KNOCKS POUNDED THE BEDROOM DOOR like basketball-sized hail beating the tin roof overhead.
Roy jerked, jumped and fell flat.
“Billy, Roy,” his mama called through the door too loud and too cheerful like every morning. “Are you up? Breakfast is almost ready.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” his brother answered from faraway. “Coming.”
He opened an eye. Slapped a hand over. As usual, the light overhead was too bright. As usual, his mama and his brother sounded too happy, moved too fast like folks who enjoyed getting up before dawn. Stretched his arms and legs. As usual, they were cramped and sore. Flopped still against the bed. His mama said he was as crotchety and grouchy as his Great-Grandpa Jacob waking up. “Your Great-Grandma Rose wouldn’t even speak to him before ten o’clock in the morning.”
“Shake your brother,” his mama called, her slippers thumping down the hall. She still wore her old blue slippers though he gave her new pink ones with roses above the toes for her birthday. His dad one called her his little squirrel. “Putting away things for later.”
It was just another school weekday morning. Roy spread his fingers. Peeked again at the blinding light. Darn! Billy, wearing a white shirt and blue jeans, knee propped up tying a sneaker, sat on his bed. Of course already made.
Rolled toward the wall. Buried his face into his pillow. Wished everybody would leave him alone. Hated getting up. Especially the shaking that rattled his guts.
Once in the first grade, after sneaking three glasses of strawberry Kool-Aid before bed, the morning shaking turned into tickling, and he wet his pants. His mama immediately stopped all liquids after supper. Dosed out a teaspoonful of honey before bed for a week. That was Aunt Dorothy’s cure for everything. He heard her tell his mama she took it for “The Trouble,” whatever that was.
A hand grabbed his shoulder. “Rise and shine, Kid!”
He flipped the pillow over his head.
More shaking. “Get on up!”
He wiggled farther down.
Billy jerked the covers off.
Millions of ice pins and needles pinched his hands, feet, and toes. Sat up, reached down, grabbed the covers, jerked them over his head, and fell back against the bed.
Billy yanked again.
The quilt, blanket, and bedspread came off, but not the sheet knotted in his hands.
“Dammit Kid, get up!”
“No, leave me alone!” Maybe if I taped the words to the headboard I wouldn’t need to yell them each morning.
The bed bounced. Rocked. Worse than a bucking bronco or a rowboat in a hurricane.
“Okay, stay there. See if I care. But if Dad has to come drag you out, he’s going to be mad. I bet he whips you every step to the breakfast table!”
That was an every morning threat. “You know Dad never whips us.” Well, almost never.
“We’ll see.” His brother’s footsteps faded away.
Under the sheet was white and warm. Roy was safe from school, homework, Wilbur Moore, bad grades. Smiled, hugging himself. Closed his eyes. Wish I could stay here all day, maybe hibernate like a bear.
Then like lightning, he remembered. Friday! The weekend! Saturday morning cartoons! The basketball game! Spending the night at Ralph’s! Threw the sheet off, not caring about the cold. Sat up. Yawned. Wiped his eyes. This was a beautiful, wonderful day. Every Friday was.
(from A FINE YOUNG MAN)