I dashed into my son’s room a few moments after his normal bedtime fussing turned into yowling screams of pain.
“What is it?” I asked, sliding to my knees beside his bed.
“I hurt my finger!” Evan yelped, holding his pointer finger out. My eyes focused in the dim light, expecting to see Tarantino-esque arcs of blood squirting through the air.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I bited it. Can you kiss it?” he asked. His skin didn’t even have a mark.
“You bit it? Evan, you really shouldn’t bite your fingers.” I said.
“Why?” he asked. I gave his finger a kiss as he intently stared at me, waiting for an answer.
“Why shouldn’t you bite your fingers?” I asked. He nodded. If you’re going to give crazy advice to a toddler, be prepared to explain yourself.
“Because it hurts. I think you just found that out,” I said.
“Why?” he asked. Somehow, I’d stepped into an extra inning of bedtime stalling. We’d already played a regulation game an hour earlier, with seventeen delays for water breaks. Now we were looking to extend the injury timeout.
“Good night, Evan,” I said, leaving his door open a crack as the normal fussing resumed.
The next morning, I looked out the window to see that summer had officially begun. The sun was shining. The birds were probably chirping, though you couldn’t hear them over the air conditioning. And the kids were off from school, looking for a way to keep entertained, as evidenced by our mailbox lying on the ground, its post snapped in half.
Just when you start to think that kids are sitting around all summer, barely able to suck the Devil Dog debris off their fingers before the next round of Call of Duty starts on their overworked PlayStations, you stumble across some evidence that there are still kids out there who appreciate the value of getting some fresh air while they’re defiling your property.
Evan padded up behind me and looked out the window.
“Why our mailbox broken?” he asked.
“Looks like somebody knocked it over, kiddo,” I said.
“Why?” he asked.
“Good question,” I said.
“Why?” he asked. Then balloons and confetti fell from the ceiling to celebrate Evan’s millionth asking of that question.
I stared at the splintered post, trying to think of any teenagers around the neighborhood whom I might have offended enough to deserve this kind of postal retribution. It’s been three years since I passed a teenager who wasn’t wearing earbuds while texting, though, so I can’t imagine any of them emerged from their sensory deprivation smartphones long enough to be offended by anything I might have done.
When I pried the door of the mailbox out of the dirt to extract the Netflix DVD that I’d failed to retrieve the day before, I noticed with some relief, and then some guilt for feeling relieved, that a string of other mailboxes down the street had also received the Marie Antoinette treatment during the night. In fact, it looked like a small tornado had ripped through the neighborhood, treating our mailboxes like miniature mobile homes.
According to the cop who stopped by our house a few hours later, a roving band of teenagers had sown a path of minor destruction around the neighborhood, making several flower pots, garbage cans and mailboxes pay for their failure to be made of cast iron. A homeowner had heard the racket and chased the kids off, perhaps recognizing one of them as he gave chase, which raised the sweet prospect of justice being delivered.
It’ll have to be delivered to the front door, though, since nobody around here has a mailbox anymore.
You can play mailbox baseball with Mike Todd at email@example.com.