends. Have some licorice.”

He shakes his head. "Bobby. My name's Bobby." He reaches for the red stick.

I move back and make him enter my yard to take it. “I’ve got even better candy inside.” I turn and walk to the basement door.

He follows me in.

As soon as he's inside the door, I slam it shut behind him. “I saw you throw rocks at my dog.”

“No.” 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 nothing. He sobs, begging me to let him out.

I hate his weakness. I shut and lock the other door between the outside door and the rest of the basement. He can think of his crimes there.

I let myself back into the yard. Little Boobie presses his face against the window grill. I let Tippy out. Tippy yelps and lunges against the outside door. He cries out and jumps back.

Momma sticks her head out the back door. “Judy, did I hear crying? What’s going on?”

I kick the fence. “No, Momma." I point to the gate. "People in the alley.” Tippy, my trusty guard dog, rushes forward, leaping against it with his full weight, bearing his long, sharp teeth.

Two kids, eating yellow sugar dots they just bought at the Alley Store, scream and run away as fast as their legs will take them.

Momma goes back into the kitchen.

That little wimp is back at the window, tears in his eyes. After a while, he finally stops crying. I'm relieved until he yells, "Let me out."

I turn to the alley. A little red-headed girl is walking on the far side of the alley on her way to the store. Tippy runs up to the gate to greet her in his doggy way.

Boobie yells again. "Get me out, sister."

She peers into my yard, trying to see past Tippy who's bravely leaping and barking, protecting our yard. She inches closer to the gate, moving her head from side to side.

“Go away, Raggedy Ann,” I yell, trying to block her view of the basement door's window.

She turns and runs, but not to the alley store, but the other way. Back the way she had come.

When Bobby’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 puts Tippy in his house, then 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 by the doghouse, where hateful, little Boobie raises his hand to pound the roof of Tippy's house.

His father grabs him by the back of his shirt and hurries him along. "Don't, Bobby! Haven't you learned anything? Leave the innocent alone!"