the kid with the ball

When I was coming home yesterday, I saw a kid sort of poke his head out from underneath a large truck, a red playground ball in his hand. He was popping out and then he ducked back in quickly, and it gave me a hell of a start. I immediately pumped the brakes thinking I was going to smack the fellow.

Well, he ducked back so I accelerated on – just wanted to get past him and the potential for something really bad. And then I felt the bump and heard it – “BAM!”

Oh shit – my heart dropped down for a second while my reflexes slammed the brakes into complete stop. I hit the kid. Wait, no I didn’t – that felt like… that little shit!

I pulled the emergency brake, threw the car into park, and hopped out. Sure enough, there was the dead body of a red playground ball just under my back tire. And it really ripped it up – it was just burst down the seams. I walked back, picked it up, and turned to the sidewalk.

Just beyond the truck, the boy was waiting. Looking, half expectant, half defiant. While I looked and walked over, he went up the steps towards the schools playground.

“What the hell were you thinking!?” I hollered at him, handing him the ball carcas. He took it, didn’t say anything.

“Well?!”

In my head, the dark side of my childhold raised up. ‘Duh, you know exactly what he was thinking! How big would the ‘bang’ be and would the ball actually pop under the tires…’ The kid said the exact thing that confused me: “Why are you cursing at me?”

What? I didn’t say shit or fuck or anything! Oh… hell. Hmm. That’s interesting.

“What exactly did you think would happen when you through that ball out there?” I asked, volume still up a bit. The boy hoofed it up into the playground. I walked along the chain link fence, following him slightly. He dropped the ball carcas absent-mindedly. “Stop following me!” he said.

I walked into the playground, “Is one of your parents here?”

“I’m not telling!”, at which point he starts sprinting towards a lady on the far side of the playground that’s waving at him. Hmmm.

I walked pointedly over to the lady, trying to get her attention verbally “Mam… Mam…”, nothing. I tapped her on the shoulder, and she looked like I was some crazed monster about to eat her. I told her that her son had just pitched a ball under my car.

“Did you see him do it?”

“Yes”

“Did you seem him throw the ball?”

Come on lady, how hard is this to believe? A 9-10 year old boy with a ball – it’s damn near a given. “Yes, I did”.

“I’ll talk to him”, and she turned – I had been thorough dismissed.

I watched them walk away, turned around and walked back to my car (blocking traffic in the street) and drove it the rest of the way home (all the way around the school).

I wonder if she ever talked to him…

I would have pitched that ball out there too. It was an impressive “BANG”.