The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
Little Follies
Do Clams Bite?
Chapter 18: A Visit from May
by Eric Kraft, as Peter Leroy

Little Follies cover



  I DID GO TO BED, upstairs, where I always slept when I visited Grandmother and Grandfather, in the room my father had had when he was a boy.  It was still a boy’s room.  On the walls were maps of faraway countries and charcoal sketches of boats.  A tall bookshelf was filled with boys’ adventure stories and aviation magazines.  A cupboard and a set of shelves above it were filled with ship models, the models that he had built from The Boys’ Book of Boatbuilding.  A couple of these were half-finished, as if my father had been at play, working on his models one day, when there was a knock on the door and someone had barged in, caught him playing, and said, “Stop that, now.  You’re grown up,” and he had never returned.  I always stayed in this room, but he never came upstairs to visit it.  I sometimes thought of finishing the models, but they were too complicated for me then, and they bored me later.
    The room was in the front of the house, with three windows along the front wall, above the roof over the porch that ran the length of the front of the house, and one on a side wall, facing west.  Below the west window, Grandfather had built a small desk, where my father must have done his schoolwork.  Beside the desk was a set of drawers.  In the top drawer were a student’s supplies, abandoned, old, and useless: yellowed sheets of paper, a grammar book, pencils with hardened erasers, pens and nibs, bottles that held the dried remains of ink and mucilage. 
 In the second drawer was equipment for adventures: a compass, hand-drawn maps of Babbington, the bay, and the course of the Bolotomy, a code book, several coded messages, a book with its middle pages cut out to make a secret compartment (empty), a whistle, a camera, a telescope, a magnifying glass, and a burnt cork.
    The third drawer seemed to be filled with a hodgepodge of souvenirs: rocks, shells, postcards, ribbons, newspaper clippings, booklets, badges, and the like.  From investigation, however, I knew that at the bottom of this drawer were guilty pleasures: a corncob pipe, a half-empty package of Lucky Strikes, and a dozen photographs of a nude woman.
    She was at the ocean, romping in the surf, standing at the edge, running into the water, running from the water, throwing sand at the photographer, imitating September Morn, sticking her tongue out, striking a bathing-beauty pose, lying in the surf, standing with her hands on her hips, toweling herself dry, and finally, holding the towel at her side, draping it on the sand, just smiling at the camera, a little chilled, with goosebumps on her skin, so very happy that my heart leaped each time I reached the last picture.  The pictures were clear and sharp.  My father had taken a passionate interest in photography for a while; these pictures had been printed with great skill and care.

I WAS IN BED, examining the pictures with the magnifying glass.  There was a knock at the door.  I shoved the pictures under the covers, just as the door opened and May slipped in.  She was holding a finger to her lips and wearing a conspiratorial look, her eyes squinted half shut, her brows knit, and her lips pursed.  She made a bit of business out of looking over her shoulder into the hall to see if she’d been followed, tiptoeing into the room, and closing the door with exaggerated caution.  In a napkin she had some of Grandmother’s coconut balls.  She sat on the bed, spread the napkin, and picked out half of the balls for me.
    “I’m supposed to be taking these up to your Grandma Lydia,” she whispered, leaning close to me, enveloping me in a cloud of Manhattan.  “But I thought I’d just stop by and give a few to my favorite Peter.”  She giggled and leaned forward and nuzzled me.
    “Thanks,” I whispered, joining in the little conspiracy.
    She took my right hand and began patting it rapidly.  “They’re not really upset with you, you know,” she said.  “Don’t you worry.  By morning they will have forgotten all about it.”  Then she shrugged and said, “Then again, on the other hand, perhaps they won’t have forgotten all about it.”  She snickered and put a coconut ball into my mouth.  I chewed and swallowed it while she studied me.  Then she held my chin with her thumb and forefinger and turned my head this way and that, examining me with great care.  I thought for a moment of offering her the magnifying glass.  “There’s a little Black Jacques in all the Leroy boys,” she said.  She dropped her hand to the covers between my legs and patted me there as she had patted my hand before.  She looked around the room.  “Some of them lose it or have it knocked out of them, as if Fat Hank caught them having fun one day and said, ‘Stop that now.  You’re grown up.’”
    She sat still, rubbing me through the covers, looking at the wall above my head.  I was looking closely at her mouth, at the parentheses around it and at the vertical lines along her upper lip.
    “I have to go,” she said.  She gave me a squeeze and left.

  Little Follies Dust Jacket  
..... ..........
.......... .....

Candi Lee Manning and Alec "Nick" Rafter
Here are a couple of swell ideas from Eric Kraft's vivacious publicist, Candi Lee Manning: 

Tip the author.
You can toss a little something Kraft's way through the Honor System or PayPal. Honor System

Add yourself to our e-mailing list.
We'll send you notifications of site updates, new serials, and Eric Kraft's public lectures and readings. Just fill in this form and click the send-it button.


You'll find more swell ideas from Candi Lee here.

Little Follies is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

“My Mother Takes a Tumble,” “Do Clams Bite?,” “Life on the Bolotomy,” “The Static of the Spheres,” “The Fox and the Clam,” “The Girl with the White Fur Muff,” “Take the Long Way Home,” and “Call Me Larry” were originally published in paperback by Apple-Wood Books.

Little Follies was first published in hardcover by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.


For information about publication rights outside the U. S. A., audio rights, serial rights, screen rights, and so on, e-mail the author’s imaginary agent, Alec “Nick” Rafter.

The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
. .