Mrs. Kedzierski didn’t dig kids
by Mike Taylor
“What if she finds the body? Oh, man, we should never have buried it there!”
This is not a sentence a guy would normally utter over a phone line, especially if he knew Mrs. Kedzierski was listening in.
But I was ten years old; the word “consequences” was not to be found in my vocabulary.
These were the days of the party line, back when four or five families — usually neighbors — all shared a single phone line. It seems impossible now, one step removed from smoke signals or beating sticks on a hollow log, but it happened kiddies, in the Long, Long Ago.
At any rate, every time anyone made or received a call, it was a given that Mrs. Kedzierski was listening in, probably taking notes. As she no doubt was now.
“Why did we kill him?” Jim moaned.
Jim was my buddy from down the street.
“Just keep your mouth shut and nobody’s ever going to find out,” I said, ad-libbing my end of our pre-arranged dialogue. “We buried him deep enough. Don’t worry.”
“But what if Mrs. Kedzierski starts digging around in her old garden? Oh man oh man…” Jim whined, adding just a touch too much breathless trepidation, in my opinion.
I heard a gasp, neither my own or Jim’s. Mrs. Kedzierski, of course, forgetting in her surprise to cup her hand over the phone’s mouthpiece.
Mrs. Kedzierski lived next door. She wasn’t as old as Moses, but she could remember when he played tight end on the varsity football team during her sophomore year of high school.
She spoke just enough English to holler at the neighborhood kids who wandered too close to her yard (this included walking on “her” sidewalk). She was also diligent about reporting any juvenile transgression to the neighborhood’s parental contingent.
Nobody under 13 liked her and to all appearances that feeling was reciprocated with a vengeance.
Which was why Jim and I were doing our best to convince her we’d buried a dead kid in her garden.
We’d planned this little caper a couple days in advance and had snuck out the night before with shovels to loosen the soil around the October remnants of her shriveled tomatoes and snap peas.
“Look,” I said, sotto voce. “Just keep your damn mouth shut and no one will ever know.” I figured using a swear would convince her, if nothing else did, that we were unaware of her eavesdropping. Heaven knows Jim’s chops as an actor were not going to do it.
“OK, OK,” he said.
“Good,” I said, and hung up before Jim could gum up the works with any more of his over-acting.
Two minutes later Jim’s StingRay bike skidded to a halt in the alley bordering my side door. We watched from my upstairs bedroom window as Mrs. Kedzierski lurched to her garden, shovel in hand.
She was out there digging for nearly two hours.
I never did figure out why she hated kids.
“Columnist Mike Taylor resides in mid-Michigan where his weekly humor column ‘Reality Check’ appears in dozens of newspapers and online publications. He has won numerous ‘Best Column of the Year’ awards from both the Michigan Press Association and Associated Press. His writing may be found at MTRealityCheck.blogspot.com.”