Vol. 12


Trouble Developing

1975; Los Angeles, California, USA

Before I begin, it’s important to travel back to 1975, to shift to a time when darkrooms were used to develop photos. And that is exactly where my dad was — the darkroom at Palms Junior High. It was a near-fatal day for my 4-foot 8-inch thirteen-year-old dad, although he had no way of knowing this ahead of time.

It all started when Jerome came into the darkroom. Now in the prehistoric days of darkrooms, it was common knowledge that turning on the lights messed up the development of photos. Jerome, however, did not have the etiquette to wait until photos were done developing, so you can imagine the frustration of my dad when Jerome turned the lights on, flooding the room with light, ruining my dad’s photographs. And so it comes as no surprise that my dad wanted to know whom he could blame for ruining his photos. Therefore, he did the only logical thing to do: He yelled across the room asking what fool had turned the light on! Soon enough he got his answer.

A shadow hulked over his scrawny, petite body, and my dad looked up with terror. And then he looked a little more up, and a little more, until he finally found the eyes of Jerome.

“This ‘fool’ turned the lights on,” rasped Jerome in a menacingly low voice.

My dad gulped, and his heart began to race. “I, uh, I was just joking around,” my dad stammered, but no excuse could save him now. Before he knew it, he had been yanked out of his chair as if he were merely a feather, and the bulking muscles of Jerome were locked around his tiny neck. My dad kicked and writhed but struck only air, for his feet were dangling several inches off the ground. He gasped for breath, and his face slowly grew redder. This was past the point of embarrassment — this was life-threatening. Seconds ticked by, and my dad’s fear grew.

Then a hero appeared. A tiny girl, even more petite than my dad, dark brown curls bouncing, rushed to his aid — Aunt Linda. She raced to free her brother from Jerome’s grip, and as soon as she was within arm’s reach, she shot out a fist, which landed squarely on Jerome’s nose. He yelped in pain, and in all the confusion released my dad. My dad used his remaining energy to dash away and take in a long, sweet gulp of air.

Rumors flew like bullets that day, and many people asked Aunt Linda about the ordeal. Linda simply flipped her hair and said, “Oh, I just beat up Jerome. Don’t worry about it.” Then she strode off with her head held high, smiling from ear to ear. After all, she may have saved her brother’s life.

Belle Sara Gage; Missouri, USA



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