03 October, 2008

Mean

"Schick’s a mean bastard.” Sitting under the bridge’s perpetual shadow, the boy saw him climbing the steep concrete and stone of the bridge’s embankment. He began to melt. He scrambled to hide the food and empty his pockets of change, but it was too late. Schick had seen what he was doing.

Schick announced his arrival by clouting the boy in the face with a closed fist. The boy whimpered and stayed down were he had fallen. He could feel the grit of the concrete against his face. Schick kicked the boy twice, once in the ass and once in the ribs. His voice was thin, demanding money. The boy emptied his pockets as Schick stood over him. When he was done, a few dollars in change lie on the damp ground under the overpass.

Schick was not happy. “It’s not enough,” he said. He kicked the boy in the arm and in the gut. The boy lie there, his hands covering his head, as Schick scooped up the change and walked to the boy’s house, wedged between the embankment and the bridge above.

The cardboard of the house gave way to Schick’s hands and feet. He lifted a blanket, wadded it and threw it down to the railroad tracks below. He found the boys stash, a small metal can, and crushed it after removing a few dollars and a half smoked joint.

The boy’s breath was mixed with tears. His face was flushed as Schick turned from the ruin of cardboard and cloth and said again, “It’s not enough.”

A rain of kicks left Schick’s boots damp with the boy’s blood. Screams faded to whimpers, and the rage, the madness of Schick’s insufficiency was sated. Schick was tired, but he paused for a moment to pull down his zipper and piss over the boy’s still form. The yellow and the red mixed for a moment in the concrete and gravel.

In the morning they found Schick’s body first, head crushed against the steel of the track below. His boots were encrusted in hard, black brown blood that had lubricated his fall. The boy’s body was not found until later in the day, when an observant police woman tried to find the place where Schick had fallen. From the embankment's edge she looked upward to the boy’s still form.

“Father Abraham,” cried Schick across the abyss. “Send me a drop of water, for the fire burns without ending!” To his great surprise, he could see a glint falling from the higher radiance. Closer and faster it fell through the æther. Schick’s mouth agape, he felt the bead of water strike his tongue. Heaven’s dew met the infernal and passed to steam. He cried out, “It’s not enough!”

Above, in a place of seeing and knowing, of warm shade and cool light, a place where enough was enough, the boy smiled as he heard Schick’s cry, and again he pissed.