His Point of View
The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years. Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.
It’s hot. Hotter than most days I can remember. I remember most days.
Wish I had a chair. The steaming sidewalk concrete grits my bare legs. I press my hand down for 1, 1, 2, 3 seconds. I inspect the peaks and valleys left in my skin, the red indentations. Funny how skin molds around what you touch. Legos are best; if I press carefully, sometimes I can even see tiny letters on my fingertip. I brush the sandy bits on my shorts. Sand off, clean hands. That’s better.
I heard Mrs.Pauley tell mama she’ll probably be leaving. She doesn’t pat me on the head or look at me, so I know she likes me. She never tries to hug me. All mama’s other friends hug me. Mrs. Pauley just sits next to me sometimes to talk about the yard, or the flowers, or something else she thinks about. I like that. Mama said Mrs. Pauley lost Mr. Pauley. I don’t understand this. How do you lose a grown man? I don’t know. I am only twelve. I will probably know more when I turn thirteen.
Most of the time, adults make no sense. But mama says since Mr. Pauley is lost, he can’t go to work, and Mrs. Pauley can’t pay the piper. Don’t know about any pipers. We had a man come to our house about the pipes under the sink, once. I watched him until mama made me stop. His breath smelled like coffee and burritos. I like burritos except for the mushy part. The rice is good, and the meat. I wonder why he wants Mrs. Pauley’s money. I don’t know why she has to leave. I like her.
I don’t like the man on her front porch. He has weird eyes. They will probably burn a soul to nothing, so I stop looking. Police men stand in the yard, but they seem okay. Mama says people in uniform are here to help. Robbie one time called them the Po-Po but mama said no that’s not polite and how would Robbie like it if the police called him Ro-Ro. I try to be polite, so I always think “police men” about the police.
I sit back against the handrail post. White paint flakes down my collar. Yesterday, Daddy said the rails need a new coat. I never saw a coat on this rail once, even in winter. I don’t think a new coat will do any good, but it might make the post a little softer to lean on. Maybe we can get one of those puffy ones. I squirm, but I got sweaty and now the flakes are sticky. I want to go inside, but mama said wait here for a few minutes. I don’t know how many is a few, but I tick off seconds in my mind. I’ve been here for six minutes and thirty-two seconds. Thirty-three. Thirty-four. So I think it’s almost a few. Maybe.
The man is too loud. He banged on her front door, then tramped around back and pounded. Now he’s back out front, and I think the police men want to tell him to shut up but they don’t because they probably think it’s not polite. If he keeps being loud I want to call him a name that is not polite. Like Dum-Dum. Robbie called me that and mama said that name is in a propriate. I don’t know what a propriate is or how you put a name in one, but he stopped. I want to put Dum-Dum across the street in a propriate and lock the door. Loud. He hurts my ears. Earmuffs would help but mama says it’s not winter. No earmuffs. People think that’s weird.
Mrs. Pauley finally is on the porch. Her face is wet. I don’t like it. She waves at me and says, “It’s okay, Joey.” She doesn’t look at me because she likes me. I don’t think it is okay. Maybe I should find mama, but mama said wait. Seven minutes and fifty-four seconds. Fifty-five. The loud man says get out and I told you and too bad lady but you gotta pay like everyone else. This is not the piper man, so I don’t know why he wants her to pay. I think he might hurt Mrs. Pauley. I have to help. I have to protect her. I know mama said wait but I get up and walk over. The man’s boots are dirty. I think he stepped in dog poo. I look closer. Yes. Definitely poo.
“Get away from me, kid!” The loud man pushes me. I scream and lunge for his knees. If I can’t see his eyes, he can’t hurt me. Mrs. Pauley screams, too, “Get your hands off Joey!” The man grabs my middle. Pain sears everywhere he touches. He must be from that place the preacher talked about. He tosses me into Mrs. Pauley. I think he is really going to hurt her. That’s it. I have no choice. I brace myself, then look straight into the loud man’s eyes. My stare will destroy his soul. I count, waiting. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34…nothing happens.
“That kid is creepy,” he says. “What is he doing?” I don’t understand. This is killing me. My eyes are burning, but he just stands, facing us. “Mrs. Pauley, get your stuff out of the house. Now. And get rid of the retard.” Retard? Robbie called me that, too, and mama said that one was in the same propriate as Dum-Dum. Now the police men are walking over. I think one of them is going to touch me, but Mrs. Pauley stops them.
“Wait. Let me call his mother. Please don’t put your hands on him. Joey has sensory issues; it’s very painful when others touch him. He functions at a three-year-old level. I’ve never seen him make eye contact before today, and he’s non-verbal. We’re not really sure how much he understands. Most people think he has nothing in his head, but I’m convinced he’s locked away somewhere in there.” She smiles at my shoes. “Someday, we hope Joey’s family can afford a special computer to help him communicate, but their insurance isn’t good and it’s very expensive. He understands simple directions.” She tilts her head toward me and holds out her hand gently next to my arm, not touching me. “Joey, please get your mama.”
I turn toward my house. Behind me, I hear Mrs. Pauley again. “I’ll get my things. You don’t need police. Everything is packed; I was just hoping something would work out. I hate to leave him.”
I wonder who she will leave. She already lost Mr. Pauley, so she can’t leave him. Maybe she wants to lose someone else. I look for mama and hope the loud man is gone when we get there. I want to sit by Mrs. Pauley. She likes me.