Friday, July 11, 2008

Banned for the Summer

Introduction night to bike summer camp at 123. Mom and son walk in, followed by Gus, Shane, Oral. Straight flop onto the couch. Mom please wait. Bend down over their heads and say boom "this is parents' meeting, please go now". They close listening. They want reasons. Two other volunteers become upset and pushy. Go now. I ignore the blathering scramble in the pan and show mom and smiling son the pathetic mess in the basement and kids bikes flat in the dirt in the backyard. We step back in to a louder, hotter chase scene, with cursing and clown show. Push and scream to force kids out the shaky glass door. Mom pauses before escorting son under fat underarm through dense chest-hard staring match outside. I walk them down street to take the temperature and calm the air. I return by myself to find one volunteer belting anger at a side-slippery Gus. Back inside to forget about it. Sarah shuts the roll down gate and Kevana spits in her face through the mail slot. "Now I have to wipe off your ugly spit."

"Fine, you're banned for two months...three months...six months!" Those two won't calm. I wait out the fight and listen to their gripes. April from the neighborhood lectures Gus and sets picks when kids rush the door. A man smoking a cigarette, mouth unhinged and catatonic, like he's snoozing out smoke, scans the block for thug body language.

Michael, volunteer, asks me if I'll be okay to visit home depot and return alone. I'm not worried. On the way to home depot with the tricycle, Shane and Gus run at me from the park. Gus pulling his pants, I'm scared. He gets up close and I see his laugh. Shane talks loud - tell Sarah I'm sorry. Okay Shane. They sit on the back of my tricycle for a trip to Home Depot. I lock up and they are gone. I find them in the store. First object: a plastic bin. Shane, ask the store employee for me. Aisle 15. Locking bin or latching bin. I want locking. "I knew you was gonna pick that," Gus says. They drag the bin swerving around like a rodeo goat by the horns. Screwdrivers, tape, zip-loc bags. The two throw cardboard tubes and chase like fox and hound through aisles. Female store employee with flavor streaks in her hair and tattoos on her jeans butt says to stop. I talk loud and say criticism to embarrass them when we are near store employees or shoppers. Shane rats on Gus for having a kit-kat in his shoe. I make him take it out. Store alarm goes off, I tell him cops are coming, he is scared and can't tell if to take me seriously. I let them buy M&Ms only if split three ways. Shane fist full of M&Ms gobbles into mouth. Gus slings me four different colored treats. He suckles the bag, hand closes on the wrapper. He pulls out a toy gun - thats the gun we have been hearing about! I say loudly, "Gus, you can't pull out a toy gun in a store. It looks like a real gun. You will have to go to jail if you do this again!" He says, "Okay! Okay!" We mount the chest full of tools on the back of the tricycle. They sit back to back, Indian style on top of it, six feet off the ground. The trunk is loose and could tip over, so I go slow through the neighborhood, past the brownstones where Shane's father is outside, with his arms crossed smiling. "Why is my dad smiling?" "Because we look good." I drop them off at the park, goodnight.

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