It’s five-thirty, late afternoon-early evening.
Mom’s in the kitchen cooking dinner. I’m on the couch watching TV, my sister is across the street in the girls schoolyard riding her bike.
“Can I go to Joe’s for pizza?” I ask her.
“No, I’m making dinner.”
I shake my head and stare at the TV. Every time I ask for money to go to Joe’s she says no. I know exactly what she’s making tonight and I hate it. We eat them every Friday night for supper.
“Get over here and take down the garbage.”
I ignore her.
“Hey mister, I’m talking to you!”
“You do it,” I say to her as I get up from the couch and walk to my bedroom.
Mom is pissed, she slams the big spoon that she uses to stir the beans down on the stove. It makes a loud noise.
I hated taking the garbage out. We lived on the third floor, right over Bob’s Hardware store. We didn’t have garbage cans in front of our house to put the bags of trash in, we just threw it on the sidewalk against the johnny pump.
Mom follows me to the bedroom.
“TAKE THAT GARBAGE DOWN, NOW!”
I ignore her again as I pick up a copy of basketball digest, my favorite magazine and begin reading. I act like she’s not even there.
“OK, THAT’S HOW IT’S GONNA BE?” she says as she walks out of my room.
I put the magazine down and look out the window. Our windows in our apartment face Holy Name, I have a clear view into the girls schoolyard. The convent is directly across from us. I spot my sister riding her bike across the yard; she’s showing off by riding with no hands as two of her friends are run alongside her. There are two boys playing double-wall.
I stick my head out the window and hear mom downstairs calling across the street to my sister telling her dinner is ready. Mom’s got a loud voice. She slams the garbage bag down on the ground, I hear a bottle smash inside the bag.
She’s pissed off.
I watch my sister leave the yard and ride to the corner of Windsor and ninth to wait for the green light.
At supper time the avenue is packed with traffic going in both directions. I watch her cross on the green.
A few of my friends are going to Joe’s up on Prospect Avenue for dinner. Sometimes they go to Mom’s across the street and I really want to join them. Frank’s down on seventh avenue and Prospect is always a frequent spot we like to go. At Joe’s they have a special on Friday’s; two slices and a coke for a dollar-fifty. But mom is being a tight wad and not letting me go.
“GET OUT HERE, DINNER’S READY!” she screams through our railroad apartment. I’m sure if you were standing outside our apartment downstairs on the sidewalk you could hear her.
I make my way out to the kitchen and see my sister sitting at the table. Her face is dirty, as well as her hands.
“Can you bring my bike up?” she asks me as she takes a sip of orange soda from her glass.
I shoot her a look like, “you kidding me?”
“YEAH, GO DOWNSTAIRS AND BRING YOUR SISTER’S BIKE UPSTAIRS BEFORE SOMEONE STEALS IT!” Mom says as she places our plates down on the table.
I look at the food and it looks disgusting; fish cakes and beans.
Mom always piles brown beans on top of the cakes. It always seems like she puts the whole can of beans on my plate.
I walk out of the apartment and down the two flights of stairs to grab the bike which is sitting in the hallway on the bottom floor. Our landlady, Fanny hates it when we leave our bikes in the hallway. I do it all the time. I hate carrying my bike all the way upstairs.
As I get to the bottom of the stairs I say, “fuck it, I’m outta here…”
Instead of bringing my sister’s bike upstairs and instead of eating dinner, I take off and head up to Joe’s. Maybe someone will buy me a slice?