Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Class Assignment: “Sneaky Kids, Nosy Parents”

(No title given)
Fiction by Steve Johnston and read on 11/24/04

In the small town of Wolverine Falls in Northern California lived a wholesome family of five, the Hathaways. The parents’ names were Joyce and Trevor. There were teenage twins, Stacie and PacMan—otherwise known as Geoff. The littlest was Minnie, a tomboy nearing eleven.
Out of earshot of the kids Joyce said, “Trevor, should we be worried about Geoff’s grades? They’re lower this semester than last, which were lower than at the end of his sophomore year.”
Having read all he wanted to about the Vietnam War beginning its seventh year, Trevor looked up from his paper and remarked, “Well, he knows he won’t remain on the football team with poor grades. I wish he’d start dating a smart girl like Mary Ellen who could tutor him. You know,” he grinned, “the way you used to tutor me.” Then he added, “…up in the hayloft.”
Trevor ducked reflexively at the sight of the large object thrown his direction, but it was only a pillow.
Joyce exclaimed apologetically, “Sorry, I didn’t realize at first that you were telling me I’m smarter than you. Thank you, sir.”
Trevor started to argue the point then thought better of it.
“Back on the matter of grades,” Joyce said by way of changing the subject, “I feel the same way about the likely effect of Mary Ellen on Geoff’s grades—provided they were dating, which they’re not. Her mother confirmed it.”
Only silence.
Finally, Trevor lamented, “I’m worried about more than just Geoff’s grades. I think that Lawson boy, Billy, may be a bad influence. And they seem to be spending a lot of time together. What do you think of Billy?”
He seems well-mannered to me, but his father comes across as rather surly at times.”
Minnie tromped down the stairs, entered the living room and announced,“ Stacie’s burning that awful incense again. It makes me sneeze. Make her stop!” Now she was whining.
“Precious, I don’t know why she uses it either,” Joyce said supportively. “I guess she just likes the fragrance. Why don’t you finish your homework in the kitchen tonight?”
“I suppose I can, this once.” And she pushed through the swinging door into the kitchen. Joyce immediately heard the clink of the lid on the cookie jar.
Trevor sighed, “At least we don’t have to worry about either of the girls. That’s a blessing.”
The next morning, with everyone else away at school or work, Joyce carried some laundry into Stacie’s room. Before she had time to notice the new psychedelic poster on the wall, she sniffed the air. She knew the lingering odor of tobacco, but couldn’t identify the smell as cigarette smoke. She had seen one or two of Stacie’s girlfriends smoking at a bus stop. However, she had never seen Stacie so much as hold a cigarette in her hand. Stacie came home from school before her father, so she’d have time to have a talk with her. Then, she went on with her day.
Goeff came home unexpectedly at lunchtime. Joyce could see Billy behind the wheel of his VW Minivan.
“Hey, Mom, Billy and I are really hungry. Could you make us a couple of ham and cheese sandwiches—each?”
“Yeah, I can do that. But if Billy wants to eat my food, he’s going to have to come in for it.”
“OK, Mom, I know -- you have to have a look at what Billy’s wearing or whatever. I’ll go get him in a second.”
As Joyce and the two boys were sitting at the table finishing some apple pie, Joyce queried, “Goeff, is that marijuana I smelled upstairs this morning?”
“You haven’t been in my room again, have you?” he said with some stress in his voice. “I was sure I locked it.”
Joyce pressed her point. “No, I haven’t touched it. But Stacie worries me. I think she may be smoking pot.”
Billy chimed in, “Goeff doesn’t give her enough pot to cause you concern.”
At first Joyce felt thunderstruck. But, recovering, she glowered at Geoff. “What is Billy saying? You don’t have anything to do with marijuana, do you? Do you?!”
Billy went on with unraveling Stacie’s secret.“ Stacie only smokes a couple of roaches when she’s really stressed.
Seeing Goeff wasn’t going to be forthcoming, Joyce looked Billy in the eye. “Are you going to tell me next that you and Goeff smoke, what – “grass”?”
“Heck, no, Mrs. Hathaway. We don’t smoke it. We just grow it, up in the National Forest.”

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