I’m twenty four years young, I work sixty hours a week, I’ve had ta’ climb big ladders my whole life ta’ get anywhere, and I’m not about ta’ let someone tell me how I’m ‘posed to be, ‘specially if they dunno’ who they are, ya’ know?
Sittin’ there, freakin’ out about stuff you can’t or don’t wanna’ change, stuff ya’ made up. Like a tantrum.
Or, ya’ know, repeatedly kickin’ yerself in the junk when you know it’s a bad idea. Like how kids launch off stuff and wonder why they got a busted lip.
It’s kinda’ stupid, huh?
That’s how it was with Percy.
Doesn’t matter how much I held her hand, made her laugh, or bought her snacks. Doesn’t matter how long I listened to her talk sideways ‘bout her day, ‘bout other people, even ‘bout herself. Doesn’t matter when she begged fer advice with her big brown eyeballs, and even though I’m crap with words, she didn’t even want it after all…
I really, really, really tried. But she goes in circles. Grabs somethin’ that hurts, holds on more, lets it burn her, then blames other people fer it.
Like runnin’ with scissors. That’s how ya’ poke yer eye out. She’s poked her eye out more times than I can count.
Then she poked my eye out too, just ‘cause. ‘Cause she makes stuff up about what goes down. I’m not a dummy, ya’ know.
I’m a listener, ya’ know. I listen. But it don’t help if people don’t listen to themselves, right?
People think I’m just a big, stupid kid. That I never grew up. That’s okay, I guess. If they don’t expect much from me, then I don’t gotta’ give much.
But it’s when they expect stuff, and I gotta’ play psychic detective ‘bout it…that’s when it stinks. They want me ta’ be somethin’ more than sugar plus sugar.
And I am, ya’ know?
But they all do this crap. Guessing games, and makin’ stuff up. Make believe; it’s wicked, wicked stupid. Every one of ’em but Henry does it, ’cause he’s got rocks fer brains.
What do you people want from me?
Alex is sittin’ here bein’ pissed off ‘bout somethin’. Somethin’ he did to himself by bein’ a big dummy.
I’m drawin’ somethin’ fer him ’cause I dunno’ how else to cheer him up. He doesn’t do good with bein’ told how to be, just like me.
“It’s…” he prolly hates it.
“It’s bad. I messed up yer nose, an’…I got crumbs all over…sorry.” I dunno’ what else to say. He’s already runnin’ with brain-scissors, anyways.
“It’s great.” He’s lyin’, or makin’ fun of me, cause his face is doing that thing. That thing where he’s smilin’ but it’s not a fun smile. It’s a dare, or somethin’. Double dog dare ya; I dunno’ why he does this.
“Ya’ mean it?” I’m givin’ him a chance ta’ prove he’s not tryina’ poke my eye out.
I catch him lookin’ out the window, and ’cause I listen, I know where the double-dog smile came from. That big, stupid idiot. Gotcha’.
It’s not about me, huh.
“I mean it.”
“Really, really?” I’m givin’ ya’ another chance, dickhead. Prove me wrong, ok?
“Really really. Hey…Liv. Wanna’ get out of here?”
Yeah. I don’t like this cafe. This is one of Percy’s faves. Everywhere she is, I don’t wanna’ be right now.
I nod. He grabs my hand. His hand is clammy. Damn, that big stupid idiot really messed him up, huh? We’re not that different. I know ‘cause I listen.
I look up at the sky. It’s too cloudy. Can’t the sun do me a solid? I’m freezin’.
Naw. It’s hidin’, ’cause it don’t know how to do nothin’ but make tha’ mood worse. Like most people.
“Hey, Al?” I ask him. I dunno’ why keeps kicking himself in the junk. I dunno’ why any of ‘em do this, except that their big brains get in the way of doin’ right by themselves.
The second Percy poked my eye out, I cried a lot, then learned my lesson. He doesn’t learn nothin’.
“Want me ta’ punch him in his big, stupid head?” I’m serious. He prolly doesn’t think I am.
“…why? Why…do you care?” That’s a wicked stupid question.
“Cause.” Man, he really doesn’t know his butt from his elbow, huh?
“Cause I’d do anythin’ fer ya’, ya’ big, stupid idiot.” Listen fer once in yer broody life, you big, stupid idiot. I punch his shoulder as hard as I can. I dunno if it’ll get through. He’s a jawbreaker.
He takes my hand again. We’re goin’ to tha’ park. I love the park — he’s dumpin’ the hat. Finally, took ya’ long enough.
“Aw — why ya’ throwin’ it out?” Most people think I’m a big, stupid kid. Yeah, maybe even him. He’s gotta’ prove —
“I’m tired of being stupid.” Oh.
I take his hand. He’s got slim fingers; still clammy. But…I dunno’. He’s been listenin’, I think. Sugar plus sugar isn’t all I got.
Now I gotta’ lead the big, stupid horse to water. I’m bringing him to tha’ ducks. He’s kickin’ himself in the junk. Duck Distraction Time.
I’m cold, and yer gonna’ warm me up, buddy.
I drag him down to sit with me.
He can look at the ducks fer once; actually look at ’em. Percy never looked at ’em either, always somewhere else. He don’t gotta’ be two weeks back cryin’ his eyes out. He don’t.
I don’t either, so I’m not.
I point at the ducklings. There’s yer distraction, dummy.
They’re real cute. Look at ’em go! Just doin’ what they do, ’cause they wanna’, swimmin’ around. I never get tired of tha’ little ducks. Why would I? Nature’s wicked cool.
Oh, one of ’em dipped its head under the water and can’t get out.
“Aww, look! They’re all so cute an’ fuzzy!” This is why I keep it simple, ya’ know. Life’s too goddamn hard to be spendin’ yer time makin’ it harder.
They’re cute, an’ fuzzy. Let somethin’ be cute an’ fuzzy fer once, jeez.
“Yeah. Pretty cute.” Oh.
Oh, I dunno’…Alex that wasn’ fer the ducks, was it? Goddamn it. The sun came out. No, no, no, no, no, this is a wicked bad idea, what are ya’ doin’? Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.
He’s smiling like he’s made of somethin’ more than warheads and jawbreakers.
Goddamn it, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.