Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tony and the Boy with the Red Sweater

Tony “The Sheriff” Verchelli is out of the house and patrolling Glenn Close, Cloverdale’s safest street . He woke from his afternoon nap early sensing something was ‘afoot’ in his neighborhood. He usually naps at 1:00 P.M. after he finishes his morning rounds and lunch. If there isn’t an emergency, he will sleep until 3:15 P.M., waking just in time to be out on the street to guard the children walking home from Confederacy Primary School.

His weapon of choice is the True Patriot Double Barrel bb Shotgun given to him last Christmas by a doting Grandfather. Tony’s mother was visibly shaken by the gift, but try as she did, she couldn’t get it away from her son without facing the wrath of the gods in the form of his temper. They compromised in the end . Tony could keep the bb gun IF he allowed her to load it.

Every day Mrs. Verchelli pretends to load the gun just before Tony leaves the house to do his morning rounds of the neighborhood. She’s sure that if he doesn’t shoot his own eye out, he will someone else’s. Tony is on to his mother’s deception, but pretends to be oblivious to the scheme. He has his own private stash of ammo.

One cold afternoon in January, Tony took his Big Wheel on an unapproved shopping trip to the village center to purchase a box of bb’s from Donaldson’s Department Store. He used the money given him by the Widow Doxey after he rescued her from a wet slobbering from Tulip, the Melman’s overly friendly Great Dane, who had escaped earlier in the afternoon when a negligent meter man failed to lock the Melman’s back gate.

“Are you sure you’re old enough to buy these?” the cashier asked as she bent over the counter to see the 4 year old
“My mom says I’m a big boy and can buy my own things to learn ‘sponsibilty,” Tony said, struggling with the word responsibility. He’d heard him mother use that word many times in reference to the gun, and gambled it would work in that situation. His gamble paid off. He cycled home listening to the jingling of hundreds of bb’s in his coat pocket.

Tony jumped from his bed, reached for his jacket and gun, found his mother napping on the couch, woke her and asked her to tie his jacket (cape) around his neck. Just as Tony shut the garage door he heard his mother yell at him to stay in the front yard. Both she and Tony knew that wasn’t going to happen. He had a job to do and had a feeling something was ‘afoot‘ on Glenn Close.

Tony jumped on his Big Wheel and rode to the front curb. He glanced up and down the street. There was nothing suspicious. He looked up toward the eastern sky. A storm was building. Dark clouds blotted out the sun. The wind picked up a moment later. A layer of dust from the road spiraled upward and moved down the road like a small tornado. Tony reached into his pocket, took out his swimming goggles and placed them firmly over his eyes to protect them from the blowing dirt.

Just then he noticed something red moving toward him from the far end of the Close. He couldn’t make out what it was at first, but a few seconds later the outline of a young blond boy wearing a red sweater came into view. The boy walked straight for Tony, slowly and with purpose. Tony had never seen the boy before. A chill when up his spine. He reached for his bb gun and bb’s.

Tony knew there was something unnatural about this boy wearing a red sweater, but didn’t have the luxury of time to play detective. He had a street to protect.

And protect it he would.

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1 comment:

  1. I opened the Smithsonian last week and found this picture covering the page. Coincidence?