hen he was fifteen, my brother, John B., balled up a fist and knocked my sister Eileen down in the parlor, chipping off a front tooth. Eileen probably had it coming—who can say—but it terrified me, Johnny yelling that she was a tramp and a troublemaker before Mom stepped in to separate them. The bottom seemed to be falling out of everything. How far were we all going to sink?
    Many years later, my sisters and I looked back on the horrid turn things took that day and debated the root cause of it. It was pretty clear to me that the blame should be laid at the Berns’ door. But my little sister, Sue-Sue, pointed out that none of it would have happened if the Drummonds hadn’t moved in behind us four summers before. Eileen said if you were going to argue that way, you might as well go back to when our ancestors dropped down out of the trees, since that was the origin of monkey business. Funny she would put it like that, since climbing a tree outside her window played such a big part in the trouble.

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