Reposting an older story to introduce part II. I loved playing with these kids. Illustrations by Kathleen Swain.
The Awfuls were awesome. Even though their name was Alston, the neighborhood mothers thought Awful was a better fit. We all envied them as they roamed the neighborhood with a freedom we only imagined. They weren’t mean; they just got to do exactly as they pleased. They were everywhere, playing on the railroad, staying out past dark, living a life of total freedom. They even skipped school and waved at the bus as it went by. I was so jealous.
The first and last time I was allowed to go to the Awful’s house was for Jamey Awful’s birthday party. He was a chubby freckle-faced kid with gapped up red hair. It turns out he had already gotten into his presents and worked on his hair with his birthday scissors. It was a very interesting “do.” I wished I had my own scissors. I knew I could do just fine on my hair.
Well, the party was great!! Mrs. Awful really knew how to throw a party. She went straight back in the house, turned the TV up loud and the fun began!! Jamey cranked up the water hose and squirted everybody before moving on to the cats and dogs. They scattered, so the chickens were next. Chickens hate water!!! They squawked and flew up in the trees. Jamey’s little sister Becky wandered around the corner and got a blast!!! She went squalling to Mama, so Mrs. Awful left the TV long enough to yell at Jamey for squirting his sister. Water play was over.
Since the chickens were still in the trees, we decided to see if they had laid any eggs. Jamey found a rotten one and threw it against the barn. It made a loud pop, splattering a large stinky sunburst on the side of the barn. We threw a few more, just to see if they were rotten. By the time we were out of eggs, the barn was covered in dripping sunbursts. I was a little worried, but there didn’t seem to be any rules at the Awfuls. We tried to catch the baby chicks. That mother hen came flying out of nowhere and starting beating us with her wings, pecking wildly, and scratching with her spurs. I couldn’t wait to put that baby down. Apparently, chicken rules are the same everywhere.
Jamey took us to see the new baby pigs. He climbed over the rails of the pigpen and signaled the rest of us to come on in. Still battered from the chicken beating, we waited on the top fence rail. Mama Pig was huge. She was sleeping on her side with eight cute little beside her. Jamey said she wouldn’t miss one. Boy was he wrong. The second he picked that pig up, it squealed like it was dying. The gigantic mama pig woke up furious, lunging at Jamey. Jamey barely escaped being eaten, flying over the fence, leaving his new birthday shoes for Mama Pig. She snorted and chewed up one sad shoe, just to show what she could do. The other lay all alone in the mud, waiting to be a snack.
When Mrs. Awful called us for birthday cake and ice cream, she paid no attention to our muddy, rotten-egg smelling clothes or Jamey’s missing birthday shoes. Loading us up with birthday cake and ice-cream, she went straight back to her TV. To this day, that’s still the best party I ever went to! Good Old Mrs. Awful!!!