Stevie was enjoying himself. This was so much more fun than playing basketball with the other kids. Sure, basketball was fun, but Stevie longed to feel important. How important could you feel playing basketball in a park with a bunch of little kids? It didn’t matter that Stevie was a kid himself. Though he might not be able to put words to it, the truth was, Stevie craved a sense of status.
What adults did mattered. Stevie saw it everyday in the news, on the Internet, when he went out with his parents shopping. And he saw it in his own dad, who clearly also cared about being important, because he worked at City Hall. And that’s where all the Big Adults did Big Important Things that made a difference in this city.
Of that, Stevie was sure.
Right now he saw two big adults up to something important. Sure, it wasn’t City Hall, but Charlie was still an adult. He was still important. And when Charlie’s dog—Stevie realized the oddity of this as he thought it, knowing that Charlie had just met the dog a few minutes before—nearly ran over Miss Nan and then ran leaping into Miss Nan’s house–for he knew she was the landlord–he saw the horrified look on Miss Nan’s face and knew this meant trouble.
In the world of children, trouble was no big deal. In the world of children, trouble wasn’t important. In fact, not much really was, if you thought about it. But in the world of adults, trouble was very important! And it could be very bad!
Looking at Miss Nan’s reaction, Stevie knew that this would be trouble for Charlie. Clearly, Miss Nan hated dogs, or was scared of them. Clearly she didn’t want them in her house.
When she told Charlie to get the dog out of the house, Stevie felt bad for his friend. Charlie may be an adult, but that didn’t mean he was immune to trouble. Stevie knew that trouble happened all the time to adults, as his father’s stories about the people who showed up at City Hall on a daily basis demonstrated.
As Charlie ran into the house to get the dog, Stevie watched Nan standing there, cross-armed, looking stern and upset. Stevie still stood by the tennis court fence. He started to walk gingerly in the direction of the house.
Stevie held back from saying anything to Miss Nan, waiting to see what she would do. She stood there for a couple of moments, and then, seeming to get impatient, stormed into the house. Stevie’s curiosity got the better of him. Soon he was at the front step.
That’s when he heard Charlie’s voice outside, probably in the back yard. Not knowing what else to do, Stevie decided to wait outside.
Stevie liked Charlie. Right now he seemed less like an important adult and more like friendly adult who might need his help.
Several moments later, as Stevie sat on the front step of Miss Nan/Charlie’s house, Miss Nan surprised him by appearing suddenly at the front door. She exclaimed, “What are you doing in front of the door like this? I could have fallen over and hurt myself!”
Stevie leapt up. “Oh, I’m sorry Miss Nan. I was waiting for Charlie. I helped him…” Stevie hesitated, but decided to not to sugar-coat things. “With his dog.”
Miss Nan seemed even more rattled close up than she had from down the block. But now she seemed distant too. She did not seem to be really looking at Stevie as she said, “It’s not his dog… it just followed him in.” Then she said, decisively, “I gotta go. What’s your name?”
Stevie did not hesitate. Always let important people–important adults, that is–know who you are! “I’m Stevie! I live down the block! Charlie’s my friend! I play at the pa—“
“Very nice to meet you, Stevie. I’m Nan… but I guess you know that. I have something very important to attend to, so if you excuse me, I’ll be off. Have a nice day.”
And like that, Miss Nan was gone. I was right! Stevie thought, triumphantly. I knew she’s up to something important.
Satisfied with his own instincts, and not giving any real thought to what Miss Nan might be off to attend to, Stevie slumped back onto the front porch step. He stared into the distance, toward the park, glad to be a part of things that mattered.
That’s when Charlie’s voice behind him practically made him jump. “Stevie, you know about dogs, right? Well, um, I’m having a little problem with her. Could you come in the back?”
Naturally, Stevie was elated.