Jimmy and his family had recently moved into the neighborhood. They occupied a large green, two story house on the side of a hill in the city. It had a small back yard with a paved alley running up the hill between his house and his neighbor’s house. Jimmy had children to play with but most of them were a bit older and already attending a full day of school. He attended kindergarten in the afternoon, so he spent most mornings playing by his self in the back yard. He was a quiet and shy boy but eager to impress his new friends. So far they merely tolerated his company as he followed them around trying to imitate their behavior. When all the kids finally came home from school he would meet up with the older boys, the six and seven year olds, watching them play their favorite game. If Jimmy’s neighbors were away they would throw stones up onto their low hanging roof watch them roll off, sometimes trying to catch them as they fell. This game could go on for hours or until the neighbors came home and everyone scattered searching for other mischief to fill the day. He looked up to his older companions; he was fascinated by their physical abilities and their abundant knowledge of worldly ways.
Early one bright sunny morning, while his friends were in school, he thought to give the stones-off-the-roof game a solo try. He was too young to understand that he needed to check if the neighbors were gone, even if he did understand that he needed to first check, he would not have known how. It didn’t seem to really matter at the time. He had the neighbor’s roof all to himself and the back yard had an abundance of stones, with which he could develop his skills. He started by tossing a few small stones and watching them roll down the roof. Quickly his skills were improving; most stones could be propelled to nearly the peak of the roof, allowing them to gather sufficient speed as they rolled off to keep him adequately entertained. Fascination with small stones rolling down the shingles faded eventually.
Exploring the back yard, Jimmy found a large stone sticking out of the dirt, one that would be a little difficult to hoist. It was about the size of a large grapefruit, a piece of egg shaped sandstone with coarse pebbles embedded on one side. He figured he could chuck it onto the roof using both hands. Thoughts of delight filled his mind as he eagerly dug around the rock to loosen the compacted dirt. This was going to be something special, none of the older boys had ever used a stone this large. They would surely be impressed, he would get the recognition he desired.
He lifted the stone to his chest and staggered over to the gutter-less roof line which ended about a foot above his head. The side wall of the house rose up from sort of a dugout trench with a concrete sidewalk in its bottom, running the full length of the wall. Jimmy stood somewhat elevated above the sidewalk and a short distance away from a window, looking at the peak of the roof and anticipating the elation a large rolling roof stone would deliver. The window had the misfortune of being placed directly below this area on the roof, in line with the predicted path the stone would take as it was heaved up onto the roof.
Gathering all the strength and enthusiasm he could assemble he heaved that rock up to the roof. With a huge smile on his face and a wave of exhilaration coursing through his body he saw the rock leave his hands proceeding towards the roof. Its flight was not what he predicted; it did not make the roof. The rock seemed to float through the air in slow motion, completely missing its target. The sandstone projectile smashed through the window, dragging the heavy cloth curtains down as it continued along its unintended trajectory. The noise of the breaking glass and wooden frame was almost deafening. The small boulder landed hard on a table, at which were seated across from each other, the occupants of this house, a man and woman enjoying a breakfast of coffee and …something. Coffee cups, plates and food debris began bouncing on the table as the rock touched down on its wooden top, followed by a shower of glass and wood splinters.
When the turbulence waned, Jimmy heard some unfamiliar and loudly spoken words as they turned their heads to behold him, standing a few feet away, looking dumfounded, on that slightly elevated mound of dirt outside of their kitchen window. The sun was shining into the now jagged opening where the window once was, backlighting the shape of a small boy with an aura that appeared almost angelic. That was a moment frozen in time, no one moved immediately, trying to comprehend the calamity that just came to pass. The man and woman were immobilized with bewilderment and shock. Jimmy was paralyzed with panic, why didn’t that stupid rock make it to the roof? As soon as he saw the man stand and run towards the door, Jimmy took off like a rabbit. Finding the first place he could to hide, he army crawled under a nearby car; he thought he could wait until things calmed down, maybe a day or two. He had no other choice.
He could smell grease and oil from the car. He knew he was in trouble, but had never been in the kind of trouble he was expecting. He saw legs and feet appear in the light near the rear bumper of the car. Soon he heard voices, angry voices; he recognized his mother’s voice. He tried not to cry but couldn’t contain it because somehow I knew things wouldn’t go well from this point forward. Sobbing revealed the hiding spot. He felt a hand grab him by the ankle and drag him out from under the car, bumping the back of his head as he plowed backwards through the soil. As Jimmy stood sobbing and covered with dirt and snot, circled by three angry adults, a rather comforting and cheerful thought entered his mind….. for this, the older boys would surely be impressed, he would get the recognition he desired.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on March 12, 2017: