By Aurora M. Lewis
There were five of them, the youngest in diapers pulled around in a red wagon, sometimes venturing to circle the block. That summer their beige skin baked to a toasty brown, their sandy hair a mass of curls, tangles, locked in dreads. Their father drove a pickup truck collecting junk, and their mother cleaned houses on the west side of town. So many children running amok until catching sight of their father’s faded blue truck.
A game of Locked Out, all the doors and windows of the big two-story house shut tight. Only two of the children allowed inside, the others attempting to break their way in. The bathtub filled with hot water to stop anyone from managing to climb into a window and yell,“Olly, Olly Oxen, I win!” The baby sat on the sofa sucking from a bottle of milk, her diaper dripping with pee. The others fended for themselves eating jelly sandwiches, frozen Kool-Aid pops, and such, but on this day a piece of spoiled chicken, forgotten overnight on the kitchen counter, took its toll.
Jeanette, four years old, banged on the door screaming she had to go as she was the one who ate the spoiled drum leg for lunch. Another sister kicked at the screen, ringing the doorbell, “Let her in, let her in!” The two inside laughed, mocking the outsiders for trying such a trick. Gripping her rumbling belly, Jeanette fell to her knees and moaned, her bowels let loose sending shit down her chubby legs. Those on the porch screamed and backed away. The front door opened, but it was too late.
The oldest sister helped Jeanette step out of her soiled underpants, and a brother holding his nose placed them in the trash can sitting at the curb. All escorted her to the filled bathtub to wash her little butt. A heathen of a boy who lived next door retrieved the soiled panties, placed them on a broken mop stick, and paraded up and down the block, proclaiming to all, “Here are Jeanette’s panties!” thinking of himself a Color Guard, marching with his flag.
The children’s father’s blue truck turned the corner and saw his child’s shame. The rattling truck pulled into the driveway, coming to a screeching halt. Removing his belt from his trousers, he walked slowly towards the house. After that, the game of Locked Out was played no more. The brood of toasty brown children faded back to beige, spending the remaining of their summer days locked indoors.