Time seemed to have stopped as I waited for the normal sounds of daily life to cease.
I lay wide-eyed in the dark, listening, listening, until the quiet voices in another bedroom diminished into the heavy breathing of sleep. Even so, I waited until the perceived drowsiness drifted into deep slumber.
Quietly, oh so quietly, I pulled my covers down revealing blue jeans and T-shirt, rose up on my knees, placed one and then the other leg over the bedrail, and climbed down from the upper bunk. Now on the floor, I tiptoed barefoot over the cool linoleum, carrying my sneakers in one hand as I used the other to carefully turn the door lock to the left.
Pull back the door just wide enough to get through, exit into the summer night, then quietly close the door behind you. Now you are free.
Kneeling on the concrete pad, I donned my shoes. My night was just beginning.
I walked silently over the grass, quickly crossed the road and continued over more grass and into the woods. My destination was a dark shape in the gloom of night.
Decision time: Should I maintain my stealth or make my presence known?
That’s a no-brainer. No way was I gonna spend a perfectly good night by myself on the outside.
Inside were all the “big” guys in the neighborhood. They had assembled earlier that evening to “camp out” in the Daniel tent.
I must have made some animal-like noises because I could hear them debating about what lurked outside. Finally, I ended the uncertainty by peeking inside the flap.
“Hey, it’s Larry,” shouted one of the neighbor kids. “Come on in.”
Meanwhile, my two older brothers were looking flabbergasted that little Larry had snuck over in the middle of the night to the event that their parents had declared taboo for him.
I’m not sure what my age was at the time, except to note that it was too young in my parents’ eyes. Perhaps they felt that the older boys’ conversation could delve into areas not appropriate for my innocent ears.
Nevertheless, I was in, I was one of the guys — at least until morning. I was camping with the big boys, hearing what they say in off-guard moments when, perchance, sleepiness outweighs discretion.
Eventually, sleepiness brought conversation to a close. As the five or six older boys nodded off one by one, I remained wide awake.
Before the eastern sky began to lighten, I exited the tent and made my way back through the woods, over the Daniel yard, across the road and onto our lawn. I retraced my steps to the back door, removed my shoes and silently opened the door.
Back in my bedroom, I quietly climbed back up to my top bunk, hurdled the rail and eased back under the covers. Mission accomplished.
Sleep was slow in coming as I reviewed in my mind the clandestine events of the night. The adrenaline was still flowing in response to my illicit activity.
Finally, energy gave way to somnolence and I fell into dreams of special operations and cloak-and-dagger exploits.
Mama must have wondered why I slept late that morning. She may have thought I had picked up some bug or been bitten by a tick.
But maybe she chalked it up to a little boy sleeping late on a Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, my secret was safe. Or so I thought.
My brothers, David and Ronnie, trudged home later that morning. They walked in the door and began foraging for food. Mama wanted news about the campout and she got it.
“Hey Mama,” David said, “guess what Larry did last night?”
You just can’t trust anybody in the spy business.
Larry Penkava, who never told Mama about the “big” boys’ BB gun shootout, is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, email@example.com.