Daddy hadn’t been home in over a week. Mama said that there was something important going on at work and that he had to stay. Whenever there was something important, Daddy had to stay. Spring break was going to be over in two days, though, so I wished every night that he’d come home.
Jody has been going with this boy named Sharpie from around the Quick Stop. She likes him because he has a van and because he play his music so loud from his speakers that he says are from Germany, but I think he’s boring. He always starts telling stories about how high he was one time, but the stories are always about him laughing at a commercial or a song that wouldn’t be funny if he wasn’t high. He took us to Astro World last Sunday, so that’s pretty good.
Me and Jody and Puff were sitting on the front porch cooling off when Daddy pulled up. We all ran out to see him at the car and he gave all of us a kiss. He picked Puff up and put her on his shoulders. Mama came out and said that it was about time he came home. He said he was sorry but there was some real important stuff going on at the Space Center. He could get cleaned up and get a good nights rest, but he had to go back on Monday. He told us that mama wasn’t going to like that. I told him he was right!
Puff eats out of Ashtrays! It’s so gross but mama says I did it too. I don’t remember doing it. Mama says that most people don’t remember the stuff they did as babies. Puff won’t remember eating from ashtrays and I don’t remember whistling. Mama says I used to whistle really loud when I was little. It’s crazy because now I can’t whistle at all! Daddy said it’s for real- I used to whistle like a bird.
One time, when I was little, Jody and I went to the woods behind our neighborhood to try and float some sailboats we built in the storm drain. There was no water back there. Jody said that when the storm drains were dry, hobos and monsters lived inside. She said that the drains went on forever underground.
Mama brought us outside and told us to look around for smoke. Jody saw it first. It was like a black tower rising from the ground. I looked like it was miles away! I asked Mama what it was and she said that the news will say it was a warehouse fire- but Daddy told her on the phone it was something else. She wouldn’t tell us what he said, though.
We used to have a dog that came around. It was brown. Daddy said it was a mutt, but I thought it looked like Lady from Lady and the Tramp. I wanted to keep it, but Daddy said I couldn’t. One day Jody through rocks at it and it ran away. I hated Jody for chasing that dog away. I told her I hated her.
First Mama was on the phone with Daddy. She kept saying that something didn’t make sense and asking what she should do, then Mama ran in and was screaming at us to tell her where Jody was! I told her that she was on a date with Sharpie. She asked me where and I told her that they went to the skating rink. She said she was going to go and get her and that me and Puff needed to stay inside. She told us to go to the basement and to lock ourselves in there until she got back. She was so mad that I started crying but I didn’t want Puff to see it or she’d start crying too. I went in the basement and we locked the door. I put Puff on the cot and we went to sleep.
It was light outside and Mama wasn’t back yet. Puff was getting hungry so I decided that I’d get her some food from the kitchen. I told Puff to stay in the basement and be quiet. I put her in the corner of the basement and put her under a blanket. I told her not to come out. Upstairs, the electricity was out. I could hear police sirens and some alarms. I wanted to look outside, but I was too scared.
I took Puff some cereal and I took some oranges for later.
There was banging on the door. I was scared and Puff started o cry. I heard mama call and I went up to open it. Mama said that I shouldn’t open the door. She said that she couldn’t find Jody and that everything was bad. Everyone was sick. She said she was even sick. I asked her what she wanted me to do and she said that she didn’t know. She started crying and coughing.
There was a boy at school named Tim who I think is a sissy. He won’t play football with the boys at P.E., instead he always hangs around with us at the monkey bars. He jumps rope and sings all the songs, too. I think he’s really poor. He always seems to wear the same white t-shirt, and it’s never really clean. I remember thinking that a white t-shirt was a bad idea if you weren’t going to wash it. Now I’m wondering if Tim is sick like everybody else.
Mama said she was going to tell me some scary stuff. She said that she didn’t know if she was going to live and that men were going from house to house burning the sick people. She told me that if they came into the basement I had to yell at them that we’d been in the basement the whole time. We had to tell them that we didn’t get exposed. She said that she was sorry that she couldn’t give us some more food because she didn’t want us to unlock the door. She said she really wanted to give us a hug. Mama started crying because she didn’t know where Jody was.
When my family moved to Texas, one of the ways my daddy got me onboard was by telling me how bad ass everything was there. He told me that everything was bigger in Texas. He told me that Texas was so awesome that it even had the motto don’t mess with Texas. This was something everyone knew, and a rule that everyone followed. I found out later, though, that Don’t Mess with Texas was part of an antilittering campaign. Don’t drop your used Burger King wrappers around Texas! What a gyp.
Mama was kicking at the door trying to get in she was cursing and screaming. I grabbed Puff and ran to the window. I wanted to push her up and through but she was too heavy. I couldn’t lift her. I figured that I could climb out and pull Puff through. I pushed and pushed on the window and climbed through and tried to pull Puff through. I heard the door break and I heard Mama in the basement. I couldn’t pull puff through because Mama was pulling her back and biting her.
I ran. Everyone was screaming and running and everyone was sick. Some people were on fire.
I ran for the storm drains. I could hide there. They go on forever underground.