Boys Will Be Boys
A group of older boys were playing kick-to-kick one day outside our place. I was watching, not interested in playing because the 'football' hurt my foot (the 'football' was newspaper rolled up and tied with string). Bill French appeared and stopped proceedings to tell everyone where he had been. Bill's neighbour across the creek in Kumbada Ave was Mr. Fealla. Now Mr. Fealla had spare block next door on which he had a wonderful array of vegetables. Bill had just been eyeing off all these wonderful vegies and reckoned we should be able to share some with Mr. Fealla without him knowing. Everyone agreed, so that night, just on dark, the raid would take place. Reg, Tony Bill, Henry and Alan Benns would meet at our place at seven o'clock, then walk through the bush at the back, jump the creek and help themselves. They did not know it but I was going too. I couldn't miss out on a bit of fun like this. No thought was given to the very industrious Mr. Fealla who had toiled and sweated many hours to achieve the wonderful array of vegies. But I suppose that is a fault of the young.
After dinner everyone met in out backyard all dressed in dark clothes. Then a bit of mud on all faces, just like the commandos in the movies and off we went. Through the bush behind Mrs. Nicholsonís, French's and Thomas's. Then halfway there, suddenly Reg turned around and saw me sneaking along behind.
'You can't come.' He says glowering at me. 'Go home.'
'I'm not going.'
'So just stand there.'
'Oh come on Reg, he won't be too much trouble if he stays behind.' Says Henry.
So on again, across the creek to Mr. Fealla's back fence. Now Mr. Fealla had a big black ferocious guard dog called 'Gina'. Gina would often leap the fence to join any of the children playing in the street where she would race around having a wonderful time with all. So everyone of our group knew Gina and gave her no thought at all. We all slipped over the fence and there was Gina. To have such a big group of boys come to play with her was almost too much for Gina. She was so excited she raced up and down the rows of vegies, knocking over the watering can with crash. The tools leaning against the wall were next. Then into the open shed door with a mighty bang. Mr. Fealla's booming voice from inside the house.
'Shut you up, you silly bastard Gina.'
'Crikey, we better grab some vegies and get out of here quick.' Says Reg.
We raced around and got what we could in a hurry. Then back over the fence, we went. The group split up. Bill went to his place, the Benns went their way and we slipped in our back door.
It was dark when we got home. We expected mom to be really pleased with our cash of vegies. But the night wasn't the only thing that was dark. So was moms face when she saw what we had.
'Where did you get these?' She snapped.
Suddenly a knock on the door stopped the grilling. Mom went to the door. We waited in the kitchen, very uneasy. We could hear mom talking. Then footsteps and mom appeared with Mr. Fealla.
'Are these your vegies, Mr. Fealla?' Mom asked.
'Yes, a it looks a lot like it.' Mr. Fealla said.
'Would you like them back or would you like me to pay for them?' Says mom.
'Well, a there is a too a much for us to eat a before they a go bad.'
So a price was worked out. A month of our pooled wages (that hurt). I had to take the money to Mr. Fealla every Friday afternoon, after school. We were grounded for the month also, but that didnít hurt much because without money we couldn't go out anyway. Mr. Fealla caught up with the rest of the group too, so it was very quiet in our neighbourhood for a while. But the worst thing was the icy feel in the house for the next fortnight. With a minimum of talk from mom, who thought the Oliver's were disgraced around the district (just as well she never knew most of our escapades).
I was taking the last of the money to Mr. Fealla and as I handed it over Mr. Fealla said.
'How are things at a home Robis?'
'Well mom isn't talking too much yet.' I said.
'Yes, when you a step out a line momma's can be a very hard, can't a they?'
He smiled and looked a bit distant for a minute as though he remembered a time long ago when maybe he stepped out of line. Then he laughed and patted me on the back.
'Well a boys a will be a boys, won't they?'
"Yes.' I said.