Monday, May 9, 2016

Gun on the Roof



This one goes into the column of—What Was I Thinking, not so much a question as a statement.

As a teenager I loved playing tennis. I had a wicked backhand—a two-handed one like Chrissy Evert. And, since I could never find anyone to play me, I was constantly challenging myself, hitting a ball off the wall of the elementary school down the street.

I’d scoop and dive for the long shot, recover and return the volley back to me. It was actually a bit pathetic. I was desperate to play but could never find a partner.

Something that happened regularly that was a blessing and a curse was that I’d lose my ball on top of the roof. There was always the ball boomeranged off the wood or handle, the off-shot that went bonkers. I found a way to scale the wall (though in my memory I can’t recall how it was possible. There were no fences etc to give me a head or foot up. And, the wall was perfectly flat. Go figure.)

Once on the roof I’d be rewarded not only with my own ball, but several others. I collected a laundry basket full. So, you see, I never really needed to climb the roof for a ball (I had a million in reserve) I just wanted to.

One time while scouting for balls I found something entirely different. A gun. (We should all be shaking our head right now.) I picked it up gingerly with one finger. (How would I even know if it was loaded—or a real gun?!) And tucked the pistol in my short’s waistband and climbed back down. I hid the gun in the back of my closet in a shoebox.

It became my secret. Occasionally I would check on it. Pull it out and take off the lid, to see if it was still there. I wasn’t so young to think that perhaps it had been used in a crime—and now MY fingerprints were on it. Maybe that's why I kept mum.

Even if it was fake (again how would I know???) it still could have been used in a stickup—who argues with a gun?

I graduated high school, went away to college etc and the gun stayed there, in the shoe box. I came to Chicago and my parents retired. Time to sell the house.

Sometimes, in a kind of flash, it comes back to me: Whatever happened to that gun I found on the roof?

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