Carol Kaczmarek was a screamer.
Back when we all played War in the connected backyards behind the houses that lined School Street and Willow Street, we made forts in the lilac bushes and used sticks like swords and flung mud balls and dog turds at our enemies from the basket of Dad’s old lacrosse stick; we took our prisoners to the shed behind the Larsons’ horse trailer, and we’d threaten to torture them with the snaffle bits and the other riding gear that hung on hooks on the walls, though mostly we never followed through—the worst we ever did was make them take their pants down. But nevertheless, whenever things got the least bit interesting or dangerous, it was Carol’s piercing scream that summoned the authorities—a parental dictatorship that would shut down the whole business.
So naturally, it was Carol who screamed the loudest and was the first to run to the nearest adult to tell on Big David and Annie when they tossed Tim Lenfers too hard and too far playing Statues. That was in the Lenfers’ backyard after supper on the last day of school.
Tim’s collarbone got broken, and it looked like he’d have to skip swimming at Miller Park Pool that whole summer. His mother, Cheri, made Big David and Annie’s mother, Joan, pay the emergency room bill. Joan didn’t really have the money, being the only single mother on the block so far. That was why there wasn’t money for the pool for Big David and Annie either. They’d have to miss out on swimming just like Tim, and it looked like they, too, would be stuck, staying home, bored to death, while their mother went off to work. It was a raw deal, but no one could say it wasn’t fair. […]