We were bored and the only way we sought to pass time was by huffing the freshly painted walls. It was Johnny's idea, but I went along with it because Johnny is cool. Besides, he had me convinced we would enjoy Miss Heafie's class a lot more. What a fat bitch, she is strict and always yelling at everyone, Johnny says that is probably why she is alone. Either way, I started having the dizzies and that was when my mother ran into my room covered in blood. She shrieked to warn me to hide from my father. There was no time, or perhaps I was too slow to react from the fumes, for he came into the room and shoved her across the floor. His belt buckle clattered on the floor as his breath, drenched in alcohol. I could smell it despite being ten feet away on my bed. He looked at me then at Johnny and then at me, "get that little nigger out of here, what did I tell you about their kind?"
I said nothing as he belted me across the face.
"Answer me boy, and look at me when I'm talking"
Unable to look at Johnny I motioned for him to leave. As Johnny was getting up, my father belted me for an answer until I uttered, "because Johnny is a nigger and all a nigger is good for is nothing".
I felt ashamed as the eyes of Johnny scorched my back. The sense of loss pulsated across my temples, which gave me fevers. Johnny left with his head down and my father finished his aggression on my face and body. After he was done he passed out on my bed as I lay on the floor covered in blood. My mother's whimpers were all that was heard across the walls. It was barely sunrise and I was late for school, but at this state I figured i was not going to be able to explain the beatings this time. I left my house an hour later after I had enough strength to tip toe across the creaking wooden floors. I sought refuge in an abandoned warehouse down on Pine Street where Sally the Tramp lived. Everyday at noon she showers by a window where, if I am lucky, I may glimpse at her naked body in secrecy. Despite the broken glass on the floor, I made myself comfortable by the window as I peaked. Her shower was running water and there was a man in there with her. I learned of a few things of which I have never seen before and I was curious to test out this knowledge. The blood trickled from my head and my eyesight became a blur, I figured it would have to be some other time.
Hunger hit me, it always does. I can’t ever steal enough food to get full. It seems every time I eat, by the time I finish, I get hungrier. Ma says it is because I’m a growing boy, but I know the truth. We never have enough money, after bills and debts are paid, it seems there is always more debt. I honestly do not even know how we afford to live in this house. Joe lives down the street and I have to talk to him for my dad. My dad is afraid of getting his ass kicked so he sends me in his place. Fucking coward.
The bell felt smooth to the touch and cold despite the summer’s heat. It rang for an idle moment and I heard a chain rattle.
“Whose th- there?” came the door.
“Shae” I said.
“Ah so he sends his boy to do his dirty work”
I did not reply. The door opened and a dirty face greeted me with a wicked smile.
“Come on in” he said. Nervous, I said, “I’ll wait outside”.
He looked out to the street back and forth as if searching for someone and then grabbed me by the hair and pulled me into his house. His stained white shirt brushed against the paintings alongst
the walls and I fell to the wooden floor. My face was greeted with his belt and my ribs with his boot.
“Listen to me you little shit! You think just because you come here instead of him I’m not gonna do anything? Well fuck you! Your Pa owes me a hundred dollars, you think I shit money? Tell him he better have that shit or-“ he smiled.
“I’ll have a sit with your mom just like the rest of the boys do on Mulery St.”
He laughed and readjusted his belt into the sheathe of his pants.
Enraged I stood up and punched him right in the stomach, “Don’t nobody talk that way about her. Nobody! Just cuz you’re bigger you thin-“
I tasted blood and I felt a tooth fumble around my tongue.
“Oh yeah, you think you’re hot shit, you’re just a piece of shit just like your Pa and Ma. Ain’t none of you worth a god damn shit”
As I could feel my skin break and my eyes water, I refused to cry until it was over.
“Look you little shit”, he said pointing to the floor, “You got blood all over my nice clean floor. Get the fuck out! Don’t forget, I want my money by tomorrow.”
His wicked eyebrows hesitated for a moment in thought, “in fact, how about an extra twenty five, for being late” he smiled.
He sent me through the backyard and threw me out by my hair.
Headaches would not allow me to argue, or perhaps it was the blood overflowing my mouth. Maybe I’m just a coward.
By the time I got to school I was late, again. Ms. Heafie was in the middle of lecture and said, “Oh look who decided to join us! Get out! And straight to the principle young man”. I did not argue, I was used to this treatment, but I still could not look the rest of my classmates in the face. They knew how I looked, but every time I looked at them they turned. I knew the back of their hair. Sally- with her lock golden locks, Bob- with his curly black hair. But I had no idea what they looked like. Whenever I tried to stare them in the eye, I could feel resentment slap me in the face as they looked away. They were afraid of me, afraid of a scrawny boy who wore the same pair of clothes everyday. I know what they’re thinking, “oh Shae, such a poor little boy who doesn’t care about school. He must be a psychopath like his father.” Well fuck them. At least I didn’t smell like some of the others. I had enough decency to bathe in the lake at least once a night.
The principals office was familiar, I felt safe there. I knew I would get scolded and lectured. Then I would get a late pass for my next class where I would see her. Jina Grenwit, the most beautiful girl in the school. I stood no chance but hell, at least she was someone pretty to stare at in this ugly city. Johnny was also in my class, which gave me comfort of a friend. To my surprise he did not hate me for what happened in the morning. I apologized.
“Don’t worry man, its not your fault your dad is a fuck. I feel bad for you and your mom though.” He empathized.
“I don’t want your fucking pity”
“Whoa take it easy, I was just making light of the situation. What’s good man, did ya’ get a look at bitch at the abandoned house”, he asked curiously.
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