"Mom, I don't feel so good."
"What's a matter?"
"My belly hurts."
"Oh, I'm going to be sick."
OK, go back the bed."
I left the kitchen table with my lips sealed. My brother, Rory, rolled his eyes and mouthed, “Fake!” as I passed him. Mom and I had a deal. If I kept my marks up, though not thrilled with the idea, she'd let me play hooky a few times in the last quarter of school. But we couldn't tell Rory.
After Rory left for school, I'd creep into the living room and put the TV on and watch the Sandy Becker Show. When Mom got comfortable with the idea of me being home, I'd loosen up and hang out in the kitchen with her for awhile before bringing all my possessions into the living room and start placing them out the window onto the fire escape.
The fire escape was my terrace; my spauldeens, shoe boxes full of crap, magazines, transistor radio, baseball cards and plastic soldiers all came out with me. I'd stay on the fire escape till lunch then go back out for the rest of the afternoon. I'd sit on the metal stairs and dream that the backyard was a forest and I was viewing all the action from my fire watch station. Late in the day, Mom let me play music on Dad's Victrola pulled right up to the window. We'd trade songs for a few hours. She played Mario Lanza, I chose The Four Seasons. You could hear Frankie Valli’s voice bouncing all around the backyard. Dad would have killed us.