Stephenson Tales

Petey's Non-Confession

Next door to us on Devonshire in Ann Arbor lived a man named Warren Good and his wife. What children they had had were all grown and no longer lived with their parents. Mr. Good worked as a specialist for the Psychology Department, administering and evaluating IQ tests. After examining Lucky, he told us that she had the highest IQ of anyone he had ever tested! We suspected as much by this time, so the news came as no surprise to us.

Mr. and Mrs. Good were grandparents to a boy of about four whose name was Petey. He spent a lot of time around our teeming household, playing with our kids and their toys and generally being a nice little boy.

At this time, I was in the throes of finishing the academic requirements for the PhD and, in order to leave the cars for the others in the house who might need them, I invested $400 in a Cushman Motor Scooter. I fitted it with a sidecar so I could take the children riding in it, but its main function was to get me to and from the University. I would put my books in the sidecar, go down Washtenaw, turn right, and in about a mile arrive at the buildings where my classes in English, theatre, radio, etc., were held. Then after classes I would ride home and spend the rest of the day doing homework, as well as helping in the house.

One day I was rushed for time and started my scooter and took off. Half way down the hill the motor began to sputter, and as I reached the intersection it died altogether. I tried a few times to start it but it would not start at all. I pushed it up over the curb and into the yard behind the tall hedge adjacent to the sidewalk in front of the fraternity house on the corner. I rushed out and hitchhiked to my classes. I got a ride almost at once.

After my classes were over, I hitchhiked back to where I had left my scooter. I tried again to start it. No go. I pushed it up the hill and down the driveway to the back of the house. I got my tools and prepared to figure out what was wrong.

Petey was standing there by the garage watching me. He said, "I didn't put water in your gas tank Mr. Stephenson."


Composed 16 November 2008; Transcribed by Lucky

Lucky's Notes: Here are a few more tidbits about these neighbors.

John and Alan were a couple of years older than Petey, and though they usually played well enough with him they were sometimes awful. One time they slathered glue all over the seat of a little wooden chair and invited Petey, clad only in his bathing suit, to have a seat. He sat down and was totally stuck to the chair! He jumped up with the chair sticking out behind him, bawling as he ran home.

Warren Good, Petey's grandfather, went by the nickname, "Comma." John and Alan, partners in crime, opened an upstairs window overlooking the Goods' yard, and yelled at Mr. Good, "Comma, Comma, question mark! Comma, Comma, question mark!" repeatedly until they got caught. It was funny enough to be worth the punishment.

Warren Good bought one of the very first color television sets ever made, and proudly brought all of us over to admire it. It was color, all right: garish, overdone, hideous color. We watched an ad in which an orange woman was pouring what was supposed to be milk into a glass. Evie said, "That milk is GREEN!" We'd been trying to be polite, but we all started howling and laughing at his TV. It turns out he had deliberately turned the color adjustment as far up as it would go! He declared, "I paid for color and I WANT COLOR!"

© Jim Bob Stephenson 2008

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