He lays there, chin all soft-looking with these tiny orange hairs. Seems like boys in puberty dont have freckles, but there you go. Just starting. Puberty.
I saw him hit, and it was fuckin horrible. Hes thinking hes the cock-a-the fuckin walk, sweeps his bike out in front of traffic and theres the car, some ugly-ass sedan or something: bam. Shit. Bike just folded. Tore-up.
Hes got a mom. Debbie. She works at Holiday. Shes in whenever shes not on. I think she had him when she was pretty young. Were friends, me an her, we talk. She asks about how it happened, a lot, and I tell her. Sort of.
I thought about telling her once: at least he didnt get shot. Couldve robbed some places, hung out with kids who beat kids up. Couldve been doing drugs. Maybe he did drugs, I dunno. She dont know. She doesnt care.
And, man, shes got these big ol green eyes that are just like, shiny, all the time, like I cant talk to her for too long, her eyes are so big like that. When I know Debbies working, I sit with him. The nurses used to ask for ID, but then one fat one who Im guessing is in charge figured out Im the one saw it happen, I called 911, and people pretty much leave me be. I dont know.
I usually dont say nothing. I guess I think at him, sort of. Tell him with my head some things.
I tell him in my head that I smoke weed like all the time, and my bong cost more than all the food in my fridge. I tell him about the hot-tub my buddies have in their back yard, how its broken, and we fill it with couch cushions and sleeping bags and jump off the roof into it. High, drunk. Fight each other with like big sticks, hockey sticks, and sometimes we pile the cushions just on the ground and climb the ladder and tip over into the pile, and sometimes we steal shit from peoples yards, like, reflectors, lawn animals. I ask him in my head why people need that shit. We dont need it, but its hilarious, especially when peoples fuckin movement-sensitive lights go on and we start running and realize Jase is pissing all over these peoples roses. I tell him about the garage where we work Gerry, the fat fuckin long-hair who runs it, whos real fuckin cool to everyone and doesnt rip off ladies or nothin, even when theyre dumb as shit and not hot. I tell him how to fix a carburetor. I tell him how I fixed his bike. I tell him about the tattoo I got when I was fifteen, of this angry Woody Woodpecker smoking a fat blunt.
And when Debbie comes in, I cover it up with my sleeve, the tattoo. I think, sometimes, what my arm would look like now if I never got it.
About the author: Maggie Ryan Sandford is thrilled to return to Saint Paul after a recent fling with the New York comedy scene. She writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, humor, and short film, with a particular interest in the relationship between art and science. Her work has received recognition from the Seattle Art Museum, Richard Hugo House, National Public Radio, NYTimes.com and others. She would like to thank mnartists.org for all that they do.