A short story by Shelby Sutton
The Oaks was a tiny town apart of a bigger town; back in 1968 is was not like the town I see today; with shopping malls, highways, huge housing development. 1968 we had nothing but woods; children would ice skate during the winter time on this swamp; old swamp had it stories. Where, our “big time”; shopping mall was just a long dark wooden road; scary as hell as a kid. You always felt that an axe murderer was going to pop out at any minute; kids use to go back in those woods to drink and party; kid stuff. But now, that part is gone, all gone by corporate America.
The winter of 68 was a harsh winter as my parents can retell I was a little baby at this time; still living in Fairview a county over. This is when Fairview was not considered to be one of America’s highest crime rated city; it was rather a nice middle class town. Tons of families with tons of children; with a huge soup company on the river; could ride your bike down the street; now a days you can without getting mugged.
My sister, my parents, and I all moved into The Oaks in 1972 I was about 4 years old at the time, our house was brand new; built on top of a swamp; sometimes if it rained hard enough my backyard was a swimming pool. I was about 5 years old the first time I saw Timmy; Timmy always looked dirty; matter of fact I don’t think I ever saw him without that dumb old red sweater; even in the summertime; he had ashy blonde hair with the deepest blue eyes ever.What was really weird he hated my backyard. He was about my age maybe a little older; but not by much many a year or two. I remember the first time I saw Timmy he was running up my steps in my house and I thought to myself where the hell did this kid come from, but hey, it was the 1970’s you rarely locked your doors.
Timmy came over all the time, it was like he would just show up; I wouldn’t even here my front door open he was just there. My sister who was about 6 years older than me never liked Timmy. I could never understand why; “he’s just creepy I don’t like talking about it, Ted; it’s like he is just there” and that was the end of my conversation with my older sister about Timmy. My parents were never home always at work; I had a great childhood just my parents weren’t ever home so I never knew their thoughts one my new neighborhood friend; actually he was one of my only friends. All of the other kids from my neighborhood parents told them they couldn’t play with me because I was too rough, and I cursed sometimes. I mean shit; I didn’t have any supervision so I just did what I pleased to do.
It wasn’t until a little after the fifth grade Timmy and I stop being so close it was almost like he just stayed a little kid and I was getting into girls; I like risky things like, running from cops, beating on kids when they won a game; you know dumb boy stuff. Timmy was a still into toy trucks; silly baby stuff. Pulse I thought he was a little weird he would never let me come over, I never even met the damn kid’s parents, we couldn’t even play ice hockey down by the elementary school that was a few blocks over, during winter time; which every kid did during this time. So I just started to make friends with older kids and stop being home less and less, and Timmy kind of disappeared.
“Mom!”…… “Mom, come quick” Terry scream in terror, Terry could see her hot steamy breath in the cold air of January. She watches in horror as a little boy gasping for air from the murky water.
“Somebody, help him he’s dying” Terry still screaming until her throat hurt; trying to through sticks and semi big logs in the grassy green water that is now covered in broken ice. As all the children are looking at this poor boy drowning and gasping for air; no one seemed to help him. It was too cold for anyone else to dive in and could not dare to touch the splintering ice before them.
By the time the police came and gone Terry felt awful she let her little brother die because she had a fear of water that you could not see the bottom. Hot tears ran down her face as if it was hot boiling water being splashed on her. She wouldn’t dare to look at herself in the mirror; her one and only little brother is gone and it was all her fault. By the time his funeral came and gone she still held onto his favorite red sweater, that grandma made him just a few weeks prior to the drowning.
I have moved out of that house on Norbit Ave in 1988 with my girlfriend of 8 years, we got married June 1990 and 1993 was the worst and best year of my life; my now wife gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Elizabeth, and my father passed away one month before her arrival. In the damp evening of March my mother woke in a horror to her husband lying limp next to her on the bed; it was a heart attack.
We had the funeral a very few days afterwards; it was heartbreaking my dad a great man was now gone. After the funeral my family came back to my childhood home in The Oaks; I felt the cold air as a walk in still confused as way God took my daddy from me. I sat beside my grandpop and my mom; we talked about all the great stories my dad have done over the years; he was a great man and still wish that my daughter were able to meet the man of my mother’s dreams.
I noticed my grandpop was fixed on our steps that head up to our upstairs that’s had two bedrooms, and a 1970’s finished bathroom with pink tile; he slightly elbowed me in the ribs “Hey Teddy, who is that little boy that just ran up the steps”
“Little boy?” I was just annoyed thinking he was trying to make a joke knowing that fact that we wanted a girl but still wanted to be surprised at the sex of the baby “ What little boy? This isn’t the time for jokes right now, I’m kinda tired”
“No..No.. the little boy with the red sweater, right there” Grandpop seemed to be not bothered at all “ I mean where did he come from? Hey Dorothy you let neighborhood kids run in out of this place like a damn barn?”
At this point I was so lost in my thought and thought about Timmy remembering that he always wore that stupid red sweater. Jeez, I thought I wonder what he is doing, maybe he still lives around here, but I have no clue where his parents even lived or what they looked like. I started to feel bad because he was my one true friend and the first friend I made.
“Hey mom, Kath; you guys remember my friend Timmy when I was little?”
My sister looked more scared then my mother; probably because by the time my mother came home from work I was already asleep for her to remember my childhood friends.
“They never told you about Timmy, I guess” my sister Kathy said looking down. My sister ran upstair into the closet next to her old room before moving out at the age of 19.
“Here take a look at this” Throwing an old newspaper clipping on my lap.