Hiding Mr. Stubs by Lisa Noble. Memories of growing up in Simi California. Performed live with Poet’s West at the Frye Art Museum. Published in Poets West Journal and Longing for Bohemia.

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We hid Mr. Stubs from the dog catcher in the tall prickly grass behind the haunted house where the Nuns used to live glaring sternly at Catechism truants stealing avocados and cussing in broken Spanish. The ghost of Charman came to life those long, dry-lightening nights: scorched flesh on tormented bones that refused to die. What ever you do, don’t call his name out loud three times! “Hey Charman! Charman! Hey”…Screaming like a girl, you always ran for your life before I could finish my wicked chant. That summer I learned how to spit like a boy into the hot Santa Ana wind. You and I would hide Mr. Stubs all day and all night if we had to. We were more afraid of your dad than Charman that day; red-faced yelling, waving the chewed remnant of his favorite shoe. Us and dog out the door and running before that adult-sized anger could find us. Invisible in a field of tumble weeds and spider bites, the animal control truck drove right past the three refuges. Tiny red-winged grasshoppers zinged by as we passed the time trading Creepy Crawlers; you loved the red detail I used in my perfectly cooked black widow spiders. I always made an extra one, just for you. Laying low we ran our hands over Mr. Stubs’ torpedo body, his namesake tail wiggling in co-conspiracy. Comparing scabs on knees and elbows, you’d pick yours to make it bleed, just so I could see. By some sort of parental espionage, an hour and a half after dinner time, your dad finally found us crouching over that poor stray not quite house broken Basset Hound. Sweaty, hungry, I had to GO really bad! And you,holding back tight-voiced tears, mortified to cry in front of me. Some day, you and I would grow up and leave this desert valley of June-bugs and alligator lizards and live in separate cities and work jobs and wear shoes… But that summer- that day we thought we were in so much trouble for hiding the dog, for being late- that moment when your dad saw us like that, he changed his mind about condemning Mr. Stubs to the dog-pound. In the omnipresent way of adults, it was already OK with my mom for me to come over for spaghetti dinner if I called her when I got to your house. “Mr. Stubs,” your dad said, “you look hungry, let’s go home.” and did we want lime sherbet for dessert tonight because, you know, it was just too hot for ice cream… Mr. Stubs, drooling at our heels all the way to your house.

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