Eric was our neighbor. He lived in a shack
of a tumbledown house out by the creek, and he fixed things. He had a big red beard,
a big yellow dog and a big smile full of brown teeth - and me
and my brother hated him, because he liked our mother.
At first it was just the occasional call. Then he began to come over every
Saturday. Late afternoon we'd hide in the treehouse and hear the rattle of his
pickup truck, his cheery whistle, and our mother's cheery voice telling him
hey. She'd be looking pretty and smelling good. We were jealous as all hell.
We dropped rotten apples in his boots, spilt drinks on him, asked him dumb
questions. We held spit competitions. We acted like mean weird scarey kids.
Once Lark came in wearing a dress of mom's to freak Eric out, but it didn't seem
to bug him, which made us mad. One day we could hear them talking and laughing
in the house and Lark flipped out. He ran to the pickup truck with me in tow, we
climbed in, and stole the truck
Our father had taught Lark to drive. He could go like a bat
out of hell on the straight but he wasn't too hot with reverse, and the porch
took a whacking as we backed out. At that point Mom rushed out, just in time to
see her 12-year-old son and his little sister rattling away at speed down the
dirt road through the orchard in her boy friend's pickup truck. She looked
scared, but we were having too much fun to stop.
ended a short way away in some fields. Lark had his foot on the gas, I had my
hands on the wheel and we hit a ditch and turned the truck sideways. We had some
cool bumps and bruises but we were okay, and so was the truck. We were kind of
Later, Eric and Lark drove the truck back together and they had a talk. He
wasn't mad at him. Lark would never tell me what he said, but after that we kind
of agreed that Eric was okay.