Sometimes John's irrepressible clown caused some problems--as, for example, when he hung in effigy the KANSAS football team mascot from a tree in our front yard in Manhattan. Similarly when he threw "Stanley" out of the second story window to scare Evelyn (see elsewhere in this collection). Most notably was a real run-in with the constabulary in Carbondale. Near one of the buildings on the campus at Southern Illinois was a reflecting pool--designed to mirror the grandeur of the modern building behind it. The pool was about six inches deep, and miraculously, was kept clean and free from coins, waders and model sailboats. One evening just after supper, when John had gone out to ride his bike with his classmate, I was surprised to be called to the front door by a very stern-faced policeman. John was lurking behind him, looking extremely sheepish and red. I opened the door. "What's the trouble, Officer?" (in my most ingratiating tone)
© Jim Bob Stephenson 1992
"I caught this boy riding his bike in the reflecting pool. Is he your son?"
"In the reflecting pool? Over on campus?? John, you get inside this house. Thank you officer. I'll take care of him. Get in here, John!"
The officer, satisfied that he had protected the tile and concrete reflecting pool from the ravages of a balloon tired bike, thanked me and went down the steps to his waiting, flashing cruiser. John came in and I shut the door. To John's utter astonishment, I began to laugh. I almost fell down I was laughing so hard. John caught on to how silly the whole thing was and began to smile, too--his fear leaving him in a rush. Then we both hooted and I went into my parental reprimand: "John, you must NEVER (cough, gasp, giggle, snort) ride your bike in the (HAW, HAW) reflecting pool. Shame on you for being so (whee, hoot, sob) naughty. Now, swear to me that you will NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!"
John pulled himself together from his hysterics and assured me that he would NEVER do it again.
"What happened to your friend?"
"Oh, he saw the cop coming and rode off like a shot!"
Cast of Characters