I don’t know where I got this idea because nobody else did it. Or nobody told me about it, but I started stealing candy bars when I was ten years old. And not from the Drugstore. I was dimly aware not to crap in my own sweet spot and leave the Drugstore for honest candy. Besides that, the tall, grey-haired lady was always watching behind the counter. No, I stole from the grocery store over across Lake Street. I could put a couple of Milky Ways in my pants pocket down the aisle where no one was looking and just waltz right out of the store. Free candy. I kept stealing candy bars and I never told my friends, just ate them myself.
Charlie Swanson lived two houses down from the grocery store in a tall and narrow wooden house, lived there with his older sister and his parents. He was an altar boy with an angelic pose. He had this kind of bland personality, not too much fun. I didn’t play with him. But there he was one day just standing outside the door of the grocery store when I came out with pockets bulging with Milky Ways, and I made the mistake of bragging – that’s how you always get caught – “Charlie, look what I got, and I stole them. Just took them. Do you want some?”
If Charlie was shocked it didn’t show on his bland, angelic face. He said, “That’s wrong. That’s stealing. You shouldn’t take candy bars like that. I’m going to tell the manager you stole them.”
I turned red as a beet and got really scared. I knew it was wrong, and now he knew, and pretty soon the manager would know and then my parents. I was scared. I ran off, around the corner to the front of the Drugstore. I ate the candy bars quickly. I never stole candy bars again after that.
It was not like Charlie Swanson was my best friend or anything. He was just someone in my class and I went over to his house a few times. But this kind of put a strain on things. Telling on me!
Two years later, Mrs. Swanson was getting out of her bathtub. She slipped and fell, banged her head on the side of the bath tub and died, just like that. We all went to the funeral. Charlie followed his mother’s coffin with his bland, angelic face. Of course he was sorrowful but it didn’t show. I wasn’t mad at him anymore for telling on me.
My whole life changed because of Mrs. Swanson dying in her own bathroom, a perfectly healthy mom, and then she died. I became an adventurer and risk taker. I roamed the world as a man and took my chances, some very foolish chances and all because of Mrs. Swanson -- because why play it safe? Why stay home? You could die in your bathtub.
That's all for this week, but with any encouragement I can publish more excerpts from this story in coming issues.