Kenny paced along the driveway, kicking stones, saying to himself, “Finish your milk, finish your homework, finish your prayers.”
Huffing, exhausted, he slowly chanted, “Dolphins, dragons, pelicans, trampolines, submarines, jelly beans.”
He sat on the lawn with his hands wrapped around his knees and whispered, “Coca-Cola, rock ’n’ rolla, supernova . . . shit, shit, shit.”
He stood up and walked over to the maple near the edge of the lawn. Leaves fell in the slight breeze. He plucked a few from the ground, crumpled them in his hand, and shoved the bits into his mouth. The orange ones tasted best. There weren’t many orange ones left.
He turned and shouted toward the house, “Let’s get this show on the road!”
FROM THE BAY WINDOW, Phil and Mary watched Kenny crush and eat leaves.
“Fourteen-year-olds don’t eat leaves,” Mary said.
“Maybe he’s a vegan.”
Going vegan might not be a bad idea for the boy. He was short and chubby, and Mary cut his hair in a way that made his face look like a pale balloon. Some days he was way up. Other days he was way down. One night, a few months back, Mary found a hole in the bathroom wall behind one of her signs about love and light. Phil was in the garage, drinking beer, flipping through an old magazine he’d found behind the seat of his Bobcat loader. He had had to park the Bobcat after his third DUI. Mary came in from the house and snuck up on Phil sitting in the cage looking at the crumpled spread of a naked woman straddling a fire hydrant.
“When you’re done whacking off, I need you to take a look at something,” she said, and shut the door.
The hole was the size of a small fist. He reached inside and pulled out a bunch of panties with the tags still on. Some were stuck together.
“He’s stealing girls’ underwear and . . . you know,” Mary said.
“I see that.”
“Must be in the genes.”
Then Kenny punched another boy in the neck. The boy had a condition. He started shaking and foaming at the mouth. Luckily he didn’t die.
When Phil asked Kenny why he did it, he said he was trying to save the world from an alien takeover.
“You should be friggin’ thanking me,” he said.
This was before the meds.