To claim I was a well-behaved child would be a lie. I was more like Huck Finn to Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, if anything.
During my high school years, I skipped classes so much that I nearly failed to graduate. Only twice did I ever skip school though by staying home and pretending to catch the bus to Crescent City.
The first time I did this was the day I burgled the Morgan’s home stealing a certain military helmet for a friend. I wrote about this in a piece titled, “Days of the Schutzhelm,” which not only exists on this blog site, but was then published in my 2010 book, “Growing Up Klamath.”
Not one to learn quickly from my mistakes back then, I decided a few months later to skip school again by faking like I’d gone to the bus stop, when in reality, I was hiding in the house waiting for everyone to leave. A brain-trust – I am not.
Soon the house was quiet. Dad had gone to work; Adam, Deirdre and Marcy were off to school; and Mom’s ride stopped by and picked her up to take her to work too. I had the house to myself and the first thing I did was pour myself a cup of coffee and turn on the television.
I was gonna live the life of royalty as I later made myself a couple of egg-mayo sandwiches on toast.
It was about 12:30 in the afternoon and I was down the hallway in my bedroom, getting something, when I heard the front door open. Someone was home!
Immediately I went to stealth-mode by crawling under the bunk bed that Adam and I shared. Beneath the bed were toy’s, articles of clothing, books, shoes and I used them to camouflage myself should whomever came home look under the bed.
Then panic kicked in…the TV was still on and there were dirty dishes and a used pan in the kitchen sink. Still, it laid quietly under the bed waiting for whatever was to come next.
“Hello?” Mom called out. “Whose here!?”
Silence, followed by her rapid uneven gait coming down the hallway. Mom commenced to search the house.
It was the same in each room – the closet opening and closing and so on. Suddenly I heard the closet in our room open, then close and I could only imagine her down on her knees looking under the bed, since my face was practically pressed against the wall.
Next mom opened the curtains to our room. I was sure that I had come to the end of my days on earth at that moment only to hear her turn and quickly walk back down the hallway.
I continued to lay still as I listened to the noises come from the front part of the house as Mom continued about her business.
Soon I heard my brother and sister’s come home. I learned that Adam did a lot of singing when he thought he had the room all to himself.
Eventually, he left and he, my sister’s and Mom were all in the kitchen. I could tell by the fact that the chairs around the table dragged across the floor and that the constant chatter had become filled with mouths filled with food.
It was now or never in my mind. I slipped out from under the bed, opened the bedroom window, popped out the screen, climbed outside, slid the window closed and replaced the screen.
Within a minute I had hopped the back fence and ran as fast as possible to the bus stop, that I knew would not be used until the following day, and hid inside, waiting for the high school bus to go speeding past. Only then did I feel like I could casually walk up the street and enter the home I had jus’ sneaked out of a half-hour earlier.
That night, at the dinner table, there was a lot of talk about the mystery of the TV and the plate and pan in the sink. Mom and Dad eventually decided that some unknown someone had come into the house and helped themselves to some food and watched a little TV before exiting through the sliding glass door, which was left unlocked.
From then on, I concluded, when (and not ‘if’) I skipped school or even a class, I’d do it while on campus of the high school. That’s because along with talk about a stranger having been in the house, Mom couldn’t help brag how she had her little .38 caliber snub-nose revolver at the ready if she discover somebody hiding.
I choked violently on my bite of food when Mom said she’d have shot the “son of a bitch, if she’d have found him.”