Looking up I saw him. The big boy was standing right there in the middle of the alley, coming towards me. Oh, I knew this boy all right. He had a twin brother, too. They lived on the corner of our block. Our own house was on the opposite corner so if I was going to ride my tricycle around the block. I would have to pass his house as I rounded the corner on my way down that fourth sidewalk, heading for home. I tried not to ride on the sidewalk if I knew that the high school kids were already home. If not, though, I enjoyed riding my trike around the block as many times as I could before Mom called us to come inside for lunch or supper. Sometimes I forgot the time, though, and had to try to get away from this teenage bully. He would chase me and, usually, he caught me. He growled and sometimes he hit me but, mostly, he was just enjoying his power over me. I hated him because he frightened me so often and so completely. Yes, I had told my parents and they had spoken to his parents but, after all, isn't that just what big boys did to little kids? Harmless, isn't it? Okay, so I just needed to toughen up or stay away until I did.
Thus, I had taken to walking down the alley behind the houses instead of along the sidewalk in front of them. It was too rough to try to ride my trike on that ground but, sometimes, I could find a cool rock as I jumped, skipped, hopped on one foot, or just plain walked so it wasn't all bad, really. I had never seen the boys in the alley before this encounter. Somehow he looked a lot bigger standing there, grinning at me, as I looked up at him. Maybe he looked twice as big today because we were in the alley, behind the houses and not right out in front where anyone could see what he did. Maybe it was because it was darker in the alley than on the sidewalks in front of the houses. Whatever the reason, he looked like a menacing giant to me! I think I must have been about six years old because I was wearing blue jeans. I was six when I got my first ever pair of blue jeans, real blue jeans with a front zipper and front plus back pockets.
"Hey, don't look so scared. I'm not going to hurt you." To which I said absolutely nothing. "In fact, I just wanted to show you something. I thought you might like to see, too," he said with his grin broadening to a huge smile. He held his arms out, palms toward me, in a gesture of surrender. "Really, I don't want to hurt you."
Still, I said nothing but I did begin to relax as he didn't growl or run towards me or anything as he had in the past. Maybe he did have something he wanted to show me and that was all.
The tall boy was right in front of me now and I began to slowly move forward to see if he would move out of my way or grab me. I knew I could not outrun him so no point in trying to turn tail and run. He did not hinder my forward movement but turned around to walk alongside me, matching my slow, short strides. He walked next to me but did not touch me. He continued speaking to me in a soothing, friendly tone.
"Guess what we have in our garage? You will never guess."
"A new car?" I asked, tentatively, but kept inching my way forward.
"Nope, that isn't it. Guess again." was his cheerful reply.
"A new truck or, maybe, a new lawnmower?" I had stopped walking to think of some other possibility.
"Nope but that is a good guess," he encouraged me. What was up with that, I wondered. This boy had never said anything nice to me or tried to make me feel good about anything I said to him before this. He always made fun of us and told us how dumb we were. Maybe he was changing and did like little kids after all? Maybe his dad said he had to be nice to us or he would get a spanking? Whatever it was, I liked it a lot better than his angry scowl and mean slaps on our legs or backs.
"Do you give up? You will really like it and I don't think you would ever think of it," he said with a happy face and arm gestures that were friendly and not threatening at all.
"Okay," I said. "What is it? I give up." We had stopped moving right in front of the back door to the family's large double car garage.
"It's right in here," he said, pointing to the garage. "Want to come in and see?"
"What is it? I don't think I should be going in your garage," I answered with genuine curiosity, laced with more than a bit of fear.
"Puppies. We have new puppies," he pronounced gleefully. My eyes sprang wide open with this joyful news.
"Puppies! You have puppies in there!" I exclaimed more than questioned.
"Yup, three tiny little puppies. They were not born very long ago. Want to see?" I did, of course, want to see but still felt a bit anxious about going inside the garage with the big boy who had harassed us for so long.
"Well, why don't you bring them out here? They are probably in a box with a blanket to keep them warm. You could just bring them out here and I could see them."
"No, I am not supposed to do that because the light will hurt their eyes. They were just born and their eyes are not yet open. I would get in trouble if I brought them out in the light," was his logical response to the little girl who was so obviously getting more eager to see the puppies with each passing minute we spent by the closed garage door.
"Well, maybe I could just take a peek," I suggested, moving right up to the door and letting him turn the handle.
"Yes, that's great. You will see them even in the darkness of the garage. I will even let you hold one of them if you promise not to tell anyone." I promised. The door squeaked just a tiny bit when it opened and I crossed the threshold into the dark garage.
**** Scene 2: The Garage Coming Tomorrow