“Boys eat snails!” I shouted.
They stopped wrestling and looked at me for a second and then they all started laughing. I told them my story about Cathy’s brother, but I skipped the part about Cathy’s mom telling us how babies were born. I felt like I had some real grown-up information with knowing about the truth behind babies, but I didn’t want to share.
“What are little girls made of?” Angel asked.
“Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of.” Said Roseland. Laughing.
“What are little boys made of?” Asked Angel.
“Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.” We all shouted and laughed.
My mom used to say that to my brother and me all the time, especially when my brother was causing some kind of mess. To me if I was acting up she would say, “There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.” I guess maybe all our moms had known these rhymes.
“Angel’s bedroom door swung open and her mom walked in. “You girls need to quiet down.” She said. “Angel, your dad is gonna be home in about an hour and I want you girls to turn the lights out and be in bed by then you understand?”
“Yeh.” Angel said.
“I mean it. You’re dad isn’t gonna want to hear girls giggling all night and no one will be comin’ over again.”
“Okay.” Angel said with a whine in her voice.
Her mother gave Angel a look and then shut the door.
Angel’s mother was a skinny thin blonde lady. She was almost pretty but she had a tired look to her face and she wore a lot of blue eyeshadow and other make-up. She smelled like cigarettes and had a can of beer in her hand when she opened the door to talk to us. The whole house smelled like cigarettes except for Angels room. Angels room smelled like Loves Baby soft. A lot of girls had this perfume. I didn’t because I didn’t like it. It smelled like baby powder. My grandma on my mom’s side had given me a bottle of tea rose perfume once, and I really liked the smell of that a lot more than baby powder. I didn’t really like to see grown ups drinking. I never really thought about it or noticed it before like at barbecues when adults would have drinks, stuff that kids couldn’t drink. My parents never drank beer or wine at home. Sometimes my dad would have beer when he was with the other fathers but never at home. Once my brother died that all changed. My mom just got really quiet and didn’t do anything. She’s just sit on the couch all day with her pills that the doctor gave her or she would just cry then take her pills and go to sleep. My dad tried to help her at first, but then he would get mad, and they would fight. Always yelling at each other and my dad started coming home late from work, and sometimes he would smell like beer, and he’d talk funny. Then once my mom died dad started being like her always just sitting on the couch and drinking beer like she ate pills. Sometimes I would try to talk to him like if we didn’t have any food, and I’d call to him to tell him we needed food, but he wouldn’t say anything he’d just keep drinking. Then maybe a little later he’d stand up and say that he was going out to get some food, but he would come back for hours, and I’d be starving. Maybe he’d come home and wake me up and he’d put some Burger King bag on my bed then he’d just sit there staring at me and tell me I looked so much like my mother. Then he’d cry and walk out and I could hear the t.v. turn on and I knew I would find him in the morning with the t.v. on and cans of beer all over the floor. I’d always put my burger king bag on my light stand even though I was hungry, but I knew if I ate it that night that there wouldn’t be any breakfast in the next day. I knew my dad was sad, but the beer made him seem weird and different and he always stunk the next day. I did’t trust adults who drank all the time because I thought that something had to be wrong with them, like maybe they were too sad, and they couldn’t take care of their kids anymore.
“We should plan what we are going to wear for halloween before my dad get’s home.” Angel said sliding of of her bed, and walking over to her closet.
“I want to be a hooker.” Wendy said.
“What’s a hooker?” Roseland asked.
“It’s a woman that dresses funny. Like in high heels and lots of make-up. It’s really funny looking.”
“Oh. I think I want to be a tiger. Do you have a black leotard?” She asked Angel. “I have tights and black shoes and my mom can make me a tail.
“Tigers aren’t black.” I said.
“Well. I’ll be a leopard then.”
“I’m going to be a baby. I have a footie pajama suit that I can wear and I have a pacifier. I just need to do something with my hair.” I said.
“I’m going to be a witch. I have all the stuff. I’m going to be a bad witch like in the Wizard of Oz. I even have green face paint.” Angel said. “I like scary things on halloween. Wendy you should be a dead hooker.”
“I still don’t understand what a hooker is.” Said Roseland.
“It’s a bad woman.” Angel said. “They dress like sluts. Really short skirts and a lot of make-up.”
“Like you.” I said.
“I don’t dress like a slut.” Angel said turning and looking at me.
“You wear really short skirts and you say you want to wear make-up.”
“I don’t look like a slut.” She walked over close to me and put her hands on her hips. “I dress just like Madonnna, and she’s not a slut.”
“I thought you liked Madonna.” Wendy said looking at me.
I pulled away and walked toward Angel’s boom box and started looking through her tapes. “I do.” I muttered.
“Who said you could look through my tapes?” Angel asked. She still had her hands on her hips and she was looking at me like she was daring me to fight.
“No one.” I said still looking.
“Come on you guys.” Roseland said, tugging on Angel’s arm. “We need to find clothes for Wendy.”
I could feel Angel staring at me as I continued to look at her music, and then she turned back to her closet and started looking through her clothes.
It was weird because I liked a lot of the same things as Angel and sometimes when I forgot how much I didn’t like her or her family I kind of liked her, but then I would think about my brother and my mom and then I would hate her all over again. I just would get this feeling almost like being really hungry of wanting to be as mean as I could be to her even though I think she could probably beat me up. Still, I did like that she dressed like Madonna, and I did like her music, and we both liked the same movies and t.v. shows and I also like to be scary. I would be a dead baby, but I didn’t want her to think it was her idea. I noticed a tape of something I had never seen before. I picked it up and looked at the picture. It was a woman with bright red hair like a color crayon red, and she was wearing a dress with all these ruffles and she had on fish net stocking and boots and it was like she was dancing. I had never in my entire life seen anyone that looked like her before. It said Cyndi Lauper on the front. I turned to Angel. I couldn’t help but talk to her about this tape.
“Whose this?” I said holding up the tape.
She popped her head out from her closet and had a mean look on her face but it went away as soon as she saw what tape I was holding.
“Oh my gosh. You’ve never heard that before?” Oh my gosh.” She rushed over and snatched the tape out of my hand. “You guys have got to hear this. She’s like the best thing in the whole world.”
She put the tape in her boom box, and for the first time the three of us listened to Cyndi Lauper and Girls just wanna have fun. As I listened and looked at the picture of this colorful woman I thought that maybe my life was going to change. That maybe I would never be the same again. I decided right at that moment that I was going to stop wearing black. I wanted to look like her.
Angel’s dad had come home and we could hear him and her mother in the kitchen, and we could hear the t.v. come on. We were suppose to be asleep, but instead we were all lying under the covers of Angel’s bed with a flashlight and we were whispering. Angel had a big bed but we still had to huddle close for all of us to fit. We had brought our sleeping bags, but when we were talking her mother had heard us and we all got in trouble so we decided to all cuddle in Angel’s bed so we could keep talking. It was not possible for girls at a sleep-over to go to bed like it was a school night. This was Wendy’s first real sleep-over so she was excited and for the rest of us it was the first time that we had ever had a sleep-over together. I thought Angel’s mom was crazy to think we could sleep. I felt like Roseland’s mom would have understood. Angel said, it wasn’t really her mom but because her dad got angry so easily and that was why we had to be quiet so early. I had forgotten about being angry at Angel ever since we listened to Cyndi Lauper’s tape and I wanted to ask my grandma if I could buy her record. My grandma pretty much let me have anything because my dad abandoned me. Everything except a boom box. She said I already had a record player and that I didn’t need to have a boom box too, but I really wanted one. I would just have to settle for the record for now. At least the photo’s were bigger on the album then on a tape.
As we lied snuggled in Angel’s bed we talked about all kinds of things, like what we like to do and our favorite t.v. shows and then our conversation went back to boys and movie boys that we thought were cute. Well, at least Angel and I could talk about that more than Wendy and Roseland although they did have some opinions.
“I think Ricky Schorder, River Phoenix, and Ralph Maccio are cute.” Said Angel.
“Me too.” I said.
“I think those boys are cute.” Said Roseland.
“I think Kirk Cameron, and all the boys from the Explorers, and Thomas C. Howell are cute.” I said.
“Me too.” Roseland said.
“I think, Matt Dillon, and Rob Lowe are super cute.” Angel said.
“They’re kind of old.” I said.
“I know. I like older boys. I even think Han Solo is super duper cute.” Angel said.
“Ewww.” Roseland giggled. “He’s really old, but I think he’s kind of cute like in a funny way.”
“Why don’t you like any black boys?” Wendy asked. “Is it because your dad is white?”
Roseland shined the flashlight on Wendy’s face causing Wendy to squint. “Wendy, if you were not you I’d totally knock you on the head with this flashlight. Tell me have you ever seen a black boy on t.v. that isn’t old? Tell me of one that you have seen.”
We all got quiet for a moment.
“Wow.” Whispered Angel. “I’ve never thought about it before but you’re right, there aren’t any black boys on t.v. or in the movies. That’s so weird.”
“What about Michael Jackson?” I said.
“He isn’t in the movies and he’s too old. He’s like almost thirty or something and that’s super old.” She said. “So he doesn’t count.”
I sat up making the blankets over my head form a tent. “There’s not one.” Like Angel I had never thought of this before, but it was true I couldn’t think of one movie with a black boy our age or that was a teenager that was in the movies or on t.v.
“There aren’t any Indian boys either.” Wendy said. “Maybe I’d think boys were cute if there were any Indian ones.”
“I don’t even know what and Indian looks like.” Angel said.
“They look like me and my brother. Our dad was Indian.” Wendy said.
“There are Indians on tv. Like on westerns and stuff.” Roseland said.
“No, I think those are white men painted red. They look funny like they have make-up on their skin.” I said.
“Yeah. And their old.” Wendy said.
“What about the crying Indian?” Angel said. “The one that is crying in the street because of all the litter?”
“Oh, that’s on super late at night.” I said.
“He’s super old!” Wendy almost yelled.
“Shhhhh.” Angel whispered. “Quiet. My mom will kill us if she hears us.”
“What about Teddy Lachance? Maybe he’s Indian. You kind of look like him.” Roseland whispered.
Wendy gasped. “No I don’t!” She whisper yelled.
“Kind of. He’s got dark hair like you and his skin is not as white as the other boys in that movie.” Roseland whispered.
“I do not look like Mouth!” She whisper yelled.
We all started to giggle. Mouth was the kid from The Goonies movie and he was played by the same boy that played Teddy Lachance. The Goonies was maybe the best kid adventure movie ever.
“Man,” I whispered. “Boys have all the fun.”
“What do you mean?” Angel asked.
I lied back down on the bed my head pressing gently against Roseland’s. “I mean look at all the movies that are about boys having adventures. You never see girls in the movies having adventures.” I said.
“There are girls in The Goonies.” Roseland said.
“Yeah, but it wasn’t their idea. They just came along because Andy like Mikey’s brother.” I said.
“They were still on the adventure.” Angel said.
“Yeah. I know, but I mean what about a movie where the girls make up the adventure? Like when the girls have the map and the plan and they find something, and the only reason there are any boys it’s because the boys want to follow the girls and not the other way around?” I said.
“I don’t know.” Said Wendy. “Because girls are dumb maybe.”
“We’re girls.” Said Roseland. “Do you think we’re dumb?”
“No. But, I think I’m dumb, and teachers think I’m dumb. But I mean. I think that people think girls are dumb or not important. You can tell. I mean boys have more fun and freedom and once a girl gets her period than it’s all over. You have to start acting different and stuff and then you get boobs and ugh. Then things change and you can’t play anymore. Boys get to play and men go do whatever they want and women all they do is wait for the men to come home. I don’t ever want to grow up and be a woman.” Wendy turned on her side away from us.
“I have my period, and it’s no big deal.” Angel said.
“Do you really have your period?” I asked skeptically.
Angel was quiet. “No, but don’t you tell anyone or I swear I’ll kill you.” She got quiet again. “I could any day now though. My mom said she got her period when she was eleven and I’m already twelve.”
“Why do you want it?” Wendy asked.
“Why’d you lie?” Roseland asked.
“I don’t know.” Angel sighed. “My other friends say they have and some of them are older, and I don’t know it makes you more grown up. I want to be a grown up. I want to grow up and get out of this house far away from my parents and far away from this town and just be able to do what I want.”
“I don’t want to grow up, but I don’t want to be around my parents either.” Wendy said.
“I like my parents.” Roseland whispered.
“You’re lucky.” I whispered.
“What are your parents like?” Roseland asked.
I was silent for a moment. In fact the room felt quiet. I could hear the crickets outside and there was movement in the hallway. We could all sense that a grown-up was standing outside. They stood at the door listening we guessed and then they walked away. I was still quiet and it felt like the girls had fallen asleep, but I knew they were awake and waiting. Wendy and Angel knew what my parents were like now, but they didn’t know anything about what they were like.
“They used to be okay.” I said. “But their gone now.”
“Oh.” Roseland whispered.
“Did they die?” She asked.
“Kind of.” I said. “But I don’t feel like talking about it.”
“Okay.” She said.
It was quiet again. I didn’t feel like talking about it because I didn’t want Angel to know anything about it, but I also didn’t want anyone of them to know about it. No one liked to admit that their parents hated them. That stupid Jason Sanders was right. I was a freak and a weirdo. My parents hated me so much that my mom killed herself and my dad threw me away. I didn’t want to say anything about it. I wanted to forget and just start life all over like as if I never had parents or a brother at all. Suddenly I got an idea. It was so great that I sat up again pulling the covers off the girls who made quiet whispering protests. I positioned the covers up over us all like it was a tent again. I held up the flashlight.
“We should have an adventure.” I said.
“Whaddya mean?” Asked Angel.
“We should have an adventure. We should do something big something that can make us heroes like in Stand by Me.” I said nearly shaking with excitement.
“I don’t want to see a dead body.” Wendy whimpered.
“I don’t mean find a dead body. We don’t even know of anyone that’s missing or dead. I just mean we should do something. There were four of those boys and there’s four of us. We’re kind of like them, and we live in the woods and there’s got to be some kind of adventure we can have.” I almost felt desperate. “There must be something for us some kind of thing that we can do.”
“I don’t know.” Said Angel. “I mean what?”
We were all quiet. I thought about something that would make us famous and heroes. The I got the perfect idea.
“You guys know about the man in the red corvette?” I said whispering even quieter.
“Yeah.” They whispered back.
“We could catch him?” I said.
“What?” Angel said. “How?”
“I’m scared.” Wendy whispered.
“We can plan some kind of trap. Like we can set him up.” I said.
The others were quiet.
“We’d be heroes.” I said. “We be famous and be in the paper and maybe on the news.”
“But how?” Angel asked.
“No.” Roseland said. “We can’t. That man is bad. He’s real bad.”
“That’s why we should stop him.”
“No.” Roseland said firmly and with finality. “We can’t. He could hurt us, and adults wont help us if we get in trouble.”
“Yes they will.” I said.
“Well, they wont help me and I know this is true.” Roseland said. “I want an adventure too and I think we should do something else like find something like treasure or something, but we can’t get that man.”
I was disappointed. “Where are we going to find treasure?” I said. “I bet he’s not that bad just a weirdo.”
“No. He’s bad.” Roseland said. “I’ve seen him.”
We all got real quiet.
“Can I tell you guys something?” Roseland asked. “But you have to swear. Swear to God and on your mother’s grave that you will never ever tell anyone.”
We all swore. We swore and we waited to hear Roseland’s story.