Call It Sleep XIII

“CHEEZIS, kid!” Leo whispered excitedly as they plunged into the gloom. “We got’ er goin’—W’y’d’ntcha tell us she had tits on ’er?”

“Yuh gonna gimme it now?” In the reeling of his mind, only one thing held out hope of steadfastness.

“Aw take yer time, will ye!” Leo rebuffed him impetuously. “You’ll git it, watchuh worryin’ about? I don’ wanchuh backin’ out on me soon as yuh grabs it—Cheeziz!” he marveled. “You’re nuts, ye know? Dont’cha wanna give ’er a feel ’er nutt’n?”

“No!” The darkness hid the revulsion of his features if not of his voice.

“Oh, boy, watch me den!” He pulled the door back cautiously. “Wait’ll we gets ’er down—oh boy! Give us it now, will ye.” As they stepped out he snatched the skate from David’s slackening fingers. “And stay hea a secon’, see!—I’ll lay chickee.” He crept warily up the stairs. ‘,C’mon!” A peremptory hand curved upward.

David ran up the stairs, joined him as he sneaked away from the store. Together, they crossed the street.

“Wait fer ’er here.” He stepped under the shadow of an awning. “See ’er yet?” His head bobbed from side to side in his eagerness. “Jesus, if she don’ come out I’m gonna beat de piss outa— W’eas me skate key? Le’s walk past—Naw! Wonder w’en dat udder liddle—dat sister o’ hers ’ll come back? Better go dat way w’en she comes out—so’s we don’ run into— Hey!” His hand’s quick thrust jarred the inert David. “Dat’s her! She sees us! C’mon!”

Esther stood in the doorway. With a single sly wag of his head, Leo made for the west corner, went a short distance, turned abruptly and hurried across the street. David trailed him.

She approached with a casual, leisurely air.

“C’mon, kid!” He went to meet her. “Let’s git dese on.”

“I don’t think I wanna.” She tilted her nose indifferently.

“Sure yuh do.” He swamped her with enthusiasm, “Waid’ll yuh feel dat wind blowin’ aroun’ ye w’en’ yuh goin’ fas’—right up yer drawz.”

“Aaa, hee, hee!” she snickered, shaking off his ardor. “Shot up, you!”

“Sit down on dat stoop, will ye?” he drawled masterfully, at the same time pushing her against the steps behind her. “So’s a guy c’n put ’em on fer ye!”

“I don’ wanna!” she squealed, kicking her legs out in gratified protest. “Yuh gonna lemme fall—I know!”

“G’wan, who’s gonna letcha fall!” He throttled the coy jerking of her foot, rested it on his knee. “Hol’ still, will yuh! I gotta pull ’at skate in a liddle.” The skate-key dropped beside him to the pavement. “Wait a secon’!” Head cocked, facing Esther, he bent sideways almost to the ground, picked it up, dropped it again—

“Oooh!” she squealed reproachfully. “Stop dot!” Both hands snatched the curtain of her dress tight below her knees. “Yuh doidy!”

“Who me?” Leo straightened innocently. “I wuz jis’ lookin’ fer me skate-key.”

“Yuh wuz not—you!”

“Aw, hey! Cantcha b’lieve a guy—? Give us yer udder leg, will yuh, yer seein’ t’ings.” And as he tightened the clamps of the other skate. “Gonna lemme put me key in yer lock?”

“Wadje say?” She leaned forward.

“I says, d’ye care if I put me key in yer lock?”

Her eyes bulged. “Aw!” she shrieked, flinging herself back. “Watchoo said!” And giggled behind her palms and yanked her dress down again. “Shott up!”

“Wat’d I say?” unflinchingly.

“You know!” Her two pigtails rayed out from her vigorously wagging head. “Shame on you!”

“Aw! Hey, Davy,” he smirked significantly. “Wot’d I say?”

“I don’ know.” David returned his gaze apathetically.

“Dere y’are! I wuz jis’ talkin’ about me skate-key—Come on!” He scrambled to his feet. “Give us yer hands.”


“Co-om o-on!” He lifted her to her feet, and—“Whoo!” as the skates slid under her. “Gotchuh w’ea I wantchuh.” He grabbed her below buttock and breast, steadying her. “Oh boy!”

“Leggo!” She thrust him back, lost balance and, “Eee!” held on to him. “Dey’ll see!”

“Awri’, don’ git leary!” Leo became the grave instructor. “Jis’ take Davy and me’s shoulder, see?” He pushed the unwilling David to the other side. “Dat’s it! Hol’ onna us!”

“Slow now!” she warned, “Or I won’t—”

“Yea! Yea! We’ll take it easy! C’mon, wake up, Davy! Giddap!” And as both began trotting. “Dat’s it! Atta baby! I’ll hol’ yuh if yer goin’ on yer—you know—oh boy! Gid otta de way, kid.” He brushed a boy from the path. “Liddle bassid can’t stop us, kin he! Atta kid! Aintchoo goin’ dough. Gittin’ any wind up der yet. Atta kid!” He plied her with short yelps of flattery and encouragement.

As they neared the corner, Esther’s shrieks grew shriller and shriller, Leo’s cries more ardent, his supporting arm lower and more lingering. To the left of them, David, aware she was hardly holding him, jogged on in silence, listening with dull apprehension to their jangled excited cries. At the corner, Leo halted them breathlessly—

“Ain’ dat fun?”

“Yea, ooh!”

“Yuh wanna go faster?”

“No-o!” provocatively.

“Sure ye do— Hey, Davy!” with sudden solicitude. “Yer all plugged out, aintcha?”

“Me? Uh—”

“Sure y’are!”

“He ain’ so big like you.” Esther seconded him. “I can’t hold so good.”

“Yea.” Leo agreed, and solemnly, “Yuh better stay right hea, Davy, an’ wait fer us. I’ll pull her meself.”

“Awri’,” sullenly.

“Naa, let ’im comm too,” Esther repented her rashness.

“G’wan!” He grabbed her hand. “He don’ wanna! Whe-e-e!” He sirened like a fire-engine, pawed the ground. “Hol’ fast!” And before she could tear from his grasp he was off—Esther squalling rapturously after.