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Momma says I shouldn't listen to the kids around town, only to her. That’s good since those kids are real strange. Whenever I walk by they laugh and cover their mouths, always seeming to nudge each other and point at me.
Momma says they’re just dumb kids, but I don’t mind. I don’t need them. I have Momma, who's nice whenever the money's good, and is always there for me even when it's not. She doesn’t mind that I’m not much of a good speaker, because she's not too much of a listener, really. I think she wanted me to go to school, though.
The thing is, I'm not too smart, not enough for a real school. Not enough to keep any kids interested long enough to talk to me. They get weirded out too soon, too eager to talk to someone who doesn't have a lisp or can actually write.
Momma’s the one person that always stays with me.
Momma and I were on the way to the pharmacy, some place where they have special medicine Doc wants me to take. I like Doc, since she gives me sweet candies right after seeing her. And all we do is talk, and it’s about me too. She’ll ask how I’m feeling, if I’m happy, and she doesn’t even get mad if I spill things on her carpet.
I’m not used to talking just about me, but it sure does feel good.
The medicine supposed to help me, but I don’t think it’s really working. Whenever I first get new meds, Momma’ll be happy, watching me with a smile. It's the one time she actually tries to teach me something. She’ll read a sentence to me, like this:
Sammy walks to school with his dog.
Then I’ll have to write down what I heard. Thing is, I write just about as good as I talk, so things don't really turn out too well.
Samee wlks too skool wit his dog.
I’ll smile at Momma. Doc says good boys know how to write well, and they get to go to school with all the rest of the kids. That sounds real nice.
But when she sees my writing, Momma’s face will drop and she’ll sigh. She gets real sad, so I know I messed up again. This makes me mad. I’ll get up and tare the paper, yelling and screaming. Then I grab the bottle of meds, throwing it against the wall and crying. Momma will run up to me, shushing me and holding me in her arms. I just thrash and thrash, hitting Momma over and over.
“It’s okay, Sammy,” she’ll say. “They’ll find the right one. I promise.”
I can only cry and cry, and I think she starts to cry too.
“Sammy, come here,” Momma called. We were at the lottery place near the store, where Momma plays the numbers.
Momma says we’re going to win big one day. She always gets this light in her eyes when she says that, which kind of chases away that tired look she usually has. I’m not too sure what the lottery really is, but Momma says it’ll get us out of “this hole we’re living in” so I put down the lottery as something really good.
Momma gets one of the number papers and stares down at the paper. That’s normal. Momma will stare and stare at the paper, saying she’s waiting for the right numbers to pop into her head. This takes awhile, since whatever she’s waiting for is real busy. Mommas gotta wait a long time for them to give her any sign of the numbers. That’s probably why they’re always wrong. It must be a far place for numbers to travel from.
It’s too long to wait, so I plop onto to the floor near the candy store next door .I’m right in the middle of the store, so people have to dart around me to get by. I start to bang my fingers, pretending to be like the people on the CD covers while people start to stare and point as they walk by.
I ignore them, hoping Momma will see how good a boy I was being when she gets back. She’ll be proud and ruffle my hair and call me her sweet little boy, which leaves this sort of warm feeling in my stomach each time I hear it. Good boys get candy all the time, I think, and not just after talking to their docs like me. Candy and that fuzzy feeling are two of the best things in the world, at least to me.
I’m racing one finger against the other when a girl stops in front of me. She’s got real bright yellow hair, and she’s wearing this pink dress, real soft and warm looking, like a blanket. She’s dragging her momma with her, who’s kinda looking at me strange, like she thinks I’m an alien or something.
The girl smiles, real big and fake like. Not like Momma’s, where her eyes get all wrinkly and shiny, twinkling like a star. The girl’s smile just had a lot of teeth, no heart.
I stare at the girl. Not because she looks any interesting, but because she was chewing this really bright pink gum. I stop to watch as her jaws move up and down real fast, wondering if it hurts her to be doing that all the time. She smiles when I look at her, taking it as me caring about talking to her even if I don’t.
“What are you doing on the floor,” she said, twirling her hair and giving a weird little laugh. I ignore her and continued to look at the gum. Momma says don’t talk to strangers, especially weird ones like this girl. If I ignore her, maybe Momma’ll get me some gum for myself.
The girl’s starts looking weird when she see how I’m staring, and starts to back away. I don’t think she too used to people wanting her gum. Most likely she’s around people who can afford lots of gum, enough never to want someone else’s.
She runs towards her Momma, whose eyes got the weird targeting look too.
I get up to follow the girl.
“W-what are you doing,” she says. All trembling and nervous. She’s chewing fast now, loud and snappy chews filling the air. She blows a big bubble with her gum while grabbing her mom’s hand, split second from hitching it on out. I reach out my own hand.
Blondie’s left with pink gum all over her mouth and I give a grin.
“There, I popped it for you,” I say. The girl’s just watching in shock.
I’m still smiling.
“Can I have some now?”
The girl gasps, like I unfreezed her all the sudden. Her hand at her chest, her mouth’s dropped, and she’s in the perfect pose to be a girl on Momma’s grown up shows, the ones that got something to do with soap, I think.
She actually looks kinda funny, all wide open and froggy eyed like that. I start to laugh, thinking she’ll lighten up and laugh with me. Her eyes just narrow and her lip curls into something nasty. She’s what Momma calls “spitting mad.”
“You freak! “
I drop to the floor in surprise.
Her momma’s trying to steer her away now.
“No Mommy. He put his finger in my gum. I’ll catch a disease or something. I’ll end up a dumb freak like him. He’s a bad boy, Mommy.”
This makes me start. I walk right up to her face, causing her to flinch away like she’s scared. Good. I sat here real still, so why didn’t she see that I was being a good boy? What if Momma hears something? She was trying to ruin things for me!
“No! You dumb, like Momma says. I been good up ‘till you showed up. I was being a good boy.”
She gasps again. Probably first time anyone says that to her.
I walk closer and call her something I heard the neighborhood boys call me as I was walking by.
Time seems gets real slow after that it seems.
The girl gets red in the face, about as ugly and mean looking as a bull. She escapes her momma’s hold and marches straight up to me, hissing like a little snake. the stupid fake smile was gone and lost.
“I. Am. Not!” she says, getting closer with each spitted word. “Everyone in town knows you’re crazy, that’s why no one ever goes near you.”
“Lonnie!”Her momma hisses, which must run in Blondie’s family.
“Apologize, that was very rude.”
“No, Momma,” Blondie says. “He’s a bad, bad boy.”
I start to shake and fall again to the floor. That goes around in my head, twisting and turning and making me sick. I start to bang on the floor, first my hands, then my head.
I hear a crowd start to gather.
“I think he’s having a seizure!”
“ You sure? The kid’s always been a mess.”
They’re whispering I’m sure, or maybe they’re shouting. It don’t matter. At this point , all I hear is the girl’s whiny little voice filling my head, no matter how much I bang it.
He’s a bad boy.
I grab the girl’s arm.
Momma only likes good boys.
I start to twist and I hear Blondie wail.
I can’t be bad…
Her momma’s trying to pull me off, but my grips too strong. I hear a whimper, then a crack.
Retard. Stupid retard.
Blondie’s arm’s starting to bleed.
That’s Momma’s voice in the crowd, her face all twisted and scared. There’s suddenly a bunch of police gathering around, holding back the crowd that’s gathered. They’re holding Momma back, tall fortress standing strong as they block her way forward, her way towards me.
“Let me through. That’s my boy.” She screaming and yelling, tears streaming fast down her face. She starts hitting the police man, letting out curses she’d never say at home.
“Let. Me. Through!”
Then there’s a smack and Momma crumples to the ground.
The policeman hit her.
Then time seems to rush forward again. One big man comes forward, big and hairy like a gorilla, like a monster. He reaches towards me, his giant paw reaching out, and I lean forward to bite his fingers. He lets out a loud curse, glaring at me. He lifts me off the ground and I bite him again, punching at him over and over hard even though he has muscles that could bruise rocks.
“Stop it boy,” he yells, shaking me so my stomach twist and turns. More police are coming, and behind them is this man with a white coat, like at the Doc’s office. He got this real big needle, about the biggest and sharpest I’ve ever seen.
I panic, my kicking efforts doubled. I seen that before. Whenever I get mad, too mad for Momma to handle, Doc calls these white coats to give the needle to me. Doc calls it a syringe, says it’s supposed to calm me down.
That’s a big lie, about the only lie she ever tells me. It makes me drift way, no matter how much I want to stay awake. It feels too much like dying to be comfortable, too much like I’ll never wake up.
I cry out loud, knocking my head against his shoulder and wailing, banging my head against him and calling out to my Momma. I don’t want to fall asleep. I want to go with Momma. Why won’t she help me?
“Momma. Tell them I'm a good boy, Momma!”
I’m squirming towards Momma, right as the white coat gets near. Momma’s still on the floor, hair undone and eyes real sad. She looks run down, like the little puppy I found on the corner of the street. He was dead.
Momma looks into my eyes and I see the sad, dead puppy eyes. I land a solid kick to the gorilla man’s groin, and he lets me fall with a groan ad he curls into a pathetic ball on the floor.
I crawl as quickly as I can away, locking eyes with Momma and stretching out my hand towards her.
And all Momma can do is look away.
Then the white coats come forward.
And suddenly the one person who’ll never judge me, who’s always been there for me, is gone.
And all I can do is scream.
Why won’t you tell them I’m a good boy Momma?