I sprinted through the back door like a startled Gazelle. I was fleeing for all my life was worth and literally jumped from the door to the grass beyond the back steps. No speed was lost. My 12-year-old legs were pumping like a locomotive. I doubt I was even breathing.
My goal was to get behind the large uncut woodpile at the back of the yard before my furious mother got to the back door and saw where I was hiding.
I slid behind the pile of tree branches ready to be cut for our wood-burning kitchen stove and lounge room fireplace. Peering through the sweet-smelling gum tree branches I could see I had made it to my hiding place without being seen by mum.
But I’d made it to my temporary sanctuary just by precious seconds. Mum now appeared in the doorway at the top of the stairs. She was calling my name at the top of her voice. I’m sure the neigbours could hear her. So I must stay out of their sight as well. They would surely inform on me.
She was madder than a cut snake and wanted nothing more than to punish her firstborn child in such a way that he would never forget.
Writing this more than half a century later, the crime I committed, escapes my memory but I’m sure it was only a minor infringement. It’s just that in those days my parents would explode into a murderous rage at the slightest provocation.
Mum descended to the bottom of the steps carefully scanning the back yard. I held my breath in case she could hear me or somehow sense me from 40 meters away. Finishing her scan she turned to the left and stormed off around the corner of the house to begin searching the front yard and street.
I took the opportunity to gulp air into my tortured lungs. I was experienced enough to know not to move from my hiding place. There was nowhere to go unless I climbed the back fence and hid in the Kellerhers’ backyard. The chance of their pretty daughter Marilyn being there was definitely tempting.
From my hiding spot, I could see mum coming down the driveway. She was now armed with a thin whippy branch that had been freshly pruned from one of the fruit trees we had at the side of the house.
I can tell you, without a word of a lie, that getting thrashed with one of those hurts like hell. Yes, I was glad I had stayed in my hiding place.
Mum was still yelling my name. She must have thought I was terribly stupid. Did she imagine that calling me was going to somehow entice me to show myself and cop a flogging?
Now she was in such a state of mind that she wasn’t even scanning the back yard. She just kept going around the house as fast as she could yelling for me. She really must have thought she was hot on my trail.
I stayed where I was while mum completed half a dozen laps of the house. Finally, she had had enough. She tossed the branch, climbed the steps, and headed to the kitchen. It was time for a cup of tea and a Kool cigarette.
I jumped the fence to find Marilyn.
In my head, I could hear my mother saying “Wait until your father gets home”