Louie the Loser, Pt. 1

I grew up in the small suburban town of East Haven, Connecticut, on Bradley Street, a neighborhood of modest ranch style homes. Behind our house was The Hayfield. I don’t think it was ever used for hay, but that’s what we called it. Across The Hayfield were several miles of woods, home of the Arrow Patch, where we harvested long straight sticks to make arrow for our homemade bows, and Indian Cave, a pile of huge boulders that formed a natural cave. The Woods were the home of our adventures, real and otherwise. The Hayfield was out athletic facility. Several times a year, we would borrow our Dads’ lawnmowers and mow a large area that served as a football and baseball field. Once, we mowed smaller areas to be the tees and greens for a golf course, but the grass was so course that most times, we lost our balls, and even if we got the ball on the green it was too rough to putt. So, we’d have to sneak onto the nearby municipal course for golf.

Almost all the kids in our neighborhood were boys, so we could always come up with teams. We played hardball in the baseball season and tackle in the football season. There were no referees, umpires or adult supervision. There was lots of laughing and kidding and shouting, 10 or 15 boys letting off steam out of the sight of their parents. Yes, occasionally there were arguments. I was safe. You were not, I tagged you. You’re full of it. There would even be a shoving match now and then. Sooner or later, though, someone would say. C’mon. Let’s play. Don’t be a sore loser. Nobody wanted to be a sore loser. Except Louie.

Louie lived down by the beach in a big house on the sand, glass overlooking Long Island Sound. Louie’s dad was rich, and Louie let everyone, from classmates to teachers, know about it. I couldn’t stand him but he was popular, in a way, in spite of his bragging. I always thought kids put up with him because they wanted to be invited to his house, especially to the big birthday party he had each year. He would have never turned up at our Hayfield if my friend Vinnie’s father didn’t work for Louie’s father. Big Lou, we called him. One day while Big Lou was at Vinnie’s house, Louie came along and wandered out to our pickup football game. I want to play, he said.

Now, Louie was chubby and unathletic … and besides, he thought he was better than all of us. But we knew Vinny would have to answer to his Dad if we didn’t let him play, so we did. He whined and complained for over an hour, questioning every play and insisting he scored a touchdown, even though we all clearly saw he fumbled the ball.   The argument was cut short when Big Lou called Louie to go home, and shortly after that, Vinnie was called home. The next day at school, we found out that Louie told his Dad that we’d cheated him, and that Vinnie caught hell from his own Dad for cheating Louie out of a touchdown. That was the day we started calling him Louie the Loser. Not to his face of course. No one wanted his parents to get a call from Big Louie.

We thought that was the last time Louie would show up at The Hayfield … but we were wrong.

To be Continued, here

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