Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The surprise of seeing Nate waiting alongside my mother at the airport when I am 13 years old. Nate laughing his horse faced laugh when he spots me coming through the gate (possibly the only kid at our junior high more despised than me.) My mother beaming a smile directly at me that says "See, you have friends."
Going to a dusty magic shop with Nate, the owner of which knows Nate by name. Whopee cushions, trick gum, hand buzzers and itching powder. The other room is full of porn magazines.
Nate being pushed back and forth between two kids in a second level hallway at the end of the next school day, his face red and flustered, tears building. Other kids snatching up the magic toys as they fall out of his pockets. I doing nothing.

The sudden responsibility of being chosen to help carry the stretcher of a kid who has just broken his arm playing soccer on the lower field. The kid's body writhing around on the stretcher in a tightlipped agony, like a fish in the bottom of a boat. Trying desperately to not drop my corner as we make our way up the slippery slope.
The big kid in front of me, whose name is Toby Ward, unexpectantly shaking the stretcher, pounding it up and down until the wounded kid screams. The other three stretcher bearers, myself included, all doing nothing, because Toby Ward is large and fearsome and Toby Ward wants nothing more than for one of us to challenge him in a way that can later be used as an excuse.
"Oh it hurts, it hurts." Toby Ward says in a mock little girls voice. "It hurts so much."

The daily morning bus stop game of stealing Kashta Taylor's hat and tossing it back and forth until the bus arrives. Kashta always stoicly determined to retrieve it, asking nicely, reaching out for it, like a silent Buster Keaton running right-left-right-left. At one point someone pees on it.
The hat is a red, corduroy flat cap with "Sunshine Freestyle" (the name of the local surf shop) sewn onto the front in cursive letters.
Four years later Kashta is beating the Russo brothers ruthlessly in front of a large crowd at the transit station. Two against one, and he beats them.