It was early summer and early in the afternoon. My sister sat talking on the phone with an ex-friend, Mom was at work, and I stood at the kitchen counter making little pizzas out of English Muffins. A rift had started between Cathy and Becky, a girl who lived down the road a few blocks. Becky had borrowed Cathy's roller-skates, the nice ones Mom had bought from a garage sale. She'd yet to return them and was now claiming amnesia over their existence.
While spreading pizza sauce on a toasted English Muffin, I listened as Cathy argued over and over for the girl to just return her skates so she could forget the whole thing and get back to her summer. The voice in the receiver came out with screeches and angry denials.
I had always wondered about that Becky. She was kind of bossy and mean, always saying things with an authority that didn't seem genuine. And sure, she could come over and play with our stuff whenever she wanted, but the second we went to her house she'd snap at us not to touch anything! I was glad Cathy didn't hang out with her anymore. But I did think it was stupid to argue so much over the skates. Mom could deal with it, or maybe Becky would have a change of heart and return them after all.
Another thirty minutes passed, Cathy was not going to give up. Suddenly she turned to me with a vivid expression, clamping a palm down on the receiver. "Amy, would you do something for me? Walk down to Becky's house and stand outside. She has this other girl there and they're saying stuff about me, but I can't hear all of it. You go down there and listen outside her window, then come back with a report."
I stood for awhile, debating this awful plan. Why was I always made the scapegoat? Cathy used all my nice clothes, usually ignored me, and now I was supposed to do her dirty work?
"Hurry, or they'll catch on!" A look of annoyance crossed her face, so I agreed to go. The only thing worse than my sister ignoring me was when she was mad at me. She could real be evil sometimes.
I left the house and walked up the street. It was a nice day, some boys were out playing ball in their front yard. A man leaned over his motorcycle by the ditch, pieces and parts of greasy metal in his smudged hands. By the time I made it to Becky's house though, clouds had gathered, and the day looked ominous.
I approached the house and stood under the front windows, which were open. I heard two voices inside talking fast. They spoke of Cathy and I grew upset. No matter how mean she was to me, she was still my sister! Then I heard them laugh. Someone mentioned the skates. Becky still had them! They were in her garage at that very moment, hidden behind a pile of boxes. I looked to the garage, but it was locked. I'd just go home and tell Cathy and let her deal with it from there. At least we knew the truth.
Quietly, I crept away from the house. But in mere seconds two angry girls rushed out the front door and grabbed my by the forearms. "A spy! We knew it! We knew it!" They dragged me inside, not at all gentle with their hands. "We'll beat you; we'll kill you prisoner!"
My stomach rose out of its holdings and I felt everything solid turn to quivering jello. Would they really kill me? What kind of people said things like that? It was awful.
"What did you hear?" they asked, grabbing a jumprope and tying me to a wooden chair in the kitchen. I winced as the rope pulled tight, cutting into my skin. Becky searched the kitchen for something else. She decided to use saran warp on my ankles, then with a smile, wrapped a dishtowel across my mouth and tied it behind my head. "Cathy will have to come get you herself, and then we'll capture her too."
I watched her pick up the phone and dial a number. "That was real stupid of you sending your sister to spy on us. We've kidnapped her and we ain't gonna let her go. Shouldn't have accused me of stealing your skates!" The receiver slammed down.
Sitting there all tied up like a pork loin, I tried to figure out if I wanted Cathy to come save me, or if I should just try to escape somehow. I didn't want her to get caught too, but at the same time, I really had to pee.
She did show up. It felt like hours later, but when I heard her familiar voice at Becky's front door I about fainted. Then I heard her come inside. "NO! NO!" I tried to yell, with yeasty dishcloth stuffed in my mouth. Footsteps sounded on the stairs, then there was a scuffle in the kitchen. With fists batting at her, Cathy worked hard to untie me from the chair. She'd barley gotten the towel from my face before yelling for me to, "Hit it out the back door!"
We both ran. Becky's porch had some loose boards, but we got down and made it halfway across the back yard. But then I felt two hands clamp down on my arms again. They pulled so hard that a scream tore from my lips. A feeling of hopelessness knifed through me as I watched Cathy head through the alley to the street. I had the sick realization that Becky might actually kill me. I could hear it in her voice. She was the kind of human that would actually kill. She had a deformed soul.
I was desperate. I lashed and whipped out of her grasp. She swore something and I jetted forward. Then the most amazing thing happened, when I got to the alley I saw Mom's car coming down the street. Cathy must have called her before coming over and everything had worked out in perfect time. We grabbed the door handles before the car even stopped, and Mom sped off the second we clicked them shut. "That girl's crazy! Don't hang out with her anymore."
I peeked out the window and saw Becky standing in the alley, completely out of breath. For a nanosecond I studied her face: a maniac, a killer. It gave me chills.
Later I asked Cathy if she still wanted to get her skates back, and she shrugged. She hadn't yet apologized for sending me over there, and I hadn't yet thanked her for saving my life. But I knew, and she knew. It was just the way we were.