Four Rooms on East Main: Part Seven: The Front Porch

walkie-talkies

 

Bridgeport, CT

East Side

1967

East Main Street

 

  1. The Front Porch

“What are you two DOING?” Tori asked, leaning against the door frame. Nicky and his friend-from-next-door Johnny Walters were dragging Nicky’s cheap mattress onto the front porch. They set it on the ancient bed frame. The two boys were opposites: Johnny tall and slim and athletic, Nicky short and chubby and awkward. Yet Johnny was Nick’s friend since they were little kids.

“You could help, Victoria Maria, instead of just standing there holding up the walls.”

“But why in the WORLD are you moving all your stuff onto the God Damned front porch?”

“Your Aunty Ruth will wash your mouth out with soap, she hears that.”

Tori ignored him. “Johnny, can I play with your walker talkers sometime? Please?” Johnny’s parents were divorced, and his latest birthday present from his absentee dad had every kid in the neighborhood duly impressed. “They are so cool, so neat, and you never let me even touch em.”

“They’re called WALKIE TALKIES, not WALKER TALKERS, and they are not for ten year olds.” Johnny grabbed one end of the dresser while Nicky took the other end. “They are for international spies, something you are too stupid to know anything about.”

“Does Poppy know you’re doing this? And why, why, oh why would you want to live on the front porch?”

“We gotta empty these drawers first, Nick. This thing’s old. And heavy. Where’ja parents get it? Good Will?”

“Who knows where they got it? Somebody probably gave it to them.” Nicky emptied the drawers and handed the first drawer to Tori. “Here kid. Take these one at a time and throw them on the bed.”

“Don’t you think it’s gonna be COLD out here? In the snow? And it’s not even screened in, what about BUGS? And the RAIN? Your stuff’ll get all soaked.”

Nicky surveyed the mess. “I am entirely too OLD to spend my entire adolescence sharing a bedroom with my annoying little sister. We’re too OLD to share a room.And Poppy has other things on his mind, he’s never home anyway.”

Tori learned over the porch railing. “Kitchen, livingroom, bedroom, bedroom, bathroom. That’s one room for each person, and the cats can have the bathroom. That’s not so small. I have TONS of friends in this neighborhood that have eight, nine, ten kids. One family, the Russos, have ELEVEN. So what’s wrong with four rooms for four people?” Tori leaned over the porch. “Hi Mrs. Riccio! Hi!”  She turned to Nicky. “Don’t you think it’s funny her name is Mrs. Riccio and she’s not even RELATED to us and we’re Riccio’s too? And she’s got NINE kids, by the way.”

“Well, we can thank the Catholic church for that. Good thing Mom sneaks over to another parish to see Father Reilly. Father Reilly,” Nicky raised his eyebrows. “The good Father Reilly doesn’t ASK if they use birth control. Which makes him very popular with the Ladies. Rather ironic, in its way.”

“What’s birth patrol?” Tori asked.

“It’s called ‘birth control’ and I’m going to have to get you a book or something to explain it. How old’re you?”

“Ten! You know I’m TEN!”

“When you’re twelve then. Your parents would never bother, but when you’re twelve I’ll explain it all to you so you don’t end up like Mrs. Russo or Mrs. Rovinelli with a million kids.”

“I think it’d be cool to have about nine kids. They they’d all have someone to play with. And I’d make em all get jobs too, so they could help pay the bills. “

“Hey, this could be kindof a cool place to hang out.” Johnny said. “I mean, you can see everything happening on East Main. We can watch all the cruisers on weekends. We could smoke and drink beer up here.” Johnny lit a cigarette.

“I’m telling,” Tori said, leaning against him.

“No. You’re not. Not if you want to play with my walkie talkies.”

The back door opened and Clare walked down the hallway, huffing and puffing from carrying a heavy brown paper grocery bag up the stairs. “What’s going on back here?” She looked at Nicky’s clothes, books, record albums, and furniture scattered around the front porch.  She nodded at Johnny’s cigarette.“Does your mom know you smoke?” She looked at Nicky. “What’s all your junk doing out here?”

“He’s moving OUT ONTO THE FRONT PORCH,” Tori announced. “And it’s not even screened in.”

Clare raised her eyebrows. Tori recognized the same expression on her face that Nicky often had. “Oh well, good luck when it snows.” She chuckled to herself as she headed back to the kitchen to put away the milk, bread and hamburger.

“Let’s split, “Johnny said.  “Let’s go over to Briarwoods, get something to eat. I got two bucks.”

“OK. I got one.” Nicky followed Johnny down the stairs.

“Can I borrow your walkie talkies?” Tori stood in the doorway yelling down the back stairs. They ignored her.

Clare sat at the cluttered kitchen table opening mail. “I forgot smokes, here’s a dollar.  Run across the street and get one pack a non filters Lucky Strikes for me, one pack a L & M’s for your father.”

“Don’t you even CARE that Nicky’s movin out to the porch?”

She laughed. “No. He’ll come in when it gets cold.”

Tori flew down the stairs with the dollar in her hand.

“Remember I want the non filters! And bring back the EXACT change, Victoria Maria! No funny stuff!”

Tori rolled her eyes. She decided she’d make a brief stop at Paolo’s Apizza, just to peek in. See if any drunk pool players dropped money on the floor. No one spotted dropped money faster than her.

 

Fiction

©  Copyright 2016 by Sara Jacobelli

**********************************

 

Photo Credit: 

“Vintage GE Walkie Talkies.” Pinterest. http://tinyurl.com/jmzxvoh

 

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