I grew up in a trailer.
We moved once a year, sometimes more than that, one dirt-road court after another.
“It’s harder to hit a moving target!” Dad crowed.
The lack of sustained contact influences one, as you would suspect it would; and I compensated by developing a rather dangerous habit.
I became a Peeping Tom.
Don’t get me wrong! I wasn’t the peeping-in-the-bedroom type, and I wasn’t the I-hope-I-catch-you-showering type.
That would be wrong.
I just stood outside of people’s living rooms, looking in.
No big deal.
At the time, I told myself that those people wanted to be seen. Why else would they leave lights on, drapes open, in a trailer park? In hindsight, of course, they could hardly have been expecting the child that crouched in their bushes. I didn’t think about my actions for long, of course. I just wanted to know the people around me.
But I would not be in any park long enough to know any of the people in it.
And I would not be remembered.
Who were these people, these new neighbors of mine? I watched in the waning light of an autumn evening as the bikers two trailers away from ours pull a mirrored tray out from under the couch as they cut straws in half.
The windows were open.
“I used to use Burger King straws,” said the dark-eyed one as he slid a driver’s license up and down the mirror. “But I find they lack the finesse of your McDonald’s straw.”
“What’d he say?” asked the girl lying on the floor in front of the TV.
The blond one answered. “He said he finds that the BK straws lack finesse.”
The girl rolled on to her back and lifted her legs toward the ceiling, her hands at the small of her back. “What’s that? What’s binesse?” she said.
The dark-eyed biker put an index finger to one side of his nose, closing off a nostril, and used the straw in question to snort the line he had just laid out.
“It means – “ he stopped short, and his eyes went to the living room window. He lifted a finger, motioned to the front door. The man seated on the stacked beer cases rose quietly.
Heart pounding, I slid out from under the bushes and ran down to the darkness of the creek that ran behind the trailers.
The screen door slammed as I flew into our living room.
My mother called out from the kitchen. “Where have you been?”
“The bikers two doors down prefer McDonald’s straws to Burger King,” I panted.
“Discerning,” my mother muttered. “Wash up for dinner.”