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The Boy Who Watches Skateboarders MAG
Every day after school I sit on a green bench and watch the skateboarders.
“Okay, kid, ya gotta glue your ass to this bench till I get outta class. No talkin' to strangers, and no crossin' the street. M'kay, give me a kiss.”
I plant a quick kiss on my sister's flushed cheek, making sure no other kids are looking. One time this stupid kid with skinny legs and bad breath (his name was Tony and he was in Miss Lopez's third grade class with me) saw me kissing my sister and told all the girls at school. They went wild, asking me for kisses on their ugly cheeks all the time. It was awful.
Anyways, I have to “glue my ass” to this bench on account of my older sister taking classes at this community college or whatever. Says she's gonna write some day, says she's got big plans. I think that if she writes how she talks, she won't get a job any place good. But I don't tell her that.
There isn't anything cool about sitting on a bench for two hours. I see the same bums every day passing a brown paper bag on the steps of the old church across the street. I think I know what's in it, but I don't want to say it out loud. Then there's this girl who stands at the corner and waits for her boyfriend. That's on Mondays. She attacks pieces of gum like a shark and I remember thinking she had the biggest lips I'd ever seen on a girl. And when her boyfriend finally stumbles down the street to meet her, she sinks her sharp fingernails into her hip, smacking the gum even louder: “Where you beeeen, bee-boo? I been getting ooold waitin' here for ya. You need to teach your legs to walk faster, or somethin'.”
He doesn't ever say anything to her. He sort of reminds me of this quiet kid who lived a block from us. He was pretty nice to me. His hair was always greasy and he smelled this awful kind of sweet that really stayed in your nose for a while. I liked him though, even though he moved away kind of sudden without saying good-bye.
“Bee-boo, why isn't you askin' me about my math quiz today? I told you this mornin' I was gonna have one. I think I even did pretty good this time.”
He just kinda stares at her with blank eyes, but he takes her hand anyway. They start their long, slow march down the street, her loud voice drifting away like the two of them are walking into a tunnel.
This kid doesn't seem as nice as the guy down the block from me, but he still kinda reminds me of him.
I know I said before that there's nothing cool about sitting here on this bench every day. That actually isn't true at all. After about 45 minutes (it's actually 47 minutes, but I thought I'd make it even), these guys start rolling down the street on their skateboards. They must all come from the same class or something 'cause they go so fast as to make you think they're flying.
It starts as this rumbling, like it's coming from some place deep inside the ground and vibrating up, slowly, through my whole body. I always see the same guy first. He wears these really cool, over-sized T-shirts and big, purple shoes that say Vans on the side in puffy white letters. He's not handsome by my sister's definition, but he's attractive in a way I can't quite describe. He's got something about him that no one else does. Anyway, he pushes himself down the street, fast as hell, starting as a blurry speck of purple and skateboard and nerd glasses and quickly racing toward me.
That grinding of wheels on concrete thrills through my veins, like chains crunching on a roller coaster. One quick swipe of his foot on the ground – his image grows sharper and louder with every breath and something deep inside me awakens just for this moment. Swiping, crouching, gliding, flying – close, so close! Whoooosh! He flies past me, just centimeters from my toes. I've held my breath almost the whole time and I let it out with his passing. I can't help myself. I laugh until my insides are empty, empty as that bottle of whiskey those bums pass to each other every day or the hearts of the slumped-over kids wandering around this crazy place. Even so, I feel complete. I feel infinite. I still hear and feel the wheels of that skateboard rippling under my feet. I wish I'd taken my shoes off.
“Hey, you think sometime I could get a skateboard?”
My sister, fresh out of writing class, screws up her face at me. “Has you lost your mind?! You would break your neck riding on one of them things and if you think I'm gonna scrape you off the street when you turn into road kill, then you better think again, kid, cuz I don't have time for that. I got big plans without you goin' and makin' me crazy.”
I glance over at her, trying hard to mask my disappointment. “Well, maybe when you're a famous writer for a magazine or something, then you could maybe think about it for my birthday or for Christmas.”
This seems to soften her a little, and she swells up and gets this proud look behind her eyes. She gets that way whenever she's thinking about her big plans. “Well, okay, kid, maybe by then you'd be old enough not to kill yourself. But I'm not promisin' nothin'.”
She's never going to be a famous writer if she writes like she talks. But I keep on walking, and I don't tell her that.