Billy had four brothers, no sisters. His mom did always seem a bit high-strung (as a parent I now understand why). It wasn't that they were bad boys, they were actually basically good kids. It's just that there were five of them.
Billy's mom used to let them run around during the day, but after supper, the boys had to stay right by the house. She let them play stoopball, but the deal was not to let the ball hit her new front door. Someone had to act as backstop at the top of the stairs and his sole duty was to catch or deflect those foul shots. This arrangement worked for about two weeks until Billy got the idea for "Death Step." Instead of getting only 100 points for hitting and catching the pointer, shots off the top step were now worth 250, and if you called off the human backstop and hit a Death Step pointer, it was worth 500.
So the lines were clear. You could do a regular game like mom said or go for the 500 point shot, fully aware of the consequences. I still remember one time when the ball hit the door and everyone scattered. Billy's mom came out, grabbed the nearest kid and proceeded to smack him silly. She went right down the line, grabbing each and every one, perhaps relieving her tension, but definitely not eliminating Death Step from her kids repertoire.
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