Monday, July 4, 2016
The boys all received permission and went house to house, gathering the necessities, hands full of change either from parents or from the pockets of the jeans they'd worn the day before, or in Felix's case, an actual piggy bank, white with large black eyes and blue flowers painted on it, which the other boys smiled but didn't outright laugh at.
Amadeo fended off questions about Angelo, saying only that he had chores to do before he could go anywhere. The other boys groaned in sympathy as some of them were sent last minute to take out the trash or run the push mower over their lawns before they were given permission to go to the pond. With all of them working together to get the chores done it wasn't long before they were all walking toward the pond, tugging several little wagons behind them which were loaded with supplies and snacks.
They walked leisurely, enjoying the sunshine and each picking and leading the others in their favorite songs. They laughed and danced along to Yakkity Yak as they walked along, once they were out of sight of the houses on the street, with Jim providing the bass 'Don't talk back.'
The boys spent the day swinging from the rope on the tree, ducking each other, swimming laps or racing. Dennis had brought a ball and they spent some time batting it back and forth over an invisible net which seemed to change it's position depending on who hit the ball and where it landed.
Amadeo kept thinking about Angelo, wishing he could be there with them but understanding that he'd once again gone off without telling anyone where he was headed. He sighed, wondering how someone as intelligent as Angelo could keep making the same mistake repeatedly. Sure he could be a little absent minded and forgetful at times, scatterbrained was how 'Deo's father had affectionately described it, but taking off without telling anyone where he was going was a bad habit of his. He wondered how his boy was doing. The third time he got bopped on the head with the ball for not paying attention to the game he excused himself from it and went on the blanket they'd spread to lie in the sun.
"That is so not fair." Jim complained, coming to sit down beside him.
"What's that?" Amadeo asked, shading his eyes to look at his friend.
"You're out in the sun for like thirty seconds and you get tan. You come back to school every year looking like you've been to Hawaii for the summer and the rest of us either burn and get a little tan or we come back peeling like bananas." he griped.
Deo laughed and dug into his bag. He found the suntan lotion and passed it to Jim. "I don't know if it's going to keep you from burning but it might help with the tanning a little. Or, for all I know you'll fry like Mrs. Witt's chicken, in which case we'll share you round for dinner."
"Oh man, that's bad." Jim laughed, pouring lotion into his hand and smearing it everywhere he could reach.
"Want me to get your back?" Amadeo asked.
"Nah, I got it," Jim said, contorting his body and arms in what looked like seriously uncomfortable positions in order to reach the spots on his back. 'Deo could see where Jim missed but didn't pursue the matter. Odds were that the other boy would be lying on his back anyway so it hardly mattered.
"So what's the story with Angelo?"
Amadeo's stomach tensed a little, "In what way?" he asked casually.
"What's with him and those other guys? I heard they're a bad bunch and it just seems weird that Ange would hang with guys like that when he's got us."
Amadeo leaned up on one elbow to look down at his friend. "What guys?"
"They're from the next town over, from what I heard, go to school at Wilson High, couple of 'em dropped out even, if I heard right."
"When did you see them hanging out?"
"I was out with my folks coming home from my cousin's house around eleven one night last week and I saw him with that bunch. It was only for a minute but I know it was him."
"Did you tell anyone?" 'Deo asked casually.
"Nah! Like I was gonna rat on a friend? No way, man."
"Did you see him any other times?"
"Yeah, about the time you guys were all worrying about Beth Ann, I was riding bikes with Eddie and Felix, and we saw him with those guys out by the water service station. At first I worried that they were Brice and Freddie's friends, and we started to go after him, but then he saw us and he went around the corner out of sight. Then all these guys came out from behind the building and stood there looking at us. We didn't see him anymore, and decided not to go any further, and we turned around and left right quick."
"You said they go to Wilson?" Amadeo said, brow furrowed in thought. "What on earth would they be doing all the way out here?"
"From what I heard, yeah. They might be actually be real good guys, but you know what they say about those kids from Wilson, and me, I don't wanna take that chance, y'know? And why they're here? Dunno. Maybe they're looking for new territory?"
"Yeah, I know." Amadeo said thoughtfully. "And if they're looking to expand 'territory', this might be a bigger problem than we think."
"So... what's going on, should we call someone?"
"Not yet. Let me talk to Ange first. I know he made friends with them before he started hanging out with us, he might have just run into them and been catching up." he said, not really convincing either of them. "Um, Jimmy? Why'n't you say something about this sooner? I'm just curious."
"Well, he came back and he was fine." Jim said a little defensively. "I mean, he was the one that went and hid when he saw us. If he'd'a been hurt I'da called someone right then, and if he didn't show up later just fine I'd've said something, you know that, don't you?"
"Yeah, I know. No worries. I just wondered." Amadeo said, trying to brush it off. He couldn't help but to wonder if he'd met up the guys at other times, times when Angelo had perhaps told his parents he was going to be with him or the other guys. He knew that Angelo had promised his father that he wouldn't hang out with those kids again, Angelo had told him himself. What was going on?
"Hey!" shouted Milo, running up onto the grass and shaking water all over the two other boys. "What's with the serious faces? Something wrong?"
"No," 'Deo said quickly, "Jim is just complaining that he's fried chicken and I'm a sun kissed Adonis." he finished, flexing his muscles and posing.
"That reminds me,” Milo said, turning toward the wagon with the basket from Amadeo's house, "Is there any chicken left?"
Yakkity Yak, The Coasters, 1958
Label Atlantic Records