1967 San Francisco – Inner sunset District.
Julia decided to strike out on her own to save Stubs, the three-legged guinea pig. She couldn’t believe that Professor Fentley had bought Stubs right before she got to the Friendly Pet Store over on Irving Street. She’d have to disguise herself to make it happen. For a 10-year-old, she was pretty savvy — or so she thought as she stood in her mom and dad’s bedroom and tried on her mom’s suede jacket with the frills on it. It was a bit big and hung down pretty low, but Julia still dug it.
Then she found one of her Mom’s cool hats and put it on over her disheveled and tangled long blonde hair. The hat flapped down in front of her face.
No one will recognize me, Julia thought as she stared at herself in the mirror and tried on a pair of sunglasses. This was good because David O’Leary was out to get her for calling him a fat blubber belly and kicking him in the shin. He deserved it, but rest of the gang, including her own brother and sister, were too scared to do anything about how mean he could be sometimes. She knew that if he caught up with her he’d get her good. But she couldn’t hide in the house. She had to save Stubs from being experimented on or even worse.
Julia knew what it was like to be like a guinea pig. She had just returned from another trip from the horrors of the eye doctor office. Just because she was blind in one eye, the eye doctors constantly wanted to look at her blind eye and figure out stuff — Julia suspected they didn’t really want to fix her eye; they just wanted to look at it. Like that one eye doctor said, “Oh there’s a lovely, perfectly shaped snowflake over the lens of your eye. It’s beautiful.”
Oh that was so helpful. Julia wanted them to just leave her alone and quit looking at her eye. It hurt when they shined those lights, even in the blind eye. And they never fixed it, so why bother?
Julia touched the pendant of the necklace her dad had given her before they went to the eye doctor office and then found out Stubs was gone. The silver of the peace symbol glittered in the mirror and the turquoise pieces embedded in it shined. At least she had that.
Julia traipsed into Mom and Dad’s huge closet and looked at more clothing to wear outdoors so no one would recognize her. Then she saw large pieces of cardboard and sticks. Yes, she thought. That’s what I’ll do. Julia knew that every time her Mom and Dad didn’t agree with something, they’d make signs and march around and say things. She could do that for Stubs and for sure get him back!
Julia grabbed the sticks and a couple of large pieces of cardboard and then looked around for the colored ink pens which she knew had to be close by. She attempted to reach for a box, but it toppled down on top of her along with a bunch of other boxes, and she found herself buried in colorful scarves, colorful material and other stuff as well. Julia dug herself out thinking, uh oh. I’m in trouble now. She looked through the odds and ends and found the colorful pens. Score! Stubs was more important anything right now and there wasn’t much time.
Mom was still in the kitchen reading a book, and she was pretty oblivious to anything going on, so it was easy for Julia to sneak out of their room into the bedroom she shared with her brother and sister — with the lime green walls. Pictures of the Beatles covered the wall above the top bunk where Julia slept and she kicked games and toys out of the way to make space for the cardboard.
Julia wrote “FREE STUBS!” in giant letters on the cardboard and then colored it in and drew peace and love signs around the words. She did the same for the other sign. Someone else might want one too, she thought.
Now it was time to sneak outside incognito and protest at the pet store. Julia held on to her mother’s clogs which were also too big for her, the suede jacket, sunglasses and floppy hat and tiptoed out the door on to the porch. It was time.