In the early 60’s, I had a morning newspaper route. In five years, only a couple people didn’t pay their subscription. Honor was still a virtue.
But one man didn’t pay and then moved. On collection days when I knocked on his door, even with his car in the driveway, no one answered. I was out nearly two months’ service. My father was more upset than I was.
Then on Halloween afternoon, I walked in my house to see my father sitting at the table smoking a cigarette and smiling. On the table were two dozen eggs and a piece of paper with an address on it. He took a pull from his Herbert Tareyton and blew smoke. “That deadbeat who stiffed you on your newspaper route. That’s his new address. I saw his car in the driveway, saw him in the yard.”
I didn’t want to go through the effort required to start banging on this man’s door in vain. I’d proven to myself that it was not worth it. I slumped. “Okay.”
My father put one out or lit one or tapped ash. “Now, whatever you do, don’t go to that address with those eggs and throw those stinky eggs through his screen door and against the stucco around his front porch. It would make a big smelly mess.”
I was raised to obey laws and respect my elders. “Okay.”
“Whatever you do.” He gave me the steely-eye. “Whatever you do. Don’t. Take. Those. Eggs. And. Throw. Them. Through. That. Sum’bitch’s screen door. And. All. Over. His. Front. Porch.” He got up, took his pack of cigarettes and his matches, heading out the door to the backyard and his smoking chair. “I’d hate to think that you took those eggs when I wasn’t looking.”
No one had ever encouraged me to violate any codes of behavior. I stood looking at the eggs and scrap of paper, trying to be sure the message was what I thought it was.
My father stuck his head back in the door and smiled. “Have a nice Halloween.”