He passed Jimmie Joe. “Petey, wait.” He ran faster and didn’t even look when he crossed the
highway. He raced by the clumps of older kids. The girls’ gabble stopped as he flew by. One said, “Phew. He stinks.” The rest of them giggled.
At Main and Maple, with the American Legion on one corner and Kleinhammer’s new grocery store under construction opposite, he turned left, ran past Marcella Mengele’s Hair Salon, the volunteer firehouse, Kleinhammer’s current store, Grossman’s funeral parlor, and then cut through the empty lot. When he rounded the corner at the rear of the house by the cistern, Petey let loose and bawled as loud as he could. It didn’t take long. His momma opened the door.
“Petey, what happened?” “Fants,” he yelled, and he went back to sobbing. “There, there.” She hugged him and didn’t seem to mind the
stink and the mud. “Pop gets home, I’ll tell him.” Pop worked at the Farmers’ Co-operative Elevator. He stayed
late that night loading grain into freight cars. Petey was asleep before he came home.
“Wake up,” and the lights coming on jerked Petey out of a deep dark hole with his heart pounding.
Petey squinted through fingers over his eyes. His pop stood in the doorway, filling it.
“You come home bawling, you vex your momma,” he said. “Do not vex your momma.” He glared at Petey for a moment, turned out the light, and pulled the door shut.