THE OAKS, by Rip Rense




A summary. . .

                                                        photo by Kathi Warner

Charlie Bogle was a good kid. A little weird, but good. So what if he liked red tennis shoes, and the only ones he could get were girls'? Superman had red shoes, didn't he? Charlie grew up with a stepmother whose eyes seemed painted on, a father who occasionally turned into the Frankenstein Monster, two big brothers as alike as snowflakes, The Beatles, Beethoven, kind-hearted hippies, and oak trees. Thousands of oak trees: dour ones, brooding ones, frivolous, skinny ones, gentle, maternal ones. It was a paradise, really, this tiny brand-new 1961 bedroom community carved out of rolling hills and meadows and rugged backdrops where the likes of John Wayne and Gary Cooper once posed for cameras.

 But---

What were "peons?" This is how his stepmother referred to everyone in the town. Were they people who got peed on? Why did his father drink something called Early Times and talk about something else called Boo-genie? Why was a WWII German ambulance parked in his driveway? Why did rockets fly past his window? Why did they build an Episcopal Church in his back yard, and why did the priest keep a banana in his robes? Who was Mabel Stark, the world's greatest lady tiger tamer, and why did she glare at small boys? Why did God's pajamas fall on his head? Why did his stepmother want him to leave home when he was barely twelve? After he had actually saved her life!

Charlie Bogle grappled with these and many other things, sometimes haplessly, sometimes heroically, for ten years. And no one ever knew of his struggle. Until now.

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