I said I’m not going back to school. You can do what you want to do, but I’m not going back to chool,” she said. “So shut up.” It was the first time she ever told me to shut up. It sounded terrible. God, it sounded terrible. It sounded worse than swearing. She still wouldn’t look at me either, and every time I sort of put my hand on her shoulder or something, she wouldn’t let me. “Listen, do you want to go for a walk?” I asked her. “Do you want to take a walk down to the zoo? If I let you not go back to school this afternoon and go for walk, will you cut out this crazy stuff?” She wouldn’t answer me, so I said it over again. “If I let you skip school this afternoon and go for a little walk, will you cut out the crazy stuff? Will you go back to school tomorrow like a good girl?” “I may and I may not,” she said. Then she ran right the hell across the street, without even looking to see if any cars were coming. She’s a madman sometimes.
I didn’t follow her, though. I knew she’d follow me, so I started walking downtown toward the zoo, on the park side of the street, and she started walking downtown on the other goddam side of the street, She wouldn’t look over at me at all, but I could tell she was probably watching me out of the corner of her crazy eye to see where I was going and all. Anyway, we kept walking that way all the way to the zoo. The only thing that bothered me was when a double-decker bus came along because then I couldn’t see across the street and I couldn’t see where the hell she was. But when we got to the zoo, I yelled over to her, “Phoebe! I’m going in the zoo! C’mon, now!”
She wouldn’t look at me, but I could tell she heard me, and when I started down the steps to the zoo I turned around and saw she was crossing the street and following me and all. There weren’t too many people in the zoo because it was sort of a lousy day, but there were a few around the sea lions’ swimming pool and all. I started to go by but old Phoebe stopped and made out she was watching the sea lions getting fed–a guy was throwing fish at them–so I went back. I figured it was a good chance to catch up with her and all. I went up and sort of stood behind her and sort of put my hands on her shoulders, but she bent her knees and slid out from me–she can certainly be very snotty when she wants to.
She kept standing there while the sea lions were getting fed and I stood right behind her. I didn’t put my hands on her shoulders again or anything because if I had she really would’ve beat it on me. Kids are funny. You have to watch what you’re doing. She wouldn’t walk right next to me when we left the sea lions, but she didn’t walk too far away. She sort of walked on one side of the sidewalk and I walked on the other side. It wasn’t too gorgeous, but it was better than having her walk about a mile away from me, like before.