by  Aurora M. Lewis
I was more like another mother to Dewey than a big
sister.  Ever since he was born I thought of him as my
responsibility, this little kid I took care of when my mom was
busy.  When he was a baby he was like a doll to me.  I’d dress
him up and play with him, try to teach him how to walk and talk.  
He’d follow me around, do as I did or said.

My dad was a drunk, always coming home smelling like liquor and
perfume.  He and my mom fought a lot.  Actually, he fought while
my mom tried to keep from getting hit.  I’d lie in bed wishing he
would just go away.  Sometimes I even wanted him to die.  
When they fought Dewey would come into my bed and cry.  I had
stopped crying a long time ago.  I just wanted it over.  

One night my dad came home drunk and started beating on
Mom.  I got out of bed and went to the kitchen.  Dewey had been
in my bed and he followed me.  I got a big pot from the cupboard
and Dewey got a little one.  I filled both pots with water and put
them on the stove to boil.  My dad came in the kitchen and asked
me what we were doing.  I told him we were boiling water.  He
asked me why and I said for him.  He looked at me kinda funny.  
My mom was standing in the hall holding her face where he had
slapped her.  My dad turned and walked out of the front door,
just like that.  He didn’t say a word.  I guess he could tell I
meant what I said. I was going to throw the boiling water on him
if he hit Mom one more time or if he took one step toward Dewey
and me.

Not long after, Dad left.  We didn’t have any money, not like
before. We lost our house and we moved to a small apartment on
Hickory Street, over by the Firestone Building.  It looked like an
Egyptian Palace with statues surrounding the top of the building.  
It was kind of scary looking, but I liked it because it looked like
something from a movie.  Mom got a job at a donut shop that
didn’t pay her very much.  She got money from the county and
she was trying to get child support from Dad, but you know how
that goes.  To help out I tried to get jobs in the neighborhood,
pulling weeds, taking old ladies’ trash cans out on trash day, and
it helped a little, but not enough.  My dad turned out to be a real
jerk.  He never sent Mom any money and then I heard he was in
jail.  Figures.

After school and on the weekends it was my job to keep an eye
on Dewey. He was 5 and I was 12.  Mom was always working,
taking extra hours when she could get them.  When she wasn’t
working she was always tired.  The only good thing about her job
was they let her bring home the day-old bread, donuts and
muffins.  They weren't so bad if you put them in the oven and ate
them warm.  It was kinda hard to keep an eye on Dewey if I was
lucky enough to do some chores for a neighbor and make some
money.  This is how I spent my summer, trying to earn enough
money to buy school clothes when the new semester started.

One day I went looking for Dewey because he wasn’t on the porch
like he was supposed to be.  I found him down the street talking
to this dude in a dropped down blue Pontiac.  He had long stringy
hair like one of those guys in a band.  He was sitting on the
passenger side talking to Dewey and giving him some M&M's.  I
walked up behind Dewey and punched him in the shoulder.  He
was surprised to see me. He grabbed his arm like I really hurt
him, but I knew I didn’t.  I just wanted to get his attention, let
him know he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to do.  

Dewey started crying and the guy said he was sorry, he didn’t
mean any harm.  Said he was just talking to the kid and offered
him some of the M&M's he was eating because he looked like he
wanted some.  This dude said his buddy worked at a cleaners and
he was delivering some clothes at the pink house where the car
was parked.  I must have looked really mad because I never had
a grownup explain so much to me.   

“You must be his sister,” the guy said.  I didn’t answer.  He
asked if I wanted some candy.  He leaned out of the window,
held up the bag of M&M's and asked if I wanted some.  I knew
better, but I took some anyway and handed it back.  I didn’t even
say thank you.  I narrowed my eyes like my mom does when
she's mad or doesn't trust somebody.  The guy kept smiling and
laughing like a kid who's been caught doing something wrong, but
trying to act like he didn’t. I snatched Dewey by the collar of his
bomber jacket and drug him home.  I looked back and the guy
was still leaning out of the car and he waved at us.  I didn’t wave
back.  His buddy got in the car and they drove off.  When Dewey
and I got back to our porch, Mom was standing there looking mad
as hell.

“Where have you two been?” she asked.  Her eyes were narrow,
which meant we were in big trouble.  I told her I found Dewey
down the street taking candy from some guy.  She looked at
Dewey like she was really pissed off, then looked at me and
asked what did I have in my mouth?  She could see the chocolate
on my teeth.  Before I could lie, she yanked me in the apartment
and hollered at me for taking candy too.  I tried to come up with
something, but she wouldn’t listen.  Then she started yelling
about how did I know where this guy's hands had been?  He could
have been touching himself—you know, jerking off.  She went on
and on about the kind of guys who like kids and what they do to
them and was I crazy.  She only asked Dewey if he was okay.  
She didn’t holler at him, only at me.  She made us go to bed right
after we finished our mac and cheese.  No television, no comic
books, just straight to bed.  Man, it was all Dewey’s fault, taking
candy from some strange dude in the first place.

About a week later I saw the same car drive by our place and the
stringy haired dude waved, like we were friends or something.  
Dewey waved back and smiled.  I just looked at him like I wanted
to kick his little butt.  The car parked in front of the same pink
house. The other dude got out carrying clothes in a plastic
cleaners' bag.  I kept watching the car.  The dude who gave us
the candy leaned out and waved again and of course my stupid
brother waved back.  I just looked at the guy then turned my
head away.

The Pontiac drove by our apartment every week delivering clothes
and every time the stringy haired dude would wave at us.  
Sometimes he’d laugh and wave a bag of Reese's or
Butterfingers.  Dewey would always beg to go say hi when the car
parked in front of the pink house.   I always told him I’d kick his
ass if he even tried.  Then one day the Pontiac stopped in front
of our place.  We were on the sidewalk playing around.  The guy
was alone. He tossed out a bag of Butterfingers.  He didn’t say
anything and then drove off waving goodbye.  I was starting to
think maybe he was okay.

Dewey asked me if it was okay to pick up the candy and I told
him to go ahead. That night I didn’t tell my Mom.  She just would
have gone off on us again.  I kept thinking about this dude, why
was he being nice to us.  Maybe he just liked being nice to kids.  
I think Dewey missed my Dad.  I didn’t, but Dewey was a boy and
boys are different when it comes to their dads.  I think he liked
this guy paying attention to him.  Every now and then the guy
would drive by and throw out a bag of candy.  One time it was a
big bag of M&M's.  Then school started and we didn’t see the
Pontiac for a while.  

I was glad to be back in school with my friends, Arlene and
Vesta.   It gave me a break from always having to watch Dewey.  
We walked home together after school.  Of course Dewey walked
with us.  He was in Kindergarten and we were in the 6th grade,
so having him with us was a drag in a way, but I needed to make
sure he got home safe.  Mom always told me he was my
responsibility.  Arlene, Vesta and me liked to talk about boys a
lot and if Dewey heard us he’d yell he was going to tell Mom.  
Mom didn’t want to hear anything about me and boys.  She'd get
real mad.

One day after school Dewey and me were walking alone.  I didn’t
see Arlene and Vesta; maybe they got a ride because it was
raining.  The dude in the Pontiac was parked at the corner.  He
was by himself.  He leaned out and asked us if we wanted a ride
home.  It was raining really hard and we were getting soaked, so
I said okay and we got in the front seat.  The guy said his name
was Lonnie and asked us our names.  We told him.  He said he
felt like he knew us.

“Did you like those W&W's?” he laughed. I didn’t laugh, but
Dewey did.  “You said it upside down!” he giggled.   I didn’t talk
too much on the way home.  In my head I was planning an
escape route if this guy tried anything funny, but he drove us
straight to our apartment.  He gave each of us a Hershey bar,
then let us out and drove off.

The next Saturday I was pulling weeds for Mrs. Lofton down the
street.  Dewey was playing in her yard and taking turns riding
this kid Dominic’s bike.  When I finished pulling weeds, Mrs.
Lofton gave me $5.  I went to get Dewey but I couldn't find him.  
I called and called, then I saw Dominic and he said Dewey got in
a blue car with some long haired dude.  My stomach starting
hurting, I knew Lonnie had taken him.  I was so scared.  I went
back to Mrs. Lofton’s and told her.  I was crying so hard she could
hardly understand me.  She figured out what I was saying and her
face turned purple. “Oh sweet Jesus!” she said and then she
called the police and my mom.  

When my Mom got there she was crying.  She screamed at me
about not keeping an eye on Dewey.  I was crying so much I
couldn't talk.  The police tried to calm Mom down and they took
us back to our place to get more information.  Mrs. Lofton told my
mom everything would be okay, but I didn’t believe her.  I had
really messed up.

When we got to our place a lady copy asked me what I knew
about the guy that Dewey went off with.  I told her about the
candy, about the ride home from school when it was raining.  I
told her he said his name was Lonnie.  My mom looked at me like
I was crazy or something.  She started screaming at me again,
but another cop took her into a different room.  The lady cop
asked me to describe Lonnie, how he dressed, and as much about
his car as I could remember.  After they left, my mom told me it
was all my fault and slapped me across the face.  No matter how
mad she was at me, she had never hit me before.  But I deserved
it.   Later that night, she said she was sorry and that we needed
to pray that we got Dewey back, that nothing happened to him.  
We got on our knees and prayed.  I didn’t pray a lot before and I
didn’t think God wouldn’t listen to me, since it was my fault.  I
prayed real hard for him to bring Dewey home.

We put up flyers everywhere—on telephone poles, at Sam’s
Market, at the donut shop where Mom worked—hoping somebody
knew something.  The cops went down to the house where the
guys delivered clothes and then they went to the cleaners.  The
guy that used to drive the Pontiac sometimes was there, but he
told the cops he hadn't seen Lonnie for a long time and that the
car belonged to Lonnie.  He said Lonnie was always watching
kids, but he didn’t know he was some kind of perv.

At school it seemed like no one wanted to be my friend anymore.  
The teachers looked at me real sad and some said they were
sorry to hear about my brother, like he was dead or something.  
My friends Arlene and Vesta stopped walking home from school
with me and a lot of the kids whispered when I walked by.  I
heard some kids say that my brother was probably dead, but I
didn’t believe that.  I’d tell them to shut the hell up; they didn’t
know shit about my brother.  

It's been hard for me and Mom.  Sometimes I catch her just
staring at me.  We didn’t talk much at first.  I know she still
blamed me.  I wished so hard that there was something I could
do to bring Dewey back.  The cops would stop by once in a while,
but they never had any news.  Every time the news reported
something about a missing kid who had been found, Mom would
get all excited hoping it was Dewey, and so did I.  But it never
was.  She kept all of Dewey’s clothes in his closet and chest of
drawers.  She kept his toy box and all of his toys.

It’s been a long time since Dewey has been gone. Every time I
see a blue Pontiac I think Lonnie is bringing him home, but it’s
never Lonnie’s car.  Dewey has had two birthdays since he’s been
gone.  He is 7 now.  My mom has a cake for him on his birthday
that she gets from the bakery.  Her boss doesn't make her pay
for it.  We never eat the cakes; they just sit on the table with
candles we don’t light because Dewey isn't there to blow them
out.  Mom always ends up crying and going to bed.  I cry too.  
Then in the morning I hear her putting the cake down the
garbage disposal.  

Most of the flyers are gone from the telephone poles, but the
donut shop still has one on the window and so does Sam’s
Market.  The flyers are faded and it's hard to tell what Dewey
looked like.  He probably looks a little different since he is 7
now.  The cops told my mom they were still working on the case,
but she doesn't believe them.  She says Dewey is just another
poor kid gone missing and the police weren't wasting their time
anymore trying to find him.

Mom won't let me work for any neighbors since Dewey
disappeared.  I have to stay in the apartment when I am not at
school.  Sometimes she let's me go to the library.  I have to call
her as soon as I get home, even though I am 14 now.  She’s not
taking any chances.  I miss Dewey so much even if he was a little
pain in the ass.  I miss playing Shoots and Ladders with him and
watching TV.  He wasn’t really so bad.  It would be good for Mom
if he was here for his next birthday.  She says we're not moving
from Hickory Street until Dewey comes home.
Gemini Magazine
Aurora M. Lewis' poetry
Forget-Me-Knots, is
available from
erbacce-press. A graduate
of UCLA's Creative Writing
Certificate Program,
Aurora has published
poetry and fiction in
Dreamers' Reality, the
Battered Suitcase, Up the
Staircase, and