A repository for a creative life. One of the things I do is change.

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First Time

Cappy Jack ©2004

The first time was really the best. I had a determination to succeed. I guess it was the doubt tossed off by my courage that made my triumph so delicious that first time. I still remember the thrill of personal conquest the first time she answered the door, saw in my eyes what I wanted, gave it to me and let me rush home. I felt powerful.

“Honey, I’m home!”

Norman called to his wife from the stairwell then slowly made his way up the stairs and into the apartment. He didn’t see much of his little family, worked hard at empire building, and expected to rest, sleep and then do it over again. His needs came first.

“How was your day? I’m bushed.”

I watched her with intensity, glancing away when she looked at me. Was she suspicious? Would she say anything or feel the difference?

“I’m just exhausted. Could you change the baby before you make us a drink? I’m sorry if I smell like sour milk. She has been spitting up all day. Dinner will be ready shortly.” Helen said that like she knew what he would say. Norman didn’t want to change the diaper. He felt like it wasn’t his job but didn’t want to upset her.

Yes! She’s too tired to take notice. I got away with it.

“Here, I’ll stir the pot and make us drinks while you change the baby,” said Norman. He picked the baby up and handed her to Helen. He didn’t want his normal hug and kiss hello. “Hello,  . Hey, Sport, say, ‘Daddy’”, he greeted his bright five-year old daughter who was playing in the kitchen as though she was helping her mother cook dinner. His son didn’t look at him when he didn’t call his name, sat quietly alone in the hall.

I don’t have to say anything. Just keep quiet and I’ll do what I want again tomorrow.

Helen came back in with the cleaned up baby wearing a clean blouse as well. She really looked frazzled as she put the one-year old down on the floor near the boy and took her drink from Norman. She ignored them both but patted Jamie on the head. The baby was eighteen months old and her attempts at crawling contrasted to the boy’s taciturn stare. He was motionless as though deep in thought and didn’t interact with his little sister.

Her husband asked her again, “So, how was your day? I don’t want to talk about mine.”

Helen started out, “I had a lot of running around to do but I managed to spend a little time with Jamie. I taught her how to peel potatoes and that was fun. She caught on fast. It was amazing. She can learn anything. Cappy was his usual self – just a lump on a log. I went to the pediatrician again. She says that he is developmentally very slow for a three-year old but maybe he is just a ‘late bloomer’. The fact that he can finally walk is encouraging but he just doesn’t seem to want to. I even put him outside but every time I went to check on him he was just standing there looking. I still can’t get a word out of him.”

She looked at me with doubt in her eyes. She didn’t sense that I had other needs that only I could fill. She drew her happiness from Jamie now. And I had another who could give me what I wanted most of all.

"The baby definitely has colic and I’d sure appreciate some help tonight if she doesn’t sleep through.” Helen knew that this was unlikely since he seemed to enjoy his ignorance of child rearing. Norman knew that she was at the end of her rope with three kids. He planned to hire Jane Redman to help her as soon as he made a little more money. Her anxiety over the possibility of retardation in her son made her feel helpless and nervous about the baby, too. Still he wanted to save for a house and had his own needs, too.

I went back again. This time I was a little more cautious since I knew what was at stake. As I walked to her house I turned away from the road when a car approached me. I walked up on the lawn since there were no sidewalks and acted like I belonged on that property. I looked at the flower gardens hoping the owners wouldn’t notice me and come outside. I didn’t want them to see me either. This time my heart raced in anticipation and not in fear when she opened the door to me. I wasn’t disappointed either and when I had my treat, sitting back on the sofa with her, I let her hug me and draw conversation from me. She wanted to know everything about me and we talked for a little while. I told her intimate details of my family hoping she would keep us a secret. I wanted her to know that I felt alone at home. ‘Have pity and keep on seeing me’, I thought. She tried to tell me that even though she liked me coming over that this way was wrong. She tried to tell me about her husband and son but my interest like my needs had waned by now and I was startled into leaving by the thought of getting caught. “I’ve got to got now”, I said very clearly, hoping the look in my eyes would keep her silent. The rest of the afternoon I was happy with my memories chasing away my loneliness with a hint of tomorrow.

It was suppertime and there was a knock at the screen door. Helen put down the baby asking Jamie, who was in the kitchen with her, to watch her for a minute. She walked down the steps, and asked, “Do I know you?” When he heard her voice the hair stood up on the back of his neck and he raced down the stairs as Helen opened the screen door. “No, my name is Eleanor Warner and I live a few blocks away. I wanted to introduce myself to you.” I looked at her smiling face and then to Dorothy’s perplexed look and made up my mind. I was defiant without a trace of embarrassment about my secret being revealed. “I want to see her again.” I addressed this to Helen who swiveled her head to look with astonishment at me. Eleanor said, “I know him already”, pointing to me. “He has been to see me twice and I thought that you really should know, if you didn’t already.”

She went on, “He has told me quite a bit about your family already.” Helen staggered back, sat down on the steps and burst into tears. I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “It’s all right, mother. Eleanor is a very nice lady and she has a son, too.” Her racking sobs upset me and Eleanor came to her comfort, too. “You must know that you have a precocious child by now and very smart, too. I have never heard a child his age speak so intelligently. Why he told me that his sister, Kathy has colic and that his sister, Jamie can spell Mississippi. He spelled it for me, too! He is quite the little man.” Helen held her head in her hands and sobbed, “Why? Why haven’t you spoken to me before?” I just said, “I didn’t have anything to say.” It was the truth. I wouldn’t let anyone talk down to me and, before Eleanor, they all did. I was content to drink in the whole world around me with nary a gulp of acknowledgement much less a word. I heard it all.

Eleanor was taken aback and quickly said, “Why today was only the second time he came to my house for candy. Yesterday I just watched him go thinking he lived close by but when I saw him walk out of sight, well, I followed him this time. I didn’t come to the door right away thinking that suppertime would be the best time to find the lady of the house at home. I thought that maybe your sitter had let him run free. Helen regained her composure momentarily and getting furious with her pent up anxiety she grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me saying, “Never leave the property again without my permission. Do you hear me?” I nodded bleakly knowing that that was an agreement I would never keep. I had my independence now and that was a fact.

She stood up and addressed Eleanor with a voice free from anxiety for once; “I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, Mrs. Warner. Thank you for your consideration in introducing yourself. I didn’t mean that you should have told me sooner. Cappy has never spoken a word to anyone before now. I guess it was a shock. Please come in for some coffee.”

Now I don’t like to brag but I was the only one of my family to become close friends with the Warner family. It was true that they owned a candy store and it was decided that I had heard an off hand comment by Norman to Helen as they drove past the Warner’s house one day with me in the front seat between them. When Helen wondered who lived in the stone house on the corner, Norman had replied that he had heard from our next door neighbors that they owned a candy store. They had a big “W” on their chimney and that was the landmark I used to navigate through the tract houses to their doorstep that day. Years later Helen would tell the story that I went up to their back door the first time and when Mrs. Warner cam to the door I stood there with my hand out. Mrs. Warner (Helen never called her by her first name) couldn’t coax a word out of me and finally put a single piece of candy in my outstretched palm. I turned and walked away. We became fast friends and my mother had to allow me to visit them often. She knew I would have gone without her permission. I became known as a ‘runaway’ and Jane Redman was hired to keep a watch over me as well as help Helen with the housework. Jane bribed me to stay home once by baking me an apple pie. I remember that as well as the gifts the Warner’s gave me. One Christmas it was a five-foot tall candy cane; a real candy cane from their candy factory. They made the candy they sold. One Easter they gave me a ten pound coconut cream egg. They allowed me to come to their house often and I got the attention I needed and sorely missed from my own parents. Their son, Bill, took an especial liking to me and this twenty-eight year old civil engineer let me wear his leather aviator’s helmet (with goggles!) on the hottest summer days. They laughed and said the sweat just poured down my face from playing in their back yard. They took me to their candy store in the Frankfurt section of Philadelphia many times and let me eat my fill from a large box of raisins never placing restrictions on me and treating me like the smart little boy I was. I had that family to myself for two years or so until my father built his dream house and moved our growing family from the small apartment over his father’s garage. Bill drove the hour up to see me several times bringing candy and cap guns for me but I couldn’t feign interest when I knew I couldn’t see them at my whim. So it is that secrets exposed can overcome the pain from needing a secret in the first place.



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written using Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition