Timmy always wore this necklace. It had a blue gem set in a brass ring and made you notice his blue eyes with more intensity. He never took it off and it became sort of a mystery where it had gone. He claims he outgrew it, tossed it in the lake behind his house, but everybody thought he had begun to believe it made him looked less masculine and did away with it for that reason and for that reason alone. The teenager started to notice girls’ curvaceousness and began to notice more so the bulge in his pants which was becoming more like his father’s. He was the tallest out of his group of friends at the time and that made him feel like he was supposed to be the leader, and he did lead friends out to the diner where they got root beer floats and to the movies where they watched movies like Nightmare on Elm Street and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He looked up to Harrison Ford’s Dr. Jones, but he did not that tell to anybody.
Sitting around the table, drinking soda, they talked about school, basketball. They were young then, and nothing really mattered. Only the baby blue skies that spread like a coverlet above them and, at night, the silver dollar moon which casted downward its sublime rays. Timmy was saying something about Antarctica. Everything, from witches to the color spectrum, enthralled them and they possessed a precocious hunger which would at some point become pertinent nostalgia—a lull in the conversation—and they poked fun at Lester the parakeet who was beside the table, caged and lithe, and then Timmy’s momma came rushing out saying the cat was finally giving birth, and they all got up, sodas in hand, and went into the garage where little Fanny was mewing away and stretching her legs and breathing rapidly, and they sat in a circle.
Sure, girls were into him and he was getting into them. He even thought about having babies. He was too young, he knew, to be thinking that, but nobody ever knew what went on in that head with its corporeal side-swept hair and black eyebrows. He even kissed a girl by the bleachers and there was tongue. He liked it, and he knew she did, too, but they never did it again.
Whiskey was the first drink they shared. Burning their throats and mouths, one boy doubling over and expelling the swig from his nostrils, they finished half the bottle and put it back in Timmy’s father’s liquor cabinet. It stayed there until freshman year of high school when there was a Sadie Hawkins dance, and Louise Rhodes asked Timmy to be her date. He accepted and he wore a blue suit to match her blue dress. The suit was off blue and did not match Louise’s dress, but that was okay. Nobody seemed to notice.
1990 came and went and youth turned out to be a sham and Timmy was moving into a heady state of alertness, brought about by an increased wariness in fashion and his learning to play the guitar. The guitar was a 1982 Martin acoustic and sounded quite good. Crisp chords, shapely chord changes impressed just about everyone who heard him play. That rather ended with abruptness. Timmy dislocated a finger playing basketball, and that was that—his finger kept locking up—and the Martin grew dusty, older, in the corner of his brown room.
The little one, whose mew sounded like a squeaker, did n’o make it; the majority of them thought it a blessing that the little one was in a better place—he was small and pathetic and he did not have a chance. The other cats soaked up that energy in the womb, leaving nothing for Squeaker. Survival of the fittest. That seemed to be the theme of late.
Cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, parsley, and oregano. In those types of crops were where Timmy’s father invested most of his time. He would water, weed, and seed his garden every season and would harvest them in time for autumn. The fruits were large and bright and tasty, and the spices had more of a zing compared to the store bought spices, and Timmy liked that. During the summer, Timmy would get a glass of soda and sit on the teak wood furniture out back and daydream. Timmy’s father would be in the garden, but Timmy seldom helped him out.
Sunday morning, Timmy got punched in the nose. He was talking about Fanny giving birth, and the little one who did not make it, and said he liked it better that way. Reid, who was always a nut, broke an o-ring and got all red in the face, called Timmy a fucker, and tagged him. Timmy’s nose was bleeding pretty bad, but that was not the first time there was blood that weekend, the cat having bled thirty-six hours prior a maroon fluid that seemed to be only half blood. The nurse fixed him up and sent him home. She said she thought it was broken. It was crooked and it would never get straightened out in full. But, they were young then, and nothing really matters.
Bio: Anders M. Svenning has had short stories published in Forge Journal, Grey Sparrow Journal, The J.J. Outré Review, The Kentucky Review, and many more literary magazines around the world; he is the author of short story collection Nonpareil (Tule Fog Press).