When the days pour forth like a pitcher of cherry Kool-Aid, and playful shouts float into opened windows, alerting mother’s of their litter’s location, and disturbing old man Sullivan from his afternoon nap—then you know that it’s summertime.
Mr. Sullivan shuffles out to the back yard, stewing over his lost sleep, and finds his throne: an old metal chair placed beneath an ancient oak, where he will simmer as he waits to exact revenge.
Gary, a shy kid with high hopes, is up to bat. Eyes roll as he mimics a pro’s stance. Undaunted, he knocks one out of the yard, which gains him some momentary praise, until the ball thuds down in forbidden territory. Mr. Sullivan smiles as he imagines another ball on his mantle, his collection of home runs hit over his privacy fence, rewarding Rocko, his stealthy Rottweiler, with a “good boy” and a pat, for another drooly fetch, leaving a mob of scabby-kneed kids annoyed with Gary—now waiting in vain for a toss back.
When the days drag on, one looking much the same as the last 364, from within vaulted homes closed tight against the heat, air conditioners hum, simulating cooler seasons, and electronic devices turned domestic, e-sit chubby children unaccustomed to sunshine and exercise—then you know that it’s summertime.
Gary spends his summer days alone while his single mother works. He has never hung out with the kids in his neighborhood. Sometimes he sees them at school but it usually takes the entire school year for him to warm up to them. During the summer he loses touch with his new friends, as most of them either stay inside or get farmed out to summer programs, resurrecting Gary’s shy nature, and forcing him to start the awkward experience of making new friends all over again come fall.
Mr. Sullivan stands alone by his open window looking out onto his silent neighborhood. He hears the birds singing, and the traffic passing by, but none of this stirs him. His mantle is bare of sandlot trophies, his lawn immaculate, and his dog slumbering. Turning away from his window, he pauses and mumbles, “Where the hell are all the kids?”