of the dogs, except ours. There was kid stuff in front yards, tricycles and the like, with dogs on chains barking. They barked that way when a stranger was around, and Penny was talking to one.
Penny looked up at me, her white teeth showing behind that smarty-butt smirk. Her large dark-eyes glowing through black hair. She wore that same, ever-worn out, gray tee-shirt that used to be white, I think. And she had on those same torn up jeans at the knees, and she nodded low with her head telling Angel I was coming. He turned over his shoulder to look at me. It was Angel, all right. He wore a sleeveless denim jacket. He had beady, shifty eyes, a pony tail, and he was giggling at me, exactly how Billy said! Crap! I thought, what do I do now?
She held his arm while he held onto those high rising handle bars, big engine rumbling. I did not want to get close to him but I had to, to get into the house. His head swiveled, steady on me as I walked around them on the sidewalk. I nodded at Penny, just to be friendly. She laughed out loud.
“Are you not going to speak?” she asked.
I looked at her, not him, “I’ve got tests Monday in three subjects. I’ve got a lot of studying to do.”
“Come on, Ronni, you’ve got five minutes, he, he, he,” Angel said. He slurred his words. When he talked, he didn’t open his mouth very much. I’ve known people talk like this before when they had bad teeth. I paused.
“He’s Billy’s cousin,” Penny said. I paused because I remembered what Mother told me about not talking to strangers.
I shook my head, “I’m sorry, I’ve got to go,” I said and trotted up the steps to the porch and to the storm door, the kind with a screen on top and those aluminum curlicues on the bottom. Angel revved the engine once in anger.
“Billy’s at the shop. Why don’t all hop on the bus and go over,” Penny said, “We could all hang out for a while.” She’s helping him!
“Busy!” I shouted as I went in the door. “I already told Billy, I’d call him later!” I closed the front door behind me. I heard Angel rev up the engine hard over and over. I went to the window that faced the street above one of the sofas. I wiggled out of my backpack, crawled on the sofa on my knees, and then peeked out the venetian blinds. Angel was in the street going around in circles. He’s angry. That was obvious. Mama came out of the kitchen wiping her hands on a towel.
“What is all this ruckus?” she asked and went to the door. It’s going to look like I ran to her.
“Penny is out there with Angel. I think he’s just showing off for her,” I said.
“Angel? Angel Carnes? Oh, I know them Carnes’s. They no good! What’s Penny doing with him? She’s only fifteen!” she said and went for the door knob. I put my hand on her shoulder. She looked at me.
“He’s a lion, Mama,” I said. It was hard to judge how well Mama knew Angel.
She patted my hand, “I’ll handle it right,” she said. She opened the door, then stepped out on the porch.
“ANGEL!” she shouted above the din. “Angel! The noise!” she shouted and tapped at her ear. He stopped the revving and looked at her. “There’s babies in this neighborhood. That’s way too much noise, please!”
I watched from the blinds. Angel stopped and put his foot on the street. Penny stood there looking at Mama with her pretty lips pooched out scowling. That’s the Penny that I know. She’s like Dennis the Menace only a girl, and mixed race. I grinned. Angel glanced my way and I let the blinds go.