The next day me and Schwartz, Flick, and Bruner make a B-line to the alley. There’s a whole new bunch of teeth. This goes on for about three weeks. I’m collecting some of the greatest teeth you ever saw in your life. I’m hiding them every night under the bed.
One night I reach under my bed and the teeth are gone! My mother has cleaned out all the dirt and all the little grubbles that’s under the bed. All the footballs and all the shoes and junk are all neatened up now, but my cans of teeth are gone! My mother has been out shopping and I hear her coming up the back steps. Oh my god! I try to make it out the front.
“Stop!” she says.
“What do you want, ma?”
She says, “Whose teeth are these? Look at this!” She has the cans. Where did you get these?”
“Where did you get these teeth? I’m giving them back to whoever they belong to.”
“Aaaa…we were…me and Schwartz and Flick and Bruner…aaaa”
“You and Schwartz and Flick and Bruner too?”
“Yea, we were coming home from school, aaaa…”
“Just a minute.” She gets the phone and dials and I hear her talking. “Mrs. Schwartz, will you please look under your boy’s bed.”
Then you hear out of the phone, “Arrrrrgh!”
She says, “I have cans here, too. I’ll call Flick’s mother. Yes. No, I’ll find out. You stay there. Alright.”
She dials the phone. I’m a fink. I can just see poor Flick walking around innocently when the phone rings. My mother says, “Mrs. Flickinger, will you please look under Flick’s bed. “ Pause. “Just look.”
I hear “Arrrrrgh!” They live only four houses down and I can hear it from the phone and also from down the block, like stereo. There’s a pause and then I hear Flick, “Waaaaaaaa!” The long arm of retribution.
My mother turns to me and says, “Alright now. Where did you get these? You can’t lie to me! Don’t lie!” How many times have you been told that as a kid? And how many times did you lie last week alone? Every time I hear the word “lie,” I taste my mother’s universal panacea for lying, a brand new bar of Lifeboy Soap, right in the mouth.
There is that pause. “Where did you get them?”
“Well…we…me and Schwartz and Flick and Bruner…” I’m wildly grasping. She never really knew that me and Schwartz and Flick and Bruner spent almost our entire kid world looking for stuff in the garbage. I remember coming home from kindergarten and finding stuff that was far more educational than blocks.
MORE TEETH TO COME.