Link to part 2
Clubhouse, Part 3
I think all of us had seen those pink scars on Pat Jamros’ face at one time or another. Looked like she’d lost a wrestling match with a grizzly bear.
Finished with the story, the old man groaned, stretched, took his garden shears and left.
Wayne looked about ready to bolt on out of there, I noticed. He was contemplating that old cat as she calmly washed her paws on the edge of the woods. I think if that old cat had headed our way, Wayne’d shot off like a spitball through a straw.
Tommy said, “I’ll bet he made the whole thing up just to scare us out of here.”
“Let’s find out,” I said heading toward that cat and feeling pretty brave.
“Wow,” Tommy gushed a few minutes later. “It’s her clubhouse.”
The small wooden building crouched a few yards back into the woods. Roughly constructed from round corner posts and slabs of unfinished wood, the shed was long and narrow.
“It feels really solid,” Wayne said pushing against a weed-choked corner post.
There were two doors, each about five feet tall in the front panels of the building: one door on either end, somewhat like a baseball dugout. Inside, along with a multitude of insects and cobwebs, a solid wooden bench ran along the entire back wall.
“This was an old dugout once,” Tommy said excitedly. “See here where this part was open and someone boarded it up. I’ll bet there was a baseball diamond out there in the olden days.”
“Maybe Reverend Willy will let us fix it up for a clubhouse?” Tommy went on excitedly.
Wayne looked green.
I knew Wayne’s mother was a neat freak and insisted that he and his sister spend as much time as possible out of her house during the summer so that she wouldn’t have to keep cleaning up after them. His mother was so much into cleaning that half the time Wayne came outside in the morning smelling like SPIC ‘N SPAN, and on the rest of the days he smelled like LEMON PLEDGE.
Although he wasn’t big on the cleaning up part, I’d have thought Wayne would jump at the chance of an alternate place to hang out for the summer. More than once we’d had to remove our shoes and scrub our hands down to the bone before allowed to enter the Marcos house, even just to wait for Wayne at the door. Nobody would be foolish enough to want to hang out there: even on rainy days! But a clubhouse? Why wouldn’t that be just the ticket?
Tommy went to summon Reverend Willy while Wayne and I cautiously circled the clubhouse, pulling down weeds as we went.
It’s probably just as well that I was the one who found Mary’s gravestone; I tripped over it in my haste to follow Wayne to the back of the hut. A small polished chunk of pink granite with the simple words, Our Beloved Mary, engraved in curlicue letters jutted out of the weeds a few yards to the left of the leftmost clubhouse door. For a moment, I simply stood there and stared at the marker. Wayne had moved behind the clubhouse and out of my sight.
Scary flute music played a tune in my brain as Mr. Lipinski’s verbal picture of Mary came into mind. A few feet away, a scrawny calico cat exited the bushes and locked eyes with me. Knobs of goose flesh rose on my arms and I nearly jumped into the next county when Wayne tapped me on the shoulder to show me a cracked mirror that he’d found behind the clubhouse in a little trash heap.
For a brief moment—standing there over Mary’s grave and looking at the cracked mirror in Wayne’s hands—a flood of uncontrollable anger washed over me. Tears stung my eyelids as I thought about the unbelievable amount of anguish Mary must have suffered at the cruel mercy of her peers.
“Well, I’ll be,” Reverend Willy boomed. “You boys found this all by yourselves?”
The Reverend ducked his bald head through one door and rapped his knuckles against the solid wood.
“This here little shed must be a hundred years old,” he said examining the smooth round beams. Made outa cedar planks, it’ll prob’ly last another hundred years.”
I tried not to laugh as Reverend Willy minced around the back of the building through the tall weeds in his good shoes.
“Well, she looks safe enough,” he said picking burdock puffs from his summer shirt. “No gust of wind is gonna blow her over, and that is a fact. You boys wanna fix er up? Clear up the weeds and give her a good coat of paint?”
We all nodded our heads earnestly.
The Reverend seemed to notice me for the first time. He smiled broadly and patted my pigtailed head. “You too Denise? Pretty hard work for a little girl like you.”
I could see Tommy smirking behind the Pastor’s back and reminded myself to punch him later.
“Ole Deezel’s pretty tough, but we’ll let her do the easy work, Reverend Willy.” Tommy said brightly. “Me and Wayne, we’ll do all the hard stuff.”
“Well all right then,” the Reverend boomed. “The Lord always said there’s nothing wrong with a little hard work. Good for a man’s soul. If you boys need any paint or tools, check with Mr. Lipinski. And mind you return them when you’re done. Remember: The way of The Lord is reward for the upright.”
We watched Reverend Willy prance back across the cemetery.
“I think that means—yes,” Wayne said nervously. Me and Tommy cracked up laughing.
Continued in my next post
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