“Treasure of the Golden Loo”
“But it wasn’t our idea,” we said later. It really hadn’t been our idea but we jumped on board with the rest of our friends when Billy Crump, a wild light dancing in his eyes, suggested it. My twin brother, Jem, and I were doubled over laughing, our backs to the black and white when it arrived.
“Why don’t you tell me the joke so we can all have a good laugh?”
We turned in unison. That’s when we discovered our so-called friends had evaporated.
Jem glanced at me, shrugged slightly, then turned and offered up his most charming smile, “Knock, knock.”
Turns out Officer Horntree didn’t have much of a sense of humor. But to be fair, maybe only kids think tipping port-o-potties is funny. Our folks, when they showed up later at the station where we were taken, seemed to share Horntree’s view of the situation. We listened as the officer described the scene of the crime before he laid out for our parents the options now available to us. We simultaneously noticed the muscle in Dad’s jaw moving rapidly in and out as a murderous glare appeared in his eyes. Mom’s face turned pale and her eyes became red and watery. A few months in Juvy were starting to sound like a trip to Disneyland compared to what we’d face if we had to return home today.
“Lucky for you this is your first offense,” Horntree said with a stern frown in our direction. Ha! Lucky indeed, we both thought. “Next time you won’t get off so easy.” Maybe this guy did have a sense of humor after all. “If you can get through the next year without my having to hear your names then I’ll agree to drop this incident from your records.” He gave Jem and then me his formidable cop stare but he didn’t look nearly as scary as our dad. “Otherwise it’s off to Juvenile Hall for the both of you. Understand?” We both nodded. “Your parents have agreed to pay one hundred dollars to cover the cost of clean up.” Jem and I exchanged glances. A hundred dollars? Crap! We couldn’t do the math in our heads fast enough to calculate how many allowances that would be at a dollar each a week.
“What do you say to Officer Horntree?” Mom asked.
Not what we were thinking, that’s for sure. “Thank you,” we both managed to mumble, more or less at the same time. Thanks for nothing. Thanks for the ticket to Hell, more like.
Back at school we milked our fifteen minutes of celebrity but before long we were old news. Home was another story. There we were front page for the next two months. Then Christmas came and our parents lightened up on us with the arrival of tinsel and holiday cheer. Not coincidently, that was the year our folks began volunteering us to help out at the old folks home in town. We pretended to hate it but actually we made some pretty cool friends over checkers and Go Fish.
Years later, long after both Jem and I had married and had kids of our own, the folks let it slip that they’d always referred to “The Incident” as the “Treasure of the Golden Loo”. Apparently a hundred bucks was a good trade for all the free work they got out of us. In retrospect, and with the buffer of time, Jem and I agreed it all worked out for the best but still, it wasn’t our idea.