construction site. Weâre near the elevator bank, and I can hear the ding of arrivals and the closing doors of departures.
Iâm exhausted. I sit. I might never be able to get up.
Verlaine lies at Connorâs feet. We both look out the window.
Again with the silence. And then I ask it, again. âSo I told you my story, can you please tell me yours now?â
âLike, Iâll show you mine and you show me yours?â
I canât tell if this is sweetâlike flirtingâor if itâs incredibly obnoxious. âKind of,â I say. âBut without the showing part.â I drag my socks back and forth, and they hiccup along the linoleum.
âDamn!â He snaps his fingers.
âTrust me,â I say. âNothing good to see here. Trust.â
âI doubt that, I do. But I joke, I joke. Okay. I get it. Itâs my turn for show-and-tell.â
âJust tell,â I say.
Big breath in. And then he goes, âWell, last summer, when I turned sixteen, I was walking home from the movies with my friends.â
âWalking?â I say. Because itâs really hard to walk home from the movies from where I live. You have to drive almost anywhere.
âYeah, the one in Georgetown. I live just a few blocks behind it. It was afternoon.â
I nod. Oh. Connor is rich. In the real world, heâs all urbanand private-school and probably has a summer place at the beach where he takes all his skinny, cool, private-school girlfriends. He probably has a ton of girlfriends. He is so obviously just doing his job here.
In the real world, I would never know Connor. He would never see me. Which, in my weirdo world, makes me like him more.
âAnyway, we had all sort of broken off for home. For some reason we werenât hanging at my buddy Bradâs that day, which is strange, because we usually did. Or my house, because neither of our parents were ever home. It was kind of great then. Anyway, I was alone, walking home, listening to âMarquee Moonâ; you know that Television song?â
I donât say yes and I donât say no, but I sort of wave the question away with my hand.
âOut of nowhere I saw this little girl.â He shakes his head. âI donât like to talk about it.â
I urge him on with my eyes and a little lunge of my head, which I know makes me look like a crazy person. Or a lizard. âWell,â I say. âIâm not hiding much here.â I glance down at myself. I am smaller than I used to be. In every way.
âI know youâre not. Thatâs why Iâm telling you.â He clears his throat. âAnyway,â he says. âAnyway, so I saw herâreally cute little girl, and then this car speeding off Wisconsin Avenue, breakneck-like, around the corner. Hits her. I mean hits her. This mean squeak of the brakes and then this massive thud, and she is flying. I mean flying .â
âOh my God,â I say.
âYeah. Then there is the sound of her hitting the asphalt. It happens in parts. Itâs not one sound. Itâs like her bones hit the ground at different times. Anyway, anyway,â he says, shaking away the thought. âThat girl was over a year ago, right?â Connor continues. âBut I still remember that sound. And then I remember the blood, everywhere, and her mangled body. Blood out of her nose and eyes even. Thatâs how she was when I ran up to her to help her, because the car drove away. I know I was screaming. Then it is just a big blur.â
âWow,â I say. I know itâs a stupid thing to say, though.
âAnyway, so people came rushing out of their houses and then her mother ran out, and then there were all these ambulances and police cars. Then everyone, like, turned to me. The paramedics, the neighbors, the police, everyone. They asked me if Iâd gotten the license plate number. But I hadnât gotten the plate number. But they just kept asking me and
Todd Strasser, Sammy Yuen Jr., CRAIG PHILLIPS