He should only hang. He only survived his youth because he had his parents overmatched and lived by their protection. Their idea of punishing Butchie was to limit him to slightly less of something the rest of us couldn’t afford even a little of. He hung with kids whose fathers worked for his dad, so he was king at home and had diplomatic immunity abroad. When he got tired of playing with his stuff alone, he’d come around and break ours. He was sweaty and soft and could ruin an afternoon but we weren’t allowed to send him back home. We could ditch him. Sometimes we’d make him hide and seek and get on our bikes and go, except he’d break our stuff while we were gone. My parents had Butchie and his parents to dinner the night he got the farts at the table. Breaking news! he said the first time and got a nice laugh from his dad. Then began the reading of the encyclopedia of wind. He would not stop. Nobody could eat. Finally, his dad demanded to know what my mom had given him for snacks. She looked at Daddy and Daddy said: Well? What did you give him? I thought she might cry. We went to the living room to break my trucks. Our dads came with cigars and stood looking out the window. Butchie was trying to take the ladder off the hook-and-ladder. Nobody could stop him. Daddy told me to behave without turning around. When the painted metal truck hit him in the back of his head, I felt a sudden thrill. He snatched up Butchie by the hair and yanked him from the floor. All Butchie could do was cry and swing and, pointing, accuse me, but he was already guilty.

Copyright © February 17, 2008 David Hodges