I have naturally curly hair, which makes my sisters jealous, although they would never admit it. It’s why they’re so mean to me.
I know more about them than I let on. Like when Mom sits up waiting for them to come home by curfew, they know she goes to bed as soon as she hears their dates drive up to the curb. They get more neckin’ done right out there in the street in front of our house than probably anywhere else, but I’m not gonna be the one to spill the beans. Mom can find that out for herself.
Pam has more boyfriends than Vicki, but I’m gonna have more boyfriends than either of them ’cause I already know how to smoke and they don’t. I learned last summer when I was part of the Smoky Corners Gang. Timmy Dunham would steal cigarettes from his mom and we’d take them down into the storm drains by Vermont Park and smoke them. Boys like girls who smoke-it’s sexy. I even know how to French inhale.
Both Pam and Vicki want to go out with just one true love but I don’t. I know how that ends up. Some guy treats you like you’re his wife just because he buys you Cokes and you wear his stupid letter sweater-so what? Pam was going with this guy Ronnie Talbot, Mr. Big Deal, he’s already out of high school and he’s selling vacuum cleaners so he can afford to give her expensive gifts that Dad makes her give back. Like one time Ronnie gave her a French poodle and Dad said you can’t keep it, it’s too expensive and besides you’re just a sophomore. Mom and Dad want Pam to go to college and marry some rich guy’s son.
I heard Pam and Ronnie in the kitchen under the back room where I sleep the other night, they were arguing. I couldn’t make out what it was about because they were talking real soft but I think it was because she wanted to give him back his ring, and then WHAP you could hear he slapped her, then he left, so I guess she made him take it back. I tried to get her to tell me what happened the next day, real innocent, y’know, like “What did you and Ronnie do last night?” “None of your bees’ wax” was all she said. I felt like saying “What a comedian” or something smart back to her, but I don’t dare because she lets me use her season ticket to the swimming pool when she’s working so I have to be careful.
I liked Donnie Ray Edmunds that Vicki was going with for awhile. He was nice even if he was a hick. All of us girls have family middle names so nobody can call us by double names like “Tammy Sue”. I’m Susan Vance and Pam is Pamela Lund and Vicki is Victoria Weld. Imagine having a classy name like that and then she takes up with a guy named “Donnie Ray”. When she’s mean to me I think up double names for all the stupid bratty kids she’s gonna have if she marries him. My favorites so far are Gene Bob and Veneta Lynn.
One night when mom and dad weren’t home Donnie Ray showed me how to put beer in a hubcap to kill slugs. The beer smells sweet to them, then they crawl in and get drunk and drown. You can still use ‘em for bait afterwards.
He showed me something weird one night when he and Vicki were sitting on the swing and I’d been catching fireflies. He was supposed to be twins, but his baby brother or sister died before he came out, and Donnie Ray has this thing on his ribs that’s a little face and a little hand, and that’s what happened to his twin-just sorta collapsed into Donnie Ray, and now they’re together forever. Vicki made me promise I’d never tell anybody, but she’s broken lots of promises to me so I owe her one. Donnie Ray’s okay but if she’ll kiss somebody who’s got his dead baby twin on his stomach she’ll kiss anything.
But that’s not the best part. You know Mike Thibeault, that guy Pam went out with for awhile? One afternoon he took me and Pam out to the rock quarry and let me shoot his .22. Mom had never let Pam go out driving with anyone before but I guess since I was along she figured nothing would happen. Anyway, he showed me how to shoot it-he shot up a bunch of old oil cans first, then he let me try it. So I shot at some of the cans he’s lined up and then he left me there with a box of shells while he and Pam went off into the woods or somewhere, I don’t know.
I figured I was supposed to be playing dumb so I just kept shooting. After awhile I got bored shooting cans and started shooting at birds. I hit a blue jay that was sitting in a tree and I went over to where it fell down and I had hit him right in the eye. He was still alive, too. It was gross. I should’ve put him out of his misery but I couldn’t. So finally Mike and Pam came back and Mike says “Well, how’d ya do?” and I said pretty good–I shot a bird, and he gets all excited and says “That’s great–where is it?” and I told him where it was and he goes over and takes a look at it, then stomps on its head to kill it, and all the time Pam’s just standing there real quiet and pale, but red in the cheeks. I had a pretty good idea what they’d been doing-making out.
Mike just kept yakkin’ away saying “Hunting’s a great sport, I can see you’re gonna be quite a shot”, and he’s going on and on about what a great shot he is and what a great athlete he is but I know better ’cause if he was such a great athlete he’d have a letter jacket to give to Pam but he doesn’t. He’s just a bagger at Safeway. He didn’t go out for sports when he was in high school as far as I know, but he said “I’ve played just about every sport there is.” So I said “Have you ever played squash?” which I knew about because I was looking up sasquatch in the encyclopedia for my oral report last week. He says, “Uh, sure I played squash once” but I don’t believe him. I shoulda said something to him like “Can you get a letter for bagging groceries” but I didn’t. Pam didn’t say a word the whole way back to town.
Mike came into the house with Pam and me and says to Mom and Dad “You’ve got yourself quite a little sharpshooter there” and Mom looks at me real concerned and says “I don’t know if you should be shooting a gun, honey” and Dad says she’ll be okay, it’ll be good for her to learn, and while everybody’s making a fuss about me Pam went upstairs and starts taking a bath. I could hear the water running and Dad and Mike just kept talking about guns and Mom tells me to get cleaned up for dinner and Dad asks Mike if he wants to stay for dinner and Mike says he’s awful sorry he can’t, he has to get to work.
So pretty soon Mike leaves and we all go in to dinner and Mom calls Pam and she says she’s not feeling well and Mom goes upstairs to see what’s the matter and she comes back down and says Pam’s not feeling too good. And then she looks at me and says what did you all do out there and I said nothin’ much, but it was kinda cold. What was I supposed to say?
So as far as I can tell everybody just forgot about the whole thing. I hope Pam doesn’t get in trouble. Mom and Dad would probably never let me go on a date if she did.
You want to go swimming? I’ve got Pam’s season ticket.