Werewolf (the youngest child)

neighborhood games

Werewolf (the youngest child)

There’s no way to describe how scary Werewolf was during the summer when most of the kids are 6 – 10 years older than you. The night began with a fun and cooperative game. Then one of the big kids howled and it was dark enough for Werewolf. I had THREE siblings in the game. One who loved and parented me: my oldest sister, one who wanted to crush me: my older brother, one who could care less: my other sister.

Everyone ran off into the darkness, hiding as the designated Warewolf began counting to 20 aloud. I wanted to run with my oldest sister, but she was too fast and didn’t really want the liability of taking care of me when being pursued by a werewolf or werewolves as the game progressed.

Our parents were happily enjoying their summer cocktails while the kids “played in the neighborhood.” There were no screens, no apps, no phones. There were screams, scrapes, and bruises.

I learned to face my fears at five years old, playing Werewolf with the tribe of the neighborhood. My best friend was too fast to keep up with. And, he was a massive tree climber. He was always the last one to be turned into a werewolf. I couldn’t stay with him. So I was on my own in the dark running through neighbors’ backyards like a frightened baby goat. The big kids could get kind of rough. And there was always Marshall. He was the neighborhood bully. But he didn’t even live nearby. His parents were often visiting and he’d join in as the jerk he was. It was probably Marshall I was afraid of, more than being caught by a werewolf.

Scampering off into the darkness it was my fear of Marshall that drove me further and deeper into backyards I didn’t recognize. I’m guessing it was more about my dad and his rage, but Marshall really was an asshole to everyone. I think he did some time after high school for repeated DWIs or something. His family had tons of money, so it was never in the papers.

I passed by Marshall a few months ago in Whole Foods. He didn’t see me. He was dressed like a Cuban tourist with a fedora and a white why-you-wear-a shirt. Sandles. Huaraches. He still looked like an asshole. A rich and well-travelled asshole. Actually, his entire family name Kirby (not the real name) was associated with assholes. His dad was worse than Marshall. And his cousins were known in other parts as maniacs and perverts.

I nodded at Marshall as he passed me in front of coolers full of beer. I was passing through, he was trying to decide between a Mexican beer or a Jamaican beer. He was holding the doors open until they frosted over. He had no idea who I was, now that we’re both passed middle age. It felt like I was counting coop. Tap. You, sir, are an asshole. Of course, he went for the Red Stripe, three 12-packs. Headed to a party, I would guess. He was too thin to still have an alcohol problem, right?

Read more Short-Short Stories from John.

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