The Real Boo Radley
I know everyone has read the story To Kill A Mockingbird, so you all know about me, or so you think. My name is Boo Radley. I am writing my version of To Kill A Mockingbird so that the truth can be known. I don't know that much about some of the hearsay Scout Finch talked about. But I do know that most of the stuff she told about me was somewhat inaccurate. I guess I should start from the beginning.
My brother and I grew up really close, until he went off somewhere. It was at that time that I first got acquainted with those Cunningham boys. Everyone in town thought they were so terrible, but personally, I don't see what was wrong with them. All we wanted was a little fun. I suppose that one night involving Mr. Conner was shameful. Honestly though, I wasn't the one cussing, I was telling the others to shush. Still, I was accused and found guilty of the crimes committed that night.
If truth be told, I still don't see why my father didn't just send me to the industrial school. That never made any sense to me. But still, whatever the reason, my father wouldn't allow me to attend the school. As a punishment, dad kept me locked up in the house. I honestly don't understand why he did that either. I regret the fact that I wasn't allowed to be outdoors for fifteen years. It was so unfair.
I realize that at some point in time, a rumor was begun that I supposedly stabbed dad in the leg with a pair of scissors. Of course, that was just a rumor. I think Miss Stephanie Crawford is the one who started that whopper. My mom ran out into the street, but she was screaming about something stupid, I think it was a rat. I was simply cutting up the newspaper. If anyone had examined dad's leg, they would have found that there was not a scratch on him.
Nevertheless, I was locked up in the courthouse basement. I spent what seemed like forever in that basement. I don't know what was said, but finally dad came and took me home. Dad knew I had hated it there, so he threatened to send me back if I didn't stay inside and out of site. Well, of course, I listened to him because I didn't want to go back there.
I know that after that period of time in my life, rumors circulated like money. Many people said I went and stood outside their windows staring in at them, but I never did. I think that was Crazy Addie at one point. I wasn't really interested in anyone at that time in my life. I was much too depressed. Some of the accusations people made were down right ridiculous. How can anyone freeze azaleas by breathing on them? Sometimes I wish I could do half of the stuff people said I did. I think some of it would have been kind of fun. In fact, I remember one rumor that my father told me about that I thought was especially stupid when I first heard it. My father had heard somewhere that children at the schoolyard were afraid to eat our pecans. They thought they were poisoned or something. However, come to think of it, my dad never brought pecans in to eat, neither did mom. Maybe there was some truth to THAT rumor. Speaking of the schoolyard, I remember the hundreds of baseballs that rained into our yard throughout the years. I would watch the children stare longingly into the yard from the safe side of the fence. I always longed to return them, but I knew my father would disapprove, and I feared my father something awful.
I remember when dad died. I don't remember how old I was, but I remember hoping that mom would start letting me outside. Boy, did I have another thing coming! Nathan, my stupid older brother, came back from Pensacola to keep me inside. At first I still figured that I would be allowed outside; after all, we had been very close as kids. Little did I know, he had changed. He was downright bizarre. The first day he arrived, before I even had the chance to approach the door, my brother said the meanest thing he's ever said to me. I still remember his words clearly.
"Don't you get any ideas about going outside now, you hear? Just because I'm your brother doesn't mean I'm not just as ashamed of you as father was. If you set so much as one toe outside one of the doors during the day, I'll have you sent right back to that jail." Well, I just couldn't believe that. I was so sure he would be nicer. In fact, as I discovered later, Nathan was even meaner than dad.
It was after Nathan arrived that I began to get curious about the neighborhood. I would observe all of the passers-by through the window. One household really caught my attention. I later found out it was the Finch residence. When I first became "acquainted" with the family, there was a girl, probably about six, a boy around ten, a father, probably in his early forties, and a Negro woman that took care of the house and the children. I don't know why this family fascinated me so much, it just did.
I remember that right after I grew to enjoy watching these children, a new one arrived, and he became an instant playmate of the other two. He was short, very short. He had white-blonde hair that seemed to be almost stuck to his head. That boy had the bluest eyes I had ever seen. The girl seemed to especially like him, after a while. I noticed that at first she was kind of rough on him. I suppose she was trying to find out if he was okay to play with. That little boy would stand on the sidewalk about ten feet from our house. He would have his arm around the light pole, and stare at the house for what seemed like hours. I often watched him just stand there, often wishing I could be him.
It was after that boy came that the children were truly interested in the house. I'm not sure what exactly they were trying to do, but they were always around the house. Maybe they were trying to see me. I was always hoping that was what it was. I remember the first time any of them actually went past the gate. It was the boy. He had milled around the house for about three days before he actually found the nerve. Finally, I saw him walk up to the gate with a determined look on his face. He suddenly stopped, turned around, and said something to the other two. I saw the girl sneer at him. That certainly sent him in. He threw open the gate and ran full speed up to the house. He slapped it with his palm and ran back out of the gate, past the other two. They, too, ran away and didn't stop until they were on their porch.
It was at that moment that my brother walked by. He flicked the shutters closed right in front of my face. I turned around to see him red with anger. I couldn't understand why. I hadn't done anything against his wishes. It was at that moment that I realized just how harsh he was going to be.
Then one day, I saw the girl and boy walk past my house nicely dressed. The boy was telling her something, and I could tell she was miserable about it. I figured they were just going to town, but they didn't return for a long time. I realized where they had gone when they returned just in time for lunch. I realized that they must have been at school. A boy was with them, a different one then usual. He wore overalls and a clean shirt, but he didn't have any shoes. A while later, the two boys left for school again, but the girl wasn't with them. She walked by a little later all alone. I watched her walk past the house for the fourth time that day. She was alone for the second time. She was dragging her feet and her head was hanging. I felt sorry for her. She must have had a bad day at school, and it was most likely made worse by the fact that it was her first.
That night, I saw the girl come out to her front porch. She was closely followed by her father. They had a long talk, during which her father stood up, walked to the end of the porch, walked back and finished the conversation. At the end of their conversation, the little girl perked up. He obviously knew what to say. As she was walking into the house, he said one last thing. I don't know what he said to her that day, but I remember wishing my father had been that nice to me. I wished that my childhood had been as charmed as hers.
It was about ¾ of the way through the school year when I first had the idea of leaving presents in the big knothole in the tree in the front yard. Every day after the first, the girl ran past my house alone at about 2:30. She never stopped, at least not until I left the gum. One day, while she was racing by, she stopped, took a deep breath, turned around, and came back. She stood on tiptoe, and reached into the knothole. She withdrew the two pieces of gum I had left for them. With the gum still in her hand, she ran home. I watched her examine the gum. She sniffed it, and then gave it a little lick. Finally, she crammed it into her mouth. When her brother came home about half an hour later, he found her still sitting on the porch chewing the gum. He said something, and she replied. They had a short conversation, and then she pointed to the tree. The boy seemed alarmed. He made her spit out the gum, yelled something, and then he marched her into the house. I supposed it was because of the rumors that had circulated through the town about Radley food being poisoned.
The last day of school, I left another present for them. The girl looked up and pointed at the knothole as she had done every day for the entire school year. She was walking home with her brother. He looked up with an excited look and said something. He reached up and grabbed the box, and then they ran home. I watched as they examined the box. It was a jewelry box that I had decorated with a patchwork of tinfoil from chewing gum. Inside I had put two Indian-head pennies that I had scrubbed and polished. They were truly interested in the pennies. They had a long conversation about them, during which the girl seemed to be thinking about something.
A couple of days later, the short boy arrived again. He seemed to be telling a story which the other two did not believe. That day, they took out an old tire. I was confused until I saw the girl get in it. Then I understood. They were going to roll each other around. Her brother pushed her with what seemed to be all his might. It was at that moment that I realized she was headed straight for my house. I was worried she might get hurt. I saw the tire bump into the front porch and watched her be tossed from it. She seemed to be okay. Her brother shouted for her to get away from there. He was screaming for her to get up and to not forget the tire. When she got back to the two of them, they had a short talk. Finally, her brother darted in the gate, grabbed the tire, and ran back to them. It was so hilarious after I realized she was okay. I was laughing so hard. My brother came to the window and, after shutting me up, looked outside and laughed too.
After that incident, they seemed to have a long conversation. Afterward, they went to their yard and I couldn't see them anymore. My brother told me that they had a new game that seemed to be portraying my life. I was surprised, but felt quite honored. One time they were playing, their father came home and watched them for a few minutes. He asked them something, and they all got guilty looks on their faces. He took the scissors inside and left the children to their own devices. After that, they played the game less and less.
During that summer, the girl seemed to be with the two boys less and less. They left her out. She spent a lot of time with her neighbor Miss Maudie Atkinson. I was glad about this. Miss Maudie was very nice when I was little, and I am sure she still is.
One day, she was talking with the boys when they told her of something. I watched her face contract into a look of horror. I watched as they walked down to my house. The boy had a fish pole or something like that with a paper stuck on the end of it. I watched as he tried to get it in the window. I figure they were trying to give me a note. They had almost succeeded when their father came up the sidewalk. The short boy rang the bell he was holding. Their father gave them and the boy a long lecture. I don't know what he said, but for a while I didn't see them.
The last day of summer, I watched as they walked over to my house via the schoolyard. I watched as they made their way through the backyard. I tried to keep myself from laughing when they began spitting on the gate to keep it from squeaking. Finally, I saw a head looking in the window of my room. I was sitting on the bed in the shadows and there were curtains, so I don't think they could see me. I heard the short one say they should try the back window. It was when they got back there that the trouble began. My brother heard them. He went to the back porch to investigate. He saw them, and then came inside to get his shotgun. I watched as the children ran out of the yard and dove under the back gate. The taller boy got his pants stuck. I held my breath until he managed to get out. I figured they ran straight to their house. I watched as they walked up to the crowd that had gathered. The boy was in his shorts. I walked out to the back yard and untangled the pants. I took them back inside and mended them as best as I could. I then folded them up and placed them on top of the fence for when he returned. I figured he would, and I wasn't disappointed.
Later on, I left a ball of gray twine. They seemed to resent the fact that they had taken the other stuff. They left it there for three days. On the third day, they took it home. I was glad to have my "little friends". Even though I don't think they figured out that I was the one leaving the presents for them, it was nice to have contact with the outside world.
I left another present for them one day in October. I had carved little dolls out of soap. One portrayed the girl, while the other portrayed the boy. I was so proud of my work. Unfortunately, I do not know their reaction to finding the dolls. I was asleep when they came. About two weeks later, I left a pack of chewing gum for them. A week after that, I put my old spelling bee medal in the knothole. The last present I left them was an old pocket watch on a chain with an aluminum watch.
The next day, I saw them walk to the knothole with an envelope in their hands. I saw the boy's face turn stark white. The girl ran up to him. They both seemed to be on the verge of tears. I felt so sorry for them. At the same time though, I felt sorry for myself. I had seen my brother go out to fill the hole with cement the night before. I knew he had uncovered my scheme. I was sad. I figured there was no point in following his rules anymore. Even when I did, I was punished. I couldn't believe that Nathan could be that mean.
That winter, it actually snowed. That same winter, mom died. I didn't miss her much. She wasn't important in my life. She was just there. In a way, I was kind of glad that she was gone. I remember that winter for a different reason though. About mid-winter, Miss Maudie's house caught on fire. That night, I noticed that the girl was shivering. I got my blanket and went outside. She was so engrossed in the fire that she didn't even notice when I came up behind her and placed a blanket over her. In a way, I was kind of glad. I wanted to remain an invisible benefactor.
Later in the year, I remember the Finch's Negro cook coming over to the house and yelling that a mad dog was coming. Nathan told me not to answer it. I stared out the window to see what was going on. I watched as Mr. Finch and the sheriff arrived in a car. I watched as Mr. Finch walked out into the middle of the street and pushed back his glasses. I saw them fall to the ground. He raised the gun and shot it, killing the dog in one shot. I was impressed. It seemed like everyone else was too.
I remember when Nathan brought home a newspaper with the headline that Mr. Finch was going to be defending a Negro. I remember how sad the boy seemed. It was during that time that a new lady appeared at the house. The girl didn't seem to like her much. Personally, with as old-fashioned as she was, she reminded me of my mom and so, I immediately disliked her.
A little while after she arrived the short boy arrived again. This confused me because it was in the middle of the school year. One night, just after the boy had arrived, a group of people conglomerated outside of the Finch's house. One of them was the sheriff, but I couldn't see the other people. I watched Mr. Finch leave the house right after the group did. I don't know where he went. A while after he left, the three children left. They didn't come back for a long time. I was starting to worry when I saw them come around the corner with Mr. Finch. He was so nice to them, it made me sad to think of my father and how mean he was to me.
Later that summer, I saw the children leave in the direction of the courthouse. I knew that the trial was that day, because I had read it in the newspaper. They didn't come home for hours. I saw and heard the Negro woman and the other woman looking for them and calling for them. Finally the Negro woman left in the direction of the courthouse. I figured she knew exactly where they were. She came back about a half an hour later. Behind her were the children dragging their feet all the way. They went inside and came out about fifteen minutes later running back towards the courthouse. No one stopped them, so I assumed they were being allowed to go. I was asleep when they came home that day. I remember reading in the newspaper that the Negro man accused of raping one of the Ewells had been shot while trying to escape from prison. I don't recall the children's reaction to that news, but come to think of it, I didn't see much of those children until Halloween.
I remember that night like it was yesterday. I don't know exactly what happened before I heard the screams, I just know that the girl's costume was messed up and the boy had a badly broken arm. I heard the commotion when the boy screamed for the girl to run. He called her Scout. His voice had such a terrified ring to it that I had to go help. I dove under the fence and went running. With as often as I had been outside at night, I could see as well as any night animal. I saw the man instantly. As I was arriving, I saw the man grab Scout and shove a knife into her costume. I grabbed him around the neck and pulled him back. I shoved him backward and he fell. He tried to stab me, but I managed to get the knife away from him. I pulled it back and stabbed it deep into his chest. I heard him take one last ragged breath. I looked up and saw the boy. He was unconscious. I picked him up and began taking him home. I saw the girl walk out onto the sidewalk and knew she was okay. I managed to get the boy home.
When I got to the house Mr. Finch told the lady (he called her Alexandra) to call Dr. Reynolds. Mr. Finch himself called Heck Tate. I took the boy to his room and placed him on the bed. His father thanked me. I told him I was more than glad to help. It was at that moment that Scout arrived. She was bruised, but she was okay. Alexandra helped her out of her costume and into some overalls. Dr. Reynolds arrived and announced that the boy (he called him Jem) was not dead, but merely unconscious. I was glad to hear that. Heck Tate arrived a while later to inform us that Bob Ewell was lying in the street dead, with a knife in his chest.
Scout told her side of the story. She told about being chased, and then falling. She told how Jem pulled her to the sidewalk but then he was pulled back. When she got to the part about me taking Jem home, she looked up and I saw a sudden look of recognition. I was so surprised, that she knew who I was, that I slipped. She even greeted me. Heck Tate showed her where the knife had slashed her costume. He told her that her costume had saved her life.
Scout took me out to the porch and offered me a seat. We listened as Mr. Finch and Heck Tate argued. Mr. Finch thought Jem had killed Bob. Heck told him the death was an accident. I was thankful for that. I heard Heck say something to the effect of, "Tom Robinson died for no reason, and now the man responsible is dead. Let the dead bury the dead." Scout took me upstairs so that I could say goodnight to Jem and then she walked me home. I went inside, and never came outside again. I saw her linger on my porch as though she was considering something. Then I saw her go home. I continued to watch the children long after that day, forever thankful for my "little friends".