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Making Out with Birdie Sullivan.

J. Lawrence Ingram 


         Saturday morning was beautiful. The cloudless cerulean canopy pulled the Sun from its early dawn to midmorning. The heat began to come along with the Sun also. The shadows below told the time as well. The shadows moved, just like a thermostat, like they were in charge of making the day warmer and warmer. A boy was riding his bicycle and stopped under a tree to take a little shade.

Billy Thompson parked his Schwinn bicycle by getting off and dropping down the kickstand. He grabbed the bottom of his T-shirt, exposing his belly, and wiped his sweaty face with it. As much as he had longed for the summer, he dread the summer heat once he was in it; reminding him of the phrase his grandfather had told him about being careful about what he wished for. The summer Sun, in its procession across the sky, made Billy Thompson sweat.

Billy wasn't sure what he was going to do for the afternoon, as he sat down under the tree. The minute he sat down, his Schwinn bicycle fell over as well as if it was wilting in the summer Sun. Billy, annoyed, got up one last time and instead of trying to use the kickstand on his bicycle, he leaned the bicycle against the tree behind him. Now that the bicycle was taken care of he sat back down and pondered his day.

Billy Thompson, looking down and around from where he sat, reached out, stretched, and grabbed a long stick which was just out of arms reach. He picked the stick up, and began to think and pick rocks out of the mud and dirt around the tree roots from where he was sitting. He admitted to himself that sitting here playing with a stick was better than chores or going to the store with his mother. What was a kid supposed to do? He thought to himself about riding his bicycle across town, but it was too hot to do that. He thought about going up to the drug store to have a cold drink, and then realized he had no money. Billy even wondered if some of his friends might come along who usually steal cigarettes from their parents and would offer him one, but nobody was coming along.

Billy kept digging with a stick, and was getting hotter and hotter as the shadows of the trees seem to just turn up the heat. Then out in the distance he heard a splash and the sound of water. Recently, some people had moved into the old Gergen house, which had a swimming pool. In fact, it was the only house in the entire neighborhood with a swimming pool. He remembered going to that house and swimming in the swimming pool with David Gergen, before the Gergen family moved away to another state never to be seen or heard from again.

Again, Billy heard the sound of water splashing from the pool and could hear the sounds of some people laughing and having a nice time while staying cool in the summer heat. Frustrated, Billy went back to picking rocks out of the dirt and mud with the stick he had found. He didn't know the people who moved into the Gergen house, so there was no way he would get invited to go swimming and get out of the summer heat. Billy heard a sound from the distant swimming pool he’d not heard before – it was the sound of…

Billy Thompsons half formed epiphany suddenly faded as one of the other kids in the neighborhood, Gary Mitchell, rode up on another bicycle and skidded sideways to a halt!

"It's getting mighty hot out here today isn't it Billy?" Mitchell asked breathlessly. "Look what I have."

Mitchell got off of his battle-scarred, rust-pitted, faded red Western Flyer and dropped the bicycle to the ground without a second thought.

"Whatcha have Mitchell?" Billy asked

                  "I stole a couple of smokes from my dad, want one?"

"Sure, but I don't have any matches."  Billy said, and then watched Gary Mitchell while he dug the cigarettes and matches from his jeans.

                  "Don't worry, I have some." Mitchell replied while producing the bent, crumpled cigarettes and a half of a book of matches of dubious quality. The outside cover of the book of matches was an advertisement on how to get a college degree but the phone number was rubbed off.

Billy Thompson look to Gary Mitchell, looked up and down the road, and a small piece of wisdom came over him.

"Maybe we should climb up in the tree; nobody will catch us smoking then."

                  "That's a pretty good idea Billy, what will we do with the bicycles?"

"We can hide them in those bushes right there." Billy Thompson pointed to a hedgerow of tall fire bushes directly behind him and Gary Mitchell. "Let's move our bikes."

The two boys grabbed their bicycles and put them into the bushes where no one else would find them, and then climbed up into the shade tree to get out of sight. Gary Mitchell climbed up first and got onto his own branch followed shortly by Billy Thompson who seemed to struggle a little more than Gary did while getting up into the tree.

Gary handed Billy a crumpled cigarette, “don’t let it fall,” while Billy Thompson reached for it.  The boys then sat up in the canopy of the large shade tree while Gary Mitchell fumbled to get his matches out of his pocket.  He picked a crumpled match and pulled it from the book, then raked the match across the striker of the moist matchbook.  The match lit with a meager flame, and Gary tried to light his cigarette.

“Gimme those, “Billy Thompson grabbed the matches from Mitchell, “I’ll light yours for you.”  Billy proceeded to light a match, and fumbled the entire attempt.  The matches went fluttering down to the ground below.

“Now you’ve done it.  You’re gonna have to go get them.” Gary Mitchell huffed at Billy.

                  “I’ll be right back…” Billy huffed as he began his decent from the canopy of the tree.

When Billy Thompson swung himself down onto the ground from the last tree branch he could hold, he looked up at an approval from Gary.  He picked up the matches, and heard another distant splash from the old Gergen house swimming pool.  He looked back up at Gary Mitchell who had an approving look about getting the matches, but had a displeased look as Billy wasn’t getting back up the tree fast enough.

“Is it going to take you all day Thompson?”  Mitchell spat with sarcasm.

Billy Thompson struggled back up into the tree, his hands a little raw from the rough tree bark, got himself back on a branch next opposite Gary Mitchell, and presented the matches again.

“Lemme try that again Gary.” Billy said to Mitchell, “I won’t lose them this time.”

Billy Thompson lit the match and Gary Mitchell puffed at the crumpled cigarette.  Billy got his own cigarette out and Mitchell took the matches away.

“Here Thompson, light yours off of my smoke instead.”

Billy Thompson got his cigarette lit from the burning end of Gary Mitchell’s smoke.  The boys puffed their cigarettes in triumph!  Then Billy looked very seriously at Gary.

“I keep hearing people over at the Gergen’s old place.”

                  “Yeah, some new family moved in.”

“Who are they?”

                  “I don’t know, but they have…”

The boys were interrupted by a voice down below the tree.  A new voice they’d not heard before. 

“I see you guys up there.  Can I come up?”

Billy Thompson and Gary Mitchell looked down and there was a girl below.  She was the same age as the boys, and would start school with them in the coming fall.  She had straight, dark, long hair and blue eyes that glinted at Billy Thompson.  She smiled and spoke again.

“Do you mind if I come up with you guys?  I see you up there.”

“Su.. Sure…” Billy spoke.  He’d never had a girl want to be around him, nor for that matter Gary Mitchell either.  “come on up, but it’s pretty dangerous up here.”

“I’ll be right up.”  The pretty girl began to climb the tree.  She got up onto the first real branch, then one of her wooden-soled clog shoes came off of her foot, much to the dismay of the boys, and kept on climbing anyway.  When she got herself within arms distance of the boys, she introduced herself.

“I’m Roberta.  Roberta Sullivan, but you can call me Birdie for short.”Birdie Sullivan spoke, as the two boys were transfixed on the fact that she was beginning to blossom.  “I bet your Gary Mitchell.”

“uh… uh… u…”  Mitchell, completely hypnotized barely could mumble.

“And you, you’re Thompson.”  She stared down Billy, and smiled at him.

                  “Uh… Billy, call me Billy.” Billy Thompson managed to put together a cohesive sentence.  “We were up here…”

“Smoking cigarettes.  I could smell them from up the street.  I saw you put your bikes in the bushes back there and climb up.”  Birdie looked at Thompson, but spoke to both the boys.  “I got dressed after taking a swim to come down here and meet some of the new kids.”

Both Thompson and Mitchell realized, at that point, Birdie Sullivan had moved into the Gergen place.

“You moved into the Gergen house.”  Billy asserted.

                  “Yes,”  Birdie said,  “We’ve been here for almost a month and not one of you boys came over to introduce yourselves.  The Real Estate Agent that sold my mom the house said the neighborhood was full of kids.”

“Do you like having a pool?  It’s the only house in the neighborhood with a pool.”  Mitchell spoke a full sentence without sputtering.

“I didn’t think you could speak Gary.”  Birdie smiled at Mitchell, “Billy seems to talk, but you didn’t look like you could put two words together.”

“I… I… like to talk.” Mitchell defended himself, but Birdie Sullivan had made other plans.

“The pool is a lot of fun, but there’s no one around the neighborhood to have fun with.” She stared up from her chin into Billy Thompsons eyes. 

“We’d show you around the neighborhood Birdie… You don’t mind if I call you…”  Thompson stammered.

“Birdie, Billy, please call me Birdie.”  Birdie Sullivan spoke back.  She looked at Gary Mitchell.  “can I try your cigarette?”

Gary Mitchell, had smoked half of his crumpled cigarette, but tried to hand it to Birdie.  The cigarette dropped from his hand to the ground below.  “I’ll go down and get it.”  Mitchell spoke in a way as though he was under Birdie Sullivan’s power.

Birdie knew her new power as a blossoming young woman.  She had realized from early on she had a way to control the boys and get them to do things for her.  Most boys on the other hand, hadn’t figured this out quite yet, and the likes of Billy Thompson and Gary Mitchell were only new prey in a new hunting ground for Birdie Sullivan.

“Billy, let me try some of yours while Gary is going all the way down to the ground. “ Birdie pointed at the smoldering second half of Billy Thompson’s cigarette.

                  “I didn’t think…”Billy seemed puzzled.

“What?  That girl's smoked?” Birdie oozed her new-found feminine powers back at Thompson.

The pretty new girl took a small puff of Billy Thompson’s cigarette and didn’t even cough.  She took another puff and handed the smoke back to Billy.  She blew a smoke ring out when she exhaled.

“My sisters and I always steal cigarettes from my mom.”  Birdie delighted in saying.  “I can even French inhale!”

Billy Thompson didn’t know what to say or do.  It was like he had been over-taken by some sort of fiendish power which he couldn’t describe.  He didn’t know how to feel, or act or anything as the pretty Birdie Sullivan looked up, down, and all around at her new surroundings.  Billy almost felt like he was in the presence of a she-devil who had mystical powers over him and Gary Mitchell.

Mitchell now was back up into the branches and cover of the tree with Billy and Birdie.  Birdie Sullivan moved towards Mitchell, as she’d realized he was not only enamored with her, but was fully under the spell of her blossoming powers.  Birdie moved closer to Gary Mitchell and sat as close as she could to him.

“Now let me have a puff of your cigarette Gary.”  Birdie looked into Gary Mitchells eyes as if she had run a skewer through his soul.  Mitchell was fully under the control of Birdie Sullivan and Billy Thompson watched in dismay, as though he’d learned a new emotion – jealousy.

Mitchell handed over his stub of a cigarette delicately, with a caution as though he was about to pet a snake, to Birdie Sullivan.  He was an insect which was flying a little too close to a flame, and was awkward in his actions.

“Here… here you go Birdie.”  Mitchell awkwardly said to the new girl on the block.

Birdie Sullivan took a long pull from the smoke, more than she had done with Billy Thompsons cigarette a minute or two before.  “Boy, that’s really good… isn’t it Gary?”  Birdie Sullivan looked deeply into Gary Mitchells eyes.  Gary Mitchell hadn’t had this much contact with girls, let alone one who’d now had his attention and growing infatuation as well.  He’d never felt such feelings before.  Then he’d realized Birdie Sullivan had her hand on his leg, and was beginning to lean in towards him.  Birdie Sullivan looked at Gary, and handed him back the last few puffable remains of his cigarette.  She’d accomplished her goal of hypnotizing the boys by her looks and charm.  She’d now had these two in her clutches.

“Have you guys ever played make out?”  Birdie, close as she was to Gary looked him in the eye and eyed Billy Thompson as well.

                  “What’s make out?” Billy Thompson asked innocently,  “never heard of that before”

“Well,  make out is when you get real close to someone,”  Birdie scooted closer to Gary Mitchell and had begun to make him uncomfortable with feelings he’d now just had welling up for the first time, “ and you touch each other.”

                  “Like how you’re touching my leg right now Birdie?”  Mitchell asked like a lamb before the slaughter.  “You’re touching my leg, and I…”

Birdie Sullivan reached into the inside of Gary Mitchells leg, and then tried to, of all things repulsive to Billy Thompson, kiss Gary Mitchell!

“Birdie!”  Billy spoke surprisedly, “what are you doing?  You’re not really going to kiss Gary?”

                  “No Billy, I’m going to make out with Gary.”  Birdie spoke while she took one of Gary Mitchells hands into her own, and began to slowly bring his hand towards her chest.  “Gary, you’re supposed to want to touch me on..”

                  “Not those! “  Gary Mitchell spat confused and scared. “You want me to.. to.. touch your…”

Gary Mitchell lost his balance in the tree, and fell.  He fell through the branches and caught his head and neck several times down through until he hit the ground some twenty-five feet below.  It seemed as though he’d fallen in slow motion to Billy Thompson, but was only a few seconds, to his death.  He’d broken his neck and was lying on the ground in an expanding pool of blood.  He’d not moved, nor convulsed, he was dead.

“GARY!”  Billy Thompson shouted.  “GARY!” 

Then Thompson watched as what appeared to be a ghost of Gary Mitchell get up from the body, grab a ghost-version of his rusty old Western Flyer bicycle and drive off as though the ghost was running home as fast as possible.  Billy couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“Did you see that?”  Billy asked Birdie,  “Did you see..”

                  “See what Billy?”  Birdie Sullivan spoke while looking down.” 

“You didn’t see Gary’s ghost get up and leave?”  Billy said, confused in the situation.

                  “No… Gary didn’t get up…”

Billy Thompson began to well up tears in his eyes.  He’d had a lot of emotions running through him during the last hour or so, contentment, friendship, intrigue, amour, jealousy, confusion, and now pain .  He looked at Gary Mitchells lifeless body below, and looked at Birdie Sullivan, who was almost happy in her newly-found abilities.

Billy Thompson spoke frantically, “Gary isn’t getting up!  GARY!  He’s… He’s…”  Billy  looked into the eyes of Birdie Sullivan, and she looked back with a devilish look and smiled at him with a sort of satisfied whisper to her voice.

                  “… I know…”

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