Gary Justis

Gary Justis
Bloomington, Illinois, US
April 04
Gary Justis has worked primarily in the area of kinetic sculpture for the last 34 years. He lived and worked in Chicago from 1977 to 1999. He currently resides in Bloomington Illinois, where he teaches and writes stories about his actual experiences. (please take a look at his "Sculpture" link for more info)


JUNE 21, 2010 9:01AM

Sex on Other People's Lawns

Rate: 45 Flag
tower and lawn


Allegations are sometimes leveled towards overly curious young boys. When a youngster’s actions are misinterpreted, usually in the context of adult values, a hellish retribution ensues. This can destroy wide-eyed intentions, and the faultless mining of harmless deeds…ones that, in actuality, destroy nothing, erase young fears, and offer proofs of a superb humanity and the providence of manliness.

 Miss Dolan was the tallest woman we had ever seen living…we had seen Amazons in comic books; they crafted war against evil, holding bad men in headlocks, throwing spears and winning contests against the rougher sex. We understood all of this happened long before Attila The Hun, George Washington and all those "old historic guys.”

 Miss Dolan was different, in the way she wore her hair in tight curls, and in the way she swung her long, well toned arms as she walked so flawlessly across the classroom. Her dress would follow the grace of her movements as if the cloth had taken an oath to meld itself into her flesh, worshiping, in sacred prayers, the miracle of her skin’s deep golden hue, and intoxicating aroma.

When her eyes flashed during her discussions of History, the whitewashed room almost seemed to flush crimson in reaction to the blushing schoolboys. A finer beauty had never paced those floors, had never delivered our lessons with a voice that could have talked King George and his court into moving to America. Our history class became a period of solemn worship, with the woman of our childish fantasies, our bronze goddess, painting our desires in broad swaths across our faces as she met each of our eyes in turn.

I could desire her for days, while ignoring the details of other activities happening around me. In my daydreams, the images of her filled the breadth of my vision, with the lilting sound of her voice, and the revelation of sunlight on her skin. She maximized tenfold, the fascination I had for some of the older girls attending the high school up the street. Miss Dolan seemed to sense the intensity of my emotional yearning, and in the brief moments our eyes would make contact, I felt the flare of those emotions might cause me to burst. What a fortunate mess I imagined myself becoming, with the goddess of my days and nights, heartsick, as she lovingly scooped up the parts. 

I tried to gather information about her from the older kids, but after a few questions, they would ask me why I wanted to know. I kept a notebook of things Miss Dolan said to me, trying to figure out if she was delivering me sentences with secret meanings. Understanding everything about her became my surreptitious mission, until I realized the parallel desires of my buddies. 

The period bell came way too fast during this sacred hour of the day, but when it tolled, we fell out onto the lawn of the school yard, captivated, not concerned about the other classes letting out to start the obligatory recess basketball games. We felt our interest in the sport become less important as the year went on, so in the interim, between the tasks of wining esteem and growing muscle mass, we exchanged ideas and fantasies about how to get Miss Dolan’s attention.

“Let’s see if she will tell us, well maybe show us, how people have sex!”

Skeeter was the kid who blurted out with the things we were all thinking about...all the time.

We all desired to know this stuff, but even at that early age, many of us understood the importance of tact and innocence as a strategy in getting grownups to do things, especially answering questions about sex.

“If she did that, the principal and school board would fire her or something. Anyhow, she has a boyfriend…well, I think she does anyway, so he might not want her talking about that stuff to us.”

I really thought her boyfriend might be jealous of us. We were a collection of clueless shit-heads, who didn’t even know what the word “intercourse” meant. We were of the age where we still believed women got pregnant from kissing guys.

“She’s too classy for that. Grownups don’t talk about sex unless they know kids aren’t around. They think it will make us goofy or something.”

George was listening, and with the look on his face, I could tell his mind was constructing a scheme that would not only get Miss Dolan’s attention, but would be a big blast for us at the same time. At our age, and from our errant judgment, all attempts at turning a beautiful woman’s mind our way were acts of daring, with outcomes that were beyond our imaginations; and there was always a measure of danger.

Although we really wanted Miss Dolan to think of us as desirable suitors, we misunderstood the need for high marks in her History class. We were too horny to even consider how true intelligence might capture her curiosity. We were a rough and rather crude lot, and we actually believed she was of the same mind.

George finally spoke.

“We need to write something on her lawn. You all remember she’s a pilot, and she told us about how she likes to fly on Sundays. She likes to go over her house after she takes off.  We can write something neat, and she will get a kick out of that!”

Some of the boys were a little confused. Billy was thinking about the idea.

“Whatever we write, it has to be big…we could spray-paint something, but all the grownups in town would get real mad. You remember how mad they got when Paul painted the church last Halloween?”

I wanted to forget Halloween. We all got in trouble for Paul’s stupid crap, and after that incident, all of us were not allowed to use spray-paint…ever.

Then I remembered how grass on a lawn could be marked if you placed something on the surface on a hot day. Something like… a brick, or a shingle.

“I know! We can write something by laying black shingles on the grass. My Dad has a pile of them.”

Everyone agreed, but George shook his head.

 “No G, we can’t leave the shingles on her lawn, people will know you did it.”

I was a little ahead of George with my plan.

“I know. We put the shingles on the grass just as the sun goes down on Saturday, and take them off before the sun comes up on Sunday. No one will see us, and it will make the grass lie down and turn a little brown from the heat. I saw it on our yard. It makes a really clear mark on the grass.”

George smiled. I was always grateful when one of my ideas struck him.

“Geeze…that’s smart G. No evidence, as long as we do it in the dark.”

Two of us would do the act, but all of us would decide what to write. There were five of us, and out of our group, there were five ideas.

Skeeter wanted to write “Penis.”

Dan made a case for “Hello.”    

Billy wanted “William.”

I was puzzled why he would want to put his own name on the lawn.


Billy was smirking. He coughed a little.

“I dunno…I just thought it might be better than “Love, or Penis”, or something like that I guess.”

George looked at Billy and rolled is eyes. “We should write your phone number shit-head!”

I was beginning to think we might have to do the unthinkable:  Ask the older kids what to write. We discussed it and none of us wanted to do that. This would bring the big kids into the plan and the secret of who did the deed would be reported before it even happened.

We all thought the writing could be an entire sentence, but after we discussed it, we all agreed it should just be a word, because we didn’t want Miss Dolan to keep her eyes off the airplane’s course very long, it might make her crash.

George straightened after we were silent for a few seconds.

“Well, with the way she looks at all of us all the time, I think she might like it if we wrote something really nasty.”

This puzzled me at first, then I remembered a conversation with my brother. He said Miss Dolan liked to call all the boys in her classes, "My little Cubs."

We all thought she was referring to Cub Scouts. Most of us were in a local Cub Pack, and we naturally assumed she wanted to be a Den Mother or something. We all wished very hard that we could see her in that dark blue Den Mother dress at our den meetings. We did get a good sense that she was fascinated, in a strange way, with all of us.

“George, she looks at everybody that way. She likes guys. My brother said she looks at him and his buddies the same way. They call it the ‘sensual look’, like she’s daydreaming about kissing us and stuff.”

 Billy was reading something on a scrap of paper. He looked up and said, “Let’s watch her get naked. I memorized her address… wrote it down yesterday. I think she leaves her curtains open.”

 George rolled his eyes really wide this time.

 “That’s against the law asshole! You wanna tell your mom and dad about what you did when they get a call from Sheriff Yarkey? Dumbshit!”

I knew there had to be something we could write that would get noticed and not get us in trouble.

“I know! We’ll write ‘SEX’ on the grass in her yard. And we won’t be wreaking anything. The squished grass won’t hurt nuthin’ and it will go away in a few days.”

George smiled again. I knew we’d go with this idea.



After a sweltering day, Saturday night was hot and humid. George was excited; I was nervous, but charged up and ready. George carried about 20 shingles. He was complaining of the heat they were giving off. I had around 20 gathered in my arms. They were burning my hands, forearms, and creasing into my side as we ran several blocks to Miss Dolan’s house. Streetlights framed the ends of her street, with her house in the center. It was dark at 9:30, and we noticed the lights were out in the two houses that flanked either side of Miss Dolan’s house.

 The lawn fell away from the sidewalk to a low grade, making it very difficult to see the surface of her yard from a car on the street. This was to our advantage. We were fully aware the Sheriff wouldn’t be able to see the shingles when he made the rounds that evening. If he came around in the next few minutes, we could lie flat and he wouldn’t see us as well.

We had enough shingles to do a fine job on most of the word, but we soon realized we were a little short on our material. We agreed the “S” and the “X” were the most important. We had enough material left to do the “E”, but it would have to be a lower case “e.” the word was about ten feet across, by four feet wide. We were confident it could be seen from a plane. It looked good from a few feet away. We agreed to come back and remove the shingles at 4:30 the next morning. We both also agreed it was great how the moon was not shining and the streetlamps were far away.

 4:30 am came fast. With my reflex at hitting the alarm botton, I made a large slapping sound, but after a few seconds, I heard no other sounds in the house. I pulled on my jeans and shirt, and grabbing my tennis shoes, I slipped out the back door, careful not to let it slam shut.

George was in the yard as I arrived, he had moved the shingles into two piles, we gathered them up and ran back to my house. We could barely breathe between the giggling. We shook hands. George went home. I slipped back into my room and got into bed.

Someone was squeezing my shoulder, shaking me vigorously…my eyes seemed welded shut, and I tried to break away so I could pry open my eyes. I realized I was still in bed and my brother was shaking me.

“Hey, numb-nuts! Mom wants us to go to church today…get up snake-dick!”

I rolled off the top bunk and my feet hit the floor with a thumping sound that broadcasted the unconscious condition of my legs from the knees down. I crumpled and fell, laughed a little as the pins and needles in my feet wicked a tickling sensation up my calves. It was gone in a few seconds and I limped to the kitchen.

Mom was making pancakes.

“Sheriff Yarkey was down by that teacher’s house this morning. George, do you know what it was all about?”

My dad shrugged, and my brother, facing me with his back to my parents, sneered slightly. We ate quickly and all of us began dressing for church.

My brother and I shared a room.

“Did you and your piss-ant friends mark up Miss Dolan’s yard?”

“I don’t’ know what you’re talking about…what happened?”

My brother made a crooked smile.

“Someone tried to write something. It’s hard to tell what it is. I looked from the street, but it’s too messed up.”

“Crap!” I thought. If it was messed up, then the joke is lost and it’s just vandalism.I thought about calling George after church.

I called George’s house five times that day, finally giving up when my brother reminded me George’s family had gone to the lake for the remainder of the afternoon. I was anxious, and worried, with the unexpressed energy of a guilty, scared kid.

 “Why are you pacing fuck-nuts?”

 My brother was standing in the doorway to my room.

 “I don’t feel so good. I feel sick to my stomach.”

 He came closer to me and whispered.

 “I won’t tell, scout’s honor…I just don’t understand why you guys wrote what you did.”

 I tried to act puzzled.

 “What are you talking about?”



 George met me the next day at the front of the school. His face was ashen, and his eyes very large.

 “G, there’s an assembly this morning. I saw Miss Dolan talking to the principal. She’s pissed!”

 I felt my throat begin to close. Both of us turned and walked in, and ascended the stairs to the gym. We saw it was packed, so we started up the side stairs to the wrap-around balcony. We sat forward with our arms against the railing, waiting for the teachers to address the crowd. I looked over the railing onto the floor and saw Skeeter and Billy looking up at us. They waved. We didn’t see Dan, so we thought he was either sick, or trying to be invisible.

George nudged me and pointed down at Miss Dolan, who was waving at me and gesturing for me to come down to the gym floor. My chest had that strange tight, scratchy feeling as I descended the stairs. Miss Dolan met me at the last step, placed her hand gently on my shoulder and led me to the entrance to the gym. We stood just out of sight of the crowd. She had a very stern look on her face. I could hear her grinding her teeth. She clamped my chin in her hand and forced me to look at her eyes. I was frightened almost to the point of paralysis. 

“So, you scurvy gummed little asshole! Did you and your confederates mess up my lawn with your smut? You sneaky little fucks! You’ll see what happens piss-ant…you’ll see what happens to horny little ass-wipes like you and your buddies. I should spank your skinny little asses really hard! Now go back to your seat. I have to address everyone.

  I wanted to bolt, but my legs were so weak; I felt the sudden erosion of the sacred domain that contained my most cherished fantasies. I could barely ascend the stairs. I sat back down next to George as the microphone squawked.

 The principal spoke briefly, and then turned the podium over to Miss Dolan.

 “People, over the years, I have found a student body in this school that I could not be prouder of…no, not by any stretch. But when young people do not care enough to pay attention to details, in our lessons, in our interactions with family, friends, teachers and colleagues, I am disappointed; because attention to details and seeing the importance of information is essential to a young person’s education.

That is one of the things that have made our nation great.

For example, we have seen it in the actions of our sports heroes. How many of us have watched Roger Maris as he plowed towards Babe Ruths record in 1961? Do you think Mr. Maris got to the Majors by not knowing what he was doing? He didn't become great by himself, He listened to his coach, watched the pitchers of the other teams, and paid attention to the things that count.

I’m speaking today, to point out a bad example of what I’m talking about. Some individual, or group of individuals made a big, misguided effort to write something on my lawn. This happened over the weekend…a word was written in letters so large, that my flight instructor and I could see it from our airplane as we circled over town. I was shocked, and when we circled again to get a better look, the effort put us dangerously low. It scared us both very much. I am hurt that some individuals would write something horendous, that seen in reference to me, is unspeakable. I want to make something clear to this student body today, and I want you all to listen well and remember this. I have never been, nor will I ever, under any circumstances…be a SOX fan. I am a CUBS fan, and will forever pray at the alter of Wrigley field.”

George and I looked at each other. I felt blood returning to my extremities.

Miss Dolan continued.

“Now to the boys, and I can be pretty sure the deed was done by a group of boys, I want to say thanks for the thoughtful tribute to a great team. It just doesn’t happen to be my team…it’s just that I prefer the way Cubs swing their little bats…

At the time, I didn’t know why I heard a few gasps in the crowd after Miss Dolan gave her closing statement. None of us caught it until my brother explained it to me much later.

Most of the kids made polite applause, then there was some cheering and whistles from some of the athletes in the crowd.

In the midst of the noise, George leaned closer to me.

“She’s a goddamn baseball fan. Now I think she’s really hot! What did she say to you in the hall?”

“She knows everything George, everything. She knows what we really wrote, she knows how horny we are for her. Man!... She cusses! She scares me…”

George sat up straight and suddenly became very serious.

“Hey man, I guess it worked.”

I had a few unfamiliar emotions taking control as I tried to pull myself together. I was frightened, and attracted at the same time. The conflicting emotions were tantalizing.

“Yeah better than we thought it would.”

We looked back towards the floor; Billy and Skeeter were looking up at us, but we barely noticed. Miss Dolan was looking at George. A moment later her eyes caught mine. She winked, then turned and nodded at the principal, spun around and glided toward the door to the gym, with the auspicious fabric of her dress, once again, following the elegance of her motion.


rear lawn


Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Hmmm, tagged for "based on actaul events" and "fiction". I prefer to believe it myself. Certainly the parts where you describe the horniness of you and your cohorts is all true. That was a very fun story - held my breath in fearful anticipation for you throughout! Thanks for a Monday morning giggle fest here.
I think I'm now half in love with Miss Dolan too . . . absolutely brilliant story telling, Gary!
Great read...whatever happened to "TPing" a yard? I like yours much better :)

Ah, the best LAID plans.

I don't know what was true or fiction, but a very entertaining story all the same, Gary. I think we all had a Miss Dolan during some point of our grade school lives. Mine was Miss Bailey. Yowza :)
SOX. Great story Gary. I was right with you when she grabbed your face, wonderfully written. Except for the life of me, I can't imagine you as a trouble maker!
Gary, that was a wonderful, on the edge of your seat type of story and clearly Miss Dolan was not a SOX fan by any stretch of the imagination!!
"Boys will be boys!" What a great story, Gary! True or not, this is classic "guy stuff" that will go down in the history of boys and bad behavior. I will forever be marked by a phrase I have never heard before..."snake dick." That says it all! Awesome story telling!
Thank you folks! Thanks to all of you. I apologize on the tag confusion. It should read: "fiction basde on actual events." I have changed it and thanks for bringing it to my attention. I have to cast some metal this morning, but I will catch up with all of you this afternoon..Affectionately, G
Loved this. And loved the photo of the phallic tower at the beginning of the story.
This was hilarious. There were a few parts that I found when the teacher cussed out her student! I can't imagine that happening. I was surprised at the end. This was truly a fun read.
Very well done, and an excellent read. I never had any teachers like Ms. Dolan. I had nuns for 8 years. Damn! R-
Great story. Rated for reminding me of The Beav. ("Goofy")
Gary this was great...from the boy's fantasies of Miss the back and forth of their comments and planning (Very true to what happens when young males share both a vision and a brain cell)
...and I adored the fact that Miss Dolan kept teaching big lessons long after she left the classroom! Terrific piece...funny, human, adventurous! Cubs win!!! Thank YOU! ;) r-
what a wonderful story. Man this was great.
I hope it really happened.
You just carried me along with your words! I had a third grade teacher who was HOT and I was a HOT teacher myself for awhile. Lots of tales to tell. You nailed it!!
I hadn't thought of my geometry teacher in a long time.
I was caught at fourteen surreptiously sneaking a peek as she was helping a student in the front row. So I was asked to come to the blackboard to diagram a theorem, which in the moment would have tagged me with the nickname Woody for the next four years of high school. I had to decline claiming I did not understand the day's lesson for which I was admonished to change my focus.
We are such idiots at that age.
And the other ages too.
This was a great read ! I love how you based this on actual events. Of-course had I not read your tags I would have thought it to be fiction alone and wished it real. Thanks Gary..that was a fun stroll and masterfully done. ~R
Thanks for taking us back to those "thrilling days of yesteryear". In our case it was our sixth grade teacher who was really hot and drove a little red FIAT sports car that got our prepubescent hormones all carbonated. Man 45 years just fell away like they never happened.
ha....well told....I needed the smile....
Such a little monster. Kid after my own heart.
How old were you all? Twenty? (Just kidding.)

Most of us had a dreamy teacher, and this story captures the excitement and desire.
riveting and hilarious. Like, wow.

Very cleaver change-up, Wally.
I loved the title and when I read the story! WOW. IT was hilarious. Great stuff, thank you for sharing. R
Suspenseful down to the last pitch.
a funny read... i'm trying to figure out the reality part. you are a brilliant story teller.
Gary - the spit-take does tend to interfere with the browsing. I rate this five squirts of Windex.
Maybe it's because I'm female, but the Miss Dolan's I've known would never have admitted to the perpetrators that they knew what was going on.
I dont get why everyone is so hung up on this being "based on actual events". Hell, this kind of thing happens to all hormonally awakening little boys. we go from the short attention spans of childhood to the even shorter span of reasoning when that first flush of testosterone courses through our veins
I for one remember doing stuff just like this, but using bleach to etch letters on lawns...... :)
fun fun read Gary!
Hi Kellylark, You are welcome. Sorry for the confusion on the tags. We were an insufferable little crew.

Owl, Hello! She had everyone’s love, especially some on the schoolboard (just kidding)!

Joy, thank you!

Smithery, they can and will often go astray.
A salute to all the Miss Bailey’s of the world.

Rita, the face grabbing was common back then up to a certain age. Thanks for your visit!

Designanator, she did worship at the alter of Wrigley Field. Thanks for the visit!

Hi Cathy, I loved your story today about your dear one…thank you for your great comment.

That tower says a lot doesn’t it?

Patricia, I had a few cussin’ outs when I was younger, from teachers and coaches. They do not do it anymore in most places I understand.

Dave, I am sorry you missed out, but I am sure you received a good education!

Jonathon, Aw, the Beaver…June, Wally and what’s his name?

Jane, I feel sorry for s for never having a clue. The girls were more socially developed. Us boys were crude and rough. Thanks for your comment!

Hello Muse, yes the lesson was learned in retrospect, otherwise most of her wisdom and naughtiness went over our heads.

Mical, Hello, thanks for the visit. Much of it did!

Zanell, thanks…good to hear the voice of experience from the other side!
Hmm.. The title caught my eye and the story kept my interest. An excellent tale told masterfully. I love tree trunks . Thank you. ~R
This was so much fun to read. I laughed out loud. Great storytelling, at the level of "A Christmas Story" in capturing boys at a certain stage of growing up. So enjoyable, thank you!
such a wonderful story, thanks
Hello alsoknownas, It is a very terrifying feeling to be singled out for a transgression we are afraid to admit to. It’s happened to me many times, dividing my mind and putting me in a state of befuddlement.

ThroughMyEyes, thanks for taking the time to read and I am glad you enjoyed it, tag or not.

John, the years melt away when considered in retrospect. 1965 was not that long ago…well, maybe it was.

Doloresflores_d, Glad you could get a smile out of this one!

Sirentia, a bandy crew, monsters all…

Hi Lea, so far from 20, but now that I think about it, I made many of the same lousy mistakes at 20 that I made at 12 and 13.

Hi Greg…Wally, of “Leave it to Beaver?” thanks for coming around and reading.

Sheila, You are welcome and thanks for taking the time to read this piece.

Daniel, the pitch stayed with us most of the rest of the school year.

Chuck, Hello! It’s woven pretty tight. Thanks for the lovely sentiment.

Stacey, careful with that Windex. You might want to use a micro-fiber cloth and water.

Geezerchick, it’s hard to predict the many permutations a person’s reaction might adopt. Thanks for the read!

Tim, The reason does have a short span. I see it in pre-pubescent kids, before they become jerks….maybe jerk is too harsh…before we lose their attention.
I hope you stayed out of trouble! Probably not!

FunsunA, thanks so much, I like the textures of the trunks too!

Witness, I feel good that you found the read funny and generally enjoyable. Thank you for your attention to the story.

Roy, thanks for coming around again, and you are always welcome friend.
I used to act up in class and not turn in assignments so Miss Baxter would make me stay after school. I loved it. I assumed the feeling was mutual. I was crushed when she announced her engagement.
Jimmy, I am sorry for that kind of loss....
Good job BTW on your latest post!!!!!
Is this how crab grass started?
Nice twist. I kept seeing the flounce in the skirt as she turns and walks away.
When you write about your childhood you remind me of Stephen King at his best - like him, your child's voice is clear as a bell. When I read your stories about being a boy, *I* become that boy as I read - it's amazing. You transport us so effortlessly into the drama of the situation.
so this was a few years ago, right? (can I have that stone in the pix? I'll pay COD)
We had a HOT girls' gym teacher when I was that age, who always wore short shorts. Name of "Kitty." She'da beat the living crap out of us if she'd ever had a clue what we said about her - all the time. Great story, Gary. Brought back memories.
Oh, mercy, I just remembered Miss Kitty's last name. It was, and, in the lingo we used back then, I shit you not, Harder. Kitty Harder. You don't need an imagination to imagine the kind of things we said about this fine young lass.
Hello Robin, xox to you too dear..

Mr Fawkes, don’t know, could be, or not…a likely Master’s Thesis?

Harriet, I am very happy you appreciated that image. I think it implies power.

Hello Sandra! you become the boy as you read…that’s very gratifying to hear that.
I’m grateful for you visit and always honored to be given such kind, supportive comments. I hope I can come closer to finding a voice in my writing as you have so done so well.

Gabby No and NO…but thanks for coming by!

Hello Matt. Thanks for two great comments. Kitty Harder is a great stage, or artist name..Hmmm…perhaps a better porno queen
This was SO much fun! Well done, Gary, you little dickens, you.
Ha! Awesome! The suspense continues until the not-the-least-bit-bitter end. Great writing, fucknuts. I wonder which team would have been scapegoated if "penis" had been chosen. Ah, the magic of childhood -- made more magical by you!
Sally, Thanks! I give anything to even write like a “little Dickens!”

Steve, Thanks so much for your wonderfully imaginative comment, Snakedick!

Seriously, you have me laughing so much all the time I have to loosen my belt. Forgot one time and went outside, fell on my face when the trousers fell down around my ankles.
Hello SagCap, thanks for the visit! I hope some more folks will come along.....a kind of reawakening of this sleepy little story....
I missed this the first time. You bring it alive, that boy-mystery thing, that whole Someone's Getting It But We Don't Even Know What It is thing. I remember ; loved it.
Kim, thanks so much for catching this the second time around. There is a richness to draw from with wishes.