The Art of Sneaking In

Short Story by Joseph A Farina

Getting inside the athletic park where football games and tattoos were held without paying admission was always the goal of the water street boys. We had no money to pay for entrance, but that was no matter. There were many ways to get in without paying. The most brazen was to wait until several people headed towards the entrance at once. Then you could walk in their midst and get by the ticket takers, acting as if you were a child of the adults. That was also dangerous if caught.

The most used method of circumventing payment was to climb the chain-link fence. The far end of the park bordering the highway wasn’t patrolled, and we could easily climb, being careful of the three barbed wires at the top. We even had a hole dug below the fence on the extreme corner where non-climbers could scurry under.

On one occasion, as we weighed our options on illegal entry, grasping the chain-link fence, our faces pressed against the chain, we were surprised by a man wearing a red hat with a tassel and Arabian night shoes. We thought we were going to be sent away, but he asked if we had parents to bring us in. We all became orphans then and said no, our parents could not afford to pay for tickets. To our surprise, he told us we could all enter free of charge and sat us on the 50 yd line bleachers. We were given popcorn and an ice cream bars as well. We wondered what was happening, but never to look gift horses in the mouth, we went along. At one point, they made an announcement. A man in the funny hat and a friend similarly dressed told us to stand up. We did, and the announcer blared that the Sarnia Shriners Club had, through their generosity, allowed some underprivileged children to enjoy the day’s festivities. Well, of course, the crowd cheered for such charity.

We boys stared at ourselves. Underprivileged! Is that what we were? We became aware and scarred that day. Such charity for us never happened again. The art of sneaking in was never lost, nor was the label we wore of underprivileged.

Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer and award-winning poet in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. His poems have appeared in Philadelphia Poets, Tower Poetry, The Windsor Review, and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century. He has two books of poetry published, The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street.

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