Rule Four: Lighten Up!

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Rule Four: Lighten Up!

I didn’t storm heatedly until I was in the street. The clouds had gathered over the sun and Gramps Truck showed its wizen rust, tinged blue from the original paint job. I wanted to go up and lay a big fat old kick to its tire, but what good would that do? A broken toe and an unquenchable bitterness.

I walked without knowing what direction I was going, but my feet clearly knew what to do. I bumbled into Liz’s hopscotch court, head down, hands in my pocket and didn’t complete realize where I was until I tripped on the curb by their house. We lived in two different sectors of the same neighborhood—mine being the age framed Victorians and theirs being the construction monstrosities of the early 2000’s—but the distance was only a ten minute walk.  She smirked at me upon my entrance, but it quickly disappeared from her face when she saw my obscene ego hanging over my head.

“You have got to stop having emo time. It is so killing my feel good vibe.” She curiously peered at me. “Who died?”

“What kind of seventeen year old plays hopscotch?”

“You didn’t answer me.”

“I’m not going to.”

Alfie came crashing out of the garage, thankfully stopping Liz’s barrage.

“Art! Art! Art!” Alfie was all chub and no muscle. A complex eight year old, he was the wiz kid of second grade with glasses to boot. He took after Liz in everyway but his looks. 

“Hey kiddo.” I ruffled his hair affectionately and he pushed my hand away.

“I’m getting to old for that.”

“I know, but that’s not gonna stop me.” He pouted at me and I chuckled. “So what you guys been up to?”

“Hopscotch,” he answered brightly.

“Game of champions.”

“You should play!”

“Think I’ll pass you up on this one, Kid.”

Liz crossed her arms over her chest. Normally when a woman did this, excessive amount of cleavage soon became visible, with Liz it was like squishing two pancakes together; the girl was as flat as board.“Aw, c’mon Art. Alfie needs some competition, he’s been schooling me.”

Alfie nodded solemnly. “It’s true.”

“Not really in the mood.” But I lined up myself at the beginning.

I had forgotten how to play hopscotch long ago, but it started to come back to me when I was tossed a bean bag. I threw the bag and then proceeded to hop on one food down the markers. 4,5,6,7...

“Stop, stop, STOP!”

I froze precariously on one leg and looked over at Alfie. “What the hell did I do wrong?”

“You stepped on a line.”

“Did not. You’re blind.”

“Yeah you did. Look,” he squatted down and pointed at a chalk line. “It’s smudged.”

“Bullshit it is!”

Matt poked his head out the garage door just before I clocked little Alfie in the nose (which was, giving the way the kid was acting, totally deserved). “Hey losers! Dinner!” He spotted me and walked out onto the concrete in his bare feet. “Joining us?”

Alifie tugged on my hand, attempting to sway my opinion in favor of staying. He only succeeded in making me fall over. I squinted up at the little Monster and he just smiled and continued to pull on my hand.

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