I, Gordon Bartholomew Hoffman, used to be the only person in the world who knew you existed. Thus, nobody but me knew of the secrets I revealed on your many pages. Unfortunately, that's no longer true.
It happened on the night I was going to write in you, explaining what happened after Louie Abler, Judy Panter, and I left Witter Field ice pond.
So, after Mother announced it was my bedtime, I went to the bathroom, closed and locked the door, peed, and then brushed my teeth with, "You wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent" toothpaste.
Ever so carefully and quietly, I kept the water running. Stepping on the bathtub's edge, I lifted myself up, leaned over the sink, and snuck a drink from the faucet. I'm always being warned about not drinking after supper because everybody in this house figures I'll wet the bed. What can a guy do when he's as dry as a prospector in a desert who lost his one and only canteen?
After I tiptoed out of the bathroom and into my bedroom, I closed the door, snatched you from your hiding place, reached under the bed for my official Boy Scout flashlight with metal belt clip and Morse Code option switch. With my thumb, I pushed the flashlight's metal on/off slide ahead. Its light would remain on until I pulled the slide back, or the batteries died first, which has happened a couple of times.
Next, I switched off the ceiling light, got on to the bed, and covered my head and body with a sheet. I made believe I was sitting in a World War II U.S. Army pup tent at the Lake Wazeecha red beach side campground, listening to waves splash on the shore. That's the moment Dad arrived home in the Oldsmobile. He was drunk as usual. Mother waited for his entrance. She stopped him. "You're drunk, damn it. You promised you were going to stop."
"Nag, nag, nag," Dad returned the volley.
After that, it didn't take them long to scream and cuss. Without my knowing it, Crazy Annie, at the height of our parents' yelling, softly opened my bedroom door but rudely pulled at the sheet covering me. "Hey."
"Gordy, will you—?"
"Quit bothering me, will ya?"
"What are you doing?"
"What's it look like I'm doing? I'm writing."
"In a library book?"
I lifted you up. "This ain't a library book." I realize, Diary, the word "ain't" is not appropriate, but in this case I wanted to emphasize my point.
"It says 'Diary'."
"Gee are you ever smart. You're eight years old and you can already read."
"I could read when I was in first grade."
"Yeah, about Dick and Sally and Puff, the kitten.
"When did you get it?"
"None a' your beeswax."
"I never knew boys wrote in diaries."
"Thousands of them do. Men, too."
"Name one. Just one."
"Would you tell me a story, Gordy, pretty please with sugar on it? I'm scared."
"I'll tell you a story, but you first have to make a promise."
"That you won't tell anyone, and I mean anyone, about this diary, you hear? A-n-y-o-n-e," I spelled out for her.
Can you believe it, Diary? She had to think about her answer. "Yes," she finally said, "I promise."
So, I told her a story about a prince who was locked up in a tower by a nasty king. The prince had a diary and wrote in it every night, but one night he was so upset about being locked up so long, he threw the diary out of the single, barred tower window.
One day, while riding her beautiful gleaming white horse below the tower, a beautiful princess from a neighboring kingdom came upon the prince's diary. She picked it up, read it, and cried her heart out.
That horse of hers rode as fast as the wind, and carried her to her father's castle. She dismounted, woke up the king, her father, and also her mother, the queen, and told them about the prince's diary. The next day, her father sent his most loyal guards and knights to the neighboring kingdom where they assaulted the castle and banished forever the nasty king from the territory. Finally, they freed the grateful prince.
A fortnight later, the prince and princess married. They soon became king and queen of the neighboring kingdom, and the very first decree they ordered was for the citizens of their realm to dismantle that awful tower. Which they happily did. And everyone lived happily after that. The end.
"That was a nice story, Gordy, but what's a fourth night?"
"Fortnight, not fourth night. That's fourteen nights, or two weeks. It's a word the British have been using for a long, long time. Now, remember, you have to keep your promise."
Crazy Annie crisscrossed her chest with her right hand followed by the left hand. At the same time, she said, "I do promise, cross my heart or hope to die."
I was satisfied. Temporarily.
Now, back to the subject of Judy Panter, Louie Abler, and me. "I'm going to get going," Louie said as he stopped in front of Turbin's grocery store on Baker Street. So, Judy and I stopped, too.
"Where you going?" I asked.
Louie smiled. "Home." He eyeballed Judy. "I think she'd like to walk with you, alone."
I turned to Judy. She was nodding and grinning.
"Bye," we called out to Louie after he crossed Baker Street. So, as Judy and I walked toward her home, which was on the corner of Baker and Thirteenth Streets, she broke the silence after we walked a block by saying, "Are you going to become a doctor like your father? Mother says you most likely will."
"Nah, I'm going to join the Navy right after I graduate from high school."
"Why do you want to do that? Our oceans are so far away."
"I've never seen one. That's one good reason for joining."
Judy laughed and believe it or not, she snorted like a pony. Since her home is three blocks west of Turbin's grocery, it didn't take us long to stand in front of her corner house. "Good night," I chirped.
Promptly, Judy untied the bow of her white angora Jibber, which is like an earmuff and a hat, all in one. Mother's already knit or crocheted four jibbers for Crazy Annie, each a different color. They have balls, made of yarn, on the ends of each tie. Surprising the be-jeepers out of me, Judy grabbed my shoulders, turned me to face her, and as quick as a beagle-chased bunny and as strong as Charles Atlas featured on the back cover of just about every boys and men's magazines, she smooched me right on the lips. "Good night, Gordy. I like you, lots and lots."
I was so surprised I didn't say a word. I turned to walk to our house, giggling like crazy as if somebody was tickling me in the armpits. The last time a girl kissed me happened when I was in fifth grade. Karen Clinkenbeard kissed me goodbye when I was just about to leave her home after attending her tenth birthday party. Karen has a new boyfriend, and now I guess I have a new girlfriend.