Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street. Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

* * * * *

Boy! that’s a long one!

I dropped my bike in the yard by the front steps and let out a long whoopee! It were Friday and I was goin’ fishin’ with my pa in the mornin’. We was gonna take the tent and pitch it down by the old fort at the south bend of the river. Gonna have fish fer lunch and dinner, and meybe breakfast if we caught enough trout.

I pulled the chewin’ gum wrapper outta my pants pocket and folded it the way pa showed me, this way and that to make a right angle. Then I got the gum wrapper rope from the pony express pouch on my handle bars and fit it through the end. Boy! That’s a long one! I whistled. Why it musta been all of four feet or more.

old house“I’m home, ma!” I spit my old gum inter the bushes and ran up the front steps screen door slammin’ behind me, through the parlor to the kitchen, draggin’ that rope all the way. I could smell them cookies ma was makin’ clear out in the yard. It wadn’t bakin’ day, though. And it weren’t cookies. It were a pound cake, she said. I wondered if she knew that ’cause she weighed it on the bathroom scales. “What’s it fer?”

“It’s for Mrs. Pauley.” Ma wiped her hands on her flowered apron and tucked her short brown hair behind her ears. She stetched a sticky sheet of bakin’ wrap over the cake so it wouldn’t get mussed up. “Rev. Davis is coming by to see her this afternoon and I thought it might be nice if she had something to offer him with her lemonade. I know she’s not doing much baking these days.”

Mrs. Pauley was the old lady what lived across the street from us. Her and her mister had lived there from way afore I were born. But her mister, he had up and died from what they call a new-mon-ya some three months ago. They’s always been nice to me. Mr. Pauley paid me a quarter fer mowin’ their lawn and helpin’ weed the vegetable garden. I’d even helped pa paint their house. All the houses on our street needed paintin’, and all the lawns needed cuttin’. But pa and I had our hands full with ours and theirs. And Mrs. Pauley, why she made the best dern lemonade on Council St.

I hadn’t seen Mrs. Pauley much since her mister died. I kept mowin’ the lawn and pa would weed the garden while ma sat with her on the porch swing and talked. Mrs. Pauley cried a lot. But it was pa that was payin’ me now, not her. “What’s he comin’ to see her fer?”

“He’s coming to see if she needs some help from the church. She hasn’t had money to pay the rent since her husband died. Everyone’s worried about her and wondering what she’s going to do.”

Seemed I was gonna be here fer a bit so I got a nuther stick of gum outta my pocket and wadded it up in my mouth. I folded the foil and the wrapper like usual and fastened them to the end of my rope. “Cain’t she go live with nun of them boys she gots?” Ma looked just plain ornery when I ast her that. Them ole boys of Mrs. Pauley’s, why they weren’t much good fer nothun. I’d heerd ma say so in a real loud voice. No one had seen hide ner hair of ’em since their pa’s funeral.

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you. We’re not sure why they haven’t come to help her. Rev. Davis is going to ask her if he can call them.”

“That’s sad.” I liked old Mrs. Pauley. I thought meybe it was them ole boys that was makin’ her cry. “But she’s got us, right, ma?” Smilin’ she ruffled my carrot orange hair and took my rope.

“Boy! That’s a long one,” she said holdin’ it up beside me. “Why it’s nearly as tall as you!”

“Pert near,” I said.

That’s when we heerd the commotion cross the street. Someone was bangin’ on Mrs. Pauley’s door and shoutin’ loud fer her to come out. Ma and me ran out to the stoop to see what the ruckus was all about. There was some old geezer (pa said it was ok to use that word, it weren’t a cuss word) in a tight blue suit jist poundin’ and poundin’ on that door. And then a police car pulled up in front of Mrs. Pauley’s house. The copper got outta the car and hurried up the sidewalk to the porch like he was all important. He handed that loud old man a piece of paper.

“I’ve got it now,” that old blue sucker yelled, wavin’ that piece of paper over his head. “You gotta git out of my house right now, you hear, old woman!”

Ma sucked her breath in hard and I chewed that wad of gum even harder.

“What they gonna do to Mrs. Pauley, ma?”

“They’re trying to make her leave her home.”

“But why? She belongs there. She’s lived there longer than anyone else on this street. That’s not fair. Why they wanna do that to that nice old lady, ma?”

She didn’t answer me, just went back inside and got on the telephone. I heerd her call pa at the bike shop, then she dialed another number and asked fer the preacher. THEN, perty as you please, she came back out the screen door and marched herself across that street apron and all and ran right up on the porch. ‘Tweren’t long before pa and the preacher showed up, and Mrs. Pauley finally opened the door and let ’em all in.

I guessed the show was over so I wandered back in the house. I hoped Mrs. Pauley wouldn’t have ter leave. I unwrapped another stick of gum and shoved it in my mouth with the other one. Two more wrappers fer my chain. Yep. Perty soon that sucker was gonna be as tall as me. I looked at ma’s cake on the table and wondered if they’d be needin’ it after all. I had a thought about takin’ a piece, but I reckoned it’d weigh less than a pound then, so got me a orange soda outta the ice box instead and ran out back to add the two gum wrappers to my rope. Yep! It was gonna be a long one!