When I read To Kill A Mocking Bird
in elementary school, I knew exactly what Boo Radley
looked like. You could have asked any kid in my neighborhood
and we’d all tell you the same thing, because as far as we were concerned we had our own Boo
right over on Claremont Street.
Our Boo’s face was smooth where his right eye should have been and he had a big knot where his left ear should have been. At least, that’s what we had heard, ‘cause really, none of us had really ever seen him. One of the older boys had though and he had told us. And then there was that one time when Jimmy Maloney had climbed all the way to the top of The Magnolia
and said he could see him fussing around in his backyard
. Jimmy got so excited that he lost his grip and fell, breaking an arm and a leg.
Sometimes we would ring his doorbell
then hide behind his neighbor’s car in the hopes that he would come out. But usually all we would see was the curtain
slide open and closed.
Then, one fall day, for some reason, our curiosity
turned into contempt
. All that autumn we threw pinecones
at his house. Then, that winter we threw snowball
s. In the spring we came to his house with armfuls of ginkgo tree
fruit to throw.
And through all this the only response we would see from him was a slight wave of the curtains.
When the summer came around, we started to moon
him. I’m not sure why. It just seemed like the right thing to do
. For some reason, this got his attention a bit more. We would hear him laughing
as soon as we’d drop our shorts.
It was a deep
laugh, but there was always something off about it. As a kid
I couldn’t quite place what it was, but looking back, I think I could hear something almost sinister
- sort of. Not scary or threatening, just like he knew something that we never would know