Like most kids, I was all ears and picked up a lot of things that I did not fully understand. One of those was hearing about how rose hips were full of vitamin C and good for you. I did not know what part of the roses on Mama’s bushes constituted the hip, so I simply fed the entire rose to Billy.

Each morning, I would sneak out and bring Billy around to the front yard on a length of rope attached to his collar. I would stand there letting him eat the roses so he would get lots of vitamin C.

Mama remarked to Papa at dinner one evening that someone was stealing her roses. I tried not to look guilty as I realized she was talking about me. Now, Billy needed his vitamins, so I continued to feed him the roses. But I began to get a feeling that she was onto me, but could not figure out what I was doing with the roses. One morning she watched out the window and caught me and Billy.

I got a severe tongue-lashing and promised to stop.

We moved around a lot. I went to three different schools in fourth grade. Papa would change jobs and we would move. The day came when we had to leave El Monte. That meant giving up Billy, the rabbits, the chickens, the ducks, and Bebe the poodle.

Billy is the only one of those pets that I remember what happened to. He was given to Mark, the boy with the sheep I thought ate goats. Mark promised to take good care of him and that was the last time I saw Billy.

We moved back to Long Beach.

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