Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Disturbing Memories of Youth, Part 1

There were two Jennys, Across-the-Road Jenny and Up-the-Road Jenny. Across-the-Road Jenny didn’t really live across the road. Two dark-haired girls lived across the road. I waited for the bus with them each morning, at the end of their driveway. The older one just kept looking at her shoes. I don’t even remember her face.

Across-the-Road Jenny lived across the road, two houses down. One day she came over to play. We must have been six or seven. I didn’t know what to do with her. She was a girl.

I found a pear, lying on the ground in my backyard. I held it up for her by the stem.

“Whose pear?” I asked. Then I threw it onto the roof of my family’s split-level ranch.

Jenny shrieked with laughter. We watched as it struck the shingles with a bonk, rolled back down, and landed in the grass.

I looked at her. She wore OshKosh B’gosh overalls, a white shirt with ruffled cuffs, blue Nike waffle trainers. It was 1975. She stood awkwardly, a little like she had to pee.

Suddenly she ran at the pear, picked it up like a hand grenade and turned to me.

“Whose pear!” she howled, and threw it back onto the roof.

We continued like this for an hour, taking turns, Whose pear? Whose pear? Whose pear?, the fruit deteriorating into brownish, mealy pulp as the sun sank over the ridge.

Around dinnertime she went back home.

Her mother committed suicide some years later.

Up-the-Road Jenny lived way up the road, the other way. She had a very nice mom and dad. They both wore thick glasses that made their eyes look big.

One day Up-the-Road Jenny told me her mom and dad liked to sit on the living floor, naked, and piss on each other.

“That’s how babies get made,” she declared.

I saw her dad wiping her ass one day. Her struggling on his lap, panties around her ankles. Him scolding her, too flustered and impatient to close the bathroom door. I wasn’t supposed to see this. But I did.

In high school Up-the-Road Jenny wore an elaborate neck and back brace for scoliosis. Later on she fell into a vegetative state. People visit her and talk to her. Read to her. Sometimes they think they see something flicker in her eyes.

She’s still alive today.