My name wasn’t a serious one on the streets. Kids would yell,” Rilly’s being silly!” and the next thing you know, a hundred feet would be running towards me.
And you see, the next thing you know again, 50 mouths would be laughing at me. I never knew what was so silly, I mean, I was only playing.
Sometimes, I’s playing in the grass, sometimes I’s playing with those interesting creatures, you know, the frogs and the lizards.
I loved to play with the leafs, and I loved to play with the animals.
Mama, she would say “You boy, stop touching those good animals, you’s only hurtin’ them you is, that’s it, and nothing else.” But kids called me silly Rilly, and silly I was.
My dad, you see, he had no money. He liked that smelly drink. Mama called it his medicine, but I knew she was lyin’.
I heard her, when she and dad was shouting at each other, I’s hear her say “Gerald (see, they’s liked to call him Gerald the bald,
because no one ever knew’s a time when he wasn’t bald) you drink too much alcohol.” Sometimes, when mama wasn’t around (see, my mums she worked for a school.
She’s make them kids the food they’s liked to eat), he’d say, “Rilly, stop being silly, and goes get me some medicine. You tell them you’s there for Gerald. Now’s go on out.
” Mama, she’s found out. The store guy, see, he told her, and she wasn’t too happy.
She’s come home, and she’s shout at him, but he’s gave her one big slap, and he’s take his jacket, and he’s go buy the medicine himself.
Sometimes I’s say “Papa, can I please have some money.” Papa, he then look at me funny, and he’s always say. “Rilly, reach in your pockets , and you’ll always find money.
And if you’s want more money, you’s just reach deeper.” The neighborhood people, they’s liked sayin, “that Gerald the bald, you give him wine and he’ll turn it to grapes.
” You see, I wasn’t too silly. I could tell you what they was sayin. They was sayin’ everythin’ he touched, he’s broke it. I seen it myself. He’s even touch himself and he’s broke himself.
That’s why me and mama, we find him sleeping on the ground, and I’s cant see his face because he’s hide it on the ground, and I’s sees some smelly rotten juice from his mouth,
and mamas says he aint breathin’. Well, papa never started breathing again, so mama says he can’t come home. I never sees him since then. Maybe ill see him when he’s start breathing again.
At school, I had one friend. He’s told me, “Rilly, just call me Stephen.” So I’s call him Stephen, and we’s liked each other so much we didn’t make no other friends.
Sometimes, I’s see some of the kids, they’d be covering they mouth and I sees they be laughin’, then I sees them point at me and Stephen.
But Stephen, he told me, “Rilly, there just jealous of our friendship, you and me,” so I’s cover my mouth, and me and Stephen, we’s start laughin, then we’s point at the kids too.
One day, Stephen, he’s told me, “Rilly, my mum and my dad, they’ve gone to visit they’re mum and dad, and my dad, he left something he’s not suppose to leave, I’ll show you Rilly, after school.
” After school, me and Stephen, we’s go and walk, and when we walk, Stephen, he take his bottle from his bag, and he’s give it to me. He says,” try it Rilly, its really nice.
” I’s just snatched the bottle, and I’s smell it smell like papas medicine. But I liked Stephen so much, so I’s put it on my mouth, and I’s drink it.
When I got home, I’s feel so sick, so much so as I’s run to my bathroom, and into my big bowl where’s I wash, papas smelly rotten juice came from my mouth.
I’s get so scared because when papa, his smelly rotten juice comes from his mouth, he’s stop breathing, and mama didn’t let him come home. I’s like home I did, and wanted to stay.
So I runs to the pharmacy, and say’s, “Sir, papas smelly rotten juice, it comes from my mouth, and if you won’t help me, mama, she’s won’t let me come home.”
He’s look at me funny, and he’s says, “Alright, but you’ve got to pay son.” I’s remember, papa says, “Rilly, reach in your pockets, and you’ll always find money.
” So I’s reach in in my pocket, and I’s give the sir what’s I find. He look at me funny again, and he’s says, “Sorry son, I can’t help you.
” So he’s give me my money back, and I’s leave the store.
So then I’s go to the clinic, and I’s say, “misses, papas smelly rotten juice, it comes from my mouth, and if you won’t help me, mama, she’s won’t let me come home.”
The lady, she’s look at me funny just like the sir, and she’s says, “Alright, but you’ve got to pay boy.
” So, again, I’s put my hands in my pocket, and I’s reach inside, but this time, I’s reach deeper, because papa says, “And if you want more money, you’s just reach deeper.
” I gave the lady what I’s find inside, and she’s look at me weirdly, and not funny this time. She’s say, “sorry boy, I can’t help you.
” So she’s give me my moneys back, and I’s put it in my pocket.
So then I’s go to the hospital, and I says, “Doctor, papas smelly rotten juice, it comes from my mouth, and if you won’t help me, mama, she won’t let me come home.”
The doctor, he don’t look at me funny like the sir and the miss, but he’s look at me serious. Then he’s say,” Alright, but you’ve got to pay kid.
” So I’s reach in my pocket, and this time I’s reach so deep, that I’s broke my pocket, but I’s catch the money , and I’s give it to the doctor.
The doctor, he’s look at me even more serious, not funny like the sir or weird like the miss, and he says, “Sorry kid, I can’t help you.
” So he’s give me my money’s, and I's take it, and I’s go away.
So then I go's home, and I’s so scared so I’s shout, “Mama, papas smelly rotten juice, it comes from my mouth, and no one can help me,
and nows you won’t let me come home if I’s don’t breath again.” And I’s start crying. But she’s says, “Rilly, what is you talkin about.
” And I’s says, “papa, he can’t come home because that smelly rotten juice, it come from his mouth, and he’s can’t breathe.
I’s go to the pharmacist, then I’s go to the nurse, then I’s go to the doctor, but they’s all says, “sorry son or sorry boy or sorry kid, I can’t help you,
then they’s give me my moneys back and I’s go away.”
Then she’s says, “well Riley, let me see how much you’s give them,” so I’s reach deeeeeep in my broken pocket, so deep that I’s even pull my pants down and I’s take out the money,
and I’s give it to mama. She’s look at it, and she’s smile, then she’s says, “But now you’re being silly Rilly. You can’t give one pharmacist, one nurse and one doctor this.
Why, its one leaf and one frog and one lizard."