Growing up, our neighborhood had its share of nosy neighbors. Everyone on the street knew everyone's name, their children's names, their pets names, when their birthdays and anniversaries were.
One neighbor, Mrs. O'James, was particularly hard to deal with. She lived off her dead husband's veteran's pension and sat looking through the bay window in her front room all day, every day, without fail.
She knew who was doing what and when. Mothers would often come asking her if she'd seen which way the children went and she'd not only know which direction but with who and what time.
Good for the police if any of us went missing, but difficult for a bunch of kids trying to grow into teens on to their way to adulthood.
Mrs. OJ, as we called her, was hated by all the children in the neighborhood because she was always tattling on everyone. For anything and everything. She lived alone, didn't "mingle" with people, certainly wasn't a doting grandmotherly type baking cookies but rather a nasty, mean gossip. She didn't just give out information, but each "fact" had to be peppered wtih her opinions on how this one or that one (kid) would grow up to a a good for nothing (usually with a hidden implication "just like his/her mother/father").
The adults tolerated her and told us kids to be nice to her. One summer her grandson came to visit. From what we gathered, her daughter and her husband were having problems so they sent "Sonny" to live with her for the summer months while they tried to sort through their problems.
Sonny was an odd sort. Immediately we, intrigued by the new kid, wanted to reach out but were wary of his grandmother, so we just eyed him from the street. Was he all right or was he a stooge for his granny?
We noticed that he always had new toys - we found out later guilt presents from his parents. His grandmother though would only let him play with them for a short while then she'd put them away 'so they wouldn't get dirty.' She was a piece of work.
One day he had built a little moat from the ceramic fountain in the side yard where the birds would play and ran the hose over to the trench and filled it with water. He was playing with a huge boat. It was really nice. It looked like it had been made with 10,000 little pieces. A real replica of a huge sailboat that could race the ocean. Blue and white with gold accents. We were enthralled.
We'd gather in front of my house, next door, and use any excuse we could to go up and down the street so we could look with envy upon this huge, elegant play thing.
He didn't seem to notice us though. I figured out later he was probably just used to being ignored (by his parents, certainly by his grandmother) but we thought he was being intentionally snobby. After riding our bikes endlessly up and down the sidewalk, then exhausting our roller skates, big wheels and skateboards, with no notice from Sonny, we started getting mad. He wasn't paying us any attention!
Some of the boys got their pants in a bunch and decided that Sonny needed a way to be taught a lesson. They plotted.
They kept watching Sonny, hoping he'd leave the big boat unescorted so they could steal it but he never left it unattended. So they did the next best thing, they destroyed the moat. They brought a small wheelbarrow full of sand from the sandbox and filled the moat. When Sonny came back out, we watched him secretly, and he just dug another one.
The boys became more bold. They'd throw small pebbles, and Sonny would look up, but go back to playing.
Eventually the boys grew tired of waiting and plotted to steal it from him. They attacked as a group and ran up to him, yelling. As a bunch, they knocked Sonny over and stole his boat. They held it high above their heads, as a trophy, and laughed and hi-5'd as they ran away.
In their lust for teaching him a lesson, they forgot about Sonny's grandmother. Within seconds she was on the phone with each of the boy's parents telling them what had happened. They all got punished, and the boat was returned. A week later, Sonny went back to his parent's house and we never saw him, or the awesome boat, again.