‘are you ready to go?’ mom says.
‘not yet,’ i say. ‘i’m still scooping the cat crap!’
my brother laughs but he keeps wiping the mirror. we’re both on bathroom duty. it’s saturday. every saturday, we clean. then we get paid our allowance. five dollars each. not bad for a couple’a guys under ten.
my mom is in the kitchen, but when i hear her say, ‘what’d you just say?’ i know i messed up.
that’s when i say to her, ‘i saaaaaiiiiiidddddddddd i’m still scooping caaaaaaaaaaaaat……….umm…. caaaaaaaaaaat………SCAT!’
‘uh-huh,’ i hear her say.
my brother looks at me with bug eyes and a smile as if to say, ‘holy crap dude, you just dodged one!’
i’m even astounded at my own cunning. i think, ‘maybe mom is just easy to fool.’ then i remember how untrue that thought is.
my brother is climbing off of the bathroom counter. he tosses his windex-sopped paper towel into the trash and runs out of the bathroom.
‘i’m done!’ he tells her.
‘dude, aren’t you gonna take that trash?’
he doesn’t stop. no one says anything. so i know it’s up to me.
that kid can be such a butt-munch.
as i scoop another clod of coagulated cat piss into the plastic grocery bag, i decide i won’t tell him how impossible it is to fool mom. that should keep the heat off me, and it will be funny to see him get busted over and over again until he figures it out for himself.
i sift through the litter until every last scoopable bit of crap is out of there. i even got the ones that are like little peas. some that are smaller. bb’s almost.
i do it because, like i said, she’ll know. also, because i just want my money so we can go to the card shop.
i tie up the bag of litter and i put it in the other trash bag. i grab that bag and say to mom, ‘finished!’ as i walk outside to the dumpster.
i hear her say, ‘uh-huh, well let me see. come here, bradley. let’s see how you guys did.’
he drops his head back till it’s almost hanging between his shoulder blades. he goes, ‘UNNNNNGGGH!’
he walks this way, rolling his eyes back into his head and following behind her. his arms hang limp and flop with each frustrated stomp. it’s the outwardly resilient march of an inwardly defeated kid. we all know he is.
‘stupid bradley,’ i think.
it feels good letting him deal with the inspection. makes me glad i didn’t worry about all the bottles of cleaning stuff. or the broom. or the dustpan.
outside, it’s cloudy and there’s a drizzle going. too wet to play basketball or really do much else without getting super dirty. sucks.
i drop the trash in the dumpster and then go around back of the house instead of heading back the way i came. this is to kill time. like i said, i’m letting my dumb brother handle the inspection. that’s always the worst part. she finds EVERYTHING.
my neighbor is out digging worms along the fence. i stop and to say hi. he says hi.
he’s got a jar and he’s filled it with worms and grubs and beetles. when i see him, he’s sprinkling some of the wet dirt on top of everything.
‘did you poke holes on top of the jar?’ i ask him.
he says, ‘no.’
‘if you don’t they’ll all suffocate,’ i say. i’m older, so he knows i know what i’m talking about.
‘maybe i will later.’
‘do you want to go to the card shop?’
‘can’t,’ he says. ‘i have to go to stupid church.’
‘but it’s saturday.’
‘yeah. my mom said she’s teaching a class about knitting.’
‘oh, man. that sucks.’
‘yeah. what are you going to get?’
‘whatever. your cards suck.’
‘shut up,’ i say.
‘you shut up!’ he says. the butthole.
‘henry!’ it’s her. i freeze. since i’m around the house, maybe she doesn’t see—
‘he’s over here!’ says my neighbor.
i look at him and he’s smiling.
‘dude,’ i say, ‘do you know what you’ve just done to me?’
he sticks his tongue out at me. i forgot to tell you that this kid is a total moron.
‘henry come inside!’ says my mom. ‘come help your brother finish up in there!’
i say, ‘dude, i’m going to kick your butt.’
‘yeah, i’ll whatever you. and then you’ll be crying to your mom.’
‘ah, go buy some crappy cards.’
‘have fun at knitting class, dork.’
i start to go back around to the front of the house. maybe i can sneak back in, but she’s at the front door.
‘where ya been?’ she asks. her arms are crossed.
‘i was taking out the trash.’
‘uh-huh,’ she says. but i don’t think she believes me at all.