The whole evening felt off. Right from the start. Trace’s townhouse is across the street from my house, a few blocks toward Cataraqui mall. And, this evening, her stepfather answers the door. Trace’s stepdad is usually up north working on a pipeline, which is fine with Trace because she hates him. Simple as that. Hates. Him. Most of the time it’s only Trace, her older brother Kevin, and her mom at home. Sometimes Trace’s mom drinks beer with us because she’s lonely. Once when a bunch of us were partying at the townhouse, she sat on a boy’s lap and cooed like a pigeon, which made Trace feel okay about taking money from her mom’s purse later, like payment owed.
I’m not expecting her stepdad to open the door, and I don’t like the way he looks at me and says hello princess, and the way he loiters in the front hall while I’m waiting for Trace to come down. He has a big handle-bar moustache and his hair is longer than most dads. He leans against the wall and pulls a pack of Player’s from his shirt pocket, taps it against his palm and pulls a cigarette out with his thick chapped lips, staring at my boobs the whole time. “What trouble you girls got planned for t’night?”
I give him the standard reply. “Not much.” The sound of gunfire is coming from the living room and I wish he would go back to watching whatever soul-leeching crap he’s got on TV.
Trace bounds down the stairs two at a time in her workboots. “Kelly’s coming,” she says, landing with a thud. Then, like Trace has extra-sensory perception or whatever, the door opens and Kelly lights up the doorway like a Roman candle, blonde hair lifted and sprayed, all tarted up with black liquid eyeliner and extra-thick lashes. She claims her eyelashes totally disappear, like an albino’s, if she doesn’t fork it on.
Trace, on the other hand, refuses to wear any makeup. She’s sort of like a guy, always in jeans, jean jacket and workboots – no tits, except she’s got this round muscular ass guys seem to love.
With us girls crowding the hallway, Trace’s stepdad finally decides to get out of the way. “Let’s split this popsicle stand,” Trace mutters.
We saunter down Lombardy Street laughing at nothing in particular, just happy to be free now that school’s out for summer. The air smells of asphalt cooling. It smells of Kelly’s green apple perfume and Trace’s menthol cigarette. The two of them swap lies they told their parents about sleeping over at each other’s places tonight. “Must be nice,” Trace says when I say, I don’t have to invent anything because no one will notice I’m gone. They both look enviously at me.
Each of us has an asset, something the others wish they had. Trace has her tough-as-nails attitude, Kelly her b-movie beauty, and me, my freedom from meddling parents. If I had Trace’s strength, Kelly’s face, and my freedom, I’d be amazing.
We stop at the Seven Eleven and Trace pulls some bills out of her back pocket to buy junk food. Trace has money because she actually works a real job bagging groceries at the Save-On, while Kelly and I are lucky to make $3.00 an hour babysitting brats once in a while. In the parking lot, Trace shares the goods, thrusting bags of potato chips and liquorice twists under our noses. The empty wrappers drop onto the pavement behind us as we head north through the subdivision toward Ten Acre.
Trace, gnawing on a red twist, says, “Keep watch out for Jackie. Supposedly she wants to punch me out. Like it’s my fault Matt dumped her ass.”
Even though Trace looks like a tomboy, she’s never gotten in a fight in her life, at least not in the four years I’ve known her, and before that wouldn’t count because she’d have been a kid. But Trace is all fired up. “She better not show her ugly face ‘cause the way I’m feeling tonight I wouldn’t mind plowing my fist through the bitch’s teeth.”
In the grey shadows behind Mr. Donut’s, Matt and J.B. are hanging out. J.B.’s mother works for social services and his older brother’s a pothead. J.B. sometimes stays with his brother in an old farmhouse out on the concession road, and supposedly the parties there are wild. The brother once took a .22 and started shooting it up in his living room with a house full of people. So the story goes. He thought he was in Vietnam, even though he’s never left Ontario. Both brothers have the reputation for being intelligent, and you get the feeling they’re not living up to their potential. I don’t know how anyone would know they’re smart seeing as how they both quit high school and don’t do anything except smoke or sell weed. The brother grows it on the farm and sometimes J.B. impresses everyone with plastic garbage bags full of homegrown.
J.B. isn’t afraid of being caught. Like one time a few of us were sitting in Mister Donut’s. It’s dark because it’s winter and it’s cold. We’re sitting at a table trying to warm up over Styrofoam cups of coffee and through the window J.B. jogs by with a goofy grin on his face. He sees us, waves his hand like the Queen, and keeps on going. A few minutes later, a big black cop known as Cap’n Midnight pulls up in his cruiser and comes in, walks right up to us, plants his belly on the table, and starts asking if we’ve seen anyone suspicious go by. Seems someone had just robbed the Seven Eleven down the road. Thank God we’re the only ones in the donut shop and we say, totally sincerely, No, officer, we didn’t see anything. J.B. was famous after that.
Trace’s boyfriend Matt is similarly fucked up. The story is that his stepfather was killed in a fight, that Matt was the one who found the stepdad in bed, all bloody and broken after he’d crawled home somehow. I don’t know if they ever found out who beat him because Matt never talks about it. Matt’s mother is pretty crazy, maybe because of what happened. She vacuums in the middle of the night, that’s all I know.
Matt is propped on his ten-speed having a smoke, his skinny legs splayed out and his long bootlaces undone and dragging on the ground. He has a mop of loose black hair and a dark complexion. He’s cute in a way, and kind of sorrowful, like a Mexican gangster down on his luck. Makes you want to protect him.
Even though Trace has been with Matt for a couple of months, you’d never know it. They never touch each other, unless they’re both drunk. Trace walks up to Matt and punches him hard on the arm. He yelps and drops his bike.
“Let’s get outa here, before my mom drives by,” Trace says.
J.B. is a tall, rubbery guy, like stretched bubble gum. J.B.’s got his shoulder leaning against the brick wall and one leg crossed in front of the other, his arms folded over his chest, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. Neither boy looks like he eats much. They both live off Player’s cigarettes, Budweiser beer and Acapulco Gold. “We’re waiting for Pickle. Gotta score first,” says J.B.
Pickle’s an older guy who drives taxi and supplies all the hard drugs these days, so everyone is nice to him and treats him with respect. Supposedly he did acid for eleven days in a row. When he ran out, he got down on his knees and wept like a baby. You think that’d be embarrassing, but it practically made him famous.
“Pickle can find us,” Trace says. “Let’s head out.” She starts walking. “Well, we’re going anyway.” Kelly and I take up her wing positions. I look back and see Matt and J.B. still holding up the wall. “They’ll come,” she laughs.
By the time we get to Ten Acres, Matt and J.B. have caught up to us after making a few detours. Matt has a pink plastic flamingo and J.B. has a two-four of Molson’s balanced across his handle bars. He must have stashed the beer at one of the construction sites on the edge of the subdivision.
Ten Acres is the wooded land skirting the subdivision north of the high school. The new construction slowly eats away at Ten Acres. All spring the guys stole planks and nails and sometimes tools if they happened to be left around by a careless worker. They felt justified because who needs more bungalows with soul-leeching pink flamingos? With the planks and nails and tools, they built a fort in the middle of the woods. It’s really a ten by ten cabin. Our home away from home.
Coming in on the footpath single-file Trace is the first to spot something on the ground. She picks up a wallet lying in the middle of the path. The billfold is empty, Pokémon trading cards in the card pocket. We pass the wallet around, but when Kelly takes it Trace yells, “Maggots!” and Kelly drops it on the ground.
Trace laughs, “Just kidding.”
Around the next bend we see the jeans. They’re dirty, lying across the trail, legs spread out, as if someone shed them like a snakeskin. Matt nudges the cuff with his toe.
I say, “What do you think happened?”
Trace shrugs. Kelly looks down on them with a wrinkled brow.
Suddenly Matt starts laughing. He jumps off the path, runs around with a stick beating at the bushes and yelling, “Hey, Pokey! Where are you?” Then he bends down and pulls something from the bush. “Hey, here’s a shoe.” He dangles a white Adidas sneaker.
“Leave it alone,” Trace says. Matt hurls it into the bush and crashes back to the path.
Kelly acts all jittery and walks quickly ahead, then abruptly stops and waits for us. “I don’t want us to get separated tonight. Promise? Can you promise me that?”
“Calm down,” I say.
“I am calm,” she says nervously. “I am so calm. I’m like the calmest one here.”
“Sure,” we agree, staring at each other in the looming darkness of the woods. Then the three of us link arms and try to walk side by side, but there isn’t room on the narrow path and we keep tripping on exposed roots and each other’s feet. The guys trail behind with their bikes.
Half mile in, voices through the trees and the smell of wood smoke. In the clearing a half dozen guys sit around the fire, slouching and drinking. Behind them the sturdy fort sits in the pine shadows. Trace’s older brother Kevin is there with his arm slung around the shoulders of his girlfriend Sue, the only girl aside from us. Sue’s an airhead. Kevin used to go with a really neat girl named Shonda whose parents were from Jamaica, but one day Trace had been missed when a joint was going around and she said, “What am I, black?” which just meant, Hey, how come you guys forgot me? Trace didn’t mean anything by it. She wasn’t even thinking. Shonda was sitting in the circle and what Trace said made her go quiet the rest of the night. Soon after, Kevin and Sue started going together and Shonda wasn’t part of the group anymore.
Matt pokes the pink flamingo in the dirt in front of the fort, and J.B. rips open the beer case and start cracking tabs. Gross John is there biting open a beer bottle with his teeth. All the guys look rugged sitting on logs around the fire, the flames leaping higher as J.B. starts tossing dry wood on it.
“Sit your butt down,” Gross John says genially. He shifts closer to his buddies so I’ll plant myself beside him. Some would say it’s risky getting too close to Gross John. He’s a few years older and can sneak into stripper bars. Once he got drunk, unzipped his pants and stirred some chick’s highball with his dick. So the story goes. I sit next to him anyway and he hands me the beer. My belief is he’s harmless.
Trace accepts a beer bottle and opens it with her teeth. Everyone’s acting happy. J.B. has a can of lighter fluid and absently squirts it on the fire once in a while so purple flames erupt. J.B.’s a pyro at heart. Gross John does some kind of trick with the fluid, igniting the toe of his shoe. He does one crazy stunt after another like he’s showing off. Trace knocks me with her elbow and I get what she’s trying to tell me. She thinks he’s showing off for me, but I’m not interested in a guy who does tricks with his pecker.
The night goes on. The woods grow solid and black. One joint after another passes from hand to hand. Everything seems to slow down and the faces around the fire look older and older until they look ancient, like we’ve gone back in time and we’re all prehistoric, the first humans to control fire, the first to speak a language, and most of it gibberish.
Trace is drunk and starts mouthing off about “the cow”, Matt’s old girlfriend, the one who’s supposedly been making threats. The guys get a kick out of Trace’s tough talk and egg her on. She’s worse when she’s got a male audience. It feels like acting. I can’t shake off the feeling that we’re all characters in a play or a movie. Everyone’s got their role, but it’s all fake.
I whisper to Kelly, “I need to take a leak. Will you come with?”
“Yeah,” she says. “I need to go too.”
We move through a barrier of coolness to the quiet of the dark woods. The air soothes my cheeks that feel sunburned by the fire. Kelly and I hike to the edge of a meadow, far enough away from the group so we are out of sight and earshot.
Then I see it. A white blur streaking along the edge of the clearing where the meadow meets the black line of the trees.
Kelly is instantly terrified, lunging at me and gripping my arm. “What’s that!”
“I don’t know,” I say. “It looks like a ghost.”
Kelly lets loose a shriek that rips into my right ear. My ear pops and suddenly it’s stuffed with cotton.
“Holy shit. Don’t do that,” I cry.
“Jesus. I’m deaf.”
“Let’s go back.”
“I mean it. I can’t hear anything with this ear.”
“Come on!” Kelly nearly pulls my arm off. We run back to the fire, clutching each other like kids after a scary movie. “Don’t look. Don’t look behind us.”
The orange light of the fire filters through the trees along with laughter and the crack of splitting wood. Kelly calms down and drops my arm. “That was weird,” is all she says.
We rejoin the others, and neither of us says anything. Pickle the taxi driver dope-dealer has arrived. The clearing seems packed with people.
“Hey man.” Gross John appears beside me. He starts telling me about a conversation he had with his cat. “…we were listening to that song, calling occupants of interplanetary craft… and I realized that… hey, man… music, it’s like, communication. I mean it’s really communication. There’s like this whole other level going on underneath what sounds like melody, harmony, lyrics and shit. I mean that’s real, but so is this other level, only we can’t understand it because maybe our brains aren’t evolved enough yet. But my cat, she gets it. Her brain isn’t full of words and sentences and shit. And for a few hours, I got it. I tried to write it all down and then I passed out. When I woke up all I found was a little scrap of paper that said, music is communication. I’d forgotten all the rest.” Gross John clasps his head in his hands.
“That’s okay,” I say and pat his shoulder.
“But it’s so important.” He sounds like he might cry.
“It’s okay.” I realize that Gross John has a lot more going on that just his gross stunts, except it’s locked inside him, just like the music. I also realize that the guys dropped acid while Kelly and I were in the woods.
And I realize I never went pee.
I’m self-conscious about peeing ever since the time I got wasted at a party at Trace’s and passed out while I was kneeling on the floor with my head on the couch and my butt facing out. Some yahoo poured beer down my jeans and everyone got a good laugh at the butterfly stain around my bum and down my inner thighs. So now I don’t like to do anything to draw attention to my need to pee, in case they start to make jokes about that night. I don’t want to leave the fire, but I wasn’t as scared of that white streak as Kelly. My bladder is pushing against my tight jeans. I have to go. The need to relieve my bladder outweighs my fear of ghosts.
Here I am again in the cool darkness, alone under the half-moon above the trees. I’ve never noticed a halo around the moon before, but there it is. Drifting signs of life from the party are still lingering, but here in the woods by myself I feel more myself – more a part of this creation of trees and bush and moonlight than of that artificial world of manmade fire and dope heads. I take my time, wandering further from the fort to find a private place. The greater the distance between me and the others, the more I feel a tingling just under my skin, as if an animal in me were waking up to the night smells of earth and leaf. I find a clear patch, unzip my jeans and work them down over my hips. I’m squatting, concentrating on keeping my balance, humming a tune, calling occupants of interplanetary craft, and feeling at one with everything, when a white streak flashes across my retina. I suck in air. The white streak stops and becomes a white blurry blob. It’s not moving but hovering in the air just beyond the trees in front of me. “Fuck.” I stand up too fast and immediately know I’ve gotten pee on my pants. “Fuck. Fuck.” I frantically hitch up my jeans ready to crash through the woods to save my life. Then I see. It’s a boy.
I freeze and slowly my night vision sharpens and this small person comes into focus. He’s totally naked, a naked pale-skinned boy who glows just like the moon. He’s standing beside a tree with his hands clutching his crotch.
I try to shout but my voice squeezes out a hoarse whisper. “What are you doing?”
The boy doesn’t respond. I can hear his harsh ragged breathing. He’s probably scared too. That thought makes me calm down completely. I adopt a different tone. “Are you okay?” Real calm.
He stays where he is. I sense rather than hear, “No.”
We are frozen in place, me and this naked boy. The adrenaline rush has straightened me up and my thoughts crystallize: do something.
I take off my kangaroo jacket and tie it around my waist to hide what I’m certain are now pee-wet jeans. Then I step gingerly toward him through the undergrowth and squat down to his level. “What’s wrong?” I say gently. He’s got light-brown hair and his face is streaked with tears that capture the moonlight.
“I can’t find my way home,” he sniffles.
“Where are your clothes?”
“I don’t know.”
I remember the discarded Levi’s, the wallet, the single sneaker.
I hesitate a moment and then pull my t-shirt over my head. “Here, put this on.” It’s a long shirt and should cover his body so he doesn’t have to shield his crotch. I still have my bra for modesty, which is really just like wearing a bathing suit top. No problem.
I hold out the shirt as if I were trying to befriend a baby gorilla. “Go on, you can’t keep running around naked.” He keeps sniffing but I’ve got no Kleenex.
The boy takes the shirt and pulls it over his head. He looks even younger with my oversized shirt on. “How old are you?”
“Eleven,” he answers, wiping snot on the shoulder.
What am I supposed to do? I can’t expose him to that gang of idiots by the fire. I can’t leave him alone in the woods. I have no shirt on.
“Where do you live?”
He gives me an address. Maple Street, one of the streets in the new subdivision.
“I’ll take you home. Let’s go.”
I take the lead. The snapping of sticks tells me he’s following. We don’t talk, although I keep cursing whenever I stub my toe on a root or bump into a stump. I feel that same sense of animal kinship I’d felt earlier. I know I’ll claw anything that tries to harm this small snuffling thing behind me.
We’re far off the path, and there’s no point trying to find it now. My guess is that if we keep going this direction we’ll come out somewhere in the vicinity of his street. I hope. After a while, the boy starts to lag. When I stop, he’s crying again and crouching in the dirt, stretching the shirt over his knees. “My feet hurt,” he says.
Oh, jeez. I hadn’t thought of that. “Okay, well climb up.” I turn my back to him and bend over, spreading my arms out ready to piggyback him. His weight knocks me forward a little as he jumps and wraps his thin arms around my neck. I loop my own arms firmly around his bare legs and jiggle him up and down, adjusting our bodies so we are one being moving through the woods.
When the woods finally release us into the fluorescent light of the vacant street, I’m breathless and ready to drop him. The cold air hits my sweating back when he unpeels himself from me. “Okay, buddy. You’ll have to walk from here. Sorry.” I lean forward with my hands on my knees to catch my breath.
The boy seems better now and he doesn’t wait for me, running on the concrete in his bare feet. I walk fast to keep up hoping no one sees me in my bra, but the streets are dead, the houses lit from inside by the flickering blue lights of television screens. After a while, he stops on the sidewalk. I catch up and he says, “I live here.” It’s a bungalow much like all the other bungalows along the street. Green siding, light leaking through drawn curtains.
The boy steps onto the grass and I say, “Wait! My shirt.”
He whips off my t-shirt and I take it, pull it on even though it’s kind of gross now. As my head clears the neck hole, I see him sprinting across the grass and through a gate into the back yard. I wonder how he’ll explain why he’s naked, where he’s been. Then I think, he’s going to sneak in. Maybe his parents think he’s safe in his bed.
I walk back through the subdivision in a daze, thinking, “Wow, that was weird.” I need to get back to the path and the fire and the idiots in Ten Acres. Halfway back to the cabin, I meet the gang coming towards me on the path.
“Where the fuck were you?” Trace is pissed. Kelly looks worried. Matt and J.C. and Gross John are there but they just look stoned. Trace grabs me in a chokehold, pretending to punch me in the face, making sound effects with her mouth. “Phiew, phiew!”
“Don’t!” I struggle but she’s too strong.
“You took off!”
“Let me go!”
Trace lets me up for air.
“Jesus,” I say. “What’s wrong with you?”
“You took off and we didn’t know where you went so we had to leave. We’ve been trying to find you,” Kelly says accusingly, while Trace turns her back on me.
“I had a good reason.”
“Whatever,” Trace says, as if no reason could be good enough.
“So who is this kid?” Matt asks.
The five of us are heading back to the suburb. Civilization, Gross John calls it. “Let’s get back to civilization,” he said, after I told them what happened.
“Just some boy.” I tell Matt. “I thought he was the moon.”
“But you know where he lives.”
“So this is his shit,” Matt says as we come to the spot where we’d found the discarded clothes. They’re still there, although in the dark you’d pass right by them if you didn’t know.
Matt kicks at the jeans. He bends down and picks them up.
“Yuck!” Kelly says, but Matt ignores us and pulls some rope from his pocket, threads it through the belt loop and secures the other end of the rope to his bicycle seat. He scouts around for a minute at the edge of the trail until he finds the wallet, which he stuffs in his jacket pocket. We keep walking, the dirty jeans make a slithering noise as they drag behind Matt’s bicycle. Matt’s whistling to himself, but there’s something dark in him now, as if he’s going to a lynching.
“So tell us where he lives,” Matt keeps insisting. We’re back on the deserted streets now.
“Why, what are you going to do?”
“Just tell me.”
I give in and tell him where. It’s only a few blocks away.
Matt veers in the direction of the boy’s house.
“Aw, come on.” I say, but he ignores me.
He’s still whistling and now Matt, J.B. and Gross John are leading us. No choice but to follow.
Matt and J.B. and Gross John march right up to the bungalow and knock on the front door. We’re waiting on the sidewalk with their bikes in front of the neighbouring house. Close enough to see what’s happening but far enough away to distance ourselves from whatever hell might break loose.
The porch light turns on and there’s a man standing in the doorway. We can hear the voices back and forth, but not what they’re saying. The three guys talk to the man in what seems like a civilized manner for a few minutes. Matt takes something out of his jacket and hands it to the man. The wallet. The man disappears inside for a minute and returns, gives something to Matt. There is friendly male laughter. Hand shaking all around.
Matt couldn’t be telling the boy’s father the actual story or there wouldn’t be those polite gestures and easygoing banter. Matt must be saying that he found the wallet, that he’s returning it like a good Samaritan. There wasn’t even any ID in the wallet with an address, but the boy’s dad probably doesn’t know that.
The man closes the door and Matt, J.B. and Gross John swagger back to the curb, Matt grinning and waving a bill in the air.
“A reward,” Matt says, emphasizing the first syllable.
“You’re buying munchies,” says J.B.
The guys are all laughing and talking too loud when I shush them. “There he is,” I whisper. And there he is. The boy is now dressed in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, running lightly across the lawn from the back of the house.
He stops about ten paces away on the grass. He’s cleaned up. His hair is damp and slicked back. Matt says. “Hey, kid.”
The boy points at his bare feet.
“What’s up?” says Matt.
“Have you got my Adidas?” the boy asks.
“They were almost new.”
“Got your jeans though.” Matt gestures at the soiled pants lying pathetically on the sidewalk at the end of a rope behind the ten speed.
The pulls his head into his sweatshirt like a turtle into his shell.
Matt approaches the boy. “Tell us what happened, kid. Want us to beat someone up for you?”
“Leave him alone, Matt,” I say, but this seems to be something between the guys now. All three of them move closer to the boy.
“Want us to kill someone for you?” Gross John says.
“Want us to burn his house down?” J.B. says.
“Tell us who it is, kid.” Matt’s almost pleading.
The boy finally names a name and sprints like a rabbit across the lawn, disappears through the back fence.
And then, what happens after that? We head to my house because I want to change my jeans and shirt. The guys are really high on acid and they keep talking about what just happened. Dribbling and passing the name around like it’s a basketball. “I think I know who it is,” Matt says. “I know his kid brother.”
At my house I tell them to wait in the driveway, but when I tiptoe down from my bedroom they’re in the kitchen, snooping in the fridge and pulling open the cutlery drawers. I’m pissed that Trace and Kelly are letting them run wild.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I whisper. They say they need a phone book. I grab one and get them all out of the house as fast as I can.
“You’re nuts,” Trace and Kelly both say at once. Matt, J.B. and Gross John want to go there, to the house of the guy the boy named. “You’re totally nuts,” I say.
Matt flies into a rage and starts kicking his own bike. I remember that his mom is crazy.
“What’re we going to do now?” Kelly whines. Her hair has lost all its volume and she looks tired and gaunt.
“We could sneak behind the drive-in and watch porn,” Gross John grins.
J.B.’s hissing, “… incinerate them… pig after pig, cow after cow, village after village…”
Out of nowhere, Pickle the drug dealer sidles up in his taxi. “What’s happenin’?”
The guys ditch their bikes on my driveway and pour into Pickle’s back seat. “Get in!” Matt yells. Kelly jumps in the front seat and Trace and I climb in the back all jumbled on top of each other. I end up on Gross John’s lap.
At a gas station Matt yells, “Stop!” He jumps out and comes back with a red jerry can sloshing.
Pickle says, “Put that thing in the trunk, man. The smell of that stuff will rot your brains.”
“Go, go!” Matt shouts, and Pickle peals away.
It seems like we’re driving around for hours with the smell of gasoline and Gross John’s hand sliding up my thigh. We end up back at my driveway where Pickle drops us off saying he has to pick up a real fare. The guys grab their bikes again and off we go, Matt holding the jerry can and still dragging that sorry looking pair of jeans behind him.
We’re all hyped up. Middle of the night. Civilization. A crazed glint in the eyes. For-sale signs are for stealing and we nab a Century 21 sign off a lawn. We dig a hole and set up the sign on the guy’s lawn, the guy the boy named. The house is dark, everyone sleeping. We can’t see him but we can feel him. Close, real close. J.B. holds the jeans while Matt douses them in gasoline. Matt wraps the pants over the for-sale sign and J.B. lights it with his Bic’s.
Matt’s hoisting the jerry can, dumping more fluid on the grass, saying, “Burn motherfucker.” We’re burning up the lawn like the Ku Klux Klan. Trace is throwing lawn ornaments on the fire, stinking the air with burning plastic. Kelly stands there like a witch at the pyre, sobbing, mascara streaking black from her eyes. J.B. is leaping around like a pyromaniac, bending his knees like hangers. Gross John has a glint in his eyes; it’s his moment. He pulls out his dick and pisses in wide arcs across the lawn.
Me, I’m heading to the carport with a pack of matches. I glance back once and think about how this looks like some sort of painting or maybe a movie set. Sparks fly into the night sky, up as high as the moon, up as high as the boy in the moon.
Maureen Latta earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia – Okanagan in 2010. She was born on the Canadian Prairies and worked for many years as a small town newspaper reporter in the provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan and in the Northwest Territories. Her creative writing has appeared in the anthology, Line in the Landscape (fiction), and in Spring (poetry). Her first collaborative creative production was the digital video, Say Hello to Frederic (2006). Maureen currently lives in the historic townsite of Powell River, British Columbia.
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