Deakin Holt was the first person I saw.
Under ordinary circumstances he wouldn’t have been caught dead talking to me but I guess the mint green shade of my skin made him forget just how big of a loser I was. “What the fuck, Albany?” He said then I started to puke. “Did one a those piece a shit city-fucks touch you?” He set his jaw and looked past me. I was shocked he didn’t jump out of the way when my vomit splashed up on the bottoms of his army pants; guess that’s the point of camouflage clothing.
I dropped to my knees.
He crouched down beside me and grabbed my chin, “swear to Christ Almighty, Alb–You better tell me if one a them laid hands on you!” He shook his BB-gun as if to articulate what he was capable of. I wiped my chin and caught my breath, then realized I had no idea how to put words to what happened. If I told him the truth, he might shoot me–and let me tell you, BB-gun’s may be a joke but at close range they hurt like a bitch–but if I lied he would probably run into the woods and find them anyway.
He drew my face closer to his.
“I ain’t fuckin around.” He continued. I had to say something and maybe he wouldn’t shoot me, maybe he would just laugh and call me a freak and leave me alone–but did I really want to be left alone? Then again if I lied and told him they had done something bad to me, he’d take off after them and leave me alone too. Either way I would be fucked. “Got-damnit, Albany. You better start talkin or else I’m gonna walk out inna those woods and just start fire’n.” I could feel my heart rattle in my chest like a shotty engine.
I spit out the last bit of puke stuck in my throat.
“They dint.” I said. “They threw–” I stopped myself. If he knew they had provoked me, would he think I had done that awful thing to them? “I mean. They dint do anything to me. They just–” Just what? How could I even begin to describe what the bodies of six twelve-year-old boys torn up into a billion little pieces, was? He squeezed the malleable flesh on my chin. “Did what?”
I batted his hand away.
Deakin thumped the base of his gun on the dirt but didn’t try to take my face back. “I’m tryin’ a help, ya jackass.” He stood-up leaving me crumpled on the ground like a drowned rat. I knew I should have said something. I should have pulled his attention back to me, to my face but I didn’t. Instead, I closed my eyes. I squeezed them shut as tight as I could, because I got that feeling in my gut; the one that feels like a black pit full of poison.
That’s when he screamed.
No, not screamed. It was worse than that, it was more like the sound a kitten would make if someone slowly crushed it to death. “Albany?” He stretched out my name as if it were made of Silly-Puddy. “Albany!” He said again, this time more concise. “ALBANY!” His hand was suddenly on my forearm and I was flying through the air as we sprinted away from It.