I tapped the bird-poo spattered cement square with the bat and scan the bases. First base, the woodshed corner, was clear, Manny on the square of cement in the middle of the sidewalk behind the pitcher that has always been second base, third (the drain pipe off the back of the house), was open. Girls versus boys that night. There was only 7 of us, and Mouse was too little to do anything but become a casualty of war, so it was up to me. Damn my family for having more boys. Ignoring the landmine of dog poo I’d have to wade through should I whiff, I issued the universal challenge: a tip of the chin and a glare that screams, bring it on, wussy.

The pitch.

2/3rds of the way to first I heard the crash of glass and Manny’s shriek, “Run!” We scattered to the winds. I ran inside the family room, quickly followed by the Small Brother, slammed the sliding door shut and tried to lounge on the couch, looking like I’d been there since birth. A glance up from the card table told mum that we’d done something awful. I was immediately surrounded and caved like ice lace.

The convicts were gathered for our final walk. Three from the garage roof. Two from a tree. The Wormling had followed me into the family room. We’re perpwalked up to the front door of the next door neighbor, who, we’ve convinced ourselves, is possibly a vampire, as we’ve never seen her in daylight. This was inevitable, as we have no replacement ball, but facing the Undead (there was a small contingent that opted for zombie over vampire) was a bit much for a ball.

Mum had me by the shoulder, my aunt and uncle had their respective hellions as well. I rang the doorbell and waited for my fate, hoping for vampire over zombie. After an eternity of staring at the carpeted top step, a frail elderly woman with a cane hobbled to the door. “Is this yours?” she asked, holding out the holiest of grails.

I mumbled an apology. My mother offered to pay for the window with my grade money. It was at that point, I knew the true enemy: Do not fear the undead. Fear the mother, from whom all funds come.