“Go open the door!” I said
to my younger sister, Nalee, sitting next to me on the blue
carpet floor. “Geez, don’t you have a brain?”
I was busy playing Mario on the Super Nintendo. We were in
the living room and the rest of our family was upstairs. My
parents were preparing for sleep in their bedroom. My two
older sisters were locked in their bedroom, reading Romance
novels and wallowing in their teenage angst. There were sounds
of splashes and giggles coming from the bathroom where my
two little brothers were. It was seven p.m. at night and my
mother forced us to go to bed at nine so I only had two hours
to play. I didn’t want to waste my precious playing
time to go open the door when Nalee was sitting there and
She crossed her arms and glared at me,
her dark eyes bulging. “No! Not unless you let me play
“Fine, fine,” I said.
“Hurry up, stupid!”
“No! I was going to go but
since you said it so mean, you go!” My hand itched to
slap her chubby cheek real hard. The person at the door was
now banging on the door. Maybe that person thought we couldn’t
hear the doorbell because Hmong music was playing really loudly
in my parent’s bedroom, the singer’s sweet Soprano
soaring on high volume. All the windows were open to let in
the cool night breeze, giving relief from the sweltering summer.
I threw the Super Nintendo controller
at Nalee’s feet before going over to open the door.
My mouth gaped open. Two policemen stood there, tall and stern
with their badges glinting silver in the porch light. “Are
your parents home?” one of them asked. I was too surprised
to answer. Leaving them to let themselves in, I turned around
and ran up the stairs to my parent’s bedroom. Nalee
came running up behind me when she saw them come in. Had one
of my younger siblings dialed 9-1-1 again? Ever since they
had discovered the telephone, they loved to dial numbers and
then hang up.
“Mom, Dad, police!”
They stared at me. My father was already dressed in his sleeping
clothes: a white tee shirt and blue shorts on his skinny frame.
My mother was wearing only a white bra and flower-print skirt,
revealing her pillowy stomach. My father’s face was
grim as he went down the stairs, ready to give some punishment
after he dealt with the police, while my mother dressed before
joining him. Nalee and I ran back downstairs in excitement.
“We got a call that you’ve
been killing dogs and eating them,” an officer said,
his face dead serious. They stood there, imposing figures
of authority looking out-of-place among the clutter littering
the living room that comes with a large family. My parents
stared at them in confusion, then shame as they realized what
they were hearing. The officer continued, “A neighbor
believes that you’ve killed and eaten a dog of theirs.
We just need to take a look around and see if the allegations
are true or not.” My parents led them around the house
so they could check the trash cans, both parties uneasy with
each other and what they were doing. The police officers finally
left and my parents went back to their bedrooms to seek solace
in their music again. Nalee picked up the Super Nintendo controller
to play, but I was not in the mood for playing anymore. I
left her to go up to our bedroom.
The neighbors had welcomed us to this
neighborhood, when we moved in about four months ago, by throwing
rocks at our doors. Two months ago my father, about to go
to work, had found his car with cracked shells and eggs sizzling
on it in the glaring sun. My parents were decent folks who
didn’t want problems:
Don’t play in
the yard; you might bother the neighbors with your screaming.
Just stay home.
Don’t ask too many questions, your teacher might get
Don’t play at the playground; the other kids might hurt
Don’t bother anybody and they won’t bother you.
I was now old enough to know this last
admonition wasn’t true. Next time anybody bothered me,
they were going to meet my fists. I walked over to my closet
where I had been hiding something. Two months ago I was fascinated
when my teacher had gotten eggs from a farm and kept them
in a tank with a heating lamp. After a month, little fluffy
yellow chicks came out. I thought I could make my own, so
I sneaked four eggs out of the fridge and kept them in a little
box in my closet. I left the light in the closet on twenty-four
hours a day but the little chicks hadn’t grown. More
than a month had passed and I realized that there weren’t
going to be any little chicks. But boy, the neighbors were
going to be surprised tomorrow.