McArthur Street: Episode Eight
Once again I witnessed how mean Jimmy could be to his younger brothers. It was amazing however how his little brothers who were so much smaller than him came up to him and started insulting him. They acted angry. They yelled at him with their little voices. Jimmy took a rolled up newspaper and hit them over the head so that they ran away crying. If there was no newspaper he chased them and knocked them down, then held them down on the ground by sitting on them until they were screaming for him to get off. It was as if his brothers felt a need to challenge him by showing disrespect for him even though they knew he would hurt them. Weeks later Keith and Mike told me that Jimmy had not only held his brothers down on the ground but tried to force them to eat dog’s poop. I was appalled when I heard these things. Even my older brother, when I asked him about that, said it was true.
One day when I was in Jimmy’s front yard my own little brother came up to me and started yelling at me and insulting me. I felt so offended because I had never been mean to him that I became very angry. I chased him and knocked him down. I sat on him and held him down the way Jimmy did to his little brothers. I was so angry I pushed his face down on the ground and kept yelling at him to eat dirt. To his credit he refused to do so. Suddenly I questioned myself about what I was doing. I felt bad and let him up off the ground. He jumped up, yelled another insult and ran off with Ronnie and Donnie. Was my brother becoming like Ronnie and Donnie? But I was not like Jimmy. I went out of my way to be nice to my brother and made up my mind that I would be patient with him.
He tried another day to insult me in Jimmy’s front yard. I looked at him and didn’t say anything. He turned and said to Ronnie and Donnie, “See, I insulted him and he didn’t do anything”. Then I became infuriated. I chased him again and repeated the same acts, holding him down on the ground and telling him to eat dirt which he would not do. Then I felt bad again. I got up and walked back home.
After that I simply avoided Jimmy’s house. It wasn’t even a conscious decision. In fact I now felt an aversion to Jimmy and his family. That put a stop to these incidents.
It was another hot, summer, Tucson afternoon when I found myself in my mother’s living room. I was sitting on the couch, hearing the sound of the air from the cooler and looking at the drapes slightly swaying in the afternoon twilight of the room. I looked around at the peaceful setting. I looked thoughtfully at the set of encyclopedias and the set of books with folk tales, fairy tales and Gulliver’s Travels. Also, there were the books of Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass on the book shelf. These were all books our parents had bought for us. Along with the huge, two volume dictionary that was in our kitchen our parents bought these books for us because they encouraged us with education and culture. We had a huge Bible with a nice, reddish brown cover that had three translations in one Bible. Every set of verses were in the three translations, the first in black, the next in red and the next in black. I would read all of them and the scholarly footnotes at the bottom of each page that explained what the terms meant according to the customs of the times.
I thought about Jimmy and his little brothers. I thought about why his brothers would challenge him knowing he would hurt them. I wondered what he did to them to make them that way. I thought about why my own, little brother would imitate their behaviors. I could clearly see that the problem was Jimmy. I made up my mind to stop being friends with Jimmy.
I started to be by myself a lot. Sometimes I liked to ride my forest green, sting ray bicycle with its white banana seat to the gas station that was on the other side of the big, empty lot. The gas station faced towards South Park Avenue, a main thoroughfare through the desert neighborhoods. I would buy a cold soda from the soda machine. My favorite flavor was the lime green soda. One day I was by the side of the gas station when Samuel, Ronnie and Donnie came up. Ronnie and Donnie had gold colored sting ray bicycles. My brother did not have a bicycle so he rode on the back of the banana seat with one of his little friends. The boys started talking to me. For some reason they were eating carrots. Suddenly my own, little brother came right up to me and started spitting chewed up carrot in my face. His friends laughed. I became angry and slapped him across one of his cheeks. He ran away crying and left with his friends.
Once again I was in the living room of my family home in the peace and quiet of the afternoon. I made up my mind that I was going to be especially nice to my little brother. I felt bad for the things I did even though I knew I had been provoked. I knew that through it all, it all had to do with Jimmy’s bad influence. I wanted to make a positive difference in my little brother’s life.
I had always wanted an H.O. model motoring, slot car racing set. It appeared that this was a too expensive toy for me to have. I even bought and read H.O. model motoring magazines. I read about how race car drivers used their skills to stay safe and win car races. My father would often watch ABC’s Wide World of Sports on our black and white TV. I watched the auto races and was able to understand the strategy of the race car drivers. Having this knowledge made me understand and appreciate watching the races more.
On an already warm Saturday morning I rode my bicycle to the desert, empty lot behind the gas station. There were trails through the lot from people walking and riding bicycles. There were old, car tires that people threw away in the empty lot. I knew that in small town, car races they used old tires to put on the corners of the race track. I picked out a circuit of trails to use as a bicycle race track. There was even a hump to ride up. With some speed a bicycle would be flying in the air after it reached the top of this hump before it came down on my race track on the other side. This would be fun for the races. I started putting the old tires around the corners of my new track. Keith came along on his gold colored, sting ray bicycle with its leopard spot, banana seat. He asked what I was doing. He offered to help me. Soon we had old tires on every corner of the race track. I drew a line with a stick in the dirt that would be the start/finish line. It was placed so the racers would hit the first corner and then have a stretch to pick up speed to go up the little hump and fly through the air until landing on the lower side downhill before continuing the race. This would make the races maximum fun for the kids in the neighborhood.
To be continued.