Long, long ago, when Itty Bitty Bliss lived in a neighborhood that had no other little girls her age. Her mother would make her older brother drag her around with him and he was good about it for the most part. But there were times when she simply was not welcome in a room full of boys. New people moved to the neighborhood and old people moved away. But most of these did not have children. Itty Bitty Bliss watched moving vans come and go, but no little girls arrived.
However, one day a moving van brought a houseful of children. She dared to hope. The next day when her mother and friends met for coffee, a new mom magically appeared. Itty Bitty Bliss sat on the stairs and peeked through the banister. Wow. The new mom was BIG. That was interesting but more so was the tiny boy who sat at the huge woman’s feet. Itty Bitty Bliss’s mom called her down to the living room. She stood back, pressed against mom’s legs as introductions were made.
“This is Gregory. Why don’t you take him outside and show him your trucks.” Suggested Bliss’s mother. The frail little boy rose to his feet and quietly followed Itty Bitty Bliss outside to the back yard. He stood in awe of the village under the orange tree. Roads carefully lined with black walnut shells swirled in and out of the moldy and rotting orange carcasses.
“Oh wow.” He said enthusiastically and sank to his knees to grasp the tiny yellow dump truck in the road closest to him. He leaned forward and drove it toward the orange tree trunk. Itty Bitty Bliss stood back and watched. When it was clear that Gregory was involved, she sank to her knees next to him to drive the small bulldozer into a lane close by. Gregory nodded his approval. That decided it. They would be best friends. There would be many roads to blade here and tunnels to dig with soup spoons through the roots of the fir trees in Gregory’s yard. Eventually a super highway of interchanges wound their way between the two houses. All day long Gregory and Itty Bitty Bliss played.
Mothers back then did not often work. They did housework, which is a quite a job. Especially in a Catholic neighborhood full of families with at least 6 kids or more. The laundry alone could exhaust you. Five children occupied the Bliss home and six occupied Gregory’s home. He was next to the youngest. She was the family baby.
Daily mothers would gather together in houses that rotated for coffee.
One fine morning, Gregory and Itty Bitty Bliss sat at the women's feet as they chatted and sipped on the patio outside Greg's house. Talk turned around a corner not welcome to children. Neither Itty Bitty Bliss or Gregory noticed the content, but the mothers excused themselves to go inside and glass and wood French doors were shut firmly behind them. Later, when Gregory would desperately try the knob, he found them locked. Meanwhile inside, the mothers gossiped about the husband who had run off with his secretary…subject matter not fit for small pitchers with big ears.
Outside Gregory began to shuffle. The shuffle began to change into a nervous dance step, followed by some high stepping action and a bit of side to side shambling. Finally Gregory stuck his hand between his legs and grabbed on…
“I gotta go!” he whined.
Itty Bitty Bliss knocked on the glass pane. Gregory’s mother stomped to the door. It opened a crack and she hissed “What?”
“I gotta go!” Gregory repeated. The mom looked at him with a grimace.
“Go on the side of the garage.” His mother advised before shutting and locking the door.
Gregory and Itty Bitty Bliss looked at each other. Itty Bitty could see that her friend was nearly in pain. He ran to the side of the garage and looked down the space that ran next to the wall. It was long, narrow and filled with tall weeds. A garden spider had woven a web across the way from the garage to the fence on the opposite side.
“I gotta go.” Gregory said with a whine. The two ran back to the porch and he pounded on the door. When his mother stomped to the door at last, she only repeated her instruction to use the side of the garage. Itty Bitty Bliss shrugged. What was the big deal?
“You better go.” she advised him. Greg looked back mortified. He leaned close and whispered.
“I gotta poop.”
Well, that certainly changed things. One did not squat in the yard like an animal and poop. Everyone knew that! Desperation filled Gregory’s eyes. He looked as if he was about to burst into tears. Then he spied the coffee pot. His mother’s bran new Farber Wear Electric percolator. Itty Bitty Bliss got an uncomfortable feeling… She looked at the cord, now unplugged, that lay like a tiny tail on the step. Earlier the mothers had sat here on the porch drinking coffee and admiring the new coffee pot.
Gregory grimly removed the lid and dropped his shorts. Itty Bitty Bliss could not look and turned her face away. She did not look back until she heard Gregory replace the lid. His shorts were returned to their proper location and all looked right with the world. Itty Bitty Bliss sighed. Gregory’s mother peered out the window and both children jumped. She tapped a bent knuckle on the glass… a warning to stay out of trouble.
“She’s going to kill you.” Itty Bitty Bliss announced. Gregory solemnly nodded. It was true. His impending death was just a matter of time.
“What can I do?” he asked, like the man who knows his wife knows about the secretary. Itty Bitty looked at the coffee pot and then to the sad face of her best ever friend in the whole wide world.
“Bury it to the devil.” Her face was set in a serious line.
Gregory nodded at the wisdom. Together they carried it to the fir tree. Soup spoons waited in the fertile soil. Together they dug and dug and dug… until a hole large enough to accept the coffee pot was excavated. Gregory carefully laid it on its side in the hole, careful not to allow the lid to come ajar.
“Greg…or….reeeeee!” his mother called behind them. The pair jumped and quickly used their forearms to sweep as much dirt over the coffee pot as they could. When they stood up, Greg faced Itty Bitty Bliss and nodded. Itty Bitty Bliss declared “All to the Devil and none to God!” then they both stomped on the dirt to seal the deal. Itty Bitty Bliss was free to run to the safety of her home. As she peeked back over her shoulder, Gregory slowly moved toward his mother.
Years passed and on occasion conversation would turn to the mystery of the missing coffee pot and who might have stolen it but only Itty Bitty Bliss, Gregory , God and the Devil know for sure.