It was almost dinner time when I tried to sneak back into my apartment. My Mom was putting together a meal of vegetables and macaroni. It doesn’t look like we will have any meat tonight. She was cleaning the veggies when she looked up. She had a look of horror on her face. I was a sorry site. My skin and face was covered with dirt, plaster and a smelly goop. My clothes were also dirty and ripped when they got caught onto sharp wood and nails that were sticking out of the floors, walls, along with broken glass. My dirty arms and legs were covered with cuts, scratches and blood. I was a bloody mess. I looked like a crazy wounded alien from outer space. Then she yelled out “Madonna Mia! Cosa un fatto.” In English “Oh Blessed Mother, what did you do?” I stood there frozen, unable to move. I closed my eyes, waiting for a whack from the wooded spoon.
I was shocked when she ran over and hugged me. I thought for sure that she was going to kill me. She was shaking and crying. She kept on saying over and over again “Figlio Mio, Figlio Mio (My Son, My Son.) “Cosa hai fatto mio figlio?” (What did you do my child?)
I think she thought that I was badly injured. My Mom was so upset. I started feeling so bad that I hurt her. I’d rather take a beating than do this to my mother. It took fifteen minutes for her to calm down. She checked my cuts and scratches. She then started to rip off my tee shirt, shorts, underwear, sneakers and socks.
I was standing naked in the middle of our kitchen. She then put the boiling macaroni water and some cold water into the laundry basin and proceeded to scrub me down with Octagon soap. My Mom used this brown soap to clean our laundry and scrubbed it with her wash board. My father would wash up with Octagon soap when he came home from doing dirty job on the ship he was working on that day. There were times when my father came home late, from his ship scrapping job, his face and body was so covered with so much black soot that I did not recognize him. If anyone in our family was constipated Mom would heat up a pint of water and dip the Octagon soap warm water for the enema. I hated the enema.
My sister would not go near the Octagon soap. The princess would only use Lifebuoy soap to wash her skin.I started thinking that it was a good thing I hid my loot before I came home. Otherwise it may have gone into the garbage along with my dirty clothes.My Mom managed to get me squeaky clean and then turned her attention to my wounds, treating them with Iodine. The sting of the Iodine was so painful that I wouldhave been happier to take the sting of the wooden spoon instead.
It was a good thing my father wasn’t home yet. I don’t know what he would have done to me. After I was clean and medicated, I put on a clean tee shirt and shorts. I sat at the kitchen table. It was quiet, very quiet, no sound at all except for the running water. My Mom just continued to clean the vegetables. No yelling, no beating, just like a war movie when the Japs were trying to get information out of a prisoner of war. The prisoner was not allowed to move, talk, or drink, the prisoner had to sit for hours until he spilled the beans. I was confused and sad as I stood there watching my mother preparing dinner. She never told my father about how bad I looked when I came home that day.
After dinner I turned on the radio to listen to some of my favorite programs. I liked to listen to the Lone Ranger and Inner Sanctum. The Lone Ranger stories were adventures where I imagined that I was his side kick inchasing and capturing the bad guys. My body could feel the action and my mind could see the action all at the same time.
Meanwhile Inner Sanctum show would scare me to death. Even the commercial for Bromo Seltzer at the beginning of the show was scary. I just could not get enough of the suspense and mysteries stories that would make my imagination go wild. It was getting late and my sister assembled my cot in the living room so that I could go to bed.
I was lying on my cot but I couldn’t go to sleep. I kept on thinking about the events and adventures we had that day and how badly I upset my mother. I could not change what I did so I started thinking about meeting Jimmy, Pecker and Mike tomorrow. We had made plans to work on making some rubber band carpet guns so that we could play “war”.
Roger the professor, lives in my building started teaching me how to make carpet guns about a year ago. He was known in the neighborhood as the expert gun maker. I never made these guns on my own. I did believe that if we put our heads together we can start to make a few carpet guns tomorrow.
I had a plan; first we have to go to Mike’s family barn on Luquer Street and get some empty lettuce crates. Mike is Paulie Mengiano (hook nose), the peddler’s grandson. The barn housed several horses and wagons. Paulie and his son Ju Ju, Mike’s uncle sold fruits and vegetables from these wagons all around the neighborhood. So there was a good chance we could find a few left over empty lettuce crates there. Beside the lettuce crate we need to get rubber bands, nails, close pins, a saw and of cores linoleum ammunition for the pistols. We also have to find some three foot sticks to make rifles.
If we plan to make a cannon, we’ll needa couple of two by fours and an old bike tube. I’m not sure how to make a trigger for the cannon. I’ll have to ask Roger for some help. It may take a couple of days for us to put this stuff together before we can start making these carpet guns. I think that the pistols will be easy to make if we find the lettuce crates. It’s the frames that holds the crate together, is what we need first. Each crate may have two or three frames. We can make four pistols from one frame. That means, we may get eight or twelve pistols from one lettuce crate. According to Roger we can nail three or four pistols together to make a machine gun. That Roger is a genius. He just comes up with these ideas and then makes it happen.