(Part I is here)
Dad went to work the morning of the funeral. I could have bet he was at his hangout, the donut shop, watching the news on the old TV in the corner. He would sit at the counter, with his coffee, his glazed donut, and his Marlboros. Dad and the owner talked politics all the time, mostly complaining about Kennedy. On this day I imagined that they were commentating on the funeral.
It was a Monday, but school was cancelled. I was watching TV when Mom said, “The President’s funeral is going to be on, so you need to go play outside now.”
“I want to watch it, too.”
“You’re too young for funerals. Go on out.”
“What about Teddy?”
“He’s a baby. Go. NOW!”
I threw myself on the couch and kicked the cushion with my feet, but Mom hauled me up and rushed me out the door. As I slowly stepped down the front steps, I heard the living room drapes slap shut behind me.
For a while I stood in the front yard and stared at the front door. I looked down the street, to the older houses down at the end. I looked up the street, past my friends’ houses, and on up past the haunted house toward Gull Road. The neighborhood was totally empty of people. The gray sky helmeted me in gloom.
Around the back of the house, I noticed the basement window covered up for the bomb shelter, then peered into the one over the laundry room. All I saw was dark.
Out front, I kicked a stone across the street and then back again. Even the neighbor’s chow was not outside today. I wondered if it might rain. If it did, would Mom let me back inside? I prayed for rain.
It must have been hours that I crouched on the curb, waiting. The rest of the planet was inside, watching the Leader of the Free World being buried on TV, but I sat outside on my driveway, throwing pebbles at the hopscotch pattern Dad had painted on our driveway.
I got thirsty and knocked on the door, but Mom wouldn’t let me in. The temperature dipped, and I shivered inside my thin jacket. “Not yet,” she said. Her face was wet and messy and she dabbed a Kleenex at her nose. She wouldn’t let me in until the show was over and dusk had settled around me.
The day had felt like loneliness given substance. My mother’s sense of menace manifested itself in her over-protection. She was terrified of a world where our president could be killed and didn’t realize how much I needed to understand the world around me.