My Sister’s Keeper
Speaking of freeways, Kathy, and candy, there was an incident on the San Gabriel Freeway that is still talked about today. The fact that we were banned from “playing on the freeway” made total sense (of course, at the time we had to ask “how come?”) and is probably why we were destined to end up there anyway. One day, Mom called me into the house and peppered me with this: “Ronnie, where is your sister?”
Being a bit of a smart aleck I replied, “Which one?”
Beginning to be irritated, Mom was a little more forceful, “You know which one. You were supposed to be watching Kathy. Where is she?”
By now I was becoming exasperated with the line of questioning and replied, “Am I my sister’s keeper? (I really didn’t say that, although it does fit). I don’t know where she is.”
Timmy, always helpful, added, “David P. said he was taking heh to his gwandma’s to get candy and ice cweam.”
Mom now turned her attention to Timmy, to my relief, and questioned him, “Where did they go? Where did he take her?”
Timmy answered, “He said they weh going to his gwandma’s and they weh wahking on the fweeway.”
Once again, Mom turned to me with instructions, “Ronnie, you go get your sister and bring her back home. Now!” Mom didn’t seem too worried about me being on the freeway.
Now David P., our next-door neighbor, was often times a little bit off (in the way that Jack Nicholson in The Shining was a little bit off). He had to take medicine to remain calm, if you know what I mean. We didn’t quite know the clinical term, but today, I think he might be considered mentally challenged. All I know is, when he wasn’t taking his medicines, we tended to play on the other side of the block. Just to give you a little insight as to David’s possibilities: one day, Kathy came home missing her ponytail. Mom saw the new hairdo and demanded of Kathy, “Kathy, what happened to your pony tail!? All that’s left of it is a rubber band!” Kathy, not knowing what else to say told the truth, “David cut it off.” (Maybe David thought we were in a game of cowboys and Indians and he was just claiming the white girl’s scalp). David, after the incident, was seen around the neighborhood with Kathy’s ponytail attached to his belt.
Anyway, David apparently convinced Kathy to go with him to his grandma’s house to get candy and ice cream (I indicated earlier that candy was Kathy’s kryptonite). It was news to me that I was supposed to be watching her, but then again, I was known to have selective hearing. I got on my bike and headed to the freeway, and I saw two figures walking on the shoulder of the freeway, about a half mile ahead. I rode real fast and caught up with them. As I jumped off my bike and grabbed Kathy’s arm I said, “Kathy, Mommy said you have to come home. I came to get you, so get on my bike and I will ride you home.”
Kathy was intent on the candy and tersely replied “No!”
Not to be deterred, I insisted, “Kathy, Mommy said you have to come home! Stop pulling and come with me.”
She too was insistent and adamantly replied, “I want candy and ice cweam.”
David and Kathy were pulling one way and I was pulling the other (a little tug-of-war by the side of the road, or better yet, Kathy was the wishbone and David and I wanted to see who would get their wish). Cars were flying by at seventy plus miles per hour, and the tugging and pulling spilled out into traffic. A woman in a passing car was heard to exclaim, “Honey, those kids are going to get killed!” Her husband, not near as concerned, said, “I wonder what they’re doing on the freeway?” His wife, in a moment of introspection said, “Probably looking for ice cream and candy.”
At this point, I gave up and turned around to head back home. I wasn’t sure what to tell Mom, but figured I might as well tell the truth this time. As I pulled into the driveway, a black-and-white police car was leaving (I waved at the policemen). When I got in the front door, Kathy was bawling, and Mom was staring at me with a mean look and a switch already in hand (at least I didn’t have to go get my own switch).