Monday, June 21, 2010

Finding Freddy

Originally published in Dogzplot

Freddy lived next door. He had club hands. His thumbs and fingers were folded inward against his palms, resulting in two permanent fists.

Because of this physical oddity, the rest of us boys allowed Freddy special concessions. If we played 'Red Light, Green Light' in the middle of the street, we pretended not to notice the extra steps Freddy sneaked while everyone else stood frozen. When we played 'Dodge Ball,' the ball never came near him. And in the evenings when we played 'Hide-n-Seek,' Freddy never got found.

This afternoon on Freddy's front porch we played 'Rock-Paper-Scissors.' Of course, none of us ever brought our hands up to reveal anything but scissors, which Freddy's permanent rock repeatedly crushed.

When Freddy got up to go to the bathroom, his mother came out of the house and confronted us. She wiped her hands on her apron and said, "Treating Freddy special does him more harm than good."

After Freddy sat back down, we resumed our game of 'Rock-Paper-Scissors.' This time, however, our palms always came up open to shroud his fisted hand. Later, in the road, when Freddy shuffled his feet in 'Red Light, Green Light,' we sent him marching to sit on the curb. Playing 'Dodge Ball,' I carefully aimed the ball at Freddy, then hurled it so hard it blasted his head and left a purple bruise blossoming on his face.

I felt a little bad after that, and it wasn't until we got around to playing 'Hide-n-Seek' that it struck me that Freddy's mother had been right. Each time one of us found and dragged Freddy out of his hiding place, he gave off a loud and unfamiliar howl of joy.

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