by Faith St. Clair
Jimmy hunched down behind the boulders waiting for Pig-head, Terrell, to come up the muddy path on his way home from school. He made a crook with his finger and skewered a booger out of his nose and wiped it on his pants. Peering through the cracks, he saw no sign of Terrell. He took some Double Bubble out of his pocket and shoved two pieces into his mouth, letting the wrappers fall to the ground. Jimmy knew Terrell would have a friend with him, big ol’ Buck, probably, but today Jimmy didn’t care. He was still crusted with mud and humility from this afternoon’s recess, so Jimmy sat and waited for revenge. The junior-high kids stayed a half-hour later than the elementary kids. That gave Jimmy time to run home to get his weapon. He reverently took a black knife from his back pocket. He gently squeezed the little button on the handle and a bright, shiny blade shot out of his little dark hand. Now he waited for justice. He pounded his fist into the rock.
“He gonna get it!” Jimmy said out loud. “I’m gonna stick ‘im good. Gonna cut up his legs so he can’t run no more and chase me no more, so he can’t play baseball no more, so he can’t walk around like he owns the world!”
He continued to slam the rock with his fist over and over, harder and harder as he tightened his lips, anger and readiness. As he tried to shine the blade on his dirty pant leg, someone tapped him on the shoulder from behind, sending Jimmy and the knife into the air.
“Jessie, what you doin’ here?” Jimmy screamed in a whisper. He jumped up high and grabbed Jessie’s shoulder, pulling him to the ground and out of site. Then Jimmy picked up the knife.
“Oooooh, twinkly! Can I play with your pretty knife?” Jessie asked with a big smile as he patted Jimmy on the nappy head with his oversized lanky hands.
“You need to get out of here, Jessie!” Jimmy scolded, trying to get Jessie’s mauling hands off of him. “Go find Charlie. Go play with his ball.”
“You’re knife be pretty like the stars, Jimmy”, Jessie said. “Can I hold your star, Jimmy, cause I can’t hold the stars way up there. They be too far away. Yours not far, Jimmy. It be twinkly, though. Can I hold it?” Jessie begged loudly while his whole face grinned.
Jimmy put his hand over Jessie’s face and shoved him backward onto the ground. “Shut up and go away, stupid! Get lost! You’re gonna ruin everything!”
Jessie got up slowly and put his long arms around Jimmy. “I like you, little Jimmy.” Jessie said and began patting Jimmy’s head again.
“Shut up, he’ll hear you!” Jimmy sighed helplessly and turned, peering over the rocks to see if they were coming.
“You got any gum, Jimmy? I could have some gum instead of your knife, Jimmy.”
Jimmy pulled a Bazooka out of his pocket, ripped most of the paper off and shoved everything else into his mouth. “I gots one for me,” he said smacking his gum up into Jessie’s face, “and none for you!”
Jessie frowned for a moment, then smiled big. “That’s o.k., Jimmy.” Jessie said clapping his hands together. “We can share!” Jessie stuck his fingers into Jimmy’s mouth, trying to get his gum.
Jimmy wriggled and kicked as he tried to release Jessie’s clutch. Without giving Jessie his gum, Jimmy bit his fingers hard. Jessie squealed and fell back against the boulders, then sat with quiet curiosity as he watched the blood drip from his fingers.
“Momma told me gum was sticky. She never said that when it stick you it hurt.”
Jimmy saw Jessie’s blood dripping to the ground. He yelled at Jessie.
“Stay right there, don’t move!”
Jimmy peered again into the woods, but there was still no sign of pig-head Terrell. Jimmy put the knife on the ground and began to tear a piece of his shirt off to bandage Jessie’s fingers.
“I’m sorry, Jessie.” Jimmy said as he yanked Jessie’s hand closer to him. “You just got in the way of my chewin.”
With great annoyance, he began wrapping Jessie’s fingers when he heard Terrell coming up the path with a couple of guys. Jimmy shoved Jessie back to the ground and reached fast for the knife. When Jessie hit the ground, he saw the knife and picked it up to try to give to Jimmy. As he came up with the knife, Jimmy came down to get it and the blade stabbed Jimmy in the hand. Blood seeped from the stinging wound and Jimmy realized immediately that this accident would prevent his attack on Terrell. He covered Jessie’s wailing mouth and held his own breath to suppress the pain. If Terrell noticed him hiding behind a rock with Jessie and saw the both of them bleeding, Terrell would make the most of it, adding to the injuries and his own count of victories.
Jessie flailed around trying to get up and Jimmy fought hard to keep him pinned, quiet and contained. Jimmy pounded his fists into the ground as he watched his opportunity walk right past him and on home. Terrell was nothing but jocular laughter and Jimmy was nothing but smoldering hate. When Terrell and his pack were far enough away, Jimmy got up off of Jessie and leaned against the boulders, not caring about the blood, his pain, or even stupid Jessie.
Jessie saw Jimmy’s blood and smiled with delight. He looked at his fingers and licked the blood. He wiped it on his shirt. A red diagonal streak soaked his shirt. He reached down and took Jimmy’s hand. He licked Jimmy’s blood and grinned. He held Jimmy’s hand and stroked it over his own blood, making a big, red “x” on his shirt. He giggled.
“Look, Jimmy! We the same!”