Fiction © copyright 2013 by Sara Jacobelli
The Evil Mary Fran Series
“Shop lifting is fun!” declared the Evil Mary Fran. We stood in front of Shopper’s Fair Department Store on Boston Avenue.
“Well. . .what are we gonna steal?” I was excited, but nervous. I didn’t want my Aunt Ruthie to find out. However, like any true criminal, the thrill of the potential reward far exceeded the fear of punishment.
“I know. Come here!” She grabbed my arm and pulled me around to the back of the parking lot. Several turned-over crates used as seats, strewn cigarette butts and empty beer bottles revealed the spot to be a teenage hangout. I felt like I was in a pirate’s den. “We’ll take off our shoes, and go in barefoot.” Mary Fran’s eyes glinted with delight at the brilliance of her scheme. “Then we’ll get some Converse high tops, neat ones, in real cool colors, put em on, see, and then run out the store.”
This was tempting. And I wanted a pair so bad. My mom wouldn’t buy me the Converses, she said they cost too much. I knew I deserved them. “But whadda we tell our parents when we come home with extra shoes? New shoes?” I’d seen enough TV cop shows to know criminals usually got caught for not thinking things through.
“We tell em, we tell em. . .” Mary Fran puffed on a cigarette. I had to admit, for a fifth grader, she was a pretty good smoker.
“I know, we tell em we gotta Rich Friend who gave em to us.” The Evil Mary Fran smiled, triumphantly.
That sounded OK, so we headed into the store. Mary Fran used her lit cigarette to burn the price tags off our contraband shoes. We then headed out the front door, Mary Fran with bright red Converse high tops and me with bright blue ones. Mary Fran got away scot-free, but I got stuck in the automatic door.
A cute guy about sixteen who worked there had to rescue me from the stuck door. I heard the blare of sirens and knew the police were coming for me. I thought for sure I would get arrested for the stolen shoes, but nothing happened.
I didn’t mention the shoes to my parents, and they didn’t ask where they came from. Only my aunt was suspicious. “Where’djou get those sneakers?,” she asked, a sewing needle in her mouth as she sat on the couch drinking tea and mending clothes. “They look new.”
“Oh. Well. My Rich Friend, Sheila, from New York City. She gave them to me. They live in a very fancy penthouse right next to the Empire State Building.” I sipped my tea and pretended to be interested in an article about gall bladder diseases in Reader’s Digest. “She goes to Private School, and uh, she has a Poodle and a Limousine.”
“You don’t know them. Sheila uh, Sheila uh. ” I needed a last name. I thought of Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek. “Sheila Kirk. Sheila T. Kirk.”
“Lemme see.” I stuck out my bright blue feet so my aunt could inspect my shoes.
“Well, they’re nice. But you can’t wear them to school. It’s against the dress code.”
I breathed a sigh of relief, as only a true criminal can. “I know, I’m just wearing them to parties and stuff.”
“What parties?” Aunt Ruthie lit a cigarette. She smoked even better than Mary Fran.
“Birthday parties and stuff.”
“Are you going to invite this Rich Friend, Sheila, to your birthday party?”
“Oh no. It’s just gonna be us, an apizza and a cake. I’m not having a real party.”
“But you should invite her to thank her.” My aunt looked disappointed. “Don’t ever be embarrassed by your home and your family, no matter how humble.” Aunt Ruthie turned on the TV to watch her Stories while she sewed. “Take the hamburg out the fridge to thaw.”
“Aunt Ruthie, it’s HAM-BUR-GER, not hamburg. And RE-FRIG-ER-A-TOR, not fridge.
“So, you’re learning fancy talk from this Sheila girl. I should wash your mouth with soap for that fresh talk!” Aunt Ruthie stubbed out her cigarette. “Get me a beer from the fridge!,” she yelled. “By the way, how did you meet this Sheila if she lives in New York?”
I had a feeling that my Imaginary Rich Friend Sheila was going to be as much trouble as the Very Real, But Evil, Mary Fran. Still, I was a little giddy about getting away with my crime. It was easier to fool Aunt Ruthie than I thought.
“Well. They had this Rich Kid Day, where the Rich Kids came to our school to tell us about their lives. ” I used the bottle opener to pop open Aunt Ruthie’s beer and handed it to her, after my customary sip. “. . . and they brought snacks. Expensive snacks. Cav-ee-ar and stuff.”
“Cav-ee-ar? Hmmm.” She frowned. “Rich Kid Day at Beardsley School? Never heard of it.”
“Oh, it’s new. Like, uh, New Math.”
She thought for a moment. “Get my box off the dresser and get out some paper and pencil, young lady.”
“You’re gonna write a letter to your cousin Patrick in the State Prison. He’s doing fifteen years for armed robbery of the liquor store cross da street. I’m sure he would love to hear from you.” Aunt Ruthie grabbed one of her rosaries and made the sign of the cross.
Photo Credit: “Gangster’s Law,” by Wikipedia. CC License Non-Free. Could Qualify as Fair Use.