I hop swiftly up the front steps of the Bennett house and rap quickly on the front storm door, the glass rattling precariously in its flimsy steel frame. And then I wait.
Brandon’s house looks a like lot mine but a little more, well, unkempt. The gray paint on the wood siding peels and curls in places like ribbons on a birthday gift, and the window screens are marred with gashes and holes. A semi-deflated soccer ball stands sentinel next to the tarnished mailbox, which tilts slightly to the left, a large dent in its side.
I imagine it’s hard for Mr. and Mrs. Bennett to think much about how the house looks from the outside, though, when they have five boys living on the inside all under the age of 20. Brandon, his two older brothers – 18-year-old Jim and 16-year-old Jesse – and his two younger brothers – 8-year-old twins Taylor and Tommy – keep his parents pretty busy. Mom always says she doesn’t know how they do it.
I absentmindedly flick at a piece of chipping paint on the door, waiting, but there’s no response. Maybe no one’s home – although that’s pretty unlikely at the Bennett house. I knock rapidly again, and then press my ear up against the glass.
Very faintly, I think I can hear the muffled vibration of music coming from inside. Someone is home.
Frustrated, I start banging on the door continuously for about thirty seconds – until it suddenly flies open.
“Oh!” I cry, startled, my pounding fist stopping just in time to avoid accidentally punching an annoyed-looking Brandon square in the chest.