Ryan and Robbie Garlock lived at the edge of the Three Springs borough, just a five minute ride on a ten-speed down the only road that runs through the town.
In a retirement village with a population of merely 200, it was hard to find kids our age. Bill and me became best friends with Ryan and Robbie because there was no one else to choose from.
Wiffle ball was the game of choice. They came to our yard to hang out on summer mornings, waiting for the Three Springs community swimming pool to open at 1 p.m. Bill and me couldn’t go. Not until it got warmer, mom said.
It was hot for early June. School was out.
“What are you guys going to do all day? Play wiffle ball? It’s too hot. You should come to the pool with us. Ask your mom if you can come to the pool with us.
Bill knew not to ask Mom. So did I. It had nothing to do with the weather. It was hot and the power lines nearby cracked under the suns warming rays.
“Go ask your mom,” Ryan said to me. I was ready to. I wanted to go swimming at the pool. Bill and me only ever went swimming in a crick behind our grandmother’s house. This was a pool with slides and diving boards. No more swinging from grapevines and jumping into dirty water!
Bill told me not to ask.
“Go ask your mom,” Ryan said again. “Tell her my mom will pay for you guys to get in.”
So I asked mom. Told her outright that Ryan’s mom would pay for us to get in. Ryan was standing right next to me when I asked her. His sandy brown hair blowing in the wind, booggers hanging from his little pugged nose and grass stains were all over his Toughskin jeans.
“Charlie and Bill can go to the pool with you,” Mom said to my best friend.
Mom pulled out two pair of old red jeans, ones that we had almost grown out of, and made us cut-offs to go swimming in.
Then she went into her bedroom and pulled out a hand full of pennies from a ceramic nicknack shaped like a baby’s crib and rolled us each 50 pennies in paper tubes.
“Here. I can pay for you and Bill today.”
Ryan’s mom came in her car with her kids and said hi to my mom.
“Why don’t you come to the pool with us today?”
“Why not?” Mom replied.
It must have been embarrassing for mom to pay in pennies to get us in. Linda insisted on using her $20. Mom said no.
Ryan and Robbie said our mom was real good looking, they didn’t even care that we was poor.