Lenny Sercombe was a bully. He got his sister pregnant when she was in the eighth grade and they, along with their mother, raised the child as if that kind of thing happened every day in Brooklyn, Michigan.
I remember baby-sitting next door to his house when I was only twelve-years-old. I cooked for three children, cleaned up the dishes and stayed far into the night during horse racing season. All for twenty-five cents an hour!
One night I was wiping ketchup and hamburger grease off the table in the breakfast nook when I happened to glance into the Sercombe's kitchen window. There couldn't have been fifteen feet between the two houses. And there was Lenny with a big old breadboard about three inches thick and he whumped his mother right in the head with it. She went to her knees and I could tell she was pleading for him to stop. But he didn't. He just hit her again. His sister kept slugging him in the back as if that might make him stop and I could hear that red-headed baby they had just screaming and crying through the walls of both houses.
I've always thought Lenny meant to kill his mother that night. But he looked up and saw me watching him. I'd have been scared silly if someone caught me up to something like that but Lenny just sneered, gave me the finger and dropped that breadboard.
The Sercombe's had bright blue walls and I could see the mother's blood kind of splashed on them like polka dots. Lenny's sister stood in the middle of the room, her mouth shaped in a perfect "O," her eyes wide and blue.
It was so weird I think I would have laughed if that baby had just stopped crying.
Instead I called the police. I'm not sure how Lenny knew I'd do that but I saw him run out the front door and hide in the back of the family's old gray van. When the police arrived, Lenny's mother, her eyes all swollen and her hair tangled and snarled, said Lenny had been gone all night.
I might have been only twelve but I was smart enough to know Lenny would come for me next. So I did something I'll never forget. I watched the officers shine their light in a couple bushes and start walking toward their car. There was a six-foot fence between those two yards and I took off running. "Wait," I yelled. "He's in the van."And I sailed over that fence like it was no bigger than a skateboard.
I never baby-sat for those people again.